Posts Tagged ‘blackheath’
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.
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.
It’s good to see any local politician attempt to engage with the masses, and so today sees senior Greenwich councillor and cabinet member for health and older people John Fahy launch his own website.
It includes a blog where he updates us on what he’s going and what he’s thinking. In the past, he’s been critical of the Run To The Beat half-marathon, which he’s previously branded “an imposition on borough residents”.
Indeed, only a few weeks ago, he tweeted: “It would seem the Run To The Beat organisers have failed my test in making a charitable contribution, measly 200 tickets on offer. Pathetic.” He’s not been the only local councillor livid at race organisers, as well as their own council ignoring their residents.
With the new Run To The Beat route almost the same as last year’s, surely the good councillor would be putting the boot in on behalf of his constituents, no?
No. He’s broken ranks with his colleagues.
I welcome the proposed changes to the Run to the Beat route. The balance between the needs of residents and participants has been struck.
IMG are a world wide organisation engaged in all sports activities which is why I have tried, but failed,to encourage a donation to our Starting Blocks charity.
Over many years the London Marathon has brought enormous joy to thousands of people and have made significant contributions to sports legacy in the Royal Borough. My case rests.
Not quite sure what case Cllr Fahy is making – the London Marathon’s a completely different event which has left a legacy in the form of the London Marathon Playing Fields on Shooters Hill Road. Run To The Beat provides no such benefit.
As far as changes, the route avoids Woolwich town centre, easing disruption to Greenwich Council regeneration partner Tesco as well as the Royal Arsenal development, owned by Greenwich Council renegeration partner Berkeley Homes.
Everyone else will have to lump it. To make up the missing miles, the route will cut off Charlton Park on three sides, cutting off access for Sunday footballers as well as mourners at Charlton Cemetery.
There has been no attempt at a meaningful consultation, and neither organisers nor Greenwich Council have officially released the route (shown above). You’re welcome to take part in the poll below, which shows a hefty majority in favour of scrapping the route or changing it so it doesn’t shut locals in. (Here’s a suggestion.)
So why did John Fahy change his mind?
Apologies for the short notice, but if you use Westcombe Park, Maze Hill, Greenwich or Deptford stations you should know about this – there’s a meeting on Tuesday at Davy’s Wine Bar, Greenwich High Road (7pm) about the possibility of setting up a rail users’ group for the Greenwich line, following the success of the Charlton Rail Users’ Group just down the line.
A rep from Southeastern will be there, along with someone from the Charlton group to explain how they did it. The initiative comes from the Westcombe Society (Westcombe Park and Maze Hill) and is supported by the Greenwich Society (er, Greenwich); where Deptford fits into this is unclear, but issues with the new station there suggest SE8-ers should be represented too.
The impetus for this is the disruption that rebuilding works at London Bridge station will cause (with many trains not stopping there for a couple of years) – to find out more, pop along if you can.
Amid the row over Greenwich Council’s dumb Bridge The Gap campaign, a little opportunity to improve cross-river links is looking set to be squandered. Ever one to leap on board a passing bandwagon, this website is today launching an “all-out” campaign to extend the 108 bus to the Olympic Park.
You what? I’ll explain. Transport for London’s launched a consultation on which buses should run into the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park when people start moving in later this year. It suggests seven services, including a night bus, should run into the park.
All well and good. But one’s missing. Why can’t we have a bus from south of the river to the Olympic Stadium?
The 108 is one of London’s oldest bus routes – it’ll celebrate its centenary in March next year. In 1930, it schlepped all the way from Clapton to Crystal Palace, charging a shilling if you were mad enough to want to ride all the way, but there was never long to wait – double-decker buses ran every three and a half minutes through the Blackwall Tunnel back in those days.
The route’s shrunk, grown, shrunk again, gone 24-hours (a lifesaver) and been tweaked since – the double deckers vanished in the late 1960s, but the Stratford to Lewisham service has been the sole bus service through the tunnel for decades. For many years, it was the only public transport link across the Thames east of Rotherhithe. Back then, it actually wasn’t a bad service, if the tunnel was behaving itself – in the mid-90s, when I lived in Greenwich and went to college in Clerkenwell, it only took 20 minutes or so to get me to Bromley-by-Bow station so I could get a Tube to Farringdon; making it pretty much the equal of taking the train.
But while other transport links have got better, the poor old 108′s been left in the shadows – an enforced diversion around the Millennium Dome building site months before North Greenwich station opened ruined it as a commuting route to anywhere but North Greenwich, but despite the idiotic transport arrangements around the Dome, it still carries healthy numbers through the tunnel each day. Remember, it’s a damn sight cheaper than the Tube.
I’ve heard loads of horror stories of endless waits for people in Blackheath who depend on it for travel to North Greenwich – they desperately need extra buses, but instead those get thrown into the schedule late at night for chucking out time at the O2. It’s time for someone with felt pens and a bus map to get to work and rearrange matters – but so far, there’s no sign of progress.
But there’s one change to the 108 that could gives us a real – yes – Olympic legacy, and might also improve the service. Tweaking the end point so it ran into the Olympic Park, rather than Stratford bus station, would still enable it to serve Westfield and the massive transport interchange there; but would also get it away from the awful traffic in Stratford, bring a 24-hour bus service from south of the river to the Olympic Park, and help us get to and from events there.
It’s a change that’d cost very little, but would make the regenerated Olympic Park feel a bit closer to us in an area that’s not been left with many physical reminders of the Olympics (especially once the mud goes).
Obviously, I’ll now be arranging a photoshoot with various pub landlords, kebab house magnates and the Stratford Westfield Massage Angels as part of my “all out” campaign to bridge this gap, but in the meantime, if you want to suggest it to TfL, head to its consultation page – it closes on 22 February.
Here are some arsey tweets from the police.
What brought those about, then? Well, these “burglars, we’re coming to get you”-style messages (can’t wait to see the same tactics used for ALL car drivers because a few arseholes use their mobile phones behind the wheel) came as a result of Greenwich Park being closed as a through route for motorists, but most of all, cyclists.
The Avenue (the hill which runs into Greenwich town centre) was closed suddenly a couple of weeks ago for repairs to be carried out to repair damage caused by the heavy vehicles used when the Olympic equestrian stadium was being constructed.
LOCOG is coughing up for the repairs, and the all-new road will open at the end of March – which should also be roughly the time the stadium site will be fully back in use, too. So it’s fair enough the road should be shut. And since no pedestrian is going to want to share a pavement with a downhill cyclist (and neither is a downhill cyclist going to want to share a path with pedestrians), then it’s understandable the whole thing’s shut – although whether or not the whole thing could have been planned better is another issue. Royal Parks only gave about a week’s notice of the closure, and seems to have allowed its contractors to dictate the timetable.
The loss of The Avenue only affects car drivers for a few hours each weekday. But it’s a cycle route throughout the day, weekdays and weekends – something which seems to have been lost in the planning of this closure.
So if you’re approaching the park from Blackheath, expecting your normal ride down the hill, what notice are you given of this closure? There’s nothing at all on the paths crossing the heath approaching the park. The best you’ll get is a sign like this on Charlton Way…
…which is aimed at the tiny minority of motorists who drive through the park. If you’re on a bike, a diversion towards Blackheath Village is absurd, and you’ll probably think you can squeeze round the roadworks, which is what you can normally do – bikes being a bit more agile than cars – so you’ll enter the park with no warning signs at the gate, ride down, and then find a rude shock.
Well, at least it says “please”. But if you’re in a hurry, you’ll probably think you can get around this by nipping down the pavement – or, as the cyclists in the picture above did 30 seconds after I took the photo, riding down the other footpaths. And then that leads to the unpleasantness and bad feeling and, for some, £50 fines.
Yet if some warning signs had been put up before people cycled into the park expecting to ride down the hill, pointing people towards diversions, perhaps there’d be less need for the arsey messages, and fewer £50 fines. But even in Greenwich Park, the supposed needs of a tiny group of car drivers outweigh those of the hundreds of cyclists for whom this has become a reliable and safe route to travel along.
This isn’t a plea for special treatment – it’s simply a plea for the same treatment that drivers get. There’s been some interesting discussions going on in Westminster with an all-party inquiry into cycling, which is finding that cyclists are largely ignored when it comes to road planning. In Greenwich Park, cyclists have been ignored when it came to planning the road works, except for sticking the “no entry” signs up.
If a cycle route, which Greenwich Park effectively is (albeit shared with cars for a few hours), has to close, then some proper diversion signs should be put up – like cars get. Then nobody has the slightest excuse for breaking the law. This isn’t rocket science. But I can’t help thinking Royal Parks would rather not have cyclists spoiling their park, which is a shame bearing in mind it’s such a vital route for people from all over south-east London.
Greenwich Council has revealed plans to install speed bumps – “raised tables” – to slow down traffic at Blackheath Standard, as well as narrowing the roadway at the top of Westcombe Hill. There’s an exhibition of the plans at Mycenae House community centre in Mycenae Road until the end of the month if you want to know more – and you can see a letter and diagram to explain more.
Hey, the council could put this on its website, but you wouldn’t get a picture of the Standard in the snow there…
In case you’d forgotten, the annual Blackheath fireworks display starts tonight at 8pm. More details are on Lewisham Council’s website.
It’s the third year that Greenwich Council has refused to fund the event, which attracts 100,000 people, sits squarely on the border of Lewisham and Greenwich boroughs and had been jointly-backed by the two councils for about 20 years before that.
Last year, the fireworks were actually launched from Greenwich’s side of the heath.
In case you’re thinking this is good old sensible Labour Greenwich putting local services ahead of whizz-bangs, unlike silly old er, Labour Lewisham, then it’s worth remembering Greenwich pulled out to save £37,000. This year, Greenwich has treated its head of PR to a £25,000 pay rise, and has blown at least £114,000 on royal borough celebrations. The whole sorry tale of how Greenwich blew 2010′s fireworks cash on a booze-up for the mayor can be found in the archives.
If everyone who went to the fireworks gave a couple of quid, Lewisham would cover all its costs. So don’t be like Greenwich Council, donate and enjoy tonight.