Wednesday, January 10, 2007

All Hale John Gummer!

John Gummer, not normally someone with whom I can find much to agree, has laid out his opinions on Milton Keynes in his blog. He starts:

"Once hailed as the great example of 20th Century living Milton Keynes does have its good points. The shopping is ‘brilliant’ and the snow dome ‘fantastic’– it’s just the living that can be so lonely and confining."

For the rest go here.

I have replied to him on his page - but I repeat it here for the record:

My Dear Mr Gummer

Your tirade against Milton Keynes will probably find far more support than the blinkered Dr Starkey will have you believe. Indeed, her political view point is well known for her support (Alluded to on this page) of the 70,000 new homes about to drown the exsisting TOWN of Milton Keynes.

But, while looking at the problem, you have rather missed the more vital point. Yes, the Redways are somewhat empty, and even I would be careful in some parts of this place, however, please feel free to put the weight of your critique on the planners and politicians that are building a future for retail in this place.

We all know how Milton Keynes was designed - a central retail park to be supported by an instant town. What provision was offered as an incentive to people was very thin - just enough to make the marketing work. I remember being involved in one of the marketing waves in the late seventies. The recording session was populated by representatives of the Retailers making sure that the increase in population benefitted them directly. I remember someone commenting that after all Milton Keynes exsisted for the benefit of the retailers, not the public.

Nothing Has Changed. When you look at the plans for the future its central resourse is a wonderful, bright, new, modern, shopping centre. Again. Oh, and suitably high rents so that only the rubbishy, bland chains can afford to be there.

"Love the City?" Some will. Many know that this place is one great big suberb with all the conveniences and none of the things that makes a city, or much of a town either. Personality? No. Culture? Well, if the council call surrounding the theatre with tacky clubs and greasy chain restaurants culture then the council must be very untravelled! High Quality living? Well, all the cultured people have stayed in the villages and use Milton Keynes as the shopping centre it is.

At the end of the day, Milton Keynes is exactly what the planners wanted it to be - London Overflow.

PS: I am writing this as the local paper has published an article asking people to deluge your blog with defensive articles. I though I would get in fast and defend you!

Interestingly enough, just below the article in MK News that so derides John Gummer is another:

"Cops hunt gang after man is stabbed outside restaurant."

The restaurant in question is outside the town centre and on the shores of one of the lakes Dr Starkey refers to.
EDIT: I have been corrected - the restaurant is not on a lake but in the safe, tranquil setting of Shenley Church End. My mistake. Nobody