Saturday, 6 January 2018

Keep the River-Lawn green

A remark by Canada-based commentator, Russ on my most recent post about the Nelson Arms, reminded me that sometimes us Brits aren’t prepared to be shoved around and see our much loved institutions, or local beauty spots taken away from us.

Russ’s comment was, "Good to see locals (in the UK) stepping up to preserve something they feel strongly about". To which I informed him that  the same group responsible for obtaining the ACV on the Nelson Arms, also ran a campaign to save the River-Lawn; an area of parkland in Tonbridge close, to the river, which the local authority wanted to sell off for development.

The land, which fronts the River Medway, was originally bought by the then Tonbridge Urban District Council in 1919. Out of work, servicemen, returning from the Great War, were employed to clear and then landscape the site, turning it into a pleasant green area, overlooking the river, for the townspeople to enjoy in perpetuity.

Fast forward to 2017, and the now greatly enlarged Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council, decided to sell off the River-Lawn to a developer, who wished to erect houses and offices on the site (madness on a floodplain and close to a river which is prone to bursting its banks). The local authority claimed they were strapped for cash, which is probably true, and the sale would generate some much needed cash; but to sell off an asset that has been enjoyed by local residents for the best part of a century, was foolhardy, and flying in the face of local opinion.

Various protest meeting were called, culminating in a march through the centre of Tonbridge on 23rd September, last year. Along with many other local people, I became involved, and joined the protest held by the group, as we marched through the centre of Tonbridge.

It was a great day, the sun was shining and we brought the town centre to a standstill. The march culminated in a rally, held at the River-Lawn, at which various speeches were made opposing the sell-off of this much loved green space with its magnificent, mature horse-chestnut trees.

The protest attracted masses of support from local residents, shoppers and trades-people, but despite the intense opposition of local people, the council still went ahead and sold the land. TMBC were able to do this because councillors from parts of the borough, many miles away from Tonbridge (the borough extends right along the Medway, almost as far as Rochester), voted in favour of the proposal, as it didn’t affect their “patch”.

I understand an appeal has been raised against the decision, but in the meantime, here are a few photos I took on the day, which demonstrate local people protesting against a measure they consider as both unjust and detrimental to their town.

ps. Thanks to Russ for reminding me of that sunny weekend, back in September last year.


Russtovich said...

"Thanks to Russ for reminding me of that sunny weekend, back in September last year."

Sigh. Thanks I could help Paul, but it sounds so far like it was bitter sweet. :(

I well understand your frustration. Where I live the ocean front areas that have not been built upon so far plan to stay that way. If our main park downtown (or any other areas) where to change their "zoning" I'd be front and centre to protest against it.

Luckily for us it's a town thing. We have a regional district but they have no say over things directly affecting things in town.

I shall keep my fingers crossed for the appeal.


Syd Differential said...

If you replaced Nelson Arms in your intro with the word Brexit you'd perfectly encapsulate what we Leavers think.😁
Happy New Year Paul and wishing a speedy recovery for She Who Must Be Obeyed.

Anonymous said...

Russ lives in Canada ? Good grief. I thought he lived in a riverside apartment in Gillingham.

Professor Pie-Tin said...

No,I think Russ is just trying to drink Canada dry,hence the confusion.

Russtovich said...

I only drink Canada Dry when it's too early to pour a beer.*


* - which only happens if my better half is nearby. (heh)

Paul Bailey said...

Politics rears its ugly head in all sorts of unwanted ways and often with unintended circumstances. There obviously has to be some means of getting things done, and some sort of mechanism for change, when things aren't working properly, but whether our current systems actually work is often debatable, and quite often farcical.

Thank you Syd for your kind words regarding my wife, who is still quite poorly in hospital. She still has some way to go, and hasn't turned the corner yet, but there were encouraging signs of recognition from her today, so fingers crossed.

Professor, is Russ trying to drink Canada dry by consuming all the drink in the country, or is he trying to drink Canada Dry, the well-known mixer?

Professor Pie-Tin said...

You know what they say Paul - if you have to explain a joke ....

Russtovich said...

"Thank you Syd for your kind words regarding my wife, who is still quite poorly in hospital."

I saw mention of this on another blog. My best wishes as well for a speedy recovery. I know you wrote that you both got hit with this world-wide flu thing but I was not aware it had hit Mrs PBT that hard. :(

On a lighter note, I see that you had the same thought as me with regards to Canada dry. :)


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