The design of Lichfield’s fabled Friarsgate shopping centre development may be hopelessly dated by the time it is completed claims a local historian.
Amateur time-detective Caitlin Gonzalez has expressed concerns that the plans for Lichfield’s cutting edge retail offer will be outdated by the time that the development emerges Phoenix-like from the ashes of the Conservative District Council dreams. Mrs Gonzalez said:
‘I’ve been going through the local history archives hoping to find a photograph or drawing of a tree root that resembles a goblin’s todger, but to my delight I happened across the original planning application for the fabled Friarsgate Shopping centre dating back to 1962.’
The long awaited City centre regeneration has been derailed on many occasions by external events well beyond the control of the District Council, claims current Council leader Mike Wiltcox. He said:
‘The original plans were put on hold in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis and again in 1963 as a mark of respect for JFK. The Space Race in the ‘60’s meant that all public funding for Lichfield was diverted into the effort to land Man on the Moon before the end of the decade. And so it went on, none of the delays have been the fault of the Council.’
Further delays are now expected as the Council consider putting back three strategically important milestones in the optimistically-named Development Agreement.
As part of the Lichfield Festival the Council has commissioned local sculptor and artist Peter Walker to create three commemorative milestones. The artist commented:
‘These milestones will be symbolic and will be a visual demonstration of the Council’s commitment to keeping the Friarsgate project on the road to success. I can reveal that the first one called “Lichfield 4 miles”, originally located on the A51 at Packington will now be reimagined and installed on the A5 at Atherstone. Yes, we’re on the right road but it may take longer than expected.’
The Council declined to reveal the proposed locations of the two remaining milestones as this was commercially sensitive and could have an impact on the financial viability of the Council.
Cllr Mike Wilcox, Leader of Lichfield District Council, has been nominated for the prestigious Lichfield Literature Festival Best Fiction award for his series of Friarsgate development press releases.
Festival director Jennifer Mears commented:
‘Cllr Wilcox has built up an impressive body of work over the years with the publication of his imaginative “Friarsgate Saga” press releases.
‘The series is set in Lichfield but in a parallel universe where a major redevelopment of the city centre actually takes place. The quality of the writing is so high that many members of the public believe that one day soon construction work will actually begin and Lichfield will have a new shopping centre complete with leisure facilities.’
The Wilcox Friargate Saga is supported by fictional social media coverage and a full planning application has even been submitted and granted based on detailed plans, artist’s impressions and scale Lego models of the final offering.
Ms Mears continued:
‘The lavish landscape that Cllr Wilcox has conjured up in words is comparable to Tolkien’s Middle Earth and George RR Martin’s Westeros, detailed and utterly believable but delusional nonetheless.’
Continuing the illusion, local residents have been excited to see some on-site. “engineering” activity. Lichfield amateur cyclist Paul Mycock was fixing a blow-out when the workmen arrived this week, he said:
‘I can’t believe it, work has actually started on our new shopping centre with restaurants, multi-screen cinema and luxury marina. It’s only a matter of time surely before hordes of wildebeest will be seen sweeping majestically down Birmingham Road.
‘Holes are being drilled in the Ford dealership car park and the bus station, actual real holes are being drilled with real drills, up to 16 holes I’m told. This means it’s really real, it really is really happening after all these years of hurt.’
Cllr Wilcox refused to comment on the Best Fiction nomination but did say:
‘To you, to me. U + I are meant to be.’
Lichfield Literature Festival takes place between 1 – 5 March 2017
Staffordshire County Council approved almost £5 million in cuts to health and care services in September this year, which would see £439,000 of the Citizens Advice service’s funding being lost.
As part of the cuts Burntwood’s Citizens Advice Bureau has been closed and it’s elderly volunteers replaced with an Amazon Echo, a voice-activated internet-connected intelligent device that answers to the name of Alexa.
The device will be located on a table behind the Bureau’s front door and can be activated by citizens shouting their problems through the letterbox.
One of Burntwood’s many troubled residents is unemployed life coach Paul Mycock. He said:
‘I’ve been a regular at the CAB since I lost my job, especially during bad weather and the Jeremy Vine show.
‘The problem that I don’t really have this week turns on the correct interpretation of the provisions of The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013.
‘The CAB volunteers are great, particularly Mrs Norman, she’s a lovely old dear, but she hasn’t a clue – not unless it involves organising an online petition.
‘I knew she’d be on the Google for an hour or more before suggesting I see a decent local solicitor in Birmingham. Plenty of time for a brew and a chat by the radiator.’
Paul was shocked to discover the door to the CAB was locked but was intrigued by the instructions to shout through the letterbox. He continued:
‘I called out her name, “Alexa, Alexa are you there?” She said hello, she has a lovely sexy calming voice. I composed myself, placed my hand in my trouser pocket and told her of my 2013 Regulations based problem.
‘Quick as a flash Alexa came back with the answer, “14 days”. No tea, no biscuits and no time to sort myself out. It may be a quick, accurate and cost effective solution to Staffordshire’s financial crisis, but that’s not the point.
‘All I’m after is a bit of company, is that too much to ask?’
Staffordshire County Council refused to comment on the Echo trials although spokesperson Paula Wright did say:
‘There is an 80% chance of rain today.’
Andy Street, former managing director of John Lewis Partnership, launched his political career amid speculation that he is being groomed to become the Conservative Party candidate for Lichfield at the next general election.
Current incumbent Michael Fabricant is widely expected to step aside, by popular demand, in favour of his long term friend in that election which is scheduled to take place in May 2020.
The start of Mr Street’s political career will be his coronation as the Conservative Party candidate for West Midlands mayor on 29 September, ahead of the Conservative Party conference where Mr Street will welcome Prime Minister Theresa May and the party faithful to Birmingham on October 2.
Lichfield Conservative Party chairman, Fr. Jonathan Hall welcomed the anointment he said:
‘Andy has done brilliantly well, he was the only candidate with the vision to submit his application for West Midlands mayor in an unannounced and secretive selection process before nominations closed on 31 August. And he’s a close friend of Michael’s, what could possibly go wrong?’
A spokesman for John Lewis said:
‘We wish Andy well in his bid to become West Midlands Mayor. We would also like to thank the Conservative party for keeping the selection process as covert and undemocratic as possible, thereby protecting the John Lewis group from exposure to the commercial risks that would have resulted from a correctly procured selection process. We thank Andy for his prompt resignation and no, he will not be welcome back when he fails to get elected.’
The West Midlands mayoral election will take place in May 2017 with the successful candidate being in place for three years, which will coincide with the next scheduled general election in 2012.
Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant said:
‘My long standing friendship with Andy Street is well documented in my previous interviews with the Daily Mail and Pink News, but I deny that I had any influence in the selection process for mayor. However I fully endorse Andy as my worthy successor to the crown of Lichfield in 2020. I need to retire whilst I’m still on top but I’m running dry on the Twitter nob gags.
‘Lichfield deserves a seamless succession and with Andy as MP that’s what it will get, after all he is strong advocate for HS2 and a Remainer in the Brexit referendum. Oh, hang on a minute….’
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Lichfield residents and businesses have welcomed the news that the Premier League has agreed plans to cap away tickets at £30 from next season.Historically a thriving coaching city, Lichfield frequently plays host to football fans stopping off for refreshment on the way to Premiership fixtures.
Local curtain-twitcher Sidney Sprite, 97, is chairman of Bacon Street residents association, BSTRDS, he said:
‘This is excellent news for Lichfield in general and Bacon Street in particular. As one of the main arteries into the City we frequently welcome coach-loads of away fans en-route to Villa Park or The Hawthorns. There is ample parking on and around Bacon Street and local residents can be relied upon to give a warm welcome to visitors and direct them to the nearest hostelries.’
With soccer fans making savings of up to £30 per ticket they will be able to afford to spend more in the City pubs and bars. Newcastle United supporter Paul Mycock is delighted, he said:
‘Whenever we’re playing the Villa away we stop off in Lichfield and call in at the George and Dragon to re-fuel and decant. It’s great news that next season we’ll have a few more quid in our pockets, I reckon we’ll set off a couple of hours earlier and really make a day of it. We’ve always had such a warm welcome from the people of Broken Street, they take loads of photos and write lots of letters to the Club chairman afterwards.’
‘Whilst a Premiership ticket price cap is a welcome initiative, it’ll be of no value to Villa or Newcastle fans next season. But on the plus side they will both still be in the same league and tickets will be cheaper anyway. Cheers.’
Lichfield District Council is keen to promote the city as a tourist destination, Council Leader Mike Wiltcox commented:
‘Lichfield has been a thriving coaching city since the 18th century and the new Friarsgate development has been designed with this in mind, there will be a brand new coach park located conveniently in what was once known as Burntwood.’
Lichfield Round Table militant faction, the self-styled District 250, has declared that Christmas is cancelled this year.
Talks between the group and Lichfield District Council to agree this year’s “funding” settlement broke down yesterday (Saturday).
District 250, a dissident band of ultra-right wing egos with relationship issues and an interest in go-karting and archery, has cancelled today’s planned Lichfield Christmas Lights switch on. Spokesman for D250, Dick, his real name, said:
‘We regret that due to the intransigence of the Council we had no alternative but to cancel the Christmas Lights switch on. Our annual running costs have escalated and they will no longer be covered by parading Santa through the streets of Lichfield demanding cash from the poor and feeble-minded.’
It became clear in 2014 that Santa Claus had been kidnapped by the Round Table militants and forced to fund raise for the group each December.
‘It’s a very expensive time for us, we’ve recently returned from Portugal after a week’s golfing holiday and there are many more foreign jollies in the pipeline that need paying for by the local public. That doesn’t come cheap you know.’
Cllr Christmas Spruce, Cabinet Member for Finance, explained the Council’s position:
‘As part of the Council’s F4F (Fucked for the Foreseeable) financial strategy we have had to scale back support for local dissident groups. Discussions with some of these groups have become quite heated. A more disagreeable bunch you’re unlikely to encounter, but after Beacon Community Church this District 250 group come a close second.
‘We tried our best to negotiate a settlement to secure Christmas for another year, we even offered up Michael Fabricant in a hostage exchange for Santa, but they were having none of it. Can’t blame them on that score to be fair.’
Dick denied that they were behaving unreasonably:
‘Why would we exchange Santa for Fabricant? It may not be much but at least Santa bothers to get out to meet the community once a year.’
Further talks are expected to take place next week in a final bid to save Christmas.