Archive for August 2012
About the only downside to the arrival of the Paralympic Games is going to be seeing Charlton station once again packed full of people in tabards hanging around, not being very busy, making nuisances of themselves. Go on, give them something to do, and walk on the wrong side of the yellow line.
But once they’ve gone, and life gets back to normal, how do you want to see transport in south-east London develop? A committee of Greenwich councillors wants to know how you use trains and buses in and around the borough, and what issues you face. It’s pretty rare for Greenwich councillors to reach out like this, so give them a hand by filling in the survey, and they might do it some more. Anyway, if someone asks what you think, it’s only polite to answer, isn’t it?
Secondly, there’s a consultation out about what to do with the Southeastern franchise when it runs out in 2014. I know what I think should happen to it, but what about you? The actual Government consultation is of the kind designed to deter normal people, so smart chappy Tom Royal has designed a user-friendly version. If you use the trains in this part of London, make sure you fill it in, or someone else – perhaps someone who thinks Southeastern are just okay – will do it and claim to represent you. (And you think I’m joking…)
There was a worrying incident at the Greenwich Foot Tunnel on Friday evening, with seven people taken sick after reports of an “unusual smell”. With the shambolic refurbishment work still taking place in the tunnel, all kinds of possibilities emerged. Thankfully, nobody needed hospital treatment and the tunnel reopened later in the evening – but what happened remains a mystery.
The only clue comes from a commenter at greenwich.co.uk, who reported “a heavy smell like ‘skunk’ in the lifts and tunnel”. Perfectly plausible.
But according to Greenwich Council, nothing happened. Councillors were told it was a false alarm, with local representative Matt Pennycook passing the message on…
Borough Commander has confirmed that there is no incident in the foot tunnel. False alarm—
Matthew Pennycook (@mtpennycook) August 24, 2012
Those photos of emergency services at the foot tunnel? That BBC News story, containing a statement from Scotland Yard? You imagined it. There was no incident, see?
Obviously, there was an incident – even if it was people made ill by the whiff from weapons-grade jazz cigarettes. But the response to it was classic Greenwich Council communications policy; refusing to acknowledge the blatantly obvious in case it damaged the council’s reputation. Whatever the smell was on Friday night, it was soon replaced by a stench of bullshit.
Indeed, councillors like Matt Pennycook should be challenging this sort of thing, rather than meekly passing it on – but sadly, too many Greenwich councillors see themselves as representatives of the authority rather than representatives of the people.
For a start, if it was someone skinning up down there, then why were they able to do that in the first place? There’s now no staff in the tunnel, with the lifts now operated by the public. Has safety been compromised in an attempt to save cash?
I had a look at the tunnel on Sunday. There were no staff there, although council wardens were hanging around Cutty Sark Gardens looking like plums, overseeing that strange water feature that looks like a leaky water main. Inside, the tunnel’s still as filthy as ever, with outdated signage and broken lighting, although a chicane’s been put in to stop cycling in there.
The refurbishment of the Greenwich and Woolwich foot tunnels – paid for by an £11.5million government grant – was meant to be finished by the Olympics. It doesn’t look like very much has happened at all since the lifts, which are still regularly broken, opened earlier this year. One question springs to mind – has the money run out?
Welcome to the Royal Borough of Greenwich…
This video, from Lewisham Cyclists, was doing the rounds a couple of weeks back, but perhaps it needs a bit of post-Olympics attention. Would you want to ride a bike along here? Turn the sound up for the commentary.
This is the junction of Greenwich High Road, Deptford Bridge, Deals Gateway and Blackheath Road, right on the border between Deptford and Greenwich. This is what cyclists who leave the housing at Deals Gateway are expected to deal with – being left stuck in a box junction in the middle of the A2.
It’s the ideal spot for politicians to sit on their backsides and do nothing – it sits just off the border of Greenwich and Lewisham boroughs, and the A2 that cuts across this junction is the responsibility of Transport for London. But London Assembly members Darren Johnson (who’s also a local councillor) and Len Duvall have both put this to Boris Johnson – and so far, have had no joy.
I’ve done a piece for Snipe about whether the mayor can keep his promises on making the capital safer for cyclists. If an obviously dangerous junction like this can’t get sorted out – and it’s not on TfL’s list – then you do have to wonder if the mayor’s simply taking trusting campaigners for a ride.
He also adds: “The observatory has reopened (but looks very busy if you were thinking of visiting). The viewpoint is not yet open as the pylon for the high-wire camera is still there. You can also now cross the park from Crooms Hill Gate to Vanburgh Gate (on Maze Hill). Most of the south of the park including the Flower Garden is now accessible.”
Twelve months ago, almost to the minute this post was written and published, I was sat on my front doorstep, with a bottle of beer in my hand, watching looters race their cars up my road.
A year on, I spent my evening watching the Olympics on a big screen on Blackheath with a beer on my hand. Children ran around, a dog barked, everyone was happy.
I suppose I should have watched it in Woolwich for things to have gone full circle, but the heath’s much nearer…
“I passed through Woolwich last night, it was the same as ever” – 8 August 2011
“There’s been a lot of bullshit and rumours tonight…” – 9 August 2011
Woolwich sweeps up, Greenwich locks down – 9 August 2011
“Despite the rumours, Greenwich remained packed with tourists” – greenwich.co.uk, 9 August 2011
“The debris from a night’s thieving was still obvious” – Charlton Champion, 9 August 2011
“They blame the social media, but we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the social media” – 10 August 2011
Government minister sees Woolwich’s clean-up – 11 August 2011
How a lie about a fire fooled the Guardian – 12 August 2011
The Woolwich wall – honk if you love Woolwich – 14 August 2011
The forgotten town starts again – 15 August 2011
Council boycotts Woolwich’s community meeting – 19 August 2011
Riot-hit Woolwich store returns – 19 August 2011
There goes the community: Woolwich wall painted over – 19 August 2011
Council leader: ‘No media circus’ in Woolwich – 22 August 2011
Boris Johnson finally visits Woolwich – 23 August 2011
Woolwich wall ‘like old flowers on lamp posts’ – 23 August 2011
Woolwich wall – now Greenwich Council mounts a cover-up – 30 August 2011
What if you threw a riot and nobody saw? – Snipe, 13 September 2011
Welcome to Woolwich’s new skateboard paradise – 19 October 2011
Woolwich riot: The report Greenwich Council tried to hide – 9 March 2012
Since then, the Great Harry’s reopened and the new Tesco development has started to loom over Woolwich. But have any lessons been learned? Or are we just trying to brush a horrible memory under the carpet? I wonder.
The Dutch dream has died – the Peninsula Festival is closing after a troubled few days of existence. Just two more events are planned for the weekend, with the site being closed until then.
I also understand that founder Frank Dekker has resigned as a director. He hasn’t responded to an email asking for an update about the festival.
Updated statement. We have had a great time at Eastern Electrics and were glad they were able to make such good use of the terrain. We thank their team for a fantastic day!
Unfortunately for our other planned events, a number of circumstances have not allowed us to deliver the experience that we have promised to many.
In light of these developments, the terrain [sic] will only be opened for two more days: the 11th and 12th of August.
On Saturday the 11th, the Last Minute Artists Collective and unwanted. have offered to transform Area 12 into a circus wonderland with activities for all: The Forgotten Festival. The day will be free of charge and will feature a host of activities for the whole family.
On Sunday the 12th, I Love Jamaica day will be held on Area 12 as part of the celebrations for Jamaica’s 50th year of independence. The event will feature the best of Jamaican food, music and culture. Tickets on the door.
But one thing might not be there – that big screen. Greenwich Council has asked the PF’s contractors to put one up in Well Hall Pleasaunce, Eltham, instead. But what about the money it gave the festival, as whispers of administration fly around? Chief executive Mary Ney isn’t saying in a letter given to councillors (the ones who are meant to scrutinise the council’s decisions), simply saying the council hadn’t released all of the £50k funding.
(Wednesday update: According to Greenwich.co.uk, the council handed out £40k. However, it’s understood the Peninsula Festival is giving out different figures. Why isn’t Mary Ney being more upfront with councillors?)
There’ll be plenty of bones to pick over in the days ahead. If you’ve had dealings with the Peninsula Festival, feel free to get in touch.
If you’re stuck for something to do today (or the rest of this week), Jamaica’s Olympic hospitality house has opened in the Proud2 club inside the Dome. It’s worth a visit for music, Red Stripe, cocktails and all the jerk chicken you can eat. You can walk straight in during the day, and it might also be the second best place in London to watch Usain Bolt later tonight…
Don’t forget there’s also the East Greenwich Pleasaunce fete continuing today, too.
A man was stabbed in the small hours of Saturday morning when he and his partner were mugged in St John’s Park, Blackheath.
Details of what happened are sketchy, but it’s thought couple were confronted by two men at around 1am on Saturday morning near the junction with Stratheden Road.
The man was taken to hospital, it’s not known what condition he is in.
Police have told neighbours they are stepping up patrols in the area, which very rarely sees violent crime.
This post will be updated with more details if they come, but stay careful out there…
This series started to highlight other great green spaces in SE London that are open while Greenwich Park is largely closed for the Olympics. Well, just days after the cross-country, parts of the park are reopening today, but that shouldn’t stop you from exploring the rest of the area’s parks.
The first reason to visit East Greenwich Pleasaunce this weekend is that there’s a fete on. Dress up in 1948 (or 2012) styles and enjoy live music and more.
The second reason is that this highlights another part of Greenwich, a world away from the “royal” sloganeering seen a mile down the road. I’m a little biased towards the pleasaunce as it was my local park once upon a time – the trees next to the graveyard make a useful spot for a makeshift game of cricket, you know. In the late 1980s, it was a forgotten corner – things are different now.
The history behind this little park is simple – it used to be the cemetery for Greenwich Hospital, the naval home which occupied what later became the Royal Naval College. Opened in 1857, the remains of more than 3,000 pensioners were moved here in 1875. Later, it became a public park, but the graves remain.
Over the past decade or so, this little corner has had a revival in fortunes – aided by a new entrance opening up access from the Blackheath side of the railway line, the appearance of a cafe and the work put in by a dedicated friends group, together with Greenwich Council responding to the park’s needs, In short, it’s become the template in how to revive a local park.
Sadly, a successful community park is not enough for some – NOGOE’s photo diary says the “pleasaunce is fine for young children to play but it is not big enough for walkers and joggers and it is not pleasant getting there”. Those who find walking through the streets of Greenwich unpleasant are clearly tired of Greenwich. For the rest of us, there’s the fete this weekend. Enjoy.
The Dutch campsite on Greenwich Peninsula might not have materialised – with the tents exiled to the outer reaches of Walthamstow – but that hasn’t put off one thrifty set of campers from staying in Greenwich.
Every day for the past week, I’ve cycled past this campervan parked up on the edge of Greenwich Millennium Village, next to the site Oranjecamping abandoned. Every day, it’s in a different spot to dodge the wardens. There’s a French family inside, presumably fans of the gymnastics going on up the road. I haven’t spoken to them yet, but if I see them again I’ll stop and say hello. I hope the wardens leave them alone – dedication like this deserves a reward.
If anyone else knows of any visitors making unconventional arrangements to stay in this area for the Games, I’d love to hear about them…
Close by is the Peninsula Festival site, locked and shut but with some work going on in another part of the land. The Greenwich Council banners are a reminder of the £50,000 given to the venture. It’s due to reopen to the public on Monday, but will it even be ready for the Eastern Electrics festival – with thousands due – on Saturday? That said, it’s looking for presenters for a one-day event next Thursday (how thoughtful to mark my birthday this way!) so if you fancy your chances, go for it!