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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

Why does ‘Royal’ Greenwich borough look such a mess?

with 45 comments

Charlton Church Lane, 19 January 2014

New litter bins? No, abandoned flower containers in Charlton

Lots happening but not a lot of time to write anything here, so go and look at what someone else has written instead. Posts on From The Murky Depths are few and far between, but when they appear, they’re great. And this one about Greenwich Council and poor public spaces is great, as it reminds me that it’s not just me that despairs at how great areas of the borough I live in look like a dump, frankly, with badly-designed, cheaply-treated and poorly-maintained streets. Or “public realm”, to use the lingo.

“Street furniture is almost always installed with minimal thought or care, it is almost always the cheapest and most utilitarian, and maintenance poor. Often thousands will be spent on bizarre schemes that place guardrails across paving in areas with broken walls, bent street furniture etc which are not treated.”

The nicely-done squares in Woolwich are the exceptions which prove the rule – paid for and designed in association with other bodies such as TfL. Otherwise, everywhere else is a mess. Why can’t Greenwich do street design?

I took the picture above for something else, but it actually sums up the point quite nicely. Last year, some of the local bigwigs here in Charlton were patting themselves on the back for having got the council to install some flower containers to prettify the ugly metal railings outside Charlton station.

Once the summer went, so did the flowers… but the empty containers stayed for some reason. Now we have containers full of crap, and the idea’s backfired. It was a nice idea, but nobody really thought it through properly. This kind of thing’s typical, unfortunately.

When I visit areas across Greenwich borough I often hear people putting down their areas, and even appearing quite ashamed of them. Visitors are the same. And you can’t blame them given the state of many areas.

It may seem a small thing, but having to traipse through clogged-up, poorly-looked after streets day in, day out affects people’s well-being and sense of pride in the area, and makes them less inclined to put effort in to pitch in to help sort things out. Two years on, the borough’s regal status looks like a hollow joke when you see the state of the streets in some parts of the “royal borough”. Try Floyd Road in Charlton.

Maybe they’re counting on people being to docile and depressed to complain. But the local politician who has the brains and the guts to seize the issue and do something about filthy and cluttered streets will do more for Greenwich borough’s well-being than any number of tall ships parades or royal borough banners ever will.

Written by Darryl

21 January, 2014 at 7:30 am

45 Responses

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  1. You are local and passionate enough to write articulately on the political matters of the day; would you stand as a councillor yourself?

    telefunkal

    21 January, 2014 at 7:50 am

  2. We have the planters in Eltham as well. They are left empty over the winter and then replanted in the spring, presumably to save on the effort of removing them and then replacing them later.

    Capability Bowes

    21 January, 2014 at 9:16 am

  3. Darryl – its not all quite as bad as all that. Residents have done quite a bit themselves – what about the planting just down from Charlton Station?? and if you come down to east Greenwich – residents from Orlop Street have cheered up a whole corner of Old Woolwich Road working with Morden College.
    However – back to my memoirs now.

    maryorelse

    21 January, 2014 at 9:32 am

  4. It’s the same with the empty flower containers in the centre of Greenwich and Trafalgar Road. How long would it take to take them down??

    Rumour has it that bins are finally going to be re-installed on Vanbrugh Hill. We have been plagued by drunks and schoolkids dumping beer cans and food wrappers there for years and this is long overdue.

    Nelson's Left Eye

    21 January, 2014 at 9:47 am

  5. I constantly despair at the amount of litter and dog mess on our streets. The Council clearly needs to direct more resource in this direction, however many residents and businesses just seem to lack pride in our neighborhood and seemingly have no sense of responsibility or shame. For example – why there are southern fried chicken and chips cartons strewn around bus stops on the Charlton Road despite litter bins being provided? Its time much more aggressive and innovative enforcement schemes were adopted. Perhaps the Council should impose a bye-law requiring all fast food wrappings to be stamped with the address of the vendor, and then charge the vendor for the clean-up costs where litter has been improperly disposed of?
    For me tackling the appalling state of our streets and public spaces should be the number one priority for the Council.

    Andy

    21 January, 2014 at 11:03 am

  6. Mary, this is as much about street design as day-to-day care. I’m sure the council wouldn’t be impressed if the residents of Orlop Street tore out the bent “no access to Vanburgh Hill” sign at the end of Tuskar Street (if it’s still there), or the pole that’s been placed in the middle of a pedestrian path on Peartree Way.

    Darryl

    21 January, 2014 at 11:48 am

  7. I’ll check out the sign (there has been a resident group working with council officers on unnecessary signage in that area – but not sure what has happened) – and I didn’t know about the pole and will check it out later. Look – I think the problems are complex and I am not going into a lot of detail yet, but happy to follow up anything in Peninsula Ward brought to my attention in the three months left to me.
    - and as Nelson’s Left Eye knows – the problem with litter bins is metal theft.

    maryorelse

    21 January, 2014 at 12:49 pm

  8. I think it’s great that Darryl has brought this to our attention, though by no means a new issue as far as Greenwich is concerned. Mary’s right about the residents efforts being important. I love Andy’s idea about fast food wrappings being stamped by law, but who to enforce it though I wonder, maybe the same ones who enforce against driving whilst using a mobile phone ie pretty much nobody.
    Darryl’s so right about street design too, and unnecessary sign-age/street furniture. All of these issues are tackled really effectively in Chislehurst (where I live, though working in Greenwich for 30 years and living in Greenwich from birth to 11) by the Town Team, a group made up of local traders/businesses, residents, councillors and Bromley Borough officials, Chislehurst Society Heads and Chislehurst Business Group heads. I am on this team as a resident, and proud to be so, it being headed incredibly well by a lady named Alison, who rightly in the last 2 months won the nationwide Mary Portas award for the rejuvenation of High Streets, which was co- sponsored by the Daily Telegraph.
    If you want to know how to move forward on these things, that’s the route to follow, but it needs someone like Alison to VOLUNTARILY devote endless hours to spearhead the initiatives needed and keep up the pressure on the people required to GET THINGS DONE. Why not put out an SOS call for whoever thinks they could be the ‘Alison’ for Greenwich?

    derek small

    21 January, 2014 at 1:18 pm

  9. Those railings pictured are a waste of money, let alone the flower containers/rubbish bins on top. Notice how the railings used are the cheapest going, and the council hasn’t even painted them. Though most guardrails are an expensive waste of space and can be found all over (though they are particularly prevalent in Greenwich borough) other boroughs try to make them less ugly by painting or using more elaborate designs. Cross Creek Road bridge and the first junction you get to in Lewisham has more expensive railings painted black. t looks like the council at least cares a bit. The railings are next to Deptford High Street, which Lewisham council has secured £1.5 million from the Mayor of London’s Outer London Fund to spend on public realm improvements. Greenwich didn’t get a penny from that fund – one of the very few authorities not to do so. See here for a map – http://fromthemurkydepths.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/the-mayors-outer-london-fund/

    That map show Lewisham getting 125k for Catford, but doesn’t show the £1.5m for Deptford.

    It isn’t as if there aren’t plenty of places in Greenwich that could do with it. Neglecting public spaces is a common theme with Greenwich Council.

    fromthemurkydepths

    21 January, 2014 at 3:43 pm

  10. Sorry that map linked does show Deptford. Deptford was in round 2 of funding. Greenwich didn’t get a thing from round 1 or round 2. Hard to believe Greenwich wouldn’t have got a thing from both rounds given the mess that are many town centres. Did they bid? Were the bids poor?

    fromthemurkydepths

    21 January, 2014 at 3:48 pm

  11. One more post – Here is a useful link to the mayors outer London Fund page showing the full list of places that gained funding – http://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/regeneration/high-streets/outer-london-fund/round-two

    I do strongly believe that if areas are attractive and well maintained people will take an active role in ensuring it stays that way, and will engage in their community. It also requires deterrents from those authorities and punishment to those causing problems, whether that be licensing and fining landlords who allow their properties to become crumbling wrecks and who do not keep tabs on tenants, and action on tenants and other things such as poor parking etc. When the area is clearly left to rot by the authority people can become disheartened and pull away from their local environment and community.

    Mary – what is complex about removing clutter or were you talking about the one sign? Other authorities have taken real strides in this area. TfL removed thousands of miles of guardrails and signs in only a couple of years.

    I see that the council’s local implementation plan spending has heavy focus on new 20mph zones. That’s fine, they are needed and are a core element of the LIP, though should so much of the LIP go on them, and are they in the right places? One 20mph scheme in this years LIP seems to be on a road with speed bumps. So does that just mean more street clutter and signage on a road where going above 20mph isn’t possible? I lived in an area of Greenwich borough that had a 20mph zone installed. It was ignored, there was no enforcement, and worse there was continual illegal parking on paths and grassed areas. No enforcement action was EVER taken. The 100k spent on some raised junctions level with grass and paving so drivers used it as a ramp, and money also went on many new and pointless signs. The money would have been better spent on the utter mess that the area was in.

    fromthemurkydepths

    21 January, 2014 at 4:06 pm

  12. Litter is a problem caused by sheer idleness. I live near the junction of Well Hall Road and Eltham High Street. There are plenty of bins – but you can always tell when school has ended because the pavements are littered with fast food packaging, mainly Mcdonalds. Schoolkids wolf down their crappy burgers and then just drop the packaging on the floor. Even adults do it – I watched a woman come out of the £1 shop yesterday pushing a buggy. She tore open the packing from a toy, gave the toy to the child and then dropped both packaging and plastic bag on the floor – about three feet from a dustbin. You can always tell when you are getting close to Gregg’s because of the amount of greasy paper bags strewn around. Unfortunately most people are very happy to moan but unwilling to do anything about it. If everyone in the borough picked up and disposed of one bit of litter every day (or challenged a litter bug) then it would be a heck of a lot tidier. But no, they just walk straight past it, thinking it is someone else’s responsibility. I am no fan of Greenwich Council but its not totally their fault nor their responsibility. It is OURS.

    Capability Bowes

    21 January, 2014 at 5:08 pm

  13. Murky depths – I wasn’t talking about signage when I said ‘complex’ – I meant that the whole package of who does what and decides on what so on is complex. And it is an issue I am not going into here – and I only know about east Greenwich. I won’t be around much longer – but I would be interested to know how other boroughs go about getting rid of railings and so on. I can imagine objections from many local people to their removal. Personally I am very much against clutter but there always seems to be an objection. I also think that whatever you do you need to future proof it – and that is quite difficult to get over. However – just a couple more things and I ought to shut up. I am aware of enforcement officers who do a great job and get a lot of things changed, obviously you will never be aware of things they have acted on and improved. I will check out the flower containers which remain but I think they might belong to a contractor or someone like that, but I’m not sure.
    Happy to arrange walks round East Greenwich though.

    maryorelse

    21 January, 2014 at 5:34 pm

  14. Capability – yes litter is a problem and more fines would be helpful. But the issue I am talking about is more to do with street design. Some people treat places like crap because they look like crap. They should still be fined though.

    Mary – it may be complex but it is not a complexity that other authorities find insurmountable. All the guardrails came down when the Woolwich square was revamped and looks a lot better for it. Same in Bexley with a few recent schemes. In fact there are many examples all over London and the UK. I know of very little objection from people in places I know well. There may always be a couple of moaners but they are vastly outnumbered. TfL have done it for thousands of miles worth in recent years. Here is TfL’s page on their program – http://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/projectsandschemes/25040.aspx

    It says – ‘At two busy junctions where guardrails were removed, on street satisfaction surveys showed that around 80 per cent of pedestrians preferred the road without the guardrail, with the top reason being more space to move around’.

    As for – ‘the whole package of who does what and decides on what so on is complex’. If there is too much confusion in the council then structures needs to be simplified. What is wrong with the internal operations of Greenwich council that is stopping it doing things that are very possible, and successful elsewhere?

    Finally, as for ‘obviously you will never be aware of things they have acted on and improved’, then nope I am not aware of what enforcement have been doing as I saw the same anti-social behaviour again and again by the same people and despite being reported by quite a few people nothing was ever done. Maybe they should publish their work online and in the press to act a a deterrent?

    The issues I saw were easy problems to solve, such as fining the car owners who constantly blocked paths and grassed areas. In the past the Greenwich council solution was to stick loads of ugly guardrails up making the area worse for all rather than fine the owners.

    fromthemurkydepths

    21 January, 2014 at 6:47 pm

  15. By the way it’s well worth looking at the images at the bottom of that TfL page to see the improvements simple schemes can make to pedestrian movement and attractiveness of areas. It’s so simple and cheap to achieve.

    fromthemurkydepths

    21 January, 2014 at 6:50 pm

  16. I have to constantly pick up litter round our way because the council send a mechanical sweeper down our road. It’s totally pointless as it can’t clean between parked cars or pick up litter from the pavement. The area around Woolwich Road flyover is also very untidy. Both TFL and RBoG seem unable to agree whose responsibility it is to keep it tidy.

    Gordon of Greenwich

    21 January, 2014 at 8:23 pm

  17. I said I would shut up and I will try to.
    Gordon – I will take up the mechanical sweeper – have you already discussed this with staff?? Not going into the details of the flyover here but I think TfL are (again) intending to change it all – happy to meet you down there, find out what the current situation is and what can be done.
    Murky Depths – again not going into details but the complexities are not to do with the Council. There are many areas – certainly in east Greenwich – where street areas are owned by private bodies and in some of them there is a constant struggle. There are also areas where in the past various agencies have come in and done all sorts of street works – and sometimes not allowed for any ongoing care for them. There are also various other bodies which expect a say. Happy to meet you, or anyone else, and discuss what is being done by enforcement staff and local people and what needs to be done – and maybe meet some of the people doing it. I can only deal with East Greenwich, North Charlton and the (very limited) parts of the Peninsula which the Council manages.
    Remember I am only around for a couple more months – and I would like to get something more done in the time remaining to me and to ensure that anything achieved has ‘ongoing care’. Email me direct to sort out some dates.

    Mary

    22 January, 2014 at 7:47 am

  18. Guardrails are being removed across Lewisham at the moment and the streets look all the better for it.

    If I were a local resident, in the meantime though, I would pot up those planters myself with some winter flowers. A bit of guerilla gardening and the whole street would look better.

    Clare

    22 January, 2014 at 11:12 am

  19. Why does Greenwich (and other councils) bother with railings?
    They cost money to install, repair when damaged and to replace yet add nothing.
    Aside from those outside a school gate or opposite an alley leading on to a main road, they are useless eyesores.
    Get rid of them and any other pointless items of ‘street furniture’ that looked good in a catalogue.

    Steve

    22 January, 2014 at 2:07 pm

  20. Doh, just seen fromthemurkydepths post!
    Excellent example of common sense from TFL, saving money and allowing pedestrians to behave like adults.

    Steve

    22 January, 2014 at 2:10 pm

  21. See, Lewisham can do it. Bexley are doing it (just looking locally to Greenwich here). And even Greenwich did it in Woolwich, though under plans drawn up elsewhere.

    Steve – Guardrails are a legacy of dated highways thinking and regulation. The thinking was that cars and pedestrians had to be separated, but it often made safety worse, and ruined the streetscape. It’s old thinking that has gone now, and they are being removed across the country. So I can kind of understand older ones dotted about (though there’s been ample funds to remove them for a few years). I’m not so sure why Greenwich are still stuck in the past and installing new ones.

    Mary – I understand there are various agencies but there are many guardrails and other outdated signs all over the borough on Greenwich maintained streets. The many lining roads around East Greenwich can be removed by the council.

    I no longer live in the borough but visit regularly. When I did I lived in the east. Thanks for replying on here though – much better than the councillors in the east who are silent and seem to care very little about the areas that side. I also lived in Lewisham borough in Deptford, and would spend most days around Greenwich so know that part very well too. Plus I’ve worked in every corner of the borough.

    fromthemurkydepths

    22 January, 2014 at 3:28 pm

  22. Some good points raised, but the making the take away vendors responsible for the rubbish/litter that their customers drop is totally rediculous.
    The only people responsible should be the people who can’t be bothered to put it in a bin!

    I think that the councils should consult with all the schools in borough for civic classes – whether it’s littering, crossing roads, cycling behaviour on buses, graffiti etc. Not that it should be the school’s job, it’s the parents!

    I agree its poor planning from the council who take the short-sighted approach. The number of new build properties they allow to go up within such a small area will always cause numerous problems down the line!
    Also imo something should be done to stop some homes being converted into flats just so the landlords can maximise their profits! whenever this happens too much in the same street, the area always seems to go downhill (again it’s a density issue).

    There needs to be a more holistic approach which benefits all the local people not a few businesses (especially those who get contacts from the council) and councillors!

    Mr H

    22 January, 2014 at 10:50 pm

  23. Mr H – other councils (such as Newham) have started to license private landlords due to many not looking after their properties, and ignoring the behaviour of their tenants. As soon as buy to let takes hold you normally see a decline in areas. Landlords and short term tenants do not generally look after the properties as much as owner occupiers or long term tenants. The transient nature of short term tenants aids the lack of commitment in upkeep. To stop this council licensing and fines would go a long way.

    fromthemurkydepths

    22 January, 2014 at 11:01 pm

  24. Fromthemurkydepths – i have heard of the licence for private landlords in Newham, but i hate the idea of the government becoming involved in private contacts. But the councils should raise the bar when it comes to planning/development and it’s effect in the immediate & local community. Unfortunately nearly everything seems to be measured on the economical benefits. Quality of life can’t be measured in £’s!

    Mr H

    22 January, 2014 at 11:16 pm

  25. Look – and, sorry, I know I am bad at shutting up – but this is what works. You see, if I go to planners and say the guard rails ought to come down, they will tell me that they are there for safety reasons and that is it. If I go to the planners and say that I have been approached by several member of the public, and a local amenity society and here is a petition they have got up about it – and they all want the guard rails down and I would like the planners to meet concerned members of the public to discuss it – we could very likely get a whole interaction going about them and hopefully the whole street scape.

    .

    maryorelse

    23 January, 2014 at 12:06 pm

  26. As i understand it, There is a small team of handymen employed by greenwich council who maintain the railings within greenwich town centre aswel as lamp posts bollards and many other public street furniture. i myself would say that over the 2 years(i think) they have been in place there has been a great improvement as a whole accross the town centre. perhaps this could be a solution to the state of play in the rest of the borough.

    Joe Bloggs

    23 January, 2014 at 12:37 pm

  27. Helps that its environment cabinet member Maureen O’Mara’s ward, too.

    But there has been an explicit policy in Greenwich Council for the past few years to concentrate resources in “town centres” (Greenwich, Woolwich, Eltham) – which means the rest of the borough has to wait for improvements, or simply gets overlooked.

    Darryl

    23 January, 2014 at 12:43 pm

  28. the handymen are also doing things in Trafalgar Road

    maryorelse

    23 January, 2014 at 1:06 pm

  29. Mary – once again the line is nothing can be done. Yet it is done in lots of other authorities. Ask some questions of the highways department.

    ‘they will tell me that they are there for safety reasons and that is it.’ – That is it?! Try questioning them then? Challenging years old habits and behaviour. It’s no good getting fobbed off at the first opportunity by departments as it may involve some work. In Lewisham there would have no doubt been some resistance by some in departments but councillors, enlightened staff and the public pushed for better. In Greenwich so often it’s a case of – we asked, they said no, nothing can be done then.

    fromthemurkydepths

    23 January, 2014 at 3:53 pm

  30. By this line ‘ It’s no good getting fobbed off at the first opportunity by departments as it may involve some work’ I meant work for them not you.

    fromthemurkydepths

    23 January, 2014 at 3:54 pm

  31. And does it really need petitions? Who petitioned for the Woolwich ones to come down? I know that there were no petitions in the areas of Lewisham where change occurred. It was simply a case of Councillors and staff realising there was an obvious need for change and having the funding to do it.

    fromthemurkydepths

    23 January, 2014 at 3:58 pm

  32. Lewisham’s response to petitions isn’t exactly exemplary… ;)

    clogsilk

    23 January, 2014 at 4:02 pm

  33. Look – and I know I talk to much – yes to everything you say – there are lots of ways of doing things but I am telling you the best way for me based on my experience and my position as a back bencher. I now have less than three months to get anything done and that means not looking at the long way round.

    maryorelse

    23 January, 2014 at 4:49 pm

  34. I hope 3 months until you need to concentrate on standing as an independent.
    (please)

    John Norman

    23 January, 2014 at 6:53 pm

  35. This is one great solution http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vzDDMzq7d0 It could work from the new Greenwich square junction up Trafalgar Road into Greenwich town centre. It would mean a great investment and faith. And to back up the point last week the lights were down at the Greenwich square junction with the result of no traffic congestion at the junction or Trafalgar Road. What does Mary and Darryl think.

    Paul

    23 January, 2014 at 7:39 pm

  36. Hi Mary, I’ve noticed there isn’t a bin at the oval square bus stop on the peninsula when there really should be. So there is sometimes litter in what is otherwise very pleasant elean area – let’s keep it that way as its better for everyone and financially better for the council in the long-term. The peninsula is generally very clean and pleasant but the problem of chewing gum is already beginning to blight the pavement. What is then council’s position on this? I know other boroughs are making a stand about it. Spitting gum is disgusting and anti-social. I think most communities would support tough measures on this. Perhaps RGB should do a bus stop and public poster campaign telling people is crap on the streets is their responsibility. Maybe include how much is spent from council tax to deal with this – to make people think twice.

    On the issue of railings, I don’t pretend to be a public safety expert, but I have actually been in a utterly horrifying situation where I witnessed a very young toddler run out into a busy road full of cars – because there were no railings. The child was so fast that both his mother and I couldn’t stop him – no question of her negligence. I very nearly saw a child die and that instance will always be with me. So I reckon the railings are there for a reason. I do find it terribly selfish that some can’t see past their nose to consider the safety issue.

    Finally, as someone mentioned, huge improvements can be made if people genuinely want it sorted out. This particular blog topic sounds like a spoilt middle class whine. Removing flower baskets is not the councils no1 priority. The council has responsibility for foster care; child abuse mental health homelessness deprivation drug use on top of anti social behaviour – those terriblethings we don’t particularly like to think about. So some perspective please.

    Anyway, why don’t the whingebags who have so much time to campaign against half marathons, transport infrastructure and international sporting events something for “their community.”

    shivanee

    23 January, 2014 at 11:39 pm

  37. Whingebags is a bit strong, shivanee. Delay the day when people take no interest whatsoever in their surroundings. A whinge beats inertia every time. At least it shows people care. I think a poster campaign is a really good idea.I used to work on posters for Lewisham Council and really enjoyed it (Fostering: We’re looking for givers. Any takers? Arts centre: Don’t make an exhibition of yourself. Let us do it for you.
    I’d love to work with the council on this subject but I have a sneaky feeling they wouldn’t be keen. Mind you, Mary might – and maybe one or two others who had better remain nameless (for the time being, at least). How about this for a simple yet all-embracing slogan for the rejuvenation of the borough once this dreadful regime has gone: Let’s go for it!

    Peter Cordwell

    24 January, 2014 at 7:33 am

  38. Shivanlee – with GMV, as you know, the council is responsible for only quite small parts of it compared to other areas. I can check out the waste bin by the bus stop (there used to be one there) but a lot of them get stolen. Gum – costs the Council a fortune to remove from pavements with hired equipment. I think a campaign is a good idea and I will tell Maureen O’Mara who is lead member on this. I agree about railings and would like to see them on Oval Square alongside West Parkside where I often see very small children running about near speeding buses. Flower baskets are almost always paid for by local traders through contractors.
    I was given a document about removal of lights and so on some months ago by Paul – I have passed it on to various people but no one has come back to me.
    Last night I chaired an open meeting of the Friends of Greenwich and Woolwich Foot Tunnels and various ideas were raised for enhancement of the area – art installations or whatever. FOGWOFT is very happy to pass ideas on and would be happy to hear your views via their website or whatever.

    maryorelse

    24 January, 2014 at 11:19 am

  39. Thanks Mary, I did think it was bit unusual that there isn’t a waste bin at the bus stop. At the moment, people have the excuse to throw their litter onto the pavement and on the grass. I should also double check the opposite bus stop towards North Greenwich. It sounds like there needs to be a local environmental behaviour change campaign if people are stealing bins! If the pavement is not council-owned, I’ll raise it at a Peninsula forum though I’m not sure if this is even the appropriate forum? Peter sounds like he has great experience in local campaigns and what works/doesn’t etc so the council need to listen their residents whatever persuasions or politics.

    Peter – I may have sounded strong but we all know that there is a difference between taking an interest in surroundings and jumping on a bandwagon. I just wonder if the energy put into these local ‘battles’ really pays dividends in community cohesion and public spirit? Run to the Beat is a perfect example as it one day per year but generates an exaggerated response. Nevermind that events like this help to promote a healthy lifestyle to young people and other residents might actually enjoy it.

    From personal experience in a different borough, I found that often the minority who consistently opposed transport and infrastructure proposals were typically NIMBY and only really concerned about themselves i.e. value of their property. A few with lots of time, professional expertise and networks with far too much time on their hands ‘representing’ the silent majority who aren’t plugged in and don’t necessarily agree – because they busy at work and/or lack the confidence or know-how on how to get their views heard. I had the wonderful experience of a retired gentlemen from one of wealthiest streets in the borough cheerfully boast of their success in the name of ‘community,’ cancelling a tram route which would have served the entire borough and helped alleviate congestion – just to prevent public works on his street! This was during a work meeting which I was late for because of local traffic.

    I saw regeneration and transport proposals savaged because of local campaigns. And then recession hit – the town center descended into decline, shops pulled out etc. Of course, it was the same people which had blocked proposals who then complained to the local press that the Council was letting the area go down the toilet!

    That was actually a major reason for relocating to the Peninsula as change is part of the landscape. I’m not naive to think that all change is necessarily good or welcome. However, too often these battling campaigners are of a narrow demographic and locality which doesn’t represent the wider community at all. It becomes very intimidating for others to even contemplate getting involved locally because of louder angry (often older) voices. That’s hardly democratic and good for community participation.

    Shivanee

    24 January, 2014 at 2:01 pm

  40. Ps. Mary – I should clarifiy that incident with the toddler that I witnessed did not take place in GMV/the Peninsula. I think in that case, the forthcoming pedestrian crossing will help. Its not say it can’t happen anywhere though – particularly around Trafalgar Road/East Greenwich.

    Shivanee

    24 January, 2014 at 2:10 pm

  41. Shivanlee – John Harrison Way and the pavement is down to the Council, but Oval Square is (I think) GMVL and (I think) Rendell and Rittner do the Central Reservation. The grass where the war memorial is (I think) GLA but it might be part of what the Land Trust does or is going to do.
    Anything of metal which can be picked up gets stolen eventually.

    maryorelse

    24 January, 2014 at 4:06 pm

  42. Feels like an attempt to shut down discussion Shivanee, ‘whingebag’, ‘selfish’, ‘intimidating’ and ‘spoilt middle class whine’ ? Perhaps a whine from a deprived, working class person is worth more but the point is still valid and I see no benefit in ignoring or brushing things like this under the carpet.
    Having the great idea to erect flower boxes also means that the longer term needs to be thought about before they are actually installed. To not do so shows a lack of foresight, any form of thought to ongoing cost (for upkeep or removal) as well as interest in the area, in fact it smacks of short sightedness and incompetence all round. If GC are going to do something, all that is being asked is that they do it properly which really shouldn’t be too much to ask.

    Regarding railings, taking your argument to its logical conclusion, railings/guardrails ought to be present on every inch of pavement/road.
    As I have said, there are places where it is sensible to have some but I stand by my point and also add that they are possibly seen as a quick and very dirty solution by a department or council to cure what they perceive as a potential problem such as parking or at the very least make it look like they’re doing something. Past experience leads me to think that the latter drives much so-called improvement.

    Steve

    26 January, 2014 at 1:00 pm

  43. I’m guessing Shivanee may have been referring to opposition to Ken Livingstone’s ill-fated West London Tram scheme – trust me, if only we could have had that planned for us, rather than the dumb ideas imposed on Greenwich in the past 15 years or so, as nobody in their right mind would have opposed it. I’m amused at the notion that a concern for street design and maintenance is “middle-class whining” – straight out of the Chris Roberts playbook, that one.

    Paul – I wonder if the Poynton scheme you link to had more space to reclaim than the Trafalgar Road/Blackwall Lane junction, but it’s an intriguing notion. Hasn’t something like that recently been done in Bexleyheath?

    Darryl

    26 January, 2014 at 1:42 pm

  44. Shivanee – bit patronising to say it’s only the middle classes that care. I come from an estate in Abbey Wood. Lot’s of working class people care but many are disillusioned with Greenwich councils lack of attention for their areas. It’s usually the working class areas that suffer the worst neglect and the grimmest environments.

    Railings have a limited place but have they also caused death and injuries. To take the thinking of them to its conclusion they could be extended to cover every single road. That would be expensive and ugly, and the separation they give to drivers from pedestrians results in higher average speeds, as drivers feel psychologically separated and thus safer to speed. In studies where they have gone drivers naturally slow down. That’s one of the many reasons they have been removed.

    fromthemurkydepths

    26 January, 2014 at 2:18 pm

  45. Darryl – I do share you concerns but with some vision and creativity I think it could work, start with removing all the traffic lights, at present I count nine sets of lights between the Blackwall Lane, Trafalgar road junction up to Greenwich town centre this would stop the traffic racing off on green lights just to be stopped at the next red. Then remove all kerbs and widen the pavements so that there is just one shared level service with the vehicle and pedestrians area defined by different block work a single lane east and west for restricted 10 mph traffic flow.

    You are right there a similar schemes one at Exhibition Road and others well reported here http://aseasyasridingabike.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/lessons-from-exhibition-road/ One good example how it could look closer to home is the little street scheme around the O2 at the back of the TFL and Ravensbourne College.

    It would be expensive but could be rolled out in stages from west to east starting at the Greenwich one way system!!

    As always a pleasure to share these thoughts with you and your fellow readers.

    Paul

    26 January, 2014 at 10:27 pm


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