The playground at Hardie Park (Image: www.friendsofhardiepark.co.uk)
Dave (the editor)
Back in 2007 and 2008, in a very different political existence with the Independent Working Class Association, I stood two years in a row as a candidate for the Stanford East & Corringham Town ward in the local elections. When I was canvassing in the western end of the ward near the Manorway, one issue that was constantly raised on the doorstep was the then dire state of Hardie Park. Back then, it was neglected, a magnet for anti-social behaviour and considered by many people to be a no go area.
Now in 2019, it’s a much loved and well used community asset. It has been listed by Essex Live as a destination to take your kid/s to: The 11 best playgrounds in Essex to take your kids to. In the space of just over ten years that’s one heck of a transformation. Particularly when you consider that it has been brought about by the determination of local residents whose determination, passion and sheer hard graft have transformed it into a successful, community run park. This is one of the pieces we’ve written about the impact of this on the wider community of Stanford-le-Hope: Community projects that build community cohesion.
The example of what has taken place at Hardie Park is being taken up by other residents across Thurrock with their local parks. This is what was recently posted on the Passionate about Hardie Park Facebook page: Our friends on the other side of the borough have been busy bees today! Community spirit goes a long way. Working together to improve their green spaces. If you know somebody in the Aveley area that would like to get involved, tell them to look up ‘Friends of Aveley and Kenningtons Parks’ They would love to have you on board! #nesta #performingparks #friendsofthurrockparks
I’m celebrating this not just because I’m one of the volunteer gardeners at Hardie Park but because a community run park has been justly recognised for its achievements. Also, because it’s now inspiring other residents to do the same. This is a classic example of what Alternative Estuary wants to promote – grassroots, community led projects that are making a real difference in the here and now.