Doing it for ourselves

Plans for Gobions Park in East Tilbury

A couple of months ago, we asked this question: What’s the future for our parks? This piece focused on what volunteers have been doing to turn round the fortunes of Hardie Park in Stanford-le-Hope. It was written in response to this news item: UK’s cash-starved parks at tipping point of decline, MPs warn

What’s happening at Hardie Park is not a one off by any means. Other communities have been watching their local parks slide into decline as as result of the austerity imposed squeeze on local authority spending and rather than just sitting there moaning about it, they’ve done something about the situation. This is what residents in East Tilbury have been doing: Volunteers and building firm team up to put finishing touches to improved Gobions Park in East Tilbury

It could be said that all the volunteers at Hardie Park and Gobions Park – and the local businesses that have chipped in to support them – are doing is letting the council off the hook for their spending cuts. It could also be said that in an ideal world, under a more equitable economic system, there would be sufficient funding in place to ensure that every community had perfectly maintained parks. We don’t agree with either of these views…

In our view, what’s happening at Hardie Park and Gobions Park to name just two examples is that people are stepping up to the plate to start to take control of a community asset. From our own personal experience of volunteering at Hardie Park and that of the other volunteers, we can vouch that it’s an empowering experience helping to maintain and run the place. It’s a step towards having a say in what happens in our communities and starting to bring power down to the grassroots. This is where real change starts…let’s see how far it can go!


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