Monday, March 10, 2008

WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO CIVIC PRIDE?

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.

7 Comments:

At 11:24 am, Blogger Charlton Average said...

I agree with you completely.

I have a few similar rants about the Council's claim to share our priorities over funding and the inept opposition on my blog.

In my case the most recent one was brought on by my discovery that the Council are to close the really rather good Health and Fitness Centre at Charlton's Stadium and the fact that my street looks like a complete tip with rubbish bins that haven't been emptied since the new bin scheme started and are now spilling out onto the street.

Yes Greenwich Council are presumptuous, they know that they're going to win the next election and to be frank I don't think that they care about us residents at all.

Aside from trying to win Eltham back when we do have Tory Councillors, such as Nigel Fletcher, they seem far more interested in national politics and trying to pretend that they didn't accept free tickets for a show at the O2. Greenwich is to them, I feel, just a stepping stone to national politics. They share the Council's opinion that this is a Labour borough and can't be bothered to do anything about it.

I'm glad you mentioned Greenwich's publicity budget of £3.1 million. We need to keep on banging on about that and how it compares to other local authorities who spend an average of £0.8 million each.

When you hear the Council boast about finding £1 million to fight gang crime, cutting £500,000 from the parks budget, clawing back money from schools that have under spent on their budget or closing my local gym consider how far that £2.5 million could go.

Rather than make a real difference to the people of Greenwich our Council chooses to spend that extra £2.5 million telling us how good they are.

It's when thinking of all of that the Council's claim to share our priorities really sticks in my throat.

 
At 4:34 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If only the voting system could be changed.

It is totally undemocratic.

All the time we carry on with this system, the people's republic of Greenwich will just carry on without a care in the world.

And with a total disregard of the electorate.

 
At 5:35 pm, Blogger Charlton Average said...

Change the voting system to what though?

The current system would work a lot better if the opposition parties did what they were meant to be doing and and actually showed a real interest in Greenwich.

I was involved with a semi-political party a while ago who had the sole-objective of having a "none of the above" box on ballot papers. No party could win an election unless they got more votes than that box did.

I still do all that I can to encourage people to get out and vote though, even if they do spoil their papers.

People often believe that it is for political parties to impress them and get them out to vote. Not so. A person that doesn't bother to go out and vote it a person that the political parties don't have to worry about trying to sway to their side.

Prove that you will use your vote and suddenly you become political capital.

If enough of us spoilt our papers then maybe, just maybe, some other party would realise that Greenwich can be taken from Labour if they put their mind to it.

 
At 7:12 pm, Anonymous JJ said...

To win, a candidate would have to get more votes than all the other candidates put together. i.e get 51% of the vote.

That might get them off their backsides and make them think of what the electorate actually want.

No chance of that as the system stands.

 
At 1:51 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderful resource the Park Rangers are - for schools, pre-schools, toddler and community groups... For over a decade, my children have benefited from their knowledge and enthusiasm. What's the betting these are amongst the first to suffer cuts.

 
At 3:49 pm, Blogger J J said...

Where are you?

We all miss you. Please come back.

 
At 12:51 pm, Anonymous Connie Preston said...

Hi I am a student of Ravensbourne collage of Design and communication and a resident of the Plumstead area for 20 years. I have been given a project that involves me making a documentary of the area and I would like to interview you on your thoughts and feelings towards the area, if possible.

Please contact me via email
plumsteadthedocumentary@googlemail.com

Thanks
Connie

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home