Thursday, 24 September 2015

Death by a thousand bricks

In the late 80's or was it the early 90's Hull betook itself of a scheme to pedestrianise parts of the city centre. Whitefriargate's pedestrianisation in the 70's having been deemed a success it was thought that a goodly dose of the same medicine would improve the place. Accordingly Jameson Street, King Edward Street and Queen Victoria Square were closed to traffic and paved over. Then later bricked over, as you see. The idea, no doubt, was to improve the 'shopping experience' and indeed no-one now gets hastled by a bus on King Edward Street but then they never did if they stuck to the pavement. As for the shops they have for the most part gone; I doubt there's single business that was running from before still going now. Instead there's, well as I've said before numerous coffee shops, charity shops, shops selling telephones and discount stores. There's also the inescapable fact that the place looks (I'll be polite here) ugly and drab. I'm told that after about 6pm the whole place is deserted which accounts for the closure of so many restaurants, pubs and so on. Today's paper brings a  tale of a restaurant being opened with the forlorn hope to "revive the evening economy", well good luck with that.
Now  instead of drawing the logical conclusion that bricking the place up was a big mistake the Council is going to polish the turd, as they say in certain parts, and fling millions at 'improvements' for the City of Culture. It won't work, no amount of pavement fountains, arty farty works and so on will bring in the shoppers. (The shops by the way are all in the new shopping mall St Stephens or out of town (people are going to Leeds and Sheffield for their shopping!), we'll skip over the absence of joined up thinking here, shall we?)  
Well here's my view for it's worth: Admit that the planners were barmy (and quite possibly corrupt, Hull is far from alone in having failed pedestrian schemes all put in in the glorious 90's), rip out the bricks, put in some tarmac and bring back the buses and cars, restore the status quo ante; in short bring back the life that was sucked out by this idiotic scheme.  But I suspect it's too late, there's a definite stench of decay but that could just be the drains....


  1. They might also get rid of the chuggers on Whitefriargate. Some days you run a gauntlet of them, all after your money.

  2. We've got one street downtown like this- it does get quiet after six, but mostly because the core is mostly government office workers, and the bulk of them work daytime hours.