100TH MEETING OF ERITH TOWN FORUM
The January 2015 meeting will be the 100th time residents, councillors, business representatives and council officers come together to discuss what is happening or should happen in Erith. When I recognised this fact I immediately thought we should celebrate in some way. Many members agreed, so on Wednesday 28th January we will drink a toast to the longevity which has been achieved despite some difficult obstacles over that time. Prior to our 50th celebration we did a walk down memory lane and the letter sent out at that time is attached for those of you who may not be aware of our activities in the very early years.
Following our 50th anniversary we continued to hold Christmas events and summer outings for the senior members of our community all free of charge but once Bexley Council stopped all funding for local Forums, many activities had to stop. We managed to continue producing Town and Around, our quarterly newsletter, for a few more years with funding from the William Kendall Wax Chandlers charity and the Awards For All scheme but finally that too became unviable to produce and circulate. We were fortunate to get funding from the Riverside Shopping Centre on a regular basis which helped pay for our administration and the cost of holding regular meetings and finally for the last three years we have been fortunate to have funding from Cory Environmental.
We have worked with FORGE to make significant improvements to the Riverside Gardens and the foreshore, demonstrating to Bexley Council how valuable this green area is to our community. We have continued to promote Erith whenever possible with events, mainly down on the River front. We re-enacted the arrival of Alexander Selkirk at Erith Pier to celebrate the 300th anniversary of this event. In 2013 we marked the last Thames Barge Race finish on the Riverside Gardens, with an afternoon of fun for all the family which was so successful that in 2014 we decided to do it all again. We called it ERITH FUN DAY and invited charities and small businesses to participate. It was a great success, and Rotary Club Erith have agreed to take primary responsibility for organising this event in 2015. Of course Erith Forum will take part and help to get in funding for the event.
Our Town and surrounding area has changed beyond all recognition since the first meeting of Erith Town Forum particularly with the building of Erith Riverside Shopping Centre and many of the changes we hoped for, have actually happened. Our Shopping Centre is a relatively vibrant place in the present economic climate, our newly built Further Education College is up and running, new housing has been built, and more is planned or already being built.
It seems very appropriate that in January we will be meeting the newly appointed Bexley Town Centres Manager who has asked to come along and tell us his plans. I will also invite Seb Salom to join us for our celebration. He and Judith Houghton were particularly helpful and supportive to Erith Town Forum for many years in the various offices they held within Bexley Council. We still have to watch for previous development proposals that may raise their heads again and to take care of our Carnegie building but at every step of the way Erith Forum tries to inform the community and to participate in consultation processes in order to influence decisions whenever we can.