Praise Greenwich Time, win £30 of shopping!

Greenwich Time, 19 February 2013
Skint? Need a few quid for the week’s shopping? Why not send a missive to the council’s propaganda weekly, Greenwich Time, opining on how great it is? Note the voucher can only be spent in Sainsbury’s in Woolwich – mustn’t been seen to be crawling too much to Tesco – so if you were hoping to use the stores in Greenwich, Eltham or Lee Green, then tough.

There are those who think that the council could be doing more to promote small businesses. West Greenwich hardware shop Bert & Betty will be shutting its doors next month, longstanding Greenwich Market games store Compedia packed it in last month, and nearby clothes shop Belle shut on Christmas Eve.

Local councillor Matt Pennycook responded with a typically thoughtful tweet.

He’s right, they do. Unfortunately, the council doesn’t seem to be listening. Here’s the front page of this week’s Greenwich Time.

Greenwich Time, 19 February 2013

Indeed, the council helped whip up a retail frenzy by plugging the opening on its Twitter feed. Such a shame it doesn’t do this for non-multinationals, except when the council needs to promote itself. It neatly sums up the gulf between many in the local Labour party and the council leadership which supposedly represents them.

Of course, it hasn’t always been this way – the admirable Greenwich Card scheme was launched in the 1990s and helped pushed trade towards local businesses who were prepared to offer a small discount. So it’s not as if the tools aren’t there. But under the Chris Roberts regime, though, it’s been largely forgotten about.

Under the current leadership, the will just isn’t there. But will the next leader listen? There’ll be scores of small businesses across Greenwich borough who’ll be hoping so.

30 comments

  1. Kara

    We launched Get Greenwich, the smartphone app, last year as a support to local businesses, in particular small independents, as it is free to list your event or offer, and is aimed directly at getting footfall back into the town centre. All costs to build and launch it have come directly from us as a small local business. In order for the service to continue more businesses need to take advantage of it and more users to download it. Don’t look this gift horse in the mouth! Fit Creative

  2. scperi

    @Kara The Get Greenwich was a good idea but it has failed to work on both of my phones now. Just has the please wait thing going around. Please read your reviews on the Play Store and fix these issues.

    We had a Greenwich Card for a couple of years but gave up trying to get one in frustration some time ago, the staff kept sending us a gym discount card instead.

  3. mick delano

    Greenwich Council is promoting private sector investment as being Borough improvements which they have created. A shiny new store is highly visible and requires little investment by the Council yet they can stand there on opening day and make it look like they convinced Mr Maxx himself to come to Woolwich to open his new store for the sake of improving the quality of life for we shop-deprived residents. Except nobody is falling for it…..cringe.

  4. Greenwich Liberal

    Labour have only had a near uninterrupted run of 70* years to get it right in Greenwich Borough. Be fair. Give them a chance.

    (* insert 80,90,100,110,120 etc as appropriate over next several decades until end of time itself)

  5. Alan Palmer

    There’ll be scores of small businesses across Greenwich borough who’ll be hoping so.

    That’s assuming there will be scores of small businesses left by that time.

  6. Greenwich Liberal

    I take the point about the opposition in Greenwich but there are some mitigating circumstances. one of which is this piece of weekly propaganda which is quite simply an outrage and an insult to democracy.

  7. Clare

    For an opposition to be compelling they first have to be electable and then they have to get elected. If there aren’t enough on the side of the opposition then any opposition has to be internal to Labour, which just ain’t gonna happen. This is a problem elsewhere as well as in Greenwich (see Lewisham Labour which gets away with all sorts).

  8. Greenwich Liberal

    Point well made Clare. The largest Greenwich “opposition” as you rightly say is internal within the Labour group, although all parties have this to an extent, with the rest being somewhat disparate or geographically concentrated in certain areas. There is little incentive for people to join political parties per se at the moment and here in Greenwich you have to be fairly robust to keep going if you are not Labour! The most interesting “cohort” is the very many maverick and passionate individuals, and we are blessed with many in this part of London, who wouldn’t be seen dead in a political party but want to change and improve our area. The challenge is to put that into practice, and find enough time, energy and money in a busy life to make it work. I personally felt that it was too difficult a challenge, but then again a party political route can be thrown off course by national events (!!) – perhaps a possible re-alignment of the political spectrum post 2015 might open things up for “people power” but I won’t hold my breath.

  9. John Fahy

    Is it the case that Greenwich Liberal is so embarrassed about the disgraceful behaviour of the Liberals in Government that he spends most of his time slagging off the Labour Party. I look forward to hearing how he can persuade anyone to vote Liberal when they have totally sold out their principles for the trappings of office.

  10. Greenwich Liberal

    Cllr Fahey, how pathetic. I would have thought you would be pleased I suggested you are likely to have control of the Council for decades to come!

    I don’t wish to bore 853 readers with a meaningless political on line spat, but yes I am sure some of my colleagues in Westminster regret some of the decisions they have made and while some of what they have done I am furious about, most I am very proud of. However the picture of Labour accusing the Lib Dems of trading principles for power is truly comic. By the way I am out on the streets of Greenwich regularly “persuading” and, yes, not everyone greets me with open arms but I think it important to give the punters a choice. Come and join us if you like – but bring a very thick hide!

  11. Mr_Chas

    I agree with Chris that that there are many mavericks out in the borough trying to organise community stuff. Maybe we should get together and form an independents alliance ! It’s interesting to note how much is actually being achieved despite Greenwich Council. I would point to our two free schools as examples of this.

  12. Nelson's Left Eye

    In Greenwich Liberal’s corner, too much of Greenwich is in the ‘diehard Labour’ category. I don’t know how poor a ruling party has to be before its supporters look elsewhere but Greenwich Labour are clearly not there yet.

    And ‘Cllr’ Fahy, may I suggest you don’t comment while under the influence in future. After your party destroyed the economy (impressively surpassing the preceding Labour government in economic incompetence), I can assure you that I will not be voting Labour again in the foreseeable future.

  13. Darryl

    Mr_Chas – the Greenwich Free School on Shooters Hill Road only got planning permission because of the intervention of Greenwich Council leader Chris Roberts in a planning board meeting where its plans were about to get turned down. (Roberts suggested the plans were thrown back to the free school to resubmit, and hey-ho, they got approved next meeting.) You’ve a lot to thank the local Labour Party for.

    John Fahy – care to talk up Greenwich Council rather than slag off the national government? What is Greenwich Council doing for small businesses, except for going on the internet to slag off Westminster?

    (Any further comments about Westminster politics will be deleted – if you care more about national politics, there’s plenty of websites around for you, and this post’s about local issues. Maybe that’s what’s wrong in Greenwich borough – nobody really cares. Ta.)

  14. fahyJohn Fahy

    Number of interesting points,particularly the Stalinist approach by Darryl. If you don’t like the comment,pull the plug. Simply confirms the impression that the target is the alleged failings of the Council. Who is responsible for the failures of small business. Oops must not mention the real culprits. Interesting to note the national survey on local government this week. Seventy five percent believe Councils do an excellent job. I would be the first to admit that we could and should do better and that debate continues. Happy to debate these issues anywhere,anytime.

  15. fahy

    As much as it can under difficult financial circumstances determined by the lot up the road. If there were more employment opportunities businesses would flourish. Council committed to employ more people which will generate more economic activity.

  16. Darryl

    But John, despite what that lot do up the road, why is the council’s publicity arm promoting big business and not smaller outfits?

  17. fahy

    We do need to work and help small businesses and in my Councillor role I engage activily with the those in Woolwich Town Centre. I will shortly be holding Town Hall meetings for all my constituents to work with them to develop new opportunities in these hard times. By the way I do respond to other tweets.

  18. Franklin

    “If there were more employment opportunities businesses would flourish.”

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  19. Stewart

    I think Darryl has it right, nobody in Greenwich appears to really care about the local issues. Most council meetings rapidly degenerate into rants about the national government and Cllr Fahy is just continuing that theme here.

    If RBG really cared about business outside of property development then we would see concrete plans (or even aspirations) in the new Core Strategy to develop and support businesses within the borough. As the plans stand, more businesses will be lost than gained in order to turn the north of the borough into one massive dormitory conurbation with a transient population. There’s not much we can do about it as representations on the current consulation are limited to “whether the documents are sound and compliant with legal requirements”.

    When it comes to difficult financial circumstances, RBG had already committed to another round of cuts even before the last General Election – even after the preceeding decade of yearly “efficiency savings”. RBG are well within their debt limits, apart from the eternal problem of the HRA ceiling, and are currently sitting on a £1/3bn cash pile. It wouldn’t take much thought to invest a very small proportion of this in order to help a little more.

    In John’s defence, I have seen him reply to the occasional tweet.

  20. Nelson's Left Eye

    Fahy: “Council committed to employ more people which will generate more economic activity.”

    The concept of ‘wealth-creating jobs’ is eternally lost on Labour, isn’t it. As always, their solution is ‘bigger public budgets and more public employment’.

  21. Darryl

    NLE – Whatever your views of the Labour party, Greenwich Council has run cuts budgets for the best part of the last decade. As Stewart says above, it’s sitting on a huge pile of cash.

  22. Richard

    Surely trying to separate the local from the national with regard to the state of the economy is somewhat futile? Local government in the uk has very little power to make meaningful economic changes. In an ideal world local governments should be allowed to set the levels of business taxes and borrow on the markets to fund local infrastructure projects. As it is they can do next to nothing. On the broader issue of small local businesses closing, again this is the byproduct of the broader national economic situation, Greenwich council can do nothing to address the issue of the national credit creation process being broken or the record levels of indebtedness in the broader economy that is weighing on economic activity.

    I do not understand why the council is being attacked for championing big firms and retailers, the majority of consumers favour them over small local firms for a reason. I like to shop at drings, theatre of wine, beet and Betty’s etc but I fully understand why most people prefer tescos et al.

  23. fahy

    Healthy debate is important and I clearly fail in his regard on this blog. There is complete misunderstanding about the Concil reserves,it commitment to all in the business community and Councillors determination to do their best for those they serve. Why is that,is it because there is a natural resentment towards those in public office or simply a clear policy to rubbish anything said. Where is the guidance that the council is cash rich. No evidence exists to support this claim. Council accounts are in the public domain and subject to public scrutiny. May make good pub gossip but untrue. In all previous recessions local government has been in the frontline to protect the most vulnerable . It will continue to do so and will be judged by the electorate at the ballot box next time round.

  24. Chris Smith

    Cllr Fahey. Of course there is no natural resentment of councillors, otherwise why would so many Greenwich Councillors have held their seats for such a long time? There is perhaps a natural concern, as there would be in Tory or Lib Dem dominated councils, that one party has been dominant for a long time here and that might create a tendency not to question certain policies at certain times.

    Healthy debate is important and so is getting the facts right. I think we can all see that Greenwich, which has a good record financially I think, is predicted to run a small net debt position this year and that the cash held is gross and not net. However the suggestion that smaller businesses, especially those in the retail sector facing a big increase in competition from much larger concerns, should get some small cash aid is not unreasonable. After all it was the state that encouraged this influx – not saying that they shouldn’t have done but Cllr Pennycooks comments are well made.

    By the way I think you should be applauded on your willingness to engage on this blog and elsewhere and I say that despite your evident loathing for myself and the Lib Dems.

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