Monday, December 03, 2007

The "Excellent" Greenwich Watch

I received a comment the other day about a posts where I described the Greenwich Watch web site as excellent. Nigel said that GW was a one dimensional rant that mistakenly believes spreading malicious, petty and outrageously partisan gossip and sniping amounts to a noble and considered crusade against injustice.

Further more he added I had thought better of you Charlton.

So I thought that I'd say a little bit about GW and Greenwich Council.

Basically I've come to the conclusion that Greenwich Council are rubbish. They're an embarrassment to the Labour Party and I say that as a lifelong Labour supporter, well until the last election anyway.

Even without GW I've had enough personal experience with the Council to draw my own conclusions. I'll point out a few highlights:As for Greenwich Watch, well yes I do feel that they do cross the line at times and can enter rant mode.

However they also perform an absolutely invaluable service by making me aware of things that the Council are up to that otherwise I probably wouldn't know.

Let's look back at some of the highlights from GW from the last month and a bit:
  • Reporting that Peter Brooks, the deputy leader of the Council, has failed to attend any of the meetings of the London City Airport Consultative Committee for the last four years. This is even worse considering that he's actually meant to be representing the people of Thamesmead who live under the airports flight path and there's been a consultation about planned expansion to the airport.
  • Reporting that Peter Brooks, when questioned about his failure to attend the meetings, claimed that he did send apologies, despite the failure of the official minutes to show any such apologies for absence, and that there was nothing of impact to Greenwich that was to be discussed. Hello? 40,000 extra flights a year? Being the councillor for 1000s of people living about a mile from the runway?
  • Reminding us that the Council hasn't deemed it appropriate to hold a full council meeting prior to November for four months.
  • Revealing that at that meeting Chris Roberts even voted against extending it so as to be able to cover all the issues that had built up.
  • Exposing that the Council is clawing back money from schools that underspent their budget, and pointing out again that the Council saw fit to spend £90,000 on the box at the O2.
And those are the highlights from just one month. All seem to boil down to things that can't be ignored as being gossip. Did the Peter Brooks actually attend those meetings during the time there was a consultation about expanding the air port? No. Did he say that there wasn't anything of impact to Greenwich that would be discussed? Yes. Did the Council really put off holding a full meeting for four months? Yes.

Those are all things that I don't think I read from any source other than Greenwich Watch. That includes the local Tory party with, for example, Councillor Nigel Fletcher posting far more often about issues with National Government than anything local.

So that's why I think Greenwich Watch is excellent. Looking beneath the spin and bile with which they sometimes treat the Council there's cold hard facts that reinforce to me that the Council are best inept and at worst corrupt. Maybe this happens in every London Borough. However GW tell me about it.

I can even forgive some of the disdain with with Greenwich Watch treats the Council. I know a little about what they get up to and after seeing an advert on a bus boasting about the school results for the borough even I launched into a 10 minute rant to my partner about how they were spinning the truth. It's easy to get angry with the way that they are.

So anyway, I believe Greenwich Watch to be excellent and read it regularly. I can recommend it to everyone and frequently do.


Knit Nurse said...

Well said, I am in full agreement. Every council should be subject to such scrutiny from the public; unfortunately these days, for many reasons, it rarely happens.

Barbara said...

I also! If it takes GW to keep our beloved council on their toes then so be it - someone has to make them think about their actions.

Ayya said...

Good for you Charlton, well defended. I can understand some local Labour apparitchiks being annoyed with GW, but it does give us the truth far more than any other source out there; we're all grown-ups and can distinguish the rant from the truth underneath it. What I want to know is why our local paper doesn't expose the council in this way?