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Mansfield – A town in transition

Posted onPosted on 5th Apr

Local writer Alan Dawson, writing under the pseudonym #madeinmansfield, looks to the future for Mansfield.

He writes:

At last Spring has arrived and Titchfield Park is beginning to recover from the long, wet winter – the well-tended flower beds are displaying brightly-coloured spring flowers and bulbs. The trees are in bud and the grass is looking lush as the warming Spring sun shines brightly down from a clear blue sky.

For Nature, Spring is the time for new beginnings. However, renewal does not just stay with Nature, it is an opportunity for us all to move on and create a new beginning from where there is only old and tired.

Recently there have been negative comments, especially on social media, concerned with the proposed building of a new 100-bed hotel on the site that used to be the old bus station on Stockwell Gate. People are questioning why a new hotel is needed when there is a Travel Lodge at the other end of town and, further to this have asked, when have 100 people needed or wanted to stay in Mansfield?

I understand and relate to the questioning. I also realise that it is part of our local makeup to be negative, albeit usually in an amusing and ironic way – and I enjoy that kind of humour. But negativity can be destructive in a struggling community and can lead to depression, poverty, and despair.

I work in education and during an inset day I was part of training that was concerned with a new concept of behavioural management, The Teenage Brain. The Teenage Brain can pick up on negativity, anxiety etc, from adults/ staff and a teenager’s behaviour attunes itself to that of the adult. Therefore, to remain positive will transmit positivity etc. I believe that this concept also extends to life in general, whereby negativity begets more negativity and so on and so forth until it spreads throughout the community.

I, for one, applaud our local leaders for their insight and determination as they try to kick start Mansfield’s fragile economy.

In the past visitors may not have had many reasons to stay in town overnight – especially not enough guests with reason to fill two hotels. However, in the future, there could be many reasons for looking for a room in the town overnight and longer…

Mansfield is close to the M1/A1 and is situated in the heart of Sherwood Forest; we have great tourist attractions nearby, such as Newstead Abbey, Rufford Park etc and a town that boasts a fantastic shopping centre, pubs, restaurants, and other beaneries. We have local connections with two well-known figures – romantic poet Lord Byron and the outlaw Robin Hood.

The image of Robin Hood, especially, could be earnestly developed for worldwide attention. There has always been big potential, in the nearby village of Edwinstowe for a Robin Hood-themed park, which could be carefully created in the same manner as Alton Towers. Alton Towers was created in stages, which were attuned to increasing visitor numbers A theme park such as this would bring about more jobs and more money in the pockets of associated businesses.

We also have a fantastic football stadium with adequate infrastructure, the One Call, which can accommodate up to 9,000 fans. In an ideal world,  you can imagine the ground being used for concerts and establishing itself as a well-known national venue – think of the revenue that would bring into the town.

This is a cliché, and not everyone has the means for this, but it would be beneficial for our community if the town’s people asked what they could do for the town rather than what the town can do for them.

I have identified that Mansfield is a prime location for an annual or bi-annual Fringe Arts Festival – if there are any other creatives interested in this concept please contact me: thetownsman@hotmail.com

Further to this, the town’s people can put trust in our political and municipal leadership. Conservative Member of Parliament for Mansfield, Ben Bradley, is certainly a controversial character and is not afraid to challenge popular opinion.  On economic issues, regarding his Mansfield Constituency, he has acknowledged that he has three more years to convince his constituents that the town is moving forward.

He is also optimistic that investment in education in the town will bring about a new and positive future. He refers to West Nottinghamshire College and the links that have been forged with Nottingham Trent University. In partnership with NTU, the college can offer accessible study to foundation/ full degree courses along with professional education. He is also hopeful that the town can develop opportunities in retail, engineering, technology, and other aspects of manufacturing.

However, as committed as he is to the town, like any other politician, the Ripley-born MP cannot wave a magic wand and magically put things to right overnight.

American actor Kevin Costner starred in the 1989 movie Field of Dreams. Costner’s character, Ray Kinsella, heard supernatural whispering as he walked through his cornfield: ‘If you build it, he will come.’ He then saw a vision of a baseball diamond.

Kinsella faced hardship by destroying part of his cornfield to create a baseball field. Mansfield must also take a risk and invest in the future… and like for Kinsella, whose prophecy for creating a place for paying baseball spectators came true, the crowds will surely come to Mansfield if we build for the future.