Monday, 1 March 2010

A 'one thing' day in Lenton

This morning I had one thing to do, then home for an early lunch before going to a West End Bowls meeting in Lenton Recreation Ground. Most days start slowly for Susan and me, breakfast in bed and papers, so we tried to avoid any appointments before 11am, but today I wanted to go and see the old scout hut site off Sherwin Road, which Parbinder from our local City Council Area 8 Committee thinks might be used for a volunteer led community garden (an 'allotment' in old fashion speak). The use of the vacated scout hut is seen as separate. In fact, it's quite large and I suspect that finding a use will not be that easy. Access to the site is not easy. You have to walk along a narrow unmade path from Sherwin Road beside the railway line which has no lighting. There is easier access from Coleby Avenue, but that is across private property.
This view of the site is towards Sherwin Road, with Lenton flats just visible in the distance beyond the trees.
This view towards the backs of houses on Sherwin Road, plus the top pic, give some idea of just how large the site is. There were several local residents present who are interested in the community garden/allotment idea and you could argue that divided into three or four plots, they could each manage their own plot. Like so many community ideas, the devil is in the detail. I left the group to go and see someone who had knocked on our door at 9.30am (an ungodly hour as far as we are concerned!), so I don't know what is going to happen next. If you are interested in the proposed community garden project, contact the Forum office for more info.

I then wandered off to The Lenton Centre, where there is a dispute simmering over land at the rear of the Centre which had been earmarked for a children's outdoor play project with funding already received. Now, it seems, some of the swimmers who come from outside Lenton want to use the area for secure parking for 'about seven cars'. The swimmers bring in much needed cash which can be used without restrictions, whilst the TLC youth project brings in money which has to be set aside for their activities. Being a community organisation cum social enterprise does not protect you from the same kind of hard choices that local councils and governments have to make, so it's a tough one for Carl, the TLC's Chief Executive. On the other side, I see why Nicki, TLC's youth officer, wants to protect her funding.

Some of those who know about the problem have got a petition going in support of the play area for presenting to the next Trustees' meeting in a few weeks time. This  morning I signed the petition because I think that local children who use the Centre have priority over would-be swimmers and their parents who come in their cars from other parts of the city. There is street parking outside and parking behind Church Square shops. In fact, the number of street parking spaces could easily be increased, but that will also cost money and take longer to bring about.

In happier days, summer 2008, the area at the back of The Lenton Centre being used for a family barbecue organised by Dunkirk and Lenton partnership Forum. This shows about one-third of the disputed area.

Then, of course, there is the fact that right next door to TLC is the main Edna G Olds School playground, surrounded by high security fences. For all the time I have been involved in the TLC site (from 1979–2006 it was Lenton Community Centre), there has been talk about getting joint use with the school. For years we used to 'trepass' during school holidays and use it without official permission, but all the fencing now makes that impossible. Long ago I came to the conclusion that schools are rarely part of the community in which they are located. They are distinct and separate and Edna G Olds in no different and never has been. Many of the teachers and the pupils arrive and leave by car. Lenton and The Lenton Centre mean nothing to them.  In saying this I may offend some, but the proof is in the pudding. This spat we are having between TLC users would not be happening had Edna G Olds been willing to share its main playground with the various childrens' and youth groups which have been based in the Centre over the past thirty years.

I hope that the TLC's trustees can come up with a solution to the problem which protects the longstanding commitment to local children. They need to se that are valued as part of our community. As for the swimmers, the trustees will have to work with them to find a solution to their problems. I am sure this can be done.

After my TLC visit, I went to Thomas Helwys Church to get some pics of an artists' group run by Claire, who is involved in the Crocus Gallery community arts project, but everyone was having lunch and I got into conversations with several other people before leaving and heading for the Crocus Café, where I had a couple of other people to see, then it was home for lunch. On the way I bumped into three other local residents and had a chat with them about this and that, as one does. Then, as I approached Devonshire Promenade I saw a white van and I couldn't resist taking this pic:

As you can see it is full of 'to let' signs. For a brief moment I toyed with the idea of jumping in and driving off, with the aim of sinking it in the River Trent.  Last week, I posted a pic of some torn down 'to let' boards. Just what would those 'vandals' have done had they come across this van?

After a quick lunch, it was into the park for a West End Bowls Club meeting and on the way I met Dave (left) showing Harry (right), his new apprentice around the park. Harry is one of twenty-four new two-year apprentices just being taken on by Nottingham City Council. I wished Harry well and told him that he could not have a better teacher. I took some other pics, which from tomorrow you can see on my website.

My 'one thing' days rarely stay that way — as this blog shows. Lenton is, in many ways, a kind of  'Ambridge', of the world and yet apart. There really is enough to keep me happy most days, with occasional outings to friends, family and the seaside. If you know how to live it, community life is far from boring!

Lord Ashcroft, the multimillionaire deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, today confirmed for the first time that he is a "non-dom" and does not pay tax on his earnings abroad in the UK. His confirmation puts to rest a decade of speculation about his tax status and raises serious questions for the Conservative party, which has been part of cross-party moves to ban non-doms from parliament.

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