After a weekend in the real world, painting out graffiti and launching a Duck platform (pics of this in my next post, when I have got them downloaded!), amongst other things, it is back to cyberspace for a quick post. This is currently the season for announcing council tax rises and the figures are now in. Greenwich has one of the lowest increases in London at 1.96% you might think I would be happy about this, but I’m not.
In order to get to this low figure, if you believe the Council’s spin machine (cost £3.1m), it is all down to ‘efficiency savings’, but when you get down to the bottom line the reality is cuts in Council services, such as £1/2m slashed from the Parks Budget. Now you might think that Parks are a good place to cut if money is tight but I would beg to differ. There used to be a thing called ‘civic pride’, a concept which seems to totally evade Greenwich Council, it is about making the place you call home the best that it can be, and for my money it is the most important thing you can do. It should be any council’s first priority to look after what you have got, it’s boring, it’s mundane, but you mend the roads, pavements and paths, paint the railings, get rid of graffiti and make your parks places local people can be proud of.
Unfortunately Greenwich has lost sight of this truth in a whirlwind of new labour double speak. Only the other day I was invited to the 'Greenwich Open Space Strategy Workshop' In which a highly paid consultancy (Atkins Planning Consultants) was to 'consult' with local groups about the future of parks in Greenwich, yet only days later we discover a £1/2m cut in the budget. What the hell is the point of paying consultants, when your actual strategy is to let things go to rack and ruin.
What is the point of spending £m's rebuilding the Borough's schools for instance, if the kids emerge from them into an unkempt barren decaying wasteland, which they will have no respect for or pride in.
I have long been of the opinion that where a council takes pride in looking after the environment, keeping things in good order in the long run this actually saves money as it reduces graffiti, vandalism etc. People really will start to take pride in where they live.
I think part of the problem in Greenwich is that we live in a one party state, where the ruling Labour group, having been in power for over 40 years, has lost sight of the things that really matter. The local Lib Dems are weak and ineffectual and the Tories are only interested in regaining Eltham at the next General election. Perhaps it is about time that local people who want to make a difference got together and gave this shambolic excuse for a local administration a run for its money at the next council elections in 2010.