Unusually for a Summer Fair, it was a glorious summer morning, and certainly not one for rushing – I took my time setting the stall up, some exhibitors didn’t turn up at all (allowing me to spread out thankfully), and the public took their time arriving. But for a couple of hours between late morning and early afternoon arrive they did, albeit in a steady relaxed trickle.
I had a large map of Shrewsbury on the table, and asked people to suggest things they’d like to see happen in town, in one of 4 categories – Building, Energy, Food & Green Spaces, and Transport, to write their suggestion on the relevant coloured bit of card and blu-tac it on the map (to counteract the lovely cool breeze).
I had 10 or 12 good suggestions, such as extra foot bridges over the river, a river taxi/bus service with a jetty near English Bridge, and locations for community orchards. I will forward the other suggestions in due course (I left the map at home, and they’re still stuck on it).
Alongside I had 4 questions, 1 per category, for people to answer in the form of coloured dots.
‘Do you think empty shops and buildings should be made available for use by community groups and charities?’ got a resounding 32 votes for Yes against 0 for No – although I did have to explain to a few people that this did not mean more charity retail shops, which seemed to be of great concern..
‘Do you support a community-owned hydro electricity scheme on the Shrewsbury weir?’ was similarly supported, although 1 fisherman voted against despite all my efforts to convince him that it would actually be better for the fish.
‘Do you think waste and underused space (such as roundabouts) should be used for growing food on?’ caused a little bit more controversy, with 4 people worrying about traffic fumes, access, and seeing cabbages on roundabouts.
Interestingly, or not, public opinion was most split on ‘Do you think the town centre (High Street, Shop Latch) should be closed to cars?’ with 4 Nos and 2 fence-sitters – one of whom was Dave Green! One of the 26 Yeses also placed a suggestion on the map that the town centre be closed from cars at the weekend at least. Or that may have been me.
All in all it was a lovely day, Jo helped me out for an hour or so before having to go off to another stall in the square, but there was always someone to chat to, and in the very quiet times it was nice enough to sit in the sun and listen to the folk band.
By about 3 the trickle had died down to a drip, the day had got hot, the tennis was on, and the band started packing up. I did the same and headed for the nearest beer garden.