Streatham Common Park Rangers and services pruned. lopped. pollarded. hewn. deadheaded. okay, axed.
I shouldn’t poke fun. It just seems vastly unfair that I’ve discovered Streatham Common’s lovely Rookery gardens right as they’re about to come under the Lambeth Council axe.
As an admittedly small part of widespread national cuts imposed by central government, the Council is eliminating the Park Ranger Service, cutting the overall parks maintenance budget by 24%, charging for sport facilities and and removing limits on the number and size of paid events.
According to Lambeth, Streatham Common dates back to the Domesday Book (as does all of England), and boasts spectacular views of the North Downs, behind and slightly to the left of Croydon. It was owned by the Crown, then the Church, and has been used as a common for centuries. The lower area was given over to allotments during the Second World War – as it may be again if the Council can charge for it – and temporary housing was set up around the perimeter, much like Parliament Square.
The Common is also huge – official estimates from Lambeth Council place it at a carefully calculated “large” – but it’s deceptive, since it sweeps broadly and rather blandly up the hill from Streatham High Road, only to dip round the corner to all the interesting bits, from the café to the Rookery and that inspiring view of the Nestlé offices.
It’s a lot of territory to cover, for groundskeeping, events and safety. Friends of Streatham Common say they’re certain the cuts will mean fewer gardeners in the elaborate Rookery and less maintenance and repairs generally, as well as less help with the many free events at the Common, such as the annual April Kite Day.
The Friends are putting out a call for event volunteers, and there may be other help needed. If you can spare some time and a little sweat in a really enjoyable space, email firstname.lastname@example.org