Sunday, 17 May 2009

The reverse curse of Real England

Over the last few months, I've had occasion to report some good news stories about some of the campaigns featured in Real England. Now, two more developments are beginning to make it look like a trend. It seems that featuring in the book bestows on a campaign a reverse curse; a weird kind of gypsy blessing. It's starting to look like more than a coincidence. I mean, look at the evidence:

Queens' Market
I wrote in Real England of the campaign to save this ancient, diverse street market in east London from predatory developers. Yesterday, I was told that London's mayor, Boris Johnson, has turned down the developers' planning application, against all expectations. The campaigners are understandably thrilled.

The pubs of England
Years of determined campaigning by landlords, some of them featured prominently in Real England has led, this week, to a damning parliamentary report which recommends the government takes action against the power of the Pub Companies which are driving so many pubs to the wall. Just watch those share prices plummet ...

Castlemill Boatyard
Oxford's last public boatyard has successfully fought off two advances by developers since featuring in the book. Now locals hope to buy it for the community.

Sheringham vs Tesco
Despite the fears I wrote about in the book, one of the last towns in England without a superstore has comprehensively rejected the advances of Tesco.

Saving Chinatown
A fierce campaign by residents and shopkeepers put paid to an attempt at creating a 'Chinese themed shopping mall' that wouldn't have involved any actual Chinese people.

Now we just have to hope that the wider trends start to be counteracted. A tougher battle, that one, but with global recession and the ongoing collapse of parliament, everything is starting to look possible after all...


asquith said...

Congratulations on this- also glad to see the interest being taken in locally sourced & home grown produce rather than forking out ridiculous sums to middle men.

We in Stoke are still fighting to preserve one of our finest pubs against some usual soulless shopping arcade being sold to us on laughable false pretences. (You know the usual about how, despite there being a recession on, it will magically draw in people from surrounding areas & magically kickstart the local economy, etc. etc).

It is one of the only decent pubs in the city centre- a priceless heritage of the old Potteries which is loved by drinkers every night & is always popular with those who want to go to a proper pub.

It seems as if few locals can be bothered to resist these encroachments on our culture & the slow choking of what makes us a unique place, despite the fact that I've yet to meet anyone who welcomed these "developments". The reason being that we don't proper believe in ourselves.

But in fact it is about time we cherished our heritage, as working-class old England is as valuable as the more commonly appreciated rural areas.

We should get some idea of what this place is & its virtues, then we can welcome people & encourage them to appreciate it. But we have to stop regarding ourselves as run down & worthless.

BTW, I'd like to see you back at Liberal Conspiracy if you can find time to go there & the courage to engage with the usual tits. I think a lot of people would be receptive to what you're saying.

EB said...

I've heard several instances of this since I read the book too, and thought of you and wondered whether there were more. It's so encouraging!

Nick White said...

Excellent news, Paul - very reassuring and invigorating! Please continue to keep us updated.

kevmusic said...

Really, really pleased. Much more news like this needed but what an excellent start.