Meanwhile, a note to would-be entrepreneurs: we don’t need any more cafés, tea shops, coffee shops or the like in the High Street. The High Street already has enough, some would say too many, of these and too few shops selling stuff people really need. Already, for many necessities, we have to go to Barnstaple. If the day comes when there are no, or few, shops in the High Street selling stuff we need, why will anyone go there? What, then, will come of the cafés, tea shops and coffee shops?
I would also suggest that we don’t need any more art galleries in the High Street, although they would be welcome elsewhere. To have a vibrant Hugh Street, we need it to be filled with shops that are busy throughout the year. If it is gradually taken over by establishments catering mainly to visitors, we will find it closed for half or more of the year, and the few remaining shops of practical use to locals will disappear. We will then need to visit Tesco or Barnstaple for even the most trivial of purchases, which is hardly something to look forward to.
I hear that the Chivenor Military Wives Choir, of televisual fame, along with the church choir and a choir from the Junior School, will be singing at the Holy Trinity Church on Friday 7th July from 7pm to raise money to maintain the church building. Tickets from 01271 866647.
The Tubby Foundation has just announced that it will again this year be offering two bursaries, each of £500, to students having some connection to Ilfracombe and going to university to study a science or engineering subject. Information can be found at mrtubby.online/rules. If you know of anyone who might benefit, please be sure to let them know.
I see that the police station is to be sold and “future provision will be considered as part of the North Devon review”. Now I know that the inhabitants of Ilfracombe are intelligent, law-abiding, kind and considerate people, but we do occasionally get visitors from outside who may become a little boisterous. Surely some sort of permanent police presence is needed. We are, after all, a town of some 12,000 people year round, becoming substantially more crowded during the season. Saving money is all very well, but when it comes to decimating essential services, surely we are going too far.
Talking of money, there has been a lot in the news recently about money and austerity. Even some cabinet ministers seem to have come round to the idea that the belt has been tightened enough. My view is that when the fifth (or is it sixth, now?) richest country in the world finds it necessary to cut the number of teachers, policemen, fire fighters, health workers, then something is wrong. As I have said in relation to the hospital review, it is not that we don’t have the money – we should not even have to raise taxes. The trouble is that we are spending the money on inessentials.
Forget the billion or so to the DUP – that is peanuts in the context. HS2, for example, is going ahead at a cost that seems to increase by several billion every time I look at it. Is it £42 billion, which a reputable organisation suggested a couple of years ago, or is it £80 billion or even more, which is the latest figure I have heard bandied about? Now, I am all in favour of spending on infrastructure – even a seemingly pointless project can reinvigorate the economy and may generate more economic activity than it costs. However, does it make sense to spend this money when cuts elsewhere put the health and safety of the population at risk?
It is rather as if you decided to build a whizzy new extension on your house, but it cost so much you could not afford the house insurance premium. The next big storm blows over a massive tree, which demolishes half the house. You are left with a nice new extension and a pile of rubble!
If your house burns down because the limited fire service cannot get to you in time, or if you or a loved one is left lying in the street in agony for 2 hours because other, more urgent cases, need the few local ambulances left, will you be consoled by the thought that your suffering enables the country to have a nice shiny new railway line between London and Birmingham?