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That bomb-site in High Town!

Complaint Herefordshire Council

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#1 Harry Beynon

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Posted 15 December 2013

As a new member, I am not sure whether this has been aired before . . . but is anyone else sick and tired of looking at the scaffolding in High Town?

It is now three years since the fire at the River Island site and there is still no sign of a re-build. This inertia is particularly annoying at a time when the Council continue to give their unstinting support to the Old Livestock Market scheme - a project which will in itself challenge the viability of the historic city core.

I have repeatedly asked Herefordshire Council why they are not taking enforcement action in order to insist on the repair and refurbishment of these buildings but they are unable to reassure me beyond saying they are 'encouraging' the owners to re-build.

It is clear to everyone that the owners will not re-build voluntarily. They have pocketed the insurance monies and have no interest in re-investing in High Town at a time when the Old Livestock Market development is sucking up all potential new tenants in the city. In fact, the owners have a further motive for not refurbishing in so far as the buildings will remain rates-free while ever they are unusable.

This continuance of this eyesore is a scandalous dereliction of the Council's duty. At a time when the historic centre needs all the support it can get, the Council are allowing this carbuncle to remain while polishing it's new crown jewels at the OLM.

Please, Please, Please try and shake our Councillors out of this nightmare!


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#2 ragwert

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Posted 15 December 2013

As a new member, I am not sure whether this has been aired before . . . but is anyone else sick and tired of looking at the scaffolding in High Town?

It is now three years since the fire at the River Island site and there is still no sign of a re-build. This inertia is particularly annoying at a time when the Council continue to give their unstinting support to the Old Livestock Market scheme - a project which will in itself challenge the viability of the historic city core.

I have repeatedly asked Herefordshire Council why they are not taking enforcement action in order to insist on the repair and refurbishment of these buildings but they are unable to reassure me beyond saying they are 'encouraging' the owners to re-build.

It is clear to everyone that the owners will not re-build voluntarily. They have pocketed the insurance monies and have no interest in re-investing in High Town at a time when the Old Livestock Market development is sucking up all potential new tenants in the city. In fact, the owners have a further motive for not refurbishing in so far as the buildings will remain rates-free while ever they are unusable.

This continuance of this eyesore is a scandalous dereliction of the Council's duty. At a time when the historic centre needs all the support it can get, the Council are allowing this carbuncle to remain while polishing it's new crown jewels at the OLM.

Please, Please, Please try and shake our Councillors out of this nightmare!

Oh God not again :Sad:


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#3 Glenda Vaughan-Powell

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Posted 15 December 2013

Harry, this has been aired a lot on here, but as you said you are new to the site. I was in town on Thursday and was surprised to see men in hard hats working on the site as I could see through some of the  the boarding, mind you if you were not close to it you would not be aware of this. Councillors have been on about this for quite some time but they do not seem to be in a hurry to complete the work.


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#4 megilleland

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Posted 15 December 2013

Introduction to "Stop the Rot"

 
Historic buildings matter. As well as connecting us to our shared past they add character to our villages, streets, towns and cities. On the whole they are well-cared for by their owners and continue to provide us with places to live, work, learn, visit and enjoy ourselves. They add uniqueness, character and a sense of place to our lives. 
 
Occasionally, however, things go wrong and they become empty and neglected; blots on the urban landscape or the village street. When this happens they not only become wasting assets in their own right, but they degrade the quality of the surrounding environment too. We all know what they look like; we can all point to examples in our own neighbourhoods. And above all we know the great harm they can do to the economic and social vibrancy of their surrounding communities.  
 
Just one stubbornly derelict boarded-up property can be an eyesore as well as a major source of economic blight and a disincentive to much-needed investment. In most cases, dialogue between the owner and the local authority can unlock a solution. Local authorities and English Heritage can work with owners to develop a viable use for a building or development to provide an economic future for a site that retains its historic character. Building preservation trusts can use their practical experience to restore neglected buildings back to productive use.And grants are available to help our most important buildings at risk. But sometimes positive support is simply not enough. 
 
In these exceptional circumstances local planning authority officers have no option than to draw upon a range of statutory enforcement measures.These powers are underused and this enhanced and updated edition of Stopping the Rot aims to help local authorities make better use of them.Timely enforcement can prevent buildings deteriorating and the costs escalating beyond the point where they are economic to repair. These powers, used in an incremental and proportional way, can play an invaluable role in bringing neglected historic buildings back to useful life. 
 
This nation’s historic buildings are a shared legacy; once lost they are lost forever. So saving England’s neglected heritage is a challenge for us all. It will only be overcome so long as government, private owners and the voluntary sector work together to breathe new life into these irreplaceable but sometimes neglected places. 
 
John Penrose MP
 
Not sure what the status of the buildings are, but being in a conservation area, the council must have duties to protect them? See here for Hereford City Central Area conservation area. The Hereford City Central Area map is here.
 

The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 defines conservation areas as:

 
"areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance".
 
A conservation area is an area of special interest, not only due to the buildings but also the interaction of the spaces around them and natural features, such as trees and open spaces. Together these form distinctly recognisable areas of quality and interest. Once an area is designated, the local planning authority is under a duty to prepare proposals to ensure the preservation and enhancement of the area.

 

English Heritage - Conservation Q &As

 
Q: How can conservation area status help retain life in the high street which is in danger of serious decline and suffers competition from out-of-town superstores? 
 
A: To have been designated a conservation area the high street must have some historic or architectural interest, and it must potentially be an attractive area that both local people and visitors would want to visit. The conservation area’s character can be thought of as the “Unique Selling Point”, a marketing term, for the area. Your council should be considering how the Conservation Area Management Plan or Strategy can enhance this character, and how it can as part of its tourism strategy promote it. In historic high streets the buildings are often of differing sizes of shop unit and these should be able to accommodate a variety of businesses. Further advice is available in the English Heritage publication ‘Retail Development in Historic Areas’ 

 

Hereford Civic Society

 

Hereford Civic Society is an independent local charity representing people who care about the City - They are the City's built environment forum who:- 

 
* Encourage high standards of architecture and town planning in Hereford
* Stimulate public interest in, and care for the beauty, history and character of the area of the   city and its surrounding
* Encourage the preservation, development and improvement of features of general public   amenity or historic interest
* HCS pursues these ends by means of meetings, exhibitions, lectures, a quarterly magazine and promotion of schemes of benefit to the Hereford community.
 
The Society is concerned about all aspects of the built environment and the civil society which lives here; and liaises with Hereford City Council and Herefordshire Council on relevant matters. 
 
Maybe a councillor could delve into what is going on and tell us the current plans for the site and timeline?

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#5 Biomech

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Posted 15 December 2013

Harry, this has been aired a lot on here


And, like everything else broken in Hereford, it will continue to be aired until something is done about it.
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#6 Glenda Vaughan-Powell

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Posted 15 December 2013

Two reasons I know about is because it is in a conservation area it has to be reinstated as it was before, the other was that as it is privately owned they could not agree on the amount of insurance payout,that was about 18 months ago. As i said in my previous post I saw men working there.
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#7 Alex

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Posted 15 December 2013

 

 
Not sure what the status of the buildings are, but being in a conservation area, the council must have duties to protect them? See here for Hereford City Central Area conservation area. The Hereford City Central Area map is here.
 

 

 

 
 
Maybe a councillor could delve into what is going on and tell us the current plans for the site and timeline?

 

I will probably get slammed for this but... this is the problem with Hereford oh lets save this building oh and lets save this black and white wall and this special medieval window, I really wish this lot had burned to the ground, I really do because by now we would of had a nice new modern building, instead of the monstrosity still hanging by a thread waiting for someone to start working on it. Nobody wants it! And even when it is finally restored it will continue to be listed and no future tenant will want to touch these buildings with a barge pole and who can blame them? More hassle than they are worth add this to the Hereford Council rates and bam! Welcome to Hereford's ghost town. They have also ruined what could of been a spectacular new shopping centre, it looks just like the old cattle market, pig sheds! (I know this was their aim, so I hope they are happy with the brick shed we now have)


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#8 Victor Wright

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Posted 16 December 2013

I will probably get slammed for this but... this is the problem with Hereford oh lets save this building oh and lets save this black and white wall and this special medieval window, I really wish this lot had burned to the ground, I really do because by now we would of had a nice new modern building, instead of the monstrosity still hanging by a thread waiting for someone to start working on it. Nobody wants it! And even when it is finally restored it will continue to be listed and no future tenant will want to touch these buildings with a barge pole and who can blame them? More hassle than they are worth add this to the Hereford Council rates and bam! Welcome to Hereford's ghost town. They have also ruined what could of been a spectacular new shopping centre, it looks just like the old cattle market, pig sheds! (I know this was their aim, so I hope they are happy with the brick shed we now have)

 

Alex, you will not get slammed by me because I am 100% of the same opinion, it is no wonder there are so many empty shops they should of knocked it down in the first place, we mights have a River Island or some other shops with apartments above open and trading by now, how many years is it?


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#9 megilleland

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Posted 16 December 2013

From BBC H&W radio

 
26 August 2011
 
Shops damaged in a fire in Hereford should reopen in time for Christmas 2012 if plans are approved.
 
One store was completely destroyed and two others badly damaged by the fire in High Town last year.
 
Chris Woodall, from architects Hook Mason, said: "It's important that we try to create something visually interesting and sympathetic to the surroundings."
 
The firm's design has been submitted to Herefordshire Council for approval.
 
Mr Woodall said they had liaised with the council and English Heritage over how the new building would fit with High Town.
 
"It's not necessarily a traditional facade - it's very much a representation of buildings of the 21st Century as opposed to the 18th or 19th Century which most of the facades in the town date from," he said.
 
The original facades of the two shops damaged in the fire would be restored under the proposed plans, together with the passageway that ran to the historic Booth Hall behind the shops.
 
The rebuilding would also allow some of the upper floors to be used for residential accommodation.
 
Mr Woodall said: "I know it's something that the local authority were keen to see to really breath a bit of life back into the city centre by having people working here and living here."
 
The amount of retail space available would also be increased if the plans are approved, by extending the buildings and using the first floors.
 
Building work is expected to start next month subject to approval.

 

Alex and Victor there is no question of something modern being built here it is just a question of when. The council should put pressure on the landlords or compulsory purchase the site.


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#10 Biomech

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Posted 16 December 2013

I will probably get slammed for this but... this is the problem with Hereford oh lets save this building oh and lets save this black and white wall and this special medieval window, I really wish this lot had burned to the ground

 

 

 

I think I speak for most when I say it's not about "saving" buildings. It's about looking after them so they don't go to **** in the first place. Oxford is packed with historic buildings and it fills the city with character because they are maintained and not left to rot as most things are in Hereford. Look at the Left Bank, that was a complete new build, left to to rot just like everything else. So it doesn't really matter if the building is torn out and something modern put in it's place, the council will fail to look after that as well. 


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#11 K.Butt

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Posted 16 December 2013

I think I speak for most when I say it's not about "saving" buildings. It's about looking after them so they don't go to **** in the first place. Oxford is packed with historic buildings and it fills the city with character because they are maintained and not left to rot as most things are in Hereford. Look at the Left Bank, that was a complete new build, left to to rot just like everything else. So it doesn't really matter if the building is torn out and something modern put in it's place, the council will fail to look after that as well. 

 

How can the council be at blame for the left bank, it is privately owed just like the eye sore in town! 


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#12 dippyhippy

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Posted 16 December 2013

Completely agree Biomech.

What we have is heritage - we have a duty to protect it.

Otherwise, you could say well what's the point of the up keep of the Cathedral?? Or the Black and White trail?? Or the Black and White House??

These beautiful buildings are one of the reason tourists come to Hereford. I do think it should be easier to make improvements to Listed Buildings, but they need to be saved/protected for future generations.


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#13 ragwert

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Posted 16 December 2013

Two reasons I know about is because it is in a conservation area it has to be reinstated as it was before, the other was that as it is privately owned they could not agree on the amount of insurance payout,that was about 18 months ago. As i said in my previous post I saw men working there.

Watched them putting some blue safety netting on the front the other day.
I have heard River Island could not wait any longer for the building to be rebuilt and are now going on the new development.
Also if English heritage are involved which I think they are then this is another reason for the delay in rebuilding.


Edited by ragwert, 16 December 2013 .

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#14 Steve Major

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Posted 16 December 2013

Completely agree Biomech.

What we have is heritage - we have a duty to protect it.

Otherwise, you could say well what's the point of the up keep of the Cathedral?? Or the Black and White trail?? Or the Black and White House??

These beautiful buildings are one of the reason tourists come to Hereford. I do think it should be easier to make improvements to Listed Buildings, but they need to be saved/protected for future generations.

 

I appreciate that of course we need to embrace our heritage but some buildings are almost beyond economical repair and no company in their right minds will sign up to a 5 year + all repair lease, it's alright you all harping on about keeping the character and heritage but these companies do not want the hassle and no small business is ever going to want one of these listed buildings, hence, why we have so many empty shops!!!! Hellooooo


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#15 dippyhippy

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Posted 16 December 2013

And hellooooo to you to Steve!!
I take your point as I said, I do think some restrictions could be lifted to ensure these buildings can be a part of the 21st century...but going back to Biomechs point,which I was agreeing with, how come York, Stratford upon Avon and Oxford ,to name but a few, can protect,preserve and embrace these buildings, recognise them for what they are,yet here in Hereford we seem to be of the opinion that it's all too much trouble?
If you want new,look no further than the OLM-bland,ugly and hardly a tourist attraction.
The demise of High Town began long before the fire at River Island .It began with the idea that The Edgar Street Grid project was going to be the answer to all our prayers.
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Proud to be a tolerant and compassionate tree hugger. Blessed with common decency and humanity. Willing to speak up for those in need. Prepared to challenge the bigoted views which seem to be aired so freely.... 

 

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#16 Rebecca Morrison

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Posted 16 December 2013

I appreciate that of course we need to embrace our heritage but some buildings are almost beyond economical repair and no company in their right minds will sign up to a 5 year + all repair lease, it's alright you all harping on about keeping the character and heritage but these companies do not want the hassle and no small business is ever going to want one of these listed buildings, hence, why we have so many empty shops!!!! Hellooooo

 

ditto


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#17 Grid Knocker

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Posted 17 December 2013

Completely agree with Dippy and the historic towns cited in the post: York, Stratford, Oxford.  Add Salisbury, Norwich and Winchester to them.  Can you really see any of these six turning a blind eye to a burnt-out shell in their city centres for three years?

 

Or look across High Town to the poor old Butter Market.  When was it Brother Bretherton launched that architectural design competition for cutting-edge commercial solutions for this 'jewel in the city's crown' (copyright for this overworked phrase: J.Jarvis)?  Four years ago this month!

 

And as for suggesting that English Heritage is some sort of architectural heritage police force.  Perleaze!  You might as well tell me that George Osborne understands how an abacus works!


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#18 Biomech

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Posted 18 December 2013

How can the council be at blame for the left bank, it is privately owed just like the eye sore in town! 

 

 

 

I was expecting someone to say that ;) 

In a nutshell, because the way the council run the city and the high business rates and lack of maintaince to the surrounding areas of such places - like the riverside, the roads, the parking. People don't want to and can't afford to invest in projects such as the left bank or other places. Look at how long the Crystal Rooms was closed, now it's a spa. Full of missed opportunity because the council make it very difficult for people to develop new businesses. They much rather roll over for people who have a lot of money to do the job for them than help nurture new business and young entrepeneurs.

 

There were big plans to revamp, develop and invest in Broad Street (and thus draw business to that side of town)... until they realise that it would be in competition with the North/West of the city and their precious OLM.

 

I think you're fairly new here, so you might have missed me mention it previously, but when you look at the big picture, the council have focused on the north/west and scrapped the south/east.

 

Eign Gate, Widemarsh Street, OLM, Rockfield - developing areas.

Broad Street, Town Centre/Union Street, Left Bank - had plans to invest but were scrapped at the last minute.

 

It's clear that their focus is on moving the centre of the city.


Edited by Biomech, 18 December 2013 .

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#19 Biomech

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Posted 18 December 2013

 hence, why we have so many empty shops!!!! Hellooooo

 

 

 

I'm pretty sure most of the empty shops aren't listed.

 

But you're right, they look like a bag of **** because certain people haven't invested in maintenance of the buildings and surrounding areas. That coupled with high business rates and the council stifling small businesses through long and pointless startup processes, no one will want to use them. Then you're left with a bag of ****, a la left bank. But you can bet if some big multimillionaire or global company had plans for them, things on the councils end would start to get done in a timely manner.

 

And for anyone who's new here. I'm not against the OLM, I just think that they should have fixed what was broke first and sorted out the roads and infrastructure instead of scrapping what we already have and starting again from scratch. I'll have a look when the OLM opens, but right now, there's nothing there that really interests me. We have more than enough supermarkets, not really bother about debenhams and the rest are empty or shops that we already have moving in (Odeon, Next, TK Maxx, H&M and another Costa)


Edited by Biomech, 18 December 2013 .

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#20 megilleland

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Posted 06 March 2014

And, like everything else broken in Hereford, it will continue to be aired until something is done about it.

 

Which brings us to a interesting letter from The Hereford Times:

 

12:12pm Thursday 6th March 2014 in Letters

Hereford Times: Missing and damaged letters on the paving stones in Hereford’s High Town.

 

Barry Cobbett questions installation of brass inlaid stone paving in Hereford's High Town

 
IT was with some degree of sadness when I read that Hereford City Council intends replacing the areas of brass inlaid stone paving with some uninteresting plain slabs, thus removing for good an important reference to the history of our city. The original idea was a brilliant concept and a simple but exciting addition to the hard landscaping of High Town. Unfortunately, the work was badly designed and installed without proper consideration being given to the task.
 
Why was this allowed to happen? Why was no action taken earlier to investigate the problem and find a remedy before it was too late? Why, within the seven-year timescale was there no action taken to invoke the latent defects clause within the contract (if indeed there was one) and place the onus back upon the contractor rather than allow the council-tax payer to foot the bill?
 
Another example of profligacy with our money?
 
The article says that “the City Council believes the process of adding the brass letters weakened the stone”. So, our councillors appear now to be setting themselves up as specialists in this area of masonry.
 
Laying stone paving of this type, together with the inlays, should be no problem provided a sound substrate was correctly installed to take the designed load, and the slabs were bedded soundly using the right medium. There is no doubt in my mind that investigations will show that proper procedures were not adhered to in the first place; that, and that alone will surely be the reason found for failure of the paving.
 
BARRY COBBETT
Past president - Stone Federation Great Britain
Wellington, Hereford

Edited by megilleland, 06 March 2014 .

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#21 twowheelsgood

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Posted 06 March 2014

Excellent letter from Mr Cobbett - the brass inlays are a very nice idea, telling an interesting story, but unfortunately very badly executed. Amey - yes you guessed it - went for the cheapest option which was a nasty poor quality import from China, which started to fail almost immediately. Of course no one in charge did anything about it at the time, Amey stuck two fingers up to the council tax payer and a thumbs up to their shareholders and we are where we are.  It’s just one example of the mass failure of our infrastructure right across the County as a result of privatising public services without the client side expertise to ensure value for money - sadly, I don't see how we can ever pull it back.


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#22 Roger

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Posted 06 March 2014

Amey - yes you guessed it - went for the cheapest option which was a nasty poor quality import from China, which started to fail almost immediately. 

 

I don't think there is anything wrong with Chinese slate. I've got it through most of the ground floor of my house. It lasts superbly and certainly was not cheap. But I suppose I haven't got hundreds of people walking down my hall every day.

 

The issue is obviously down to 1. Was the arty slate fit for the purpose that it was being put to (was it thick enough for a start) ? 2. Was it fitted correctly.

 

I do know those brass letters started to come off almost immediately after they were laid. First it was one or two then it started to happen more and more. You only needed an element of looseness to creep in and the things were off. I don't know how easy it is to stick brass to slate, or indeed if the best adhesive was used, but I do know that water was getting in and weakening the bond.

 

It is disappointing that all that money was spent on this fancy paving for it to all fall apart in what, in the big scheme of things, is five minutes. But if you look at the bigger picture the High Town Scheme involved laying a shed load of light grey coloured stones. So obviously having done that you wheel in two minutes later all manner of drinks vans leaking liquid all over the place, multiple rides leaking oil and food tents dripping fat everywhere. Hence the horrendous staining all over the place. However you probably won't notice that most of the time as the town centre is rammed with wall to wall tents making it look like a giant car boot sale. The Council could probably rent out another couple of tents if they removed that scaffolding in front of the bombed out remains of River Island so I'm surprised they haven't progressed that issue! 

 

Plus you've got that massive blob of tarmac poured onto the road on the bend outside M&S in the middle of the grey road paving ~ which itself started to get loose weeks after it was laid because of heavy vehicles turning on that corner and putting a strain on the stones. Very attractive! 


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#23 megilleland

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Posted 06 March 2014

Liverpool’s Grade 1 listed Central Library re-opened to the public today, following a £50m refurbishment.
 
The refurbished library now includes a 22 metre long Literary Pavement. Made from granite, the pavement is engraved with book titles from world literature, including, at Liverpool Council’s request, Swallows and Amazons. 
 
I thought one of the letters in the word "Amazon" was missing in the photograph, but it is part of a puzzle.
 

Edited by megilleland, 06 March 2014 .

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#24 dippyhippy

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Posted 06 March 2014

Oh my.
That Literary path looks absolutely amazing. Quite beautiful in fact.
When was the last time any of us could say that about a new addition to Herefords city scape.
Why can other cities get it so right - and we consistently get it so wrong?
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#25 Roger

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Posted 06 March 2014

Liverpool Library opened in May last year. I only know as I'm in Liverpool all the time ... And that Literary Path does look amazing.

 

The reality tho is that the Liverpool Council met last night to discuss £42M cuts to services ... to include support for disabled/elderly/children being slashed ... 

 

http://www.liverpool...-budget-6776442


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#26 dippyhippy

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Posted 06 March 2014

Evening Roger!
Yes, budgets are being slashed across the country - the point I was attempting to make - probably quite badly! - was that other authorities seem to spend money and have something worthwhile to show for it, and ours.....well, need I say more.....??

Edited by dippyhippy, 06 March 2014 .

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#27 Roger

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Posted 06 March 2014

Evening Roger!
Yes, budgets are being slashed across the country 

 

Good evening! That is probably why they are kicking the living daylights out of the parking! I was in town today and there was a warden in Gaol Street car park and 200 yards later there was one in Kyrle Street slapping out a ticket in the car park opposite the dentist. The whole budget seems to hinge on parking revenue and enforcement. Plus I suppose the Council tax .... But I still can't understand some of these Management salaries on the Council .... They are maintained obviously! 


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#28 dippyhippy

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Posted 06 March 2014

Parking tickets!
Grrrr!!
I live in White cross, not a million miles from Plough Lane, our road is predominantly street parking. The earliest we have had a parking ticket is 7.05am.
My other half works shifts, and regularly has to stay up after a night shift, until a parking space free from double yellows becomes available!!
Not a happy bunny!
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Proud to be a tolerant and compassionate tree hugger. Blessed with common decency and humanity. Willing to speak up for those in need. Prepared to challenge the bigoted views which seem to be aired so freely.... 

 

Sending peace and love, to my fellow lefties.


#29 Roger

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Posted 06 March 2014

Parking tickets!
Grrrr!!
I live in White cross, not a million miles from Plough Lane, our road is predominantly street parking. The earliest we have had a parking ticket is 7.05am.
My other half works shifts, and regularly has to stay up after a night shift, until a parking space free from double yellows becomes available!!
Not a happy bunny!

 

Wardens are on all sorts of shifts to extract money it would seem! Quickest ticket I have personally witnessed is one alleging that the car was parked illegally for 22 seconds. It was a car in a goods vehicle bay. Union Street. The warden wasn't interested in the fact the driver was dragging a huge gas bottle off to the balloon shop. I think it's gravitated to a situation where you get the ticket and then see the adjudicator. ... 


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#30 Biomech

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Posted 07 March 2014

Laying stone paving of this type, together with the inlays, should be no problem provided a sound substrate was correctly installed to take the designed load, and the slabs were bedded soundly using the right medium. There is no doubt in my mind that investigations will show that proper procedures were not adhered to in the first place; that, and that alone will surely be the reason found for failure of the paving.

 

 

 

Absolutely, as can be observed all over the country when it's done right. Cardiff Bay and city is full of interesting architecture and paving that has been properly implemented and lasted.

 

When will this idiotic council start to add terms to the contracts they sign up for. I would LOVE to be a private company contracted by the council because they will sign anything. No defect clauses, no measurable targets, no lack of service clauses. They literally sign the paper and say "do what you fancy and if you can't be assed, never mind, we'll pickup the bill after"


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