Last night I attended a community event by ‘Together for Childhood’ – a fabulous, truly community-minded project funded by NSPCC designed to try and make a real difference to the lives of kids and families in the town. There are on this project clever, serious, passionate people who hold a compassionate and progressive view of humanity and choose to spend their time fighting to help people. East Marsh United works side by side with and values these lovely people and their amazing work and we will continue to stand with them and work with them. And there are lots of organisations converging on the fabulous Tea in the Park at Grant Thorold today, who similarly care passionately about humanity and work very hard to make people’s lives better. I have met and worked with many of them over the past year or so, charities, police, council, social enterprises, businesses, and our group and I personally have gained immeasurably by being with them; the people of the East Marsh have gained immeasurably from their work, which is often unsung and below the radar. The gathering in the park today is thanks to the truly lovely people at radio Humberside, who are offering many the chance to talk about their work. This is great and we celebrate each and every one of them (and do listen out to Radio Humberside today to hear live the great things that are going on around the East Marsh, and look out for a repeat of the Real Estates Radio Show from the East Marsh on 22nd February at 7pm).
When you walk down Rutland street – for example – it is very little changed from the chaotic mess it was a year and a half ago when our group began working to address that very chaos. This tells me that many of these lives, these fellow humans – us, our people! – still are chaotic. As far as we know, nobody, not one person, not one group, not one organisation, is currently looking at the entire street scene itself in a total and comprehensive way. What if there were some kind of a plan we could put into action to make our streets safer, to let our kids play out in their neighbourhoods, to solve the flytipping and rubbish problems, to reduce crime, to slow cars down and to make our East Marsh a beautiful, pleasing place to live?
Well, there is. It’s called the East Marsh Neighbourhood Renewal Area Action Plan and it is big and bold and beautiful and if it were put into action it would transform the East Marsh for a generation.
Architect Mark Hodson, of Hodson Architects wrote the plan after being commissioned by NELC in 2010. It includes a menu of projects ranging from the very small to the very large, all of which are still relevant. In fact, very little has changed since the plan was published, apart, perhaps, from the fact that the area has further deteriorated during ‘austerity’. As Mark says, the plan offers “fundamental insight into the predominant physical and social issues facing the East Marsh”. Reading the plan in 2019, this is still the case.
Here’s what NELC said in the plan nearly a decade ago: “The regeneration of the East Marsh is a major priority for North East Lincolnshire Council and its partners”. For whatever reason, it clearly isn’t a priority now. But, it IS a priority for we East Marshians. I would love to hear from people who live on the East Marsh, people who work on the East Marsh, those friends and partners working on and for the East Marsh at the park today – read the plan, imagine it a reality, would it help in your work with children and families, would it help with your work in preventing crime, would it help with your work in education, in health..?
This visionary plan, put into action, would help to make us East Marshians proud of our East Marsh once again.
So, if it’s there, why isn’t it happening?
First of all, such a plan is not on the agenda of any of the helping agencies, it is not on the agenda of the council. The Freemen are making some amazing change happen at the docks end of the East Marsh, but it’s not where we are, where we live, and as far as I know, apart from the potential ‘knock-ons’ of the changes in the Freeman Street area, there are no actual plans to become involved in our patch – and why would they, they are not responsible for it… (we are!)
Secondly, there is a localised sense of not being able to do anything about anything – it all seems such a big mess and, well, who knows how to even start?
But, here’s the thing. We can do something because we have on our side the heart and strength and passion of we East Marshians, the determination and power held by people who get organised and stand together in common purpose. So, let’s take this wonderful plan and make it a reality. Let’s change our world.
This mess, this chaos that we see around us here, has been made by us humans. Us humans can also unmake it and remake it, but better. Much better. Beautiful. We East Marshians are responsible for OUR East Marsh. We East Marshians CAN make change happen (East Marsh United have been doing it for a year, alongside all our friends and partners). So, let’s work to make OUR East Marsh beautiful for the generations of young and growing children and make it a place, a neighborhood, a home where they can say ‘I’m a Proud East Marshian’.
Here’s the plan.Let’s start by sharing the plan as widely as possible and then let’s find a way to make it a reality.
Click on this link to download the plan and read for yourself – and please do share this post and the plan itself, let’s get it out there and let’s transform the East Marsh together: