Hop on a train from Victoria in the spring time and half an hour later you can be losing yourself in an ancient bluebell wood in Beckenham Place Park. Alternatively you can enjoy a round of golf on the only public golf course in London. No need for membership – just turn up and play – but hurry, the golf course is fighting for its survival and faces closure at the end of October 2016.
Ideally this park could be appreciated as a resource for London, but sadly it is another example of the “democracy disconnect” and narrow political interest. The park isn’t seen as a resource for London. Instead it is the focus of a long running battle between local interest groups. There is a lack of joined-up-thinking. Decisions are being taken on narrow measurements of facts and figures (chosen to suit the decision makers). The will of people who use the facilities is being ignored.
Users of the golf-course and other amenities of the park are disillusioned about the political process. Skewed question can achieve wondrous results. “Consultation” seems to be a process of gathering “evidence” to support the desires of the decision makers. Comments in agreement with the policy makers are publicised and the rest seem to be ignored.
The park could be wonderful resource for Londoners, instead it is suffering from local politics. It is on the boundary between Lewisham and Bromley. It is administered by Lewisham but, for the past ten years or so, the Lewisham mayor and council seem to have a policy of actively running down the park (and keeping its facilities a well kept secret from Lewisham residents). The facilities are used mainly by people on the Bromley borough side of the park – and why should Lewisham pay them any heed? Maybe if the whole sorry situation was moved beyond local politics to London-wide, political decision-making there would be hope of something approaching a decision that had the welfare of citizens at the heart of it. Remember this is only a 21 minute train journey from Victoria and then about a ten minute walk.
On Tuesday July 19th the Parliamentary Golf Group is visiting the park. It is to be hoped that they do care about democracy and the disconnect between”ordinary people” and the decisions makers in our current far-from genuinely democratic system. Current “consultation’ is a joke – but, sadly, not a funny one.