Archive for May 2012
You know what? It might not be such a bad summer after all…
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.