Thursday, 27 September 2007

The two worlds of Lenton parks

Nottingham University's Millennium Garden

Priory Park, Old Lenton

I took both these pictures yesterday. The Millennium Garden and Priory Park are less than a mile apart. Both are in Lenton. The latter is padlocked, but still easy to get into and has been in quite a state for some time now – a fact which has not gone unnoticed by local people and reported to the correct authorities. However, this is not the point of this blog. That's a story to tell when we have a happy ending.

For now I want to focus on the juxtaposition of what you will can find on the university campus and what you find in the community which surrounds it. One has well maintained grounds and lovely gardens. The other has parks, with one exception, in varying states of decay. And it isn't just parks. It feels like a general malaise, except that it isn't — we know precisely why Lenton has the problems that it does. Just like the parks across Nottingham, what Lenton suffers from is a chronic lack of public investment and most of the private money which comes into the area is from private investors wanting to make a quick buck out of providing student accommodation and servicing them. Even the supermarkets with their 'express' chains are getting their snouts in the trough.

The campus is a kind of 'imperial city of the hill' which admits the locals to work and, occasionally, to awe. Nothing is too good for them. No doubt some of those admitted feel intimidated and, even, out of place. But the masters have a good time at the expense of the their students and the public purse. Outside (in Lenton) we make do as best we can and have to say 'thank you' for any crumbs which are thrown our way. University largesse is today's equivalent of the medieval dole cupboard.

Perhaps if all of Lenton became part of the campus and was administered by the university instead of the city council, we would be better cared for as a community and our own efforts given the value they deserve. I have long been an advocate of parish council status for Lenton. Perhaps we can persuade some enterprising students to take up the cry of 'Home Rule for Lenton' and the creation of a community governed by the young people who live in it. A kind of Lord of the Flies, but with humanity and caring.

Sussex win the county cricket championship.

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