Monday, November 22, 2004

Reclaiming public spaces

Writing in the Guardian today, Martin Wainwright reports that moves to bring back park keepers are gathering pace.

Further exploration reveals this press release from the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment. It quotes one of the organisation's bigwigs as saying:
"There is a temptation to believe that CCTV and tough security is the only way to tackle these problems. However, many of the park managers here today would tell you that it is possible to tackle problems like vandalism and graffiti and achieve long-term cost savings by investing above all in staffing, maintenance and good design."
Amen to that. The rise of CCTV cameras has gone hand-in-hand with the depopulation of the public world. All the semi-official figures who used to people it, such as bus conductors and park keepers, have been removed. (The left thought they were crypto-fascists, the right thought they cost too much.)

The result has been to leave people feeling less secure. When politicians call for "more bobbies on the beat" they would do better to support schemes like this one and employ more park keepers.

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