Our East Marsh Home and the East Marsh Plan

A home isn’t just a roof over our heads. A home is a place where we feel loved and where we love others. It’s a place we belong. Love is what makes a home, not the contents inside the house or the number on the door. The East Marsh is our home. It’s a historic place. It is struggling and our people are struggling. History teaches us that things can be different and that together we can make that difference. How do we picture ourselves living in 5 years, 10 years? If we have a better idea in our heads, we have to start making change happen now. We can’t wait for change to happen, it is Time4Change now.

So, what if there were some kind of a plan we could put into action to make our streets safer, to let our kids play out in their neighbourhoods, to solve the fly tipping and rubbish problems, to reduce crime, to slow cars down and to make our East Marsh a beautiful, pleasing place to live?

Well, there is. It’s called the East Marsh Neighbourhood Renewal Area Action Plan – a bit of a mouthful, so let’s just call it the East Marsh Plan.

The East Marsh Plan is big and bold and beautiful and if it were put into action it would transform the East Marsh for a generation. The plan includes a menu of projects ranging from the very small to the very large, all of which are still relevant. In fact, very little has changed since the plan was published in 2010, apart, perhaps, from the fact that the area has further deteriorated. This visionary plan, put into action, would help to make us East Marshians proud of our East Marsh once again.

So, if it’s there, why isn’t it happening?

First of all, such a plan is not on the agenda of any of the helping agencies, it is not on the agenda of the council. The Freemen are making some amazing change happen at the docks end of the East Marsh, but that’s not where we are, where we live, and as far as I know, apart from the potential ‘knock-ons’ of the changes in the Freeman Street area, there are no actual plans to become involved in our patch – and why would they, they are not responsible for it…  (we are!)

Secondly, there is a localised sense of not being able to do anything about anything – it all seems such a big mess and, well, who knows how to even start?

But, here’s the thing. We can do something because we have on our side the heart and strength and passion of we East Marshians, the determination and power held by people who get organised and stand together in common purpose. We have already shown that with East Marsh United. So, let’s take this wonderful plan and make it a reality. Let’s change our world.

This mess, this chaos that we see around us here, has been made by us humans. Us humans can also unmake it and remake it, but better. Much better. Beautiful. We East Marshians are responsible for OUR East Marsh. We East Marshians CAN and ARE making change happen. So, let’s work to make OUR East Marsh beautiful for the generations of young and growing children and make it a place, a neighborhood, a home where they can say ‘I’m a Proud East Marshian’.

When elected Lee and Billy (Coulbeck and Dasein) will find a way to make it a reality.

Click on this link to download the plan and read for yourself – and please do share this and the plan itself, let’s get it out there and let’s transform the East Marsh together: Download the East Marsh Plan

The Preston Community Wealth Model brought £73m (yes, that’s MILLIONS!) to the area in just four years. Why aren’t we doing this?

What is community wealth growth?

It’s a two-fold strategy for council, community groups and business to work together and reorganise local economies so that wealth is not extracted but broadly held and income is recirculated. That’s it in a nutshell and it’s been tried and tested successfully in Preston, where, in 2013, they found that £450m was leaking out and by 2017 they had increased local spending by £73m (once again, yes, that’s MILLIONS!).

Pause for rebuttal

While you’re reading the rest of this, please consider commenting below, giving good reasons why this can’t happen here. I don’t mean things like ‘there isn’t the will for change’ and so on – let’s assume that magically the will for change arises here and that all it takes to add Millions of Pounds to the local coffers is to decide that we will do this. Now, give good reasons why this can’t happen here. And if you can’t, please do comment and say that you back this initiative – because Coulbeck & Dasein will put this to the top of their list if elected on May 6th.

So, back to the text – how does it work? Well, community wealth building has been advanced through a blend of five strategies:

1. More economic power to local people and institutions

A simple principle: small enterprises, community organisations, cooperatives and forms of municipal ownership are more economically generative for the local economy, than large or public limited companies.

2. Harness local wealth

Increase flows of investment within local economies by harnessing the wealth that exists locally, as opposed to attracting national or international capital. One example, local authority pension funds can be encouraged to redirect investment from global markets to local schemes.

3. Fair employment and just labour markets

‘Anchor institutions’ like local authorities, NHS trusts, universities, trade unions, large local businesses, housing associations and the combined activities of the community and voluntary sector are large employers. If they change their policy and practice they can recruit from lower incomes areas, commit to paying the living wage, and build progression routes for workers – all of this will stimulate the local economy and bring social improvements to local communities.

4. Stop focusing on cost alone

Those same ‘anchor institutions’ buy goods and services on a large scale, usually with cost as the determining factor. If they changed this consideration to environmental credentials, social value and decent employment conditions this would positively impact local supply chains, support local employment and retain wealth locally.

5. Foster community use of public assets

Those self-same ‘anchor institutions’ often hold both land and property – this is a base from which local wealth can be accrued. In community wealth building the function and ownership of these assets is deepened to ensure that any financial gain is harnessed by citizens.

Community wealth building can work anywhere. However, it is crucial in areas where the economy has been hollowed out through years of under-investment. So, why aren’t we doing this?

The above was creatively taken from the definitive account of Preston’s experience, read it for yourself and see if you’re convinced: https://cles.org.uk/publications/how-we-built-community-wealth-in-preston-achievements-and-lessons/

Money for the Marsh: it’s Time4Change!

What do the following things have in common?

  • Fuel poverty
  • Food poverty
  • Child poverty
  • Clothing poverty
  • Period poverty

That’s right, it’s poverty. Wasn’t hard was it?

The problem here on the East Marsh is poverty. It needs saying, because poverty leads directly to low education and life chances, crime and poor health. Statistically speaking, people here on the East Marsh die 10 years before people in Waltham. And poverty directly affects our children’s lives – from parents’ stress levels affecting relationships and family dynamics, to parents worrying about the impact poverty has on their children, poverty affects our kids’ ability to enjoy their childhoods.

Working with the council towards Community Wealth Growth

The fight against poverty usually ends up by blaming poor people for their poverty, but it’s not true. Poverty is not a lack of character – it’s a lack of cash. We are working to get rid of poverty on the East Marsh and instead to focus on community wealth growth, together building wealth we can all share in. The council can help us do this, just as they have in places like Preston, where the council’s policy of community wealth growth has added an extra £74 million which can be spent on community development – and more wealth growth. 

Community groups like East Marsh United are already doing this by buying houses from absentee landlords and providing homes for East Marsh families. The rent they pay stays in our community and is used to buy more houses or support community projects. 

Community Interest Companies like East Marsh Construction are already doing this by carrying out construction projects employing nine locally-employed workers.

We will work to support these projects from within the council and help these groups build their capacity.

We will also initiate a wider discussion within the council about the advantages of a Community Wealth Growth model on the East Marsh (and more widely in Grimsby), looking at how wealth is sucked out of our neighbourhood, building up a sustainable work-force who spend locally, support new business and asset transfers and greater community decision-making.

Democratising the Local Economy

We will be persistent in our support for a progressive policy of Community Wealth Growth in our ward and across the Borough. We’re already doing this here on the East Marsh, we’re creating jobs, we’re creating housing – let’s use all the resources of the council to really push this policy to provide other benefits for the local area, such as housing and regeneration, employment, skills, real living wage, environmental impact, and greater wellbeing.

This is all about democratising the local economy, putting the local economy into the hands of the local community – remember, we’re the experts on where we live. So we will work to support the development of worker-owned cooperatives (with a living wage), economic inclusion and greater opportunities for all with a focus on ecologically-sustainable jobs and growth. 

Let’s start now to build wealth and get more Money on the Marsh so that our people can direct our own lives: it’s Time4Change!

The *remarkable* power of Community dialogue: East Marsh People’s Assemblies

We’ve said it before and we’ll keep on saying it – the community is at the heart of United4EastMarsh, so here’s some feedback on our regular Friday evening community meet-ups, our East Marsh People’s Assemblies.

Come and join us, have your say from 7pm for the next two Fridays, sign up here: United4EastMarsh Online People’s Assembly

So, what has been ‘remarkable’ about the two assemblies we’ve had so far?

The process is remarkable for one thing. We have been fortunate enough to be supported by a number of rather wonderful and generous facilitators from Talkshop and Trust the People who have brought us a tried and tested way of doing things that is so good you are completely unaware of there even being a process – the only thing that matters is the conversation.

And what conversation. The key is to find the right question as an entry point to discussion – and it will be brief, clear, thoughtful and inclusive.

Week 1: Your Voice

Our question was What do you really care about locally? and our participants brought us the East Marsh’s affluent history and now decline and consequent loss of community spirit, county lines and the vulnerability of our young people, that there is nobody coming to save us so it’s up to us to do it. We then moved on to a key part in the process, building on these responses to lead into a conversation around how might we make that happen? One significant outcome of the discussion was a potential new project that would begin to address many of these issues: ‘Greening the Marsh’, which could be taken on by a progressive community group or a progressive council or – both TOGETHER:

Greening the Marsh: a potential project

Bringing nature to the East Marsh through engagement, education, greening and gardening – this could be an EMU project of course, but the Council has significant resources and knowledge to make this a great success.

Building on What is

Inspiring work on the Saltings allotments + the successful hanging baskets in the streets project

How might we USE spaces to give people hope?
  • People’s own back gardens
  • Hanging baskets on the fronts
How might we CREATE spaces to give people hope?

Allotments on:

  • The space where the multi-storey flats were
  • The docks
  • Adjacent the railway lines that run through the East Marsh

THREE practical things we can do to start a project

  1. Start allotments up
  2. Provide classes and training around food and gardening (WEA)
  3. Gardening help and clearance (Timebanking, EMU, EMC)

Here are the full notes for week 1

Week 2: Action not Words

Our question in Week 2 was What needs sorting out? and this led our conversation to a discussion of ‘the system’, social vandalism, stripping away resources, Parks and Green Spaces and Bins. The how might we? section of the evening was a free-flowing and engaging discussion on building around the edges, election as petition to establishment, people finding their voice, Time4Change is energising, finding moral centre, deadness of bureaucracy, the need for more of us – and the development of an East Marsh Anthem with an echo of The Singing Revolution.

A very important learning emerged, too. In any project the key criteria must be – would it bring more people in? What is the best way to go  about it to achieve that?

Outcomes for the parks and green spaces discussion were to find something inspiring for our neighbourhood, get some landscape architect projects to show what’s possible – and focus on the bandstand. As for the bins, the discussion was really about community responsibility – we have locales where neighbours do take responsibility, so how can we extend that? Could we facilitate a social contract for the east marsh – are there examples? Gothenburg communal living, an understanding – there are laws about it – two-way: the community with itself and the community with the They, the system.

Here are the full notes for week 2

Join the conversation! Sign up here: United4EastMarsh Online People’s Assembly

United4EastMarsh: Action not Words

In some parts of our East Marsh, you can walk out of your front door and there’s a new horror out there to greet you – a bag of rubbish, a wheelie bin spilling over or tipped over – and there is always glass and dog shit on our pavements, rubbish blocking up our back alleys. And there’s a feeling that nothing can be done about it – because nothing HAS been done about it! And people have given up because the problems just seem overwhelming. But, this has such a terrible effect on all of us, on our well-being, on our picture of ourselves and of how others see us.

We will start a powerful campaign across the whole of the East Marsh, working with the Council and with grassroots Community Groups: 

  • Community and Council Cleanups – including free skips every so often: clear your yards and alleys out!
  • Six Feet of Your Street – a campaign to encourage personal responsibility for our streets
  • A community-led programme of information, education and entertainment for children (of all ages) all about cleaning and greening – spiced up with all kinds of art and music
  • Let the East Marsh bloom – hanging baskets and flowers anywhere and everywhere Green 
  • A project of community management of Grant Thorold park, the green lung of the East Marsh

We will work from inside the council and with the community to get the Wheelie bins moved off the frontages of houses.

We will work to implement the East Marsh NRA (Neighbourhood Area Renewal Action Plan) which offers imaginative solutions to many of the problems faced by older houses in the 21st Century.

Let’s face it, nobody is coming to help us clean our streets, so up with it do we put? Do we hell. We can make this change happen ourselves, so let’s just get on and do it. Action, not words, let’s clean up the East Marsh: it’s Time4Change 

Get your voice heard: East Marsh People’s Assembly

Join us on April 9th at 7pm for a very different kind of meeting. The community is at the heart of United4EastMarsh, so we’re holding regular meet-ups where everyone’s voice will be heard, where we can share what really matters to us and start to build a picture how things could be better around here.

We’ll be happy to share about the campaign but most of the time will be for everyone to discuss the things that matter to us. Some good facilitators are coming along to help us structure the conversation in a careful way so that it doesn’t become like most boring political meetings where a few people talk while everyone listens. This project and this campaign is about ALL of us, so we need to find new ways to raise ALL of our voices. We’ll do our best at least. All of that said, that means everyone and anyone is welcome, you don’t need to be a politico, or an expert on the local area, any part of your experience is important to share.If you can’t make this one, we’ll be doing them every week until the election and, after we win too.

We are making change happen united with our community so come and be in community with us and be a part of the change we’re making happen!

Sign up here: United4EastMarsh Online People’s Assembly

Your Voice: United4EastMarsh

Our local political system is failing the East Marsh. You are allowed a vote every few years for somebody who represents one of the old political parties – London pulls the strings, organises the electioneering leaflets and so on. And then the elected councillor works in concert with other parties or blindly opposes the other parties because that’s how it works in London. Well, it’s not working here. Is it surprising that 76% of people on the East Marsh don’t even bother to vote at all? Here’s the choice: elect (fanfare) *A Councillor* or make real change happen together. We want our representatives to BE representatives and to have a genuine dialogue with our community.

  • We will be Independent from party politics – we will each make up our own mind about each decision without reference to ideology and by respecting everyone’s viewpoint.
  • We will listen to and be guided by our community – we will continue the East Marsh People’s Assemblies started during the campaign so the community can genuinely guide its representative in the Council towards community needs and wishes.
  • We will promote the idea of People’s Assemblies in the Council in order to steer the old paternal ways more towards deliberative democracy.
  • We will work with community groups to help build on the existing Proud East Marshian newspaper and the East Marshian Chronicles podcast to train, educate and employ citizen journalists and digital communications, recruited from the East Marsh itself.

We will work to shift democratic power to the community by setting up local channels of communication:

  • An East Marsh Assembly, a structured way for our community to discuss issues or make decisions collectively and influence policy and planning on our East Marsh.
  • An East Marsh Newspaper
  • An East Marsh Podcast
  • An East Marsh Community Radio Station.

Additionally, we will work with our community to foster and develop a Plan for the East Marsh that includes our economy and employment, streets and houses, parks and community facilities.

And it is important to remember our children and young people – this is their East Marsh. So, we vow that the needs of future generations will be accorded the same importance as current generations.

Do we want to let Party politicians guided only by their London Party machine and Party ideology, organise our lives for us? We say no. We East Marshians are the experts on the East Marsh, we will find our own solutions. Your Voice matters, let’s take back the East Marsh: it’s Time4Change