When asked to sum up the Conurbation of Bournemouth a number of thoughts come to mind; some positive, others less so. Regardless of this, the character of the Conurbation today is a culmination of decisions and opportunities that have been taken over time. It is also a reflection of those decisions not been taken (possibly for sound reasons at the time), or because ideas failed to gain enough momentum to be implemented.
The Conurbation is what it is - by default and design. The world does not sit still. Expectations, values, trends, demands and competition, along with fast changing technological advances means that our corner of the world, like the rest of it, will change - even if it is by default rather than being planned. With this in mind, I brought together a number of business people, entrepreneurs, artists, academics and local council representatives from across Bournemouth, Poole, and Christchurch to debate how the Conurbation might develop over the next few decades in a group called Conurbation 2050.
This group has no formal responsibility or official remit other than a genuine passion to see our portion of Dorset prosper in the long term. Rather than leaving this important matter to fate, we identified a set of inspirational ideas that might help the Bournemouth Conurbation remain an attractive and competitive place to live, work study and visit. These ideas were presented to representatives of the Council on 23 June at Bournemouth School for Girls. When put together, the ideas should not be read as a final statement on where our Conurbation should be heading, but a contribution to on-going process of future planning.
It is not just adults who have a monopoly over good ideas. In order to include the big ideas of the next generation, the schools in my constituency of Bournemouth East, were invited to compete in presenting their blue-sky thinking concerning the Conurbation's development. Congratulations to the winners of the Senior School's competition, Caitlin MacLeod, Katie Long and Nkech Nwokolo from Avonbourne School, whose idea was to build on the heritage of Bournemouth. Their idea was to build a Horror Mansion as a tribute to Mary Shelley , who wrote Frankenstein at the age of eighteen. Congratulations also go to the winners of the Junior School's competition, Phoebe Fuggle-Pill and Olivia Adams of St Thomas Garnet's School .with their an idea to establish a two day "Bournemouth World Festival" involving parades and dancing to build on the influx of overseas students in the Conurbation and which would also include involvement from girl guides, scouts, brownies, rainbows and cubs.
Whilst this forward thinking initiative may seem new, in reality future planning is taking place in the public and private sector all of the time. Bournemouth's 'Town Centre Master Vision' is but just one example.
If this initiative does nothing else other than prompt further discussion about the exciting opportunities that could be pursued, then the group has achieved its aim.