£295,743 was spent on External consultants on the Phoenix Road Greening project by Camden. You read that right: £295,743.
Thanks to a Freedom of Information request by Cllr. Paul Tomlinson, the Neighbourhood Forum was left today in pondering what this spend was on.
Certainly not for those of us who spent hours in workshops sharing ideas (for free) and didn’t hear back; the school whose input that was reduced to one line in the resulting report; the stunning insight in the finding that the road is “easy to cross” (depends where …hellish at the Cock, for example) ….so we are wondering: what exactly was this spent on?
Many locals could be forgiven for thinking just get on with it and do something – anything. The latest we hear is a prototype year is planned. Forgive the phrase ‘told you so’. Others have suggested words such as ‘obvious’ and ‘bleeding’.
And when an idea for this prototype is proposed, the fairly well-established community group (local unpaid volunteers) was told to ‘go find funding’! You would think they’d welcome ‘ownership’ by the community – that is the rhetoric of co-design.
I long ago thought our over-consulted locals should get together and set up a fancy consultancy – ‘Insights’ has a vague enough ring to it to impress even the most institutionalised community engagement (PR) officer, and charge ourselves out to be paid to have the ideas. It would certainly help the local unemployment figures.
There’s been a long-held ambition for a Somers Town Museum or a History Space to celebrate the local history – the money could have paid for it by now.
Given the concerns and rapid rate of demolition of heritage along the site – three (er… Camden) locally listed buildings have gone down; 81 stolen 1930s artworks still not replaced, so why didn’t this consultation collaborate with the Somers Town History organisation?
Along the flyer (asking for yet more to-be-ignored community ideas) are listed (again!) LDA Design; Global Generation – all outside consultants and not local residents.
Apparently this will bring to life ‘art/ culture’ – but no real reference to local heritage. Let’s hope don’t end up with the vision above in that Design Agency’s own document – a glorified corporate retail park.
Not what we had in mind.
– Opinion by Polysterene Banshee (view in this piece do not necessarily represent the Somers Town Neighbourhood Forum).
The documents can be seen below.