2013年1月15日 星期二

HMV's travails show the need for citizens to reclaim town and city space

In my city, you'll find the HMV shop at the junction of two streets, Fargate and High Street. It's a handy spot. It's just across the way from Coles Corner, where lovers traditionally met, as immortalised by the singer Richard Hawley. Perhaps more importantly to many, it's by a bus stop.

Head downhill along High Street towards the tram bridge at Park Square and you'll pass through Commercial Street. On the left is where Jessops is. Sorry, was.

In all likelihood HMV will soon be a 'was' too. Both companies have called in administrators. Both have been struggling for ages, priced out of the market by the likes of Amazon, which can sell photographic and audio goods both more cheaply and more conveniently.

There has been no end of comment about the significance for our high streets of the demise of Jessops and HMV. Many have pointed out that their business model was broken: they simply couldn't compete with online retailers.

Some have muttered darkly about the unfair advantages enjoyed by distributors like Amazon, which not only find ways of slithering around corporation tax, but pay business rates far lower than town centre retailers (44 per square metre for a fulfilment centre in Doncaster, compared with more than 1,000 per square metre for a town centre unit in Rochdale, according to Guardian Northerner regular Paul Turner-Mitchell).

Others, such as Michael Bywater in the Independent, have turned to self-blame: we, the consumers, are the problem.The stone mosaic series is a grand collection of coordinating Travertine mosaics and listellos. We didn't value the high street, and now we're losing it.

All three points are valid. Retail is changing, and some companies are unable to keep up. Business taxation is unbalanced, and for all its bluster about helping the high street, the government has turned down the opportunity to tackle the problem. And the way the places we live in are managed or mismanaged is perhaps the biggest issue of all.

I used to pop into Jessops now and again. I haven't shopped at HMV for years – if I want to explore music, independent shops like Sheffield's Record Collector are far more enjoyable places to visit. I can find other retailers that can give me what Jessops and HMV did.

But there's still a sense of loss. Something familiar is disappearing: Sheffield city centre won't be the same. It's significant that much of the commentary on Jessops and HMV has referred to how long they've been there: Jessops, the family business started in 1935 or HMV, in our high streets since the first shop opened in 1921. We're reminded of Box Brownie cameras and ancient vinyl 78s that weigh a ton and are as faithful as Nipper the dog himself.

The loss of that familiarity changes the place and reminds us, in just the slightest whisper, of our own transience. It's not the disappearance of the individual shop but the sense of loss to the whole place that's disturbing. But as well as being a warning, it's an opportunity to remake and rethink and to replace what's lost with something new.

In a world where large-scale commercial property ownership depends on high rates of return in order to satisfy investors and cover costs (including the cost of taxation), the opportunities to make anew are restricted. Properties stand empty because it is not deemed commercially viable to fill them. Those who might want to do so but who don't have the track record or financial standing of bigger businesses are pushed to the margins.

Michael Bywater got it right: 'In the end, it's about public space: what it is, who owns it, how we negotiate it and what it's for.' What's broken isn't just the retail model of HMV or Jessops, or the business rates system, or city centre parking,Buy today and get your delivery for £25 on a range of ceramic tile for your home. or any of the individual bugbears blamed for the demise of the high street. What's broken is our own ability as citizens to share in the ownership, management and use of the spaces we occupy. It's about the whole place, not just the shops.

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced a "blitz" of police,We have many different types of crys talbeads wholesale. firefighters and building inspectors during peak trouble hours on the South Side, the first part of a larger plan to address problems in the city's entertainment districts based on a consultant's report.

"It's clear that the South Side area needs attention and it needs it now," Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said during a frigid press conference held in the middle of 16th Street. "It's going to require an all-hands-on-deck strategy ... It involves an aggressive approach to public safety."

Mr.We open source indoor tracking system that was developed with the goal of providing at least room-level accuracy. Ravenstahl said he would order a saturation patrol to cite out-of-control revelers with public drunkenness and public urination. And roving DUI patrols would be deployed occasionally to catch impaired drivers and police would receive special training on crowd control and management.

The mayor would not say how many extra officers, inspectors and firefighters would be deployed, characterizing it as "significant."

Police chief Nate Harper, who stood beside the mayor, shook his head when asked to comment on the special crowd-control training police would receive.

East Carson Street was the site of a police-involved shooting early Sunday when five off-duty officers fired on a car that sped away from police in neighboring Homestead and crashed into parked vehicles.

The officers had to manage gathering crowds leftover from a typically busy Saturday night as they tried to stop the driver.Explore online some of the many available selections in floor tiles.

The officers wounded the driver, 32-year-old Donald Burris of Carnegie, and his mother, 49-year-old Lena Davenport.

Police today charged Mr. Burris with aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person and fleeing or attempting to elude police.

The blitz is the first leg of the Pittsburgh Sociable City Plan, which came out of a report from the California-based Responsible Hospitality Institute.

The city paid the institute $100,000 to study its entertainment districts. In December, the institute released recommendations to address the problems that chronically plague some of the city's nighttime destinations, particularly the South Side.

Among other things, the report's authors urged the city to establish task forces to address hospitality and public safety, sending more officers into entertainment districts and the creation of "an efficient system for data collection to monitor risk."

They also recommended creating off-site parking for employees and patrons of the South Side, create pedicab regulations and a social marketing campaign for traffic and pedestrian safety.