Talking politics: Mansfield should not be shorthand for deprivation

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Independent councillor Christine Smith questions the sneering attitude some seem to have about Mansfield...

What is it about Mansfield? We have the world’s best Olympic choir, swimming Olympic champions, World Sidecar champions, wheelchair basketball, gymnasts, male voice choir, choral Society, folk music, dance schools, poetry groups and writers, award-winning museum, renowned Palace theatre, Green Flag parks, Stags football, rugby, nationally recognised artists, potters, and many other organisations, clubs and volunteers. Mansfield people have a gutsy resilience, perhaps founded by its history of ‘tough’ employment in mining and manufacturing. And many of us will have encountered the kindness of strangers in casual encounters in daily life and, as councillors, in our wards. Yet there is sometimes a sneering attitude towards Mansfield in other parts of Nottinghamshire and Mansfield is sometimes ‘shorthand’ in the media for a poor-quality, deprived place to live. Like all districts, Mansfield has its problems but they are not the whole story. The Council is awaiting the assessment result for a Purple Flag for Mansfield based on safety, culture and entertainment diversity. This designation, spearheaded by Independent Portfolio Mick Barton in conjunction with the BID, will help to dispel negative misconceptions about Mansfield, encouraging improved shopping offers, etc.

We are a historic town with some beautiful buildings and a recognised best market square in the East Midlands.

I was privileged to meet Gill Hicks, the brave woman who lost her legs in the London bombings, on her walk for peace and down Westgate as she entered the market place her comment was ‘Wow!’

Much work was done by the Council to right past wrongs by reinstating shop fronts and signage befitting historic buildings - Market Street parade which replaced the old Scope area is an example. Unfortunately lately there seems to be a proliferation of inappropriate alterations to historic shopfronts and gaudy, plastic signage which undermines all the work which has been done to create pride in our cultural inheritance and a pleasant ambiance in the town centre which has proved in many areas to help economic regeneration. Much of our town centre consists of Conservation Areas – we are not a featureless clone town - and before alterations are made it is prudent to consult Planning Policy via the Conservation Department (01623.463700) as, ironically, good solutions can be usually be found which are often cheaper for businesses without the unlawful destruction of our heritage.

The Market consultation had a huge response and your comments/opinions are being collated. Whilst we all recognise that people shop now in diverse ways, a market has a special atmosphere of its own, enhanced by a personal service which is rare these days. Our market may be pleasantly scenic but to succeed it needs traders to sell things that people want and, importantly and fundamentally, it needs

people to buy on a regular basis - market trading is not a hobby, traders need to earn a living so for those who value our market and want to see it thrive, let’s show we ‘put our money where our mouth is’ and support it with purchases not just words. No doubt, Mansfield people - as usual - will come up trumps.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Does Mansfield have an undeserved reputation? Do we celebrate its success enough? To send us YOUR view CLICK HERE