SARAH JONES reports from last night’s first meeting of the Friends of Ashburton Park, as they considered the sell-off of the old library
Sometimes, the world is a hard place to be. Times are hard, money harder to find and politics a race to the bottom. Which political party can scare you enough to vote for them, which party can buy you off? We’re not in this together.
Then you hold a public meeting. In a park, in the rain. About an old building that used to be awesome but has stood empty for years.
Nearly 50 people came to Ashburton Park last night to offer their views about the glorious Ashburton Library building. Most people know the story: Croydon Council is selling it off and there has been no conversation with the public. But the public has a view and they spoke last night.
Standing under a great tree, next to this inspiring but boarded up building, with the “For Sale” sign displayed, we started a conversation. People want us to consider a café; a meeting place for older people; a community venue where sport can be enjoyed – in and outside the building itself. A place where people can learn. Could we get a grant from a heritage organisation, or a sports body? Could it be a museum – a home for Croydon’s heritage?
There was only one naysayer in the pack. We had to remember how much money this would all cost. “Tosh,” was the response. A powerful lady said she has done this kind of thing before. She believes we can be self-funding. And why not?
So we planned our next move. A meeting – indoors this time – to work up a plan. People were offering venues.
Timothy Godfrey, a Labour councillor from Selhurst ward, thinks we can pull together as the Friends of Ashburton Park and delay any decision by six months, which could buy us some time. Talking continued well after the meeting ended even when the park keeper was trying to lock the gates and go home to his tea.
There’s much more to be done of course – this was the very beginning. And I won’t say we must keep the politics out of it. Because politics is at the heart of this – like it or not. But it’s good politics, where we all want to get something good done.
If anyone has an ideas they want to share, comment here or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sarah Jones is Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Croydon Central
Coming to Croydon
- JAGS Foundation community event: Sep 14
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- Have a cup of coffee and help fight cancer: Sep 27
- Rent at the Secombe Theatre: Oct 9-12
- Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough – 262,183 page views (Jan-Jun 2013)
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