Peace through understanding and cooperation

Police cars block Wickham Road in Brockley, South East London


The founder of The Chandos was invited in 2012 to participate in an ongoing debate hosted by the Department of the Environment into how to improve local environments and reduce antisocial behaviour. 

With the drive of the present government to achieve efficiency and savings, as well as a recognition of pressures on local environments, this is an attempt to find sustainable solutions.

The Chandos believes that a lack of social cohesion is putting huge pressure on environments and for different reasons, in both urban and rural settings. Issues such as a sense of alienation, a lack of accountability and personal responsibility is increasing the cost of maintaining local environments, with diminishing resource and success.

The Chandos' four proposed solutions for improving the local environment:

  • LOCAL ASSEMBLIES need more recourses and encouragement. Set up within each borough ward, Local Assemblies provide a forum for discussion and cooperation within communities, while having the power to distribute limited funds for local projects, as selected by that community. Increasing the power and budget responsibility of these assemblies, would increase local participation and engagement. It would thereby also reduce antisocial behaviour.

  • LOCAL AMENITIES GROUPS. Society functions because of a myriad of often small amenities groups that organise activities and take responsibilities for different areas of the community. It is vital that they are given greater support from central government and where appropriate, the authority to make a difference. The Brockley Society is an example of a small such group, dedicated to caring for the local environment, in this case, the Brockley Conservation area. It was set up by dedicated individuals in 1974 and only functions because other such individuals give their time to make it work. The Chandos believes fundamentally that without a critical mass of individuals within a community giving of their time, democracy itself cannot function and the environment suffers as a consequence. As many individuals as possible should be scrutinising, holding official bodies to account and acting themselves, with other residents to improve the local environment. Otherwise we get the government we deserve, one that is indifferent, wasteful and cavalier.

  • SAFER NEIGHBOURHOOD TEAMS need to always work closely with neighbourhood watch teams, local amenities groups, local assemblies etc. to ensure good cooperation and communication as well as good will. This is the best way to improve an environment and preclude antisocial behaviour.

  • ACCOUNTABILITY AND THE LAW. There is little point having democratically agreed national laws if they are not enforced. This not only demoralises local communities but sends out entirely the wrong message to criminals and anyone behaving antisocially. Nobody is talking about a 'police state' but we now have a situation where few crimes are punished and few made accountable for their actions, from the richest in society to the poorest. Consider how lighting on cycles was always considered important. One presumes it is still the law to use lights at night but from the percentage that now do not, one must deduce that the law is no longer enforced. As another example of this, many areas of London have unenforced 20 mph zones. The regular breaking of this limit is not only a serious risk to pedestrians and motorists but also has a chronic environmental cost in noise and air pollution. There is no reason why residents appointed by the police cannot use hand-held speed cameras to monitor traffic speed within their neighbourhood. The purpose of this would not be to victimise drivers but to undertake a survey while pricking the conscience of road users. Where it has been tried in in the UK, it has proved very effective.

The Chandos worked with Darren Johnson of the Green Party (also a Brockley Ward Councillor and previous a chairman at the London Assembly) and the Brockley Society on a campaign to slow the traffic in Brockley's Wickham Road. This road is designated a 20 mph zone but has traffic regularly traveling at 30 or even 40 miles per hour.