At the denouement of an episode of the A-Team it was always highly likely that Colonel John ‘Hannibal’ Smith would remove his cigar momentarily to say “I love it when a plan comes together.”
And the Colonel was dead right, it is indeed a wonderful moment. Of course his plans generally involved a fake explosion followed swiftly by a stuntman trampolining to an unconvincing death over the bonnet of a jeep.
Our plan was somewhat different, and with all due respect to the Colonel, somewhat more difficult to bring off. It needed the help of our future Queen and hundreds of well scrubbed children in smart school uniforms waving Union Jacks. It required two glistening new public buildings that have given the whole area an aesthetic boost. It demanded a brand new academy providing additional school places in a borough that does better at GCSE than practically anywhere else. And as if that wasn’t enough, it also required a new leisure centre which is surely set to be one of the very best in London.
Bringing that plan together has not been easy. It has been the culmination of years of planning, years of saving so that we could meet more than two thirds of the overall cost (£40 million of a total of £57million, the rest coming from the Government), and it has meant long years of work by members, planners, lawyers, leisure and education experts, project managers and many others drawn from right across the Council.
I was lucky enough to be one of those there to apply the finishing touches by giving Her Royal Highness the tour of our new buildings and she was absolutely terrific – charming and gracious to functionaries such as I, warm and friendly to the school children and to our basketball players and tai-chiers over in our splendid new sports halls.
Monday 19 January was a very proud day quite frankly and I couldn’t help but reflect on how lucky the Royal Borough has been to have its very own A-Team to make it all happen. And the important thing to understand is this: the new academy and leisure centre are just part of a much bigger and more ambitious plan for regenerating North Ken. That plan involves hundreds of new homes, the restoration of traditional street patterns, new school buildings and entirely new schools, new businesses and much, much else besides.
It’s ambitious alright, even for the team that has already delivered the academy and leisure centre, but we aim to bring that plan together too, so watch this space.