The Public closes down
Today’s picture is of the Art gallery and museum in Wednesbury. It’s ornate and Victorian, but it’s not very iconic is it? The Public in West Bromwich is iconic, a big box with pink bubble shaped windows. It must be iconic. I suppose the new college with it’s wave shaped roof is iconic too. Is the civic centre in Oldbury iconic? I’ve never seen it; but it must be better than our town hall, which isn’t at all iconic…
Our art gallery is quite nice though and ornate on the outside, despite it’s age. It only opens part time now. There is a contemporary exhibition on now. I went to see it, but it was closed; but at least I got a parking space. All this centralisation started with local government reorganisation. Local government went away from the people and we had less control. People drive down the motorway from Wednesbury to Oldbury. They didn’t even have the sense to centralise government in a central place. Then when the council tax came out and water was privatised that was a recipe for disaster. There are council estates all around Wednesbury and people used to pay a few quid in ‘rent’. In those days, rent included the rates to pay for local services, water and sewage charges as well as the rent. Now it’s all separate and virtually no new council homes have been built for years. The property boom meant house prices rocketed and so the council wanted ‘economic rents’. The water company put up charges because they wanted to invest in infrastructure. It had nothing to do with making money did it? The truth is foreign governments are investing in our water companies because they have a licence to print money and we are the ones paying through the nose.
Council tax has been a disaster too and allowed the councils to keep on empire building. Yes, in this area it has mostly been Labour councils doing the empire building, but council tax was a Tory idea. The council tax and lottery money and money from the Arts Council funded the Public. It had 50,000 visitors last month and costs £30,000 a week to run. That means it could be not only self sufficient, it could make a profit. It just has to make a small entrance charge and sell stuff, like art… It’s not the poorest in society that go to art galleries, it tends to be people who are better off and can afford to pay an entrance fee and might invest in art. I went to Darlaston library to see a little art exhibition this week. I went because it featured local artists. No, they didn’t have cartoons, videos, pickled sheep, the Turner prize or sculptures of naked men; they had local art that I actually wanted to see.
I have a hospital appointment tomorrow. I have to have a scan, that could take a while. The car parking charge is £1 for every 30 minutes. Will I go and pay it? Of course, it’s something I need to do. I think the charge is too much, but at least there will be a parking space. Before the charge, I couldn’t park because people were stopping to have drinks and meals at the hospital. We need parking charges, but they should be affordable at the same time to discourage people from parking for long periods, so we have free spaces.
If they introduced a similar charge on the car park at the Public would they still get 50,000 visitors a month to drink cappuccino in the pink cafe? Nah, I don’t think so either. I would pay a reasonable charge to park my car and go into the Public to see the summer exhibition of work by local artists. My other problem is driving through West Bromwich, why do all the kerbs stick out into the road down the High Street?
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