Then maybe you can help. I head a small community group that has been very active over the past couple of years saving SE1s biggest park, Archbishops, from various development threats.
We feel the only way to secure its long term future (there is not even a lease at the moment, so the public are effectively squatting) is by drawing up a proper management plan based on a proper study of user needs. We have secured £15,000 of regeneration funding from Lambeth Riverside (not Waterloo despite the fact that the park is in the latter SRB area). We probably only need £10,000 to £15,000 more. Lambeth are, now, being immensly helpful and we have formed a steering group with them. They are trying to identify 'planning gain' money which will allow the plan to be implemented. But do not have any money for the plan itself.
Could your employer help? We only need ten employers to stump up £1,000 - and since we are clear that improvements should benefit all park users, they would probably gain in terms safer jouneys to work, having a nice place for employees to go at lunchtime, better sports facilities etc.
Projects like this led essentially by local mothers trying to bring up children in the area are rare. It would be brilliant if we could now form a real partnership across the resident/employee divide so that the south of SE1 becomes a better place for us all.
So can you ask your employer, and see if they can make a contribution. If appropriate we could install a plaque naming all those who contributed to the project. And we will certainly try to ensure that as many people as possible are aware of the support we receive.
And if you work for Ernst and Young, or know anyone who does, can you ask them to push their employers to reconsider their decision not to offer any help!!!!!!!! (They are a huge firm and right next to the park, so stand to benefit most from our efforts and presumably have a policy of contributing to the community.). In contrast the lovely Fine Crown bakery in Lambeth Road regularly donates buns and cakes for our events. So there you go. Small is beautiful. And cakes are probably better value than auditors.
I knew about the Lambeth Parks Conference. In fact we are urgently seeking anyone who would like to give up Saturday 23 March to go along and represent us and argue the case for good parks. Any volunteers? A free lunch from Lambeth? (Unfortunately they have told us that they have toned down their usual hospitality in case we complain about its lavishness.)
The last bit about refurbishing the building by putting in a nursery in Vauxhall Park is a joke. The Friends of Vauxhall Park found a potential tenant for a building that had been unused for 30 years. Local people helped locate the finance for a repair-lease and write the business plan. Lambeth officials opposed the planning application on the basis that the nursery would be a private one. It was only after last minute efforts from people like our local Councillor, and to his credit, the Chair of the Environment Committee, that the recommendation got overturned by the Planning Committee.
They are naughty.
So James. Only one Satruday. Plus perhaps access to your address book. I am sure you know people with money.
Bankside Open Spaces Trust don't represent that area but they are holding a conference on 17 April which anyone with an interest in open spaces is invited to attend. You might get some useful advice and contacts there. Go to: http://www.bost.org.uk
Thanks. I agree that the obvious place to start would be the South Bank Employers Group. Except for a little local difficulty, which was we as a group formed to oppose their plans to build a private tennis centre on the Park. Since then it has been difficult to even get on the mailing list for news about the £19 million Regeneration money they control.
The SBEG representative from the Royal Festival Hall (the well known People's Palace) told me recently that this was because though I lived right outside the Park entrance I personally lived outside the SRB area and hence the group was 'based' outside the area even though the park is within. Since he would not know where I live unless there had been some form of discussion I assume there was. In any event we await news on confirmation that we might access some of this funding for local people.
The fund raising is an amazing slog. We still need £12,500 (thank you Lambeth Building Society for £2,200!!!). There is a limit to what local mums can do if the better off in this area won't help. Over 50% of park users are commuters. They and other employees will benefit, yet local employers seem to think that they do not need to contribute. I assume people leave their social conscience at home in Guilford.
If there is anyone out there who can help lobby, complete funding applications or whatever please get in touch. The government bangs on about community involvement, helping the poorest in our community and so on. Don't believe a word of it. It is almost impossible to access any of this money unless you are a big corporation. Whilst community accessible Greening Funds are limited to £1,000 a group.
I also agree that Bankside Open Spaces Trust is cool, and have friends who are involved. But that is Southwark, who historically have been more committed to green space and raising external finance.
Lambeth, unfortuately, though they support our initiative and even want to commission the work, once we have raised the money, have no money of their own to contribute. And little in the form of support for community groups in terms of identifying available funding - indeed they even withdrew help with photocopying, the only help offered to parks groups, a year ago. Once again it looks as if another initiative will collapse (following on from similar abortive work for Kennington and Brockwell Parks) because it is simply too hard for small groups to undertake the whole of the process.