A well fought ‘No’ campaign

Written by: Paul Morris

September 17, 2014 - 3:02 pm
Categories: Lambeth

One campaign dominates this week’s news agenda as people in Scotland decide whether to go it alone or not.

But a hard fought ‘no’ campaign has already been won! Albeit to protect the future of a much smaller piece of territory.

On the banks of the River Thames at Twickenham there is a wonderful children’s park nestled between Orleans House and the water.

It has the usual array of things that kids love like swings and slides; and for grown-ups, there’s a lovely bloke selling coffee for those early weekend mornings when parenting demands caffeine stronger than your normal daily blend.

My 3-year-old loves it and calls it ‘the balancing park’ because of the array of obstacles it has to test your steadiness, while my one-year-old loves tearing about among the trees and play things.

Outcry

So when our local council earmarked this much-loved space for planning, there was inevitably an outcry.

To be fair, the project in question was a building to permanently house a royal barge, which was part of the Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations.  It’s a worthy project which would boost tourism.

But not in place of this amazing community asset and the potential harm that such a build would do to a sensitive local ecosystem.

So congratulations to the Friends of Orleans Riverside group who mounted an energetic campaign to persuade the council to drop its idea by putting forward an intelligent and rounded argument and finding umpteen clever ways of driving momentum.

A brilliantly orchestrated campaign

Emotional attachment aside, this was a brilliantly orchestrated campaign. Outside Twickenham station, in the park itself and in the town centre, they handed out leaflets making their case and giving you 5 ways to voice your objections to the council and get to those decision-makers responsible.

Like all good campaigns, they found new ways of keeping interest in the local press and ensuring their arguments were repeated. For example, a children’s party at the park offered children the opportunity to draw their own ‘save our park’ posters thus creating a clever photo op.

More than 15,000 people got in touch with the local authority to object, leading Richmond Council to announce it has dropped the plan altogether.

Lessons:

1. Make a strong case and explain it well with stats and data to add credibility to your argument.

2. Give people opportunities to make their objections known using multiple channels.

3. Keep up momentum and be one step ahead of the opposition.

Result – a successful “no” campaign.

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