Thursday, 11 August 2011

Walkabout with Telford & Wrekin Council

We had a very encouraging estate walkabout with some Telford & Wrekin borough councillors and officers today to show them the best and worst of Brookside.

Earlier in the afternoon they had a meeting with Brookside's two borough councillors, Arnold England and Jackie Loverage, and then came on a walkabout with myself, another parish councillor, a couple of members of Brookside Improvement Group and the owner of most of the businesses in Brookside centre.

It was encouraging for two reasons.  Firstly, because the councillors and officers could see first hand just how run down Brookside has become and secondly, because as they were going round they were visualising the improvements that could be made.

I don't think Telford & Wrekin Councillors (other than those in Brookside of course) appreciated quite how desperate we are in Brookside for our fair share of the regeneration that has been carried out and is planned elsewhere in Telford.  The will seems to be there but whether they can find the money to do the things they have talked about doing remains to be seen.

The first thing the visiting dignitaries were shown was the youth club and the "condemned" (but seemingly perfectly safe) former home of Chipmunks day care centre which makes up the bulk of the building.  The abandonment of so much space that could be put to good use for the community is criminal and nobody seems to know what made the building so dangerous it had to be condemned in the first place.

We then moved on past the Green and on to the Field behind the Windmill School.  I pointed out to as many people as possible that these green spaces right in the middle of the estate are pretty unique and a valuable resource for residents.  We walked the footpaths around the outside of the field (made possible by me getting the hedges cut back recently!) and down the long path that runs down the middle of the estate alongside Bishopdale, taking in the former Brindleyford School site.

We finished off back at the Brookside shops which, it was agreed, look pretty run down and intimidating.  The owner of the shops has done what he can to make the place more inviting but nothing short of a bulldozer is going to improve the centre.

What was interesting was that the non-Brookside councillors and officers were noticing graffiti and rubbish that we didn't even see.  We realised that it's become such an integral part of Brookside that we don't notice half of it!

I have no idea what the timeline is for any decisions to be made or any consultations about what improvements should be made.  Hopefully it won't be too long but I would be surprised if anything happens this financial year.