This picture shows the results of an icebreaker from the Thamesmead South Regeneration Neighbourhood Group (hereafter referred to as the Neighbourhood Group to save typing!). The quality isn’t fantastic, but it does the trick. We were each asked to stand up and tell everyone who we were and which were our favourite and least favourite parts of Thamesmead. Good is indicated with a green spot, bad with red.
… but perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. The group gathered at a church on Yarnton Way and we were welcomed by Gallions and our hosts. The group contained a wide array of people – probably more than the 12-18 I expected – and Dan Hill took the floor. Dan explained that this was not a public meeting, but he assured me that nothing being discussed was secret as such. His audience, the group itself, contained all kinds of people, including Gallions own staff, head teachers, residents, churchgoers and the guy who runs The Link. The age range was from 15 year olds through to pensioners. The idea, as Dan put it, was to have some forum where ideas could be discussed and plans brought forward without the meeting being derailed by any one particular point which might overtake the agenda.
For me, it was good to meet new people from the area, and to hear stories from people about their encounters within Thamesmead. Of particular note was the headmaster of Bexley Business Academy who, it turns out, came from previously teaching at a grammar school in Rochester. He says the local children are very proud of what BBA has become and he enjoys the new role.
The evening involved the introduction, a break out session where we discussed how we felt the group should work and what it should try to acheive, and a big overview of the regeneration progress, plans and timeline. We were taken through some slides that I hope I’ll be able to put up here at some point, and given them in printed form to take away.
I won’t pretend that the evening wasn’t a big showcase for Gallions, or that the selected invitees were perhaps disposed to be more accommodating than some in the region might be, but in the end we’re all people with some investment in Thamesmead, be it by choice or accident, and we’re not going to sit by and let ridiculous plans go uncommented.
Essentially the role of the group is to:
Hear the plans.
Spread the word.
Bring feedback from outside.
With that in mind, I hope readers will put forward their own views and I will do what I can to see them carried back and considered.
I’ll write another post soon about the places people liked and disliked in the exercise – I just need to work out where I left my notebook…
Also coming soon – a video I took of the building at the corner of Yarnton Road and Harrow Manor Way being demolished. It wobbles, it teeters, it falls down!