Barking: Anger at landlord’s inaction after park stabbing

    Barking: Residents’ anger at landlord’s inaction after park stabbing

    Pete Mason, chair of Barking Reach Residents Association, and a member of East London Socialist Party

    On Saturday 18 July, residents saw a young man lying prostrate at the back of Playhill park, on the Barking Riverside estate in east London, attended by ambulance paramedics.

    Residents reported that the police said it was a stabbing. The police have since told the residents’ association that none of those involved were from the estate.

    This is the most serious crime to have happened on our estate, which is a huge, failed experiment in privatisation, set up by the Greater London Assembly and Barking and Dagenham council, both run by ‘New Labour’, in the belief that one private landlord would run a 10,800-home estate better than an elected council.

    By contrast, the residents, led by our elected residents’ association, have drawn the conclusion that we need resident control over the estate. This stabbing is another example that proves this conclusion.

    The residents’ association officers met the landlord and managing agents last August and raised specifically that this park was seeing too many disturbances during the night. We said that notices should state that it be closed at 9pm, when residents in the blocks overlooking it were putting their children to bed.

    A new security team had been appointed by the landlord, Barking Riverside Limited, so we proposed that they could assist in asking people to leave. After a long debate this was agreed. We circulated minutes noting the agreements, which were approved by all parties.

    But nothing was done. Eventually, we were forced to pull out of the monthly meetings with the landlord, because while the landlord could tick a box of ‘community engagement’, we were getting zero from these meetings. We said we expected to see results before continuing with them.

    The stabbing took place at 8:30pm, and had our proposal been acted on, the park would have been better supervised, the security team would have been expected at any time to announce that the park would soon be closing, and this stabbing might well not have happened.

    In our residents’ association meetings, many voices have made clear the link between lack of youth facilities and disturbances and we have dedicated residents who spend their own time filling in where this social provision is lacking.

    But when we do get facilities, and the park is one of them, they need proper supervision. We held an emergency residents association meeting and passed a resolution pointing out the failure of the landlord to act, demanding that the landlord carries through the promises made when meeting with us.

    And we have alerted the landlord to the resolution, which doesn’t pull its punches, requesting that it acts immediately on its former promises.