The Prudhoe redevelopment debate rumbles on. It has been previously explored at http://robertatforsythe.blogspot.com/2010/10/hanging-gardens-of-prudhoe-aka-prudhoe.html . Two things brought it back into view for me. I took this photo and the Hexham Courant appeared last Friday 13th May 2011. I think it was the previous one that contained a long anti letter. This time the first two letters at some prominent length reflected the views of one anti and one pro campaigner. Both are well known citizens of the town. As I read them a sense of profound disappointment passed over me. Here were the good citizens of Prudhoe washing their dirty linen in public and in best Glasgow Edinburgh fashion it was a Hexham organ that was able to delight in our discomfort. The quality of argument in the letters was not especially good and rather it felt as if in the exhaustion of the saga mud slinging had become the last resort.
This then is what our landlord has achieved. The total division and polarisation of the community. It is not me who judges it thus. Read these letters in the Courant and make your own minds up. But I will clearly say why I think this had happened and should the Duke of Northumberland read this, I hope he will be hot under the collar. One man wields for the 21st. century an unusual amount of power in this town of 12,000. He is answerable to not one of us but he is the person who can set the tone of the new town centre. Here then is where our heading phrase comes from. When good is not good enough. My wife tells a tale of the institution where once she ran library services. A new supreme manager arrived. A department head had to speak to a proposal. He started out by saying "this is a good proposal". Before he went any further the boss interjected "that is not my style, good is not good enough for me, take it away and come back when it is excellent". A lot of pain followed this person's arrival at this institution but years later both the institution and that individual continue to thrive and gain recognition.
This should have been the story at Prudhoe. The plot was simple. A growing hillside town in Northumberland surrounded by woodland and beautiful landscape. One last green space left in the centre of the town. It would clearly face developmental pressure. The person who owned it has come to national prominence with the Alnwick Garden. Expecting that a marriage of the two would equal excellence is natural. But what Prudhoe is having foisted on it is just good. Would you even award good to the people who will be remembered for having built the first multi storey car park in Tynedale? Yes, not dug underground into a hillside but sprouting out from it in as prominent a place as you might imagine. Is it any wonder that aside from the business mechanics of this, aside from the supermarket rivalries (we already have a Co-Op superstore), aside from my gripe that we still will not have an independent butcher, aside from this, that what looks like something from the 1970s or 1980s, (perhaps from the Duke's Cramlington development?) translated to this magnificent hillside has succeeded in dividing the community? At the last count the town council voted against 4/3. There are many 1000s of objections lodged from a community of 12,500. It is a very sad situation and it could and should have been avoided. What would have done that is inspired leadership from the top. A thorough going committment to the Hanging Gardens of Prudhoe which would have left the community itching to see it happening instead of preparing for a Friday public brawl.