Grays – the community steps up to the plate

The Thurrock Independent paper has made a welcome return, albeit only on a monthly basis for the moment. The lead story on the front page is ‘Back From The Wilderness’ about a project initiated by The Riverside Community Big Local, assisted by maintenance company Mears, to transform a neglected patch of land at the lower end of Bridge Road in Grays by the junction with Argent Street into a community ‘pocket park’.

When I used to work on door to door delivery jobs in the Grays area, I walked past this patch of land on quite a few occasions and always thought to myself, ‘wouldn’t it be great if the local community took it upon themselves to clean this place up and turn it into a pocket park’. Well, it looks as though The Riverside Community Big Local are stepping up to the plate to get things moving!

As well as this patch, they also want to work with local residents in setting up ‘Friends of’ groups for Grays Town Park, Grays Beach Park and Elm Road Open Space. There’s a precedent for this kind of resident involvement in Stanford-le-Hope with Hardie Park – see the Passionate About Hardie Park Facebook Group for an idea of what can be achieved.

Volunteers at The LightshipCafe

In the Thurrock Independent, there’s also a four page centre focus looking in depth at what has already been achieved at Grays Beach Park. A few years back, the fortunes of the park suffered a big dip. Since then, volunteers supported by The Riverside Community Big Local have been successfully working to turn things around. One of the stand out achievements is The Lightship Cafe which is staffed by volunteers, run on co-operative lines and all the profits are ploughed back into improving facilities in the cafe and park.

We know there’s a school of thought that thinks local authorities should be responsible for this and that initiatives like The Riverside Community Big Local and Friends of Hardie Park are letting them off the hook for the way parks have been run down as a result of austerity. We beg to differ…

These projects have an ethos of supporting and empowering residents who want to get stuck into taking over and running their local parks. While the way they’re set up may not satisfy the anarchist purists, we see enough in them to offer our wholehearted support. This is simply because they’re about empowering residents and in the process, bringing a bit of power and control down to the grassroots. It’s a part of starting to build a new world in the shell of the old – that can only be good…

Dave (the editor)

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