Forest of Dean & Wye Valley

MODERN TIMES: the Dinosaur column

In Dinosaur on July 30, 2016 at 8:34 pm


I’m not a supporter of the notion of elected mayors wielding political power. And I‘m more than happy that we don’t have any of that nonsense in the Forest or in Gloucester.

As I see it, mayors are there to fill purely ceremonial roles. Chairing council meetings, wearing their chain of office, opening fetes or meeting visiting dignitaries – that sort of thing.

But having laid my cards on the table, I was glad that the Labour candidate in Bristol had successfully defeated the previous “independent”. Marvin Rees beat red-trousered George Ferguson by a big majority, and Bristolians can now rest easy in their beds.

Ferguson could be described as a controversial figure. Apart from schemes for trying to sort out the city’s traffic congestion, I think his two decisions that stirred up most controversy were the “metrobus scheme” and the sale of Avonmouth and Royal Portbury docks – thus disposing of important assets to the city.

It was the metrobus scheme that created the most active opposition, when his route ploughed through woodland and allotments (many of which had been worked for generations). Protestors took to the trees to block the route. It’s worth adding that Ferguson always claimed “green” credentials. In this instance he had a funny way of showing it.


We’re now on the brink of the referendum on membership of the European Union and the sound and fury via the media has reached fever pitch. Politicians have put their case for “in” or “out” (well, some sort of parody of their case, anyway), while the turmoil increased around them.

One would think that public interest in the Forest and across the Wye would have been rising as a result – but I have to confess that I haven’t noticed much sign of it. How many doorstep chats have you had on the topic? How many arguments have you heard in the stores or pubs? And how many leaflets have popped through your door so far?

Having said that, the debate did hit Lydney briefly back on May 21st. with a short foray outside the Co-op by the “Leave” campaign, but it didn’t seem to have disturbed the Saturday shoppers much – if at all.

If it wasn’t for the newspapers and the telly, I reckon we’d have all stayed in the dark about it. Mind you, if you’d tried to follow the media debate you were probably not much wiser.


There are still quite a few folk in the Forest who skim through the Citizen every day (though not, of course, across the other side of the Wye). And I’m sure that those Forest readers will have noticed a few changes in the paper.

For starters it’s no longer owned by the Daily Mail group. Instead it’s been snapped up by the Daily Mirror.

The Citizen has a long history, going back to 1876, though its roots are even earlier than this. Under the old Daily Mail regime it was very much a local “establishment” kind of paper, casting a rosy hue over the city of Gloucester and beyond into the Forest and over to Stroud. All was well with its world, and the city was always moving forward, with new shopping opportunities and businesses springing up like Spring blossom. It was enough to make many readers somewhat cynical.

Now that the Mirror has taken over at the helm, it doesn’t have that same gloss. There’s a new occasional edginess to it. There’s been a piece on sleeping rough in the city, for example, and mention of unemployment figures. And, if I may say so, I think it’s all the better for it.

Oh, and one other thing if I may mention it. It’s no longer published from Gloucester. Its new home is in Cheltenham, where its sister paper, the Echo, is produced.



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