Lewisham helped Labour win Eltham – Greenwich should repay them by funding Blackheath fireworks properly


We’ve been here before, and I make no apology for raising it again. As this website’s long-suffering readers will be aware, Greenwich Council embarrassed its residents in 2010 by withdrawing funding from the long-running Blackheath fireworks display, claiming it couldn’t afford it because of Conservative government cuts. Greenwich and Lewisham used to fund the display jointly, then Greenwich left its neighbour in the lurch.

However, while Lewisham Council has struggled to raise the money to keep the display going, Greenwich has been freely spending on its own events – fireworks to mark becoming a royal borough, fireworks to impress Tall Ships Race chiefs, private mayoral inauguration ceremonies (at £20,000 a pop), and last year, a £17,000 Hollywood-themed parade to publicise the forthcoming cinema in Eltham.

Eltham cinema launch

Eltham MP Clive Efford, Greenwich Council leader Denise Hyland, deputy Danny Thorpe and friends. Photo: Eltham Labour Party

A couple of years back, Greenwich started paying £10,000 towards the £87,000 display. Last year, it refused to increase that sum, despite pleas from Lewisham.

It’s created a lot of bad feeling, even at the highest levels in Lewisham Council.

When the general election was called, and help was needed to save Clive Efford’s seat in Eltham, Lewisham Labour could have told their colleagues in Greenwich to get stuffed, and gone to help colleagues in Bermondsey and Croydon instead.

But they didn’t. They crossed the border in force, marching past Leegate and into their neighbouring borough to help keep Eltham a Labour seat. And they won – handsomely.

How to pay them back? It should be a no-brainer. As Labour activists will have realised in the past few weeks, us south-east Londoners are better and stronger united rather than divided by boundary lines. It’s time for Greenwich Council to finally right a wrong committed in the bad old days of Chris Roberts – and pay its fair share towards Blackheath fireworks again.

11 comments

  1. Nick

    You appear to be confusing taxpayers cash with a party political issue. It would be wholly inappropriate to act in this manner.

  2. Darryl

    You appear to be confusing utopia with how Greenwich usually works, alas. Greenwich Labour has been more than happy to throw time and money at things which benefit its pet causes, so they might as well do this and right a long-festering wrong.

  3. Suzanne Miller

    In Greenwich, taxpayers’ cash often appears to advance the glory of one party. Paying for half of the fireworks would be a huge improvement, because it would clearly benefit all. Our not paying shames everyone in Greenwich.

  4. Mr Eeeee

    I’m afraid I agree with Nick that this shouldn’t be the reason that we start paying our fair share for the fireworks. We should be funding it, but not for this reason.

  5. Darryl

    We’re funding a cinema in Eltham, and I doubt it’s entirely out of goodness. We even funded an edition of Greenwich Binfo that focused on transport projects that – coincidence! – coincided with the election. If they’re going to be cynical, there’s no point in the rest of us being pure.

  6. doh

    So one “good” Labour area helps a “bad” labour council, and to reward them, all other taxpayers (the majority who didn’t vote for labour + those taxpayers who can’t vote) should “help” the other Labour council in its glory. Yeah, great pedestal to be on lecturing others about morality.

    The Greenwich finances are shit btw, as they had to increase taxes but do still find money for all their nice pet projects. There is fireworks like every day during the sail festival and many other days; lots of waste. And yes it would make sense to pay more for the blackheath fireworks but the given reasoning is dumb.

  7. Tony Pretty

    Darry I would be interested in the breakdown of the vote as Labour were on the door knocker to get the over 60’s out later in the evening! Did the Breixt, so called the over 60 voters:- Not vote due to May’s party manifesto or change due to the Tory party trying to sneak through very threatening proposal eg triple lock, elderly healthcare (selling their homes after their death to pay for any healthcare they may need) and education! All very close to the elderly hearts.

    Your Tony Pretty

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  8. Mr Eeeee

    We did fund a cinema in Eltham – and you complain about it here all the time. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and the ends don’t justify the means. We should pay for the fireworks because we should – not because of the Labour party. I’m a Lib Dem voter (there are dozens of us!) and I’d resent political celebrations being the reason the council did the right thing. I’d rather they didn’t fund it than fund it for that reason.

  9. Darryl

    That’s about the Mickey Mouse parade, not the cinema. Maybe you might like to try again? I think that might be the only post about the cinema, as it happens. For the record, I’ve no strong views on the cinema – it’s actually good old-fashioned direct investment in regeneration, and similar to what was done in the late 1980s with what’s now the Greenwich Picturehouse. Pissing away cash on a Mickey Mouse parade so it can appear in Labour publicity is, however, a different matter.

    That’s the trouble with claiming the moral high ground – sometimes things aren’t as black and white as you truly wish them to be, even when those things are right in front of your eyes.