Two men have been arrested over the fire at the Crooked House pub in Himley, Staffordshire police have said. A 66-year-old man from Dudley and a 33-year-old man from Milton Keynes have been arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life. The force said both men remained in custody on Thursday and were being questioned by officers. The wonky pub in the Black Country burned down on 5 August just over a week after being sold to new owners, and was demolished less than two days later, prompting a national outcry.
Huzzah – I hear your outcry. Yes, I agree, but for one tiny point, well several actually. It wasn’t in a conservation area, it wasn’t listed, and (although planning consultants disagree about this) the owners may not have needed consent to knock it down.
The Owners sound ghastly and patently have a track record of riding roughshod over neighbours, communities, councils and authorities entirely on the grounds of self-enrichment. But until there is a law that says people from backgrounds in the nail bar industry cannot behave like Visigoths with their own bricks and mortar, they’re is nothing we can do. Indeed you might think that they shouldn’t be allowed to own buildings lest they turn them into faux-Palladian mansions with Tudor Chimneys, ‘cos “Doreen says they’re posh.”. If you do think that then you’re still wrong – and a snob.
The problem isn’t with the Visigoths, it’s within the Town Hall and Whitehall which are both staffed by Ninnies, ostensibly working at the behest of Billy and Nev who are two concerned local councillors and who have led a long and fruitful life campaigning for badgers. They have a wide and exhaustive commercial experience of the high street, (they shopped there), and thus understand the need for repurposing buildings in order to provide the square meterage of bricks and mortar that might be converted to housing – without the need to rip up a green field full potentially of food – and try to connect another 12600 houses to an already broken infrastructure.
The trouble is they don’t know how. So they ask the Heritage people.
The Heritage bodies talk to planning, and because no one is working towards the same identified outcome nothing happens. So Heritage wonks need to wind their necks in – as do the planning departments. Can it be done? Is it safe, Will it last? Can we connect it up at a low cost or with little impact?
In the 21st century trying to use 18th-century materials when there are better, safer, more sustainable and greener alternatives is nonsense. Equally insisting on the most expensive green solution, is sometimes the equivalent of making jelly by cutting off cows’ feet. HMRC needs to behave too, which means that the Treasury needs to settle down. The VAT regime punishes refurbishment, and retrofitting to the latest sustainability standards and makes it potentially a massive and unaffordable cost.
In short, the Wonky Pub is simply the symptom of a broken planning system with too many publically financed bodies doing too little. The laws need to change and with it the people not administering what there is.
Talking of broken systems, poorly financed and doing little…
1:50 Sky Bet Hcap Cl2 (3yo+) 1m4f 14 run
I can narrow this down to six and as the markets have tended to be priced right then I’d have to say the short, shortlist should only have WOOTTON’SUN (How I loathe current horsename spelling fads) and BALANCE PLAY. I know this is Paul Hanagan’s last ride and, and, etc, but he’s up 5lbs and I suspect there are better values elsewhere. The latter’s been gelded and I suspect he had a head problem to boot because it has taken him a few races to get a grip on what is required and to enjoy it. After his Goodwood race, Ralph said: “He was very immature throughout most of his life. He learned a lot at Epsom on Derby day, and at Chester, we had to cut our cloth to fit – it was not the plan to make the running that day and it ended up like that. Today, he was a little bit timid amongst horses and still quite green. He learned a lot today. We will see what to do next, but we will go 1m 4f now and he might get a bit further.” Racing here off 95, he receives a nine pounds age allowance, as does the lightly raced INTINSO who gets to race on quick ground for the first time. The 3-year-old ran well when a ½l 3rd LTO, his first start over 1m 4f. He did have an entry for the Volitgeur and he looks like an improver. William Haggas’ EDUCATOR wears blinkers for the first time and looks a sexy price for a horse with Tom Marquand in the plate.
BALANCE PLAY 4 pts Win – EDUCATOR 2 pts e/w
2:25 Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup Stakes (G2) Cl1 (3yo+) 2m½f 7 run
There were 11 runners in The Goodwood Cup and 8 of them have come back to see whether QUICKTHORN is going to do it again. That was a race and a commentary that will live long in the mind, with a lot of post-race commentators desperate in this appalling 21st-century Blame Culture to find some jockey to lynch for not beating such an obvious tactic as riding from the front. It was a style that had been used all through 2022 when he won The Lonsdale Cup, and at Longchamp and at Sandown in the Henry II. I hope he wins it – but what might threaten? BROOME will like the improved going and COLTRANE will run better on this surface and Oisin Murphy will have a gameplan already. Frankie gets COURAGE MON AMI (Timeform top-rated). RIVER OF STARS is 1 from 1 at the track and tries 2m for the first time and although beaten 8+ lengths in the Lily Langtree – this ground will appeal. well beaten in mud at Goodwood LTO but better ground should suit here, NATE THE GREAT is likeable but is no better than G3. He’s a nice horse but this is too high for him.
QUICKTHORN 6 pts Win – To beat COLTRANE or BROOME or RIVER OF STARS 3 x ½pt SFC
3:00 Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Gimcrack Stakes (G2) (Colts & Geldings) Cl1 (2yo) 6f 10 run
Three against the field: ACTION POINT who won Newbury Listed Rose Bowl LTO. The words facile and cosily sprang to mind and if ORs were useful in this race, his would indicate it is probably too low and also capable of seeing him on the podium. The Bronte Collection, owners of Acomb winner, Indian Run, have supplemented KING’S GAMBLE, which is not something they do often. “Danny loved him at Newmarket and the sectionals were very good. He lacks experience but we think he is a very nice colt.” Not only “very good” but it was a Hands and Heels ride. KYLIAN is an obvious danger and has been sometimes unlucky in where, when and against whom he has raced. his price sadly doesn’t reflect that negativity.
ACTION POINT 2 pts e/w – KING’S GAMBLE 3 pts Win – ½ pt RFC
3:35 Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe Stakes (G1) Cl1 (2yo+) 5f 16 run
BIG EVS has a massive weight advantage as a 2yo – but the last 2yo to win did so in 2007, and the 16 2yos who have tried have produced 1 win and 3p. In the last 19 races, Fillies and Mares are R58 – W9 – P8 (A/E 1.02!). Even if you’d backed every female runner, with only 15½% winning, you would still have shown a profit. Just saying…
This obviously makes last year’s winner HIGHFIELD PRINCESS of huge interest and given her consistent form and despite her price of around 6/4, she has to be backed. But then what about DRAMATISED? She’ll have her ground and you can forget her Ascot run LTO from a draw in Cornwall and racing on glue. She’s been working well at home and she’s aimed at the Flying Five at the Curragh next month and the Breeders’ Cup. From the boys you couldn’t discount BRADSELL (Archie Watson) who has course experience, winning here by 9l in May 2022 over 6f on GS. He then won the G2 Coventry Stakes on GF was then below par in The Phoenix Stakes and off sick.
Archie Watson dropped him back to five furlongs for the first time and supplemented him for the G1 King’s Stand Stakes, where he beat HIGHFIELD PRINCESS. 3yo have only won this once since 2011. REGIONAL cost Ed Bethell a whole 3½k Gns from Richard Fahey in 2021. Plenty of positive noises from the yard. TWILIGHT CALLS is certainly capable of taking this and 16/1 is a tidy price. The five-year-old was 2nd in ’21 Kings Stand and 4th in ’23 and was also 2nd in the Temple Stakes last season. 3¼l behind BRADSELL in June the ground was slower than ideal. Henry won this with Kyllachy back in the day and he is no forlorn hope.
DRAMATISED 4 pts e/w – 1 pt RFC with HIGHFIELD PRINCESS
4:10 Assured Data Protection EBF Fillies’ Hcap Cl2 (3yo+ 0-105) 1m2½f 12 run
Only 2 renewals
ROWAYEH 7 pts Win – PRENUP 2 pts e/w – Both with AMANZOE 2 x 1 pt RFC
4:45 British EBF 40th Anniversary Convivial Maiden Stakes Cl2 (2yo) 7f 14 run
PEACE WALK is being backed If bigger than 14/1 then 2 pts e/w
5:15 Sky Bet Mile Hcap Cl2 (3yo 0-105) 1m 12 run
BAJAN BANDIT – SILVER SWORD Dutch for 7 pts