Sunday, February 09, 2014

New England must cooperate to survive

last Friday (31 January) I made a quick trip to Armidale for a meeting of the New England Writers' Centre Board (A fleeting visit to Armidale).P1010090 It was the first time I had flown for some time. Normally I go by car; flying is just so damn expensive!

I was struck by just how quiet Armidale's main street was. "Business is pretty bad", a local shop keeper told me. I could see what he meant. It was like a ghost town!

The pub on the right of the photo, the New England, has gone into receivership. It's shut. Who would have believed it?  This is the pub where Peter Allen sang professionally for the first time.

In my writing, I am trying to make New Englanders see themselves as a whole. From Newcastle to Lismore, from Moree to the coast, so long as they seem themselves in strictly local terms they don't count.

Say people in Armidale were to say we would really support Glen Innes's Celtic festival. Say the Armidale Express ran a campaign demanding that Armidale people go to Glen. Then Glen would support Armidale. Ditto for Newcastle.  

We don't have our own government to link us. We should. Hopefully, we will. For the moment, it is up to us as individuals to campaign for cooperation. To link our interests together so that we get the best result.

Can we do that? I would like to think that we could.     


Robert Clarke said...

Crikey Jim, that looks like a Sunday morning in early January when everyone is down at the coast. As for the Newie I cannot think how it could go broke having had to fight my way to the bar on many an occasion.
I guess it is tied to a large extent to the decline of UNE. Now, that is a sad story.
Bob Clarke

Anonymous said...

I agree, there is power in unity. I also think that your blog may have positive impact on drawing attention to this part of Australia.

Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks, AC. That would be nice.

Bob, it does, doesn't it? In terms of brokeness, tats went broke and then the Wicklow and now the Newie. Tats is to be renovated, the Wicklow is back trading. No doubt the Newie will come next. But I was talking to a waiter at the White Bull about the recent decline in their business. Its partly the new University trimester system, partly a general business downturn, partly the upgarde to the Royal. Impies still makes money, but it is very much family run with lower costs.

Mojos went broke, re-opened and seems to have gone broke again, although it may still be trading. In the Mall, the real estate agents and owners have finally got together to try to lower immediate rents and create new opportunities.

You will remember from your experience just how difficult it is to get coordinated economic development action.

Anonymous said...

I'm not in the least surprised. Last time I ventured into the Armidale Mall at a weekend, the quality of food/ beverages was at best OK, and the service personnel were largely surly, uncooperative and barely competent. Has anyone ever heard of 'customer service'? All they seemed to want to do was hurry up and wait for closing time. And forget Sundays; it's like a ghost town.

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi anon and my apologies for my slow response. It's sad!