Another blow to Landgate’s body


The Landgate suffered another mighty concussion this last week, a sizeable lump of old stone taken out of her structure. Time for someone to assess safety apart from anything else.  Are you there Town Council and Friends of Landgate ?  (Knock once for yes, twice for no) Otherwise our dearly beloved archway might be condemned to death from its thousand scrapes and bumps. A collapse that would be very similar to the death of local government by a thousand other cuts.1505JohnH1

The process of decline or deliberate destruction has accelerated since the General Election, the ogre of austerity and the vision of a shrinking state now to be identified wholly in provincial rather than central government – and this from the party that championed localism. Now we understand what that particular ploy was all about – in our own terms, responsibility for the cuts shifts entirely from London to Bexhill and Lewes with District and County Councils taking the blame as communities and society slowly, imperceptibly implode (“society” which, of course, for followers of Margaret Thatcher does not exist). “Nothing to do with us,” Cameron and Osborne will say from Downing Street, “blame your local politicians.”

We’ve already felt the consequences in policing and social services, both stretched to their limits; we’ve seen youth activities squeezed or closed down, and we watch infrastructure decay, whether public spaces, country roads, streets, pavements – or the Landgate. Only education sort of escaped, protected but kidnapped, forced into a no man’s land of semi-privatization where state funds for schools are divvied up between new and largely unsupervised networks of colleges and academies – as witnessed in the strange way our schools in Rye suddenly, and without meaningful public consultation, morphed into an Academy.

So, dear Landgate, watch us with pity when we creep through your arch, pursued by guilt and regret as we manage to leave an even worse world to our grandchildren than the world into which I was born (at the beginning of a world war and a holocaust). You are not alone in your guano-covered misery; but, having stood proud for many centuries, you are likely to survive the unravelling of our own attempts to live with reasonable order and civility – and human generosity and public spirit, neither of which form part of this present administration.

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