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

Archive for August 2012

How was your journey? Answer some questions about transport

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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…)

Written by Darryl

29 August, 2012 at 7:29 am

A strange smell at the Greenwich Foot Tunnel

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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…

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…

Written by Darryl

27 August, 2012 at 7:30 am

Roll up! It’s Boris Johnson’s Deptford Bridge cycle challenge!

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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.

Is Greenwich Park open again? Here’s how to find out…

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If, like me, you don’t know your Vanburgh Park Gate from your Maze Hill Gate, then Niall has created this rather nifty map to guide people through the park’s delayed reopening.

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.”

Written by Darryl

15 August, 2012 at 8:47 am

One year on – what have we learned?

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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.

Written by Darryl

9 August, 2012 at 12:38 am

Greenwich’s Peninsula Festival closes its doors

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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.

Typically for the confused publicity for the event, a statement appears not on its website, but on its Facebook page:

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.

Written by Darryl

7 August, 2012 at 11:59 am

Jamaica’s hospitality house opens at the Dome

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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.

Written by Darryl

5 August, 2012 at 11:58 am

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