A Public Space Protection Order is coming to a large part of the area around Lavender Hill. The order is aimed at dealing with street drinking in the area by the cut-through from Queenstown Road to Ashley Crescent covers all the Shaftesbury Park Estate, many of the roads to the south of Lavender Hill and to the north on both sides of Queenstown Road.
I did a lot of work representing local residents in getting this even though, I have to confess, I am not a supporter of such moves. It is one of those peculiarities of representative democracy that occasionally you have to represent views you don’t share. However, having implemented several council policies with which I disagreed (although several of which have subsequently been reversed—one of the reasons I rate Ravi Govindia as a leader is his willingness to reconsider policy when he gets things wrong) I really can’t complain about this.
I do have several issues with such zones. One is that I do find it rather hard to believe that extra powers are needed, is there really a need to regulate defecation in public? Another is that if the resources aren’t there to deal with it at present, from where will they come now? My biggest issue is the concern that it doesn’t really solve problems, it changes them or shifts them.
A zone doesn’t cure alcoholism so the drinkers go elsewhere. When a similar zone was implemented in Roehampton one of my former colleagues commented that they didn’t care if the drinkers “went off and drank themselves to death, as long as they did it in their own home.” Perhaps I’m too much of a bleeding heart.
However, my views are academic and I have the luxury of not living near the affected area (although I do live in the zone). While I think there were faults with the consultation (I know very few people who received it, including the people most affected, I certainly did not get one) it seems to have resulted in a positive response: I was told that there had been about 30 responses in favour with only one objection which officers believed had misunderstood the question.
The street drinkers are being given leaflets to make them aware of the zone and signs are being erected to highlight the behaviours prohibited by the order. Once finally in place it will hopefully improve things for the local residents.
I’m aware that the blog (and my online life in general) has taken something of a knock recently. I’m not above blaming little children for this; having another child has eaten into the time I spent on it. But what better way to get back into the swing of things with the death and decay of trees in the ward?
The council is about to remove 13 trees from various sites in the ward (detailed below). The Shaftesbury Park Estate certainly seems something of a tree graveyard, and two are being removed from close to my home (one of which I was quite fond of, having rescued it from being a misshapen young sapling).
All the sites will be replanted, but, unfortunately not until the next tree planting season – so they will remain empty for around a year.
The trees, and reasons, are:
Outside 33-35 Amies Street – tree is 60% dead
Outside 8 Ashbury Road – tree is 80% dead
Ashley Cresent, opposite 20 Queenstown Road – tree has dead bark and root decaying fungus
Outside 128 Dunston Road – three has dead back and root decaying fungus
Outside 165 Elsley Road – tree is unstable and 60% dead
Outside 189 Elsley Road – tree is 60% dead
Outside 71-73 Eversleigh Road – tree is dead and has a heartwood decaying fungus
Outside 48 Grayshott Road – tree is unstable and has root and trunk decaying fungus
Outside 19 Holden Road – tree is 50% dead
Outside 20-22 Kingsley Street – tree is dead
Outside 2-4 Morrison Street – tree is dead
Outside 39 Sabine Road – tree has extensive trunk decay
Opposite 53 Sabine Road – tree is 60% dead
If you know of any other trees in the ward that need attention, or any empty tree bases that need filling, let me know.
I can’t promise this will be a last word about the snow. The council is continuing to get through an astounding 500 tonnes of grit a day and is starting to move its focus onto the pavements. However, I came across one blog detailing the change in the public mood during the snow which seems to refer to the Ashley Crescent estate (a vehicular dead-end and, therefore, mainly pedestrian):
…as the buses were suspended; as well as panic-buying in the supermarket and lots of people working in the coffee shop on the corner of Queenstown Road and Lavender Hill, I thought you’d be pleased to hear reports that community was breaking out in my part of London yesterday alongside the breakdown of infrastructure.
I’ve seldom ever seen kids playing in our (dead-end, mostly pedestrian) estate, people were helping up little old ladies who slipped and buying them a cup of tea, and I spoke to three of my neighbours which was quite a shock for the system. OK, maybe it wasn’t all street parties and sharing of resources, but it just underlines the fact that in extremis, we all tend to revert somewhat to community ideals!
It certainly accords with my sense that, generally, something about the snow made people happier.