Lesnes Abbey Park is magnificent. Go and see it on a bright sunny day - yeah,
I know - and soak up the views, the autumn colours, the gardens and features. Grab a coffee too.
There were times when the project began and old favourite landmarks were ripped up that regular visitors were seriously concerned about what was happening but gradually the vision shone through. There were setbacks along the way. No one could have foreseen that the landscaping contractor would go bust although those of us who live within earshot of the park should have guessed that the vandals would soon get busy.
Despite the delays the project is now very nearly complete and regular park visitors have been awaiting the grand opening. They waited in vain, Bexley Council was determined to ensure that the people who funded the project in one way or another should not be allowed to enjoy the celebration.
Twitter carried three clues to the planned formal opening. Councillor Craske said invitations were going out, then last week he said the great day would be this week and yesterday he gave a couple of hours notice. The intermediate Tweet prompted enquiries which suggested 4 p.m. Thursday was the likely time.
A reconnoitre in the morning suggested Thursday would indeed be the day. The Visitor Centre was barricaded and a notice said the coffee shop was closed. An ISIS contractor standing behind that notice as I photographed it asked what I was doing. I explained that the notice which he had not until then read indicated the official opening was imminent but he had not been told about it. He said it might explain why there were four ISIS trucks on site that morning.
The security men turned up soon afterwards to be joined later by the dog handlers. Visitors then began to arrive driving all over the lawns.
A solitary daily dog walker from Federation Road passed by and asked what was going on. Puzzled by the lack of crowds she decided not to wait. Another lady did have an inkling of what was about to happen but said her friend, a volunteer litter picker, had not heard a word about it and was furious not to have been advised let alone invited.
By about ten to four the superior set began to arrive and hurried inside the Visitor Centre well beyond the barriers making photography difficult. Not that I really cared, the story is in the contempt with which Bexley Council holds residents, not who was wearing what.
Bexley Council is making out that the extravagant arrangements and over the top security was a thank you for the staff who made the regeneration possible which the groundsman and litter picker will find hard to believe.
I’m glad I went, if Councillor Philip Read claims that Labour Councillors showed no interest as he mischievously did when The Belvedere Beach opened I shall have the photographic evidence to prove him wrong.
Pond Dipping Platform under repair. Viewing Gallery. Lump of rusty iron. Vehicle entrance with incomplete lamp posts.
All photos taken 7th September 2017.