Whenever I see the smiling faces of Councillors Denise Jeffery and Peter Box on the front of the Wakefield Express, I cringe with apprehension.
On the second picture inside the paper (12 September) their expressions are more subdued. Rightly so.
Beacause I and many other people think that the once-great city has sunk to a pitiable state after years of mismanagement.
How much did they pay for the Wood Street police station? Where did the money come from? Will the proposed hotel developer pay a good price?
Wood Street has ceased to be a popular thoroughfare. I traversed it on a recent weekday. There was little traffic and hardly any footfall. In Wood Street and adjacent Cross Street, there are 16 empty premises, mostly shops.
A similar number languish in Little Westgate, along Kirkgate and Upper Kirkgate, there are numerous empty properties. Probably 60 to 70 shops have closed throughout the city.
Wakefield lost its status as an administrative centre of the West Riding in 1974. More recently, it has lost much of its standing as an ecclesiastical hub. The market is seemingly doomed. Traffic-flow systems are diabolical. The city is full of idle buildings and eyesores, such as Clayton Hospital and the ABC cinema. On the plus side, we have the Ridings Centre, Trinity Walk (still to prove itself), the Hepworth and a revamped Kirkgate Station.
A few years ago when the Bullring and market were being developed, I made a photographic and film record of the work. I talked to about 30 people and canvassed their opinions. Most of these were defamatory. They still are. Who wants to sit in the Bullring inhaling traffic fumes and watching a feeble fountain? But the information centre is an asset which should be given mroe space.
Aged 85, I have lived in the Wakefield area all my life. I loved the city for most of that time. But the shenanigans of recent years have alienated me. For goodness sake, give the city back to the people and listen to them. It may be too late. And I wonder whether Councillors Box and jeffery, and others, are ready for the tasks which confront them.
The next two years will tell.