surinenglish

THE BOTTOM LINE

What planet are they on?

I remember the excited trips as a child to the top of Merseyside County Museums in Liverpool to visit the planetarium. You could never tire of such a place. These days the same building is trendily renamed for the 21st century as World Museum and the planetarium is still there, amazing young and old alike.

So the recent decision to try to build a planetarium in Malaga immediately caught my eye. Here is a city that too has accumulated a fair share of worldly recognition in recent years, now ranked behind only Madrid, Barcelona and Bilbao in Spain for the strength of its cultural offer. What better addition to the Costa del Sol than an attraction grounded in knowledge and exploration to get future generations hooked on wonder and science. And especially in this age when our own planet is apparently under so much threat. Needless to say, the local council are getting fully behind it.

Where should the new planetarium be built you ask? An emblematic plot of land on the edge of the city centre? A brownfield site that could do with a new lease of life? Or alongside a school or university? Perfect, but alas that is not to be.

The planetarium would be crammed into a small plot of virgin land beyond the airport, right next-door to Ikea. An incessant swirl of traffic moves past the site; cars crammed with flat packs in the back and the odd Drive-Thru McDonald’s meal on the dashboard.

A place of infinite universal aspirations having to sit next to such disposable neighbours. Presumably the content of its shows would serve to worry us about the delicate position of Earth, so does nobody see the irony that almost everyone would have to arrive by polluting car in order to be told that?

There is something also very ironic about this site. It is big bang opposite a much-vaunted new major park for the Costa del Sol, the Campamento Benítez that this newspaper has written often about.

This is a paradise of rolling lawns, well-tended woods, a beautiful lake and an attraction well done. But wait, erase that image - the park is a complete mess. Go and visit it and you will see it overgrown, badly cared-for, the lake embarrassingly started but not finished. It is, so far, a costly, bungled project and a failure of public authorities.

How many light years is it before local politicians learn that to do our bit for Earth, you need to finish and use well what you have started first? Only then can you move on to the star-gazing promises of the next twinkling project to concrete over a bit more of the Costa.