Following local media reports that Lichfield District Council has decided to close the Friary Grange Leisure Centre from April 2020, social media users have reacted with fury. David Lloyd Lichfield Health and Racquet club members have come out in full support of the online petition to keep the centre open to the general public.
David Lloyd member Paul Mycock was one of the first to sign up, he said:
‘I was one of the first members to sign up to the plebiscite, closing Friary Grange will be a disaster for the general health and well-being of our members.’ Vigorously towelling-off his genitalia in the changing rooms, he added:
‘Imagine the number of Dimbles internees who will apply for the concessionary three-month introductory package at David Lloyd next summer if they can’t take a bath in the Friary Grange Pool. The members-only club will be ruined. I commend this petition to the membership.’
Objections to the proposed closure were equally vociferous in other parts of the City. Fradley mother of three under two-year-olds, Myfanwy Hertz is “gobsmacked”, she commented:
‘I am gobsmacked. I can’t believe that the swimming pool where I learnt to swim as a child ten years ago is closing down, it’s a disgrace. I’ve never been back there since mind you, but that’s not the point. Its part of our history. And what about Friarsgate and Tempest Ford and all the housing around the Saxon Penny and the canal restoration and the plight of elephants in Asia. The world’s gone raving mad.
‘Did I miss anything? Let me check on the comments section of Lichfield Live and get back to you.’
Local politicians have been more restrained in their reactions.
Local Lib-Dem councillor for the Ward in which Friary Grange is situated, Cllr Paul X-Ray said:
‘Thank you for drawing this to my attention, being absent from most council meetings I am often late to the party unless prompted by social media.’
Concerned Lichfield (and Burntwood) MP Michael Fabricant commented:
‘Not my monkey, not my circus,’ he said, appealing to the local Polish electorate. ‘I never go swimming, for obvious reason, so I have no interest in the closure of the Leisure Centre. But as there is a general election coming I am an active supported of the Abbots Bromley Horn Dancers and commend their commemorative stamps set to the House.’
Recently appointed Conservative Lichfield District Council leader Cllr Red Doug-Pullem has announced that he would like to see £2.4m spent on a new leisure centre rather than patching up Friary Grange. He added:
‘It wasn’t me.’
Cllr Mike Chuckle was unavailable for comment.
Cllr Doug-Pullem’s honeymoon period is due to end in September.
The leader of Lichfield District Council, Cllr Mike Wilcox has confirmed that Friarsgate developer U+I has submitted new plans for the long-awaited city centre scheme.
From behind closed doors Cllr Cocks admitted:
‘The original redevelopment proposal for ten junk food outlets, 15 coffee houses, 26 charity shops, 82 apartments, 11 townhouses, a multi-screen cinema, theme park and a marina linking to the restored Lichfield & Hatherton canal has proven to be undeliverable.
‘A “challenging funding market” has meant that no one is prepared to invest in such a load of bollocks.’
Developer U+I claim to be committed to revitalising the gateway to the city. Deputy Chief executive Richard Upton was still at primary school when he came up with the original proposals. He said:
‘I always loved Lego as a kid and built my own Lichfield city centre out of plastic bricks in my bedroom. But now I am older and have to put away childish fantasies for a more pragmatic solution.’
Details are still being worked out but, in a statement prepared by Mr Upton, Cllr Cocks read:
‘We have a new vision for this great city – a car showroom and vehicle hire facility on the corner of Birmingham Road and a new bus station between the showroom and Debenhams with retail kiosks selling and hiring cycles.’
Mr Upton is sure that funding will be forthcoming for such an innovative proposal. Taking time out from opening other new retail developments up and down the country, he said:
‘This plan will deliver the perfect fusion of the desire of Lichfield’s Council tax payers for superior shopping facilities with the means of transport to access such facilities, by car or coach it’s just ten minutes down the road to Ventura Retail Park in Tamworth.
‘And if you look closely you’ll notice a number of significant milestones on the way.’
Addressing concerns that the abandonment of the original proposals could open the door to a more lucrative residential development on the Friarsgate site Cllr Crocks was told to comment:
‘Such a suggestion is ridiculous, as everyone knows that lucrative residential development is planned for the Bird Street car park.’
Richard Upton, Deputy CEO of Friarsgate developer U+I Group, has confirmed that he will be taking up the post of Leader of the Council effective from 1 August 2017. Mr Upton said:
‘I am delighted to accept my generous demand of the Council and I’m looking forward to taking up my new post on 1 August. I will be continuing in my role as Deputy CEO of U+I as I understand that the position of Leader traditionally entails the expenditure of very little time, talent or effort.’
Outgoing Leader Cllr Mike Wiltcox commented:
‘I am delighted that Richard has decided to accept his offer to sack me as Leader, although I will continue to fulfill my role as Conservative councillor for Fradley as this also entails the expenditure of very little time, talent or effort.’
Richard Dicking, Lichfield’s strategic director of democratic, development and legal added:
‘Mr Upton has appointed the best man for the job. This will complete U+I’s takeover of all Council business and ensure the smooth running of the Cabinet and all Committees. We will no longer have to waste time submitting Council meeting Agendas to U+I’s “Commercial Sensitivity and Financial Viability Committee” for prior approval. Richard Upton will exercise delegated powers from U+I to control all aspects of Lichfield business.’
There has been increasing disquiet at the number of occasions where the public has been excluded from parts of Council meetings on the grounds of “commercial sensitivity”. Commentators have been left wondering what can possibly be commercially sensitive about Council car parking charges or the location of the Tourist Information office.
Mr Upton said:
‘I can’t comment on individual agenda items that have been discussed in secret, other than to say that they related to commercially sensitive matters for U+I that could affect the financial viability of U+I.
‘However I will be addressing these concerns directly as soon as I take office.
‘In future there will be no prior publication of Agendas or briefing notes, all Council meetings will be held in secret and no minutes will be kept. Now fuck off out of my office.’
LibDem Cllr Paul Ray welcomed the announcement, he said:
‘If all Council business is conducted in camera, as we lawyers like to say, that’ll give me the perfect excuse not to attend any meetings. No change there then at least.’
Five Spires Live has not bothered to contact anyone for comment.
Staffordshire Police is appealing for the help of the public to trace a District Council from Lichfield.
Lichfield District Council was last seen functioning in the Lichfield area in the run up to local and parliamentary elections in May 2015. It was reported missing to Staffordshire Police after it failed to attend the annual meeting with Bromford Housing Association on February 28.
Former Council leader Cllr. Mike Wilcox said:
‘I have been concerned about the Council’s erratic behaviour for some time, it’s not the first time that it’s gone missing. Like any loving parent I’ve ranted and raved when it’s gone AWOL but it makes no difference. I’ve tried emailing and making appeals on local and social media, but nothing.’
Equally concerned is Lichfield Chain Gang chairman Cllr. Sir Kenneth Dodd, he said:
‘I was only going to one civic event this year in my council tax payers’ chauffeur driven limousine, imagine my disappointment when the Council snubbed the event. It is with huge regret and a heavy heart that my one and only civic event of the year has had to be cancelled.’
Cllr. Dodd added that he still hoped to raise some money for Free Spirit charity by raffling off prizes that had already been donated.
‘I’m literally flogging a dead horse,’ he exclaimed.
Investigating officer Insp Paul Mycock, based at Lichfield’s virtual reality police station, said:
‘If anyone has seen Lichfield District Council, or has any information which they think could help us to find it, I would urge them to contact us as soon as possible.
‘LDC, if you see this appeal, please get in touch to let us know that you are safe and well.’
The Local Government Boundary Commission was already considering to proposals to reduce the number of district councillors from 47 to 13 to reflect the pathetic extent of councillor engagement in representing their constituents.
FiveSpiresLive has not attempted to contact anyone for comment.
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.’
However some locals have sounded a note of caution. City football correspondent Ross Hawksmore said:
‘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.’
Following the recent submission of a full planning application, the Friarsgate shopping centre redevelopment has come a step closer on the announcement that Lego is reversing its policy on bulk purchases and will no longer ask customers what they want to use the bricks for.
The U-turn follows a recent controversy involving Chinese artist Ai Weiwei where Lego was accused of censorship when it refused to sell bricks directly to him.
The company said its policy was to reject bulk requests if it believed that the resulting construction could tarnish its image.
Lego spokesman Roar Rude Trangbæk explained:
‘When we were approached by Lichfield developers with a preliminary enquiry as to the availability of our building materials were were initially reluctant to agree. Many other recent constructions in and around Lichfield have been based on our design concepts and incorporated our bricks. We are aware that this has aroused criticism locally and we feared a backlash.’
Now, following the Ai case, Lego has stated that they will no longer question customers as to the “thematic purpose” of their project.
Lichfield District Council leader Mike Wilcox commented:
‘We are delighted with Lego’s decision. This will mean that the design of new city centre will sympathetically compliment our other historic buildings such as the Friary Car Park Apartments, the Premier Inn and not forgetting the Garrick Theatre.
‘And we can now cancel the proposed confiscation of lego bricks from the orphans of Burntwood and North Lichfield.’
Dean of Lichfield Cathedral The Very Very Reverend Friend of Fabricant Adrian Dorber was equally delighted, he said:
‘I am delighted that Lego is onboard. With the ease of modular construction this will mean that the height of the new buildings can be increased so as to completely block all lines of sight to Lichfield’s spires on most approaches to the city.’
Praise has also come from Orchard Street Investments, owner of the existing Three Spires Shopping centre, a spokesman commented:
‘We are equally delighted, with such thoughtful design input into the new build we are confident that this can only serve to increase the footfall in the direction of Three Spires.’
Anyone who wishes to comment on the development proposals can do so at http://www.lichfielddc.gov.uk
The new Friarsgate development will not add to congestion in Lichfield, it has been claimed.+
In a joint statement Lichfield District Council leader Mike Chuckle and joint venture partners LegoLand and Bang Olufsen chief executive Jorgen Turdskorp said:
‘We are in the process of piecing together the final blocks of this exciting new development. Central to the design strategy will be the need to improve congestion in the City.
‘Our proposal is for Birmingham Road, St John Street and Upper St John Street to be converted into permanent car park facilities, The space previously earmarked for a multi-story car park could then be more profitably utilised.’
Local self-styled councillors-in-exile, BSTARDS, based in Beacon Street, welcomed the plans. Interferer-in-chief, 87 year-old Sidney Sprite commented:
‘BSTARDS welcomes any innovative solution to the city’s problems that don’t involve Beacon Street.
‘Converting City Centre roads into car parks is a no brainer. Most people won’t notice the difference as traffic is stationary on these roads for the best part of the day anyway.’
One suggestion for the top deck of the newly available multi-storey car park has come from local ambulance chief Andy Lance he said:
‘I propose that the Midlands Air Ambulance be permanently stationed on the top deck of the car park site. This will save vital minutes in helicopter deployment to scoop up victims of road carnage which is a daily event on the A38 around the City.’
The possible release of the proposed site for alternative uses has also attracted the attention of local God-botherers. The Burntwood Church of the Inexplicable having taken on that town’s defunct No.7 Club (now the rebranded No.Heaven Club) Pastor Sandy and his sister and wife Liz have turned their attention to the City.
Pastor Sandy said: ‘As the lightning flashes from west to east so shall be the coming of Jesus to smite the moneylenders and fornicators within the Wall.
‘Coffee mornings Wednesday at 10.30, all welcome.’
Cllr Chuckle added:
‘This has been a momentous week in local politics, not only have we solved the traffic flow problems through the City centre by declaring all former access roads to be car parks, but by rejecting the invitation of the Socialist Militant Trotskyist Corbynista Councils to join the West Midland Combined Authority, we have jettisoned all hope of inward investment in local transport and economic development for a generation.
‘But on the plus side we’ve still got The Garrick.’