La’ De Kitchen

The La’ De Kitchen restaurant in the Atrium has been closed for some days, while refurbishment is being carried out. (Presumably this is a sign that the restaurant has been profitable – good news for the town!) But we’ve not found any mention that it’s closed on Facebook or on the La De Kitchen website, so we don’t know when it will re-open, or what the work involves. Can anyone enlighten us?

Speculation…

We spotted these temporary barriers stacked in Main Square car park. We’re guessing, but are they for the Car Show this weekend?

We’re not aware of any banners or posters around the town advertising the Car Show. It’s a common complaint amongst residents when discussing a public event that ‘we didn’t know it was on’. Social media doesn’t always reach the parts that a flapping banner does!)

Parking change

If we remember rightly, it’s not long ago that we wrote that the borough council was making financial provision for an additional parking enforcement officer. In which case, everything has since changed. The following statement was published by the county council yesterday:

Does SCC know what it’s taking on with Camberley’s High Street??

Who to blame for the state of the High Street pavements?

We really liked the appearance of the pale-coloured paving in the High Street when it was first installed. But now? It doesn’t do the street any credit.

We’re tempted to ask whether whoever chose it had visited a comparable road after the paving had been in use for a few years. It might have resulted in a different choice.

(One of the measures that’s been used in Los Angeles to tackle the urban ‘heat island’ effect is to put reflective white coatings on the streets and other surfaces. We wonder how long they stay white.)

Is it a coincidence?

On Tuesday, we spotted the naked post in the station car park, shown in our first photograph. On Wednesday, we saw that it now served a purpose – and that three parked cars had acquired penalty notices on their windscreens.

Tuesday’s photograph

There are lots of older signs around the car park telling drivers to pay, and how to pay, so we don’t think the fact that there was a sign ‘missing’ on Tuesday could be the reason for three drivers not paying. Or are we wrong?

Putting the council under a (friendly) microscope

At the last meeting of the borough council Executive, it was agreed to proceed with a ‘Peer Challenge’. Briefly, this is an informal ‘review’ by staff from other councils. The review “includes a focus on leadership, governance, corporate capacity and financial resilience”.. The review results in a written report.

Of course, the Eye fully supports the idea, though we have two niggling thoughts. Will a group of peers put any serious criticisms, particularly of management, in writing without first ‘toning them down’? Secondly, the ‘terms of reference’ of the previous review – seven years ago – seem to have been influenced by the Chief Executive. But, as any magician knows, to trick an audience, you encourage it to look in one direction while the real deceipt is carried out elsewhere. Hmm. That doesn’t seem good on principle.

But what matters to the Eye is whether the previous report had any direct visible consequences for Camberley. In particular, this lengthy extract: “The priority [goal] of Camberley town centre regeneration is a huge project, which carries a high level of risk. It will need a great deal of advance preparatory work to structure a financial package that the Council can commit to and provide partners with the evidence to ensure they have confidence that the regeneration scheme is viable and will proceed. It will be important to evidence what options are available to the Council, and what risks have been assessed, if the proposed development falters and/or retail partners pull out. For example, the principal focus to date is of an anchor store underpinning the development. However, discussions with this store have been ongoing for six years and a positive response is still awaited. The timescales for implementation are also ambitious bearing in mind the number of significant interdependencies, which reinforces the point made earlier about improved arrangements for project/programme management.”

It’s not too difficult to read between the lines of that extract. Sadly, we suspect that few residents – looking at the London Road Block in particular – would regard the regeneration project as having been a success.

A lesser matter. Quote: “Once the operation of the Theatre is made more efficient, that is subsidy is reduced, options could be developed to consider transfer of ownership/operation.” We assume that ‘options could be developed’ actually means ‘sell’. Which hasn’t happened?

So, we wonder whether the previous Challenge resulted in an action plan to pursue its recommendations. If not, shouldn’t it have? More importantly, will the next Challenge do so? And will it be made public?

A final word. For many years, the Eye has criticised the council’s public documents. Less than three months ago, commenting on the draft Local Plan, we wrote: “the waffle and unsuitability of the document for a public consultation. We reckon, subjectively, that it could have been reduced by a third, and made clearer at the same time”

It seems clear that the last Challenge also thought the council should do better: “it would advantageous to set out…. a template for report writing, with guidance on length and format.” We wouldn’t mind betting that this hasn’t been done.