From Golden Lane… Optimism for 2020

Don’t let the miserable start to the New Year dampen your hopes

Before Christmas 2019, City Matters editor Tom Oxtoby asked me if I had any suggestions for a new-year revamp of the newspaper. I said I thought the residents’ columns should be shorter and the puzzles page bigger. This is the first of my reduced 400-word submissions

Returning from a Winter break in the sunshine, the estate looked forlorn, down in the dumps and bereft of any spirit of better times to come in the new year and new decade ahead. 

A pile of dead Christmas trees lay clustered outside the estate office and Storm Brendan was doing its best to spread misery and discontent.

Trees company

There was at least some evidence of fresh activity at Cullum Welch House, where new concrete balustrades are being installed. And over on the north side of the estate, the development of the former Richard Cloudesley School site is progressing with renewed vigour. 

A massive blue steel erection appeared overnight, reaching for the heavens and perhaps giving some clue to the supposed height of the residential tower block that will eventually be built next to Basterfield House.

But there was good news on my doormat. The latest edition of Positive News magazine had arrived, and in it was a list of “What Went Right in 2019” followed by “100 People & Organisations Bringing Hope in 2020”.

Given enough hope…

Included in the “What Went Right” list were happy stories telling us that in 2019 UK renewable power sources produced more electricity than fossil fuels, and that the River Thames, once thought to be biologically dead, is now a thriving “wildlife hub”. 

More good news from 2019 was that Citizens’ Assemblies got off to a flying start in Scotland and Wales, and that Westminster is to hold four Climate Assembly weekend meetings between now and March (

All these stories chimed, because towards the end of last year, along with the City Corporation’s decision to scrap its plan to shoe-horn our estate office into a small space in the Community Centre, came the feeling that a new dialogue of cooperation between residents and council was underway. Here was cause for hope that 2020 might even turn into a year of listening and learning. 

But don’t get too excited. All is not sunshine and roses just yet. The leaky roof I reported to the City Corporation repairs department back in November is still leaking, ugly stalactites of solidified rainwater residue hanging as a reminder that progress is often slow.

🔹This article appeared in issue number 115 of the City Matters newspaper.

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