Thursday, August 21, 2008

How fortunate I am!

The morning started with a continuation of last night's awful news about the plane crash in Madrid which made me, along with many other people I guess, reflect on how easily such things wipe out lives that should be full of fun and joy and promise. Although I know that statistically I'm safer on a plane than on a bike it's somehow more worrying when the mode of transport isn't in my control. Irrational maybe, but I wouldn't mind betting that a lot of people think in the same way. Having just returned from holiday after a flight lasting over 9 hours and with a niece currently on holiday in Spain the horror struck me more directly than perhaps it would have done at other times.
Then I picked up the morning paper and found myself gripped by a feature article about a family who eventually fled the horror that is Zimbabwe and have started a new life in Australia but are still worried sick about parents left behind in Harare. The enormity of the decision they took and the love the writer has for the country of her birth shone through the article.
I did find time today to look up more detail of an interesting housing development about which I read yesterday. Staiths South Bank in Gateshead is a new development on an old, contaminated site - what everyone would recognise as a brownfield site. Wimpey very bravely gave an architect who'd criticised their previous developments around the country the challenge of designing this one and what a design - ultra modern apartment buildings, more traditional houses, open public spaces designed with people in mind. They don't just look good, they actually work. One has a table tennis table in the centre with floodlights - imagine that in Eaglescliffe! No-one has individual wheelie bins or blue boxes, but there are communal bins shared between 15 or 20 houses. Residents have praised the system for making them more waste conscious and for giving them another opportunity to meet and "pass the time of day". I know that works - I see it when I visit a relative in flats in Stockton which have a recycling centre outside. I've seen it work in France and in Australia. No reason at all why it couldn't work on new developments here. I've sent the details to our planning department and the regeneration section to see what they say!
On a more down to earth note, we've now submitted requests for our Environmental Improvements budget for more bulb planting along Durham Lane and Yarm Road, replacement of a tree in Preston Lane and surfacing of the footpath from West View Terrace to Yarm Road. The latter may not be possible because the ownership of the land has never been traced whenever someone's tried to do something in the past but we live in hope. Meanwhile if Eaglescliffe residents have further thoughts on what might be possible in the ward we hope you'll let us know.

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