Saturday, 1 May 2010

May Day

A local Labour councillor came around yesterday for a chat. We nattered for a bit and he asked, as they tend to do, whether I had any concerns about local issues.

Now, I've not lived in this area all that long, and I've not gone very far out of my way to find out what the local issues are. The bins get emptied, and I feel relatively safe here, so I don't have much cause to complain to the council; if I did, they'd certainly have heard from me before now.

So I mentioned the people outside the local tube station. I said that I realise it's a systemic, complex problem and not something that can just be changed overnight, but that I do worry about the people begging, and I asked what support the council is providing for them.

He then proceeded to tell me that the vast majority of beggars are economic migrants,
mostly from Eastern Europe, who have come over for temporary labour and got stranded here by being laid off, and that the council tries to "help them get home". I could hardly believe my ears!

I don't think it's an accurate assessment of the situation. I've written here before about my shameful failure to actually talk to people who are asking me for spare change, especially when it's dark and I am tired, but I do listen and I don't hear an overwhelming majority of foreign accents. Most people seem to be from London and environs.

Even if these people were mostly not British, there are a whole bunch of reasons that I think simply sending them home would not always be the right answer.

Instead of chasing him off the doorstep I decided to try and waste as much of his time as I possibly could, though I'm afraid I didn't manage to change his assumptions.

If there had been any danger of my voting Labour to try and keep the Tories out, it has well and truly passed now.

(I've written a very similar post to this elsewhere, with identifying information; the readership there includes more locals, and I think they need to know about this.)

This morning I did a spot of guerilla gardening, as is my custom on May Day. Upper Suburbia is pretty verdant, really, but there is a small patch of land I walk past often that doesn't get much attention. There were some trees planted there earlier this year; one of them was destroyed by folks who apparently had nothing better to do, leaving a bare spot. The edge of the patch, near a garden wall, is also bare of grass but does get a lot of weeds.

I'm pretty sure that the sunflower seeds will be eaten by rodents, but it's quite possible that the fennel, rocket, lamb's lettuce or catmint might sprout and grow. The chives and garlic chives were in small pots already and will blend in nicely with the grass for a while until they get established.


UKViewer said...

Interesting concept. Spend council tax funds to send British migrants home to where? Perhaps Croydon or Tottenham?

Perhaps his New Labour Halo had slipped for the day - and care and concern for social justice had slipped his mind along with it.

The homeless are a symptom of our selfish society, where we are content to allow them to fall through the safety net - as doing anything else might compromise us and cause us to use our valuable compassion on them.

Jesus had it right - "what you do to the least of my brethren you do to me".

Jan said...

I like the image of you guerilla gardening.