Campaigning has never been more important than it is today when it comes to retaining precious community assets.

There is a proud tradition in Wanstead, from the campaign in the 1990s to stop the M11 Link Road (not successful) to Peace and Justice in East London during the noughties. The latter brought together people of all faiths and none to call for peace, following the 9/11 attacks in America.

There have also been individual campaigners like Sarah Hipperson, who went to Greenham Common – staying there for 20 years protesting against the placing of nuclear weapons there. Following the removal of the missiles, Sarah returned to Wanstead.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Cllr Paul Donovan says that public campaigns do workCllr Paul Donovan says that public campaigns do work

More recently, the allotments in Redbridge Lane West came under threat.

The multinational Cadent proposed to close the site for two years, throwing locals off carefully nurtured allotments. The allotment holders came together to campaign to save their allotments.
Cadent conceded ground, agreeing to far less disruption, whilst the statutory work required on the gas works was done. A success for people power.

Then, there has been the campaign to save Aldersbrook Medical Centre.

The present custodians, the Richmond Road Partnership, have done an excellent job over the past five years. But now, the NHS managers want to cut the budget by 10 % making continuation not possible. Locals are understandably angry, with all opportunities to defend the present medical practice being taken up. A case of watch this space.

There has been disquiet in the local community about the loss of the George as a Wetherspoons pub. Maybe, a campaign could develop here. Wetherspoons it seems do listen to local people.
A Wetherspoons pub, the Rochester Castle, in Stoke Newington was under similar threat but due to protest, the chain rethought the decision, so now the pub remains.

So, campaigning does work. It is vital for local democracy that avenues to express concerns remain open. They are vital if community cohesion and vitality are to be maintained and increased. They also result in the area being a better place to live.
See: Save the George petition:

  • Paul Donovan is Labour councillor for Wanstead Village ward, Redbridge Council and a blogger (