Saturday, 30 January 2010

Eyesore gardens: vermin inside and a bin in the hall Just caught up with this article by Allegra Stratton on 'eyesore front gardens' in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, in last week's Guardian Society. These are 1930s estates and the houses are largely rented, through which short-term tenants flow in and out, chucking away the previous tenants' soft furnishings. The area is now remarkable for its inside-out properties: two or three mattresses, three-piece suites and rolls of carpets in front gardens, while wildlife takes over indoors – with rats, pigeons nesting in the eaves, and moss thriving on carpets. "If the mattresses outside aren't enough," says the leader of the local council, Liam Smith, "then look for the pigeons sitting on the roof. It means vermin living up there." The council tries to work proactively with residents to clear up, but if they fail to, the team shows up with a rubbish truck and oversees the clear-up of the garden, charging the landlord for the work. The effect will be to help establish a sense of order and overcome feelings of lack of efficacy in the nieghbourhood. Apparently the council has rarely had to take legal action so far, and they support the initiative with a mobile "tool library", from which, on the presentation of a library membership card, residents can hire shovels, clippers or hoes to attack their front garden themselves. And I like this little story brought to the surface by the visit of local MP Jon Cruddas: Standing in the fog, watching a concrete yard being cleared of junk, Cruddas is approached by the son of an 80-year-old constituent who lives in a house along the road. "You won't remember, but you got her her first wheelie bin," he tells Cruddas. "Hers was the first in the street and she was worried sick it was going to get nicked." Did she chain it up? "Nah, she kept it in the hall."

Recent Comments