Something interesting happened to me yesterday. I was invited to join the South Thamesmead Neighbourhood Group, an invitation that I have happily accepted.
The group is being set up by Gallions and according to Lesley Edwards who invited me:
The group is being formed to support the South Thamesmead regeneration projects that are/and will be taking place in that area. The group will be made up of 12-18 people who will range from local residents, business people and Head teachers of schools. It is proposed the group meet quarterly and will provide a sounding board for issues relating to the regeneration and neighbourhood management in that area.
Now, I know that many local people oppose Gallions and would see this as siding with the enemy to some extent. They perhaps think that I’m an apologist for corrupt local officials and that I’m being pulled on-side to generate positive output.
This isn’t the case. I’m a reasonably neutral voice, saying what I see. I am fond of Thamesmead and its history. When I saw the buildings around Tavy Bridge being pulled down I did get a pang of brief upset. The history! The damage! What will the new look for the area be like? How will it serve the community? Can the glory days that the former residents remember ever be recaptured?
I’m not much of an optimist, truth be told, but I’m hoping the answer is yes. The conceptual pictures of the future for Thamesmead are largely positive. The people pulled in off the street to critique the regeneration plans were mostly enthused by the proposed new look while I was there on one of the open days last year. But I’m not going to happily sit by and nod where I see flaws, I’m kind of cynical about the likelihood of turning things around with a coat of paint and some smiling photos in the promotional material. I wasn’t keen to hear vague ideas of “traffic calming measures” along Yarnton Way for example. Yes things are needed at the Lakeside Medical end to make it easier to cross – and I am not convinced that pulling down the walkways above the roads is the best plan, but I do hope that the other end of Yarnton Way with its needlessly slow 30mph limit near the Wurth building won’t have such enforcements.
Anyway, there’s a meeting happening tomorrow and I’ll respect any limits put on sharing information discussed within but I hope that they won’t be draconian and I also hope to be able to report back with some useful and interesting news about the forthcoming proposals for the area.