(No) sitting back

IMG_0295The fire-damaged area of the playground has been fenced off

Ask not what your council can do for you, ask what you can do for your community, says Councillor Paul Canal as he updates on the appeal to replace the benches damaged by the Christ Church Green arson attack

Setbacks and challenges always bring the best out of people and communities. As bleak as the Covid pandemic was, people across Wanstead and Woodford rallied round in a remarkable display of mutual support. From foodbanks to shopping, hospital lifts to home visits, our community came together as never before.

The recent arson attack on the Christ Church Green children’s playground elicited a similar fantastic response, with an outpouring of sorrow and generosity raising over £5,500 through the crowdfunding appeal I launched after the act of vandalism.

It was suggested by some that we should have sat back and demanded the council – through the parks’ operator Vision – fund the repairs and replacement of the damaged benches. After all, we pay more tax and rates per person than most of the borough, goes the argument, and deserve our fair share back. That is a valid view, but I would suggest there is a bigger picture to consider.

Resources are constrained, and Vision simply don’t have the capital budget to do all they want to do, let alone what we would like as a community here in Wanstead.

We also live in one of the wealthier areas of Redbridge, where people have the capacity and the will to contribute to their community, which has been demonstrated time and time again.

I would suggest the kindness of our community, exemplified by generous donations from businesses such as Nightingale on the Green, Smile In London dental clinic and North London Loft Rooms, along with dozens of individual benefactors, has had a positive effect that extends beyond our borders.

Not only has our local community funded the repair and replacement of equipment on Christ Church Green, but we have also allowed Vision to invest in playgrounds for less well-off children in a more deprived part of the borough. This seems particularly fitting for a playground named after a church.

Vision will receive £3,000 of the funds raised, £2,000 to replace the benches in the playground and £1,000 to provide a new bench on the green. The balance will be donated to the Wanstead Fringe, allowing Giles Wilson to put on an even more ambitious programme for 2022; our community at its best.

Wanstead and Woodford, thank you. I am humbled to live in such a great community.

For more information on the Christ Church Green Playground Arson Appeal, visit wnstd.com/arsonappeal

Paul Canal is a Conservative councillor for Bridge ward.

Author: Editor