There were a couple of interesting stories in the Citizen last week. First, on Thursday, the front page story was about the night-time pedestrianisation of Eastgate Street from December, turning it into ‘party central’. Then, the following day, there was a story about students deserting the city having been lured to Cheltenham by the offer of cheap booze.
These two stories seem somewhat at odds, so what is going on?
Eastgate Street, known as ‘The Strip’, has for some time now been dedicated to the night-time entertainment of young people. Here we have the city’s only nightclubs, and most of the pubs in the area are closer to clubs than traditional pubs. Everything is geared to attracting students, young people and stag/ hen dos.
I have always felt that it is a shame that Gloucester has been segregated in this way – generally to the disadvantage of the city’s other pubs. However, I assumed that the venues in the area knew what they were doing and this is what young people want. Now I’m not so sure – it is beginning to look like Gloucester is putting all of its eggs in one basket.
The news of people deserting the city is supported by my own observations. I was the only person on the No10 night bus out of the city on Saturday night. When I asked the driver if this was normal he said that it was, but it was always busy coming back the other way. How depressing.
Reading the comments to the on-line version of the story about students deserting the city is telling. The comments are not about the price of drinks in Eastgate Street, but the lack of variety. They say that all the bars and clubs play the same music and they are bored of it. They want something new, something different, something more varied, and other cities provide that better than Gloucester.
This is disappointing, because elsewhere in the city you have a good range of different types of pub and a good eclectic mix of live music. Perhaps we shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that all students want garish drinks and loud club music: some may prefer a pint of decent ale or some live rock music.
The trouble is, because students are directed toward the Eastgate strip, and this is a good distance from the city’s other pubs, they never explore the alternatives.
Hopefully the news about students deserting the city will be a wake-up call to Eastgate Street venues to be a little less complacent and mix things up a bit. Maybe the pedestrianisation will help, enabling events to take place in the street, adding to the carnival atmosphere of a debauched evening’s drinking.
But perhaps we could also do more to encourage the spread of the night-time economy across the whole city, giving a more of a cosmopolitan mix of venues and a more varied offering.
Meanwhile, my next pub crawl around the city later this month, is in Eastgate Street, so I will be able to see what it’s like first hand – wish me luck!