Cllr Mark Reckless MP spent an hour on Monday visiting Watts Meadow with local campaigner Adrian Osborne of Rochester Avenue to inspect its current state.
Visiting the site with Rochester West ward colleague Cllr Ted Baker, Mark was given a demonstration of just how difficult it is to navigate the site if you are blind or disabled given the current condition of the walkways through the meadow. Wearing a blackout mask provided by Adrian to bring home the difficulties which the blind faces, Mark found the going really hard.
“The paths and walkways around Watts Meadow can be difficult to navigate for those of us who have full vision and no disabilities. Now, thanks to Adrian’s intervention, I am only too well aware of just how hard it must be to enjoy this beautiful green space if you have problems with your vision or a disability of any kind.
It is clear that some work needs to be done to ensure that everyone can enjoy Watts Meadow, including getting particular pathways levelled. In some areas foliage, nettles and brambles also need cutting back, although I understand the case for leaving some of other areas entirely to nature.
Residents are currently being denied access to the meadow from Priestfields due to house-building work in that area. I have emphasised to Robin Cooper, the responsible Director at Medway Council, how upset residents are that this closure was not pre-notified. I believe that, subject to financial constraints, there is also a need for Watts Meadow to be brought up to a suitable condition more generally so that local people can fully enjoy this vital green lung in the heart of Rochester.
I will be working with Medway Council and residents such as Adrian Osborne to make sure Watts Meadow gets the care and attention it so rightly deserves. I will also be trying to understand why the Friends of Watts Meadow group have not had the success working with the Council which we have achieved with the Borstal Open Spaces Society.”
Mark is also interested to hear from anyone who can shed some light on when the concrete road that leads up the allotments on Watts Meadow was built and why it remains, to this day, unfinished. One theory put forward by Adrian Osborne is that it was dug up by builders when the houses in Ethelbert Road were constructed. If anyone can help with this mystery, they can email firstname.lastname@example.org