bitternepark.info celebrated its second birthday on September 1. We’re clearly too old to party, so instead here’s a run down of some of the issues from the year, and a quick look at our ‘most read article’ charts - just good, clean fun for those who, like us, don't get out much.
Cobbett Road Library remains open
In January we learned of the council's extraordinary proposal to shut our local library at Cobbett Road. A very successful community campaign emerged to keep the library open, with an enormous amount of time and energy put in by local people. The website proved useful for keeping people up to date, and our article about the withdrawal of the proposal to shut the library goes straight in (as they say!) to our ‘most read’ chart at number 8 this year.
Tesco “muscles in”
Tesco Express opened on February 23, and our story here on the subject enters our ‘most read’ charts at number 4, attracting many comments from readers. The article has been linked to by the national ‘Tescopoly’ website and we were even recently contacted by BBC Radio 4’s Today programme for background information!
Well, it's like this...
The closure of Triangle fruit, veg and wholefood store Fruitopia at the end of June was a real blow. There was a huge reaction on the website, and, in our interview with owner Pete Smith, he pointed to a range of factors that he felt resulted in the shutdown, from the closure of the post office in 2005 to the opening of Tesco Express and even the move of Waitrose, from West Quay in town to the former Safeway / Morrison’s site in Portswood.
Woodmill: tops our charts - & council's roadworks list
At the top of the ‘most read’ charts this year is our original story about Woodmill. Essentially the issue seems to boil down to a problem with a "failed post and rail fence", although it’s developed into a handy, and presumably somewhat expensive, debate about traffic lights. But despite three years' delay and a much criticised public consultation, Woodmill Bridge is now the longest-running item on Southampton City Council's own list of roadworks here (PDF file), dating back to August 7 2004 - and still no end date is given. But with a “draft feasibility report” now apparently published, perhaps 2007 will be the year of action, when this one moves off the list. Then again, we won’t hold our breath.
Airport: still there, still expanding
Down from last year’s number one ‘most read’ slot, but still in the chart at number six, is our original Airport Expansion Nightmare story. In fact ‘airport’ remains the most searched for term for the second year running on the site — and is one of the biggest concerns for the area. In case you hadn’t noticed, the airport’s still there, and flights continue to increase. But aren't the new, quieter planes a relief?
In April we made our first attempt at finding out a little more about the ward candidates standing in the May local election. We finally managed to track them all down, and invited them to pitch their policies to the people. An exercise worth repeating?
Spicing up the Triangle
Despite the unfortunate move of the pharmacy from the Triangle to the new health centre off Thorold Road, it was refreshing to see Spice Art Studios open in May in the old chemist shop - whatever your taste in art. They are about to open their third exhibition, and now offer a selection of courses as well as projects with the community. What's more they've made the most of the lovely premises.
And as for the website
Well we didn’t quite manage to get our readers’ survey off the ground as we’d hoped, or add better facilities for commenting on articles; at the end of the day the site is largely a voluntary effort, which takes a great deal of time, and we can’t do everything. But we did finally move server, and, as we speak, are again working on bringing online these features and more — thanks to loads of help from our friends. We're almost there: watch this space...
Thanks too to all the other people who have helped make it happen in other ways over the year.
And if you fancy pitching in, you know where we are.
By the way you can also help out by taking an interest in the shopping/advertising links on the site, as sales made through these help pay for things like hosting, domains, extra functionality, publicity materials - even some time. And at absolutely no extra cost to you.
Mentioning the site to local traders and advertisers really helps too. It's appreciated.