Kilburn community gardens under threat

1 Feb

Kingsgagte plants

One of the best things about Kilburn is the number of local people who are passionate about doing their bit to improve the look and feel of our streets. But instead of encouraging community driven initiatives, Camden Council seems to be actively undermining them.

Just before Christmas, the Council managed to anger local residents in the Kingsgate Road area, when they ripped out plants and flowers that had been planted by the local gardening club.

It is hard to understand how the Council’s workers could make such an error, particularly given that the planters concerned contained signs celebrating the prizes won by the Kingsgate Garden Club. The club’s achievement has been recognised by London in Bloom and the It’s Your Neighbourhood competitions. 

If you were generous, you might say that mistakes happen from time to time. But I feel rather less charitable when you bear in mind that the Council is actively threatening to destroy another residential garden in the Kilburn area.

There is a hidden shared garden behind the back of the parade of shops on Belsize Road, which has been named the Priory Urban Green Space (PUGS). Last year, Camden Council sent a crass letter to a local resident setting a deadline for the garden to be destroyed, or threatening to bill him for the costs of its disposal.

Hundreds of local people have signed a petition urging the Council to think again. More information about the Save Our PUGS campaign can be found at this Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Save-Our-Priory-Urban-Green-Space/675126245838549?fref=ts

We need a different attitude from the Council, so the Liberal Democrat councillors for West Hampstead put down this motion at this week’s meeting of Camden Council:

  • This council should be committed to supporting volunteers who wish to improve the streets where they live.
  • We therefore need a change in culture so that the Council does not destroy local community gardens developed on neglected Council owned land.
  • Further, following the destruction of the work to improve the streets around Kingsgate, the Council should admit its mistake and make amends with some appropriate token of compensation.

Perhaps displaying their ignorance of what’s going on in NW6, the Camden Labour Group amendment to the motion completely fails to address the Kingsgate Garden Club fiasco and makes no apology. Instead, the amendment makes a bizarre attempt to blame the previous Lib Dem/Conservative administration (which left office nearly four years ago in May 2010) for the current dispute regarding the PUGS land.

All this suggests Camden Council continues to have little regard to the value of community gardens. While the issues regarding ownership and access to the land behind Belsize Road are no doubt complicated, it is very clear that the Council has mishandled it and lost touch with what was going on at this site. They should now be bringing together local residents, businesses and other interested parties to agree a sensible way forward, rather than arrogantly throwing their weight around and trying to pin the blame on others.

A change of attitude is needed on the Council to support residents who want to make Kilburn an even better place to live.

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2 Responses to “Kilburn community gardens under threat”

  1. Camden Council February 5, 2014 at 11:07 am #

    We have checked our records and spoken to our contractors. There are no records or recollection that Camden Council or our contractors removed the plants referred to within this blog post. We are however speaking to the gardening club who planted this area to see what we can do to assist any replanting. Our contractors are told not to remove plants unless authorised to do so.

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