How long does it take to demolish a small brick building? The answer, in the case of the toilet block in Quarry Road in St James appears to be five years and counting!
This disused, decaying eyesore has cast a disgraceful cloud over the bottom end of Camden Road for years. Rubbish is frequently dumped around it, neighbouring residents have to look at it every day, and pupils from the excellent St Barnabas primary school must walk past it. A notice – “Closed Due To Vandalism” was pasted on the front wall some time ago, and has long since weathered away. St James’ Borough Councillors have been either unwilling or unable to galvanise action, and still the wreck remains, a testament to inactivity. This week, screened by the toilet block, vandals have desecrated the wall of St Barnabas Church with aerosols (click here to read Father Ed Tomlinson’s blog posting.)
A few days before Christmas, the Courier ran a good news story about St Barnabas’ Church being granted planning permission for a new Community Centre. Father Ed Tomlinson and myself, along with a dedicated and passionate team are working hard to raise the cash to bring this vision to reality. If we can do this, is knocking down these toilets such a challenge? The ‘Barna-Bus’ pre-school opened in May 2008, satisfying a long standing local need for quality nursery provision. Should young mums have to leave their toddlers just yards from the health hazard caused by this building?
Do the residents of St James deserve such shabby treatment? Is the St Barnabas community so forgotten? If this block were in Langton or Lamberhurst, Benenden or Brenchley, would it have disgraced the area for so long?
Of course not. The Borough Council told me some months ago that “tenders were being prepared”. Several weeks ago they told me the tenders had been sent out. Most recently I was told by local residents the latest delay – an underground electrical cable needs to be moved by EDF. Now we’re in 2009 – another year, another excuse?
Enough is enough – let’s see some respect for St James and its locals.
Demolish this eyesore now.