Having attended another LAP 1 steering group meeting today, I again felt like I was sitting on a board full of people that were fed information to digest rather than a group of people that actually did the steering.
In the words of David Cameron, (as seen on Councillor Phil Brisco’s blog) Quangos replace democratic accountability with bureaucracy and that’s what LAP steering group meetings remind me of.
It is concerning that each new government or local authority administration can create its own rules to replace local democratic accountability and does so planning way ahead of the elected term in the belief they are going to run the show forever.
That any government or local authority can take tax payers’ money and start to spend billions on setting up new administrative structures that only make sense for one political purpose should be prevented and this must be looked at as a matter of law and a legal framework will have to provide rules for expenditure on consultative exercises that serve no real purpose.
Participatory budgeting is good if the items on the budget are chosen by the people themselves but in our case we were given budget options and there was never any consultation, not that I know of, that questioned the whole concept of how services are delivered today in Tower Hamlets.
It seems to me that young people get their own ambassadors in the form of a young Major but why are parents never consulted? Parents do not seem to exist for this council, they are the silent class of people that do not come to meetings because the care for their children and have no other options but moan that things are not done the way they find practicable or desirable. The whole matter of raising children in Tower Hamlets today has become a “send your child to school, then probably after school club and then there is nowhere to go, the kid stays at home society”.
It has always been tradition that children played outside locally to their home and build a social groups around their homes but today, in Tower Hamlets this concept is in the process of being eradicated. Green spaces in council estates are used to plant flowers to fulfil the needs of the childless who desire silence.
Parents have been pushed into the background and children are being more and more criminalised, called anti-social because they cannot cope with these new rules. There are then parenting contracts that most likely want to achieve that parents send their children to school all the time and ensure they do not play outside anymore. As I said in another blog, parents with houses and gardens would never just plant the garden and not allow the children to play in it, yet on council estates today children are not allowed to play on green spaces any more.
Not every estate is lucky to have any children’s play area and more emphasis has to be put on children growing up and an environemnt that cmopliments that task and not just providing quiet areas to live for those who can afford to purchase a home on a council estate but do not have children.
This problem only started to arise from the moment council flats were up for sale and the Yuppies moved into our estates. The Yuppies are winning and children stay at home behind closed doors not seen or heard.
A local authority must do better than that. This process of cultural change was not achieved through democratic means, as the parents of children hardly ever come to meetings, but through financial power and bureaucratic administration.
We get plenty of help for youngsters who are in trouble or about to get into trouble and that is a terrible tactic to only give attention to a child once it has broken the law because there are no child friendly living spaces available for such children on our housing estates today.
Children cannot thrive by being in a highly controlled environment every minute of the day, plenty of studies and papers have been published about this but the advice has been ignored by Tower Hamlets. See also this post.
As one can see from the picture at the very top, (Parkview Residents) there are 2 blocks on the left and each one has a green space behind the house. At the back of each house is a balcony for each flat facing the green spaces and on the ground floor residents garden a small strip of land. Quite obviously ball playing children would kick the ball into balconies, gardens, plants, the very busy road that runs past the estate. Yet no one gets the easy to grasp idea to build fenced in playing spaces or playing spaces that do not include football but stimulate a child’s imagination. Result, children stay in their flats most of the time they are not in school and as soon as they get out, they are seen as a nuisance.
I welcome and represent all residents on the estate and do not wish to reiterate the anti-Yuppie feeling but must stress that more has to be done to include those residents with children who cannot come to meetings and who are dependent on the good will of those who can.
We need much more consultation for those with children on council estates so that those families do not become the outcasts of council block society. Community gardens are an excellent idea but should not be cultivated without taking the needs of children into account and the input of parents.