Archive for the ‘london’ Category
A Croydon special (gasp!), featuring Steven Downes of Inside Croydon, the local site that’s just had a front row seat for the resignation of the local Tory leader after he was caught secretly claiming an extra £10,000 in allowances. There’s also talk of tall ships, council chief executives and paying what you like at Dulwich Hamlet (above). Full details over at Onionbagblog.
Bored this damp bank holiday? Be entertained by Jason Cobb and myself talking about the kind of stuff you’ll find on this site and on Onionbagblog/ Brixton Buzz – local politics, hyperlocal publishing and south London. Features new Greenwich-area blogs Promises and Pie and Boy and Girl Meet Pub, plus another mention for the fantastic Deserter blog and its Great Train Journeys: London Bridge to Charing Cross.
There’s a full list of links over at Onionbagblog.
London mayor Boris Johnson has admitted his proposals for the Silvertown Tunnel will cause “much more pressure and much more traffic” on local roads – despite his allies at Greenwich Council claiming the opposite.
Johnson’s admission also gives campaigners against a new Ikea in Greenwich a new line of argument while the mayor considers whether or not to ratify Greenwich Council’s decision to back the new store.
All this comes in a week London’s been enveloped in a smog which is actually visible thanks to it including some Saharan dust particles – with the capital’s politicians paralysed by inaction.
Johnson’s comments about Silvertown were made in a phone-in on LBC with breakfast host Nick Ferrari on Tuesday morning. Thanks to Boriswatch’s Tom Barry for the heads-up and transcript of this conversation with a caller called Mark from Dagenham, 25 minutes into the programme:
“What we’ve got to do, Mark, actually, is build not just one bridge but a series of river crossings, we’re starting with the Blackwall 2 tunnel… that will be going by 2020, or 2020-2021 – not so far away! Erm, only six years or seven years to go, we’re going for the Blackwall 2 tunnel at Silvertown, but we will also need a series of crossings to the, to the east and actually there’s a there’s a there’s loads of sites that er, are we are looking at and, um, I think the important thing for people of um both on both sides is that you shouldn’t just do one, because if you do one then you’re going to get much more pressure, much more traffic on, on that area and if you if you you can dilute the traffic if you have if you have several crossings.”
Yet the current proposals from Transport for London, which Johnson chairs, are just for the one crossing – at Silvertown. And Johnson has been happy to push the merits of this one crossing in the past – calling it “a major new crossing east of Tower Bridge”.
(Update Friday 8.30am: A spokesperson for Johnson has also told the Mercury that Silvertown will DOUBLE capacity at Blackwall. Past TfL statements have put the planned increase in traffic at 20%.)
So not only has Boris Johnson torpedoed his own argument, his friendly fire has also shot down some of the nonsense spouted by his partners-in-roadbuilding at Greenwich Council, such as this classic from “Greener Greenwich” cabinet member Harry Singh.
It’s increasingly looking like the mayor is starting to soften up for a U-turn on the Gallions Reach crossing – which would flood Woolwich, Plumstead and Abbey Wood with new traffic, as well as for more roadbuilding in general. But where else along SE London’s riverfront would Johnson swing his wrecking-ball to build yet more road crossings?
Meanwhile, while voicing doubts on putting too much pressure on the road network on the Greenwich Peninsula, the mayor is currently deciding whether or not to approve Greenwich Council’s decision to allow Ikea to build a new superstore there.
Of course, an Ikea will bring the same problem – an increase in traffic, something that was ignored when it was bulldozed through planning last month.
So it’s possible to use Johnson’s words to argue the case against Greenwich’s decision, as well as the GLA’s 2004 objection to a store in Sidcup. If you want to write to City Hall to object, use reference number D&P/3283/PR and write to planning[at]london.gov.uk before 9 April.
In case you hadn’t seen this already, this image issued by the Environment Agency shows what could have happened to our part of London if the Thames Barrier hadn’t been raised on Thursday to deal with the biggest tide in 60 years. That’s my old house in Greenwich, right at the edge of that wave of water. And The Valley would be a bit more like this.
If, like me, you grew up in London in the early 1980s, then last week’s storm was exactly what this terrifying ad (and this 1978 one) was about. Thank heavens for the Thames Barrier, the best £534 million we’ve ever spent.
Like most of the good things Boris Johnson promotes, this is another one that actually started under the previous mayor. Yesterday’s Ride London Freecycle – once the London Freewheel – was great fun as ever.
But getting to the start at Tower Hill and back showed how far London has to go in really becoming a cycling city, and how little progress has been made since then. A weekend of two-wheeled fun is one thing, but the real hard work is in making sure the whole capital is a city fit for cycling.
On the way up there via Blackheath, I saw a cyclist wearing a Ride London bib pull out of Westbrook Road into Kidbrooke Park Road, a road which makes for hairy riding at the best of times. But he didn’t pull out onto the carriageway, he did a left onto the pavement and cycled up that instead. I couldn’t help wondering if he’d actually just taken a train to Blackheath rather than cycled all the way back.
I took a friend who was riding in London for the first time, and while cycling along the Thames Path isn’t the quickest way to get to central London, it’s certainly the most scenic and pleasant. And riding over Tower Bridge is usually great fun. It wasn’t yesterday, though – a bottleneck of traffic and a badly-parked ice cream van meant it was slow and unpleasant going – and this was the main route into the Freecycle for many from south of the river. On the other side, there were people wheeling their cycles back on the pavement, rather than taking on the traffic. I even saw a bike being carried on top of a car, but that could have been unrelated. Closing this iconic old bridge to motor traffic was clearly a step too far for a “cycling city”.
The Freecycle itself was great – it’s been made bigger, thankfully, cutting the bottlenecks of the past. Being surrounded by children having a whale of a time was something special. But while making loads of noise in the Blackfriars Underpass was fun, I saw a couple of nasty crashes – when it’s sunny outside the underpass, it takes a while for your eyes to adjust to the lack of light inside.
On the way back, we took one of the few genuine innovations that has done some good – Cycle Superhighway 3, through Wapping and Poplar, before swooping down through Cubitt Town to the Greenwich Foot Tunnel. It’s a step above the other cycle superhighways, but while linking the route up has been a good thing, CS3’s separated cycle lanes – and traffic signals – were there long before blue paint was slapped down.
How easy did Transport for London make it to get back from Ride London? By not bothering to adjust the traffic signals, long queues of cyclists built up at the end of Royal Mint Street, where they were only given eight seconds to cross Leman Street. Clearly TfL’s “smoothing traffic flow” only applies to those on four wheels.
For all the great fun of Ride London, including this weekend’s amazing sight of amateur and pro cyclists charging down the A12 and through the Docklands for the London Surrey Classic (next time, how about through the Blackwall Tunnel and out to the North Downs?) it’s not going to do a single thing to make the streets safer for cyclists.
At the moment I’m watching the BBC’s Ride London coverage, where an elected politician is being treated once again as a national treasure. “It’s a magnificient symbol of what we’re doing for cycling in this city,” Boris Johnson told an interviewer, unchallenged, less than a month after two cyclists were killed in a week in central London. If Michael Gove held a national spelling competition, he wouldn’t be allowed to get away with saying it was a symbol of what he was doing for education. So why does the mayor of London get away with it?
It’s easy to shut roads for a weekend’s pedalling party, but the real hard work is in making it easy for people to cycle to work, to school, to the shops. Maybe with the appointment of Andrew Gilligan as cycling commissioner, we will finally to get somewhere with this (except in the rotten borough of Greenwich). But until we see concrete evidence (or rather tarmac evidence), while Freewheel/Skyride/Freecycle will continue to be a success in its own right, it’ll also be a symbol of a wider failure.
Update 00.15 Monday: The Ride London website quotes Boris Johnson talking about 50,000 “amateur cyclists” on Saturday’s Freecycle – does that mean people who drive cars are “amateur motorists”? It’s very unlikely Johnson came up with those words himself, but this City Hall clanger won’t do any good in persuading people that cycling is a thing that normal people do to go to the shops or wherever.
Here’s a turn-up for the books – a TfL consultation has found support for rerouting the 108 bus route so it runs into the Olympic Park, rather than Stratford Bus Station.
Alright, it’s not massive, but 32 separate responses were received by TfL suggesting either diverting the 108 into the Park, or introducing another route from south-east London. In addition, a further two responses suggested extending the 129 (Greenwich town centre-North Greenwich) to the area.
All this means TfL has actually had to give a response. And here it is…
Can route 108 be extended to East Village to serve the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park?
There are no plans at present to change the routeing of the 108. Diverting it into the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park would break around 600 trips per day. It currently serves High Street, Stratford which was an access point for the Olympic Park during the Games. It also serves Stratford Bus Station from which Stratford City and the East Village can be accessed.
As the south of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park becomes more developed in Legacy and new development comes forward south of High Street, Stratford more changes to the bus network may be required. The routeing of the 108 will therefore be kept under review.
Well, it’s not a complete “go away and leave us alone”… here’s the results of the consultation and responses to issues raised. Neither Greenwich nor Lewisham councils responded to the consultation, which was aimed at boroughs north of the Thames and focused on routes there.
The idea got an airing on this website in February, so if it prompted you to drop TfL a line – thank you.
Is extending the 108 into the park a good idea? Sorting out its dreadful rush-hour overcrowding’s a bigger priority, but the park should have links to the south and I’m delighted the idea’s been taken up by a decent number of people.
For all the dismal rubbish about how we apparently need a new road crossing on the Greenwich Peninsula – and I had the unfortunate experience of seeing Boris Johnson say it in the flesh the other night – it shows there’s still a demand for better cross-river public transport crossings. Hopefully it’s been noticed.
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.)