Anton Rippon: Knocking down the Hippodrome would be such a daft idea
DERBY Hippodrome, Bemrose School, and the Great Debate On Those Orange Bags For Recycling Your Cardboard – they are all matters that have been exercising me this week, writes Anton Rippon.
Like many Derbeians, I've recently completed the survey about what to do with the dear old Hippo that has been vandalised beyond belief in Green Lane.
My vote is for its restoration as a large working theatre because the case presented by Derby Hippodrome Restoration Trust is overwhelming, even though there are those who, with a remarkable display of imagination deficit, want to knock it down.
I've said in this column before that the one sure way to regenerate the area is to reopen the Hippodrome as a working theatre. It's been done successfully in other towns and cities, both in the UK and abroad – in some instances with a building in much worse condition.
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The point, however, seems to soar high over the heads of the demolish-it brigade. Their argument is that the area is already rundown, so why not make it even more so? Give up and call in the bulldozers. Finish the job that Christopher ("Oops, sorry about") Anthony started when he tried to remove a few loose roof tiles.
Someone argued that if the Queen came to Derby, the last place you would show her would be Green Lane. True. So why not work to make it the first place on the royal itinerary?
My friend Rosey Briggs-Woodward – we were chums at Becket Juniors – sums it up perfectly: "There are many adjacent B&Bs, food outlets and taxi facilities that would benefit, not to mention many shops on what looks like a poverty stricken Green Lane. Inward investment would be encouraged and there would be new jobs, all to Derby's benefit, not least a welcome increase in business rates for the city council."
A few weeks ago in this newspaper, Nigel Powlson wrote: "When public money is used to protect or to attract business, it's called an 'investment'. But when cash is given to arts organisations it's generally referred to as 'subsidy'." So true: if the Hippodrome is saved, the benefits to business will be huge. It will be an investment in our city.
The need for a 1,000-seater theatre in Derby has also been highlighted. Such a theatre is a pre-requisite for any aspiring "city of culture". As Rosey said: "People travel to attend performances at Buxton Opera House. Surely the Hippodrome would be as popular? How many theatregoers who travel to Buxton, Nottingham, Birmingham and Leicester would not do so if there were an attractive venue in Derby?"
Moving on, I was puzzled when my old grammar school became known as Bemrose "Community" School. Who else would it serve if not the community? Now the sign reads: "The" Bemrose School. I wonder how much public money is wasted by these unnecessary "rebrandings".
Finally, those orange bags. After spending 15 minutes the other morning gathering up our cardboard from down the street – I don't know if the council has noticed but cardboard isn't anywhere near as heavy as newsprint – I join those who think their introduction a daft idea. Just not quite as daft as knocking down the Hippodrome.