Councillor Sally Prentice will raise a Green Flag in Vauxhall Park at 11am on Saturday 7 December. Might a more appropriate pennant be white, denoting Lambeth councillors’ surrender of this public park to private privilege and wealth?
Cllr Prentice is Lambeth’s ‘Cabinet’ member for Culture and Leisure, and the Green Flag is the latest award from Keep Britain Tidy for helping make the Vauxhall Park one of the best green spaces in the country.
Lambeth councillors have given way time and time again on planning applications for silos in which to store students or for skyscraper apartment blocks in which to stack the rich.
These buildings will shade Vauxhall Park , while their gardenless inhabitants will overcrowd it and stamp flat the park’s green spaces. Now, to add insult to injury, councillors are diverting to other uses the community benefit payments from these developments that The Friends of Vauxhall Park were expecting.
Ironically, another ceremony in Vauxhall Park half an hour later (11.30am) recalls one of Lambeth councillors’ many acts of municipal vandalism.
This particular act was the demolition by the council in the 1960s of an irreplaceable Victorian statue of Henry Fawcett by the Vauxhall sculptor George Tinworth. The then local ceramics firm Doulton donated the Tinworth statue and its commemorative Doulton panels, in memory of Fawcett, the Victorian social reformer to whose memory Vauxhall Park was dedicated on its opening in 1890.
On 7 December Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey will unveil a Lucy Haugh plaque in Vauxhall Park in memory of Fawcett and his widow Millicent, leader of the non-violent campaign for votes for women. The Fawcetts’ house stood in what is now Vauxhall Park, and Millicent led the campaign to save the site from developers and to turn it into a park for Vauxhall’s poor.
The Friends of Vauxhall Park and the South London Fawcett Group sponsored the plaque, to replace one that was so knocked about as to be illegible. But it doesn’t look like the council did the damage this time, which is something.
A current planning application for the Keybridge House site opposite Vauxhall Park proposes housing for 1000 people and a primary school for 420 children with only a rooftop playground. Councillors are offering Vauxhall Park none of the Keybridge ‘planning gain’ monies to offset the impact of Keybridge on the park.