Posts Tagged ‘boris johnson’
Remember the Peninsula Festival? Greenwich Council wasn’t the only public body stung by the failed event, which was due to run during the Olympics, but closed early and ended up going into administration.
London mayor Boris Johnson has written off a £99,000 debt owed to the Greater London Authority from Peninsula Festival Ltd, the company which was to run the festival.
The bulk of the sum, £84,000, relates to rent due to GLA Land & Property, which owns the freehold to much of the vacant land on the Greenwich peninsula. As well as the music festival on a site next to John Harrison Way, a campsite had also been due to open on plots of land at Peartree Way. Despite a press launch the previous summer, Oranjecamping never opened in Greenwich – relocating to a site in Walthamstow instead.
The remaining £15,000 relates to a street music festival, Rhythm of London, which was supposed to have “entertained crowds during the Olympic Games”.
It appears City Hall came off worse than Greenwich Council, which gave the festival £40,000, but was at least able to move its big screen to Well Hall Pleasaunce, Eltham, when it was clear the event had flopped.
The festival was supposed to have put on concerts and club events during the Olympic period, but never recovered after festival operator Kilimanjaro Live pulled out of the event. A promised beach at Delta Wharf never materialised, and nor did most of the festival bill.
Eight months after the Peninsula Festival’s failure, both of exuberant promoter Frank Dekker’s companies, Peninsula Festival Ltd and Orange Connections Ltd, are in liquidation. Dekker himself is now believed to be working as a project manager for a renewable energy company in Maidenhead.
The main festival site has remained empty, but construction vehicles have now moved in on the area by Greenwich Yacht Club earmarked by Dekker for use as a “campsite business lounge”.
Hot off the press from the London Assembly, a written answer from mayor Boris Johnson.
A little recap. In May 2012, the mayor announced plans for a Dutch-style road scheme in Greenwich, to assist cyclists and pedestrians. Except he hadn’t told the council, nor had the council picked up the phone to ask what he was on about.
Seven months later, a TfL executive said it was waiting for plans from Greenwich Council. A couple of weeks later, Greenwich’s cabinet member for bins and cycling said there were “no definitive plans”.
Clear as mud, then.
Go Dutch development of Greenwich town centre
Question No: 8 / 2013
There have been a number of contradictory statements about who is responsible for bringing forward the flagship walking and cycling development in Greenwich that you announced shortly after your re-election. Will you clarify your promise to create a flagship walking and cycling development in Greenwich?
Written response from the Mayor
I am encouraged by the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s statement that they are taking forward an “ambitious action plan” for cycling in the Borough. My Cycling Commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, himself a Greenwich resident, is arranging meetings with the Council to discuss its vision and how this can fit into our own equally ambitious plans for cycling in London. We do not wish to pre-empt the Royal Borough’s plans.
TfL is also working closely with the Royal Borough of Greenwich to plan and deliver a new Cycle Superhighway through Greenwich. Building on the lessons learned from the first Cycle Superhighways, and from the ongoing Better Junctions review, CS4 will be built to ambitious new standards.
TfL is also keen to work with RB Greenwich to explore how major new development areas such as the Greenwich peninsular [sic] and Charlton could be developed with the ‘Go Dutch’ cycling principles’ approach in mind.
You’ll see that nothing in his answer specifically mentions Greenwich town centre – just the woolly answer about Greenwich Council’s borough-wide “ambitious action plan”.
But the mention of his new cycling commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, is intriguing. When the west Greenwich-based journalist’s controversial appointment was revealed last month, I wondered just how he’d cope negotiating with those he’s aimed brickbats at in the past. I’m barely one to talk here, but had he burned too many bridges locally?
It seems not. So it’s good to hear he’s going to take on cycling in Greenwich – which will involve dealing with councillors he’s branded as “forty-watt burghers”.
What’s even better is that I hear those same burghers are more than happy to meet him – with the council’s transport scrutiny committee looking at ways to get him involved. If he comes along for a meeting, be sure to bring some popcorn.
It’s also good to see another commitment to build Cycle Superhighway 4 (from London Bridge to Woolwich) through the borough – despite the neighbouring route being chopped short at New Cross. It may be a challenge through Greenwich, probably the narrowest section of CS4, but as the road widens through Charlton and Woolwich, will we see proper segregated lanes like the one above, planned for Stratford?
The mention of getting involved in plans for the peninsula and Charlton riverfront is also promising – but none of this should distract from the original promise to sort something out in Greenwich town centre.
A quick heads up – if you want to quiz Boris Johnson on why he wants to pollute half of Greenwich and beyond with his new Silvertown Tunnel, or why he’s refusing to support the campaign to save Lewisham Hospital’s accident and emergency service, then he’s doing a public Q&A at the Broadway Theatre in Catford (or “Catford, Lewisham” as City Hall calls it) a month today, on Thursday 7 March. Apply for a seat via the City Hall website.
Nearly six months after Boris Johnson first announced it, the tiniest detail has emerged about the mayor’s vague plan to have a pro-cycling scheme somewhere in Greenwich, to Dutch design standards.
It comes in the Christmas edition of the London Cycling Campaign‘s magazine, London Cyclist, which interviews Transport for London executive Ben Plowden. He says:
We are now looking a how we an represent the Go Dutch principles, as far as we are able… In the case of the ‘flagships’ [Vauxhall Cross and Greenwich], the critical question is making sure that we choose locations where other things will be happening on a large scale anyway.
Asked when something will happen, he says…
That will depend partly on when these other changes take place. I know the Greenwich local authority has ambitious plans for its town centre and I think it would be sensible to align the cycling changes with the other changes, rather than doing something quicker then having to modify it.
So, a plan announced by Boris Johnson within days of his re-election ends up relying on Greenwich Council to help kick-start. It may well be news to them. At least we now know it’s the town centre, rather than the (horrifying) Woolwich Road flyover. But what are Greenwich’s “ambitious plans”?
We’ve been here before, of course. In 2010, Greenwich proposed pedestrianising College Approach and King William Walk, but the plan collapsed after Transport for London objected to its other plan to create a gyratory system around Norman Road.
So what happens next?
This summer saw Greenwich Church Street temporarily pedestrianised during the Olympics, which may have given more food for thought. But that still relied on a gyratory around Norman Road – so what what these “ambitious plans” are is anyone’s guess. Perhaps the plans to create a cycle superhighway by 2015 will focus minds – or give Boris the excuse to cut it short at Deptford.
Funnily enough, when Greenwich canned the pedestrianisation/gyratory scheme in 2011, Chris Roberts referred to “a wide range of traffic proposals” for the local area from… Transport for London. Is there real discussion going on, or just buck-passing?
In the meantime, the nearest cyclists might get to Dutch-style cycling in Greenwich town centre centres around often-mooted, never implemented plans to create a cycle contraflow up King William Walk, to make accessing Greenwich Park easier. While I’m not sure it’s exactly a high priority, it’d be a welcome and symbolic gesture from a council that’s not really quite got cycling over recent years.
PS. The consultation into the truncated Victoria – New Cross Gate cycle superhighway (with token concessions down the A20 to Lewisham) is now on the TfL website.
PPS. I’m going to ask about this at next week’s council meeting, assuming I remember to send the email. You want to ask Greenwich Council a question about something that’s bugging you? Drop email@example.com a line before noon on Wednesday – find out more details here. Like I always say, don’t expect someone else to do it for you – the results might surprise you.
This video, from Lewisham Cyclists, was doing the rounds a couple of weeks back, but perhaps it needs a bit of post-Olympics attention. Would you want to ride a bike along here? Turn the sound up for the commentary.
This is the junction of Greenwich High Road, Deptford Bridge, Deals Gateway and Blackheath Road, right on the border between Deptford and Greenwich. This is what cyclists who leave the housing at Deals Gateway are expected to deal with – being left stuck in a box junction in the middle of the A2.
It’s the ideal spot for politicians to sit on their backsides and do nothing – it sits just off the border of Greenwich and Lewisham boroughs, and the A2 that cuts across this junction is the responsibility of Transport for London. But London Assembly members Darren Johnson (who’s also a local councillor) and Len Duvall have both put this to Boris Johnson – and so far, have had no joy.
I’ve done a piece for Snipe about whether the mayor can keep his promises on making the capital safer for cyclists. If an obviously dangerous junction like this can’t get sorted out – and it’s not on TfL’s list – then you do have to wonder if the mayor’s simply taking trusting campaigners for a ride.
A funny thing happened at City Hall a month ago. Boris Johnson said he wanted to do something in Greenwich. It’ll be more significant to more people than his baffling cable car, yet nobody knows quite what he was on about.
During Mayor’s Question Time, he was asked about his commitment during the election, after pressure from the London Cycling Campaign, to introduce Dutch-style measures in London to assist cyclists and pedestrians.
In response to Lib Dem assembly member Caroline Pidgeon, he said…
“These are early days, but I can give you an indication of where we want to go on two schemes. We are looking particularly at Vauxhall Cross and Greenwich and obviously these are still plans that are being developed very fast.”
Vauxhall Cross is specific enough, but Greenwich? Did he mean the town centre? Somewhere else in SE10? Or somewhere in the wider borough? I asked around, but nobody knew. And nothing more’s been said since.
Some people thought they knew. The London Cycling Campaign jumped to the conclusion that he meant Greenwich town centre. Greenwich Liberal picked up the ball and ran with it, declaring Greenwich would be a “flagship Go Dutch area”.
But, in reality, nobody knows. It would take an earthquake to shake Greenwich Council out of its institutional inertia and to create and promote something like this, instead of hiding behind dusty old bye-laws – the Cutty Sark Gardens farrago is proof of that. That’s not to say it won’t ever happen – Waltham Forest Council, once notorious for its lack of interest in promoting cyclist, recently did an about-turn and has launched a cycling action plan. See, it can be done.
So, if we rule the council out, the biggest influence TfL will have are on the roads it controls, and on its plans for a cycle superhighway along the A206 (CS4 to Woolwich, due by 2015). This could mean Greenwich town centre and its one-way system, but I suspect not – traffic moves so slowly around the market that even a scaredy-cat like me can navigate it without much bother.
For my own money, I reckon this is about changing the Woolwich Road flyover. Even in the dead of night this is a terrifying junction. It’s a king-size deterrent to seeing cycling in Greenwich as something practical and achievable for most people, for good reason.
Two years ago, Adrianna Skryzpiec died here after a collision with a lorry, and tributes to her remain there. Not far north of the river, the shortcomings of the cycle superhighway scheme were exposed in the most tragic manner after two deaths at the Bow flyover, with TfL belatedly attempting to make things safer with special traffic lights for cyclists.
Since the Woolwich Road flyover’s construction in the late 1960s, it’s been redesigned twice – until the late 70s, it was a traffic-signalled junction; and it was a free-flowing roundabout until about 1999. After the Bow flyover deaths, TfL simply could not get away with using the current design for a cycle superhighway, a battered and discredited scheme which needs a relaunch.
Add that to the fact that Vauxhall Cross is also earmarked for a cycle superhighway (CS5 to Lewisham, due next year), and that makes me think the flyover is what Boris is talking about.
So to go with a Dutch festival at the top of the peninsula, there might well be a Dutch traffic system at the bottom of it.
Of course, my hunch could be wrong. It could be somewhere else in Greenwich, or somewhere in the wider borough – Kidbrooke Park Road springs to mind, where the new Thomas Tallis School has loads of cycle racks, but nothing’s been done to make cycling there safer.
What do you think could be done to persuade more people to walk or cycle? Do you know any more about what Boris meant? Share your views below – and the London Cycling Campaign is looking for your ideas, too.
It’s been the most dismal, depressing election campaign I can remember. If we’re voting, we’re voting for one man merely to stop the other bloke getting in. Something’s wrong with that.
For a campaign full of lies and smears, though, one of the final porkies took place above the skies of Greenwich. Wednesday’s Evening Standard devoted its page three to a big picture of the Greenwich cable car in operation, with words by City Hall reporter Peter Dominiczack, who’s seemingly spent the past few months simply taking dictation from the mayor’s team.
High above the Thames, London’s first cable car has its maiden flight.
Three gondolas were suspended in mid-air today after moving off just before 10am — the first test of the city’s newest river crossing.
The cars did not appear to be carrying any passengers, though they could transport athletes at the Olympics if they are completed in time and will eventually carry up to 10 people per trip.
Onlookers at North Greenwich, on the south side of the cable car run, were impressed by the project, despite its £60 million price tag, and said they hoped it would bring more people to the area.
Unfortunately for the Boris campaign rag, the gondolas have been under test for 10 days or so, as readers of greenwich.co.uk will know.
“The Emirates Airline cable car took a step closer to completion yesterday as moving cable car gondolas were sighted for the first time.”
All of which proves which news outfit you can trust in future, and which is only good for soaking up the cat litter. But what if Boris Johnson had done something more substantial with our local transport? How would we be feeling about him today? Here’s a blog post I could have written, if only he’d cared…
“Well if I can’t take London back to Victorian forms of transport, then what is the point of having a Conservative mayor?,” puffed Boris Johnson as he coasted over the Blackwall Tunnel approach and down the slope on his blue bicycle.
Ten minutes earlier, the mayor had cut the ribbon on something he could call his own. The New Tower Bridge, some critics were calling it. Tory-leaning bloggers were calling it the Boris Bridge. And that was the name that stuck.
But the sleek blue Diamond Jubilee Bridge, open only to pedestrians and cyclists, was the gamble upon which Boris Johnson was trying to win over the capital for a second term.
The project had its critics. Labour MPs called it a “vanity project”. The Evening Standard said “it is hard to see why the Mayor persists with this project when the hard-pressed motorists of Chelsea still have to pay an outrageous congestion charge,” referring to his controversial U-turn in 2011 on the charge’s western extension.
The £300m Diamond Jubilee Bridge, from the Isle of Dogs to North Greenwich, ended up having to be bailed out by Chancellor George Osborne when promised sponsorship money didn’t turn up. Could it be finished before campaigning begun in the mayoral election? Safety engineers had only cleared it the previous week, but as a the bridge’s arms lifted for a cruise liner to pass through with a lengthy toot of its horn, it was clear that this would be as important for the area as the Jubilee Line was thirteen years beforehand.
From a spiral ramp at Marsh Wall on the Isle of Dogs, the bridge crossed the Thames and the Blackwall Tunnel entrances, allowing passengers to walk or ride off in front of the O2 and the London Soccerdome.
Furthermore, the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme went live on the Greenwich Peninsula that morning, allowing residents in the new homes there to cycle to work instead of taking the Tube. A further extension into Greenwich itself, through Deptford and up into the Rotherhithe would go live after the Olympics.
When the mayor was brought over to the press by his ever-attentive PR handlers, he was in ebullient mood.
“These two parts of our great city are too important to be separated,” he said, fixing journalists in the eye one by one.
“Now, like Bonnie and Clyde or Antony and Cleopatra, they are joined together by this great monument to British engineering.
“The great joy of being a Londoner is that there is so much of this great city to explore,” he added, gesturing at the under-developed peninsula around him. “Now, thanks to this bridge, soon there will be so much more to explore here.”
But didn’t people want a road crossing, asked a reporter from a suburban freesheet.
“I think these people here are happy with this new bridge,” Boris said, gesturing to a crowd who obligingly cheered. Some carried blue balloons and leaflets, but there were also a large number of curious locals too.
He continued, fixing the reporter in the eye again.
“The real issue is that you’ll never get this area developed if it has another main road running through it. But if you make this an attractive place to walk around, have your lunch in, walk the dog in, then we’ll bring investment and prosperity to the Greenwich Peninsula.
“Now look, if we can build a matching bridge from Canary Wharf to Rotherhithe, then we’re linking up communities and bringing together more parts of this great city.
“This is why I can’t afford a cut in bus fares, I need to invest,” he added, itching to get back on the election trail.
The mayor’s Conservative colleagues weren’t wasting any time, handing out leaflets to cycle hire users at the new cycle stations in the Millennium Village and retail park. Not only were they confident of victory across London, but local activists say there are signs that the party could even land a councillor in the area for the first time in decades.
Indeed, the ‘Boris effect’ had reverberated across the borough of Greenwich as the local Labour party was forced to up its game. Concerned councillors held their first public meetings in years as they feared political rivals muscling in on their patch – and they didn’t like what they heard.
“He’s proved that he isn’t all about appealling to the outer suburbs. He could have taken the lazy option and wanted to build a third Blackwall Tunnel, and spent all his time pandering to people in Bexley, but he’s challenged us on our own doorstep instead,” one political rival said. “Ken Livingstone’s had to make more than a token appearance in Woolwich this time around.”
Local Conservatives were thrilled. “Now we can campaign across the borough, instead of hiding out in Eltham or at Abbey Wood station and leafleting people who live in Bexley, which is what we normally do,” one said.
“We can tell people that Boris hasn’t spent the past four years sucking up to the suburbs and the City – if he’d done that, it would have been a waste of four years, after all.”
After conquering Greenwich with his new bridge, Boris had one more revelation – that he’d been approached by the owners of the London Eye, who wanted to build a cable car between the O2 and the Royal Docks.
“We’ll have to see about that one,” he told reporters. “That’s for fun – nobody but a fool would take a cable car seriously,” he smiled, before turning and riding back to the Isle of Dogs, a crowd of cyclists following.
There’s information on the mayoral candidates and interviews with Greenwich & Lewisham’s London Assembly candidates at greenwich.co.uk. There’s more on the poll, and where to vote, at London Elects. Polling stations close at 10pm.
Boris Johnson launched his transport manifesto on Monday, and there’s a line in it which went largely unnoticed which could have profound effects in Woolwich.
“I will launch a new car ferry service from Thamesmead to Gallions Reach, to replace the ageing Woolwich ferry.”
That’s the first confirmation that the mayor’s planned ferry – overshadowed by the Silvertown tunnel keffufle – would replace the Woolwich Ferry, whose three vessels were launched nearly 50 years ago. I’ve gone on about the joys of the ferry before, but it’s very hard to imagine Woolwich without a crossing which has existed in various forms for hundreds of years.
I’m also not sure how motorists – particularly the lorry drivers which mainly use the ferry – will take to seeing the link between the North Circular and South Circular broken.
The ferry will be at the site of the scrapped Thames Gateway Bridge, which begs the question – why not just build the bridge?
Boris’s manifesto shows where he’s angling for votes:
“I killed off my predecessor’s proposal for a Thames Gateway Bridge because of the damaging impact it would have had on Bexley, and I will not resuscitate it. Instead, I will continue to call on the Government for residents within Greater London who live close to the Dartford Crossing – notably those living in Bexley and Havering – to be given the same discount on the Dartford toll as residents of Dartford and Thurrock.”
The obvious bribe to zone 6 motorists aside, why would a ferry not have the damaging impact on Bexley borough that a bridge would?
As for the Silvertown crossing:
“I will also seek powers to construct a new Blackwall relief crossing, a road tunnel that will cross from Greenwich Peninsula to Silvertown, near the Royal Docks, and which will be completed within ten years. The government has committed to explore the case for using the Planning Act to streamline planning for proposed additional river crossings in East London.”
In other words, no more pesky inquiries like the one that killed off the Thames Gateway Bridge.
There’s more, including a very vague plan to extend the Docklands Light Railway to Bromley, in the full manifesto.
Speaking of mayoral matters, the Guardian’s Manifesto for a Model Mayor is well worth a read, and features a couple of contributions from me – see if you can spot them.