Make mine a latte – with some vision

Barry Peters
Barry Peters
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One perk of my job is looking back through old papers - principally the Bury Free Press. Headlines tell only part of the story and there are many stories behind the headlines which still remain untold.

But they got to me to thinking this week about vision – that spark every area needs to take it to the next level.

Let’s take the arc as a good example. I can remember the livestock and the barns and the tea hut on the old Cattle Market.

I can also recall what were far-reaching plans for 36 new shops with an anchor store – and the calls for the newspaper to back the plans or come out against them. But it was the sheer scale of the plans which Bury had never seen before which, I think, scared many.

Fast-forward 17 years from when the Cattle Market closed down and the arc sits proud, dragging in people from all walks of life and keeping West Suffolk buoyant.

There was also some fresh-faced councillor (our current council leader, I recall) who spoke of a dream to create a cafe society in the town.

Well, that drew some titters across the ageing Apple Macs at the BFP at the time. We’d all been to Paris and if that Cllr Griffiths thought people in Bury would order a vanilla latte and drink it in the street, he was deluded.

Fast-forward again and bar after bar after coffee shop continues to open up offering hot drinks my dear old mother would never entertain at those prices.

But we do – and that vision of 1999 and before has put us in a good spot today.

Now comes the hard part. That vision needs repeating and it needs repeating pretty quickly.

Time never stands still. The same people who were buying print copies of the BFP in 1999 by the thousand now access news in so many other ways we could only have dreamed of back then.

Those same people will want something new from our town over the next decade – 36 new shops will be getting a bit long in the tooth by then and yet I struggle to see visionary thinking on the scale that’s going to be required.