20 February 2006

Soap Box Sunday

"A soapbox is a raised, improvised platform on which one stands to make an impromptu speech, often about a political subject. Alternately, the word may be used to describe the box that soap comes in." Wikipedia

There are two very different stories in the local news this weekend each dealing with antisocial behaviour and the transport system in Plymouth.
This is Plymouth reports
Police are investigating a string of vandal attacks on bus shelters in Plymouth over the weekend. All the windows were smashed on at least three bus shelters on the Derriford to city centre route on Friday night.Police say the vandalism has been reported and is under investigation. Glass was left strewn across the pavement after the shelters on Tavistock Road, between Manadon and Derriford roundabouts, were damaged..

These bus shelters are expensive to repair and actually give a fairly good level of protection from the elements. They are a lot better than most of the shelters used previously and there are a lot more of them. They are paid for by the advertising they carry. After the glass has been smashed a few times at a bus shelter they give up and replace the glass with metal sheeting. This may be more vandal proof but makes it a lot less easy to see the buses coming when you are in them. Our own shelter up the road from where I live has been fitted out like this after the glass was smashed four times in three weeks. I saw one damaged shelter on Sunday morning (I hope the news story was wrong and it wasnt smashed on Friday evening) It would have been very dangerous with a lot of broken glass around the area and on the road. The morons who did this are probably quite proud of their work.

The other item of news which caught my eye is only vaguely connected with transport in that it concerns a mural at Bretonside bus station. The bus station at Bretonside is a well known and widely recognised disgrace to the City of Plymouth. Its dingy and damp and cold and, like many bus stations, mostly a home for tramps and drunks. Its a no go area late at night for this reason. One thing which did brighten it up slightly was a large painted mural down through the main 'tunnel' pedestrian walkway. Someone has noted one depiction of a 'black man' said to be holding a stick of dynamite (it didnt look like that to me). Apparently the British National Party have stated that they wanted to use this picture for their own aims. This has brought the picture to the attention of everyone as being a racist picture. The young artist has stated that it was nothing of the sort.

"I'm shocked and bemused by the accusations that my art piece at Bretonside Bus Station has been interpreted as being racially offensive."The piece was inspired by the plight of indigenous groups, specifically the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert whose ways of life are being eroded by the activities of multi-national corporations. The image depicts Kalahari bushmen making fire in the traditional way, rubbing sticks together."The replacement of sticks with dynamite symbolised the evils of globalisation. This image was never intended to be a statement on race."

The Council which has not had any complaints abut the artwork has arranged for it to be repainted. Full story here

It is sad that a piece of art, which has been around for a while and caused no offence to anyone has had to be targeted in this way just because one group says its racist. The implication being that the BNP like it, so therefore it must be racist and therefore must be removed. In many places the Union Jack flag is seen as a problem for the same reason.

I am glad that the council have at least asked the artist to come up with something else in its place rather than a kneejerk reaction and gone in and just painted over it - like the so called monitoring group demanded.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Have something interesting to say? Please share it here!

(Moderation is currently switched on so please allow a short while before your comment appears on the site. This is only to cut down on spam - not to cut out people who disagree with me!)