news, views and issues around Greenwich, Charlton, Blackheath and Woolwich, south-east London – what you won't read in Greenwich Time

Archive for May 2012

Greenwich’s Olympic sunset

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You know what? It might not be such a bad summer after all…

Written by Darryl

28 May, 2012 at 7:30 am

Jubilee Line implodes – only nine weeks until the Olympics…

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Above is Stratford station at 6.55pm last night – the Jubilee Line service effectively suspended after a broken-down train became stuck at St John’s Wood, with problems further compounded by a signal failure at London Bridge and the Docklands Light Railway struggling to cope with the crowds.

Police had shut the platform entrances, yet the departure boards appeared to show business as usual. When an announcement came, it was to advise passengers for the O2 to take the 108 from the bus station – it’s very unlikely that particular pint pot would have coped with that quart; the single-decker bus is hopelessly unreliable at the best of times, and was about to drop down to a miserly three buses an hour.

When the gates opened, I legged it to the front of the train to bag a seat, but it was 20 minutes before we finally got the go-ahead to move off. But I can count myself lucky, considering people had to be led off trains through tunnels elsewhere on the line.

But it’s been like this all week. On Tuesday, both the Jubilee Line and Southeastern services were hit by problems; a signal failure at Deptford causing trains to be routed away from the Greenwich line. On the big equestrian day, 30 July, all it’ll take is a signal failure at Deptford and a broken bit of track at Green Park, and the big Olympic party will come sliding to a halt.

Where’s the contingency plans? Where’s the co-ordination between mainline and Tube lines? Who’s in charge? And with the woefully under-resourced BBC London website still implying it was some little local difficulty “in St John’s Wood, north west London”, who’s properly reporting on them?

(The crap BBC London web coverage bears out something I wrote for Snipe about the woeful state of London’s media now the Standard’s returned to joke status, with the BBC among the worst culprits for under-utilising their reporting talent in the capital.)

On the upside, maybe it will take an massive Olympic-sized failure this summer to finally see some action taken. Perhaps we need to keep our fingers crossed for more. Brace yourself for an interesting summer.

(PS. Don’t forget to claim your refunds, even if you have a travelcard.)

Written by Darryl

24 May, 2012 at 10:50 am

Eastern Electrics to spark Greenwich’s Peninsula Festival

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A one-day dance festival originally due to take place on Clapham Common is the first event to be unveiled as part of the Peninsula Festival, due to take place on waste ground next to Greenwich Millennium Village during the Olympics.

Eastern Electrics had been due to take over part of Clapham Common on 4 August, but was left homeless after Pink House – a gay-themed event which had been planned for the common for the three weeks of the Games – was cancelled after reportedly failing to attract sufficient sponsorship.

Without Pink House’s facilities, Eastern Electrics had been left homeless, but has now been scheduled to take over “area 12″ on the Peninsula – surrounded by the southern side of GMV, the Pilot pub, the O2′s car park and the Blackwall Tunnel approach – from 11am – 10.30pm on 4 August, with a 10,000 capacity.

According to Resident Advisor, the site, which is still being used for storage of roadworks materials, will “feature a main stage and four tents, with a “huge” man-made structure built from shipping containers at the core of the site”. “There’ll also be a VIP area with views over the main area and bar, food and “luxury” toilet facilities.”

This was all announced last week, but has not been reported locally until now. No other events have yet been announced for the Peninsula Festival, which also includes a Dutch campside on the east side of GMV, a beach by the River Thames at Delta Wharf, due to open next month, and a procession of tall ships.

The festival has also been given £50,000 by Greenwich Council for delivery of a “community element”, with the council’s website claiming it will “welcome top artists to Greenwich Peninsula for a series of fantastic music concerts and big screens showing live coverage of the Games”.

Meanwhile, work is under way on a similar event on the north side of the Thames. Backed by Newham Council and City Hall, the London Pleasure Gardens, inspired by Victorian parks at Vauxhall and North Woolwich, is close to the Royal Docks cable car terminal, on the south side of Royal Victoria Dock.

It promises a “free family festival with live music and entertainment”, dance event Bloc, Latin American event Carnaval del Pueblo and a stage for the River of Music event, which is also taking place at Greenwich’s Old Royal Naval College.

Written by Darryl

21 May, 2012 at 7:30 am

Abbey Wood’s Olympic legacy – trees on a football field?

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It’s not often I head out as far as Abbey Wood, but an email from Emma suggested I should investigate strange goings-on in SE2. Greenwich Council were planting trees as an Olympic legacy on a green used for playing football, she said. Or, in her own words…

On the Co-Op estate in Abbey Wood there’s a rectangular green which is a fenced off area. It’s just grass, not remotely attractive, but is used by kids playing football and cricket and I’ve seen organised football group stuff there occasionally too. It’s pretty well used and, as far as I know, very peacefully.

About 6-8 weeks ago groups of very small saplings appeared all around the edge of the green.. They were then mulched a few weeks later so that there are now beds all around the edge. At the time I was curious, and thought maybe the council were bringing them on to plant them elsewhere. As far as I was aware there had been no notification/consultation about this and I did a bit of googling, but could find no reference to the trees being planted. I admit I gave up and carried on with stuff.

Yesterday a sign went up on the fence around the green: apparently they are part of a programme to plant trees in the borough for the Olympics. Personally I think the notice is slightly hysterical: the saplings are tiny and planted in groups as shrubs so hardly likely to ‘grow tall and shade the area killing off the grass and making it useless for a play area’ (at least not for 50 years or so…), but it does seem a bit rich that a playing field has been planted up with shrubs or trees: there’s a bloody great wood less than 5 mins up the road, and although there’s a playground not far off as far as I know it’s the only stretch of green which ball games are officially allowed on in the area.

I’m sure they could have found somewhere more appropriate to plant them (such as the stretch of green just up the road where ball games are not allowed). I wish I knew who’d put up the notice, there’s nothing on it saying who unfortunately.

Over the sumer there were notices about the green being closed on Sundays because of noise nuisance, so if I were a cynical person I might wonder if the council were trying to discourage the playing of games there.

By the time I got to visit, the notice had gone, but the shrubs were still around. Greening Street Green won’t win any Green Flag Awards soon – it’s a non-descript, fenced-off patch of grass with a sign forbidding the use of motorcycles. It’s easy to see why it’s a favourite for football or cricket – it’s just the right size for a decent knockabout.

But now the space available has shrunk thanks to these saplings, sat in their rubbish-strewn beds. It’s unclear just what Greenwich is hoping to achieve here – in an area crying out for some decent sports facilities, perhaps it could do with some goalposts, or even one of the outdoor gyms that have sprung up around the place.

Instead, the idea seems to be to turn this place into a little shady grove – but perhaps at the expense of young footballers and cricket players. Whatever the plan, it’s clear Greening Street Green is going to need a bit more love over the years than it gets now. Which surely should have involved bringing local people in from the start, instead of suddenly plonking some trees down.

Olympic legacy cock-up or a brave plan to transform a manky bit of green? It’s probably a bit of both, but it’s a beautiful example of how dire Greenwich Council’s communication skills are. It’s a nice idea to plant 2,012 trees to mark the Olympics – but it’s worthless if you don’t carry people with you.

The 2,012 trees wheeze has been around for a little while, having been launched in 2009 with “consultations” at the council’s Great Get Together jamborees, and again in Greenwich Time last year. But all’s gone fairly quiet since then, apart from the odd photo of Chris Roberts with a spade in his hand.

Happily, thanks to the good old Freedom of Information Act, I have a list of locations. They are… (descriptions as supplied by Greenwich Council)

Lower Paget Rise, (Woolwich, SE18)
Creek Road (from Gonson Street to Deptford Church Street, SE8)
Greenwich High Rd (Junction of Merryweather Place, SE10)
Chevening Road, (East Greenwich, SE10)
Porcupine Close, (Mottingham, SE9)
Bexley Road (from Alderwood Rd to Avery hill Rd, SE9)
Green Chain Walk, (Eltham, SE9)
Eynsham Drive, (Abbey Wood, SE2)
Burrage Road opposite Crescent Rd, (Plumstead, SE18)
Villas Road/Sandbach Place, (Plumstead, SE18)
Elliston House, Grand Depot Road, (Woolwich, SE18)
Defiance Walk, (Woolwich, SE18)
Ridgebrook Road / junction with Rochester Way, (Kidbrooke, SE3)
Eltham Road/ junction with Horn Park Lane SE12
Greening Street Open Space, (Abbey Wood, SE2)
The Slade, (Plumstead Common Rd, SE18)
The Point, West Grove and Vanbrugh pits, Blackheath, SE10)
Horn Park, (Eltham, SE12)
Queenscroft Park, (Queenscroft Rd, Eltham, SE9)

Other trees have been planted at sheltered accommodation sites (bracketed bits added by me)
Minnie Bennett House (Shooters Hill Road, Kidbrooke)
176 Shooters Hill
162 Shooters Hill
40 Littleheath (Charlton)
Ann Stroud Court (Eltham Road, Lee)
Bill Walden House (Wellington Street, Woolwich)
Wentworth House (Charlton Road, Blackheath)
Mandela House (Pendrell Street, Plumstead)
1 Garnet Close (Eltham)
133 Langton Way (Blackheath)
Strand Court (Strandfield Close, Plumstead)
Eltham Road (Lee)
Hyder Court (Hervey Road, Kidbrooke)
Colliston House (Woolwich Road, Greenwich)

Have you seen any of the 2012 trees out and about? Did you take part in the consultation process – and what was the response? I’d be interested to find out.

Written by Darryl

15 May, 2012 at 7:31 am

‘Royal’ Greenwich Council takes on Her Majesty’s Royal Navy

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It’s not like Greenwich Council has ever made any “gaffes”, is it? But hey, you won’t read about them in weekly propaganda rag Greenwich Time, because it’s all about shoring up the reputation of the council and its leadership.

But you will get to see it slag off others, so here’s a shot from the Dear Leader’s own weekly organ across the bows of HMS Ocean, which has spent the past 10 days berthed off Greenwich (and is due to leave this morning) as part of the Olympic security exercises.

As far as I can gather, the council believed it had arranged for Greenwich borough residents to be able to tour the huge aircraft carrier on bank holiday Monday.

Indeed, they could – but so could anyone else, with media including ITV’s London Tonight reporting that the shop would be open to all. The result was huge queues for a rare peek on board a working warship. I hadn’t seen so many people in the centre of Greenwich for a long while, and the navy were good enough to extend opening hours into the evening to cram as many on board as possible. Was the council grateful? Nope.

I imagine the tourist sites of Greenwich must have done roaring business that day, despite some awful weather (luckily, I’ve been there, done that so took one look at the queues and slunk off to a pub in Deptford to hide from the rain) and it’s not as if the navy had to let people take a look – it just seems incredibly sour to me.

In any event, the mooring of a warship isn’t just a Greenwich borough event; sure, prioritise people from Greenwich, Deptford and the Isle of Dogs, but it’s absurd to think that someone brandishing a Greenwich Council tax bill with a BR7 postcode on has any more right to see the boat than someone who lives on the west side of Watergate Street, SE8. This is something that affects a great chunk of London, not just some parochial one-borough event.

Apparently, we’re all meant to have had a letter from Greenwich Council about HMS Ocean and the Oxleas Woods missile defences, but nothing’s appeared on my doormat. Actually, I’m more concerned about the nearer Blackheath ones, although since that’s in another borough, there’s no chance of anything about that. Although they did seem to be becoming a tourist attraction for all the family last weekend…

The trouble with dishing out brickbats is that sometimes, they come back to bite you on the arse. With council leader Chris Roberts widely rumoured to be seeking a knighthood for his efforts on behalf of us, perhaps he’ll rue the day he took on Her Majesty’s Royal Navy.

Written by Darryl

15 May, 2012 at 7:29 am

Greenwich Peninsula cable car station – final design revealed

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You might have seen the Greenwich cable car in action over the bank holiday, with tests being stepped up. From halfway up the hill in Charlton, with the gondolas sat in pairs across the river, it looked a bit like a set of Christmas lights nobody had bothered to turn on.

There’s still plenty of work to do, though, before London’s most baffling piece of public transport opens, and planning permission’s just gone in for the signage at the front of the station. Here’s a bigger version of the picture above. No fares have been revealed, although Greenwich councillors were told in 2011 to expect charges of between £2.50-£3.50, and no opening date has been announced. Officially, the project is due to open after the Olympics, despite it linking two Games venues.

But cable car or no cable car, there’ll be more changes to the peninsula during the Games. Planning documents also reveal London 2012 sponsors are hoping to make their mark on the area with a huge advertisement on the side of the office building at Mitre Passage, facing the cable car site.

There are also plans for huge advertisements on the “green wall” behind North Greenwich station, as well as on the station itself. (Away from the peninsula, the BP garage on Woolwich Road, Charlton, is also planning to plaster itself with images of athletes including Jess Ennis.)

Finally, if the cable car isn’t ready in time, then a 35-metre high “Skylon Flyer” is due to open by North Greenwich Pier, if it passes through planning. There’s already been a similar attraction in Peninsula Square, but this one’s also clad in Olympic sponsor colours. As a vertigo sufferer I think I’ll just about manage the cable car – I might have to pass on being shot into the sky on the Skylon though…

Written by Darryl

8 May, 2012 at 7:30 am

The strange case of Greenwich Time and a youngster’s extra leg

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Its apologists say council propaganda weekly Greenwich Time exists to celebrate the people of the borough. It may well do, but only those who haven’t upset leader Chris Roberts. In its photography, GT’s well known for editing out, cropping out or even Photoshopping out those who aren’t close to the Dear Leader, which led to one Tory changing her hairstyle to win a bet by sneaking in, and a Labour councillor being replaced by a balloon.

With that in mind, why has the lad on the left gained an extra leg? Who does it belong to?

And what are we to make of this paragraph?

Cllr John Fahy, formerly project leader Sharon Brokenshire, told GT:”

John, we never knew. And Chris, if you want decent sub-editing done in a hurry, my rates are very reasonable.

Written by Darryl

3 May, 2012 at 9:51 am

What if Boris cared about Greenwich? An election day fantasy

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It’s been the most dismal, depressing election campaign I can remember. If we’re voting, we’re voting for one man merely to stop the other bloke getting in. Something’s wrong with that.

For a campaign full of lies and smears, though, one of the final porkies took place above the skies of Greenwich. Wednesday’s Evening Standard devoted its page three to a big picture of the Greenwich cable car in operation, with words by City Hall reporter Peter Dominiczack, who’s seemingly spent the past few months simply taking dictation from the mayor’s team.

High above the Thames, London’s first cable car has its maiden flight.

Three gondolas were suspended in mid-air today after moving off just before 10am — the first test of the city’s newest river crossing.

The cars did not appear to be carrying any passengers, though they could transport athletes at the Olympics if they are completed in time and will eventually carry up to 10 people per trip.

Onlookers at North Greenwich, on the south side of the cable car run, were impressed by the project, despite its £60 million price tag, and said they hoped it would bring more people to the area.

Unfortunately for the Boris campaign rag, the gondolas have been under test for 10 days or so, as readers of greenwich.co.uk will know.

“The Emirates Airline cable car took a step closer to completion yesterday as moving cable car gondolas were sighted for the first time.”

All of which proves which news outfit you can trust in future, and which is only good for soaking up the cat litter. But what if Boris Johnson had done something more substantial with our local transport? How would we be feeling about him today? Here’s a blog post I could have written, if only he’d cared…

“Well if I can’t take London back to Victorian forms of transport, then what is the point of having a Conservative mayor?,” puffed Boris Johnson as he coasted over the Blackwall Tunnel approach and down the slope on his blue bicycle.

Ten minutes earlier, the mayor had cut the ribbon on something he could call his own. The New Tower Bridge, some critics were calling it. Tory-leaning bloggers were calling it the Boris Bridge. And that was the name that stuck.

But the sleek blue Diamond Jubilee Bridge, open only to pedestrians and cyclists, was the gamble upon which Boris Johnson was trying to win over the capital for a second term.

The project had its critics. Labour MPs called it a “vanity project”. The Evening Standard said “it is hard to see why the Mayor persists with this project when the hard-pressed motorists of Chelsea still have to pay an outrageous congestion charge,” referring to his controversial U-turn in 2011 on the charge’s western extension.

The £300m Diamond Jubilee Bridge, from the Isle of Dogs to North Greenwich, ended up having to be bailed out by Chancellor George Osborne when promised sponsorship money didn’t turn up. Could it be finished before campaigning begun in the mayoral election? Safety engineers had only cleared it the previous week, but as a the bridge’s arms lifted for a cruise liner to pass through with a lengthy toot of its horn, it was clear that this would be as important for the area as the Jubilee Line was thirteen years beforehand.

From a spiral ramp at Marsh Wall on the Isle of Dogs, the bridge crossed the Thames and the Blackwall Tunnel entrances, allowing passengers to walk or ride off in front of the O2 and the London Soccerdome.

Furthermore, the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme went live on the Greenwich Peninsula that morning, allowing residents in the new homes there to cycle to work instead of taking the Tube. A further extension into Greenwich itself, through Deptford and up into the Rotherhithe would go live after the Olympics.

When the mayor was brought over to the press by his ever-attentive PR handlers, he was in ebullient mood.

“These two parts of our great city are too important to be separated,” he said, fixing journalists in the eye one by one.

“Now, like Bonnie and Clyde or Antony and Cleopatra, they are joined together by this great monument to British engineering.

“The great joy of being a Londoner is that there is so much of this great city to explore,” he added, gesturing at the under-developed peninsula around him. “Now, thanks to this bridge, soon there will be so much more to explore here.”

But didn’t people want a road crossing, asked a reporter from a suburban freesheet.

“I think these people here are happy with this new bridge,” Boris said, gesturing to a crowd who obligingly cheered. Some carried blue balloons and leaflets, but there were also a large number of curious locals too.

He continued, fixing the reporter in the eye again.

“The real issue is that you’ll never get this area developed if it has another main road running through it. But if you make this an attractive place to walk around, have your lunch in, walk the dog in, then we’ll bring investment and prosperity to the Greenwich Peninsula.

“Now look, if we can build a matching bridge from Canary Wharf to Rotherhithe, then we’re linking up communities and bringing together more parts of this great city.

“This is why I can’t afford a cut in bus fares, I need to invest,” he added, itching to get back on the election trail.

The mayor’s Conservative colleagues weren’t wasting any time, handing out leaflets to cycle hire users at the new cycle stations in the Millennium Village and retail park. Not only were they confident of victory across London, but local activists say there are signs that the party could even land a councillor in the area for the first time in decades.

Indeed, the ‘Boris effect’ had reverberated across the borough of Greenwich as the local Labour party was forced to up its game. Concerned councillors held their first public meetings in years as they feared political rivals muscling in on their patch – and they didn’t like what they heard.

“He’s proved that he isn’t all about appealling to the outer suburbs. He could have taken the lazy option and wanted to build a third Blackwall Tunnel, and spent all his time pandering to people in Bexley, but he’s challenged us on our own doorstep instead,” one political rival said. “Ken Livingstone’s had to make more than a token appearance in Woolwich this time around.”

Local Conservatives were thrilled. “Now we can campaign across the borough, instead of hiding out in Eltham or at Abbey Wood station and leafleting people who live in Bexley, which is what we normally do,” one said.

“We can tell people that Boris hasn’t spent the past four years sucking up to the suburbs and the City – if he’d done that, it would have been a waste of four years, after all.”

After conquering Greenwich with his new bridge, Boris had one more revelation – that he’d been approached by the owners of the London Eye, who wanted to build a cable car between the O2 and the Royal Docks.

“We’ll have to see about that one,” he told reporters. “That’s for fun – nobody but a fool would take a cable car seriously,” he smiled, before turning and riding back to the Isle of Dogs, a crowd of cyclists following.

There’s information on the mayoral candidates and interviews with Greenwich & Lewisham’s London Assembly candidates at greenwich.co.uk. There’s more on the poll, and where to vote, at London Elects. Polling stations close at 10pm.

Written by Darryl

3 May, 2012 at 6:55 am

Greenwich Council defies cuts to feed hungry businessmen

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Grateful subjects of the Royal Borough of Greenwich will, if they’re lucky, be getting the photomontage above on their doormats this week – yes, the centrespread of propaganda weekly “Royal” Greenwich Time features council leader Chris Roberts greeting the Queen by the Cutty Sark.

No luck for his stooge, mayor Jim Gillman, who’s meant to be the borough’s “first citizen” and so represents us – the long-serving councillor is just the Dear Leader’s fancy dress accessory as he grabs centre stage. The sacrifices the devoted have to make, eh?

The cost of the royal borough rebrand has already gone into six figures, but it’s worth taking a closer look at one particular event held to celebrate the occasion. You or I weren’t invited, but it’s a valuable insight into whose say matters in the “royal borough”. On 5 February, Greenwich Council held a reception in the Royal Naval College, costing £10,484.

Of 89 guests invited to the dinner, 77 were men, and many represented companies doing big – and in some cases, controversial – business in the borough, many of which will be applying for licences and planning permission for projects – or will have rivals doing the same – in the near future.

Many of these had already enjoyed a free nosh-up from the council at last May’s mayor-making ceremony – and it’s a a fair bet they’ll get another one at the next one in three weeks.

The invitations included:

…and so on. Other invitees included former culture secretary Tessa Jowell and Tony Blair’s old flatmate Lord Faulkner. You can see the full list here – there’s a few names we’ve touched upon here before.

At a time of cuts, when Greenwich Council is constantly pleading poverty, is this such a good idea? One Greenwich Labour person told me that events like this were necessary to negotiate deals that would benefit the borough. Yet most of these firms are multinationals – surely Tesco isn’t going to operate its Woolwich store any differently from its Lewisham one because it’s had a free dinner?

With streets filthy and basic services in a bad way, I can think of better ways to spend council taxpayers’ money than on buying rich businessmen dinner. And what about New Wine’s Dr Tayo? Did he give one of his sermons to liven up the party?

Greasing up to the Queen and businessmen – with a day to go until the mayoral election, I wonder what Ken Livingstone would make of what his Greenwich Labour colleagues are up to?

Written by Darryl

2 May, 2012 at 8:30 am

Greenwich libraries dispute – GLL chief Mark Sesnan responds

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Greenwich Council’s libraries were transferred to leisure provider GLL yesterday, but the dispute over the move continues. Strike action yesterday and today was cancelled by the Unite union after a legal threat from GLL, although Unite says 11 out of the borough’s 13 libraries were closed during the last two days of their management by the council.

Now Unite is now planning a protest march from the Eltham Centre to Woolwich on Saturday (5 May, 11.30am) and is talking to lawyers about the legality of the transfer. Last week, GLL’s managing director Mark Sesnan posted his side of the story, now he responds to some of the comments his piece raised.

Dear 853

Not being an avid reader of 853 (or any other Blogs actually – sorry Darryl!), I was not aware that your commenters were waiting with baited breath for me to respond. Now I know, I am of course happy to. However I must state that it is disappointing that virtually none of the blogs discuss what is the real key issue here, the Library service itself. It would be good to think that people were interested
in the future of Libraries as well as the staff. It would also be good if there was a realistic discussion
about what the actual options for public services are in the climate of massive funding cuts.

Anyway, let the nasty oppressive GLL respond to the questions:

GLL’s definition of ‘worker controlled’ and the definition of a ‘staff owned cooperative’.

The only people who have a ‘share’ in the charitable IPS are staff and it is one person one share one vote (I only have one share the same as any front line member of staff). The staff elect the Board (which is majority staff), the Board runs the business. We are a member of Coops UK and we were set up by the Greenwich Coops Development Agency (GCDA).

All GLL employment policies are approved by the staff led Board, but rates of pay are recommended by an independent remuneration committee.

Crucially, if the staff are not happy with any GLL policy they can unseat the board members or overrule any decision at an Extraordinary general meeting.

GLL’s use of Casual Staff

The leisure centre business is highly seasonable and employs a wide range of staff in many different jobs. This includes dance instructors who work only one or two hours a week, students who work evenings and weekends, sports coaches, bar staff, sales staff etc. Typically, more than half the staff will not be on full time contracts and usually this is because it suits them, as well as us.

If casual staff want to go full time with us, then they can apply for these jobs as they come up. Most of our full time staff come through this route, often though, staff prefer to be in charge of their own time and stay casual.

Diana Edmonds MBE

Diana is a respected and accomplished Library Manager, she was ‘head hunted’ by GLL. She turned Haringey’s public Library service from being one of London’s weakest, to being one of London’s best. She no longer has connections with Tribal (not for more than 10 years). I am not prepared to disclose her actual salary – out of politeness, but it is not outrageous.

My Salary

GLL will be a £120m business in 2012 and I will earn approximately £155,000. This salary was set by the independent remunerations committee after the committee had commissioned research into the ‘market rates’.

Ironically, my salary is very similar to Len McCluskey’s salary – Onay Kasab’s boss at Unite. Another interesting factoid is that I am a lifetime Unite member – although I have never seen any sign they are interested in my opinion!

The Use of anti union legislation to maintain public service

I very much regret that Unite have decided that closing libraries, particularly in the exam season, promotes their cause. I also do not like hearing that staff who did attend for work in Woolwich on Saturday felt ‘intimidated’.

Unite may not like the Law, but the law lays out when it is legal to strike and when it is not, all GLL did was point out to them that they have not followed the necessary steps to enable them to strike on our watch.

I hope the Union and the staff will use this breathing space to reconsider the benefit of closing the service and losing pay.

Public Debate

It was alleged that I got ‘cold feet’ when I was invited to a public meeting in Cooperatives week recently. It is true that I was asked not to attend at the last minute as the organisers did not wish the picket to disrupt what was supposed to be a celebration of Cooperatives in the Borough – I was quite happy to attend.

As regards a future public debate, if the topic is genuinely about the future of the Library service with a range of views represented, and there was no picketing, then I would be happy to take part.

I hope this answers most of the points raised.

The service has now transferred to GLL under contract for the next 15 years. I look forward to working with the Users and Staff to see how we can develop a first class service despite the adverse budgetary conditions.

Mark Sesnan

Your views, as ever, are welcome in the comments box below.

Written by Darryl

1 May, 2012 at 8:41 am


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