I am incensed! Apparently Gary Streeter, the South West Devon Tory MP Gary Streeter
has condemned Plymouth's 15-storey Civic Centre as "the ugliest thing outside Dudley". I am truly outraged. How very dare he?
Close readers of this blog will know I am very proud indeed of my long-term association with Brierley Hill in Dudley, and my relationship with Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, one of the most proactive (and good fun) local authorities it has ever been my privilege to work with. Has Mr Streeter ever even been to Dudley? I demand to know. Well, I wouldn't care to comment on the Plymouth Civic Centre (and I am sure it is not an architectural masterpiece) but Dudley Town Hall is a very fine arts and crafts building at the top of the market street, and its rather compelling entrance lobby boasted an inspired and uplifting interior of duck egg blue (and I trust it still does).
And of course, Dudley has a splendid castle and grounds (just don't mention the zoo). Dudley town centre itself could do with a bit of tender loving care (but couldn't they all?) but it certainly enjoys enough historic streetscape to deliver a potential renaissance under the careful tutelage of Robin Butler of Urban and Civic, still involved from his Chelsfield days, who chairs Dudley New Heritage Regeneration...
[A momentary diversion, while I'm on town centres. Yet again - did anyone pick up on the bonkers piece in the THES about the "Retail Navigator Team", established by the Economic and Social Research Council, which "will talk to shops to find out how existing and new research could help their businesses" and "how they might help to regenerate the high street with different offerings" to deliver "creativity and innovation in the supply chain, social media, ethical shopping, and how to sell goods on both the high street and online". These ideas seem to consist mainly of selling broccoli by the floret, rather than the whole head. Rather joyously, David Willetts (I assume the MP?) came online immediately to comment "Lesson for greengrocer from the social scientist - make sure your customers can buy carrots one at a time. Please cut funding for this drivel." You just have to smile.]