Tag Archives: graffiti

Council Is Boring on Heygate Again: Pointless Sealing Up of Walkways

Last week the Council contractors finished a week of totally pointless and presumably expensive activity on the Heygate Estate following their already vindictive and pointless attempts to remove the Heygate Community Gardens mural. A team of welders and sealer-uppers closed off the numerous walkways that people use to walk around, enjoy, have fun on, take pics from and leap off of in this as yet still piece of publicly-owned land. We have taken the pictures above from Alice C Macchi’s blog with thanks to her. As someone who enjoys running and leaping from walls on the estate, she points out in her piece that anyone who seeks to gain entry to estate for the wrong reasons will do so:

If you have a reason to be at the Heygate, putting up a barrier won’t deter you. If you have no reason to be there, it is likely that you will not be there anyway. These barriers are totally pointless. If anything they are more dangerous than safe. Usually a way in is also a way out. These barriers now block most exits and in case of danger or need there is no quick escape route. Why has council put these up before the entire estate is closed off is completely beyond me.

So these new barriers to the land are only really about slowly increasing the keeping out all the people who currently want to walk in sun and snow around the place, see the 450 trees and the mostly empty buildings, visit friends and picnic there, tend their vegetables and so on. All of those people who are never ever asked whether they actually want large welded barriers put in their way, the decision being made in some office entirely unaccountably (again).

We wonder at what level in the Council offices this waste of money and time was sanctioned?  For all the agreement and head nodding it has done over the last two years with local people who have sought to get them to realise how great the open space and old buildings are for temporary community uses, the Council seems intent on actually thwarting all the amazing things people are doing in the estate for themselves as part of the desire to provide amazing things for all.

What is particularly pathetic is that the welding shut of the walkways comes only a fortnight after the highly successful and fun for local kids Release The Wolves event where they went tearing around the Heygate walkways in mad self-souped up customised Go Karts! And this was sanctioned by the Council in the first place! Not only was the event fun fun fun, the old grey pre-cast concrete slabs of Heygate were given a right going over with colourful paintings! Simple question: Would you prefer the Heygate to walled off for years and to stand as a big grey lump or would you prefer to keep it lively and colourful?


Here‘s a link to the new somewhat bonkers paintwork up in Heygate!

UPDATE: 19th Sept
The Council released a statement today on their website stating that the blocking of the walkways is preparation for the demolition and also because of ‘a range of health and safety issues‘ (of course!). Needless to say no demolition can begin until the final leaseholders have moved off, this whole process subject to the recent CPO served and its legal challenges.

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Council Says Council Not Vandals

This week’s Inside Housing magazine picked up our ever circulating story of the Southwark Council vandalism of the Heygate Community Garden paintings and murals. Here at the Notes we found it interesting that they managed to get a response from the Council whereas no replies were forthcoming to loads of people who mailed the Council complaining about this willful and spiteful attack on the efforts of local people. Does that mean that it’s easy to ignore local people’s communications but appearing in Inside Housing in a way that makes your actions look really daft to other housing and local government professionals needs some sort of reply? Answers on the usual postcard, please.

Anyhow, this was the Council reply to Inside Housing:

Barrie Hargrove, cabinet member for transport, environment and recycling, said: ‘Like most councils across the UK, it is Southwark Council’s policy to remove all graffiti where it occurs on council land, or with the landowner’s permission, and to continue to maintain regeneration sites before demolition. This will include further graffiti removal across the site. Overall, we’re really keen to get on with the serious business of the regeneration of the Heygate, which is what the majority of local people want to see happen.’

Three quick points on this:


1) It wasn’t just any old graffiti that was badly painted over! It was a targeted attack on all of the murals and paintings specifically around the Community Gardens and pond.

2) Here are some recent photos of the Council’s tip-top job on Heygate of continuing ‘to maintain regeneration sites before demolition’:

The photos below show two of dozens of holes and rubble left by each flat after contractors came to remove the gas connections.

3) We wonder if Barrie Hargreave’s is attempting to smear the works of all the local people active on keeping the Heygate Community Gardens open for all when he describes how the Council wants to get on with ‘the serious business of the regeneration of the Heygate, which is what the majority of local people want to see happen‘. We can assure him that what people are doing on Heygate is an incredibly serious business. Those people are also highly aware and dubious of any attempts by the Council to play off their ‘majority’ against the local people who continue to enjoy the public green spaces within the Heygate.

More Heygate Community Gardens paintings

Just a small selection from some of the other Heygate Community Gardens wall paintings and drawings that are dotted around the allotment area.

Oh and we can’t forget this great collaborative effort!

Community Restores Heygate Murals After Council Vandalism

After Wednesday’s appalling council vandalism of the Heygate Community Garden murals and graffiti, local gardeners, artists, ping-pong players and other lovers of the green public space spent the last few days waving their magic hands over the ugly grey paint and restoring the artworks back to life. The Chopstick Houses piece is nearly back to life.

Here are two of the murals that we hadn’t time to photograph before the Council decided that splashes of grey paint irregularly applied was nicer than these colourful images. The one on the right was even made by a kind of famous-ish Belgian street artist or so we heard!

The nice pink Elephant was the first to be restored back to good health. A few more waves of the magic hands and she will be as pink as she was before as will the artist who put so much time into painting her on the wall. Well done everybody.

Council Spitefully Vandalise Heygate Community Gardens

Yesterday the Council in its infinite and omnipotent wisdom decided to carry out another (1) aggressive attack on the popular Heygate Community Gardens by spitefully destroying the colourful and thought-provoking artworks that have been brightening up the dull spaces within. As part of  people’s amazing efforts to keep the place public and enjoyable local artists have been welcomed in to use the old walls of houses as canvases to paint murals, graffiti and street art on. As you can see from the pics these were a collection of lovely, considered and sometimes wry artworks created for the benefit of all.

Yesterday, under the direction of Andrew Ashaye (Heygate & Aylesbury Case Management Officer), the Council aggressively decided to return the walls back to uglier and now badly painted over blank walls once again.

It was noticeable that they mostly singled out for painting over the large and thoughtful pieces around the Community Gardens and pond. As you can see from above however the rest of the estate is still covered with scribbles, tags, obscenities and so on but these remained up after the Council had done it’s paint slapping. We ask the questions: What possible offence can be caused by the Heygate murals and with what mindset does the Council operate with to come and destroy local artists work without even any warning or debate?

LET THEM KNOW THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE: We suggest that if you feel that this was an unnecessary, wholly unaccountable and aggressive act that you make your feelings known to those who carried it out and to CC in your email Peter John and Fiona Colley, who are the leading Council lights in the Regeneration Dept.

Write to:
Andrew Ashaye – andrew.ashaye@southwark.gov.uk
Peter Johnpeter.john@southwark.gov.uk
Fiona Colleyfiona.colley@southwark.gov.uk

For more than two years local people have been using the green spaces within to put into practice what the Council has been twiddling their thumbs about and that is how the space within the Estate can be used for community benefit whilst the bureaucratic stages of regeneration grind ever slowly on. Called ‘interim use’ it means that instead of sealing up the giant forest within the Heygate to await demolition in two or three years time (2), the space is maintained for exactly the sort of the thing the Heygate Community Gardeners have been doing there all along.

Not only does the act of growing flowers and vegetables, giving out free allotments, keeping chickens, running a pond, having growing and planting days, seed swaps and also showing films and having small social events maintain exactly the kind of things that grows communities, it also acts as a deterrent to crime inside the Estate. Leaseholders living on the estate have not been burgled since the community activity started something that had been a regular occurrence before.

All of this local effort and hard work comes from a desire to actually see the Heygate site as still part of the public space of The Elephant area and to maintain the enjoyment to be had at wandering amongst the 400 plus mature trees inside. As part of these acts of growing and nurturing, the work done by artists inside the estate has been welcomed and enjoyed by all involved in the Community Gardens. They were an integral part of keeping a community spirit alive against the whims and anti-social behaviour the Council engages in that pretends to care about community benefits but by it’s actions shows nothing but contempt for local people and how they make this a much needed reality here and now.

NOTES:
(1) REPEAT AD NAUSEUM, AD ABSURDUM
!
In March 2012, the Council came to the gardens and stole the pump for the pond and were threatening to remove all the exhibition stands and other objects by which we thought they meant the chairs and tables people use. It was pointed out to them that that ‘the council’s time and resources might be better spent on things including basic estate maintenance and cleaning‘. They argued that they would ‘continue to monitor the general health & safety on the site prior to demolition works taking place to ensure that the site also remains safe for the remaining residents‘. We had to laugh as the remaining residents are the only ones doing any actual looking after the site whilst the Council does nothing to the collapsing walls, holes in the paving and so on.


Before                                                           And After…

(2) OAKMAYNE DEVELOPERS ENCLOSE COMMUNITY PARK FOREVER!
This is exactly what is happening at the vast Oakmayne development site at New Kent Rd / Elephant Rd, right next door to Heygate. The site has now sat undeveloped for 6 years now. A couple of years ago without any local consultation The Council agreed to let Oakmayne destroy and seal off the popular open green space next door despite protests from local users and especially the Latino community who used it at weekends for football games. This part of the Elephant’s public lands now sits destroyed and enclosed as Oakmayne struggle to find the finances for the daftly-named Tribeca Square – New London scheme.