Archive for the ‘greenwich council’ Category
Remember Greenwich Council deciding to close Blackheath Bluecoat school, and councillors ignoring a protest by pupils to guzzle wine at a party over the road?
Well, the pupils have responded in the best possible way – by cracking on with their studies. The result…
Blackheath Bluecoat Church of England Secondary School is celebrating after being graded by OfSTED as ‘Good’ for the very first time.
In its last inspection three years ago, the school was judged to be ‘Satisfactory’ and in 2003 was in ‘Special Measures.’
May’s OfSTED inspection also judged Blackheath Bluecoat School ‘Good’ in each of the key judgements – Achievement, Teaching, Behaviour and Safety and Leadership and Management.
The ‘Good’ inspection report follows on from a long line of achievements since the school went into a federation with a more successful school in Wandsworth, Saint Cecilia’s, Wandsworth, also a Church of England School.
Since the federation was inaugurated in January 2009:
• The percentage of pupils attaining five good GCSEs (including English and Mathematics) has nearly doubled from 31% to 59% (the national average is 58%)
• The school was identified by The Schools Network as being in the top 10% of the most improving schools in England.
• Pupil absence has decreased from 7.9% to 4.9% (the national average is 5.7%)
The inspectors made a number of observations, the following amongst them:
“Students are thriving because they are well known as individuals and given the right amount of support they need to achieve well.”
“Students behave well in lessons and they are considerate of others around the school.”
“The good sixth form assists students in preparing well for the future.”
“Students feel safe and happy in school, largely as a result of good, mutually respectful relationships with one another and with staff who provide good quality care for students from all backgrounds and circumstances.”
Commenting on the report, Blackheath Bluecoat School’s Chair of Governors David Prescott said:
“This is a remarkable achievement by our Headteacher Barnaby Ash, the Senior Leadership Team, the staff and the pupils. The Governors were convinced that going into a federation with another successful school would transform Blackheath Bluecoat School and it has.
“It is bitter sweet news after seeing our Building Schools for the Future move to the Peninsula cancelled by this Government and the decision by Greenwich Council to close Blackheath Bluecoat School because of budget constraints caused by a declining number of pupils coming to the school.
“But the school is determined to continue to do its very best right until our last day of operation, which is why we created the banner to thank the pupils and inspire them to even greater exam success in the next few weeks. Hopefully we will be able to establish a new Church of England Secondary in the borough very soon, built on Blackheath Bluecoat School’s solid achievements, determination and hard work.”
Headteacher Barnaby Ash added:
“I am delighted that OfSTED has validated the enormous strides forward this school has made in recent years. It is a fitting testimony to the hard work of the staff and pupils in bringing about such a significant improvement in the school since 2009. The school has truly improved the life chances of pupils attending the school since the inauguration of the federation in 2009. It makes the fact that the school will be closed by Greenwich Council in 2014 even more poignant, and is clear evidence of what might have been possible if only we had been given more time.”
In five years or so, Greenwich borough will need more secondary school places… by which time Blackheath Bluecoat will be gone after 300 years, despite rapid and remarkable improvement. With its management team looking to open up a new school (presumably not under the council’s auspices), closing Blackheath Bluecoat may well prove to be one of the the council’s more dimly short-sighted decisions.
Listen carefully, and you might hear screams of anguish in the air. It’s now less than a year until the London borough elections, and parties across the capital are picking their candidates for next May’s poll.
By all accounts, the process in Greenwich Labour has so far been bloody, as new faces fight to get a foothold on the council and old hands cling on for dear life. Cabinet members have found themselves in the firing line, with one forced to shift ward and two others without a seat so far. Local members, it seems, are finally finding their voice.
Outgoing council leader Chris Roberts is home and hosed in his Glyndon ward – but his deputy and loyal enforcer Peter Brooks has decided to step down from his berth at Thamesmead Moorings. Party whispers say he decided to walk before he was pushed.
It’s thought that Brooks has been Roberts’ choice to succeed him as leader of the party – but without his loyal second-in-command, Roberts will find it much harder to control the council from the back seat.
Fellow cabinet members Peter Kotz and Sajid Jawaid have been dumped by party members in Thamesmead Moorings and Plumstead respectively, while former cabinet member-turned Roberts critic Rajwant Sidhu was booted out of the party altogether just before selections started.
Selections are still far from complete – there’ll be others this website doesn’t know about or hasn’t been able to stand up, and plenty of switching between wards. But plenty of new blood is guaranteed for Labour, with veteran councillors Janet and Jim Gillman stepping down, along with former mayor David Grant, bullying whistle-blower Alex Grant and fellow “awkward squad” member Dick Quibell. Confirmed new faces include human rights campaigner Ambreen Hisbani, selected in Woolwich Common ward along with ex-councillor David Gardner – as local party chair, he’s a possible contender for leader.
One new face standing for them in Blackheath Westcombe – one of the few council seat’s that’s a genuine battleground will be Thomas Turrell, who’s conveniently also turned up on a group called the Blackheath Royal Standard Village Association. He’ll be hoping to do better than he did at a recent student union election.
No news of any candidates from the Liberal Democrats and the Greens, but People Before Profit, who have stood candidates for Lewisham Council in recent years, have picked married couple Nicola and Michael Walters to run for them in Greenwich West ward.
More details as I get them. (Hopefully.) Of course, if none of these names appeal to you, you could always run yourself. With a poll not expected until 22 May 2014, you’ve plenty of time to prepare yet.
One of the more curious aspects of Greenwich Council’s response to the horrific events in Woolwich two weeks ago was leader Chris Roberts’ determination that the council’s business would carry on as normal, despite the scene of tragedy just yards from the council’s headquarters.
So, as the News Shopper’s Mark Chandler revealed last week, Roberts went on a cabinet awayday on the day the Prime Minister visited, leaving Greenwich & Woolwich MP Nick Raynsford to represent local people.
And the night before, just hours after Lee Rigby’s murder in Artillery Place, the council opted to hold its usual mayoral inauguration ceremony at the Old Royal Naval College – again, under the claim of “business as usual”.
But Greenwich’s mayor-making knees-up is nowhere near normal business. Most councils just inaugurate their mayors with a brief ceremony in the town hall. Indeed, Greenwich’s official event actually takes place at the town hall the week before – the ONRC event is just for show.
Even where there’s a bit of star glamour – such as in Camden, where new mayor Jonathan Simpson has enlisted singer Marcella Puppini to be his mayoress – these events tend to stay in town halls and are open to the public and press.
This isn’t good enough for Greenwich, which in the past has blown £30,000 holding an invite-only event, where favoured business execs, councillors and “community leaders” can schmooze and do whatever else you do when you’re having a drink at the taxpayers’ expense. Indeed, here’s 2011′s menu.
Following criticism during the initial phase of the cuts – and talk of one mayor refusing to have the ceremony – the cost was whittled down to about £12,500 by last year – partly due to the Naval College being persuaded to let the council have the venue for nothing. 2013′s costs aren’t yet available.
But it still leaves a sour taste with many councillors, so what should be a non-partisan event gets boycotted by a number of rebel Labour members as well as most Tories. You can see why it’s a touchy subject.
So touchy, in fact, that Greenwich Time hasn’t even mentioned it, in contrast to the front page splashes it’s earned in the past.
Yes, you can make out the Old Royal Naval College colonnade behind new mayor Angela Cornforth, but twice in three weeks, the council’s propaganda weekly has referred to Ms Cornforth’s ceremony in profile pieces as being “at Woolwich Town Hall”.
And as for what was said and done at what the event’s supporters claim is a highlight of the council year, there’s not a peep in Greenwich Time.
One misleading reference could be written off as a mistake. But twice? In a publication which is checked by the leader of the council before it goes to press? Perhaps there’ll be a correction in next week’s issue. I wouldn’t waste your breath waiting, though.
(Update 31 May: Lewisham councillor Kevin Bonavia reports the festival has been postponed for a further year.)
It’s been a long wait, but first details of the On Blackheath music festival, due to take place on 7 and 8 September, will be revealed in the next few days. Long-suffering 853 readers will remember the festival was initially due to make its debut in 2011, but was derailed by a costly court battle brought by the Blackheath Society, which aimed to overturn Lewisham Council’s decision to award it a licence.
The ruling upholding Lewisham’s licence came in July 2011, too late for a festival that year, and the heavy demands on Blackheath during the Olympics kiboshed any chance of a festival in 2012.
While it won the court case, Lewisham Council was criticised by magistrates for a lack of transparency in consulting over the event. It failed to formally tell Greenwich Council about the application, which magistrates called “astonishing”. The festival site, at Hare and Billet Road, runs metres from the boundary between the two boroughs, and all six Greenwich councillors for the Greenwich West and Blackheath Westcombe wards formally objected to the event.
But Greenwich may try to fight the festival again. At a council meeting in March, Blackheath Westcombe Tory councillor Geoff Brighty asked environment cabinet member (and Greenwich West councillor) Maureen O’Mara if the council had heard anything from Lewisham about the festival.
Her response: “Both of us lodged a very strong response against this matter, and if anything happens, we will you know – and I’ll see you at Bromley Magistrates Court!”
It’s difficult to know on what grounds Greenwich could object – the magistrates’ decision in 2011 dismissed fears over noise and public order. But with Greenwich boasting of its own festivals down the hill, it’d be sad to see an attempt to stop an event that organisers hope could pump a much-needed £1 million into the local economy.
In fact, it’d be downright hypocritical to claim disruption from On Blackheath when Greenwich Council remains determined to host unloved half-marathon Run To The Beat a few hundred metres away on the same weekend, a date pencilled in by On Blackheath for 15 months, an event which is likely to cause many more problems.
Sadly, there’ll be no Greenwich Summer Sessions to run alongside On Blackheath this year – just as the Greenwich Festivals lost the comedy festival, the music festival was also kicked out by the Old Royal Naval College, and has been brushed under the carpet by the council which once funded it.
But its organisers determined to stay in SE10, and are putting on Deptford boy Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel at the Borough Hall on Royal Hill on 19 July – it’s good to see a criminally under-used venue put to good use, and hopefully GSS will be back next year.
Finally, anything about festivals in SE London would be a incomplete without mentioning Leefest, at Highams Hill Farm near Biggin Hill, about as far away from Greenwich as you can get while still staying (technically) in the capital. I went in 2011 and it was a fantastic day out – now it’s ballooned to three days (12-14 July) and has raised £50,000 from fans to fund its future expansion. Tickets are still available, and it’s well worth the trip.
Will On Blackheath build up such a dedicated following? We’ll have to wait and see…
Woolwich is a step closer to getting on the Crossrail map, as Greenwich Council and Berkeley Homes have now pencilled in a deal on how its station will be paid for.
Transport for London’s board will consider the deal at a meeting this Thursday. Crossrail, due to begin service in 2018, will link Maidenhead and Heathrow Airport in the west with Paddington, the West End, the City, Canary Wharf and Abbey Wood.
Berkeley Homes has already paid £25m for the station box – essentially, the hole in the ground – to be built.
But even though the box was completed in February, a deal between Greenwich, Berkeley Homes, TfL and the Government to find the £100m needed to fit out the the station hadn’t been. Neither TfL nor the Government were willing to add to the costs of Crossrail, while Berkeley had been reluctant to pay any more towards the station, despite the huge profits it is likely to make out of its Royal Arsenal development.
Now TfL board papers reveal:
“Following extensive negotiations a package for the overall capital cost of the works has now been agreed in principle.
“This sees significant contributions from the Royal Borough of Greenwich and Berkeley Homes, supplementing existing TfL and CRL budgets, to meet the overall capital cost of the works.
“The detailed terms of funding agreements with these parties are currently being finalised and are expected to be concluded by the end of June 2013.”
The outline deal follows Greenwich Council granting Berkeley planning permission for 21-storey tower blocks in the Royal Arsenal last month, while its chairman Tony Pidgeley recently joined Boris Johnson on a trip to the Middle East.
The details are currently confidential, and it remains to be seen how Greenwich will raise the funds to pay for its contribution.
With the four-year-old DLR extension to Woolwich nearly overwhelmed by demand, the council will rightly see the deal as a triumph – originally the Crossrail link was to pass under Woolwich without stopping, until lobbying from leader Chris Roberts and MP Nick Raynsford forced a rethink.
But as always, the devil’s in the detail. While Greenwich is sitting on large cash reserves, it is believed the council is unwilling to use those to pay for the station, which could lead to other parts of the borough losing out so Woolwich can gain. Watch this space…
(Thanks to the anonymous tipster who alerted me to this story.)
City Hall officials have been asked to investigate the handling of Greenwich Council’s botched £11.5m redevelopment of the Greenwich and Woolwich Foot Tunnels, where work has been stalled for over a year.
Greenwich & Lewisham assembly member Len Duvall has referred the matter to auditors at the Greater London Authority to establish what went wrong with the project, which had been funded by the Government’s Homes & Communities Agency (HCA) before being switched to City Hall last year.
It’s emerged an HCA official signed off the project after a site visit in March 2011, handing the project over to Greenwich Council the following month, on the understanding work would be finished by September 2011.
The HCA stopped scrutinising the project after the site visit, and the matter was not looked at again until City Hall took over the HCA’s work in London in April 2012. Now Duvall has asked the authority’s audit panel and district auditor to investigate. The London Assembly’s budget and performance committee has also been asked to look at the issue.
Duvall’s move comes after campaigning from Greenwich Cyclists on the issue.
Both Greenwich and Woolwich foot tunnels remain in a poor state after the collapse of the project in late 2011, at around the time cabinet member Denise Hyland was blaming the problems at both tunnels on “hidden structures” which didn’t actually exist.
The council itself, which sacked the three contractors in charge of the job, admitted in October 2012 that there was “an unacceptable and deteriorating environment for users” in the tunnels.
Last November, it emerged Greenwich Council had previously told the HCA the work had been completed – even though that simply wasn’t the case, and that should have been clear on any site visit.
Indeed, when the Woolwich Foot Tunnel reopened in December 2011 after at least a 15-month closure, the poor state of the tunnel demonstrated the difficulty the project was in. When Greenwich’s lifts reopened in early 2012, lights were failing and lifts kept breaking.
In a letter to Duvall seen by this website, the GLA’s Housing and Land executive director David Lunts says “the project remains a concern for the GLA”, and says it is now in “regular dialogue” with the council as it struggles to complete the project.
No work has taken place at either tunnel for over a year, with no new contractors appointed to finish the job. Woolwich Foot Tunnel remains without lifts, Greenwich had new lifts fitted but they have been plagued by breakdowns.
Greenwich Council commissioned an independent report from John Willmoth into the fiasco six months ago. After completing a report into the council’s handling of big projects in general, he has yet to report back on the foot tunnels issue.
11.20am update: Len Duvall has told this site:
“What took place over the work on the foot tunnels work should not have happened.
Greenwich are learning from this experience internally and I look forward to the publication of the second of John Wilmoth’s independent reports examining what happened in this case more closely.
My intervention is to make the GLA take its responsibilities seriously, not just ‘shrug their shoulders’ when public money from bodies that have since become part of the GLA is involved. There are lessons for us to learn at the GLA and I hope that Greenwich Council are equally keen to ensure that events like this don’t occur in the future. Most importantly Greenwich need to press on with the completion of the works – monitored closely by the GLA – to ensure that both foot tunnels are accessible to everyone.”
The propaganda battle from City Hall and Greenwich Council over the Silvertown Tunnel has gone up a notch again, after the Transport for London consultation reported, surprise, surprise, “continued support for new river crossings in east London“.
Of course, a dodgy survey proves very little. You can offer children a year’s supply of sweets and they’ll take it, but if you warn them their teeth will fall out you might get a different response. In a similar way, you can tell people building a new road will make their journeys easier and they’ll believe it – particularly if you don’t tell them the evidence proves building new roads simply generates more traffic, add to existing high levels of pollution, and will simply add to congestion elsewhere.
Indeed, the leading question which kicked off the consultation gives the game away – “how many times a week do you cross the river by road?” 32% of Greenwich borough residents who answered the consultation said they crossed it four or more times each week – which strikes me as unrepresentatively high.
That said, the 373-strong petition against Silvertown features heavily in the round-up of responses to the consultation, though oddly doesn’t feature in TfL’s report to the mayor – a beautiful example of officials telling their bosses just what they wat to hear. There’s no mention of Greenwich’s Bridge The Gap campaign, an attempt to rig the consultation, except in quotations from the Silvertown petition.
What is striking, though, is Greenwich Council’s desperation to see this crock built – despite anger within the Labour party which supposedly controls it – with leader Chris Roberts declaring: “We stand ready to assist Transport for London in the work necessary to bring these crossings to the next stage of development.”
Greenwich’s neighbours, though, aren’t so excited. Here’s the views of other boroughs, as taken from the consultation.
Barking and Dagenham Council expressed “serious reservations regarding the current proposals. The Council remain concerned that Silvertown tunnel will draw additional vehicles and ‘clog up the local road network’”.
Southwark Council were “concerned that they may be potentially negative traffic impacts from the Silvertown tunnel” and “cannot support the current proposals.”
Lewisham Council:”has concerns that traffic impacts will result from Silvertown tunnel, particularly on the A2 and South Circular, and requests details of modelling of any proposed mitigation measures. “
Hackney Council were “concerned about the potential highway impacts of increased traffic on the approaches to the Silvertown tunnel”
Redbridge Council “raised concerns with how the Silvertown tunnel’s northbound connected with the existing highway network.”
All the above are Labour councils, except Redbridge, which is run by a Tory/Lib Dem coalition.
These fears would impact the most on Greenwich itself, yet they are barely mentioned in Greenwich’s full response. Even Newham’s support for Silvertown was “subject to concerns over additional traffic impacts in the borough and in particular, around Canning Town and Royal Docks”. No such caveats in Greenwich’s response.
Indeed, if you look at the businesses that line up in favour of Silvertown, the you can see just who’s really influencing Greenwich Council’s line.
Berkeley Homes Ltd – “Strongly supports new crossings at Silvertown and Gallions Reach.” (Greenwich Council’s development partners at Kidbrooke Village, Royal Arsenal developers)
Cathedral Group – “Fully supports the proposed Silvertown tunnel.” (Property developer which owns Morden Wharf on the Greenwich Peninsula).
AEG – “Strongly supports Silvertown tunnel which will provide a much needed relief to the area, support AEG’s next development phases on the Greenwich Peninsula and stimulate growth.” (Owner of the O2.)
Quintain – “Strongly supports the proposals, in particular for the Silvertown tunnel.” (Greenwich Peninsula developer whose projects include the socially-cleansed Peninsula Quays site.)
A further report will come from TfL this summer, so expect our elected representatives to be issuing more propaganda and campaigning on behalf of
the people of Greenwich property developers.
But there’ll also be more from the No To Silvertown Tunnel campaign – if you want to get involved, feel free to drop me a line. Watch this space…
853 exclusive: Greenwich Council is canvassing arts groups on holding a new comedy festival to replace the Greenwich Comedy Festival, which has moved to Spitalfields.
The GCF will now be known as the Brick Lane Comedy Festival after switching to Allen Gardens, next to the old Shoreditch Tube station.
The organisation which runs the Old Royal Naval College, the Greenwich Foundation, decided it wanted to concentrate on smaller events and no longer wanted to play host to the GCF’s large marquee; however, organisers are planning to run events in Greenwich later in the year.
Greenwich Comedy Festival also lost its funding from Greenwich Council (it got £15,000 in 2010) – it’s not known whether Tower Hamlets is funding the new Brick Lane event, although its logo appears on publicity for it.
But now Greenwich Council has asked arts groups if they are interested in holding a replacement event. An email sent to various organisation reads:
The Royal Greenwich Comedy Festival will provide an exciting and distinctive offer. We are looking for an outstanding organisation or individual to curate, develop and deliver a programme of innovative and high quality Comedy events in Royal Greenwich.
The Royal Greenwich Comedy Festival will include a diverse range of Comedy programmed in July or September 2013.
The Key Aims of the programme will be to:
- deliver a high quality sustainable comedy festival offering a mix of free and ticketed entertainment for members of the public
- contribute to the economic development of the borough by developing awareness of `brand Royal Greenwich’, boosting tourism and generating inward investment
- maximise benefit to local businesses and the visitor economy
- maximise benefit for the local creative economy
In addition the events will make a strong statement about Royal Greenwich:
- as a place for high quality arts, venues and cultural activities
- as a place of heritage unrivalled elsewhere
- as a place where interesting things happen in unusual place
For full details, fee and contract terms please see the information pack.
I haven’t been able to get confirmation of whether the council is funding the planned festival. That said, just saying “brand Royal Greenwich” on stage might attract a few giggles…
One thing that the GCF’s withdrawal from Greenwich highlighted to me is just how poor Greenwich’s day-to-day arts scene actually is. It’s all very well having big showpiece events in the Naval College grounds, but what legacy does the GCF leave, especially since it was getting council funding?
Admittedly, Greenwich does have (the fairly pricey) Up The Creek, but there’s very few venues regularly putting on music or comedy in the town centre – I can only think of the Lord Hood and Oliver’s jazz bar for anything worthwhile in terms of music (plus the Pelton Arms in east Greenwich), although the Greenwich Tavern – recently freed from the clutches of Inc Group – is showing signs of imagination (incidentally, the The Greenwich Series tonight is worth a look).
Plus, obviously, there’s much more to the borough than Greenwich – in the 80s the Woolwich Tramshed was a famous comedy venue, but Comedy on the Common has been trooping on in Plumstead for a few years now without much recognition. In short, it does seem odd to have concentrated all that effort on a one-off event in the north-west corner of a large borough. Maybe whoever takes on the Royal Greenwich Comedy Festival will change things. Should be interesting to watch.
Woolwich’s Royal Arsenal development is set to get 21-storey tower blocks after Greenwich Council’s planning board backed an application from Berkeley Homes tonight. (Thanks to Eltham North councillor Nigel Fletcher for the tweet from the town hall.)
The board voted 3-2 for the plans, which will dramatically change the shape of Woolwich, and the riverside, introducing a series of tower blocks between 14 and 21 stories high, blocking Woolwich town centre off from the river.
The existing Royal Arsenal Gardens park will be to a narrow strip between the towers.
Berkeley’s proposals have been heavily criticised by Arsenal residents and one of the three local councillors, John Fahy, who branded it “wholly inappropriate”.
He added in a video posted to his blog earlier this week: “The whole of Woolwich, and the whole of Greenwich, see the river as important to them. It shouldn’t be overshadowed by high residential blocks that will be there not necessarily for local residents, but those who want to invest from other parts of the world.”
Planning chair Ray Walker (Labour, Eltham West), vice-chair Steve Offord (Labour, Abbey Wood) and cabinet member Sajid Jawaid (Labour, Plumstead) voted for the proposal. Voting against were Hayley Fletcher (Labour, Kidbrooke with Hornfair) and Geoff Brighty (Conservative, Blackheath Westcombe), while Clive Mardner (Labour, Abbey Wood) abstained.
Now Berkeley Homes – the council’s development partner at the former Ferrier Estate, now Kidbrooke Village – have had their way, it will be interesting to see whether the company which is set to gain a handsome profit from tonight’s decision finally comes up with the cash to fit out the Crossrail station at Woolwich, an issue featured here last month.
After paying £25m for the station site to be excavated, so far Berkeley has refused to come up with the £100m for the rest of the station – expecting Transport for London, the Government and Greenwich Council to cough up.
Interestingly, Berkeley chairman Tony Pidgeley joined London mayor (and TfL chair) Boris Johnson on a trip to the Middle East earlier this month, while last month, regeneration councillor Denise Hyland said she was “chipper” about the prospects of the council not having to fund the station.
Intriguingly, an image of the proposed station appeared in the council’s weekly newspaper Greenwich Time in February, bearing the name “ROYAL ARSENAL WOOLWICH” – the name of Berkeley’s development. Previous images have seen the legend “WOOLWICH STATION” above the entrance.
Footnote: If Woolwich finally does get a Crossrail station, it’ll have done better out of Berkeley Homes for transport than Kidbrooke. Greenwich Council has handed over control of the roads through the old Ferrier Estate to Berkeley, which is duly planning, with council approval, to close the roads, forcing the 178 and B16 buses away from the new Kidbrooke Village development.
Residents in the adjoining Brooklands Park estate have been left high and dry by this – but Berkeley Homes is refusing to reverse its decision, instead pressing Transport for London – with Greenwich Council backing – to pay for a turning circle so buses can run up to Brooklands Park and back. (See the second petition document here, and the TfL consultation for more.) So far, though, TfL appears to be trying to call Berkeley’s bluff, and says it is happy to reroute the B16 service “if a suitable turning circle can be provided”.
A little postscript to the Greenwich Time ramble. The way the council’s weekly paper works, to promote the borough the way its leadership sees it, means that some of the many genuinely good works that come from the town hall are poorly publicised.
There’s a good example this week, as buried on page 22 is a one-paragraph plug for Greenwich Get Cycling day, which is this Saturday in Woolwich. It’s just a bit less prominent than the “star letters” GT runs criticising cyclists. So here’s a bigger plug for it.
You are invited to attend the Greenwich Get Cycling event on Saturday 27th April at the Royal Arsenal from 12pm-4pm. The cycling family fun day will include a series of led rides and other cycling activities to help you get cycling now Spring is on its way.
You will be able to take part in one of eight led cycle rides along the Thames Path, they are mostly flat and traffic free routes, perfect for families and new beginners:
* The shorter 30 minute route will travel eastwards to Thamesmead, leaving at 12pm, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm.
* The longer 45 minute route will travel westwards along the Thames to New Charlton, leaving at 12.30pm, 1.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm.
All rides will start and end at the Woolwich Arsenal Pier in Royal Arsenal, Woolwich. (Book in advance – see details.)
As well as the cycle rides, there will be other cycle related entertainment near the Woolwich Arsenal Pier, so come along and get involved:
* Try out the Smoothie bike to pedal yourself a Smoothie
* Take part in the Pedal Powered Scalextric
* Find out about how to maintain your bike from the Dr Bike service
* Take part in the Limited Edition Cyclists cycling skills course and slow bike race
* Get your bike security marked by the Metropolitan Police
* Find out how you can get cycling to work and get your own personalised route plan
* Find out about cycle training in the borough
There’s a lot of good cycling work going on behind the scenes at Greenwich Council – and this is an admirable event which deserves support. In particular, I’m told the council’s cycle training is very good indeed. It’s something you’ll rarely read about in GT, but I did see tags on bikes in Greenwich town centre a few weeks ago promoting the service, which struck me as a very good idea. Indeed, I keep meaning to give it a go myself.
All of which makes it even sadder that the political leadership of the council isn’t interested. The Thames Path is a wonderful facility, but hopefully one day, cycling will be taken seriously enough that there’ll be a Greenwich Get Cycling Day that doesn’t have to rely on using the riverside walk.