Far away from the media-driven world of politics in Westminster, I have been continuing the street meetings that I organise in response to issues raised with me by local residents.
In the past few months, they’ve tended to focus on problems with parking, litter in the street or anti-social behaviour. Often residents just can’t get to the bottom of something or feel they are being passed from pillar to post.
That’s what had been happening to people living in Fanshawe Avenue who kept receiving parking tickets on Sundays following the introduction of the East London Transit. One person told me that he drove round in circles for hours trying to find a parking space. By getting together officials from the council and the Greater London Authority’s Transport for London, I got them to agree a pilot which is going ahead to allow parking on one side of the road.
The Controlled Parking Zone on the Gascoigne estate proved to be a big success when it was introduced. However, residents living on the edge of the estate suddenly found they’d inherited the problem of commuters parking outside their house! Two street meetings later, and residents living off Ripple Road in Barking have been consulted and, where they voted for a parking zone, are having one put in. And Spring Place now have parking permits.
Similarly, residents in Seton Gardens and Finnymore Road in Dagenham how have extra parking bays. Those living in Essex and Suffolk Road have received the results of the survey they’d originally requested. And there’s more besides.
Someone once said that all politics is local. I have held more than 15 street meetings in the last few months. One was attended by more than 50 people. They are also one of the most effective ways I know of resolving local problems.
There’s only one thing that cannot be guaranteed – the weather! Standing on a street corner can sometimes leave you exposed to the elements! But that’s when good old-fashioned community spirit kicks in. Just like two weeks ago when one neighbour kindly offered us the use of her front room during a rain shower.