by Christian Mills
OK, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Wincheap…it kind of has a reputation.
I’ve been living in the Wincheap area for a good few years now and honestly I can’t say I’ve ever had too much of a problem here.
Oh sure, you’ll sometimes get loud drunken arguments in the middle of the street, or someone blaring music from their car speakers at 3am on a work night.
But, all in all, my experiences of living of here are at odds with the description of Wincheap being “that part of town”.
I mean let’s face it, Detroit we are not. But I do sort of wonder if perhaps one of the reasons our part of Canterbury has an unfortunate image is the look of it.
You walk under the railway bridge, a sort of spray painted gateway, and people entering Wincheap itself are greeted with a long procession of graffiti.
It’s pretty much everywhere – and to such a degree that you have to be more than a little impressed at just how resourceful people are in applying their tags in the most hard-to-reach places.
To whomever left their mark on the side of the rail bridge itself, I tip my hat to you.
You are a braver man than I am. That said, it does rather give a poor impression of the city.
My boyfriend, visiting from the USA, remarked that were this on the other side of the Atlantic he’d have looked at all the graffiti and had Wincheap pegged as the ghetto. This is unfortunate because, honestly, it belies the very vibrant, friendly and diverse community we have here in Wincheap.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ve never felt too worried walking down our streets. I feel safe leaving the door ajar, because I trust my neighbours not to take advantage of it.
I’ve only once had a random pair of preteens cuss at me in a bad American accent unprovoked on the other side of the road.
Everyone who lives here is generally quite amicable to one another, the atmosphere is not so much one of oppressive, crime-ridden poverty as simply one of quiet, peaceful British suburbia.
But thanks to the graffiti we’ve been quietly letting build up over the years, this isn’t how people outside our community see us.
Surely others are getting a little tired of the smug chortles, snooty grins, and snotty eye rolls we get whenever we mention where in the city we come from.
We know that Wincheap is better than they say, we know that we have a pretty good community here.
So why can’t we have an environment that reflects it?
It’s not really asking for much at the end of the day.
The main problem is just that there’s extra layers of coloured paint where perhaps there shouldn’t be. The solution is straight forward: have it cleaned up.
Perhaps one of the reasons Wincheap is often the butt of jokes about town is because we don’t seem to show any pride in it ourselves.
Perhaps if we changed that, perhaps if we did come together as neighbours to show a little love for the part of town that is our own, our image would start to change for the better.
Let’s start the change now. I shall be rounding up local Wincheap volunteers in cooperation with the Conservative Association to make it happen and clean up our neighbourhood.
Christian Mills is a Conservative activist and will be standing for council in the Wincheap ward at next year’s Canterbury City Council elections