Oasis: the importance of public open spaces

1st May 2021

Much of Noam Chomsky’s work has been on governments' failure to serve the public. That has been the sad state of affairs of the last 40 years or so. He often uses the phrase ‘profit over people’. That extends to ‘profit over environment’ as the poor state of our planet, climate change and mass extinction, are linked to this corruption.

Trees, branches, and a woodland floor covered in litter and leaves in similar amounts

A committed litter picking group spent 4 months cleaning the Oasis grounds. The levels of litter were atrocious. Bins were all overflowing. There was even an missing manhole cover which someone could easily have fallen in. The Oasis grounds have been leased by the borough council to a private firm, Seven Capital. Standard council leases include the stipulation to keep sites clean. So why have the community had to step in to clean this area?

An area of long grass with an open manhole
The importance of public open spaces

Thanks to Josie Lewis, a local campaigner for open spaces. She wrote to Central North Swindon Parish Council detailing the neglect of Seven Capital and the work of local community to restore the area. The parish council proceeded to write to Seven Capital to convey this information, remind them of their duties for this site, and to provide a warning that this will be escalated to the borough council should this continue. Josie also spoke with the Swindon Advertiser about this neglect, covered in this article. Councils have a duty to provide an adequate quality and quantity of open spaces. Locally this is detailed in Swindon Borough Council’s Open Space Audit. Inadequate public provisions such as open spaces can negatively affect our lives in many ways, including increased pollution and littering. Josie wrote a letter to the Swindon Advertiser on this subject.

A pile of plastic bags and plastic water bottles by the metal fencing of a 5-a-side football pitch
The lie that keeps damaging

Back to the work of Noam Chomsky et al. Under false pretences about a supposed need for austerity measures, the government and councils have sold off public assets to private organisations. Privatisation is key to this austerity agenda. This is corruption, not serving the public's best interests. Who within the council has raised this deception with the government or put it into the public realm?

A huge pile of collected rubbish in the Oasis car park
Sharing is caring

On our last few litter picks at the Oasis, we got talking with the community payback team. They are doing some good things, teaching new skills to people who have maybe lost their way. They mowed all the grass around the site, adding to a beautiful overall transformation from the start of the year. When we came to the Oasis, it was a neglected dump. The love, care and hard work of some people have made a huge difference. Thanks to all who have given their time to make this happen. The difference between private and public is stark: Private = neglected dump + pollution + bad vibes + expensive services. Public = proud community space + clean + happy days + affordable services. Not much of a choice is it. Let's hope that true public servants are elected in the upcoming council elections.

A pile of rubbish bags is topped by an empty plastic Oasis bottle
Part 3
Blog by Ben Bell