Posts Tagged ‘greenwich council’
City Hall officials have been asked to investigate the handling of Greenwich Council’s botched £11.5m redevelopment of the Greenwich and Woolwich Foot Tunnels, where work has been stalled for over a year.
Greenwich & Lewisham assembly member Len Duvall has referred the matter to auditors at the Greater London Authority to establish what went wrong with the project, which had been funded by the Government’s Homes & Communities Agency (HCA) before being switched to City Hall last year.
It’s emerged an HCA official signed off the project after a site visit in March 2011, handing the project over to Greenwich Council the following month, on the understanding work would be finished by September 2011.
The HCA stopped scrutinising the project after the site visit, and the matter was not looked at again until City Hall took over the HCA’s work in London in April 2012. Now Duvall has asked the authority’s audit panel and district auditor to investigate. The London Assembly’s budget and performance committee has also been asked to look at the issue.
Duvall’s move comes after campaigning from Greenwich Cyclists on the issue.
Both Greenwich and Woolwich foot tunnels remain in a poor state after the collapse of the project in late 2011, at around the time cabinet member Denise Hyland was blaming the problems at both tunnels on “hidden structures” which didn’t actually exist.
The council itself, which sacked the three contractors in charge of the job, admitted in October 2012 that there was “an unacceptable and deteriorating environment for users” in the tunnels.
Last November, it emerged Greenwich Council had previously told the HCA the work had been completed – even though that simply wasn’t the case, and that should have been clear on any site visit.
Indeed, when the Woolwich Foot Tunnel reopened in December 2011 after at least a 15-month closure, the poor state of the tunnel demonstrated the difficulty the project was in. When Greenwich’s lifts reopened in early 2012, lights were failing and lifts kept breaking.
In a letter to Duvall seen by this website, the GLA’s Housing and Land executive director David Lunts says “the project remains a concern for the GLA”, and says it is now in “regular dialogue” with the council as it struggles to complete the project.
No work has taken place at either tunnel for over a year, with no new contractors appointed to finish the job. Woolwich Foot Tunnel remains without lifts, Greenwich had new lifts fitted but they have been plagued by breakdowns.
Greenwich Council commissioned an independent report from John Willmoth into the fiasco six months ago. After completing a report into the council’s handling of big projects in general, he has yet to report back on the foot tunnels issue.
11.20am update: Len Duvall has told this site:
“What took place over the work on the foot tunnels work should not have happened.
Greenwich are learning from this experience internally and I look forward to the publication of the second of John Wilmoth’s independent reports examining what happened in this case more closely.
My intervention is to make the GLA take its responsibilities seriously, not just ‘shrug their shoulders’ when public money from bodies that have since become part of the GLA is involved. There are lessons for us to learn at the GLA and I hope that Greenwich Council are equally keen to ensure that events like this don’t occur in the future. Most importantly Greenwich need to press on with the completion of the works – monitored closely by the GLA – to ensure that both foot tunnels are accessible to everyone.”
The propaganda battle from City Hall and Greenwich Council over the Silvertown Tunnel has gone up a notch again, after the Transport for London consultation reported, surprise, surprise, “continued support for new river crossings in east London“.
Of course, a dodgy survey proves very little. You can offer children a year’s supply of sweets and they’ll take it, but if you warn them their teeth will fall out you might get a different response. In a similar way, you can tell people building a new road will make their journeys easier and they’ll believe it – particularly if you don’t tell them the evidence proves building new roads simply generates more traffic, add to existing high levels of pollution, and will simply add to congestion elsewhere.
Indeed, the leading question which kicked off the consultation gives the game away – “how many times a week do you cross the river by road?” 32% of Greenwich borough residents who answered the consultation said they crossed it four or more times each week – which strikes me as unrepresentatively high.
That said, the 373-strong petition against Silvertown features heavily in the round-up of responses to the consultation, though oddly doesn’t feature in TfL’s report to the mayor – a beautiful example of officials telling their bosses just what they wat to hear. There’s no mention of Greenwich’s Bridge The Gap campaign, an attempt to rig the consultation, except in quotations from the Silvertown petition.
What is striking, though, is Greenwich Council’s desperation to see this crock built – despite anger within the Labour party which supposedly controls it – with leader Chris Roberts declaring: “We stand ready to assist Transport for London in the work necessary to bring these crossings to the next stage of development.”
Greenwich’s neighbours, though, aren’t so excited. Here’s the views of other boroughs, as taken from the consultation.
Barking and Dagenham Council expressed “serious reservations regarding the current proposals. The Council remain concerned that Silvertown tunnel will draw additional vehicles and ‘clog up the local road network’”.
Southwark Council were “concerned that they may be potentially negative traffic impacts from the Silvertown tunnel” and “cannot support the current proposals.”
Lewisham Council:”has concerns that traffic impacts will result from Silvertown tunnel, particularly on the A2 and South Circular, and requests details of modelling of any proposed mitigation measures. “
Hackney Council were “concerned about the potential highway impacts of increased traffic on the approaches to the Silvertown tunnel”
Redbridge Council “raised concerns with how the Silvertown tunnel’s northbound connected with the existing highway network.”
All the above are Labour councils, except Redbridge, which is run by a Tory/Lib Dem coalition.
These fears would impact the most on Greenwich itself, yet they are barely mentioned in Greenwich’s full response. Even Newham’s support for Silvertown was “subject to concerns over additional traffic impacts in the borough and in particular, around Canning Town and Royal Docks”. No such caveats in Greenwich’s response.
Indeed, if you look at the businesses that line up in favour of Silvertown, the you can see just who’s really influencing Greenwich Council’s line.
Berkeley Homes Ltd – “Strongly supports new crossings at Silvertown and Gallions Reach.” (Greenwich Council’s development partners at Kidbrooke Village, Royal Arsenal developers)
Cathedral Group – “Fully supports the proposed Silvertown tunnel.” (Property developer which owns Morden Wharf on the Greenwich Peninsula).
AEG – “Strongly supports Silvertown tunnel which will provide a much needed relief to the area, support AEG’s next development phases on the Greenwich Peninsula and stimulate growth.” (Owner of the O2.)
Quintain – “Strongly supports the proposals, in particular for the Silvertown tunnel.” (Greenwich Peninsula developer whose projects include the socially-cleansed Peninsula Quays site.)
A further report will come from TfL this summer, so expect our elected representatives to be issuing more propaganda and campaigning on behalf of
the people of Greenwich property developers.
But there’ll also be more from the No To Silvertown Tunnel campaign – if you want to get involved, feel free to drop me a line. Watch this space…
853 exclusive: Greenwich Council is canvassing arts groups on holding a new comedy festival to replace the Greenwich Comedy Festival, which has moved to Spitalfields.
The GCF will now be known as the Brick Lane Comedy Festival after switching to Allen Gardens, next to the old Shoreditch Tube station.
The organisation which runs the Old Royal Naval College, the Greenwich Foundation, decided it wanted to concentrate on smaller events and no longer wanted to play host to the GCF’s large marquee; however, organisers are planning to run events in Greenwich later in the year.
Greenwich Comedy Festival also lost its funding from Greenwich Council (it got £15,000 in 2010) – it’s not known whether Tower Hamlets is funding the new Brick Lane event, although its logo appears on publicity for it.
But now Greenwich Council has asked arts groups if they are interested in holding a replacement event. An email sent to various organisation reads:
The Royal Greenwich Comedy Festival will provide an exciting and distinctive offer. We are looking for an outstanding organisation or individual to curate, develop and deliver a programme of innovative and high quality Comedy events in Royal Greenwich.
The Royal Greenwich Comedy Festival will include a diverse range of Comedy programmed in July or September 2013.
The Key Aims of the programme will be to:
- deliver a high quality sustainable comedy festival offering a mix of free and ticketed entertainment for members of the public
- contribute to the economic development of the borough by developing awareness of `brand Royal Greenwich’, boosting tourism and generating inward investment
- maximise benefit to local businesses and the visitor economy
- maximise benefit for the local creative economy
In addition the events will make a strong statement about Royal Greenwich:
- as a place for high quality arts, venues and cultural activities
- as a place of heritage unrivalled elsewhere
- as a place where interesting things happen in unusual place
For full details, fee and contract terms please see the information pack.
I haven’t been able to get confirmation of whether the council is funding the planned festival. That said, just saying “brand Royal Greenwich” on stage might attract a few giggles…
One thing that the GCF’s withdrawal from Greenwich highlighted to me is just how poor Greenwich’s day-to-day arts scene actually is. It’s all very well having big showpiece events in the Naval College grounds, but what legacy does the GCF leave, especially since it was getting council funding?
Admittedly, Greenwich does have (the fairly pricey) Up The Creek, but there’s very few venues regularly putting on music or comedy in the town centre – I can only think of the Lord Hood and Oliver’s jazz bar for anything worthwhile in terms of music (plus the Pelton Arms in east Greenwich), although the Greenwich Tavern – recently freed from the clutches of Inc Group – is showing signs of imagination (incidentally, the The Greenwich Series tonight is worth a look).
Plus, obviously, there’s much more to the borough than Greenwich – in the 80s the Woolwich Tramshed was a famous comedy venue, but Comedy on the Common has been trooping on in Plumstead for a few years now without much recognition. In short, it does seem odd to have concentrated all that effort on a one-off event in the north-west corner of a large borough. Maybe whoever takes on the Royal Greenwich Comedy Festival will change things. Should be interesting to watch.
Woolwich’s Royal Arsenal development is set to get 21-storey tower blocks after Greenwich Council’s planning board backed an application from Berkeley Homes tonight. (Thanks to Eltham North councillor Nigel Fletcher for the tweet from the town hall.)
The board voted 3-2 for the plans, which will dramatically change the shape of Woolwich, and the riverside, introducing a series of tower blocks between 14 and 21 stories high, blocking Woolwich town centre off from the river.
The existing Royal Arsenal Gardens park will be to a narrow strip between the towers.
Berkeley’s proposals have been heavily criticised by Arsenal residents and one of the three local councillors, John Fahy, who branded it “wholly inappropriate”.
He added in a video posted to his blog earlier this week: “The whole of Woolwich, and the whole of Greenwich, see the river as important to them. It shouldn’t be overshadowed by high residential blocks that will be there not necessarily for local residents, but those who want to invest from other parts of the world.”
Planning chair Ray Walker (Labour, Eltham West), vice-chair Steve Offord (Labour, Abbey Wood) and cabinet member Sajid Jawaid (Labour, Plumstead) voted for the proposal. Voting against were Hayley Fletcher (Labour, Kidbrooke with Hornfair) and Geoff Brighty (Conservative, Blackheath Westcombe), while Clive Mardner (Labour, Abbey Wood) abstained.
Now Berkeley Homes – the council’s development partner at the former Ferrier Estate, now Kidbrooke Village – have had their way, it will be interesting to see whether the company which is set to gain a handsome profit from tonight’s decision finally comes up with the cash to fit out the Crossrail station at Woolwich, an issue featured here last month.
After paying £25m for the station site to be excavated, so far Berkeley has refused to come up with the £100m for the rest of the station – expecting Transport for London, the Government and Greenwich Council to cough up.
Interestingly, Berkeley chairman Tony Pidgeley joined London mayor (and TfL chair) Boris Johnson on a trip to the Middle East earlier this month, while last month, regeneration councillor Denise Hyland said she was “chipper” about the prospects of the council not having to fund the station.
Intriguingly, an image of the proposed station appeared in the council’s weekly newspaper Greenwich Time in February, bearing the name “ROYAL ARSENAL WOOLWICH” – the name of Berkeley’s development. Previous images have seen the legend “WOOLWICH STATION” above the entrance.
Footnote: If Woolwich finally does get a Crossrail station, it’ll have done better out of Berkeley Homes for transport than Kidbrooke. Greenwich Council has handed over control of the roads through the old Ferrier Estate to Berkeley, which is duly planning, with council approval, to close the roads, forcing the 178 and B16 buses away from the new Kidbrooke Village development.
Residents in the adjoining Brooklands Park estate have been left high and dry by this – but Berkeley Homes is refusing to reverse its decision, instead pressing Transport for London – with Greenwich Council backing – to pay for a turning circle so buses can run up to Brooklands Park and back. (See the second petition document here, and the TfL consultation for more.) So far, though, TfL appears to be trying to call Berkeley’s bluff, and says it is happy to reroute the B16 service “if a suitable turning circle can be provided”.
A little postscript to the Greenwich Time ramble. The way the council’s weekly paper works, to promote the borough the way its leadership sees it, means that some of the many genuinely good works that come from the town hall are poorly publicised.
There’s a good example this week, as buried on page 22 is a one-paragraph plug for Greenwich Get Cycling day, which is this Saturday in Woolwich. It’s just a bit less prominent than the “star letters” GT runs criticising cyclists. So here’s a bigger plug for it.
You are invited to attend the Greenwich Get Cycling event on Saturday 27th April at the Royal Arsenal from 12pm-4pm. The cycling family fun day will include a series of led rides and other cycling activities to help you get cycling now Spring is on its way.
You will be able to take part in one of eight led cycle rides along the Thames Path, they are mostly flat and traffic free routes, perfect for families and new beginners:
* The shorter 30 minute route will travel eastwards to Thamesmead, leaving at 12pm, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm.
* The longer 45 minute route will travel westwards along the Thames to New Charlton, leaving at 12.30pm, 1.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm.
All rides will start and end at the Woolwich Arsenal Pier in Royal Arsenal, Woolwich. (Book in advance – see details.)
As well as the cycle rides, there will be other cycle related entertainment near the Woolwich Arsenal Pier, so come along and get involved:
* Try out the Smoothie bike to pedal yourself a Smoothie
* Take part in the Pedal Powered Scalextric
* Find out about how to maintain your bike from the Dr Bike service
* Take part in the Limited Edition Cyclists cycling skills course and slow bike race
* Get your bike security marked by the Metropolitan Police
* Find out how you can get cycling to work and get your own personalised route plan
* Find out about cycle training in the borough
There’s a lot of good cycling work going on behind the scenes at Greenwich Council – and this is an admirable event which deserves support. In particular, I’m told the council’s cycle training is very good indeed. It’s something you’ll rarely read about in GT, but I did see tags on bikes in Greenwich town centre a few weeks ago promoting the service, which struck me as a very good idea. Indeed, I keep meaning to give it a go myself.
All of which makes it even sadder that the political leadership of the council isn’t interested. The Thames Path is a wonderful facility, but hopefully one day, cycling will be taken seriously enough that there’ll be a Greenwich Get Cycling Day that doesn’t have to rely on using the riverside walk.
Greenwich Council’s propaganda weekly got an unlikely airing in the Midlands at the end of last week as Prime Minister David Cameron took aim at Greenwich Time when he launched the Conservatives’ local election campaign.
London boroughs won’t see an election for another year yet, but seats in English county councils are up for grabs on 2 May.
“And what about all those Labour councils shamelessly spending your money on their propaganda?
Greenwich – whose town-hall newspaper is about as balanced as Pravda. And about as interesting to read as well!
Tee-hee! Dave did a funny!
Lambeth – which scare-mongers about cuts – but funnily enough still has cash for posters all over the borough attacking the Government.
These people: when it comes to spending your money, they just cannot help themselves.”
Interestingly enough, I spend a fair bit of time near Shepherd’s Bush Green, where the lamp posts are covered in posters boasting about council tax cuts in Hammersmith & Fulham – a Conservative borough.
That aside, David Cameron’s speech shows how Greenwich Time has become an exposed target for opponents to kick – despite the fact that his government has failed to kill it off after promising to once already.
A recently-introduced code on council publicity was meant to put an end to the likes of GT – but it doesn’t have the force of law, and Greenwich has blithely continued publishing, and is likely to do so up to the next council election.
Now communities secretary Eric Pickles has launched a consultation on making that code law.
“Some councils are undermining the free press and wasting taxpayers’ money which should be spent carefully on the front line services that make a real difference to quality of life. It should not, under any circumstances, be used to fund political propaganda and town hall Pravdas and yet a hardcore minority of councils continue to ignore the rules despite public concern.”
Greenwich Council has always maintained that Greenwich Time covers its own costs and that scrapping it would divert money away from frontline services. This is because the council would have to place its public notices (planning permission, consultations, that kind of thing) in the News Shopper or the Mercury.
Let’s deal with the value for money question first. The finances of Greenwich Time are difficult to quantify, since they don’t account for the involvement of the council’s seven-strong press office, which is as involved with GT as the freelancers whose names appear in the paper.
With Greenwich Time the central plank of all council communications – unlike other boroughs, Greenwich doesn’t have advertising space on bus shelters, for example – it’s nigh-on impossible to split it out from the schmoozing, scheming, talking and influencing press officers do. Without GT, Greenwich would have to completely reshape its press operation.
Yet most other councils manage without producing their own weekly newspaper – the only other one is Tower Hamlets’ East End Life. Hillingdon Council’s communications manager Charlotte Stamper says by using the law, “Pickles is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut” – adding that local councils effectively subsidise local papers by placing public notices in them.
If Pickles removed the need for councils to place so many public notices, the justification for Greenwich Time would vanish overnight.
“The line in the sand is clear, publicity material straying into propaganda clearly crosses that line, and this legislation will stop this disgraceful misuse of public money, which damages local democracy and threatens an independent, free and vibrant local press.”
Greenwich Time certainly gets in the way of honest reporting. On a financial level, it’s believed to undercut the ad rates demanded by traditional local papers (and making life hard for potential new entrants – remember Games Extra, the Olympics clone of the Greenwich Visitor?); while on a practical level, council news stories tend to be held so GT gets the exclusive and its rivals are left chasing.
But the problem in Greenwich is that there wasn’t an independent, free and vibrant local press to start with. Despite the work of talented reporters, the owners of the Mercury and the News Shopper have squeezed budgets to such an extent that their papers are barely able to cover the basics. Indeed, distribution is so poor that the only paper many residents will see is… Greenwich Time.
A good case study is Greenwich Council’s scheme to give jobs to residents hit by social security cuts. This has been known about since the end of January, and was launched last Monday with a press conference at the Woolwich Centre – as usual, too late for coverage in the print versions of the Mercury or News Shopper, but guaranteeing oodles of uncritical coverage in Greenwich Time.
On the left, Greenwich Time in September 2009, announcing a scheme to employ people in temporary jobs. On the right, Greenwich Time in April 2013, announcing a scheme to… yep, you got it.
But was the initial scheme a success? Did the people given “green jobs” in 2009 get back into work? We don’t know. An “independent, free and vibrant local press” would have scrutinised this and asked difficult questions. But it hasn’t. It’s a worthy-looking scheme, but we’ve no idea if it’s really going to do something to improve people’s lives for the long term.
So the only coverage most people will see is what they’ll read in Greenwich Time – not just because the council’s trying to smother the market, but because the traditional local press won’t invest to free reporters up to do any real, in-depth reporting. Greenwich Time undercutting their ad rates won’t help them do that, of course, but it’s the editors and proprietors who ceded the space to the council in the first place.
But there’s one other consideration – has Greenwich Time naturally had its day? Are people now seeing through the propaganda after five long years of weekly papers? Does anyone actually read it any more?
Essentially, GT stories tend to associate the council with community initiatives, good deeds with children, and regeneration schemes – this week’s issue sucks up to the developers of (The Heart of East) Greenwich Square. Its favoured worldview also promotes Chris Roberts’ pet projects and people – this week’s features an embarrassing photo of his deputy (and his preferred successor) Peter Brooks with swimmers and Duncan Goodhew at Charlton Lido. Expect to see a bit more of Brooksy over the next year. It’s all getting a bit samey.
Councillors and council officers might think they’ve got people’s attention when they tick off the box marked “get article in Greenwich Time”, but that’s no good if half your taxpayers are binning the thing, and you’ve no other publicity options. I was intrigued that the council’s Bridge The Gap campaign on river crossings only had 795 online pledges of support out of the 84,000 households Greenwich Time is delivered to, despite seven consecutive weeks of promotion there. I’m waiting to find out how many of those pledges actually came from within Greenwich borough.
Yet sometimes it’s best when other people do your publicity for you. Take a look at new-ish blogs The Only Way Is Woolwich and Seen In Greenwich talking about the council’s Environment Champions scheme. This stuff is far better than anything you’ll read in GT – and far more valuable because it removes the “well, they would say that anyway” factor you’d get from a council publication. Sometimes you just have to do the right thing and trust other people to be your messengers, be they journalists, bloggers or residents (or all three at once) instead of trying to force it down people’s throats.
Or maybe we could just gang together and use another Pickles innovation, the community right to challenge, to bid to run Greenwich Time and take it off the council’s hands altogether. Who’s got a few quid spare?
So, sledgehammer or not, I’ll be responding to the government’s consultation. I’m sorry for the other local councils that don’t break the rules – but this one’s screwed it up for the rest of you. Not out of nostalgia for a golden era of local journalism, but because it’s an abuse of power that’s increasingly looking anachronistic. If you’ve got a strong view on GT either way, you might like to do the same.
A gorgeous day for the London Marathon – a reminder of why this is easily the best weekend of the year in south-east London.
People come out and cheer and chat, pubs suddenly gain jazz bands and sound systems, and for a few precious hours, overlooked streets come alive. It’s London at its very best, and felt all the more special in light of the terrible events in Boston last week.
It’s also why the lesser, largely unwanted Run To The Beat event will never truly take off – when your race pounds the same streets, with fewer people, you’ll always be caught in its shadow.
Among the quirks of marathon day is the jazz band outside the headquarters of Greenwich & Woolwich Labour Party on Woolwich Road, Greenwich – they’ve been playing When The Saints Go Marching In every race day for as long as I can remember.
Today was no exception. Indeed, today saw an impressive turnout of local Labour dignitaries, including MP Nick Raynsford and his possible successor, assembly member Len Duvall, out among the public. It’s always a nice surprise to see elected representatives out and about on a big community day, although it really shouldn’t be.
But one figure’s never seen there – council leader Chris Roberts. No mingling with the hoi polloi for him…
Thank you to the eagle-eyed 853 reader who spotted where the Dear Leader watched the London Marathon – from high up on the Cutty Sark (on the far right), away from the public and his party members. “It looked like one of those old Russian mayday parades! Just runners instead of tanks,” my spy suggests. (11pm Sunday update: I’ve been sent a clearer photo. I wonder who the people with Roberts are?)(11am Monday update: I’m told places on board the Cutty Sark were being sold for £40 to benefit the council-backed Greenwich Starting Blocks charity. Ahoy!)
Back among the great unwashed, with the area covered in ads for health drinks and sporting goods, it was curious to see a former newsagent in Charlton offer its own advice to runners…
But walking home after the traditional marathon morning pint, the same old question came into my head. With the streets blissfully free of traffic for an hour after the race ends, why don’t we do something with them? Even mid-demolition Woolwich Road in Charlton felt peaceful and serene in the Sunday sunshine – imagine what you could do with Greenwich town centre during the afternoon after the marathon.
Until we reclaim the streets after the runners have passed by, we’ll never make the most of this magical day in the calendar. But when you’re watching from the Cutty Sark, it’s perhaps not a thought that’s ever going to spring to mind.
If you’re at a loose end in the West End between now and October, the Poster Art 150 exhibition at the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden is worth a look. It’s a diverting display of how the Tube has sold itself to Londoners since the first line opened 150 years ago.
Among the most fascinating advertisements is one featuring newspaper clippings from parts of London not served by the Tube. Here, we see civic worthies from the old south-east London metropolitan boroughs making the case for lines to run out to Lewisham and Woolwich.
It wasn’t just the good councillors of Greenwich, Woolwich, Lewisham, Deptford, Camberwell, Southwark and Bermondsey who wanted to get on the Tube map – the poster also features pleas from Finsbury Park and Wood Green, describing mayhem and road deaths at the former location.
All these pleas were put to use to promote the new Northern Line link to Morden, which opened in 1926 – and a reminder that some things simply don’t change.
Six years later, the Piccadilly Line powered north from Finsbury Park to Wood Green and beyond; while 42 years later, the Victoria Line opened for business.
87 years later, SE London is stil waiting, three Jubilee Line stations not withstanding. The successors of those councillors in Greenwich and Woolwich don’t seem interested any more – preferring new roads and the DLR on stilts, deciding that in the future we’ll be as likely to want to go to the Royal Docks rather than central London.
But their neighbours in Camberwell, Southwark, Bermondsey, Lewisham and Deptford are still campaigning – with Southwark Council leader Peter John scenting victory on getting the Bakerloo Line sorted.
“We’ve got it at last right at the top of the Mayor of London’s agenda.
“That’s very exciting for the residents of Southwark and very exciting for the residents of Lewisham.
“It would be very exciting for the residents of Bromley but their Conservative leader is utterly opposed to extension of the tube to Bromley.
“He doesn’t want to see jobs and growth in his borough. Well shame on him!”
Pesky conservatives, not interested in new Tube lines, eh?
Want to know just how popular a new(ish) line can be? Take a look at this hypnotic video from Oliver O’Brien, showing Oyster card usage across London, across the day.
Right the way across London you can see the Tube lines stand out, particularly that southern bit of the Northern Line. What’s striking in the Tube-light south-east is just how busy both North Greenwich and Woolwich Arsenal are right through the day, the latter almost overshadowing Lewisham. (Indeed, Canary Wharf aside, the rest of the DLR doesn’t really seem to figure much.) Six years from now, if the station at Woolwich actually opens, the impact of Crossrail will be one to watch.
Then the next thing that stands out is the London Overground, with New Cross Gate and (to a lesser extent) Brockley pulsing through the day. Build the new lines, and they’ll come.
Southeastern’s services barely seem to register at all – admittedly, that’ll partly be down to fewer passengers using Oyster, but the video shows that nearly nine decades on, the potential for a Tube to SE London is still huge.
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?
Happy days for Greenwich Council staff, as it’s emerged they’re all being given an extra day off to mark the authority winning the “council of the year” prize from the Local Government Chronicle industry mag a couple of weeks ago.
No doubt it’ll come as a welcome respite from the regime of cuts, cuts, cuts at the council, including a threat to sign new contracts or be sacked, and a new computer system that’s been working so poorly it’s seriously disrupted the council’s business.
Not so fortunate, though, are staff of council contractor GS Plus, the firm which employs many people carrying out council services, including drivers, cleaners and caterers.
The council’s directly-employed staff benefit from the minimum £8.55/hour London Living Wage – as endorsed by Boris Johnson, no less – but there’s no such luck for GS Plus staff, eight out of 10 of whom live within the borough. It’s a big miss, and means Greenwich doesn’t qualify as a living wage employer, unlike its neighbours Lewisham and Southwark.
Perhaps the council could discuss this further with GS Plus’s chairman, council deputy leader Peter Brooks, and its owner, the Royal Borough of Greenwich – somehow, they might be able to sort something out…