The Ice Rink, the Car Park and the Pope

The news coming out of Lambeth Town Hall this weekend is that the @LambethLabour cabinet is considering placing the temporary Streatham ice rink down the road in Brixton.

Blimey.

Pope’s Road Car Park to be precise. Ah, but wouldn’t it be slightly problematic to place a permanent temporary ice rink right in the middle of a municipal car park? Um, not so if you knock down the car park first.

Cripes.

It’s an encouraging move, to be honest. The widely ridiculed suggestion of putting the temporary rink on Streatham Common has united the local community in anger. It’s probably a Lambeth thing, but anger is indeed an energy around these parts.

But what of Pope’s Road car park, down by Brixton Rec? The council closed this *temporarily* (ah, that word again…) mid-December in 2009. Structural defaults were given as the reason.

The timing was tragic. With the busy Christmas period in full flow, the nearby market traders were furious that the closure left nowhere for out of towners to park in central Brixton.

The argument still stands – bulldoze the car park and the market will probably die on its arse. But the cost to re-build is something that is certainly northbound of the current @LambethLabour budget, especially so in these challenging (*very* challenging) #lambethcoop-erative times.

As for Streatham Hub? Placing the permanent temporary rink in downtown Brixton will certainly help to kick-start the project. It will probably peeve off the skaters and hockey players. It may be a short bus journey down Brixton Hill, but as anyone who makes the trek regularly will know, it’s a bumper to bumper stretch down the A23.

Of course this problem is all the making of the @LambethLabour cabinet. In an attempt to appease their big business pals on the Tesco board, planning permission for an increased sized superstore was granted, with a timeline to suit the supermarket chain, not the residents of the borough.

The original plan put in place to please the *ahem* citizens was for the old rink to remain open until a new one was built. Bending over backwards for the corporate paymaster has put an end to that.

With @lambeth_council owning precious few large development spaces in the borough, you can see how the Pope’s Road solution would seem like the perfect fit for any council leader backed into a corner by both large corporations and citizens.

The Pope’s Road plan is still very much under consideration, but it is a project that is already being fast-tracked by the cabinet. It’s the best of a bad situation. If carried out, safeguards need to be put in place so that Pope’s Road isn’t the permanent position for a rink in Lambeth, allowing Tesco to walk away from our community yet again.

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