In March, this year, I contacted our beloved Council about several matters concerning the [potentially] lovely Gardens.
I particularly wanted to know:
- why 6 double seats had been removed last year and not replaced.
- what was happening about the rat infestation and the seemingly untouched white rat-traps
- why the lighting in the main section was so inadequate.
After a flurry of emails, and no adequate response, i started the process again.
It has taken over 6 months - and Summer has been and gone - but last week, after a particularly terse email from me, 4 new double seats were placed in the Gardens.
I am going to meet with some personnel regarding the other matters.
Question: Why is it SO difficult to obtain positive action from Southwark Council about relatively simple matters, even using the 'correct' links from their own website?
Answers on a Postcard!
I was, however, chuffed to see ALL the seats occupied, on a particularly lovely day this week - the day after they were replaced.
Bravo! Alas, nothing helps except interminable nagging and becoming a "Disgusted of Southwark" type, writing and phoning until the Council are so fed up with you they put things right to get rid of you (NOT, I point out, to remedy the cause of the original problem). Is it not a desease of councils world wide?
on a similar note (though in Lambeth), the Waterloo Millennium Green - which is, or rather was, a lovely little park - has been completely taken over by drinkers and rough sleepers recently. There are about 20 people who regularly sleep in the park and there is smashed glass, cardboard and other detritus everywhere and the planting has been turned into one big communal toilet facility. At one point last week there were about 4 tents pitched in the park (we're down to one at the moment). Surely pitchig tents in a public park is against the law? The police regularly attend though they have said that, unless they are specifically breaking any laws, they can't do anything. It won't be long before the Trust that runs the park pulls out and it turns into a no-go area. Such a shame...
So true that our open spaces seem to have a lifecycle.....massive investment / press releases / self-congratulatory photocalls with a local politician / great efforts by locals and volunteers / influx of rough sleepers / reduction in use by others / broken bottles / huddles of drinkers / "fear of using space" /further reduction in use / falls into disrepair / 'consultation' / more consultation / massive investment. Repeat.
I went on a walk around our green spaces a couple of months ago. It was organised by Waterloo Green charity and advertised on this site. It was an eye-opener. Every tiny improvement takes ages because of bureaucracy and the need to 'involve the local people' and the need for consultants to do feasibility studies , risk assessments etc.
The efforts that have gone into St John's Church at Waterloo are incredible. Local youth were involved in the project. Roots and shoots Charity.
I think the rough sleepers were also involved.
But, I really felt for those involved in trying to do this type of work. It must be heartbreaking to see these spaces degrade over time.
On the plus side BOST have a great success at Redcross Gardens. I go there every week or so and it is improving, not degrading. Reasons for success? Well, there is a full-time person there, they forbid alcohol, and it is locked at dusk. Maybe the answer is that simple.
No question about it, Phoenix, supervision and tough control are the only solutions. But where have all the park keepers gone? along with the milkmen, the town crier, et al. And we have so many job seekers. Search me.
Don't get me started!! lol. I'm intrigued by the response from you all, and shouldn't be surprised by the similar experiences.
When I moved to Rotherhithe, in Jan 1988, I campaigned to get the Toddler's Playpark opposite my flat, oipened. The had had the Photocall, with Mayor, Simon H et al - but didn't open it for the children. Why? Because they'd 'forgotten' to lay the special flooring!! It opened 6 months later.....though I lived to regret it :-)
It was neglected very quickly and closed for long periods - years, at times - before the Council threw some more money at it. The list is endless.
There ARE some good Councillors, but they are hampered by so many negative 'colleagues', Hell bent on so-called 'Political Correctness' - cancelling 'Christmas' and Saving the Lesbian Whale [my Gay friends are happy with this comparison] - it's amazing there are ANY positive thinkers there at all!
Everything - and I mean everything - to do with Council is fraught with difficulties from the outset. Compounded by the national disease of Apathy, it's a wonder those of us who at least 'have a go' at making a difference have any sanity left!