Doing nothing is a guaranteed way of avoiding failure. Unfortunately, doing nothing also means getting left behind.
We recently came across the borough council’s 2008 “strategic approach” for the centre of Camberley. This was approved by the council’s executive at the time, and an extract is below.
Some of the “Key objectives to 2015” aren’t controversial, but the three that would make the most tangible and visible difference to the town, (regenerating the London Road Block and the ‘civic facilities’ and the station area) have – to put it politely – made little progress.
Yes, we’ve had a recession, and this has offered a cast-iron excuse for doing nothing. But, somehow, Bracknell’s redevelopment has managed to make good progress. The same applies in Woking. Farnborough is thriving. Indeed, Woking and Farnborough – and Basingstoke – are officially classified as ‘Growth Towns’; Camberley is merely a ‘Step-Up’ town (a ‘Step-Up’ town is regarded as one that could do better. We’re in same category as struggling Aldershot and Staines.)
There’s a well-known saying: ‘It’s better to try and fail than never to try at all’. But our conservative council (yes, we mean that lower-case ‘c’) seems frightened of trying. Sadly, this contrasts with the local council of the 1960s. It had the courage to demolish most of the town centre and rebuild it in a very different style. Yes, there were problems, and yes, not all the established residents liked the result. But Camberley’s population boomed, with lots of young families moving into the area. Not any more, alas. We get care homes instead.