Tonight sees a consultation on for (another) Trust, and perhaps a critical meeting at Queensbridge School. This time it's the Highbury Trust, a large space formally the Chamberlain estate between Kings Heath and Moseley. Here's the concept plan, and more info.
I worry that signing over large parts of our assets to be managed for many years (in case of golf clubs, 25yr freehold) means we, through the City Council, have less say in what the organisations that take them over do with (technically still) our assets. It leaves the door wide open for abuse, and reduction in access to what we own.
But that's not to say there are people out there who are willing to put time and energy to ensure our assets are put to good use - below an open letter from Laura Watts from Dens of Equality:
To whom it may concern,
I am writing on behalf of Dens of Equality, a community inclusion development agency which supports a range of projects for children and families across Birmingham. With regard to the current consultation we have a longstanding relationship with Uffculme School children through our play outreach projects run in the school and notably Parks for Play the local charity we support. Parks for Play delivers an array of play services in the constituency from large, free parks- based holiday playschemes, fruit and flower garden parks based projects, children's Saturdays clubs prioritising children with additional needs and Playwell, the first and only specialist after school play care in Birmingham run from Uffculme school. Playwell has benefited from productive partnership work bringing school and play practitioners together and enabling families with disabled children to start and stay in employment.
The key point I would like to make is that children at Uffculme, like most children thrive on being educated in amply spacious surroundings. They have endured three years, particularly the new teenagers, of totally inappropriate prison style Portakabin accommodation whilst the building they were due to renovate on goodwill has been deteriorating at a pace savagely raising renovation costs.
Children with autism are extremely likely to face extensive social isolation, an experience with massive consequences which we fail to recognise alongside the many indexes of deprivation. These children and young people do not need or deserve additional obstacles to impede their pursuit of well being .It should also be acknowledged that if Uffculme is sited at Chamberlain the Parks for Play charity is likely to commit to a programme of long term fundraising for neighbouring areas of the park, particularly in terms of access and to the benefit of the wider community.
A measure of our community is how well we treat our more vulnerable citizens and in this instance those of us who have stood back or impeded the progress of this development have cause for individual and shared shame.