Cummings Goings The BBC Radio Gloucestershire breakfast show presenter takes to the skies over Gloucester city centre
Ikeep asking people a rather sobering question. I get a mixed response when I inquire how old they’ll be in 2050. I know some people know exactly where they’ll be 32 years down the line. It’s a pertinent question as the leaders/thinkers/planners in Gloucestershire have been drawing up an action plan to stop the drift of youngsters leaving the county.
The theory is simple…standing still and keeping things as they are is not an option. The world is going to change demographically, economically, socially and environmentally and we need to plan for that change. Some of the big ideas include amalgamating Gloucester and Cheltenham into one ‘Super City’ combining the strengths of both and creating a third centre in the land in between. Another concept for the action plan is the creation of an international airport in the Cotswolds to drive business competition and improve transport links. The ‘Big Conversation’ also covered transport, arts and culture, housing and the environment.
We thought it might be interesting to put these ideas to the test with those whose lives it will impact. I hosted a debate at the University of Gloucestershire with a room filled with teenagers and twenty-somethings. They were 50/50 on the Super City proposal, some excited about the idea of combining the two to create a larger metropolitan vibe, some bemused by the environmental impact, and quite a few just couldn’t understand the concept. Many youngsters leave because they can’t pursue their chosen career by staying. Many say the arts/ music/cultural life doesn’t compete with London/bristol and many simply said they couldn’t possibly afford to buy a house here. They were honest, direct, engaged, though provoking and certainly put the panel (who’d come up with the big ideas) through their paces.
It’s important to have these conversations and try to envisage the world when my kids will be in their 50s and, God willing, I’ll be 84. We have a track record of big thinkers and visionaries locally: The Godfather of Conservation, Sir Peter Scott; the inventor of the jet engine, Sir Frank Whittle; and Edward Jenner, who founded the vaccine for smallpox. Would they have come up with something a little bolder?