Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Can summer stop the rot?

WHAT price the empty properties which seem to be turning Weymouth’s welcome smile into a gap-toothed grin?

It’s almost impossible now to stroll the streets for any length of time without walking past someone’s faded commercial dream.

It is a bit like a jungle. All the mighty trees are shops but, when one crashes to earth, the gap it creates is swiftly papered over.

In the jungle this happens with all sorts of undergrowth madly scrambling for light but on the High Street the demise is covered by whitewash, flyposting for events or by signs advertising that the premises are available to buy or rent.

It is like a barometer for the health of a town. The more such signs you see then the louder warning bells should be ringing.

At the moment they should be deafening in Weymouth with shops going down, pubs closing and even the main post office moving to a new and smaller frontage from the traditional flagship corner site it had occupied for decades.

Some people are trying to launch a Business Improvement District, others are doing anything they can to stand out from the crowd and attract a few extra pounds, but many others are hanging on by their fingertips.

So this summer will be make or break. Get decent weather and a good season boosted by our Olympic coverage and economic wounds will heal a bit, but get yet more rain and a roadworks memory backlash and we’ll be seeing a few more signs go up.

Save the mayor’s sanity!

CAN anyone help Weymouth and Portland Mayor Margaret Leicester with the loan of a carrier pigeon?

I wouldn’t ask but she’s at the end of her tether over her dead council computer which recently switched from being her window on the world to being an electronic millstone round her neck.

She has been unable to see her emails, she can’t send any, she can’t investigate information she needs and she can’t even get on to Google.

The problem is of course that the many thousands of pounds spent on IT by the council doesn’t guarantee that anything works or, when it breaks down, that it will be swiftly repaired in an authority where staff are stretched to breaking point.

Trying to use an expensive expert to repair an expensive computer clearly isn’t an affordable answer, so we all need to rally round to support this bird appeal.

We need to act now before people passing the council offices are treated to a scream, the sound of breaking glass and the sight of a computer describing a graceful arc before splashing into the harbour.

I’m sure it can’t cost more than a few pounds to grab one of the pigeons coating all our buildings in bird poo and teach it to fly between the council offices and perhaps County Hall or Portland Town Council’s offices. And the wages would be, well, chickenfeed.

That way the borough’s leading civic figure would be able to keep her finger on the pulse of important decisions affecting Weymouth and Portland without tearing her hair out as “Program not recognised” scrolls merrily across her computer screen. Please give generously.

No women, children or animals first!

BUILDING an ark isn’t actually as hard as it’s cracked up to be.

I started mine after weathermen told me that January had just been Weymouth’s eighth month in a row with above average rainfall.

We’re all trying to keep our heads above water at the moment but I thought that was an expression coined by politicians about the economy. Apparently not... and taking one step outside my back door showed why.

All I did was go on to the lawn which promptly turned to muddy porridge under my feet.
Everywhere is so saturated that even the roads are leaking as runoff or springs force their way through the surface to trickle merrily away and provide yet another challenge for motorists by freezing to ice in occasional cold snaps.

Never mind. My ark is nearly finished and I certainly won’t be standing nobly to one side to allow the animals in two by two either. They can take their chances. I need the space for vital supplies such as a case of gin and a well-thumbed copy of Practical Boat Owner.

Still, spring officially starts tomorrow on March 1st - and then we’ve got April to look forward to. Last year was the wettest since 1880, so surely it will be a bit drier this year?
Yeah, I think you’re right. Pack an extra life raft and finish the ark. Sound advice.


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