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

Bridge The Gap: Greenwich Council keeping evidence secret

with 7 comments

Bridge The Gap press launch, 4 January 2013
Greenwich Council has refused to release the evidence it used when deciding to launch its Bridge The Gap campaign for new Thames road crossings at Greenwich and Thamesmead.

Nearly eight weeks after it was submitted, the council has refused to answer a Freedom of Information request submitted by this website asking for the evidence seen by council leader Chris Roberts and shown to the borough’s ruling Labour group at a behind-closed-doors meeting.

The council says:

Internal papers have been provided for the Council’s Executive and Labour
Group. These were essentially briefing and discussion documents. The
purpose of these documents was to begin to develop the Council’s final
response to TFL’s consultation. It is the Council’s view that to release
discussion documents such as these would fetter the Council’s ability to
develop policy out of the public gaze.

However, these discussions led to a policy decision which resulted in a campaign being launched which has so far included an online petition, face-to-face campaigning with members of the public in Woolwich, two press photocalls, an attempt to launch a social media campaign and seven articles in the council’s weekly newspaper, Greenwich Time.

It is believed the council has no hard evidence, while cabinet member Denise Hyland has admitted no studies have been commissioned.

Meanwhile, Mayor Boris Johnson said today at City Hall he was still committed to building a Silvertown Tunnel, despite evidence that it risks making both congestion and pollution worse.

He also ruled out building a Gallions Reach Bridge at Thamesmead during his mayoralty, but in a testy exchange with Conservative assembly member and senior Bexley councillor Gareth Bacon, refused to rule out one ever being built there. TfL currently favours a ferry there, which would replace the one at Woolwich.

To take part in the TfL consultation, go to www.tfl.gov.uk/rivercrossings. To sign the No To Silvertown Tunnel petition, visit www.silvertowntunnel.co.uk.

You can also watch Greenwich councillors take public questions on Silvertown at their next full meeting, TONIGHT at 7pm at Woolwich Town Hall. Here’s some tips on what to expect.

Written by Darryl

30 January, 2013 at 2:50 pm

7 Responses

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  1. What on earth? That’s insane. I would appeal to the Information Commissioner myself!


    30 January, 2013 at 3:17 pm

  2. Shame!

    Rev. Dolly Rotten

    30 January, 2013 at 5:51 pm

  3. Certainly there is an exemption for briefing documents while policies are being developed, but I can’t see any reason to withhold them once the policy is developed and implemented. I would definitely appeal.

    Chris McKenna

    30 January, 2013 at 10:26 pm

  4. I don’t understand. Why is there a requirement for the council to “develop policy out of the public gaze.”. Surely the requirement should be that policy is developed with due public oversight.

    Mr Ree

    31 January, 2013 at 2:05 pm

  5. Indeed. I’ve asked for an internal review. The next step is the Information Commissioner’s Office.


    31 January, 2013 at 2:08 pm

  6. [...] positions – such as aggressive demonisation of council tenants after the riots of 2011, and unconditional support for new road crossings across the Thames in 2013 – that have not reflected the views of the Labour Party locally, or [...]

  7. […] a request was submitted under the Environmental Information Regulations Act, the council refused to release the report, claiming it would affect “its ability to develop policy out of the public […]

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