“IT IS a pity Gloucester is so scruffy.”

This remark was made by a regular visitor to the Three Choirs Festival recently held in our county town.

The festival was a success being critically acclaimed nationally as well as locally, a point made by my visiting friend who had been superbly entertained.

The ‘scruffy’ remark caused me to think – was this the Gloucester I know?

The area around the cathedral is magnificent, that is the first and obvious plus.

Kingsholm is a rugby stadium to be proud of and the Docks reflect the city’s commercial history, but what else is there?

I remembered a job interview at Beaufort School about 1980.

Working away, I sought a job nearer home.

One of the candidates asked ‘what is the best part of Gloucester?’

The answer he received was brief and stark ‘Cheltenham’ was the reply.

The scruffy remark reminded me of this disparaging reply so I decided to do some research and headed up Westgate Street, stood at the Cross and headed down Eastgate Street.

What I saw did not impress me.

It had been sometime since that part of Gloucester had been visited by Penny and I and we were not impressed.

Empty shops, especially the large British Home Stores site were in abundance.

Visiting the heart of our city is not a life enhancing experience.

Town centres and high streets are having a tough time but naively something better was expected.

Yes, work at Kings Square is to be commended but the very heart of our city is I have to say a let-down.

A neighbour and friend was asked by me what he thought of the city.

‘Tatty’ was his response.

He continued by saying he hardly ever went there, it being a discouraging experience.

I value and love our cathedral city.

It has a proud history and a determined and resolute population but there are at the moment eyesores.

One answer could be to convert empty shops to affordable housing.

If this was possible it would bring young people back to the city centre and their spending power would stimulate the flagging commercial life.

This spirited and lively city may provide other answers but please it is a matter of sooner rather than later.

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