Shropshire Star

Mark Andrews – Block paving, box parks, and mourning the passing of Nicola Sturgeon

Wolverhampton Council has announced its "transformational" plan to rejuvenate the city, shifting the focus away from retail.

An artist's impression of what Lichfield Street will look like

To be honest, I'm not sure that's much of a transformation. I thought the focus on retail disappeared years ago.

As far as I can see, the £12.5 million plan seems to mainly involve cycle lanes and block paving. I don't think there's a problem in the world that local councils don't think can be solved by cycle lanes and block paving.

In addition to this, there is a £6 million 'box space', which will see previous plans for a £300 million retail scheme replaced by a bit more block paving and a few storage crates. Try to imagine the refugee camp at Calais, only with booze and burgers.

Now maybe there is a something to be said for a new recreational area, which can be used to host summer events, and provide a bit of alfresco food and drink. What I can't understand a few old shipping containers will end up costing £6 million. Particularly, given that the Civic Hall debacle suggests it will probably end up costing four times the budget.

Still, if I ever achieve my dream of appearing on The Apprentice, I've got my business plan sorted. Selling slabs and old shipping containers to local councils.

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Announcing the scheme, Councillor Steve Evans spoke about 'dwell space' and 'experiential activities'. If the slabs and shipping containers thing doesn't come off, I've got another plan. A computer programme for councils that turns English into gobbledegook.

The resignation of Nicola Sturgeon appears to have stirred a period of national mourning in our broadcast media on a level not seen since Soviet state TV announced the passing of Yuri Andropov.

“That was a truly remarkable resignation statement by Nicola Sturgeon," said ITV's Robert Peston. "Whether or not you back her ideas and convictions, she has been one of the most important politicians of this generation."

Really? Because I just thought she was the irritating leader of an overblown county council.

So deferential was the tone that I half expected Peston to suspend the day's programming and announce bagpipe music would be played instead.

In her speech, Miss Sturgeon said: "The cause of independence is bigger than any one individual,"

Well yes, but most things are bigger than you dear.

Best of all was her call to end irrationality and hysteria in politics. From somebody who has devoted a lifetime to stoking up division and discord, that's a bit rich.

I wonder what she will do now. She could go Celebrity Mastermind, and answer every question with 'Scottish independence!'