Saturday, August 16, 2008
A bit of politics
I couldn't help but reflect on how different the town centre would be now, had the Tories won the Council elections in 1991 and thereafter.
Yesterday the Market Place was full of noise - from the Alpha 103.2 performance area to the funfair rides and the various food stalls. Well patronised cafes spilled out onto the pavement. Yet had the Tories had their way, the Market Place would still be an oily car park - a sad backwater and a ghost of its previous self.
It was the same as I wandered along West Row in front of the Indoor Market. Instead of happy sightseers, buses would have jostled for position. High Row would have remained a jumble of cars and planters, whilst shoppers would have had to dodge traffic as they negotiated the Bondgate/Prospect Place junction.
In short, we would have had a town centre frozen in the 1980's rather than fit for the twenty-first century. For nearly 20 years the Tories have played politics with the town centre rather than embrace change. Whilst some of that change was painful, it was essential if Darlington is to remain competitive with other towns in the area.
It was fantastic watching the children skipping in and out of the water feature. Without the Market Place and Pedestrian Heart schemes, this weekend's festival simply couldn't have taken place.