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Contributed by Dr Angela Drakakis-Smith


Anyone asking the question ‘What’s that?’ may be forgiven – and though there is ‘public’ in the title and we are, largely speaking, ‘The Public’- since few will have heard of this Project.  Some time ago the Civic Society was asked to comment on ‘a plan’ for the town centre realm.  I cannot remember what was said, but I do remember the colour scheme – brown and yellow – and thinking, ‘Yuk!’  The project also encompassed changing the market stalls.  Since then one or two prototypes have been tried out.  Personally I didn’t think they looked that bad and seemed much better than the flapping polythene sheets that stall holders cling to in inclement weather.  It was recommended that the new structures needed some tweaking – and there the matter seems to have rested. 

A few months ago the consultant employed on this project gave a presentation to the Town Local Area Partnership (LAP).  He was asked if the community had been involved in the deliberations.  He said, ‘Not yet’.  Given that his term has now ended, and the public appear still not to have been involved, we might ask when this is likely to happen – if at all.

  Information/mis-information (who knows?) appears to be filtering through about moving some stalls to make way for a taxi rank.

 There is even a mumble about the town being ‘branded’ as a university town – better late than never to recognise this great asset which has been on the town’s doorstep for over 50 years – but this is all supposition.

 The great unveiling has yet to take place when all will be revealed.  Unfortunately, as it could be coming fully formed it might be too late to change it.  So what did happen to ‘community engagement’ and public ‘empowerment’?  We need to know.