Last night, Naomi and I went for a drive around Leamington, scouting for a nice restaurant or pub in which to have her birthday meal next week. I knew Leamington had more eateries than Coventry, but I was still surprised by how many. The town is heaving with them! And most of them look a lot nicer than places in Coventry. Not only that, but they were open in the evening. Go into Coventry in the evening, and all the restaurants and coffee shops right in the centre are closed – there are just the clubs an student pubs left open. (I’m probably over-generalising here, so I’m sorry if your favourite Coventry restaurant doesn’t fit with my observations).
Leamington just had a much nicer feel to it than Coventry, and it left me wondering how Coventry could improve itself. Because I actually really like living in Coventry. It has plenty of shops, it has a bit of history, it’s got great transport links (the motorways, railways and airports) so you can get to anywhere in the country, or the world for that matter, really easily. It’s surrounded by nice countryside (unless you go west, and end up in Birmingham). And a great ringroad. (I love the ringroad.) And it’s trying hard to improve.
It’s improved no end since I first moved here over ten years ago. But it’s still not right. There’s no reason to go into town after five thirty, because everything has closed. You can’t even go into Starbucks and relax, reading a book and drinking a coffee, because it closes too. But there are no reasons for anything to stay open, because there’s no-one there. And no-one’s there because everything is shut.
Sometimes when I walk though the lower precinct I can imagine what it could be like. There could be nice restaurants around the precinct, with people eating out in the covered area, and some live musicians. Maybe someone juggling fire. Except then I think that even if there were nice restaurants there which stayed open late, people wouldn’t be using them because they’re in Coventry. And if you’re middle class and want to go to a nice restaurant, you go to Leamington. Because it’s nice.
So it’s a vicious circle. Or rather, several vicious circles. Anyway, here are my suggestions for improving Coventry, which don’t really have much to do with anything I’ve just said.
- Get rid of the escalator in the upper precinct.
- Knock down Cathedral Lanes, dig a hole and put a shopping centre underground, and put a park on top. (Not a car park).
- Build more nice restaurants and non-student bars, and keep them open later.
- Use the second floor of the precinct. Cafes would be good.
Yeah, it’s late. I’m sure I have better ideas, but not at this time of night.