Archive for January 2013
This website doesn’t feature Greenwich borough’s Conservatives very often for two very simple reasons. Firstly, they’re not in power, and unlikely to get into power any day soon, so whatever they do doesn’t mean very much. Secondly, and more pertinently, most of them represent seats in and around Eltham, while this site rarely ventures beyond the South Circular.
(Which isn’t to say that Eltham’s not newsworthy – on the contrary, the area would make for a fascinating local blog; indeed, as this tale will prove, there be gold in SE9; but it’s not my patch and deserves someone knows it well and can do it justice.)
But even for those of us with photographs of George Osborne imprinted on our toilet roll, it’s important that Greenwich borough’s ruling Labour clique faces a decent opposition. Unfortunately, the Eltham Popular Front seem to be turning their guns on each other.
If you ever go to a council meeting, the best performers are always the two older Tories. There’s the fabulously erudite Dermot Poston – a councillor, on and off, since 1968 – who brooks no nonsense yet is happy to send himself up; one time having the council chamber in stitches by referring to his days as a rollerskater.
And there’s Eileen Glover, who doesn’t have Dermot’s long years of service, but packs a mean punch beneath her senior citizen demeanour. With a withering turn of phrase and a dedication to serving her Eltham South constituents, she’s ace at exposing the hypocrisy of the council’s leadership.
At the last meeting, just before Christmas, she asked about the retail offer in Eltham High Street, as she’d noticed shops offering less and less. Could the council talk to retailers about offering more? Into the Glover trap walked Denise “Bridge The Gap” Hyland, who blethered on about how it wasn’t the council’s job to tell retailers what to sell, despite the council very much endorsing the huge new Tesco in Woolwich; before going into a weird spiel about how much she loved the borough’s three town centres, as if they were errant children.
Sadly for the Eltham Tories, nobody’s there to report their tactical victories in making the ruling Labour clique look stupid.
Which may be why last week, Eileen Glover found herself deselected by her local party. Should she be tubthumping for privatising everything in sight and sending the unemployed to work in Tesco for nothing instead of sticking up for her residents? Was she not male enough for the Tories? In the mind of the average Conservative Party member in Eltham (you don’t see them show their faces at council meetings, that’s for sure), her work’s not good enough.
Word quickly got out. But curiously, fellow councillor Neil Dickinson was moved to post his support for her on the Facebook page for Greenwich.co.uk. And then he made digs at colleagues Matt Clare and local party leader Spencer Drury, and ex-party leader Peter King. Whoops.
While the Greenwich Tories generally seem more left-wing than their economy-wrecking national counterparts – leader Spencer Drury is well-liked and is the only Conservative politician I’ve ever heard express concern for the welfare of council tenants – it seems they share the same tendency to have their rows in public.
In our opinion, it is unfortunate that this issue has come become the subject of discussion in the week that the Labour Council’s Financial Strategy for the next two years is to be decided. As Conservatives we would wish to focus upon our alternative, which attempts to decentralise power to areas such as New Eltham and support local businesses in an attempt to improve employment and prosperity in our area.
With Greenwich Labour fumbling towards the self-destruct button over the ruling clique’s Bridge The Gap fiasco, the Tories might be better off focusing on scrutinising the current sorry shambles rather than bickering among each other, if only to improve their own chances of employment and prosperity next year.
A little late with this, but you might know about it anyway – the second march to save Lewisham Hospital’s A&E (and by extension, its maternity unit) takes place at noon on Saturday, after the administrator of the PFI-wrecked South London Healthcare Trust decided not to listen to overwhelming evidence and opposition and recommend its closure anyway. There’s a good roundup of recent events in the battle at Transpontine.
I’ve been disturbed at some of the sectarian comments flying around the ether about this debacle – particularly since the media has jumped on the bandwagon. Yes, as the excellent Dr Phil Hammond put it, Lewisham is “collateral damage in a war it didn’t start”, not being part of the PFI disaster which began at Woolwich’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital and spread to Princess Royal in Farnborough and Queen Mary’s in Sidcup.
But this isn’t “Lewisham against the world”. Nobody on the Greenwich side of the border asked New Labour to wreck our local hospital with a PFI deal, and nobody sane this side of the border wants the Tories to wreck someone else’s local hospital to save ours.
This affects all of SE London, from St Thomas’s at Lambeth and King’s in Camberwell, right out to Darent Valley in Kent. It’s not just Lewisham’s battle, it’s all of SE London’s fight. More broadly, it’s a battle for the NHS as we all know it.
And if you are stupid enough to look at this parochially, then news that a 76-year-old woman waited in Queen Elizabeth’s A&E for 18 hours should chill you, and make you wonder how it’d cope if Lewisham goes.
Actually, this has brought out the best in SE London’s politicans (with the possible exception of Harriet Harman, seemingly focused on King’s as Camberwell & Peckham MP to the exclusion of all else) – read the Commons debate on the south London NHS fiasco.
I’ll be there on Saturday, as I was last time – will you?
Looks like good news if you like decent pubs and live near Woolwich – The Woolwich, the hostelry that successful pub firm Antic had planned to open in the old Woolwich Equitable headquarters, appears to have been given a licence.
It appears as licence LN/000006775 in the essential reading that is the Greenwich Council Licensing Register, although I can’t find any sign of a meeting to give it approval since the council refused permission in September last year. (That might just be me being a bit rubbish, though.)
Fingers crossed, it’s all true and there’ll finally be somewhere to go that won’t involve being ignored by the staff before being charged a fortune (hello Dial Arch) or being shouted at by the terminally smashed (everywhere else). If the council’s changed its mind, good on it.
Antic, which is also looking to open up in Deptford High Street’s old Job Centre, also runs the Royal Albert in New Cross, the Ravensbourne Arms in Lewisham, and saw its Catford Bridge Tavern saved from closure before Christmas after Lewisham Council stepped in to list the building.
(Thanks to Katja for the tip-off.)
A genuine bit of Olympic legacy at North Greenwich – and no, not the pink direction signs which have reappeared as blue pointers to the cable car.
These chunky cycle racks appeared a couple of weeks before the Games, along with the security bollards, and have remained there ever since. And they’re always busy. Quietly, something worth building on is happening at North Greenwich. Not that the area wasn’t short of racks anyway – as well as the thief-friendly stands at North Greenwich bus station, there’s a load outside Ravensbourne and an underused set outside TfL’s Mitre Passage offices under the watchful eye of CCTV (and smokers).
But these ones seem to be getting more popular. I saved myself £200 and a ton of stress by cycling to North Greenwich and buying only a zones 1/2 travelcard rather than taking the train from zone 3 Charlton (or taking a bus to North Greenwich) and getting wound up. Getting onto the peninsula is fiddly, but riding along the Thames Path remains a joy. Now I look forward to my ten-minute bolt down the hill and along the river each morning, rather than dreading the hassle of taking a train or bus.
Hopefully others are getting the same message. You can even hire a bike and give it a go thanks to this amazingly underpublicised local NHS scheme (Greenwich borough residents only, sadly). And you get used to the hills. Honest.