The Friends of Clapham Common, a group you may not have heard of, is an invaluable asset to Clapham. They are a group of volunteers who, in the background, protect Clapham Common for the greater good of our community. Let me start this by repeating they are an asset and without them Clapham Common would have gone to the dogs, and not the kind you see being walked every day. For instance, there was a proposal for Clapham Common to be used as a camp site during the Olympics – can you imagine! They stopped it.
However in recent months we’ve been hearing some worrying things about this group. First, refusing various events on the common and restricting the number of festivals that would appeal to the vast number of young people living in and around Clapham that bring in a lot of business to the area. On the one hand this is good, we don’t want too many events, on the other hand, there have been noticeably fewer this year with negative consequences on the local business economy, not to mention bolstering the vibrant hub of youth Clapham has become.
Paula Radcliffe and Carl Lewis supporting the Nike fuel station
Today we learnt that this group had been instrumental in refusing the extension of a hugely popular temporary building funded by Nike (it would never have happened without this funding) that was encouraging sports and fitness activities. Yes there was a commercial aspect but its positives far outweighed this necessity. The Nike building was a cool, convenient temporary ‘event’ on the common that really created a buzz among a wide number of people. It couldn’t stay there forever but was there really harm in extending its stay?
Finally, we’ve also learnt today that the domes erected on Clapham Common recently by Sky for the auditions for Got To Dance are next in the firing line. As the most popular site about Clapham we can assure you that there has been huge excitement from thousands of local residents about being chosen as the location for this popular programme and cultural event. Being selected for this show should be celebrated as a highlight in the history of the common.
You can read recent updates from the group on their website.
Other concerns we’ve had about Clapham Common over the years include: the multimillion pound refurbishment of the bandstand – it needed a tidy up but could this money have been better spent? What plans are there to improve facilities across the common for all groups? And something The Friends of Clapham Common are getting involved in: what’s happening to Clapham Old Town? These concerns are obviously aimed at the council as much as anyone else involved in the common.
Clapham is a lively, multicultural, diverse area. It’s important to respect and represent all views and people when making decisions about the use of our public space.
It’s obviously a fine balance and you can’t please everyone but we have to pose the questions: have Friends of Clapham Common gone too far? Are they truly representing the wider views of the local area? Have you ever been asked your opinion on these important decisions? Have you ever tried to join their committee? How would you improve Clapham Common?