Wednesday, 3 July 2013

A response to a minority group in Ham

A minority group in Ham have been quite busy defending their right to Ham Lands secluded. 

They have directly challenged the Radnor Bridge for not addressing their concerns, which they believe they have succinctly made to us in various chat forums on Facebook. In truth we are not convinced the "issues and arguments identified" have been succinctly made. They have been presented in bite size chunks in various different threads and so there is no single point of reference for the issues being made. However, we have summarised them as;

1. Wildlife; animals and flowers should be left alone
2. Remote; a small number of Ham residents want to keep the Lands to themselves
3. Unsafe; it's dark and inhospitable

It's not that we are inflexible or lacking pragmatic understanding. It's just that these are among some of the key reasons why the Radnor Bridge needs to exist.

Our pragmatic response to all three points were expressed on the RUT pages (Richmond-Upon-Thames Facebook community) but let me do so again here;

1. There is no reason why people and wildlife cannot coexist. There are many examples of ways to provide animals and plants isolated spaces without rendering the area impassable to people. Ham Lands provides a beautiful nature reserve which we should be able to enjoy and celebrate as a society. Not simply suggest it exists for the privileged few. The bridge will not damage the habitat for its natural dwellers. When landscaped considerately the Lands will be better suited to the indigenous plants and animals.

2. Ham Lands is not a private back garden for a small minority in Ham to enjoy. The river should not present a 'wall' to what is effectively an important area of land for all people in the borough to enjoy for walks and picnics. There is a large population of people in Strawberry Hill who regularly need to get to Ham for work, rest or play. And there is a large number of people in Ham who need to travel the other way for similar reason too. We have had many emails from these people expressing their wish to see a bridge at Radnor Gardens to shorten their journey and make each side of the river more accessible.

3. Ham Lands has a bad reputation (apparently Europe wide) because it has been abandoned to a slightly lawless group of regular users. What legacy are we leaving to future generations if we continue to allow this. The Radnor Bridge will help to introduce a level of traffic and an appropriate level of use by a broader cross section of society to ensure the lands become safe for all. This is a long term strategy and one that should be considered very seriously.

We hope this response is helpful. Thanks again for taking the time to share your views on our page. 

One final point, the Radnor Bridge architect has lived in Ham since 1980 and has very different point of view to those shared by what I believe to be a minority group in Ham. We are therefore keen to get a wider range of points of view before a truly pragmatic understanding can be reached about what is best for everyone. After all, we do live in a democracy. 

Let's hope the river is a place of beauty for all to enjoy and not a barrier to accessing it.

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