Monday, 23 July 2012

NOLYMPICS: It's my London too; Wornington Green 'muck-up'

The divide between north and south of RBKC has perhaps never been so keenly felt than at this moment.

Imagine the depth of cynicism involved in a decision to bleed your most disadvantaged communities of children's sports funding due to 'government cuts', while frittering roughly the amount saved into a whacking great boozy party lasting nine days.

Unimaginable, isn't it?

Yet this is what our Council has done. In the past three years the total of cuts to school sports amounts to  cc£750,000. This is enough to affect the long-term health, fitness, exercise habits and general well-being of an entire generation of young people, many of whom come from families desperately struggling just to put food on the table. Yet our Council has done this while obscenely and incomprehensibly squandering Council taxpayers' money on nine days of high-brow entertainment, the Exhibition 'Road Show' in South Kensington, involving street performers, circus acts and a staggering 10 open air bars. It kicks off every evening at 6pm. Drinks are being priced high 'to discourage binge drinking', though this will hardly concern the gilded youth of K&C.

Meanwhile, in the embattled estate of Wornington Green in North Kensington, the juggernaut that is Catalyst Housing (a so-called 'social landlord') decided, with no forewarning and no discussion or opportunity to raise problems, to demolish a popular children's skatepark on the first day of the summer holidays and plonk some ugly portocabins there instead.

This is apparently to 'speed up the development', a development which, in my experience of six years working there, no one wants, at least not what is on offer.

To stop this insult to some of the poorest children in the borough, we asked Catalyst, we asked senior officers, Directors and Cabinet members to intervene on the residents' behalf. Guess what? They don't give a stuff. We know this because email trails inadvertently forwarded show what we always feared, that they consider us all to be a great nuisance and a hindrance to the progress of this poorly conceived development.

So, a nine-day world of wonder costing £1m in South Ken, and bugger all for residents in North Ken, not even a popular though scruffy skatepark.


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