Saturday, June 30, 2007

Gang Fight

I'm becoming more are of gangs in my local area. There's been a few comments on this blog that have mentioned them but I've never really thought about it much.

Today I read about a gang fight that took place at the top of the hill between a Charlton and a Woolwich gang. The story can be read here. It happened in the week and that was the first that I'd heard of it.

So now I'm thinking how much a gang "problem" is there really in this area? I'm determined not to panic but I will be keeping my eyes open.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Winns Common Great Get Together

With it's usual attention to providing advance notice of events Greenwich Council has sent out an email about the "Great Get Together" at Winns Common in Plumstead tomorrow (Saturday the 30th of June).

There seems to be a fair amount of things happening to amuse families and there's also a chance to talk to local Councillors.

Once again I've got to ask how much notice do the Council think families need to plan a day out?

Anyway the full details are available on the Council's web site here.

Click here to see a map of where the Common is.

Details about what a "Great Get Together" is and dates for ones past and forthcoming can be found here.

I'm tempted to go along and see what the Council has to say for itself, however I do have plans for tomorrow so we'll see if I can get the time to get over there or not.

PS: If you're interested in seeing the Council use the power of this interweb thing to keep you incredibly up to date with what's happening in Greenwich then have a look here

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Recyling Batteries

You can now recycle batteries at the recycling centres around the borough, well in theory anyway.

There's meant to be a new type of bin at the centres into which you can pop batteries including old mobile phone ones.

The closest centres to Charlton are at ASDA and up the hill at the car park of the Assembly Rooms.

At the moment a bit more can be read about this on the Council's Web Site here.

See, sometimes I can say nice things about the Council :)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Vue Cinema at the O2

There's an advert on the back of the latest issue of the Greenwich Time "newspaper" from the Council for the Vue cinema, it says that it opens on the 29th of June.

I was there last night and it looks pretty open already, people were buying pop corn and heading on in. Vue's web site also seems to be giving film times.

So if you fancy a pop down there before it's official opening at the weekend then go for it.

However a word of caution... Last night was "special" as there was a gig on, if you do plan on going I'd call (08712 240 240) before doing so.

Who were the first band to play the O2 Arena?

Well many people might think that it was Bon Jovi on the 24th of June, that's wrong.

The Sun "reveals" that it was Kaiser Chiefs, Tom Jones and Peter Kay on the 23rd of June at a party for the O2 workers. Wrong.

Greenwich Council Leader Chris Roberts says in the latest edition of Greenwich Times that it was the Councils "big ambition" that "the first people who ever performed on this stage were [those] Children from Greenwich Primary Schools" who sang their on the 20th of June. It's a shame that ambition didn't come true, in fact it clearly hadn't come true when those words came out of his mouth. So that's wrong too.

So who was it?

Well it was this lot......

They were playing while many people were still coming into the arena while the lights were still on and the first song they played was a cover of Dakota by the Stereophonics. Who were they? Well I haven't a clue. Can anyone out there help me out? There's a lot of disinformation going around about this semi-famous event and other bands taking the credit when this lot really deserve it.

So if anyone out there knows who they are please let me know.

Edited to Add
After checking through my photos and looking at the time they were taken the running order for the evening looks something like.
7.00pm: Allowed in the Arena
7.15pm: The first mystery band were playing
7.45pm: The choir of primary school children were singing
?.??pm: Lucky Soul Played
20.45pm: Mystery James Blunt-a-like man was playing
21.00pm: Rietta Austin was playing

Well it looks like Rietta Austin was the first to "headline" the O2 Arena, This Is London seem to agree.

However The Greenwich Phantom has mentioned a party for a bank and has had a reply saying that there was a party on Sunday the 17th. So did a band play that night? Was it in the Arena?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Stephen Marley at the O2

Tonight Stephen Marley played a free gig at the O2 on a stage they had set up in what they call the "London Piazza". His brothers Julian and Damian also put in appearances at various points.

It was actually rather good. Reggae's not really my biscuit and I was thinking I'd probably slope off after about half of the gig. However there was quite a good atmosphere, the sound was good and they were putting on a good show so I ended up enjoying it more than I thought I would and sticking there until the end.

So what did I think of the O2 on my second visit, well I'm still quite keen on it. About half the restaurants along Entertainment Avenue are open now. Well I say half the restaurants, half the restaurants you can walk past. There's still about a third of the Avenue that you couldn't get down, so let's say that I reckon about a third of the restaurants that will be there are open now.

One thing I notice more this time was how much of it all is just a facade. The Avenue looks quite nice but it really is just a nice facing build onto the units of the restaurants themselves. Still, as said, it does look nice.

The staff were very noticeable once again but they seemed less intrusive, still a heavy presence which is nice to see. If I did need to ask about something there would have been someone not too far away to approach.

After the show, which was pretty well attended, I skipped the bus and walked home along the river. I took a slow meander past the Millennium Village and got back to Charlton in just over half an hour, not bad at all.

Let's have some photos anyway.....

The blobby thing I'd seen on my last visit is in the London Piazza, looking at a map it seems to be the "O2 Chill". Kids were running about in there with a few adults sitting around the edges. Maybe I should have had a peep.....

A quick snap on my way home.

Charlton Safer Neighbourhood Team

A comment by Audrey to a post below has made me aware that there is a Safer Neighbourhood Team for Charlton. I wasn't totally sure what one of those was so I went and looked it up.

A page on the Met Police's web site defines them as:

The officers on your Safer Neighbourhoods team spend most of their time out on patrol in your neighbourhood, meeting the community and identifying and dealing with those crimes and issues you have told us cause you most concern. Therefore, your team adjusts its shift pattern to address these priority issues.

Your Safer Neighbourhoods team wants to hear from you. If your call is not answered, please do leave a message on the answerphone or send them an email. A member of the team will get back to you.

The details for the Charlton Team are:

Sgt Adrian Musgrave
PC Jason Roy
PC Phillip Crowther
PCSO rachael Clark
PCSO Marian Nicol
PCSO Malcolm Gillespie
PCSO Sean Harvey

Charlton Team
3 Mar House, Springfield Grove, London

Phone: 020 8721 2736
Mobile: 07768 083607

I'm now wondering if I should contact them and find out what's going on with the house that was attacked. The police did attend both incidents so I presume that they've been dealt with but I must admit to being a bit worried about it happening again.

My eyes are definitely open for the future though, nice to know that there is somewhere you can go with concerns that aren't directly related to a particular incident that you might call 999 for.

Thanks to Audrey for making me aware of the team.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Local Youths....

I've had a letter through my door about the behaviour of local children.

Could it be about the two gangs of them chasing each other around carrying large pieces of wood the other night? Perhaps it's about the house up the road that's been stoned twice by a gang of youths.


Children have been playing football in the road.

Apparently it's been damaging cars and I've got to give a big thumbs up to the Council, Tenancy Services to be precise, for doing something about it.

On the other hand there's been some real anti social behaviour that seems to have gone un-commented upon. I think I've seen kids kicking a ball about once, so it's 50% less common than lynching a building.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Special Events at the O2

There's a whole lot of special events happening at the O2 next week, they appear to be free.

You can get the details here. Details of what's happening on the Sunday, the final day of the Greenwich & Docklands International Festival, are here.

Aside from Snow Patrol, which is discounted, everything else should be free and most of the music is happening in the "London Piazza."

The preview night sounds especially tempting:
Your chance for an exclusive peek around the brand new O2. Live music, performance artists, drinks and once in a lifetime backstage tours. Spend the evening getting into the places no-one else gets to see including the star dressing rooms, VIP areas and executive suites. It’s all open exclusively for you.

The Marley brothers are also there that night so there should be some good music as well. I'll try and get there to have a look around.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The O2 Preview

Well tonight was the night of the O2 Preview, I did manage to get a free ticket so off I went down to see what it was all about.

Well let's get the bad stuff out of the way first....

It all felt a little bit disorganised and there were a few problems. Level's 1 and 4 were open in the arena but the only food and drink places that were open were down on level 1. There seemed to be a problem with the pumps or mixers for the soft drinks and there weren't any available. The queues for this were all a bit chaotic. They didn't seem to be able to take cards yet and quite a few people seemed to end up getting their food free either due to confused staff or apologetic supervisors. I hope they get all that perfected by the time of Bon Jovi on Sunday.

A lot of work was still going on. A huge area around the back was still empty and a bit of a building site. Even around the front where we went in you could see workmen working on things (as workmen are want to do). There was a lot of dust about too, staff were hurrying around with dusters trying to wipe everything down.

I'm 6ft tall and I felt a bit squashed in my seat. We were sat on level 4 right at the front. My knees were touching the wall at the front of that tier of seats, not too comfortable at all. It might have been better a row back, I certainly will be cautious choosing seats there in future. The view as good though, can't complain about that.

Now for the good stuff.....

It all seems really rather good. The arena itself, which seems to be the only thing open right now, looks and sounds good. They had four bands and a choir of school children and with seemingly no sound checks it all sounded fine. It's certainly a much nicer venue than even the refurbished Wembley Arena, which to be frank still feels like a bit of a barn to me.

Yes there were some teething niggles but I'm sure that's all that they were. I'm really optimistic about this and am very happy to have the venue so close to me. I really hope that this takes off in the way that it deserves to.

Oh, and there was a very funny moment too. The leader of the Council, Chris Roberts, put in an appearance. He claimed that they had sold out the preview tickets in about 2 or 3 hours. Er. No. If the Council were right when they fold us that the tickets were available at 10am on Monday the 11th of June that might have been right. However as I've said here the tickets actually were available at 10am on Friday the 8th.

I got my tickets at about 10.30am on the Monday so even by my reckoning they hadn't sold out 3 days later.

I spoke to someone else on the way out of the O2 and they managed to get their tickets at about 4pm on the Monday.

So 3 hours is a bit of a lie really, well not just a bit, it's a complete whopper. And it was told by our Council Leader in front of 12,000 odd people.

This person also phoned the Council to complain about the tickets being available before they were meant to be. Apparently the Council blamed the O2 for doing it and claims they were instructed to do it on the Monday.

Anyway it was all very good regardless and I'm feeling very optimistic and hopeful about all of this. So let's end with some photos.....

On our way into the O2.

Strange blue thing that you meet behind the doors. Pretty blue thing. Lovely blue thing.

Looking down onto one of the incomplete areas, I've got no idea what the blob thing is....

Yet more work in progress.

The first band to play to an audience at the O2! I've got no idea who they were but they played Dakota by the Stereophonics.

This seems to be the sort of executive suite that our Council is going to spend nearly £100,000 of our money renting for a year (click here).

Some nice young chap doing his thing, his name escapes me once again.

This "street" will have restaurants and at least one bar along it, at the moment nothing's open though.

Leaving at the end of the evening, I think it looks rather nice.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Charlton Horn Fair

Last weekend saw the Horn Fair being held at Charlton House. I knew it was coming but I was away from the area (which is also why there's no photos of HMS Ark Royal) and couldn't make it up there.

Audrey, who went along, emailed me so I really thought that I should say something about it.

The Horn Fair seems to date back over 300 years. A "mob" used to gather near Deptford and then march to Charlton. Men, so it would appear, often dressed in women's clothing and wore horns on their heads. Horn fairs seem to have a connection with cuckoldry. The marchers would gather at Cuckold's Point in Deptford in the case of Charlton's Horn Fair and the horns themselves were meant to be a symbol of it.

Daniel Defoe (author of Robin Crusoe) had this to say in the 1720's:

"Charleton, a village famous, or rather infamous for the yearly collected rabble of mad-people, at Horn-Fair; the rudeness of which I cannot but think, is such as ought to be suppressed, and indeed in a civiliz'd well govern'd nation, it may well be said to be unsufferable. The mob indeed at that time take all kinds of liberties, and the women are especially impudent for that day; as if it was a day that justify'd the giving themselves a loose to all manner of indecency and immodesty, without any reproach, or without suffering the censure which such behaviour would deserve at another time."

For some more information on the Horn Fair click here.

Audrey kindly provided me with some photos which I'll post up below.

Mentioned by Bexley Times.....

I've just found out that I've been "quoted" in the Bexley Times newspaper, you can read it here.

It's kind of weird to find out that you exist outside of your little bubble. I wonder how they found me? I'm most certainly not the "irate resident" who called them.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Free Tickets for the Red Bull Air Race

It's like buses, nothing for ages and then two come along at once....

Over three weeks since I found out about the free tickets for the Red Bull Air Race and about a month since Greenwich announced the race was coming in their Greenwich Time newspaper they've finally made an official comment about them.

In the latest issue of Greenwich Time they say that the Council have negotiated 10% of the tickets and they're being distributed through "borough community groups" to locals. Red Bull say that 10% of the "general" tickets are being split between Greenwich, Newham and Tower Hamlets. "General" might mean standing rather than seating, it's kind of hard to be sure. Either way that 10% has to be split three ways, unless things have changed Greenwich Council will not be getting the full 10%.

They don't boast about it on the front page of their web site but if you do a search for Red Bull you can find a page tucked away that mentioned the tickets too. I don't know how long it's been there but you can see it here.

So that was the first bus, what's the second.

Well someone's provided me with the results of an Freedom of Information Request from the Council. The Council expected to be given about 3000 tickets for the two days. The Council have written to community groups that are "registered" with them and represent "geographic groups" as opposed to "special interest groups" offering each one an allocation of 50 tickets.

They say that any unclaimed tickets will be distributed to those people who have registered with them. Greenwich Time doesn't make any mention of that, the web page linked to above does. "A limited number of free tickets are available - call Michele Ingram on 020 8921 6405 for details."

I know about that phone line already, it's given away on Red Bull's web site. How are people who don't go online meant to know about it? You'd have thought that they'd publish the phone number in Greenwich Time. Do they? No. The phone line's been there since before the previous edition was published so there's no excuse for not giving it out.

At the moment the only people who know about the phone number are internet users who have either seen the Red Bull web site, searched on the Council's web site and employees of the Council. That hardly seems a fair way to distribute the tickets.

The Council also mentioned that you can register on their web site for tickets. I can't see any way of doing that at all.

So there are still a few questions.

  • Why aren't the Council giving out the number to call other than on their web site?

  • Which groups are getting the tickets?

  • How many tickets will Greenwich get?

  • How many will go to community groups?

  • How many will go to people who registered?

  • How many were left over and what happened to them?

Monday, June 11, 2007

No change in the flow

There's been an announcement from the London assembly saying that the tidal flow lane for the Blackwall Tunnel will not be reinstated, it's now permanent.

You can read the press release here.

What's actually pretty interesting is this quote from it:
"a spokesperson from Greenwich said the decision was never fully discussed with them."

So far the line from the council has been to say that the only heard about it two days before it came into effect, Council Leader Chris Roberts is quoted as saying the council "was not consulted by TfL over the decision to end the Blackwall Tunnel contraflow arrangement."

So does "never fully discussed" allow for that memo that came out showing that TFL did talk to the council about it back in January? When they said that they weren't consulted over it are they now trying to say they meant that they weren't consulted "fully"?

TFL also seem to have shifted a bit in their postion. The press release has them saying:
"Transport for London said the lack of consultation was because an accident in the Blackwall Tunnel on 17 April brought forward the date for when the tidal flow would cease, only leaving time to make a few phone calls and issue a press release."

No mention of it being in the works for months before hand, an inconvenient truth?

It looks like both sides of this argument are shifting their goalposts in towards each other. Greenwich Council aren't claiming to have had two days notice and TFL are making it sound like they didn't tell people about it back in January.

Look here for more information on that memo.

Edited to Add:
The meeting that resulted in the press release above coming out was held on the 7th of June. The minutes don't yet seem to be available. However the document about the tunnel that the meeting discussed is, and it's interesting.

The Mayor's reported timeline for the closure includes the statement "Discussions were held with Greenwich Council in December 2006 and the Highways Agency in January 2007."

So Greenwich Council weren't told about it in January but a month earlier.

I really want to see the minutes from the meeting, I don't think they'll be out until July when the next meeting approves them. Curses.

"Your invitiation to the O2 arena"

Over the weekend I had a leaflet popped through my door, my "invitation to the O2 arena."

A free event has been organised for local people, a sneak preview and a chance for the O2 organisers a chance to check that everything's working OK. It's on Wednesday the 20th of June and the doors open at 6pm.

The evening's being hosted by a "London Radio DJ", there'll be some unsigned bands playing and the first performers will be a mass choir from local primary schools.

While the entertainment doesn't sound cracking (the school choir is a fantastic idea though, imagine those kids knowing they'll be the first performers on the stage that's hosting people like the Rolling Stones!) the O2 is the biggest thing to happen around here in a while so I was really interested in going.

The leaflet said that tickets would be available online from "Monday 11th June at 10am" from

So 10am comes around, I log on, then I read the web site saying that tickets were available from "Friday 8 June at 10am."

So all that's left is some seats on the upper level.

Thanks Greenwich Council. A great idea (probably the O2's owners?) that you've still managed to mess up.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Whote lotta honking

There's been a right racket in Charlton this morning, dozens of car horns. At first I wondered if there was a big traffic jam on the tunnel approach but then I realised it was closer than that.

Making their way up to Charlton Church Lane were dozens and dozens of taxi cabs festooned with balloons and honking away life crazy.

It turns out that the Albany Charity are having an excursion taking special needs children to the seaside. They had been gathering at Charlton Football ground, it now seems to be the charity's official departure point.

It's a real shame that I don't have access to my camera today, it really was quite a sight.

Today they're off to Hastings, on Monday the 9th of July they're back in Charlton and heading to Margate. I'll try and have my camera handy for that one.

What a pleasant and heart warming surprise on a pretty grey morning :)

Monday, June 04, 2007

View from Greenwich Park under threat?

I love Greenwich Park, somewhere I don't go nearly as often as I should. In particular I love the view from the top of the hill by the Observatory. Well apparently that's under threat.

What I didn't know was that there are clear corridors set out under London planning laws so that St. Pauls can be viewed from various places around the centre of London. Tall buildings in those corridors are very restricted.

At the moment the corridor from Greenwich to St. Pauls is 300m wide, the rules have been changed so that the corridor will now only be 115m.

I understand how important it is for London to be a living city, it's one of the reasons I love living here so, it can't just freeze in time. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the great view into town from Greenwich isn't an accident, it's been planned for. I hope the new regulations don't damage it too much.

The full story can be found here.

I couldn't find a photo from Greenwich to St. Pauls so at the top is one that I took from the opposite direction....