It really isn’t the Cambridge Hotel any longer

Jim and Mike sent us some fairly similar photos of the Cambridge Hotel the other day. Between them they made the somewhat sad comment that the building is now just a shell. The facade is being preserved, but the essence of the building has gone.

Perhaps we should console ourselves with the thought that the building has gone through significant changes in its lifetime already; the ground floor used to be a car showroom after all.

Council’s five year strategy

You may have already seen that the borough council is consulting about a new five year strategy. It’s one of those subjects that seems a bit tedious, but – just like voting in an election – if you don’t take part you can’t complain about the result. So, it matters. So we don’t apologise for repeating the information here.

To start at the beginning, HERE is a link to the current five year strategy. (Tediously, like so many publications on the internet, the document doesn’t seem to bear any obvious date, but it’s 2017) The text is rather ‘motherhood and apple pie’ – it doesn’t propose much that wouldn’t be expected of the council anyway. Also, given that the council has limited resources, what the council WON’T be doing is just as significant as what it WILL be doing. But there’s no mention of that. So the document can rightly be accused of not being open with residents.

Picture ‘borrowed’ from the borough council’s website…

On to the present. There are going to be several ‘virtual consultations‘ about the new strategy. (You have to book to take part – one of the consultations has happened already.). In addition, there’s an on-line survey, which you can find HERE. We struggle a bit with Question 5. It asks ‘How important are these issues to you PERSONALLY?’ What is the significance of the word ‘personally’? For example, one issue is climate change. If the main consequences of climate change will take effect from, say 2050, then the Eye almost certainly won’t be around. So, PERSONALLY, we’re not that much fussed. On the other hand, as far as future generations and living creatures in general are concerned, we’d say that the issue was very important.

Perhaps the council can clarify what it means – otherwise it will have difficulty in interpreting the answers. And will the council have the courage to say what it WON’T be tackling in the next five years? Somehow we doubt it…

We thought it was a simple question

About a month ago, when we’d seen a number of adverse comments about the new artwork in the High Street et al, we submitted a Freedom of Information Act enquiry to the borough council.

What we asked:

Please could you tell me the total cost of the ‘Streets of Gold’ artwork that has been installed in several streets in the centre of Camberley?

Could you break down the cost into: i) amount paid to the artists for the concept, ii) the cost of fabricating all items involved, iii) the cost of installation and iv) all other costs incurred.  Please include all aspects of the ‘framework’ in Knoll Walk in the total cost. 

Please could you say whether all these costs are included in the publicised costs of the High Street project, or whether they are accounted for separately.

The council’s reply:

The original budget for this was £80k, however a further £33,691 will also be spent incurred due to delays with the installation of the living wall and some mistakes by contractors. Some of this additional cost will be deducted from the fee paid to the main contractor.

Costs Schedule;
Lead Artist’s fees and all expenses: £8,000
Project Management: £4,000
Materials, fabrication, transportation and installation costs: £59,000
Community and stakeholder engagement activities costs: £5,000
All necessary permissions and licences: £3,000
Artist’s insurance costs (public liability): £1,000

The living wall frame total fabrication and installation cost was £53,125

The initial estimated costs of the artwork was included in the publicised costs.

*******

If you take the figures in the council’s first paragraph – £80k and £33k – the conclusion (at least, the Eye’s conclusion) is that the total cost was £113k. On the other hand, if you add up the individual items under ‘Costs Schedule’, your total will be £133k. We’ll ‘assume’ that our first total is the right figure, and that there’s some double-counting in the second figure. Either way, the artwork cost well over £100k.

We like the lliving wall – the ‘engineering’ is impressive. But the circular plaques on it, and also set into the pavement, strike us as an indulgent nonsense. Something that illustrated the history of the town could have been so much better.

So we phoned ‘999’

We were daydreaming around the station yesterday when we became aware of an alarm going off repeatedly. Between the bursts of sound, an amplified voice from this G4S van kept announcing: ‘Driver needs assistance, please call the police’. A bit puzzlingly, someone was sitting in the driver’s seat, apparently unperturbed by the racket.

So we did what any sensible person would do – we ignored the commotion! But then we guiltily thought that we ought to do something about it, so we did as the amplified voice commanded. Our phonecall was answered promptly and efficiently; we described the scene and we walked away. A minute or two later we received a return call; apparently the transport police are responsible for policing on station premises, and they had been alerted.

More than that we cannot say. In the end, the alarm stopped. We don’t know why it started. (And we forgot why we were there in the first place! More of which another time.)

If you can add to the story, please do so…

Red means keep going?

We stood near the top of Knoll Road the other day, and watched while the first two cars in this queue went merrily past the red traffic lights. At the time we thought that they were careless drivers, not paying attention. But looking at our photo, we do wonder why the traffic lights either side of the carriageway are set so far back from the junction. Did our drivers go past them deliberately, knowing that they could stop further on??

Parkgate House – something stirring?

You’ll remember the Job Centre at the top of Park Street that was converted into flats a couple of years or so ago. At least, most of the building became flats; one corner, facing the A30, was turned into a small self-contained office. Which has remained unoccupied ever since.

At long last, something is happening. A new hoarding has appeared in front of the office. We’ll have to dig around and find out what we can.

Catching up!

We’ve been ticked off for not publishing an update about Orchard’s expansion into the former Caroline Grace’s premises next door. We did report, months ago, that this was going to happen, and we’ve taken occasional photos as the changes to the building have been carried out. But we’ve not actually shown them here! So, as of yesterday, the situation is in our photo below…

Isn’t it nice to see the streetlamps shining in the sun? No doubt we’ll be writing about that soon…

And, while we’re at it… Our prediction of just a couple of days ago that the extension to King’s Court would be complete by now wasn’t entirely serious, of course. But it’s interesting to compare photos of ‘then’ and ‘now’. We were right that events would move quickly.

‘Then’
‘Now’ – that’s yesterday.

What a difference a couple of days make, and not just in the weather.

Flat pack flats

Our first thought when we saw the crane that’s in our photo was that it was too expensive to be used for any length of time on a construction site. But then we realised that the ‘construction’ is probably like assembling flat pack furniture, only on a much larger scale.

We’ve tweaked the photo’s contrast to make it easier to see the large concrete panel hanging from the crane. Probably by the time we pass that site again, the assembly will be complete!