Sunday, March 22, 2009

What price Google Street view - Cardiff?

Google has launched its UK Street View facility as part of Google Maps. I imagine it might be very useful to people trying to find an unfamiliar place on a map and trying to get an idea of what the place looks like. The pictures of the Castle Quarter look as if they were taken six months ago, when the re-paving of St John Street had just begun, and pavements were up in the vicinity of Burger King. Not exactly flattering.

Pictures of the new library are of a site still under construction, not gleaming in the sunshine, as it is on this fine day. In fact the city centre photos are unflattering, and if I were head of City Public relations, I would ask if they could be withdrawn, as they are so misleading, given the speed of the transformation of the city centre going on at present. People could so easily be deterred from visiting.

I cycled to church for the early Eucharist at 7h45 this morning. The streets weren't totally clean, unsurprisingly following yesterday's Rugby Championship final, with many tens of thousands of extra people chucking their greasy litter and spilling their coke on to our nice new pavements, and making it look squalid, so there was a lot of extra rubbish to be cleared before the shops opened for business as usual.

What struck me most was sheer volume of bags and cups bearing the Burger King logo strewn on the streets. Their takeaway place on St John Street is open into the small hours. Doubtless they made a packet from those who partied the night away in town, without contributing to the additional cost of clearing up the morning after.

There were also plastic bags from the Spar Grocers in St John Street nearby, hung from the churchyard railings like votive offerings, with empty beer cans in them. I recall giving evidence to the licensing hearing in support of the churches objection that sales from this shop would lead to this happening, and the shop's lawyer got away with dismissing this as unfounded.

I would love to have been able to call him before eight this morning, to invite him to come and see what we have to put up with, not just on match days, but far more frequently, as I predicted. We can be thankful that Google Street View photos don't include pictures of Cardiff on early Sunday mornings, before our heroic cleansing teams finish their shift.

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