The Thames Gateway conference has just taken place. An annual event that celebrates (if that’s the right word) everything that’s going on in terms of development in this place called The Thames Gateway. Ten days before the conference the national press had been reacting to the Public Accounts Committee report on the Thames Gateway criticising the government’s spending and lack of an overall plan for the Thames Gateway project with headlines like “Road to Nowhere”, “MPs ‘calamity’ warning over Thames Gateway” and “Government accused of mismanaging Thames Gateway”.
The Public Accounts select committee said the project will remain “a series of disjointed projects” and criticised the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) for its mismanagement of the project.
But what is Thames Gateway anyway, is it a place that residents of Kent and Essex recognise as “home” or is it just an attempt at forcing an area into a convenient label and trying to create a brand? History of place is important in terms of why people are attached to where they are from. History is a vital factor in creating a sense of place.
Whats wrong with “ a series of disjointed projects” ? I am sure the good folk of Dartford (and Bexley, Ebbsfleet, Gravesend, Chatham, Sittingbourne, Tilbury, Grays, Purfleet, Basildon, Thamesmead, Greenwich et al) have an affinity with their own town and not The Thames Gateway. Theres no Thames Gateway County Cricket Team, you follow Kent CC, Dartford has its own football team (an upwardly mobile one at that), it has its own history, it has roots. Most of us like to “belong” and to have roots.
So lets concentrate on bringing the best out of all those towns in that quasi region that I shall no longer mention by name and stop worrying about the projects being “disjointed” but rather are they “absolutely brillantly thought out and wonderfully delivered.”