Just come across this, yeah I’m late but I knew it was bubbling in the background. Appalled at the position Billy Bragg has taken though, how the formerly radical has fallen. As someone who has been using the Southbank for decades, and you know, LIVES HERE unlike some (ie. Bragg, he lives in Dorset!) I’ve seen the damage done by people like Bragg. It’s always out with the poor, in with the rich. Screw the walkers, screw the public interest, enclose the spaces.
Look at what they did to destroy the walkways, allowing the Shell building walkway to be closed off and private, the fountain in Belvedere Road which is one of my partner’s bugbears since it has a public access agreement – you know the one with the big fences stopping you go in? The clearing out of Sutton Walk and the pointless ‘mirrored’ artwork because they wanted to redevelop it and clean it up, but there was an uproar…even the Skylon etc. back in the day after the Festival of Britain…there’s a whole load of these, and usually for worse when it comes to public access or non-commercial entities.
What Billy Bragg speaks of is really new (2007, really in the past few years), and could go next week in a funding cut – leaving everyone with no space at all. The rehearsal/education space sounds like it’ll be one of those empty spaces you see through glass at museums, no access cos it’s preserved for ‘yoof’ but never used during the weekend or evenings. And there might be popup ‘cafes’, but almost guaranteed the chains will eventually elbow their way in as it’s a prime site by the river.
So yeah after decades of this, you can see why local people, who actually USE these facilities and you know, actually live here, are rather sceptical of types like Billy saying ‘it’ll be alright’ and trying the ‘OMG Think Of The Children’ argument. We’ve heard it ALL before, and all it means is you lose the walkways, you lose the open spaces and it becomes a frigging IMAX, you lose access to the fountain even though the whole reason the horrible massive building next to it was allowed was because of that public good – again and again the space is lost forever.
And outsiders like him come in and say ‘isn’t this nice?’. No it isn’t, you’re not paying for it, we do – and we’d like our old public spaces back, thankyouverymuch.