Sunday, December 20, 2015

Season's Greetings

Lower Ouseburn Park 12th December 2015

I have slowed down. I post less for all sorts of reasons. Partly, I feel the urgency has slackened; when I began to write this blog, the threats to the piece of open space I call 'Battlefield' were indeed pressing and real.

At one time the plan was to 'create' parking space for 1300 (!) cars over 'Battlefield' and build 'much needed' (sic) office space in a city that has many unfilled (some never let since built) offices even then; more so now. The last scheme to surface from the murky planning process – I am being polite here – included building strange mounds and playing surfaces over the City Stadium, as if the nearby developers of the old paint factory site owned the rest of the green space. This might still happen. After all, who can stop these people?


Battlefield, City Stadium, or whatever one calls it, should now be recognised as forming a public park. It should be thought of as being part of a chain of parks running from Gosforth in the north down (very nearly) to the Tyne. To some these are 'wildlife corridors', to others 'green lungs'. To me they are a necessity and above all, survivors. I am dedicated to their survival.

When is a park not a park? This space operates exactly as parks do all over the country. It is not dedicated to any exclusive use. As yet, you do not have to have a key or a privilege to gain access. Kick-a-bouts, sunbathing, partying, reading, strolling and even pony riding are among the activities the space hosts. It affords a subtly changing mask to the city edge facing across the impressive Tyne Gorge. Huge cloudscapes and visiting migrant birds are among its less obvious attractions. It needs no reason, no 'bottom line' to justify itself – at least not to those who use it.

We live in a time dominated by 'financial considerations' that blot out the reason why such calculations, costs and benefits, ever came into being in the first place. "They know the cost of everything and the value of nothing" quipped Wilde. It was once a joke. The difference between investment and expenditure is lost on those who have power.

I will do what I can, albeit at a somewhat reduced tempo, for as long as I am able.

Best Wishes to you for Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

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