On the 5th May 2011 I failed in my attempt to be re-elected to Luton Borough Council after eight years serving as an elected councillor. This article is part of a series of posts where I attempt to process what those eight years have meant for myself by asking the question “what did I achieve?” in that time.
The first two achievements I have talked about in these posts have been a little insubstantial. They have been about decision making, meetings, and processes. This one however is actually something that I can go and point at and say “I did that”.
One of the major achievements of the Liberal Democrat minority administration of four years ago was the refurbishment of St George’s Square. I was part of the discussions that led to this and I am tremendously proud of what we did, but I certainly wouldn’t try to claim personal credit for the new Square. However, I can claim credit for a little bit of it.
Luton residents might remember that before the Square was redone the area at the beginning of New Bedford Road outside of what is now Di Niros Italian Restaurant contained a curiously shaped little lay-by. I never really understood what this was for. Presumably it was used for deliveries, but it never seemed to make much practical sense to me.
The designs for the new St George’s Square didn’t include this piece of land, it was not seen as being part of the Square, but it was included in the plans for the cycle paths that were timed to be built alongside it. The original plans for the cycle paths made no changes to the lay-by. I thought this was rather stupid.
The whole idea of the redevelopment was to improve the environment of St George’s Square and to make it work better for residents, shoppers and the business in and around it. I thought that this should also include making changes where we could tidying up around the edges. One of the things we wanted to achieve was more spaces outside pubs, bars and restaurants for tables and chairs. Filling in that lay-by and turning it into pavement would help to achieve both of these. So I insisted to the transport officers that their plans were changed to remove the lay-by.
It may seem a little odd to claim credit for such a little bit of pavement. But this is a very clear example of something that, if I hadn’t of spoken out, would not have happened.
This content was originally posted on my old Strange Thoughts blog.