£4.5 million to be poured into the black hole of Aldershot

Aldershot is to receive £4.5 million investment. Three million external funding, one and a half million from the local council. ‘Investment’ is to stretch the meaning to breaking point, in reality, squandering of public money.

An example of the nonsense from imbecile leader of Rushmoor:

Successful initiatives such as Westgate and changes in the way people shop are providing new opportunities for the town and contributed greatly to the success of the bid. We are very pleased that this money has been secured for investment in Aldershot town centre.

When you make statements like this, you lose all credibility.

Westgate has been described as many things, but successful initiative is not one of them. It has had dire consequences on the town centre, retailers are suffering, look at the number of boarded-up and closed shops, retailers call it Wastegate.

Even in its own right, Wastegate is not a success. Walk through daytime and note the empty chain eateries. Every ten pound spent in one of these eateries, is ten pound not spent in the town centre, it is ten pound not recycled within the local economy, were it spent with local retailers.

The cinema, when a long awaited cinema opens in Farnborough, so far over a decade late, will see the bums on seats halve.

cappuccino at Caffe Macchiato

cappuccino at Caffe Macchiato

Any one who wants somewhere half decent to eat goes to Guildford of Godalming or Alton. And these towns offer a pleasant environment to wander around. The best Aldershot can offer is the recently refurbished Queen Hotel (and that is not good). And you can get a decent cappuccino at Caffe Macchiato.

Look at Aldershot and Farnborough, both are disaster, then look to the nonsense spouted by the imbecile leader of the council, and it is easy to see why.

In Farnborough one million pounds was wasted repaving Queensmead, shoddy workmanship, poor quality paving slabs, and when there is a heavy downpour it floods. Kingsmead is one of the ugliest shopping centres in the country, empty and boarded-up units, the look and feel of a film set for a post-apocalyptic movie.

Aldershot boarded-up and empty shops, fast food outlets, gambling joints, drunks on the streets.

Austerity, what austerity? When it comes to wasting public money, there is no limit. Austerity is an excuse for Shock Doctrine, slash and burn of public services.

An exciting new project to improve Aldershot town centre has received the go ahead from members of Rushmoor Borough Council’s Cabinet.

Everything is always described as ‘exciting’. They must lead incredibly dull lives.

The first phase of improvements is expected to start next year and will see the shop fronts of key town centre buildings restored.

Restoration of shop fronts to their original shop fronts should have happened decades ago.

Caffe Macchiato

Caffe Macchiato

Caffe Macchiato look after their building, why not other landlords?

How will be enforced?

Grants are to be paid to bad landlords. Why should bad landlords who unlike Caffe Macchiato have looked after their building be rewarded? And if grants are to be paid, then the town should receive something in return, for example rent reduction to local indie businesses.

Phase two will focus on Union Street and Wellington Street. Paving will be repaired and Yorkstone will be replaced with block paving to match the current materials. Existing street furniture and landscaping will be scaled back to give clearer views and lighting will be redesigned to enhance the night-time environment.

The streets are trip hazards, patches of tarmac everywhere, uneven blocks and paving slabs.

 lorry in 'pedestriansied'  Union Street

lorry in ‘pedestriansied’ Union Street

Why are these streets not pedestrianised 24 hours a day seven days a week? Allowing vehicles through at four o’clock in the afternoon is a nightmare for pedestrians. Delivery lorries are smashing the paving slabs.

Both streets should be pedestrianised. Lorry and van deliveries can be made by parking on the edge of the town centre and delivering by hand cart. This is the norm in the old part of Istanbul, in Cascais, Athens, Puerto de la Cruz, Bassano del Grappa and many other European cities.

The paving of the streets should be York slabs, not blocks.

Re-paving of Queensmead took six months. Businesses saw footfall and takings fall during the work, they saw no recovery on completion of the work.

Clearer views of what? Bench seats do not obscure any views.

Costa should be barred from tables and chairs outside. The tables and chairs and the A-board are an obstruction on the street corner, the area covered in fag ends.

Night-time economy is drunken thugs roaming the streets. One reason why Aldershot now has Street Angels.

Aldershot lacks decent pubs. Somewhere to go and have a quiet drink of decent beer from a small brewery, eat a decent meal at a reasonable price, at night occasional quality live music.

The next stage will see signage improved to encourage people to visit different parts of town. Existing finger posts will be kept and seven monoliths will be installed at key town centre locations to provide visitors with information.

Why no finger posts directing people from Wastegate into the town centre?

Also need finger posts directing from town centre and bus and train station to West End Centre, a cultural oasis in the Philistine desert of Aldershot.

Monoliths appalling waste of public money.

Phase four will focus on Court Road and Wellington Street. A new footway link will be added between the upper decks of the High Street car park and Court Road. A new amphitheatre stairway will lead pedestrians from the High Street car park to the town. The car park will receive an external facelift and secure cycle stores will be introduced.

Footway link not necessary. Nor new stairway.

Tarting up the car park, will not disguise the fact an ugly multi-story car park.

Cycle storage out of sight, ideal for cycle thieves.

An appalling waste of public money.

Grosvenor Road will become a single lane making it easier for pedestrians to move from one side of the street to the other. There will be a focus on improving the look of the area, with wider pavements, contrasting paving materials, public art and street tree planting.

Grosvenor Road was only resurfaced a few weeks ago with new tarmac laid. Appalling waste of public money, if to be dug up to narrow the road and widen the pavements.

What should have been done at the time was a pedestrian crossing linking Union Street with Upper Union Street.

Grosvenor Road already is single lane, the pavements are not narrow.

The Queen Hotel has two A-Boards outside blocking the footpath, one across a dropped curb. The council has been aware since the pub re-opened in April following refurbishment. No action has been taken to affect their removal.

Delivery lorries for The Queen Hotel illegally park on the pavement. Council aware, no action taken

There is very low footfall in the street, nothing for passers by to visit. Thus an appalling waste of public money to widen the pavements and narrow the road.

There is a need to clean up the disgusting, dilapidated state of the buildings in Grosvenor Road. Some appear to be tenement slums. This means enforcement action against the landlords.

Barrack Road to be closed. Where do the buses to Farnham go, or has this not been thought of? Buses go up the High Street, turn left into Barrack Road en-route to Farnham. All around the houses, would not be acceptable to passengers or the bus company and would add unnecessary delay and fuel consumption. There has been no consultation with passengers or bus drivers. There are no legitimate grounds to close Barrack Road, nothing to be gained by doing so, but inconvenience would be caused to bus passengers.

Victoria Street

What of Victoria Street? A couple of years ago, the pavements were widened, the road narrowed. Traffic is not permitted to pass through during the day. Absolutely no notice is taken, buses can barely pass through due to cars parked either side. And if no traffic is permitted, how did the parked cars get there?

A lost opportunity. Victoria Street should have been pedestrianised.

Residents and businesses can find out more about the project at exhibitions being staged at key Aldershot sites in August. Starting on Monday 4 August, there will be displays at the Princes Hall and Wellington Centre. These will then move to Morrisons at Westgate and the Aldershot pools complex from Friday 15 August to the end of the month.

The usual fake consultation, plans already drawn up, go through the motions.

There has been no consultation with local indie retailers or people on the street in drawing up these plans.

Princess Hall is out of the way. Morrisons, people do a trolley shop and drive home, do not go into the town centre.

There is no publicity in the town centre.

It has already been decided when the work will start!

Telling people what the council has already decided, is not consultation.

Courts take a dim view of the failure to carry out fair and open minded consultation.

The decision by Philistines at Lincolnshire County Council to close two-thirds of libraries in the county, reduce hours at those remaining, fire 170 library staff, has been quashed by the High Court, due to the failure of the council to carry out proper consultation.

There should be stalls in Aldershot town centre, out in the open in Union Street, manned seven days a week, 10am until 6pm, for at least a fortnight, ideally a month, to take on board what locals think.

Exercise in hypocrisy

More nonsense from the imbecile leader of the council:

We want the town centre to be a busy and thriving place and the planned programme of improvements will help us to improve the appearance of Aldershot town centre and pedestrian links between key locations. We understand the issues facing Aldershot and see this phased approach as the next part of Aldershot’s regeneration.

What regeneration?

This is simply an exercise in barefaced hypocrisy. It is the council that has to date destroyed the town centre.

It’s the local economy stupid!

The proposals being put forward by the council are yet another example of squandering public money. They will do nothing to enhance Aldershot or remove its stigma as the place to avoid.

There should be zero tolerance of the drunken yobs at night, and that includes zero tolerance of the binge drinking bars that are fuelling their behaviour.

Clean up all the buildings, restore them to their former Victorian splendour.

Pedestrianise all the town centre streets, and that means a 24 hour seven days a week ban on all but emergency vehicles. Cyclists would be permitted.

Whilst the local council is in the main to blame for the parlous state of Aldershot town centre, greedy, grasping landlords charging unreasonable rents for a slum town centre are also to blame.

Just Shop has recently closed. It was the type of quality independent retailer that Aldershot needs and can ill afford to lose. They were forced to close by a greedy landlord charging too high a rent and not willing to enter into negotiations to lower the rent.

A policy that is working in other towns is to list all the rents being charged. Name and shame the bad landlords. When tenants go for a rent review, they have hard data to force their rents down.

Aldershot is a slum. The rents do not reflect this.

Aldershot is a deprived area. Everything possible should be done to retain money within the local economy, to recycle that money within the local economy.

Council policy to date has been to drain money out of the local economy, thus enforcing a downward spiral.

Support and promote local businesses.

Council policy to date, has been to destroy local businesses.

Following the excellent example of Guildford with Guildford Independent’s Day, and launch on 15 July 2015 Aldershot Independent’s Day. The only problem, as one indie business has identified, the lack of indie businesses. The actual problem is the lack of quality indie businesses.

Consider the introduction of a local currency, an Aldershot Pound. Problem same as for Aldershot Independent’s Day, the lack of quality indie businesses.

The Arcade lies boarded-up, sitting derelict. The council should serve a Compulsory Purchase Order and reopen, with the units let at realistic rents to local businesses.

Encourage community businesses like TechStart (a rare success story in Aldershot) and Transition Community Cafe.

Look to nearby towns, Guildford, Godalming, Farnham. Unlike Aldershot, they must be doing something right.

Look at the Portas Pilot towns, now two years on, and learn the lessons to be learnt. Only £100,000 was given to each Portas Pilot town. A drop in the ocean, less than a High Street chain would spend on outfitting a single store. No studies have been carried out. More shops have closed than have opened in the Portas Pilot towns. There is much criticism of the lack of analysis of and lack of support for the Portas Pilot towns.

Look to Transition Towns and the work being done by local communities to revive their towns. One of the failings by the local council has been not to involve local communities. The policy has always been to give developers what they want and show arrogant contempt for the wishes of local people and local businesses.

It is going to take years to recover from the damage inflicted on the town centre by the local council. That proposed by the council is simply an exercise in hypocrisy and squandering public money. Apart from repaving the two semi-pedestrianised streets, it will do nothing to help Aldershot.

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8 Responses to “£4.5 million to be poured into the black hole of Aldershot”

  1. KevinRCarter Says:

    So I can expect photos of smarmy looking RBC officials standing next to a bench in the town centre soon? RBC will make a hash of it, we know this from many poor choices made since WW2.

  2. keithpp Says:

    What we are seeing is appalling two-faced hypocrisy. Having trashed Aldershot and Farnborough, what we are now seeing is the wringing of hands, shedding of crocodile tears, something must be done being used as an excuse for squandering millions of pounds of public money (for which we all have to pay).

    Wasting a million pounds on shoddy workmanship re-paving Queensmead with cheap paving slabs, did not bring people into Farnborough, nor did anyone expect it to would. Nor will squandering £4.5 million of public money in Aldershot bring people into Aldershot.

    The lower half of Union Street needs repaving, but not with blocks,and certainly not by the contractors who made such a mess in Queensmead. But this money will not be well spent, if Union Street is not closed to traffic.

    The other proposals are to pour money down the drain. Something this council excels at.

    Trees in Grosvenor Road. What of the trees destroyed at Firgrove Green in Farnborough? Trees the head of planning blatantly lied about when he said they were in poor state of health.

    We saw how much the council cares about local businesses, local heritage, when they pushed plans to destroy the four businesses at Firgrove Parade and when they pushed to destroy The Tumbledown Dick.

    With this sum of money to spend, a CPO could have been served on The Tumbledown Dick, a CPO could be served on The Arcade.

    To claim Wastegate a success for Aldershot, is laughable.

    There has been no discussion on these proposals with local retailers in Aldershot. The first they knew was when they learnt what is writ here. How do you know, the response of one local business. But then that is par for the course with this council, arrogant contempt for local businesses and the local community.

    Measures need to be taken to stop money flowing out of the local economy, recycling through local businesses. Hence support needed for local businesses.

    We also need the creation of better paid and more secure jobs, paying at least a Living Wage.

    Is Rushmoor paying its lowest paid workers a Living Wage.

    Creation of yet more temporary, low paid, zero hours McJobs, benefits no one, it simply draws in more immigrants as cheap labour.

  3. keithpp Says:

  4. keithpp Says:

    This evening I walked the length of Union Street, then along Wellington Street.

    Top end, nothing wrong. It is the lower end that is not good. Bad outside M&S, bad past patchwork repairs. Similarly along Wellington Street, bad patchwork repairs.

    All that is required, these areas dug up, the bricks relaid.

    No way can repaving entire length of both streets be justified.

    Queensmead in Farnborough was repaved when there was no need. No one can see any improvement, but they do note the shoddy workmanship, poor quality paving slabs, that it now floods every time it rains, and it cost £1 million. The work took six months, killed trade, and trade did not recover. It did not bring people into Farnborough

    That is the fear in Aldershot, what will be the impact on trade?

    Victoria Street was dug up a couple of years ago. Trade suffered whilst the street was dug up. A completely pointless exercise. A lost opportunity, the street should have been pedestrianised.

    And even if parts of the street are repaved, a waste of money if traffic not banned.

    A few areas to be repaved, that is the only work that can be justified. The rest is to pour money down the drain.

    Is this the council trying to look like it is doing something? Or worse, gravy train for those who get the contracts and backhanders for those who facilitated the contracts?

    How ever we look at it, it is an appalling waste of public money.

    The one thing it will not do is bring people into Aldershot.

  5. keithpp Says:

    There is no support either from local businesses or people on the street for these plans, seen as a waste of public money, and will not make a jot of difference to Aldershot.

  6. keithpp Says:

    Aldershot £4.5 million down the drain: Consultation, what consultation?

  7. keithpp Says:

    £4.5 million to be poured down the drain, no consultation, now £60,000 to be spent on consultants to advise how yet more public money can be poured down the drain trashing Aldershot.


  8. keithpp Says:

    One thing guaranteed to piss people off is nuisance phone calls.

    The latest wheeze from the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor is to commission a marketing company to make nuisance phone calls to local residents to ask them what they think of efforts by the council to trash Aldershot and Farnborough.


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