Recently on our sister blog, The Stirrer, we put up this post about issues relating to failures by Thurrock Council regarding the maintenance of paths and alleys on the Crux estate in Corringham: This raises questions… 9.7.22. This has been an issue for a long time – it was raised on the doorstep when we stood in the local elections for the Independent Working Class Association back in 2007 and 2008! Back then, our approach would have been to lobby the council to pull their finger out and get on with the job. Since then our thinking about these issues has changed a lot and our approach now is to encourage and where needed, to facilitate residents to do the job themselves. This was the suggestion we made in the above post.

Over in Grays, a group of residents have been active for a while on a project of cleaning up the back alleys that run behind the rows of terraced housing in that part of town: Volunteers are busy clearing alleys again, councillor hopes that a change in policy will be a boost and help clean up local communities 9.7.22. The kind of DIY action that we celebrated in this post: DIY community activism:) 30.6.22. Because these alleys are private property, to date Thurrock Council have said it isn’t their responsibility to clear them of rubbish and flytipping. It should however be acknowledged that when local residents have banded together to clear the rubbish themselves, the council do co-operate in collecting the filled bags and disposing of them.

Obviously, the issue of flytipping in the back alleys in Grays will only be finally solved by fostering a genuine sense of community spirit and belonging. In an area of town with a large number of rental properties, a shifting population and a few rogue landlords, that’s always going to be a big ask. However, it’s to be hoped that seeing a band of local volunteers out on a regular basis clearing out the back alleys will send out a message that the flytippers will not win. Also, it’s to be hoped that it will inspire more people to join in and help.

In our previous post, we noted that the impetus for social change comes from the grassroots in our neighbourhoods: Change comes from the base 5.7.22. Residents being put into a position where they have to clean the back alleys in their neighbourhoods may not appear to be a building block of radical change. However, as we have noted elsewhere, as things start to fall apart, people inevitably step up to the plate to plug the gap. In so doing, they are taking back a bit of power from the authorities who have failed them. By getting stuck into taking over the functions that the authorities can no longer fulfil, they’re empowering themselves. Empowerment means gaining confidence and becoming more ambitious. That’s a route to real, radical change:)