ON SUNDAY February 5, I spent a particularly cold day standing under the railway bridge in Southend High Street, accompanied by my son Shaun Qureshi and fellow supporters of campaign group Parklife.
We were there to gather signatures for a petition letter against the F5 road scheme, allowing the widening of Priory Crescent and concreting over the recently discovered Saxon burial site nearby.
This letter is being sent to Karen Buck MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, who will decide if funding is given for the planned work.
The first person to approach was an elderly lady, who told us that many years ago she was employed by Jones the Jewellers ,situated until the 1970s a few yards from where we were standing. It was touching to hear her relate how people chose to work for a family bvusiness who cared about their staff.
Her opinion was that Mr R A Jones, the benefactor who gave Priory Park to the town, would probably not have suppoorted the scheme to use land from the park to allow road widening.
Throughout the day members of the public queued to sign the letter, and hand-write an envelope addressed to Ms Buck.
Expressions of support were overwhelming, and concern was shown as to how people survive the cold weather at Camp Bling, situated on the ground formally known as the shrubbery in Priory Crescent.
A frequently asked question was, "How can I help, what do you need?"
I met a lot of good people that day who made me feel proud of what Parklife have achieved in the past four and a half years.
"Blingers" are a caring and dedicated band of people who really do want to preserve out park, and since the discovery of the Saxon burial ground this has become even more vital.
I would urge everyone who cares to visit Camp Bling, meet Shaun and Ant Bailey, who have lived there since September 23, 2005, and the many others who have joined them since then, you will be assured of a warm welcome.
It is a magical place [with] a real sense of community.
Hopefully when it comes time to leave it will be because the battle is won. The trees will still line Priory Crescent, and the most important archaeological site found in recent years will be allowed to remain untouched, a monument to peaceful protest on behalf of the people of Southend.