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  • Writer's pictureClaire Champion

The Price of Progress

The subject of my latest poem is something close to my heart and I thought I needed to get it out onto the page. We keep losing our community spaces, buildings and resources in our towns and cities. It saddens me and angers me in equal measure. The places we have grown up with, made use of, and enjoyed are being snatched away. In some cases they have not been replaced with anything meaningful, just bulldozed to make way for (unaffordable?) housing or unused office blocks. Here’s to taking back what’s ours, in the near future. I’ll leave this one with you – please let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

The Price of Progress

Significant places, structures, pathways

all swallowed up by progress.

The action they said that we

needed, but did we, honestly?

The swimming pool in the leisure centre

where I learned to swim and tread water.

It’s all turned to dust and debris,

only existing in my memory.

Physical, tangible, now invisible

a sense of pride now swept away,

with several years invested

and yet there are traces of effect.

A green space I once frequented,

walked through and enjoyed.

It’s now blocked off from public use,

for this area, there is no respect.

Decision-makers, those wealth-creators,

who are living off our big dreams.

They take those hopes and crush them,

when granting permission to their mates.

Towns are broken up, “regenerated”,

but does this serve the people within?

Mistakes, missteps, all repeated -

leaving our libraries to their fates.

No price is worth paying if this

is all we have to show for our pounds.

The commodities of communities,

lost through neglect, underfunding, stealth.

Don’t take my word for it, look

for yourself, in your local borough.

Where culture is stripped, history

highjacked and brought to bad health.

Oh, they know what they’re up to,

those who treat us with contempt.

Patronising us as if we were children,

painting over reality with so many lies.

It has gone beyond our time limit though,

and we must rise up and call them out.

Take back what we always held dear,

save our local treasures from their demise.

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