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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

Archive for the ‘greenwich council’ Category

Greenwich Ikea: Planning permission halted by Government

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Peartree Way, 3 November 2013
The Government has stepped in to halt the outline planning permission for a new Ikea in east Greenwich after complaints from local protesters.

Greenwich Council gave outline permission for Ikea to build a store on the site of the “eco-friendly” Sainsbury’s store in Peartree Way earlier this year, with planning officers ignoring concerns about increased traffic and air pollution, a decision later backed by London mayor Boris Johnson.

The five Labour members on the planning board – including council leader Chris Roberts, chief whip Ray Walker and regeneration member Denise Hyland – backed the scheme, with two Conservatives voting against.

This was despite every speaker at the planning board meeting – including local outgoing Labour councillors Mary Mills and Alex Grant – voicing objections to the scheme.

Since then, a local campaign has sprung up, gathering cross-party support to call for the decision to be overturned and handed to a public inquiry.

Now Pickles has issued a directive telling Greenwich Council to put final approval on hold while he reviews Greenwich’s process.

Government policy is not to interfere on local matters, so for Pickles to overturn the decision, campaigners have to show that the Ikea decision is of more than local importance.

There’s no timescale for the decision, but those who want to make a representation to Pickles on the issue can email Muredach Diamond at the Department for Communities and Local Government: muredach.diamond[at]communities.gsi.gov.uk, quoting reference NPCU/RTI/E5330/73828.

Separately, English Heritage is considering an application to list the 1999 Sainsbury’s store that’s already on the site, which was lauded at the time for its ecologically-friendly innovations. Work has already started on a replacement store half a mile away in Charlton.

Update 9pm: I’m told by that an Ikea representative was meant to attend a meeting of residents in Greenwich Millennium Village on Wednesday evening, but failed to show.

For more information on the anti-Ikea campaign, visit its website or Facebook page.

Written by Darryl

22 May, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Royal barge farewell for Greenwich Council’s Dear Leader

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Steve Sutherland and Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts with Steve Sutherland, ambassador for the Charlton Athletic Community Trust, which runs the council’s youth services. (Picture from Steve’s Twitter feed.)

His former colleagues may have been tramping the streets in search of votes in today’s poll, but Greenwich Council leader Chris Roberts decided to end his 14 years in charge in lavish style on Tuesday – with a cruise along the Thames on a royal barge.

Roberts and chums set off from St Katherine Docks on The Queen’s Row Barge Gloriana, which was the lead vessel in 2012’s diamond jubilee pageant.

Gloriana Facebook page

The Gloriana’s Facebook page describes the event as “The Royal Borough of Greenwich Row”, and was crewed by rowers from the Curlew and Globe rowing clubs, both based in Greenwich.

“Crews from Globe RC & Curlew RC rowed QRB from St. Katherine Docks through central London with Cllr Roberts and his guests on board celebrating his 14 years as Leader of the Greenwich Council – a splendid evening on the River Thames,” the Facebook page reads.

It’s not known who paid for the send-off (the council didn’t) although the barge was built as a tribute to the monarch by Roberts’ friend, Conservative peer Lord Sterling, the former chair of Royal Museums Greenwich. Sterling played a major role in obtaining royal borough status for Greenwich, which took effect in 2012.

Gloriana trip

While Roberts found time to mess around on the river, he didn’t find time last week to attend his last public commitment as council leader – to explain why he stepped down as director of the council-run company Meridian Home Start, days before quitting as a councillor. He went onto appointing his own successors to Meridian Home Start, including cabinet member Steve Offord.

Labour councillors objected to plans which would have converted the company to an industrial and provident society – similar to Greenwich Leisure Limited – complaining the council would no longer be able to scrutinise its activities, and that it would have effectively provided Roberts or one of his associates with a job for life.

It was even mooted that MHS, originally designed to provide intermediate-level housing, could take on the council’s entire housing stock, and even take the tender for the council’s Cleansweep street cleaning service.

Conservative councillors Spencer Drury and Nigel Fletcher “called in” the decision to appoint the new directors, but Roberts failed to show, leaving chief executive Mary Ney to answer questions – or not answer them, as Fletcher tweeted:

So the Dear Leader has been rowed off into the sunset – and the polling stations have just opened for today’s council election. Will the new council be any more open than Roberts’ administration? Your vote will help decide – use it wisely.

Mary Ney and Peter Brooks

Thursday 7.40pm update: A new picture has emerged on Twitter which (just about) shows Greenwich Council chief executive Mary Ney on the barge (see left), and Roberts’ deputy Peter Brooks (centre), parachuted into the outgoing leader’s Glyndon seat after his sudden decision to resign. Brooks is competing against John Fahy in the contest to be deputy leader in the new administration.

Written by Darryl

22 May, 2014 at 7:00 am

Will Ukip help Labour tighten its hold on Greenwich?

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One thing’s clear about this Thursday’s council elections – Labour will gallop to victory again. It’s 50 years since the first elections for the London Borough of Greenwich, and Labour has won all but one poll, in 1968, when a stunning London-wide landslide saw it fall to the Conservatives. Business as usual resumed in 1971, and there’s no reason to expect Thursday’s 14th election to be any different.

Most of the action’s going to take place in wards in Eltham, New Eltham and Mottingham, away from this website’s usual north-of-the-borough focus.

One factor which could affect the result will be the European Parliament election taking place the same day, and the near-blanket coverage given to the UK Independence Party and its leader Nigel Farage.

A vandalised Ukip poster in East Dulwich. But how will voters in Greenwich borough treat the hard-right party?

A vandalised Ukip poster in East Dulwich. But how will voters in Greenwich borough treat them?

To a smaller extent, the same could be said for the Greens, who should benefit from Euro coverage too. But with Farage barely off our screens for what’s felt like months, it’s Ukip who have the potential to wreak havoc at the local polls too – despite the unpleasant views of many of their candidates.

The London Communications Agency predicts the hard-right party will return up to 50 councillors across the capital – will any of them come in Greenwich?

Greenwich borough’s comprised of 17 wards, which elect three councillors each. Ukip is standing a single councillor in 13 wards – a 14th candidate, in Glyndon ward, failed to get enough nominations in time.

Standing a single candidate means the Faragists can quietly hoover up protest votes from across the political spectrum. So where in the borough is the party’s support strongest?

According to the breakdown of votes from 2012’s London mayoral and assembly elections, Eltham North is Ukip’s happiest hunting ground, scoring 279 votes in the poll for the London-wide member, against 1,385 for the Tories and 1,172 for Labour, and beating the Greens (261), BNP (172) and Lib Dems (159).

I’ve picked this vote as it’s a straight party poll, not distorted by mayoral personalities or Ukip’s accidental rebranding in the mayoral poll (due to a party cock-up) as “Fresh Choice for London”.

Eltham North is represented by Tory leader Spencer Drury and his deputy Nigel Fletcher. The Tories have a slim-ish majority over Labour of 379 – if they lose a chunk of their votes to Ukip, Labour could benefit.

Paul Oakley's tweet

Of course, this theory depends on you believing that Ukip will hoover up disgruntled Tory votes rather than Labour ones. Considering Ukip’s manifesto looks like a Sun editorial from 1983, I suspect they will pick up votes from the right rather than the centre – risking a high-profile scalp for the Labour party. The local Tories agree, and are worried about what the rise of Ukip will mean for their embattled Eltham enclaves.

Ukip are also strong in Coldharbour & New Eltham, in the far south of the borough, where Labour were 353 votes to claiming a scalp in 2010. In 2012, Ukip polled 248 votes here, coming third to the Tories on 1,104 and Labour on 794. Ex-Tory candidate Peter Whittle is standing for Ukip there.

But it’s Eltham South where the Tories could face a horrific squeeze, with similiar levels of Ukip support and rejected councillor Eileen Glover standing against her old party colleagues as an independent. 2012’s assembly vote had the Tories just 240 votes ahead of Labour, which could well come through the middle to seize power.

Greenwich borough’s other strong ward for Ukip, according to the 2012 data, is Abbey Wood, home seat of mayoral contender Denise Hyland.

Don’t be surprised if Ukip beat the Tories out in the east, while the party is also campaigning in the Labour stronghold of Eltham West – which could be vulnerable now the Ferrier Estate has gone.

Gary Port's tweet

Ukip candidate Gary Port was found by the Evening Standard to have ‘liked’ a far-right group’s Facebook post. By this weekend, his social media activity had become more benign.

Why does all this matter? Well, just what shape Greenwich’s next Labour council will take could well be determined by how big Labour’s majority is on the council. An increase in Labour’s 29-seat majority will be seen as vindication of how Chris Roberts did things – and will strengthen the hand of his preferred successor, Denise Hyland. A decrease will show discontent with the Dear Leader’s style – and will give strength to Jackie Smith’s case for taking over.

So it’s well worth keeping on eye on Eltham on Thursday. Of course, if Ukip can grab Labour votes as well, they could even take a seat or two – council elections can be prone to wild fluctuations, although Greenwich seats have been relatively stable. Whether Ukip really want a miserable life as a minor party in the Greenwich Council chamber, with one or two powerless councillors, is another matter, mind. But what of the others?

Stephen Brain's tweet

LABOUR. Seats in 2010: 40/51. Current seats: 39/51. Candidates: 51/51 (See manifesto)
Nobody really knows what Labour party will take charge in Greenwich after 22 May. Will it be the Berkeley Homes Party, guided by the demands of developers, hammering home a heady mix of regeneration schemes, tall ships and road-building? Or will it be something closer to the community politics espoused by the likes of John Fahy and Blackheath Westcombe candidate Cherry Parker? Nobody knows.

Spot the difference?

Spot the difference?

Rivals complain that Labour is fighting on national policies rather than its local record. Indeed, my local Charlton Labour Twitter feed has told me nothing about the council’s record – although I now know Terry the local ward organiser’s phone number, should I fancy a spot of canvassing. (Hello, Terry.) That said, this election has seen the first manifesto emerge for eight years – the 2010 version was never published in public – but without the launches seen in other boroughs.

This poll has even seen Labour candidates disown the Labour council’s own policies – Woolwich Common candidate David Gardner claiming that building the Silvertown Tunnel was “not a Greenwich Labour policy”, despite three Labour councillors and a Labour MP launching a campaign to get it built.

The current manifesto position, which I understand was bitterly fought over, merely says “we will consider our position further based on our view of the economic and environmental impact assessments” – leaving plenty of wriggle room. Will a Greenwich Labour council trust a Tory mayor’s assessments, which has been the position so far? “Bridge The Gap is dead,” one Labour insider told me – but what if Denise Hyland takes over?

There are many good candidates standing for Labour – but will there be enough of them to force change? A vote for Labour on Thursday would certainly be a leap of faith.

Wards to watch: Blackheath Westcombe, the Eltham seats.
New candidates to watch: Peninsula ward candidates Stephen Brain and Chris Lloyd, telling voters they’ll fight Silvertown; ambitious Woolwich Common candidate and IT systems analyst Ambreen Hisbani, closely connected to the current leadership (oddly, her Portuguese husband Rui Dias lurks on Twitter watching critics from a locked account); heavyweight Blackheath Westcombe trio Paul Morrissey, Damien Welfare and Cherry Parker, locked in street-to-street combat with the Tories; Shooters Hill’s Chris Kirby and Sarah Merrill, involved in a bad-tempered fight with Lib Dems.

Eltham Tories' tweet

CONSERVATIVES. Seats in 2010: 11/51. Seats now: 10/51. Candidates: 51/51 (Read the manifesto.)
If Labour are riddled with splits and in-fighting, the Tories have their own problems too – the rejection of Eltham South councillor Eileen Glover by her local party triggered her to stand as an independent and colleague Neil Dickinson to quit. Marginal seats such as Kidbrooke with Hornfair lie neglected as the Tories fight to shore up what they’ve got, and possibly nick an extra seat in Blackheath Westcombe, where Labour won’t benefit from long-standing councillor Alex Grant’s personal vote. But their majority over Labour in Blackheath Westcombe is just 22 votes – so this could go any way.

Peninsula ward candidate Harry Methley (right) shows 'em some leg

Peninsula ward candidate Harry Methley (right) shows ‘em some leg on a sunny Sunday

As detailed above, there’s a real fear that Ukip could wreck the party’s Eltham heartland. Blackheath aside, the party’s long been a spent force north of the Shooters Hill Road, although judging by Peninsula ward candidate Harry Methley’s Twitter feed, the party’s giving east Greenwich another shot.

While Harry’s unlikely to be a councillor come Friday, the party’s results both here and in Woolwich Riverside will be interesting – will plush new riverside developments give the Tories a boost?

Wards to watch: Blackheath Westcombe, Eltham North, Eltham South, Coldharbour & New Eltham.
New candidates to watch: Blackheath Westcombe’s Thomas Turrell seems to have had an effect in winding up the local Labour establishment, while local credit union trustee Matt Hartley is bound to be a prominent figure if he is elected in Coldhardbour & New Eltham.
Ex-candidates to watch: Eileen Glover in Eltham South. Can she unseat her old colleagues?

Charlton Lib Dems tweet

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS. Seats in 2010: 0/51. Candidates: 40/51 (Read the manifesto.)
Currently ranked just below leprosy in the national polls, with every utterance from Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander making their lives harder, the local Lib Dems’ coalition pains were compounded when Greenwich party boss Chris Smith quit just weeks before the poll.

All this upheaval has seen the Lib Dems slip to just 40 candidates this time around, with Labour activists claiming that the party’s old power base in Middle Park & Sutcliffe lies neglected.

libdemSo all the action’s taking place up on Shooters Hill, where candidate Stewart Christie (who is also involved with No to Silvertown Tunnel, as are volunteers from Labour and the Greens) has mounted a campaign focusing squarely on Greenwich Council’s support for the Thames Gateway Bridge, which is likely to put Oxleas Woods and Woodlands Farm under threat once again as TfL seeks to link the bridge to the A2.

The result’s been a bad-tempered fight over the seat, best summed up by this Twitter exchange on Saturday, after Shooters Hill’s Labour candidates spotted Christie rummaging in his boot…

Undateables tweet

The “Undateables” tweet, probably the best gag of the election, was deleted by Charlton candidate Paul Chapman after one respondent complained it was cruel to use others’ physical appearance for humour.

Chapman’s online output’s been worth following, though – a change from the usual party tweets aimed solely at the already-converted. I hope he stays contributing to the local debate once the poll’s done and dusted.

Ward to watch: Shooters Hill.

jean_lambert

GREENS. Seats in 2010: 0/51. Candidates: 19/51 (Policy page / London council manifesto.)
I should, of course, state that I stood for the Greens in Peninsula ward in 2010. I’m no longer a member of the party, though the Greens are targeting Peninsula once again.

In March, five Labour councillors handed the Greenwich Greens a publicity gift by giving Ikea outline planning permission to build a store right in the heart of the ward – but have they been able to capitalise on this?

The Greens’ performance to beat came in 2006, when candidate Lucy Early came 250 votes behind Chris Roberts in the ward, terrifying the Dear Leader into creating a nonsense “Greener Greenwich” portfolio on his cabinet. Bad feeling over Ikea and Silvertown, plus an uplift from the European election, could give them every chance of matching that, despite limited resources.

Their biggest problem tends to be in communication – after I complained about their local tweets being full of waffle, I had the novel experience of being told by the Twitter feed that I set up that once I understood “economic story told by media is a fallacy… you may want to vote Green”. The Ikea issue seems to have given them some much-needed local focus – and they’re the only ones publicly raising it.

Peninsula was the Greens’ third-strongest performing seat in the 2012 assembly vote, after Blackheath Westcombe and Greenwich West, with Charlton coming fourth. They comfortably beat the Lib Dems in most Greenwich wards then – so this could be a pivotal election for them, if the Lib Dems really are on a death spiral.

Beyond Peninsula, the party’s fielding one candidate per ward – of these, Trevor Allman, a one-time Labour councillor from the 1980s, has a big personal following in Blackheath Westcombe. He’s cheerfully off-message, even admitting not voting for the Greens’ local London Assembly candidate two years ago.

Wards to watch: Peninsula, Blackheath Westcombe, Greenwich West.

And elsewhere… Greenwich’s neighbouring boroughs are also likely to also stay the same.

Over in Bexley - very much the Tory Shelbyville to Greenwich’s Springfield – the Tories are assured of victory, though Ukip will be a big threat and could gain seats. At least Labour here has a sense of humour, standing three candidates called O’Neill against council leader Teresa O’Neill in Bexleyheath’s Brampton ward. One to watch here will be three independent candidates standing under an anti-corruption banner in Blackfen and Lamorbey ward, next to the Greenwich boundary at Avery Hill. Despite candidate Michael Barnbrook’s past connections with the far right, the result here will be worth watching – not least because they’ve been pushing flyers for the Bexley Is Bonkers blog through local letter boxes.

In Lewisham, the big question is how many Lib Dem councillors will remain – Labour’s Sir Steve Bullock being set for an easy win in the mayoral poll. Campaign low-light so far has been People Before Profit (which abandoned plans to stand in Greenwich) appropriating the name “Save Lewisham Hospital” for one of its candidates, after trying to take over the campaign of the same name. Will Lewisham go 100% Labour on Thursday? Probably not, but it’ll be close. Bob from Brockley and Alternative SE4 have more Lewisham coverage.

If you’ve read this far down, head to the Charlton Champion for what happened in last week’s Charlton and Woolwich Riverside hustings. Polling stations are open from 7am-10pm on Thursday. See a full list of Greenwich candidates.

Greenwich Council bullying: Who’s out to get Labour’s John Fahy?

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John Fahy was crudely airbrushed out of an edition of Greenwich Council's weekly newspaper, which is controlled by council leader Chris Roberts, in 2012

John Fahy was crudely airbrushed out of an edition of Greenwich Council’s weekly newspaper, which is controlled by leader Chris Roberts, in 2012

An anonymous hoax emailer has been posing as Greenwich councillor John Fahy in an attempt to get incriminating information about whether or not he leaked a bullying voicemail left by council leader Chris Roberts, this website can reveal.

Fahy was at the centre of controversy last year when Roberts left a foul-mouthed message on his phone threatening him with the removal of his cabinet position in a row over the Run to the Beat half-marathon.

The message was later published by the News Shopper, and featured in a BBC1 Sunday Politics London investigation into Roberts’ behaviour as council leader.

While Roberts was given a written warning over the incident, this website understands Fahy, the victim of Roberts’ threats, was punished twice over the incident. He was given a verbal warning over the leak of the email, but earlier this year he was given a written warning for not saying who the message had been leaked to.

Fahy has previously challenged Roberts for the position of council leader, which led to him being literally airbrushed out of an edition of the council’s weekly Greenwich Time newspaper.

But when the new council returns after the election, this website understands he will challenge Peter Brooks for the deputy leadership. Brooks is Roberts’ current deputy and was selected for the outgoing leader’s Glyndon seat at the last minute. (The leadership will be contested by Denise Hyland and Jackie Smith.)

Now somebody has taken it upon themselves to pose as Fahy, fishing for information about the leak of the voicemail.

On Easter Monday, I received an email from “John Fahy”, reading: “Darryl, they know it… I am not confortable with this situation. We should talk.

Did you keep the recording on your personal email?”

Email purporting to be from John Fahy

But the mail wasn’t from John Fahy. It came from someone aping his personal email address, using the letter “l” instead of the figure “1”.

And oddly, the IP address in the email header suggested it’d been sent from a computer connected to Portugal Telecom’s network. What was all that about?

fahy_ip1

Impersonating somebody online is potentially illegal under the Computer Misuse Act. So why would somebody go to the extent of risking breaking the law to try to con me into giving up information about a serving councillor’s personal issues within the Labour Party?

I sought some advice, and a few days later I responded asking “John” to look at a dummy post on this website. It was a crude method – those who read this site via an RSS feed may have seen something odd a couple of weeks ago, which was live temporarily before I changed the address.

Stats reading

None of these companies will be directly connected with this incident. The Facebook references indicate that the link has been shared on Facebook Messenger. Exponential-E provides IT services for small firms, so this could be one of its clients. It’s a sub-contractor to Focus Telecom, which provides IT services for the Labour Party.

Was my response to the fake Fahy seen on a Labour Party computer?

Then I had another go, again asking “John” to have a look at a document (“roberts_email.pdf”) supposedly hosted on another website. The document didn’t exist, but the error logs would show if the address was requested. On May Day bank holiday, it sprang into life.

Server log

Someone had clearly wised up to the fact they were being watched. Now, the IP addresses were designed to obscure the sender’s real location, although it appears the same brower was used each time.

But someone had added the words “we know everything” to the address I’d supplied. Hmmm.

"John Fahy" response

A response email came with a small graphics file, too, presumably designed to track me opening the email.

tracker

It’s hosted on a free hosting service and difficult to track.

Portuguese IP address

It appears to have been sent from Portugal again, too. Strange.

So for people who claim “we know everything”, why were they doing this? But there was one extra bit of the jigsaw to fall into place.

Back on Easter Monday, Rob Powell, who runs Greenwich.co.uk, received this odd email:

"Local Health Service"

But I never heard anything from “Yasmin” at “Local Health Service”. Guess where the email appears to have been sent from?

"Local health service" email headers

Another Portugal Telecom connection. Does this mean the emails were sent from there? Not necessarily – one IT expert I’ve spoken to says some web traffic is sent via there to obscure the sender’s true location.

But this common link between all three emails indicates somebody’s gone to great lengths to try to trick me, and stitch up John Fahy. But why?

Of course, this could have nothing to do with rivalries in the Greenwich Council Labour group, the Greenwich & Woolwich Labour Party or the Eltham Labour Party. But frankly, it’s highly unlikely – somebody seems to know what they’re doing.

Considering Fahy has already been disciplined twice for being the victim of an abusive phone call, it looks like someone decided to break the law to go for a hat-trick.

I wish I’d been able to investigate some more, but I was doing what Labour Party members should have been doing instead of fighting each other – helping with a campaign against the Tory mayor’s Silvertown Tunnel.

The real John Fahy declined to comment when asked.

I’ve sent Labour’s minister for London Sadiq Khan – who last year promised to investigate bullying accusations in Greenwich – general secretary Iain McNicol and London regional director Alan Olive details of what happened.

Khan, McNicol and Olive have been happy to continue to let the Greenwich Council Labour group police itself – despite its witch hunts against whistle-blowers.

Local MP Nick Raynsford, along with Greenwich and Woolwich candidate Matt Pennycook have also been informed. I’ve said I’ll be willing to help with any investigation.

Neither of these five individuals have yet responded.

I’ve also passed on details of this incident to Ray Walker, the Greenwich Labour group chief whip in charge of party discipline under Chris Roberts, and Eltham party secretary, who worked as an IT analyst for the Labour Party for nearly 20 years. He has also not responded.

Written by Darryl

13 May, 2014 at 7:39 am

Buried Greenwich Council report criticises Silvertown Tunnel

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Bridge The Gap relaunch

853 exclusive: Greenwich Council suppressed a report which criticised Tory mayor Boris Johnson’s plans for a new road tunnel between the Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks – while the council’s Labour leadership was launching a campaign to push for the tunnel to be built.

Published in May 2012, the Hyder Consulting report into a possible DLR extension to Eltham warns of “exacerbated congestion on the local road network” if the Silvertown Tunnel is built. But this didn’t stop cabinet member Denise Hyland, outgoing council leader Chris Roberts and his deputy Peter Brooks, together with MP Nick Raynsford, launching the Bridge The Gap campaign six months later to campaign for the tunnel, attempting to hijack a public consultation into the scheme.

The document was hidden for nearly two years. Labour councillors were not shown it when they were asked to endorse the Bridge The Gap campaign in December 2012. When a Freedom of Information request to see the report was submitted in April 2013, it was refused as the council was “drafting a report into the matter” and so it was “unfinished”. In the end, it was never presented to Greenwich Council’s cabinet.

It still hasn’t been published on the council website, but this website is now publishing the report for the first time, after it emerged following an enquiry from former Liberal Democrat councillor Paul Webbewood at a council meeting earlier this year.

Greenwich Council has supported the Silvertown Tunnel on the grounds it would provide congestion relief, as expressed in this answer from “Greener Greenwich” cabinet member Harry Singh in January 2013:

Harry Singh response to question about Silvertown Tunnel, Janaury 2013

But seven months earlier, the Hyder document had repeatedly warned that the Silvertown Tunnel would not be able to cope with increased traffic levels, and would actually draw new traffic to the area.

Suppressed Hyder Consulting report into Eltham DLR extension

This reflects established thinking among traffic planners that road building actually generates new traffic rather than relieves it.

But what of those plans for new public transport to take traffic off the roads? Long-term readers of this website will remember the original “DLR on stilts” report from 2011, proposing a DLR extension via the Silvertown Tunnel through east Greenwich, Blackheath, Kidbrooke and Eltham to Falconwood, largely built above the A102 and A2.

At the time, Chris Roberts said it was about “changing the mentality” of Transport for London, justifying the £75,000 cost of the two reports. The first report wasn’t publicly available until this website submitted a Freedom of Information request.

Well, the second, suppressed report reveals that there’s two hopes for Eltham’s DLR extension – after the town’s most famous son, there’s Bob Hope and no hope.

Quite simply, the plan’s been shelved – with the council urged to back an extension only going as far as Kidbrooke on cost/benefit grounds.

DLR report, Hyder Consulting

But what’s more, TfL doesn’t seem interested. An email from project manager Tony Wilson is included in the report. It states: “If the desire is to bring more passengers to North Greenwich to access the westbound Jubilee line, it is not clear whether this is desirable from a crowding perspective or attractive from a customer perspective.

“At the moment it is unclear what the proposed line is trying to achieve and what alternatives means of achieving this have been considered. That’s not to say that I can’t see any merits in it, but they appear to be fairly minor given the available capacity on the existing DLR options via Lewisham and Greenwich, while it would carry a very high price tag, and would be competing for funding against a great many other capital projects which have established cases.”

Further notes from meetings with TfL staff suggest they still weren’t impressed with the plans – with overcrowding at North Greenwich one of the key worries.

So the report was suppressed. It wasn’t presented to the council’s cabinet as promised, and wasn’t sent to Transport for London as planned – much to the anger of Greenwich’s Conservative leader Spencer Drury, an Eltham councillor.

But perhaps Spencer should have asked just why the report wasn’t submitted to Greenwich Council’s cabinet, never mind TfL. Perhaps the answer’s in another part of Tony Wilson’s email.

Email from TfL's Tony Wilson

Was the Kidbrooke/Eltham DLR extension killed off so Greenwich could pursue the Silvertown Tunnel that’s criticised in the report?

Indeed, cabinet member Denise Hyland and outgoing leader Chris Roberts have some questions to answer over this issue – particularly as to why Greenwich Labour councillors were cajoled into supporting a road scheme that a council report had said would just exacerbate congestion. Rank and file members in the Greenwich and Woolwich party rejected the scheme in January 2013, rebuking their own councillors.

It remains to be seen what line the post-Chris Roberts council will take on the Silvertown Tunnel – the Greenwich Labour party has yet to publish any kind of manifesto for 22 May’s election, although some Labour candidates are privately promising voters they’ll fight to reverse the council’s position.

In the meantime, while the “DLR on stilts” lies dead in the Quaggy, here’s some amazing mock-ups of what it could have looked like – including building the line over homes in east Greenwich.

DLR extension mock-up

DLR extension report mock-up

DLR extension report mock-up

From yesterday: Air pollution and SE London – the No to Silvertown Tunnel study.

Written by Darryl

6 May, 2014 at 6:30 am

Air pollution and SE London: The No to Silvertown Tunnel study

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The southbound traffic queue that the Silvertown Tunnel will exacerbate

It’s been a little bit quiet on this website over the past few weeks, and one of the reasons why is that I’ve been busy with the No to Silvertown Tunnel campaign.

The results of our latest air pollution study were released last Thursday, and they’re horrifying – with nearly all of the 150 sites we monitored across south-east and east London recording nitrogen dioxide pollution above European Union legal limits.

A tube is installed on Hither Green LaneMost personally shocking for me was the result at Bramshot Avenue, Charlton – by a subway under the A102 used by schoolchildren to get to and from schools in both Blackheath and Charlton. I used it myself 30 years ago. We recorded a level of 104 microgrammes per cubic metre – well over two and half times the EU limit of 40 ug/m3. People’s homes back onto the A102 at this stretch.

Worse results were recorded at the New Cross one-way system (110 ug/m3) and Lee High Road, Lewisham (109 ug/m3) – again, right in front of people’s homes.

There were also dreadful results right along the A2 through Deptford and New Cross, and along the A206 through Charlton and Greenwich – the latter just as it was when we did a similar study last year.

This year, we decided to expand our study to sites across Greenwich borough – but we expanded out to get coverage of SE London’s wider road network, which meant covering areas in parts of Lewisham borough (Hither Green Lane shown on the right), as well as stretching up to the Rotherhithe Tunnel and down the A2 to Bexleyheath.

We also covered areas north of the river, such as the proposed northern exit of the Silvertown Tunnel.

We joined forces with the campaigners at Don’t Dump on Deptford’s Heart, who are objecting to Thames Water’s plans to build a construction site for a sewer tunnel at Crossfields Green, Deptford Church Street, which allowed us both to expand our coverage and set our results in a wider context.

Indeed, it allows us to show that Greenwich Council’s uncritical backing for the Silvertown Tunnel will have dangerous consequences for its neighbouring boroughs.

With London facing EU fines for its dangerous air quality, other London boroughs fear they may have to pick up some of the tab – does this not worry anyone at Greenwich?

Study results around Greenwich, Blackheath and Charlton. Here, only one result - in Pelton Road, Greenwich - came in at under the EU legal limit.

Study results around Greenwich, Blackheath and Charlton. Here, only one result – in Pelton Road, Greenwich – came in at under the EU legal limit.

You can see a map of all the results at the No to Silvertown Tunnel website. It’s worth remembering that the study was carried out in the wettest January since records began – it’s likely the results would have been higher if the rain had held off.

We plan to update these results when we get local authority data, to give an even fuller picture of air pollution across the area.

Of course, you may be thinking that a new tunnel would ease all this pollution by clearing traffic jams. It won’t – it’ll merely bring new traffic to the area, encourage people away from other crossings, and exacerbate bottlenecks such as the southbound queue from the A2 at the Kidbrooke interchange.

Thursday's fire by the A102Indeed, it’ll put more pressure on the already fragile A102/A2 corridor – the delusion that Silvertown will fix this was exposed in spectacular fashion last Thursday when a fire next to the planned Silvertown Tunnel slip road closed the A102, bring traffic to a standstill across south-east London. The tunnel will be bad news for drivers too – and that’s before you consider TfL’s plans to toll both it and Blackwall.

Of course, the air pollution isn’t just about the Silvertown Tunnel or a huge construction site in Deptford – our results highlight poor air quality around east Greenwich’s proposed Ikea store, as well as in areas of Plumstead and Welling that will be affected by any bridge at Gallions Reach, Thamesmead.

But while our results will be open for anyone to use, we’ll be sticking with the battle against the Silvertown Tunnel.

(By the same token, it’s not just about Greenwich Council and Transport for London. Lewisham Council’s record in monitoring air quality is patchy, while Newham’s monitoring also misses out whole areas of its borough.)

We’ll be spending the summer talking to people about the results, spreading the word and refining our arguments – both on pollution and traffic levels. We’ve been reliant on a fantastic team of volunteers, we don’t have a weekly council newspaper and we’re not rich property developers, so any offers of help or donations would be gratefully accepted.

But the simplest thing you can do is to spread the word – tell your friends and neighbours. And if someone pops up on your doorstep over the next couple of weeks looking for your vote, why not ask them what their view is on the Silvertown Tunnel, and what they’ve done to oppose it?

After all, I’ve been spending my past few weeks doing what some of them should have done long ago – opposing this crazy plan. In Greenwich, it’s time councillors and party activists faced some awkward questions.

Tomorrow: How senior Greenwich councillors were warned about the risks of mayor Boris Johnson’s plans for the Silvertown Tunnel – but chose to ignore the advice.

Written by Darryl

5 May, 2014 at 6:30 am

Greenwich Council elections are in 3 weeks – have you noticed?

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woolwich_town_hall

So, we’re just over three weeks away from the elections to Greenwich Council (and all other London boroughs) on 22 May. Had you noticed the carnival of democracy filling the streets?

Nah, me neither. Here’s who’s standing

Labour Conservatives Liberal Democrats Green Party UKIP Others
Abbey Wood Denise Hyland
Clive Mardner
Steve Offord
Graham Brinkhurst
Barbara Couper
Frank Salmon
Mark Bryceland
Tom Headon
Samson Iriajen
Gerard Briody Michael Glenister -
Blackheath
Westcombe
 Paul Morrissey
Cherry Parker
Damien Welfare
Geoff Brighty
Laela Pakpour Tabrizi
Thomas Turrell
Lee Coppack
Michael O’Keefe
Trevor Allman - -
Charlton Allan MacCarthy
Gary Parker
Miranda Williams
Della Averley
Miki Rodrigues-Hale
James Worron
Paul Chapman
Ian Gerrard
Richard Mbogga
Jack Wheeler Gary Port -
Coldharbour
& New Eltham
Rob Carr
Sandra Bauer
John Slater
Mandy Brinkhurst
Matt Hartley
John Hills
Paul Gentry
Emma Lewis
Michael Lewis
Dave Sharman Peter Whittle Cliff Adams (BNP)
Eltham North  Linda Bird
Simon Peirce
Wynn Davies
Spencer Drury
Nigel Fletcher
Adam Thomas
Patrick Early
Yvonne Nichols
Rob Stead Paul Butler Roberta Woods (BNP)
Eltham South Simon Christie
John Galloway
Jagir Sekhon
Matt Clare
Nuala Geary
Mark Elliott
Michael Chuter
Eileen Cox
Mark Pattenden
David Turner John Evans Eileen Glover (Ind)
Thelma Peete (BNP)
Eltham West Bill Freeman
Mick Hayes
Ray Walker
Charles Davis
John Nichols
James Shipp
Harry Potter
Elliot Shubert
Mark Stevenson Ryan Acty Paul Ramsey (BNP)
Glyndon Don Austen
Peter Brooks
Radha Rabadia
Gillian Lee
Bhaval Patel
Sheila Stirling
Jo Heap
Eva Nabukeera-Mbogga
Edward Ottery
Janine Wilson - Lynne Chamberlain (TUSC)
Sian Stringer (TUSC)
Sara Kasab (TUSC)
Greenwich West Maureen O’Mara
Matt Pennycook
Aidan Smith
Andrew Corstorphine
Patricia Gillard
Louis McLean-Wait
Suzanne Miller
Mark Rotchell
Andy Smith
Robin Stott - -
Kidbrooke
with Hornfair
Norman Adams
Christine Grice
David Stanley
 Gold Chudi Emmanuel
Toni Hale
Semo Serroukh
Frances Hunter Arthur Hayles Barbara Ray -
Middle Park
& Sutcliffe
Mark James
Christine May
Clare Morris
David Goss
Benjamin Mawji
Elizabeth Drury
David Beaumont
Mary Green
Paul Webbewood
Roger Brand Raymond Adams Nick Scanlon (BNP)
Peninsula Stephen Brain
Chris Lloyd
Denise Scott-McDonald
Maya Mann
Harry Methley
Piers Tweddell
Chris Brand
Anthony Durham
George McFarlane
Phil Connolly
Jan King
Tim Wilson
Gillian Radcliffe Terry Wheeler (Ind)
Plumstead Angela Cornforth
Matthew Morrow
Rajinder Sehmar
Sheila Frost
Martin Riley
Gemma Robinson
Sylvia Derrick-Reeve Jo Lawbuary Ronie Johnson -
Shooters Hill Chris Kirby
Sarah Merrill
Danny Thorpe
Pat Greenwell
Maureen Burgess
Amit Tiwari
Anthony Austin
Stewart Christie
Bonnie Soanes
Michael Westcombe Les Price -
Thamesmead Moorings Olu Babatola
Sizwe James
Averil Lekau
David Brinson
Thomas Ralph
Alka Stannard
Paul West Susan Haroutunian - Freda McEwen (Ind)
Femi Solola (Ind)
Woolwich
Common
David Gardner
Ambreen Hisbani
Harry Singh
Patricia Hills
Jennifer Jones
Janet Wainwright
Peter Gwizdala Purnendu Roy David Warwicker -
Woolwich
Riverside
Barbara Barwick
John Fahy
Jackie Smith
David Couper
Michael Davidson
Abdoulaye Diallo
Rachael Clarke
Sally Hooker
Matthew Horrox
Elizabeth Angas John Gill Hamsa Yusuf (Ind)

Ind – Indepdendent, TUSC – Trade Union & Socialist Coalition

Not got a polling card yet? Visit aboutmyvote.co.uk to get yourself registered.

Greenwich Time, 29 April 2013Real life’s meant things have been rather busy at 853 Towers lately, but the only sign of an election so far has been an underwhelming leaflet from the Labour party’s Charlton branch with a little survey to fill in and back. Nobody else has bothered so far.

(If you have any, it’s worth sticking them up on electionleaflets.org to share with the wider world.)

Of course, the electioneering continues unofficially in the pages of council propaganda weekly Greenwich Time, still being published during the purdah period, and this week leading on crime figures. All remains doubleplusgood in the self-styled royal borough.

If outgoing leader Chris Roberts can’t appear in his paper right now, he can still edit it (while also even hiding behind the council’s press office to slag off a Tory.) Heaven knows what’s going to happen in the council bunker when he finally goes – or if Eric Pickles finally shuts Greenwich Time down.

As for the politicians, and would-be politicians, the candidates list confirms that Chris Roberts’s deputy Peter Brooks was shoehorned into the outgoing Dear Leader’s Glyndon ward at the last minute, while there’s a fair number of UKIP candidates for the first time – the European elections could have a strange effect on the local ones. Lib Dem candidates drop to 40, the Greens are standing 19 candidates, while People Before Profit appears to have abandoned its push into Greenwich in favour of campaign hijacking in Lewisham.

The only party to have bothered publicly releasing a manifesto is the Liberal Democrats.

So far, so uninteresting. But things might be different around your way. There are some little stories in there that I’ll try to tease out at a later date, but how has the election been for you so far? Are you drowning in leaflets or being ignored by your candidates? And will you be voting?

Written by Darryl

29 April, 2014 at 6:45 am

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