General Gordon Square in Woolwich has seen Black Lives Matter painted in large yellow letters this morning reminiscent of scenes in US cities such as Washington DC.
The gesture is not directly funded by the authority but their contractor Riney, though the authority are closely linked with a ceremony planned for this afternoon.
Timing is interesting. There has been disquiet just this past week within the local Labour party over the treatment of a black councillor.
Cynics may see this as more of a PR stunt. Towns, estates and parks in areas with a large ethnic minority population in the borough have frequently been overlooked for funds and investment including Woolwich. Some areas were in terrible shape. Many still are.
This is prevalent when it comes to income derived from new developments in the borough. A continual failure to spend income on improving living conditions for existing communities has helped to exacerbate divides in places such as Woolwich.
Estates and parks have been long neglected (and it predates cuts) while regeneration projects such as “One Woolwich” have seen a large reduction in the number of truly affordable social housing. Nearly 1000 social homes are going with just over 500 “affordable” homes (35% of 1600) built as replacements. So called “affordable” homes are more expensive than social homes.
Areas like Plumstead see some of the worst maintained estates and High Streets in London, if not the country, and numerous promises of funding for the High Street have so far come to little. To give one example, £190,000 derived from a new development in Plumstead was allocated to Greenwich and Eltham as seen in this screenshot from a Greenwich Council report:
Paint and PR is easy. Meaningful action to improve certain parts of the borough with a large ethnic minority population is a bigger test – and one yet to be met.