I last wrote about the £2.5 million proposed makeover of Saturday Market in Beverley on 20 December. Since then events have been moving at a rapid rate.
On Saturday 23 December, around 500 protesters took to the streets of Beverley, in very heavy rain, calling for an end to the scheme. As you will see from the video I recorded, last Sunday roughly the same number marched through the town again (and also posted a petition with 800 names on it through the front door of County Hall) ahead of a meeting the following day with officials from East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC).
The meeting did not go well as the council dug its heels firmly into the ground. On Wednesday, around 200 people protested outside County Hall (see photograph below) and unexpectedly, the leader of the council, Stephen Parnaby, gave a statement in the form of an answer to a question from another councillor during the full council meeting.
Unfortunately, work on the makeover will start next week. Although the market square does need some resurfacing work done on it, no-one could describe it as a priority – especially as there are so many pothole-riddled roads in the county. The good news though is work on the main market square (where the cobbles are situated) will not commence until the final phase of work begins. This will allow the council and protesters to sit down and reach an agreement.
The headline in yesterday’s East Riding Mail summed-up the current situation perfectly: “People power causes council cobble wobble”.
Indeed it was people power. We already have too many bog-standard town centres in this country. Preserving the history and character of our towns and cities matters to people. History and character also attract tourists, which is good news for struggling businesses who need all the help they can get.
No-one I have spoken to wants this £2.5 million makeover. Many refer to it as a vanity project. They want money allocated to highways maintenance spent on roads throughout the East Riding; not just on one small part of it. Although a sizeable amount of taxpayers’ money will still be spent on this unwanted project, at least some money will be saved, and for the people of Beverley, part of their history will also be preserved.