Saturday, 23 August 2014

Lawrece Conway: Communites, in these times are essential

Despite the fact that I have been told to keep out of this. (The families concerned know that because of my stroke and my sensitive and vulnerable state of mind, I need to stay out of the the situation that has arisen at Mill Dam Park). However for my own sanity I must speak out here on my blog: it has always proved to be my safety valve for what I feel strongly about.

After a night , full of outrage,   I see no alternative but to speak out here.
It concerns the high handed and vindictive actions of Lawrence Conway, who is a Chief Executive  of SLDC. He is clearly out of touch with the communities in his area

Background: a thriving local community

The Mill Dam Park community of hard working  Mums and Dads have suffered an enormous shock to their enjoyment of their Park; one they use almost daily.Over the past four years they have invested a lot of precious energy in making the park into their very own space for meeting and enjoying and encouraging their children to play. Anyone who visits the Park becomes immediately aware of the friendly and supportive nature of the people who use the Park. In fact because of the picnic tables , paid for a in some cases built by this communityPeople are encouraged to chatas they watch their children plating with others in the Park .All the flowers are there because this same community have either put them in themselves or helpful supporting gardeners have kept the beds stocked with an increasing number of perennials. The local Guides were responsible for planting the annuals that are there now. They were donated by David of the plant stall on the market who has given about 400 plants to the  park every year.

In short there is a probably no better organised group of parents and supporters in a Park: like no other park within South Lakeland District Council. It attracts users from as far afield as Lindal, Pennington,  Haverthwaite and Bouth.

 Recently the parents were given the pottery that  they  and their children actually made in the park. They decided to put this pottery back up on the fence where it could be enjoyed by all those using the park. Its presence encourages the feeling that this park is part of an intimate caring community. Putting back the pottery was a joint activity  of  mothers, fathers and children, with unanimous approval from those that use the park.


Yet  on Friday, to their absolute outrage, they found that their pottery had been removed. They still have not been told who stole thoir pots, but from past actions, the removal was certainly authorised by Lawrence Conway. If it is he, he in possesion of stolen property, the ownership being the people who put the pots up in the parkand the people who made them. He must return them immediately to the pots owners and notify them why he had them removed.

If you visit the park today you will witness their fury at such aggressive action being taken against them. Parents have put up notices all over their park demanding the return of their pottery. Whose park is it after all? Are not the SLDC the custodians of the Park for the community to use?

Conway and his officers are clearly out of touch with this  very active community. This is of course not the first time he has ordered his officers, against their will to remove the pottery. Last time he was ridiculed in  the main editorial of the Westmorland Gazette( see below) saying : hadn't he got more important safety issues to be concerned about. He claimed that the pottery was dangerous and hadn't been authorised my a constituted group.

The Pottery is clearly not dangerous . Furthermore because of the transient nature of the park users  there is no interest in a formal group. Parents are only involved with the Park while their children grow up to five years old (when the children move on to other activities). Besides parents have had negative experiences in the past with power grabbing members of committees who like to throw their weight about. No. The park runs extremely well as it is now . Common sense and spontaneous activities prevail as is found in any small community who get to know each other well.

What is needed now is for our local councillors to assert themselves. These councillors are: Colin Pickthall , Helen Inving and Margaret Hornby    on the Town Council and Helen Inving their District  councillor.   SLDC are clearly out of touch. They need to tell SLDC to keep be their noses out and ruining of a very happy and thriving community. It is this community our councillors need to support not a remote Chief Executive.

The press can also help with insightful reporting. It would be a good story for North West today on television.

I'm sure the polite views of people reading this article will be listened to by Lawrence Conway: email -  .  I suggest that you insisist on a reply to be sure that your message has been received.

The government is after all trying to clamp down on spurious uses of the Health and Safety Issue see:

Judith Hackitt, who chairs the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), said: "I would urge all decision makers to take a step back and ask themselves whether a decision made in the name of health and safety, is actually just an excuse for something else.

From the Westmorland Gazette's editorial on 25th July 2013: "When safety concerns go to far"

"the pottery display does not meet with the council’s approval. He  cites health and safety as his prime concern. "

" It would be ironic given their safety concerns over the pottery. A sensible move would be to officially recognise Bugs as a representative group of the local community so such displays can be arranged with the council’s blessing and guidance. That way SLDC might stop itself from looking silly."


Gladys said...

I pass by this deightful small park frequently and it is delightful to see families 'playing' and 'working' at various activities. I find it very uplifting and certain to bring a smile to my face even when I least feel like smiling. That items are left for all to see prolongs that delight. Children benefit from have their 'work' on display - as any teacher or parent knows. As a ratepayer, retired teacher, mother, grandmother and greatgrandmother, I say Well Done those who organise these activities and BOO to those who intend to prevent them.

Alan Farmer said...

I suggest you ask to see a copy of their 'Risk Assessment' for the pottery which should state the perceived Health/Safety issue and the reason for the pottery removal.

e,g 'pottery not adequately fixed to wall, could fall on passing child' required action 'provide secure fixing'.

e.g 'pottery has sharp edges, may cause injury if touched' required action 'remove sharp edges from pots'

Geoff Dellow said...

Thanks Alan