Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Blackwall Tunnel is closed...

...and there's traffic chaos.

There's been a big diesel spill northbound on the southern approach road. So the tunnel is shut in that direction.

Apparently it's chaos out there.

Some people took about 4 hours to do a one hour trip here this morning, and it doesn't sound like they're alone.

I am so glad I don't have to drive to work.

In theory the tunnel should reopen tomorrow so normal service will hopefully be resumed.

This has happened before though and it does throw up how vulnerable this area is when the tunnel has problems. If there's an issue then very quickly this how area locks up solid. I think it's especially bad right now as people are coming off the approach to the tunnel and trying to get to the Woolwich Ferry by going down Woolwich Road. So not only is there far more traffic trying to get that way than normal but there's also a huge queue building up.

Not good.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

£3.3 million for our youth!

Greenwich Council are making excited noises about the £3.3 million in youth funding that they've received from the London Development Agency. You can read about it on their web site here or at the News Shopper site here.

£3.3 million is a lot of money, an awful lot of money.

But consider this, it's only a fraction over the £3.1 million that Greenwich Council spend each year on publicity.

Len Duvall, London Assembly Member for Greenwich, says that "my previous experience in working with young people means that I am well aware of the huge benefits the funding will bring."

Chris Roberts, the Council Leader, boasts "providing platforms which can enable young people to prosper and achieve is a priority that Greenwich places great importance on."

If our Labour Leaders are so aware of the benefits of a one off injection of £3.3 million and our young people are such a priority to them then why don't they cut the publicity budget down to the average of Bexley, Bromely and Croydon who manage to spend a total of £2.5 million between them?

That would free up £2.4 million every year! Imagine the "huge benefits" we could see from that!

That won't happen though, it's evidently not that important to them.

They'd rather spend the money, in part, publishing Greenwich Time trying to convince us that they run this borough in a reasonably competent manner.

And of course they've got to fund those big posters on the back of our buses telling us how good our children's exam results, when in reality even a cursory look into it reveals how poorly our schools are doing under their leadership.

"Providing platforms which can enable young people to prosper and achieve" might be important to Greenwich Council, trying hard to convince us that they're doing a great job so as to keep themselves in power is evidently the real "priority that Greenwich places great importance on."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Pub at Well Hall Eltham

This is a bit out of my area but I've found out that the Tudor Hall barn at Well Hall in Eltham is shutting down.

What does this have to do with me?

Well I stumbled upon it while trying to visit Eltham Palace a few months ago. It struck me as being really rather pretty and worthy of a visit.

However the Pub's lease is owned by Greenwich Council, who have decided to shut it down to turn it into something more "community-orientated."

So that'll be something with the public in mind then? Like the tickets for the Red Bull Air race or the corporate box at the O2? I'm not holding out much hope for whatever they have in mind...

It'll probably be somewhere for the Council to get away from the smell of rotting rubbish while they hope for more Led Zeppelin tickets so they can see them again.

Oooo, that was a bit moody...

Anyway you can read about the story on the News Shopper web site here.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Return of the Red Bull?

It sounds like the Red Bull Air Race is coming back to London in the summer. There's a list of dates on their web site here. They say they're awaiting confirmation and don't give a location within London. Returning to the Greenwich Peninsula has got to be a pretty good possibility though.

So if it does return I wonder what's going to happen with the tickets. Will the Council get any free ones? Will they actually tell us local residents (who they were meant for) that they have them?

If you don't know what I'm on about then click here for all the posts on what happened last year.

...oh, and it's bin day again.

The recycling's been taken and I think the nappy bags have been too, the green bins are still full though. I said the same thing at about the same time last week and the green bins were taken, so I'm pretty sure that they will be this week as well.

Doesn't it say a lot about the Council though that what should be one of the solid staples of city life, refuse collection, seems to be so hit and miss as to be worth comment and thought?

Out of luck with tourist attractions...

I don't often post up about things that I do outside of Charlton, however I'll make an exception this time as it's funny and informative.

I tried to go and see the Golden Hind last weekend, well lightening struck twice and as with Eltham Palace it was closed. There's maintenance going on and I think it's shut for the rest of February.

So we did the Clink museum, which was small but OK.

Then it was Vinopolis, which was booked up solid until the late afternoon. I've done Vinopolis before, it was a few years ago on a Saturday. So I didn't think that I'd have to book in advance, oh I was so very wrong.

So basically if you're off up to town and want to do any of those things wait until next month for the Golden Hind, don't get too excited about the Clink and book Vinopolis in advance.

Monday, February 11, 2008

It's rubbish day again!

Well Monday's here again and with it comes the excitement of the rubbish collection lottery.

So far the recycling and the black bags have been collected, which is all good. The green bin hasn't been dealt with yet but it's still pretty early.

On the subject of the black sacks a few weeks ago I posted up saying that I'd found details of the collection times for the various types of rubbish.

Well the information on the Council's web site appears to have been complete nonsense. Black sack collection seems to be done pretty early in the morning and the web site has been updated to remove the comment that said they'd be taken in the afternoon. So do get your black bags out early.

I spent some time recently with people who were really rather annoyed with the new rubbish scheme. I was actually defending the Council, well sort of. I was saying that the idea is something I'm really behind. However the implementation was the typical shoddy inept mess that we're used to the Council providing.

However two points that did come up and that I do agree with were that the green bin is way too large for what we now put into it and that it would be nice if there were bins for the black sack waste. Some people apparently do have a third red top bin, could the Council use that? Maybe they could issue black top bins for those that want them?

However I guess the counter point is that if there is a bin to dump black sack waste into then people may not bother with the whole recycling lark and just dump it. By only having one collection every two weeks and no bin to put it in there is a big incentive to put as little in the black sacks as possible.

On other fronts there are now things in motion that if taken to their conclusion will result in me leaving Charlton, indeed in me quite probably leaving London.

I still love London and I like being as close to the centre of it as I am. However as well as the things that are pulling me to other places the ineptitude of Greenwich Council and the "don't care" attitude from some local residents around here are certainly providing a push.

Nothing's definite but it's looking increasingly likely.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Food waste in Wellington Avenue

JP sent me an email and some photos about what's been going on in Wellington Gardens.

Sorry to hear you are leaving the area. I have thouroughly enjoyed reading your great blog.

Its not quite as bad as the mess that has been left on your road recently but I just thought I'd sent you some pictures of what the binmen left on Wellington Gardens today.

I had been out to ask them what they were collecting and apparently it was contamminated waste which I think is where plastic bags have been put in with food.

After I spoke to them they carried on down the street and I watched as one of the wheelie bins fell of the truck as it was being lifted. The food waste fell on to the street.

They did not have a dustpan and brush to clear it up but instead turned the wheelie on its side and scooped some of the food into it before carrying on with their collections

As you can see they didn't do a very good job.

Looks lovely...

The binmen had an accident, put some effort into clearing it up and then, having seen what we can see in the photos, thought "that'll do" and left it. I'm sure the reseidents disagree.

I have noticed a marked increase in the mess left in my road after the binmen have been. In fairness to them I suspect they're being run ragged at the moment trying to cope with the new scheme. However in fairness to us residents it's our streets that end up strewn with rubbish.

It sounds like JPs collection wasn't a normal "green, blue, black" collection but a special one to deal with what the binmen called "contaminated waste."

Well they didn't bother coming around the corner to Floyd Road. The rubbish in the street might have gone but the bins are now entering their third week of festering (read about them here). It smells increasingly bad as you pass them now, it's a wonder there's not a rat's nest in there. It's going to be so pleasant come summer if they don't get this all sorted out soon.

I did see a yellow lorry taking some bags of what seemed to be commercial rubbish away but cleaning up the rotting bins couldn't have been their responsibility.

Anyhow thank you very much for the email JP, although it's not nice for you there's some benefit from feeling like we're all in this together.

Oh and while it's looking very likely that my Charlton days are numbered I'm really not sure what the number is, I might be here for quite a while yet.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

How much uncollected rubbish is a success?

After doing one positive post I thought it was time to return to taking another pop at the Council over the debacle of the new rubbish collection scheme.

They've been crowing in emails and on their web site about how successful the scheme has been. You can read about it here.

The point that attracted my attention was them saying around 90 per cent of households made sure they had the right waste in the right place at the right time.

So that means that 10% of households had waste in the wrong place?

Think about that, 1 in 10 households in Greenwich have put out rubbish in the wrong place. By default the Council are not taking it away. I've had to phone up to try and get various random black sacks shifted but they're not touching the bins overfilling with rotten food. That 1 in 10 figure certainly seems to be about the par for my road, though maybe we've just got a higher percentage of idiots than elsewhere.

And this is what they call a success?

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm a big fan of the scheme, in theory.

However rubbish has got to be collected when they say it will and there's got to be some method by which those locals who really don't give a monkey's about the area are brought into line.

I've got a nasty feeling that they'll start to use other peoples bins to dump their rubbish in, so the number of uncollected bins might swell...

Monday, February 04, 2008

I finally get to Eltham Palace!

I've tried to go and see Eltham Palace before, unfortunately it didn't quite work... This Sunday was the first open day after the winter closure so I got my skates on and got down there. In brief it was really rather good!

The palace has a long history, apparently it was one of only six palaces which were big enough to accommodate and feed the entire royal court of some 800 people.

William the Conquerer gave the manor to Odo the Bishop of Bayeax, his half brother. In 1295 it was acquired by Anthony Bek, Bishop of Durham, who seems to have begun the building of the palace. It entered Royal hands in 1305 when it was given to the Prince of Wales, the future Edward II.

From then on the palace seemed to grow. The great hall, which still stands, was added by Edward IV between 1475 and 1485. At it's largest, in 1603, it was bigger than Hampton Court.

After Henry VII the palace seemed to gradually loose favour, Greenwich was closer to Westminster and easily reached by boat along the Thames. By the mid 1600s parts of it had collapsed, troops were stationed there to quell a revolt in Kent and as Parliamentry troops were want to do they apparently ransacked it. A report in 1649 sadly stated that the palace was "much out of repaire, and soe not tenantable."

The grand great hall was reduced to being a barn for livestock for some years.

Finally in the late 18th and early 19th century things began to change. The hall underwent progressively more serious repair work. In the 1930s the Courtauld family came into possession of the site. They built an amazingl high tech art-deco house around the great hall. The Courtauld's left the house in 1944 and it passed back into the hands of the state, it was an educational establishment for the army until 1992. English Heritage assumed responsibility for the hall in 1985 and after the army left they took over the rest of the palace and house. Work was done to restore the house to it's 1930s peak with furniture reproduced and where possible identical furnishings sought from a variety of sources.

So what can you see today?

Well there's the Courtauld's house, which is actually rather impressive and I speak as one who's not overly interested in such things. The great hall is impressive, though the Courtaulds did some "restoration" to it which turned it into somewhat of what they though a medieval great hall should look like as influenced by the films of the times. However the woodwork of the roof looks pretty much as illustrations show it used to be and it is really rather impressive.

Outside you can stroll around the grounds, seeing some of the ruins of the palace, the moat, the medieval bridges over the moat, the walls and gardens.

All told it took me just over 2 hours to see it all and I really enjoyed it.

There's a whole lot of information about the palace on the internet, here's some places to start:

I did take a few photos inside before Ms. Charlton-Above-Average pointed out to me that you're not meant to. Suffice to say I did feel rather guilty. Anyway I'll share some of those that I took at the end of this post.

I can really recommend a visit and it's so nice to write something, and to feel something, positive about the area after weeks of moaning about bad things.

The view you'll get of the house and the medieval moat and walls as you cross the north bridge to enter.
The entrance hall of the house
The Great Hall, looking towards the end where the King and Queen would sit. The roof is amazing!
The outside of the Great Hall.
Walking around the moat, some of it is still flooded.
Looking towards the north bridge over the moat.
Looking towards the house. This quite clearly shows the medieval walls around the moat and the modern house within, a very interesting place!

Week 3 of the new rubbish collection scheme

Well so far the blue bins and the green bins have all been emptied, I'm not sure about the nappy sacks.

On the one hand it's great the things appear to now be working. On the other it says a great deal about my faith in the council that managing to empty the green bin seems to be something worth commenting on.

I've also seen the bin people putting some kind of note through peoples doors when the bins obviously have the wrong stuff in them. Hopefully they'll sort themselves out. Though having sat there now for three weeks I do wonder what they'll do with the contents...

The rubbish at the top of the street has also been taken away, which is a big improvement.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Rubbish in Floyd Road

The top of Floyd Road is in a bit of a state at the moment. Outside one of the houses are two bins which blatantly have the wrong stuff in them. There's food in the blue bin and loads of plastic bags in the green one. Understandably the bin men haven't taken them. So what's going to happen to them? Will they just be left to rot?

Making it worse is the pile of rubbish on the pavement next to the bins. Black bags, cardboard boxes, pieces of carpet and even a TV. One of the boxes is addresses to the house with the bins outside. What an idiot. Not only does he not ignore the blue bin and the big "green waste only, no plastic" sticker on the green bin but he dumps stuff in the street that has his name and address on.

Now as I think I've said I'm a big supporter of the new rubbish and recycling scheme however it's selfish idiots like him that will spoil it for everyone. It's really not that much work to get things into the right bin. This guy clearly doesn't care and worse is prepared to spoil the street for everyone else.

This has been reported to Clean Sweep, hopefully they'll deal with it.

On a slightly bigger note I'm beginning to see and end to my time in Charlton. There's many reasons behind it, the key one is just the desire for somewhere a bit bigger without a crippling mortgage. However I've got to be honest and say that the selfish and stupid nature of some of the people around here who let the street get into such a mess with rubbish and dog mess is grinding me down.

I do my bit to try and keep everything tidy and let the Council know when there's a problem so they'll clean it up. However they don't seem to be trying to stop it from happening so it just goes on.

Will they actually contact the idiot dumping his rubbish in the street or will they simply not be bothered?

Ho and indeed hum.

Anyhow here's some photos of what's been left for us.