This article and associated reports carried in various media yesterday started a few thought processes in my weary brain. Feel free to pick it all apart but these thoughts come from the heart because I've seen it all before.
Last week I watched a programme on BBC Four Britain's Park Story and a fascinating piece of social history it was. Towards the end of the programme they touched and it was only a brief touch on how Britain's Parks became no go areas during the 1980s following savage cuts during the Thatcher Years, in funding. You may remember it all well. Once a park is neglected, plant beds left to the weeds, pathways left to crumble, buildings not maintained, park keepers and rangers made redundant along with the skilled gardeners et al, then the vandals move in to destroy what remains. Graffiti became more prevalent than foliage, children's playgrounds became the haunt of disassociated young people who had nowhere else to go and nothing better to do than cause trouble and take drugs. The families stayed away because of the danger of a child picking up used needles or condoms. Councils couldn't do anything about the problems because the funds were not available and so it all became a vicious circle.
If you allow places to rot and fester then there is no pride. How can you have pride in something that is vile and vandalised? And so the situation gets worse and the behaviour of those who are disassociated becomes worse and society as a whole breaks open a little more. This may all sound so dramatic but think about it. When something is good and well maintained and money is spent in keeping it that way then there is a pride. A pride in a place that is ours, belongs to all of us and that we all as a society use. I don't have a lot of time for the last Labour Government but give them their due, the rise in use of our parks and there has been an incredible increase in the popularity and use of all types of park, does coincide with their 13 years of power.
It is easy for departments that provide for our leisure activities to be subjected to the first and most savage of cuts because they are not considered essential, hence the cut in new playgrounds that would have made such a difference to the lives of those who had help plan them and would have used them. But these services are essential in my eyes and a wider perspective needs to be taken into account. Cut these provisions and we start that vicious circle of decay, decomposition and ultimately destruction all over again.
Everything starts with but a small seed.....