What really matters to people…

While undertaking one of our regular trawls through the local news media, we came across this article: Fly-tipping and a council’s apparent dereliction of duty angers residents, candidate and councillor as Tilbury’s filthy places are condemned – Neil Speight | Thurrock Nub News | 20.4.22. It deals with Thurrock Council’s neglect of Tilbury and their inability to get on top of issues such as flytipping, persistent littering and the deteriorating state of the roads in the town which are pockmarked with potholes.

To dismiss this as nothing more than petty concerns about amenity would be crass. People want to live in an environment that’s clean, is looked after and properly maintained and as a result of that, feels safe. When people walk out of their front doors, they don’t want to be confronted with litter, flytipping and evidence of anti-social behaviour. Dealing with this should be something that’s part of the core basics of what a local authority does. It shouldn’t ever be something that residents and councillors have to chase the council up to sort out.

Mind you, this is Thurrock Council we’re dealing with. A council that’s big on bullshit while actually being crap at delivering infrastructure projects on time and within budget and can’t even get the basics such as dealing with flytipping and littering right. Yet despite all of this, the Chief Executive Officer of the council who oversees all of these failings, one Lyn Carpenter, somehow manages to get a nomination for ‘Public Sector Pioneer of the Year’: Are they serious?! 20.4.22. The disconnect between the CEO being nominated for a bullshit award like this while the people of Tilbury have to put up with living in what to all intents and purposes is a tip beggars belief.

Flytipping and littering is a symptom of the erosion of a sense of community where people look out for and care for each other and the area they live in. It’s safe to assume that the majority of people living in Tilbury do have some sense of community. However, from our experience as community activists, particularly back in our Independent Working Class Association days, we’re acutely aware of the immense damage that an anti-social minority can wreak on a community. It only takes one or two anti-social households in each street to really start to bring a neighbourhood down. Once the rot sets in and attempts to challenge the behaviour of the rogue households are met with threats of or actual physical violence, it’s a downward spiral that’s hard to break out of when a culture of fear pervades a neighbourhood.

We know a fair few people involved in big picture, environmental activism. What we’ve always tried to do over the years in conjunction with Basildon & Southend Housing Action and a number of resident’s groups is focus on the immediate environment people experience and care about in their neighbourhood every day. We’ve always been about building change from the grassroots upwards. Knowing Tilbury, we can see the situation being turned around because there’s only so much shite people there are prepared to take before they decide to take ownership of the situation themselves. Just up the road in Grays, the Orchards Community Forum have taken it upon themselves to do regular clean ups of the alleyways in their part of town. A bit of people power can start to make a difference:)

At a more fundamental level, this is about the issues that really matter to people. Issues that matter to us as community activists. It’s about what makes a neighbourhood feel like a safe and welcoming place to live. It’s about building a sense of community where people look out for each other and care for the area they live in. It’s about people working together and making a tangible difference while building a sense of neighbourliness and solidarity. It’s not worrying about what pronouns to use or trying to get to grips with arcane theory. It’s about making a difference in the here and now to where we live. As a precursor to taking power back to the grassroots and embarking on a more fundamental project of change where we, the people, are the ones in the driving seat.

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