Regeneration – Pah…

The Phantom’s cross today. What is this picture of? You might well ask…

This is part of what was formerly one of those “tart up a neglected area” projects, on the corner of Eastney Street and Trafalgar Road. Where the bus stop is.
A fair few quid were spent making this look a bit nicer – to add a little touch of smartness and pzazz to a sad little corner. They put in a few shrubs, a shapely seat or three and a bit of paving there, all tied in together with some slightly random concrete bobbles and a row of little blue lights in the ground.

Nothing special – but it added a glow – the feeling that someone gave a damn about it – that it wasn’t forgotten. That once ‘main’ Greenwich ended, somewhere around the car park between the ORNC and Trafalgar Road, things were still somehow cared for.

I used to love those little lights – a small blue glow that made me smile. I’m a simple kind of Phantom, with simple pleasures.

Then they stopped working. I emailed Mary Mills and, I’ll give credit where credit’s due, after a painful few months of her nagging, the council finally fixed them and they worked for a few short weeks.

Then they stopped again. This time, it would seem, even the mighty Mary Mills wasn’t enough to stop the council just filling it in with dollops of concrete.

IT’S NOT EVEN DONE NEATLY FOR CHRISSAKE.

These bloomin’ lights can be bought for home installation for a few quid in B&Q and put in by a home handyman. All across the country gardens are full of ‘em. Walk through the Peninusla park and they’re working (though on another note, the water fountains aren’t…) At the Dome itself they’ve got little coloured strips in their concrete paths. How hard can it be to maintain half a dozen little lamps at a bus stop in East Greenwich? Too hard for Greenwich Council’s maintenance team, it would seem.

When will they learn that it’s the little things that create pride in a community? The little things that say “This bit’s cared for – respect it, ok?”
It’s all very well ploughing money into Projects, with a capitol P – and East Greenwich seems to get all kinds of art/gloss paint-jobs/new design ‘projects’ aimed at it. But without some kind of integral covenant, created at the time of commission, to maintain these innovations once they’re installed, it can actually make an area worse. It can create a Marvin the Paranoid Pavement of a once proud project. It can make an area say “I was cared for once by someone. For a little while. And now they’ve moved on. Forget me. I don’t matter.”

Here’s what the filled-in lights look like now – a row of little urban cowpats, surrounded by an ever-encroaching selection of brambles and bindweed to remind us how low East Greenwich comes in the pecking order.

Ok. It’s a few lights. I’ll pull myself together and get a life now.


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