Government minister sees Woolwich’s riot clean-up
Government minister Bob Neill visited Woolwich this afternoon to see clean-up efforts for himself, and to thank emergency services as the area battles back to normality after Monday’s riot.
The communities minister was joined by Greenwich Council leader Chris Roberts and chief executive Mary Ney as they toured the battered town centre, where most businesses are now open as usual following the disturbances.
Mr Neill also visited Woolwich fire station to thank officers for their work, as well as stopping to chat to police on duty in Calderwood Street.
Demolition teams have now moved into the destroyed Blue Inc shop on Powis Street, while contractors have been boarding up The Great Harry pub and the Wilkinsons store, both wrecked by fire. The fate of either building is not yet known.
BT engineers are also scrambling to reconnect 600 phone lines destroyed when a cabinet next to The Great Harry was burnt out by the fire. Business and residential users within 300 yards of the box on Wellington Street were cut off after the fire, and it will take three weeks to reconnect them all.
Despite the destruction in his constituency, and the lack of media coverage, local MP Nick Raynsford failed to mention Woolwich in the House of Commons, instead choosing to follow a string of Labour MPs in questioning Prime Minister David Cameron on cuts to police budgets.
Eltham MP Clive Efford condemned “rightwing extremist groups” using up police resources in his area over the past two nights, calling for locals not to be “diverted” by groups such as the English Defence League. In response, Mr Cameron said there was “no part of society sicker than the EDL”.
Lewisham East MP Heidi Alexander, who flew back from her honeymoon after news of disorder in Lewisham, called for “despicable videos” on internet “glorifying” violence to be taken down.