It’s something like a year since my last update. I’ve dropped in from time to time to approve comments and delete spam, but the blog content has been worse than sparse and for that I apologise.
Where did it all go wrong? Well, after I wrote about the residents group I attracted a few comments from those involved and I also went along to the meeting at The Link to hear the plans and witness the protest. What I saw deserved a long and full report and I didn’t have time to do it justice. I put it off repeatedly, and then it just seemed like old news, and I had other pressing things to attend to and the blog languished, largely unloved.
I don’t want this to be one of those updates that promises that things will improve from now on and then sits as a final nail in the coffin of an ultimately dead writing outlet, there are too many about. But I’ve decided I will at least make an effort, and if things aren’t looking good in a couple of months, I’ll wrap it up honestly rather than leaving it lingering.
What I will say is that I have learnt a lot about the locals, despite not really getting to know any of them personally. The Thamesmead Residents blog updates regularly with complaints about how the area is not looked after. Some of the complaints are fair, others are, in my opinion, silly. What are people supposed to do about somebody parking their own car outside their own garages? And why the assumption that a park must contain closely cropped grass and no areas suitable for wildlife to flourish? For the most part I don’t think Thamesmead stands out as an area that is particularly under-attended by the council or those in charge of maintenance (Gallions in our case). It’s by no means perfect, of course.
What I saw at The Link was far more moving, though. Residents who had been here since the start gave an impassioned speech about how back in the day the schools were great, the homes were desirable and the community was solid. Gallions were busy telling everyone about the great success a new school had seen and the lady speaking was trying to get across to them how that was how it used to be in the past and things had been allowed to deteriorate – she wasn’t happy to see them parading facts and figures as though they had brought new success to the area, and the people who weren’t ushered out of the room to talk to Mr Montgomery from Gallions were polite and evocative when they spoke and urged more investment in fixing the problems.
Alongside that, I discovered a Facebook group aimed at reminiscing about the area and it’s great to see people who moved away looking in to see what happened to the place, and far less great to see the continuing stories of how the area has deteriorated.
Gallions regeneration plans have gone ahead in full force and the area formerly known as Tavy Bridge is being pulled down. I’ve got a lot of photographs and a few snippets of video to share on that front. Along Yarnton Way some of the flats are seeing a facelift and the garages beneath them are about to become shop premises. At the end of Alsike Road the old carpark and garages that were boarded off for months on end have finally seen the end of the work and the grounds around the flats are much improved, and a new open car park is available.
Crossrail has started work in the area, buying up some gardens and going to town on fencing off areas for work. The carpark near the station is no longer in use and the train station platforms have been elongated. It’s definitely a time of change.
More later. Probably.