One of my photos

On a mission

July 8th, 2008 · Posted by Skuds in Politics · 8 Comments · Politics

At the moment Ian Irvine is on a bit of a mission, and its good to see.  Some people react to losing an election by withdrawing from everything, others just can’t let go and keep turning up at every official event ((Ken Livingstone for example)) but Ian has found himself inspired to activism.

The beneficiary of this enthusiasm is Broadfield Park, which really needs a few friends at the moment.  Earlier in the year the lower part of the park was flattened for anti-flood works, and more recently the grade II listed Broadfield House had a planning application to turn it into flats, ((application withdrawn, For now))  with a bit more of the park going to make up their grounds.  Now the plans are for digging a huge great hole for a sewer tank and trenches for a new main sewer.

I don’t think that anybody is denying that the work has benefits.  It is easy to forget that quite a few properties in the neighbourhood flooded a few years back.  At the time I saw some maps of the network of drains and it was quite an eye-opener to see how extensive it is, but how limited it is as well, and prone to blockages.

Having your house flooded is not a good thing. Having it flooded with crap is even worse, and everyone must have some sympathy there and be in favour of measures that prevent flooding, but I think the problem Ian, and others have is the way such measures are being implemented.

At the root of it all is a lack of information.  People who live near the park or use it do not know what is going on.  They are told that it is all in a good cause but don’t really know what the extent of “it” is.  The earlier works in the park would not have attracted so much hostility if they had been better publicised in advance and it had been proved that so much destruction was unavoidable. (Something I privately doubt)

The latest news is in the pages of today’s Argus where it all sounds not too bad – that the tank will be under the lawn.  One good thing about that is that grass grows back quickly so a lawn can be restored within months, unlike wooded areas which would take many years to recover.  But how do we know that is all the works will involve?   I do not know anybody who has actually seen plans that show exactly what the scale and scope is.  In such cases it is only natural to come to the conclusion that somebody must be hiding something.

That story also says that Thames Water have been talking to the council about how to carry out the work, but the council has not shared the detail of that and since the works will not require planning permission the plans are not in the public domain.

I don’t want to put words into Ian’s mouth, but I am guessing that his real objection is the way the public are being patronised: given no opportunity to comment on plans or make suggestions, but just told to accept that everything will be OK.  I happen to know that some active citizens in the area are qualified civil engineers or involved in drainage systems and I would be interested to hear their opinions, if they were allowed to voice them.

Its all getting quite interesting as the campaign has now been joined by Richard Symonds who brings a lot of experience of local campaigning  – although it comes with a tendency to see everything as part of a worldwide conspiracy of WSCC Tories and the Freemasons 😉

Don’t expect too many updates on the situation here though; Ian will be keeping a record on his blog and there will also be tons of online discussion on Richard’s conspiracy theory website forums.

Only last month the whole thing was presented, in vague terms, as a fait accompli.  In today’s Argus Thames Water are now saying that residents will be consulted, which is what Ian has been writing to everybody to try and accomplish.  Let’s see if he can build on that success to make the consultation a meaningful one.  So far we have only been told that the works are essential, but that does not mean they are going to be done in the best way or just the cheapest/easiest way.

Me?  I can’t get my head round it all.  I am still in shock at reading that Ian is 51.  I thought he must be about my age or younger!

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8 Comments so far ↓

  • ian irvine

    Yes, thanks for those words Skuds.
    What I object to is the complete and utter lack of any consultation with councillors and residents.
    There should be a debate about whether or not this work is necessary, if it could be sited somewhere else, what the effects on the park will be, and so on. Even if you think that the proposed work could be necessary, surely, as this is a publicly owned space, and in my view a very valuable one in terms of giving people who live in a ward whose pockets of poverty make it one of the most deprived in West Sussex, a nice place to get some exercise, surely there should be some democracy about whatever decisions are made about the park.
    The information that is coming out is contradictory. Thames Water and Crawley Council are spinning the line that the impact on the park will be minimal, yet when this was announced at the Broadfield Forum recently, the officer concerned said that ‘virtually’ the whole park will be dug up.
    I’ve made an FOI application, so no doubt the truth will emerge eventually. Probably after the diggers go in. They also have to build a compound to house machinery and materials.
    And I’m 51 in ten years’ time!

  • Skuds

    Are you suggesting that the paper got your age wrong? I’m relieved… I didn’t like to think you could be older than me but look younger.

  • Mr Mike

    Bolloxs you are not 41, you look easily 50+, you must of had a hard life then.

  • ian irvine

    Er, no, I have to confess the paper got my age right. Still, only 14 years until retirement!

  • Gordon Seekings

    I’ m not up on the all details of this but it was reported at the Overview and Scrutniy Commision of Crawley BC on Monday that the then Councillors for the area were kept informed and updated.

  • Mr Mike

    Who were the Councillors back then ?

  • Skuds

    Gordon – the amazing thing is that councillors are all coming out ot the woodwork saying they knew about it all ages ago etc. etc. but word didn’t get out to those who actually use the park.

    Not sure about the last question though… depends on when “then” was but if it was in the last 4 years it was Quirk and Head. Any further back than that and it was me – but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t go that far back.

  • Richard

    I’ve grown increasingly suspicious of those who accuse people like me of being “conspiracy theorists” – most of the time it’s a tried-and-tested technique to throw people off the scent in finding the truth.

    If I say Thames Water-MacQuarie (‘TW-MacQ’) – a global trans-national corporation – is primarily accountable to its shareholders – not us or our government – and their only interest is profit-maximisation and increased market share…that’s NOT a conspiracy theory : that’s an institutional analysis of any corporation within our State-Capitalist system.