In my case, it is the public meeting at Leamington’s town hall this evening, to protest the Warwick District Council’s decision to sell off its current offices at Riverside and replace them with a new building on the site of the Covent Garden car park.
Leamingtonians will not need any exegesis. The Council’s plans have been the subject of much discussion and debate since they were first mooted and the resistance, led by MP Matt Western, has been growing. Matt has called a special debate in Parliament, written to the Secretary of State, and campaigned tirelessly to force a Tory re-think. This evening is the next stage, an opportunity to put the case of the town and its residents in the face of a plan which is projected to cost £8.6 million and will severely damage the viability of the town centre businesses.
It’s good that Russ Allen, proprietor of one of the oldest established and most respected retail outlets in Leamington, will be on the panel tonight. I look forward to hearing his first hand experience of the changes to our town centre
But the arguments against are not solely from the business community. There is also uproar that the planned development of the current offices includes no social or affordable housing, a requirement of the Council’s own planning rules, at a time when some 2,500 families wait for social housing and increasing numbers of homeless sleep rough on our streets.
Significantly, the latest newsletter from North Leamington Conservatives does not even mention this.
But this omission is not really surprising. A Conservative councillor resigned recently, claiming that the Tory leadership is “a tawdry administration directed by a male-dominated clique of individuals."
"The Executive has believed its spin while being completely out of touch with real people and real life" she said.
The last time a public meeting was called the clique was otherwise engaged and unable to attend. Allegedly. It will be interesting to see if they turn up tonight.
I will and I’ll bring you up to date tomorrow.
Today from the everysmith vaults: I’m surprising myself by listening a great deal to Neil Young and enjoying almost every note, particularly those played by Crazy Horse.