Sunday, May 28, 2006

On Nottingham

Unlike Paulie, I thought that this week's swiftly released press notice by Nottingham City Council wasn't too bad in defending the city against the latest statistical bollocks condemning the place.


It did get me thinking about where I stand on Nottingham's reputation.

Well, I grew up in Nottingham in one of its roughest estates (Hyson Green), and then moved to an estate that has since become a not great area to live in (Aspley). I've had friends who lived in areas such as Sneinton, St. Ann's, Radford and the Meadows (for not UK/Nottingham aware blog visitors that last one is nothing like what you may imagine: it's scarcely leafy, let alone meadowy). But a lot of its bad rep is established by ongoing media attention feeding those numbskulls who want to beef up their own criminal reputations. Maybe I've been lucky, and I certainly would not proclaim I've never seen, heard or experienced any crime. But is it significantly worse than anywhere else? No.

But the repuation is utterly damaged. Would anyone be surprised if university applications to The University of Nottingham drop this year (since it relies almost entirely on non-regional applicants)? Or if Nottingham Trent sees a shift away to other regional universities or even more voational courses run via non-university institutions (since they do draw most of their students from the locality)? And how will Nottingham dig itself out long term from that hole of a diminishing base of graduates?

On those grounds, I can well understand why Paulie and others have been infuriated by the perhaps too lily-livered response of the council (and other bodies in the area). Whilst the statement was fine as far as it went, it was hardly the voice of a very angry body.

Maybe we're just too accepting of the criticism and don't want to be seen causing a fuss in reponse believing it will continue to draw attention to the poor reports. As somehow by ignoring them/diminishing responses, we may make the negative media attention go away.

Yeah, that's really working.


Rob said...

Yeah, well, I grew up in Stockport which is apparently the third most crime-ridden place in England and Wales. I don't recognise the place from the statistics either.

Rachel said...

I don't live too far away from Nottingham and I have always quite liked it. I can remember years ago (in the 80s) when a trip to Nottingham on the train was the height of shopping excitement, because it had a Body Shop and a great little record shop (can't remember what it was called) and cor - shopping centres! I do find it a bit of a nightmare to negotiate by car though. Infact I am coming to the E Mids conference Centre soon and I have just bought a TomTom especially .. :-D

SimonHolyHoses said...

It's not the places. It's the people who live in a place that give it its character.

I was born and lived in the Meadows until I was six. Never saw any guns or drugs or even fighting (other than maybe a few fists).

I suspect that the rougher parts of Nottingham are rough purely because a small minority of the younger people there choose to make it so, and that is not confined to Nottingham.

The Market Square on a Saturday night has been a no-go area for me for a very long time though. It's having to jump over all the vomit that bothers me most.

Most of my family lived and were born in the Meadows - most of their friends were too. None of them were bad people.

HolyhosesRob said...

Well, I don't go by statistics but by personal experience. Nottingham has always had its Saturday Night/Sunday Morning reputation, but when I first encountered the place in 1989 I thought it was vibrant, colourful, and exciting (especially in comparison to Luton/Dunstable, where I grew up).

It used to be football match days that gave the city its weekend edge. I lived there from 1991 to 2004, first as a student (enjoying all the benefits of the NUS card) and later when I started working.

The place has changed in that time. What was vibrant and colourful has become a concentrated sinkhole of pubs and bars, attracting more and more people from outlying areas. Those same city councillors who defend its rep are responsible for granting all those drinks licences to all those new bars, clubs, and pubs over the past 10 years. A bank branch closes: pub. A cinema closes: bar. A retail outlet closes: another bar. And so on.

I don't think even the most ardent defender of Nottingham can deny that the city centre is unrecognisable compared to how it was 10 years ago. And all those extra bars have helped kill off pubs in outlying areas, because people have been attracted to the city centre, where there's always something new, with opening special offers, and lots of competition with extended happy hours.

I stood at a bus stop once as the guy next to me was punched, randomly, by a passer-by who didn't even stop, just threw out his fist. I thought it was a one-off, but it happened to someone else I know, and after that I started to think I wasn't going to bother with the city centre at a weekend again, and I started to worry about my kids going there. And then I started to wonder why I was even living there, because it started to be the case that I'd rather drive for 75 minutes down the motorway and go shopping in sunny Milton Keynes than go into Nottingham city centre.

I've blahed on too much, but I'm afraid I'm one of the detractors, and I put my money where my mouth is and moved away.