Thursday, 15 September 2011

A game of bridge -
with no real trumps!

When we reported that Lincolnshire County Council was planning a public consultation to help determine a suitable replacement for St Botolph’s footbridge, we remarked that these days the phrase was normally shorthand for you tell us what you’d like, and we’ll do as we please.
It seems that we weren’t far off the mark.
The county council has issued architect impressions of three designs for the new £600,000 footbridge.
The consultation – if you can call it that - ends on 14th October, and the plans went on show at the Medlock Centre – why not the far more convenient  and accessible Assembly rooms – for six and a half hours yesterday and five hours today.
Eleven and a half hours of face to face consultation time - and a choice from just three pre-planned options – one of which is a scaled down version of another.
An engineer with the county’s structures team says: "It's an opportunity to replace the existing footbridge with something more suitable to the surroundings and to enhance the area."
The three proposed designs (pictured below) include a bowstring footbridge,  a traditional footbridge and low bowstring footbridge.
click to enlarge picture
And don’t overlook the fact that it is rather difficult to imagine the look of the bridges in situ because the impressions fail to acknowledge the presence of Boston Stump and other riverside buildings.The options have been published on the county council website, here  and we are told that public feedback will be taken into consideration before a final decision is made. Click  here  to say what you think.
It all looks most efficient but - as we pointed out last week, the link to follow the scheme didn’t work then, and only appeared yesterday when it was probably too late for anyone to make the first day at the Medlock Centre
Work on the new bridge is expected to start in mid-2013 and be completed by the end of the year – which gives local business around a year to recover from the Market Place refurbishment debacle – if any survive that is - before a vital access to the area is lost for at least six months.
And speaking of the Market Place works …
We’re told by Boston Borough Council that a two-day survey of opinions on the “improvement” works last week has provided around 80 mixed-bag responses.
We bet it did!
So the 15-question survey has been extended so that we can all add our three penn’orth – for what it’s worth.
We say for what it’s worth because the survey doesn’t actually seek to learn what we think about the refurbishment.
It asks whether we are a visitor or a resident, why we visit, when, how often and for how long, and how much we spend.
It asks if we’d think of going anywhere else, whether we’ve attended any events or festivals in the town centre recently, what influence the Market Place has on our decision to visit the centre, and how we use it.
We’re invited to rate various aspects of the Market Place and the wider town area on a scale of one to five.
Finally – and most stupidly – we are posed the question: Do you think Boston town centre has changed over the last year?
Answer: “Yes. Someone has dug it up!”
We can predict the way this is going to go – any interpretation of the answers will be taken to mean dissatisfaction with the old Market Place – and therefore a huge welcome for the new one.
What might be interesting is the reaction to the grading of services in the Market Place and the rest of the town, including, as they do, such items as traffic management, quality and range of shops and services, location and access to taxis and buses (the buses find you, then make irritating noises until you get out of their way) car parking availability and location, street furniture and public art, pedestrian crossings and environment, access between the market place and St Botolph's, outdoor cafe and restaurant space, market area and stalls, the availability/schedule of events and festivals, safety, crime, lighting, quality of the market square environment and public realm.
But at the end of the day, the survey is pointless and irrelevant – but at least someone in authority can claim that we - the hoi polloi - have been consulted.

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