Monday, March 31, 2008

The power of Google?

As you've probably seen I'm trying to highlight how much, or indeed how little, my local Councillors care about the area that is called, with no sense of irony, their ward.

Well I thought I'd try Googling their names to see what comes up, I was quite pleased with the results.

A search of "janet gillman" results in over 1000 results and Charlton Average is there at number 10 on the first page! About half of those first 10 appear to relate to our good Councillor.

Searching for "Allan MacCarthy" does a whole lot better. At number 1 and 2 are links to Greenwich's web site, numbers 3 and 4 are links to Greenwich Labour party and there I am at number 5 with my revelation (cough) that even if Councillor MacCarthy possessed a veritable plethora of Monkey's and their relatives he couldn't spare a single one for his ward.

Councillor Gary Parker is a bit trickier, it seems that it's a common name. So I narrow down the search to councillor "Gary Parker" and boom I'm in at number 3! Numbers 1 and 2 are once again the Council's web site and Greenwich Labour Party only come in at number 4 underneath me!

I find it terribly sad that they wouldn't just respond to me and try and deal with the problems. However given that they've failed to do that the best that I can do is to try and bring their lack of care to light in the hope that it either gets a response or leads to people asking awkward questions of them.

Return of the overflowing bins

Well it's Monday, it's rubbish day and Floyd Road should be about as clean as it's ever going to get. Which is to say that it looks like a rubbish dump again.

Cardboard boxes, polysterene and even a car battery are the latest adornments to our pavements. There are also a number of black sacks out and about despite their collection not being due until next Monday. To be fair though there are less than there often are, maybe the point is finally getting across.

To pick one particular area of trouble though let's have a look at how the top of Floyd Road looks...
Nicely stuffed and overfilling bins, great.

The Council's new rubbish scheme is now well into it's second month and the photos above are the result of it week after week after week.

Calls to Cleansweep eventually do appear to produce results and the area is tidied up, well I say calls to Cleansweep it might very well have been the BBC that finally got results.

Other than eventually reacting to the problem the Council don't appear to care about trying to actually solve the root cause. It would appear the clean streets are not something that the Council want to give us as a normal level of service, you have to moan and moan and moan just to get the streets clean for a few days.

Yes I know that in the end this is the fault of selfish/stupid local residents/shop keepers. However this never used to happen under the old rubbish collection system.

The rubbish and filth on our streets are the direct results of the Council's refusal to tackle the side effects of the scheme that they brought into place.

In the end the buck stops with them, and they seem quite happy to ignore it, they know they're going to get re-elected anyway.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Neighbourhood Services join the Council's "couldn't give a monkey's" initiative

As I've already said I've written a letter to the three local Councillors who are meant to represent my area complaining about the problems with the new rubbish collection scheme.

To clarify what I mean by problems I mean that black bags are continually being put out in the wrong week, causing not only an eyesore but an obstruction to the pavement. Also bins that have the wrong waste in them are just left and are not being emptied. We had some bins at the top of my road that were left for about two months despite repeated calls to the Council.

Anyway, what I hinted at in the earlier post was that I also wrote to the Council about the issue. To be precise I complained to the Director of Neighbourhood Services. As it turns out he has a name, Jim Wintour, that isn't published on the who to complain to page.

So what is meant to happen when you complain?

Well the web page on the matter says:
  • We will try to confirm that we have received your complaint within five working days.
  • We will forward your complaint to the manager of the service concerned.
  • The manager will normally send you a full written reply within 15 working days of getting your complaint.

They should have got the letter on Thursday the 20th of March, so 5 working days passed yesterday on Friday the 28th.

Did I hear from them?

Of course not.

Now fair enough they do say that they will try to confirm within 5 days. However given their failure to reach that goal I feel compelled to add Jim Wintour to the Charlton Average Monkey Chart.

The Updated Charlton Average Monkey Chart!

Individual ContactedResponse TimeMonkey's Uncle

Councillor Janet Gillman
2 Working Days, no long term solution.

Councillor Allan MacCarthy
No ResponseCouldn't give a monkey's!

Councillor Gary Parker
No ResponseCouldn't give a monkey's!
Jim Wintour, Director of Neighbourhood ServicesNo confirmation within their own 5 day targetCouldn't give a monkey's!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Councillors in "not giving a monkeys" shock!

Well over a week has passed since I wrote to my Councillors and the Council about the state of Floyd Road.

Only one of them has bothered to write back to me, Councillor Janet Gillman. Her response was merely to say that she had reported the matter to Cleansweep. Not a word about what she was going to do to stop this happening week after week after week. I'm quite capable of contacting Cleansweep myself but it doesn't fix the problem, it just hides it for a couple of days.

So two of the three Councillors, Councillor Allan MacCarthy and Councillor Gary Parker, who are meant to represent Charlton appear to not give a Monkey's about the place. Councillor Gillman herself only appears to give a very small monkey's uncle.

This got me thinking, what is the smallest monkey in the world? Well it turns out to be the Pygmy Marmoset.

So while I consider who to write to next in my continuing attempts to stop my street looking like a rubbish dump allow me to present the Charlton Average Monkey Chart!

This will list who I've contacted and try to give some idea about how much they care about the people they represent and work for.

The Charlton Average Monkey Chart!

CouncillorResponse TimeMonkey's Uncle

Councillor Janet Gillman
2 Working Days, no long term solution.

Councillor Allan MacCarthy
No ResponseCouldn't give a monkey's!

Councillor Gary Parker
No ResponseCouldn't give a monkey's!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Even more rubbish

I've been away for a couple of days and on my return I was pleased to see that the piles of black sacks in Charlton Church Lane had been cleared. Then I turned the corner into Floyd Road was was confronted by a black sacks all along the top of the road.

To say I wasn't very happy was an understatement, I believed them to be the same bags that I had reported to Cleansweep a couple of days ago (see this post here).

So I ring up Cleansweep and am told that my first call has been closed, it's reopened. A new call is also logged with an emergency priority, remember tens of thousands of football fans will pour along this road tomorrow.

I then look closely at my new photo and the old one...

This is what was there a couple of days ago.
This is what is there today (apologies for it being a bit blurry).

It's not the same pile of rubbish.

Cleansweep say that they cleaned the street yesterday, and it appears that they did. So that new lot has appeared within the last day.

So who the hell is doing it? Is it the idiot at number 2? Is it the shop?

We'll see if the Council clean it up before the match.

As an aside I've also written letters to the Council and the three Councillors that represent this ward complaining both about the state of the streets and that the Council seem content to let it keep getting this bad time and time again.

The Councillors are Janet Gillman, Allan MacCarthy and Gary Parker. Click on their names for their details. If you're a local and you care about this area please contact them. A lone voice they might very well ignore but if a number of us try and do something about this maybe changes will happen.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

This is the Council call "teething problems"

I had a leaflet drop through my door the other day with the rubbish collection dates for Easter. It also had a foreword by Councillor Rajwant Sidhu in which he admitted that there have been "teething problems" with the new rubbish collection scheme.

This isn't the first time I've seen him say that.

So let me show you some photos of my street and we'll see what the Council call "teething problems" (remember when you see black bags that they're not meant to be out until next week so they'll be sat there for 7 days)...

Black bags put out yesterday, after a day they've already been torn apart by animals.
Bins full of the wrong sort of rubbish that haven't been emptied, fly tipped furniture and more black bags.
It's that man again! As said the other day the nice chap at the top of the road has reacted to the Council finally clearing up the rubbish he dumped in the street and his overspilling bins by dumping even more stuff outside. He did this on, or before, Saturday. His casual and adept ignorance of even the right day of the week yet alone the right week has got to be admired.
The bin outside the fish and chip shop along Floyd Road.
Charlton Church Lane, nicely savaged black bags.

On Friday tens of thousands of football fans will descend on this area for a Charlton game, they'll have to push past all those black bags. Yes Cleansweep have been told about this. Any bets as to if it will be sorted out?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Memories of Blow Up

A while ago I posted an entry about Maryon Park and how it was used in the film Blow Up.

Well an anonymous posted posted a comment to another entry that had some first hand local history.

He/she gives some memories of the filming of Blow Up and I really enjoyed reading them. So rather than have them tucked away I thought I'd post them up here.

Anonymous, whoever you maybe, I thank you very much.

I used to live in Woodland charlton.our house overlooked Maryon park.they are still there today.the film company asked our landlord at the time if they could paint the brickwork at the back of the properties.he refused so they built a false row of house fronts that you see in the film,When they were filming Blow and a friend took some beer glasses back to the white horse pub for David Hemmings He told his chauffer to take us for a ride in his rolls royce,he drove us down to Woolwich ferry and back,we felt like royalty.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Bins finally emptied!

I was very surprised this morning to see a rubbish lorry in my street, later I noticed that the overflowing bins have finally been emptied after sitting there for two months.


Could this be because I've reported those bins to Cleansweep at least three times (most recently over a week ago)?

On the other hand could it be because yesterday the BBC posted up my photos of the state that the Council had let my road degenerate to?

I get the feeling I know what really motivated the Council to do something...

So if your street looks like a rubbish dump and you want action it looks like you have to play the media game and try and shame the Council into doing something. Well that seems to be the lesson they're trying to teach us.

However the idiot at the top of the road has risen to the challenge of having the outside of his home looking semi-decent and has dumped another load of black bags on the pavement. There's not going to be a black bag collection for another week. Great. I feel another, probably pointless call, to Cleansweep coming along on Monday.

Friday, March 14, 2008

My photos are on the BBC web site

After reading on the Greenwich Watch web site that a BBC reporter was looking into the rubbish collection situation in Greenwich, read the story here, I contacted the BBC and let them know that I had some photos on this blog.

I was contacted by the reporter a short while after that asking for permission to use my photos, I told him to go for it.

He has, and they're here:

While I'm glad to see them up and hope that the Council gets some much needed critical attention I'm not quite so happy to see that the real situation hasn't been explained. It's made to sound like the photos are of rubbish awaiting collection, which isn't true at all. They're photos of what's happened when the Council has failed to collect rubbish properly.

I've sent an email to the journalist and this is what I said:
Thanks for letting me know that the photos are up.

However the photos aren't as simple as being waste awaiting collection, which wouldn't be too bad. Rather it was waste that wasn't due to be collected and shouldn't have been on the street or it was waste that should have been collected but wasn't. As it the true awfulness of the situation that people in Greenwich are having to live with isn't coming across.

The photo of the big pile of black and red bags isn't as simple as rubbish awaiting collection. It was taken on a Thursday when our rubbish collection day is on a Monday. Black bags weren't due to be taken until the following Monday (the collection is every two weeks) but that lot had been dumped there on the Monday before. So it was destined to sit there for a whole week.

The overflowing bins have been like that ever since the new waste collection scheme started. They're still like it today nearly two months into the scheme. Residents that are not separating their rubbish correctly are not having their bins collected. That is understandable. However the Council are not doing anything to resolve the problem despite being told about them. Even in this cold weather they're starting to get rather smelly.

The nappy sack photo was also taken on a Thursday. They're meant to be collected every Monday, that bag had been out for four days.

Monday, March 10, 2008

More thoughts on Greenwich's publicity spending

I've gone on about the Council's publicity spending a few times now and have used the average spending of Bexley, Bromley and Croydon as a comparison.

However I've been thinking, perhaps that isn't fair, maybe other Council's spend more.

So on the fantastic Greenwich Watch I found a page that had a link for the publicity spending by all London boroughs. You can see that report here.

So what I thought I would do would be to find each of the boroughs that border Greenwich and compare their spending, here are the results in a handy table form.

Council1996 to 19972006 to 2007% Increase
Newham-£4 milion-
Greenwich£0.7 million£3.2 million329.2%
Tower Hamlets£1.3 million£2.3 million78.4%
Barking & Dagenham£0.6 million£2.3 million277.2%
Lewisham£0.7 million£2.1 million195.4%
Bromley£0.3 million£0.9 million215.8%
Bexley£0.3 million£0.7 million112.4%

What do we learn?
  • Greenwich is the 2nd highest spender on publicity.
  • The average spend of the other Councils is £2.05 million.
  • Greenwich spends an extra £1.15 million, 50% higher than our neighbours average.
  • Greenwich spends an extra £1.1 million when compared to our more populous neighbour Lewisham.
  • Greenwich has increased it's spending by significantly more than any of our neighbours.
It's better than thinking that the average spend is £0.8 million.

However spending over £1 million more than our neighbours average and more than £1 million more than Lewisham still isn't good.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Do the Council care about Charlton?

I'm spitting teeth at the moment, truly.

I've just discovered that the Council are to close the Health and Fitness Centre at Charlton Football Ground. I discovered about it by reading a post on The Last Boy Scout's blog. Another source of the information is the icSouthLondon website which has the story here

Of course there's not a mention of this in the Greenwich Time propaganda rag, somehow despite Greenwich's substantial publicity budget they managed to skip that piece of information. They do manage to find room for lots of comments about how the Council share our priorities when it comes to spending our money.

Oh really?

Floyd Road looks like a rubbish dump despite numerous calls to Cleansweep.

Boasting about spending a whole £1m on tackling gang crime while spending £2.5 million more than other local authorities on publicity.

Cutting £500,000 from the budget for parks and open spaces. Do the Council really think that us residents would rather have Greenwich Time than parks and open spaces? Is it possible that if we're told enough how great Greenwich is we'll somehow overlook the lack of greenery?

What with the state of Floyd Road and now the closure of the really rather good health and fitness centre I'm left with the impression that the Council just really doesn't care at all about my area. Enough people around here are going to vote Labour regardless of what they do, we're irrelevant to them.

I've really had enough of Greenwich Council right now, I really want to get out of here. I'm a life long Labour supporter and while the national Government have managed to tarnish my opinions of Labour Greenwich Council have managed to really break my trust in it.

I'm going to keep on trying to get this street sorted out, letters will be written and so forth, but I know I'm on my way out now.

Oh and in case you're under the delusion that the members of the opposition have any interest in tackling this go and check out Councillor Nigel Fletcher's Blog. He's managed one post since the end of January and that was about the upcoming GLA elections how great Boris Johnson is.

Labour don't seem to care about Greenwich as they know they'll get elected whatever they do.

The opposition don't seem to care about Greenwich as they seem to view it as a leg up the political ladder.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Another "Don't Care"?

On my travels out and about around the area I've begin to notice something new, well it's new to me, I might have just been unobservant in the past.

What I've seen are a lot of parents, well presumably, out walking with their young children while they listen to a music player through headphones. Typically the parent's walking just ahead of the child who tags behind them.

Is that really safe?

Aside from the safety what does it do to the child to know that their parent would rather listen to music than talk to them?

It can't be good.

What "matters most" to the Council, what "matters most" to us?

I've had the latest issue of Greenwich Time popped through my door, which is good timing as I need something to line my green food caddy with.

The front page boasts about how the Council are spending £1 million on a new police initiative to fight gang crime. This, they say, is a "part of [the council's] ongoing commitment to focus Council spending on the issues and services that matter most to local residents."

Remember that Greenwich is the Council that spends £3.1 million on publicity every year.

Bexley, Bromley and Croydon each spend an average of just over £0.8 million a year each.

£1 million a year for tackling gang crime.

£2.5 million more every year than other local Council's to tell us how good the Council is.

I think it's pretty clear which are the "issues and services that matter most" to the Council and I don't think they're the ones that matter to local residents.

PS: I've brought the spending on publicity up several times and I don't apologise for doing it again. It's important that we know about it and if just one person reading this remembers to tackle a Council member about this come election time (which is about the only time that we see them) then I think it's worth it.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

More Don't Care Didn't Care

Floyd road is looking like a rubbish dump again, people are putting the wrong stuff in the wrong bins and they're not being collected. Black bags are also being put out week on week in the wrong week. Ultimate fault for that lies with the selfish idiots doing it, however we're about 7 weeks into the new scheme and you think the Council would be doing something about those that are spoiling our neighbourhood. Well apparently not.

The idiot at the top of the street who was responsible for this is still at it. I don't think his/her bins have been emptied since the new scheme started and he/she keeps dumping rubbish in the street.

They're not alone either, walking down Floyd Road there's at least one more household of muppets who have perhaps entered into a "let's see who's the most selfish" competition with the people at the top.

This is what you'll see if you do my walk...
What is it with these people that they somehow see what the front of their home looks like and think it's acceptable? Do they blame the council perhaps for not taking it away? Have they not thought to wonder why everyone else's bins are being emptied?

I have a suspicion who's dumping the rubbish at the top of the road, I think I know their name.

As I mentioned here there was a box dumped amid the first pile of rubbish they put out that had a name and address on it, well here's a censored version of the photo that I took.Now do I name and shame them on here? That's of course presuming that the individual concerned actually has any sense of shame, which given the outside of their house is somewhat doubtful.

I've contacted Cleansweep about this before, I'll try again, that's if I can get through to them. If I don't get any joy I'm going to have to write to my local Councillor. This really is getting beyond a joke now. It's also good for my own peace of mind that I at least try to do something about getting this sorted out rather than just grumbling about it and the Council.

Every couple of weeks thousands of away supporting football fans pour into Charlton and walk down Floyd Road, those photos are one of the first impressions they'll get of Greenwich.

Considering that the Council see trying to protect and promote their image as being so important to them that they'll spend more than three other local Councils combined on publicity, which in turn is something more important to them than funding our youth you'd think that they would care about what visitors see. Apparently not.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Living next door to Charlton

I'm not a follower of football, it's a whole tide of life that used to just pass me by.

When I moved here I knew that there was a football club just down the road however I didn't think it would affect me that much.

Oh how wrong I was... Two parking tickets later (one successfully appealed, the other paid) my lesson has been learned.

People often ask me what it's like living so close to the ground. Well in all honesty it's really not that bad, you just have to remember to move your car on match days. Oh that and making sure you're not going to try to drive home just after a match. All told it's not bad at all though.

Would I do it again knowing what I know now? Well in all honesty I would view it as a negative to the place, but not that big a one and probably not big enough so as to make me want to be elsewhere.

I read a story on the News Shopper site today about how the club have been refused planning permission by the Council to build some new stands, you can read it here.

The capacity is currently about 27,000 so that's an increase of 4000 or so people through the gate. I don't think that's going to make a huge difference.

However I did wonder why this was the first I'd heard about it.

In part it's probably because I moved here just after the initial planning permission was granted.

However I do think that Charlton could be doing more to involve and inform local residents about what they're up to. True enough I've said that I don't really mind the effect they have on my little world, but it would be nice to think of them as the sort of neighbour who will pop over and let you know what they're up to just in case you are bothered about it.

They used to pop a leaflet through peoples doors giving the upcoming fixtures. However not only did that not include fixture changes and knock out things like the FA cup but they haven't bothered doing one this year.

Would it really be too much to ask them to pop a little letter through locals doors once a month giving all the upcoming dates?

I'm lucky, I'm on the net and I check their fixture web site regularly. Not everyone is though and the only other way I seem to know of finding out is the little sign at the top of Floyd Road. However that's often not updated to a few days ahead so it's not of that much use to people that don't get out much.

So they're not bad neighbours really, I'd just like to feel like they bear me in mind once in a while.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Don't Care Didn't Care

I'm having a bit of a downer about this area at the moment, well not so much the area but certain people that live within it.

I've lived in a fair few places in my time and I'm of the opinion that selfish people come from all walks of life. In fact I might even go as far to say that in more "affluent" areas there's a higher chance of someone being intolerably selfish.

However what I think is part of the problem around here is the sheer number of households. So although the chance of any one of those being selfish muppets is probably no different the numbers of them pretty much guarantee a healthy dose of muppets somewhere close to you.


I was reminded of a story that I heard a good few months ago that shows the sort of problems this area is facing, and how they're not being tackled.

I know a teacher, a child was moved into their class from another school. They hadn't been expelled, "permanently excluded" in today's terms, rather it was a "managed move". That's what happens when a child is so bad that one school wants rid of them but both the Council and the School are under pressure of keeping their number of "permanent exclusions" low, so they come up with a new term for the same thing and the child goes to another school.

So into this new school they go, the child has such behaviour issues that there's a full time assistant that works 1 on 1 with the child throughout the normal classes.

The child has a horrific home life, it's no wonder they've got issues.

However the word you'll hear most about such cases is "support". The child is "supported" at school, the lone parent has social workers "supporting" them. Meanwhile the child remains in what sounds like a living hell.

The lone parent doesn't appear to really care for the child, despite all the "support" she has. At a parents evening despite booking an appointment the parent didn't put in an appearance. That's how concerned they are about their child's welfare, a half hour (if that) chat with a teacher was too much trouble.

So the council throws "support" at the parent, the parent gives nothing back and a child is going down a very dark path to an almost certainly bleak future.

The parent won't take responsibility for their child and no one else seems to want to either.

Our teachers work hard, but this lack of interest and support from their pupils' parents is common. This is an extreme case to be sure, but it's not isolated.

There is one lesson that we can all take from this. As well as checking up on a schools figures for "permanent exclusions" do ask about how many "managed moves" they have. They're really pretty much the same thing, just rebranded.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

A return to Charlton

I've been bubbling away about leaving Charlton for quite a while now, this weekend I took some serious steps towards it with a scouting mission to somewhere far away from here. Queue drives through country lanes, over old stone bridges and around various towns that I've never seen before.

I'm not naive and I know that everywhere has problems, but I did see some very nice places, and some quite ropey ones.

Charlton has taught me lessons. The best of those has been that the area has history and that I really appreciate and enjoy that. I've spent some years in my life living in a soulless commuter estate or two. After driving for several hours only to end up in an estate that felt so much like somewhere I used to live the point was hammered home that I don't want to be somewhere like that again. I'd far rather have a smaller home than one of those large commuter homes but have it somewhere interesting, somewhere you can connect with, somewhere that exists for a reason other than it being a large plot of land near a station or main road.

So I got rather sentimental about Charlton. The river, Charlton House, the history all around us and so on and so forth.

Then I come home.

It's bin day tomorrow and the morons around and the morons around here seem determined to enter some sort of incompetent muppet competition with the Council when it comes to the new bin scheme.

There's so many black sacks out and green bins with plastic bags poking out of them. How hard is it? Come on really? What's wrong with all of them.

I then read about another local blogger who's having that problem with his own bins and feel strangely lucky.

There is so much that I like about this area and while I do tell my friends that a major motivator for me leaving is wanting a bigger place without a bigger mortgage, however in all honesty I've got to admit that the uncaring minority of idiots is playing a bigger part than perhaps I want to admit.