I live in Nottingham, a city that enjoys a pretty terrible reputation both locally, regionally and nationally. I agree that everybody who lives here and every street and building does not deserve to be stereotyped, but Nottingham consistently seems to appear way down league tables of all kinds.
From the struggles of out two football teams to the academic standing of our two universities; from the performance of the police in solving crime to the provision of affordable housing, we don’t do very well. The city council’s determined campaign for their workplace parking levy has also done little to enhance the image of Nottingham as a great place to work.
But it is Nottingham’s reputation as the gun crime capital of the UK that was a national and international talking point just a year or so ago and leaped back into the spotlight yesterday.
It’s all a close to home for us here. There used to be a pub (now demolished) about 200 yards as the crow flies from our house that was the scene of a fatal shooting. The infamous Bestwood Estate is close by and Bulwell, just across the local golf course, has also seen shootings.
Things have quietened down recently, but the headlines yesterday reported two shootings in different areas of the city on the same day. A man was injured in a shooting incident in Top Valley, another estate close to where we live, and although no-one was hurt in the incident in New Basford, this is no more than a mile away.
So it comes as no surprise to me that Nottingham City Council is worried about our city’s image. However, I find it an unedifying spectacle for a senior councillor to blame the media for taking the city’s shootings out of context. How can the story be reported any differently from the way that, for example, the Nottingham Evening Post reported it today?
The BBC are reporting that the council’s deputy leader, Graham Chapman has been “pleading” with the media not to go over the top. The BBC quoted Councillor Chapman,
“I’m just pleading with people to put it into context.
“It got really out of context a few years ago and it damaged the city enormously.
“If the media put it into context then it won’t [do] that damage.
“Obviously what we need to do is sort out the guns, and that is gradually being done.”
There is no way that I would ever be mistaken for a support of a pro-gun lobby such as exists in the USA, but come on Councillor Chapman, “sorting out the guns” is setting the wrong priority.
Don’t you need to need to sort out the people who find it acceptable to fire guns at other people on the city’s streets? And it seems that these streets are uncomfortably close to our house.