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Still around

October 18, 2006

I was trying to instil some hope in one of our old community warriors the other day. He was despairing of any worthwhile activity in the community – he had much experience to guide him, for he’s tried the censorious do-nothing-except-make-profit agenda of the Trust Thamesmead crowd while his last essay had been into the community’s swansong, the Gallions Residents’ Board.

I asked if he felt lonely and yes he did – we both know well how old father time has reduced the ranks of the old community scrappers, many though they once were.

Of course there are problems for any activist wishing to get involved in this injured Thamesmead community. Trust Thamesmead has badly husbanded the once-plentiful GLC and Mary Chambers MBE-created community resources and Gallions Housing has managed to shut its last reasonably-equipped hall. Just the pubs remain, as pale survivors …

Hugely varied religious groups abound, taking useful bookable hall times out of the reach of the broad community but, no matter how wacky the group, local councillors daren’t argue with them. Wacky councillors?

Few residents now have years of trade union experience to guide them in their community activities – no reasonable speakers remain, certainly there are no adequate chairpeople, any reference to bodies that do exist confirms that.

But there are still a few around, I think. Once, in the past, when the town was new and Jim and Sue Murray set about creating the Thamesmead Community Association, ordinary joes and joesses gathered together to become a force to be reckoned with.

You people of Thamesmead, by London’s old river, you have a tradition to uphold. Start again. You can – you could – you should …

Don

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