Our First Podcast: PLAYSPACES




This is something new for us at onlineFOCUS – a podcast. Jackie’s taken some pictures showing the unhappy state of some of our playspaces in Rayleigh and we’ve attached a spoken commentary.

You can download it here…..

It’s not exactly Star Wars – but it’s a start! As always, your comments would be welcome.

Many thanks for Sid Cumberland for his help with this.

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  • Guys,

    I get a nice picture of the Windmill but nothing else happens ( no voiceover either )- clicking on the next tab gets me to an archive page. Is it my PC ?

  • I viewed it ok.

    However, if the equipment is repainted each time it is sprayed on, would it be respected or would it just be spayed over again?

    Are the areas patrolled at all.

  • Ian,

    You are on the right track, by repainting it’s treating the symptoms not the cause. This situation will remain until we ( by we I mean the parents, the police & RDC ) get to grips with the minority of young people in Rayleigh that seem determined to trash any facility that RDC provide.

  • Ian, RR, I agree that trying to remove the grafitti is treating a symptom not the cause. But the council has a policy of treating grafitti in other places on a montly basis – not a three yearly one.

    I also wonder that if you let small children play for years on equipment covered with grafitti that they are more likley to think that this stuff is OK…

  • I work in a school. We teach the children by example that it is important to look after our environments. In my experience, the better the environment the better it is looked after. Little children use these play areas and it’s not them who put the graffiti on the equipment. Why should it be ok for us to tolerate graffiti on our children’s play equipment when we don’t on street furniture?

    Let’s not forget that we also reported on maintenance issues to do with health and safety here as well. Equipment left unmended for six months is not acceptable if you have a child and live in these areas. What are we saying about the value we place on facilities for our children if we leave things unmended for this long?

  • Jackie,

    You are 100% correct – some time ago I posted some thoughts about the way Rudy Giulaini’s Broken Windows policies had improved life for the residents of New York ( I am in no way whatsover comparing Rayleigh with NY or suggesting murder is about to take place ) but the ideas remains the same. Here is an extract from a web site about it – look past the Americanism’s and think about the principle:


    The germ of the idea is simple and compelling. A broken window–or a littered sidewalk, a graffito, or what you like–does no great harm to a neighborhood if promptly addressed. But left untended, it sends a signal: that no one cares about this neighborhood, that it is a safe place to break things, to litter, to vandalize. Those who engage in such behaviors will feel safe here. And once these minor miscreants have become well established, perhaps it will seem a safe enough neighborhood in which to be openly drunk, in which to beg for money, and possibly extort it. In short the smallest symptoms of antisocial behavior will, left to fester, breed greater and greater crimes, all the way down to murder.

    This is the theory famously expounded by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling in an article entitled Broken Windows: The Police and Neighborhood Safety, which appeared in Atlantic Monthly in March 1982. They make the consequences of small-scale neglect very clear and very direct:

    A piece of property is abandoned, weeds grow up, a window is smashed. Adults stop scolding rowdy children; the children, emboldened, become more rowdy. Families move out, unattached adults move in. Teenagers gather in front of the corner store. The merchant asks them to move; they refuse. Fights occur. Litter accumulates. People start drinking in front of the grocery; in time, an inebriate slumps to the sidewalk and is allowed to sleep it off. Pedestrians are approached by panhandlers.


    There may be readers of this site that will tell me this is wrong but I say this to them – we are failing completely so far to solve this problem ( lord knows it’s been going on long enough ) so I welcome your ideas to solve the problem.

    Chris / Ron / Jackie – we have had youth problems for a long time now ( it’s got worse since the arrival of ASDA’s and the Skateboard park ) but we seem no further forward in stopping it. Have the police & council simply given up ?

  • ST1

    Txs – it can sorted out if the police put the effort into it, thank goodness we are not as bad a Vange ( not yet anyway ) – could we hope to see a similar effort in Rayleigh I wonder.

    However with groups around like Liberty we have no hope – look at this piece taken from the article

    Civil rights group Liberty yesterday attacked the tactic, claiming it was “heavy-handed and a questionable use of resources”.

    Do these lefty wing, middle class, do-goody beardy weirdies actually live in the real world ? would they feel the same if they had yobs ruining their lives. It’s precisely this attitude that got us where we are today.

    Ron: No offence intended to your beard…

  • I have to say I had the same thoughts about the comments from Liberty, which is a shame, because they have done some good work highlighting the problems with ID card schemes, Government databases, and ever increasing levels of survielance in this country.

    I think the comments of the residents are far more enlightening, they seem very pleased with the police action.

  • Do you know it’s funny – back in 2000 myself and my partner moved (through work) to New York. I have to say that thanks to the work that the office of Rudy Gulliani put in, New York rapidly became a very safe place to live. I had no problem travelling on the subway late at night going home from a show on Broadway or having dinner with friends. I had no problem walking through the streets late at night even if I were on my own. I don’t feel the same here, I have lost count of the number of gangs I have seen in Rayleigh with numbers inexcess of 20 youths.

    Why is that? Is it because in NYC there is a large police presence on the streets, you can’t walk more than a block or two without seeing a beat officer or a patrol car. Perhaps this is excessive policing, but it works, crime has dropped, no go areas after dark (like Central Park) became a hive of actitivity.

    The police even organise and manage activity centers for kids to go to, thus keeping them off the streets.

    The police in this country, could certainly learn a thing or two on law enforcement from our American cousins. Some pro-active policing certainly wouldn’t go amiss.

  • RR – briefly , no I don’t think the council and police have given up. The police advise us on various statistics at the area committees, you should come along some time and discuss things with them. Whether you think they are soing a good job or not, they don’t seem to me that they have given up.

    However, the most notable thing I’ve heard in the last year is that the event that’s had the most beneficial effect on any location is in Hockley – when the bowling alley opened.

    I think the broken windows approach is a very fair one to adopt….

    I’d write some more , but I’m off now to the quiz night…. !

  • Rayleigh Resident – sorry, without knowing your computer set-up I can’t say what’s wrong. You do need QuickTime (free download from http://www.apple.com/uk/downloads/ ).

    Re the main discussion: for me, Corey’s point is critical – “The police even organise and manage activity centers for kids to go to, thus keeping them off the streets.” Where do our kids go in the evenings and at weekends? If we don’t provide facilities, they will congregate in the parks and High Street. So – we can either keep them at home (who wants that?) or give them somewhere to go.


  • Sid,

    Txs for the PC tip.

    Re: you reply about the facilities, I agree in part but you miss out on one set of people, the parents, don’t they have some sort of obligation to provide for their kids instead of relying on others to do it for them ? or is it as I suspect – out of sight out of mind…

    We could do this subject to death ( I know – I probably have done ) but there is one inescapable fact – we have a small core of young people hell bent on causing problems and this is the group who should be targetted.

  • RR – you have a point, parents have an obligation to provide for their offspring, however, how many teenagers want to spend their time constantly with their parents? When they could be with their friends. The local authority has an obligation to ALL its residents – that includes teenagers. Where is there for teenagers to go in Rayleigh? There is no cinema or youth club. There’s no swimming pool or activity centre. So where are they going to go?

    When I was a teenager (20 years ago), growing up just down the A12 in Witham – the police held a disco every Friday night, there were youth clubs twice a week in my part of town. We were encouraged to join the Air Training Corps, Army Cadets or Adventure Scouts. Are there local groups in Rayleigh? Why are they not doing any form of advertising? These are all really good ways of instilling some discipline as well as having some fun at the same time.

  • Hi Corey

    I believe the Army cadets are within walking distance of you, down Hullbridge Road.

    The Air Force Cadets are off Eastwood Road , they have been hampered by a lack of space, but RDC have recently given them planning permission to expand.

    There’s an activity centre at the Warehouse Centre, near the Weir. we could do with another one on this side of Rayleigh.

    A town like Rayleigh should have all the things you mention. One of the problems I see is that most of them need a little space around them, just enough to separate them from housing and residents. As the housing expands it gets harder and harder to find a good location that’s conveniently located within walking distance for teenagers.

    Best Wishes

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