Sunday, May 17, 2009

Councillor Parker speaks...

Well I seem to be doing well this week, having annoyed Councillor Nigel Fletcher I now seem to have needled Councillor Gary Parker too.

Well at least I'm an equal opportunity annoyance.

Anyway I do give my Councillors a fair amount of stick on this web site so I think that it's only fair that I share his response. It might well be that you agree with him and you think that they are doing a good job, please read and make your own mind up.



I have read your blog today with interest, you say in it that Floyd Road - your road has been cleaner than it has been for some time (your blog dated 16/5/09)- this is due to action by ward councillors and officers to address this issue. Then you claim later in the blog that the council is indifferent to this and is happy to have rotting food in the streets etc- is this not somewhat contradictory?. You also claim the council is wasting tax payers money on these issues, yet as I have explained to you previously, due to our recycling facility in Thamesmead the council recycles over 40% of its waste- the highest in London, saving money on expensive landfill. We provide more collections than many other local authorities and are still saving council tax payers money too, some local authorities only provide bi-weekly collections for some items of waste.

The fact is, ward and other councillors including myself have taken action on this issue, and when it has been brought to our attention we have acted quickly and so have officers- none of us have been indifferent to it as you claim. It is people who dump rubbish, not the council and we need to educate and inform people on these issues- which we also do through the council website, leaflets etc.

Officers are working on these issues and the enforcement team has been out in the area and officers have met with you and corresponded with you personally, have they not? As I have intimated to you before, the council is constantly reviewing this issue and looking at other areas/ councils more models of best practise- in Tory Bexley for example they fined people £12 for non compliance on these issues, this was then replaced with a policy of non- collection. Neither of these has worked particularly well and the latter could be counter productive – if you have any suggestions I would be interested to hear them.

In the meantime myself and my co- councillors have been working to support local community groups working to address a number of issues which will involve community action day on local environmental (not just waste issues) issues in July. We have also dealt with a wide range of other issues and casework regarding other issues too and will continue to do so.

As far as I am concerned I reject your assertions that ward councillors are indifferent on these issues and as you are aware, I have responded personally to you on several occasions this year alone and will continue to address these issues not only in Floyd Road but other parts of Charlton as and if they arise.





And here's my response:

Thank you for your email. I am grateful for the level of contact you have had with me and I hope that I've been open about how you do keep in touch on the blog.

Yes my road is cleaner than it has been in some time. However that is the result of the Council doing daily collections, and we seem to only be getting those because I've been pushing and complaining for over a year. Those daily collections are not the solution to the problem and will, in my opinion, make the problem worse as people continue to see that they can throw what they want into the street and it will be taken away.

That it's taken a year of letters, emails, chats to the staff at waste services, silly tables of monkeys and blog entries to reach a situation when the same problems are still being reacted to rather than fixed does, in my opinion, make is reasonable to question the Council's level of concern and commitment over the issue.

Yes the problem is ultimately with the people who are ignoring the new scheme. However we didn't have these problems with the old system so they are directly connected with the arrival of the new scheme. You're right to say you do need to educate and inform people about the issues, and that's just what's not happened until quite possibly the last few weeks.

And as for the comment about other Councils "only" offering bi-weekly collection of some waste I would remind you that that was Greenwich Councils' original intention too. However that intention evaporated in Floyd Road some time ago as extra collections were introduced to keep a lid on the problems and finally vanished borough wide relatively recently. I see nothing wrong in bi-weekly collections for some waste, I believe that the original version of the new bin scheme could have worked. However when problems appeared rather than resolve them the Council just seems to have backed away and implemented the easiest "fix" rather than stand by their plans.

Sometimes my emails and blog entries can be somewhat bitter however I would remind you that I've spent a year just trying to get my street back to the level of cleanliness that we used to have. I've had to also spend that year weaving along a pavement blocked with overspilling uncollected bins or sacks of torn apart waste with their rotting contents scattered all around. I've also had to frequently read in sources such as Greenwich time about how well the new scheme is going and how there were only a few teething problems, which just rubs salt into the wounds.

It's not been a good year.

We've still got the the same problems that I wrote to the Council about back in March 2008.

I defy anyone to call the current situation a success or say that we got to it quickly.

A "success" would be easy to measure, clean streets with no extra or special collections. We're not there 16 months into the "new" scheme, and I think that's really quite depressing.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

OfBlog's back again

In my apparent role as OfBlog I'm pleased to announce that we've seen a flurry of online local Conservative action.

No seriously I am, really.

I've not got the highest faith in the local "opposition" however regardless of my feelings it's great to see some activity and some information.

With a turnout in my ward of less than 40% the current shambles that we call a Council is genuinely vulnerable to being ousted, or at least so threatened with being ousted that they actually converse with us (which is different from talk to, on an occasional basis) and work for us.

So local political debate is great, hopefully we might get a Council that cares. However to do that we've got to wake up the 60% of the people who don't vote, connect with and inform them.

Anyway we have a new blog by one of the Conservatives standing as a Councillor for Charlton here:
http://jamesincharlton.blogspot.com/

And Councillor Nigel Fletcher has struck back at my claims that he's more interested in getting himself an expenses account in Westminster than in Greenwich with some interesting posts about what the Council is getting up to.

Thinking about all of this it's actually rather telling of the depths of my despair with my local Councillors and the Council as a whole that I, a Labour supporter, am telling people to go and look at what the Conservatives have to say. Well we've got about a year to question them and see what they have to say before we have to decide who's really interested in running this borough.

One thing that I learned from Councillor Fletcher was that one of my local Councillors, Alan MacCarthy, has been elected to be Mayor.

Now I've initiated contact with my Councillors twice over the past year. Both of those times Councillor MacCarthy has taken a while to respond and then when he basically just passed the buck onto his colleagues.

And now he's got another post he's going to be even less involved in his ward than he is already, if such a thing is possible.

And people wonder why I'm sceptical about my Councillors and their level of commitment?

Perhaps the title of Mayor should go to the Councillor who's worked hardest for his constituents? We certainly wouldn't see Councillor MacCarthy get it then...

Bin Bag Blog

Once upon a time this blog was labelled Bin Blog due to my recording of my struggles with the Council over the filthy state they left my street in and the lack of concern or interest that they showed over it. I think was meant to be a criticism but I quite liked the sound of it.

Anyway since they've taken away my bins I guess I should relabel myself as Bin Bag Blog as rather than having rubbish bins dumped out and overspilling on the pavement we now just get the bin bags, which act like some kind of rotting food cluster bomb once the local wildlife gets at them.

Well certain people are still dumping rubbish out in plastic carrier or bin bags on pretty much any day of the week, some muppet even did it on Tuesday just one day after our normal collection.

However the Council's promised daily collection does now finally appear to be in swing and they have been cleared up.

But what are the Council actually doing to avoid them having to do those extra collections, which surely can't be cheap. I've been told that the enforcement team are also monitoring the road, but it seems to be the same people throwing the bags out every time.

So is there actually any effort being made to talk to those people?

Or is the Council just going for the sticking plaster tactic of covering up the problem without tackling it?

On the one hand my street is cleaner than it has been in a long time, which is good.

On the other my Council tax is being wasted and people are being actively encouraged to throw out what they want when they want by having it taken away on a daily basis.

Greenwich Council.
Indifferent to rotting food in your streets.
Indifferent to the causes of rotting food in your streets.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Conservatives in Action (and in avoidance)

As I posted the other day Councillor Nigel Fletcher made a blog posting defending his focus on national rather than local political issues. That happened hot on the heels of me posting an entry about local Conservatives seem to have their eyes on Westminster and not on Greenwich.

Well I responded to that in detail here but I also left a comment on Nigel's block basically taking the same angle.

Now comments on Nigel's block require approval, which is good common sense, I do the same thing.

My comment has not yet appeared, however Nigel has been back on his blog and made two new entries. They're both on the same subject, but I guess breaking it into two can help him improve his 50:50 local:national split.

So he's logged on, so surely he saw my comment, yet it's not been published.

I wonder why......

Councillor Spencer Drury has also popped up again commenting that for what it is worth, quite a lot of my ward work is shown at http://elthamnorth.elthamconservatives.com/index.php. It isn't relevant to the Greenwich and Woolwich constituency, but does show what I spend my time doing in my ward.

So I checked it out.

There are 7 postings for this year. That's not even 2 per month.

If that does show "quite a lot" of the work he does in his ward then I couldn't help but think, "well that's still not very much is it".

I'm being really tugged around time wise at the moment with many things demanding my attention, however even I've managed to maintain a better post rate than that. It's hardly something that I'd use to defend myself against allegations that I'm really not that interested in something.

Anyway check out the links and make your own mind up.

On the positive side he seems to be more engaged with his area than my three local Councillors, though that's not saying a great deal.

For those who are thinking that all of this is getting a bit political, well yes, it is, and rightly so.

Our Labour Councillors have sat back for the last year letting filth pile up in our streets. Either it's an incredibly hard problem to solve, though they had no problem before the "new scheme", or they simply don't care.

Meanwhile the so-called local "opposition" have seemingly sat back with their eyes glazed over dreaming dreams of Westminster and a nice little expense account.

In the last election the turn out for Charlton was 37%.

For every person that did vote nearly two people didn't.

We can change things, we can vote in people who care and will work for us.

However to do that we need to be informed and we need to demonstrate the willingness to get out there and vote. Someone who stays at home with the misguided belief that they won't vote until someone engages with them is someone that the main stream political parties can simply forget about. They only bother worrying about the people that will vote.

I'm gradually coming to the conclusion that the only hope for Greenwich is something outside of the main political system, perhaps even a residents party. However I remain passionately convinced that we can change things, and with just 37% of the people being bothered to vote there's a huge potential vote waiting to be tapped...

Edited to add: Aside from his comment below Councillor Fletcher has written a substantial rebuttal of my accusations of lack of interest in Greenwich poltitics. It's well worth a read, click here.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

What the Council Do Do....

Well the Council can't, or can't be bothered to, keep the streets clean so what do they do?

Well as I've said before Jim Wintour is the Director of Neighbourhood Services and is therefore responsible for the mess. However it seems to he's too busy investigating horse based sporting events to reply to emails or do his job.

So what of Maureen O'Mara who is, as it turns out, is the Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Services.

Well I was somewhat surprised to read her name when catching up with the news in an article about age verification for online shops. You can read the story here but the key part is this quote from her:

"Although a small sample, our findings from this operation seem to show the danger to which young people can be exposed on the internet".

OK kids being able to order knives online is a bit of a problem but what about the danger that local residents are exposed to from broken class and rotting food in the streets due to Councillor O'Mara's department not doing it's job?

Isn't that more within "Neighbourhood Services" remit and therefore worthy of more time than giving quotes to the BBC?

Or could it be that it's not just opposition Councillors who prefer to tackle the risk free low hanging juicy fruits of national issues rather than stick their neck out and try to tackle local problems where they can really make a difference?

It's nice to know that "Greenwich Council has written to all the web firms involved in the test" but they couldn't find the time to tell me they were taking all of our bins away or to reply to my recent emails...

Greenwich Conservative's Response

As I've commented upon Councillor Spencer Drury has become involved in what has now been a year long struggle to get the Council to keep my street clean.

Well it also appears that there's been a minor flurry of other local Conservative action, coincidence?

The first sign was a leaflet through my door from them. It all appears to be pretty generic and recent(ish), but undated, material. Most interestingly though they have said that there is a "Charlton action team". They are Richard Shackleton, James Garry and Louis McLean-Wait. Could this be a new dynamic trio to replace the current "couldn't give a monkey's" trio of Labour Councillors that we have?

Well if the street problems aren't sorted out maybe I'll give them a poke and see if they can get any kind of a resolution.

You can contact them at jamesincharlton@googlemail.com.

I am somewhat suspicious of the local Conservatives and believe that too many of them view Greenwich as a stepping stone to a nice expense account in Westminster rather than as something that actually want to passionately serve. I said as much in a recent post.

Well one of the examples I used in that post, Councillor Nigel Fletcher, has recently published what appears to be somewhat of a retort. It's his only posting in May and given how many, if not most, of his postings don't have anything to do with the borough it does look a bit coincidental...

He says: "I have often been criticised on this blog for focusing too much on national politics, but I make no apology for doing so again. The truth is that what happens in Westminster has a real effect on people across the country, and the people I represent in Eltham North, and people across the Borough of Greenwich, can see this Government is failing them. We need change at the top, and a new Government is the only way we will get that."

It's a well written response but one that I just don't agree with. So to Nigel in particular and his ilk in general I say....

Yes what is happening in Westminster does have an enormous effect on the people of Greenwich, however questioning and working on those issues is the job of the opposition MPs and the national Conservative party.

Those national focussing Conservatives are therefore too busy dealing with those "bigger" issues to deal with the smaller ones that affect the day to day lives of people within Greenwich. They have delegated responsibility for that to you, if you drop that responsibility so as to chase after their scraps in Westminster then who is left to challenge the Council?

You acknowledge that there are problems with Greenwich's schools, social services, housing and responsible usage of our Council tax.

And then there's the plethora of other issues that pop up on a day to day basis that the Council seems to deal with badly. We've had our roads badly gritted, ground up glass used as grit, rubbish piling up in the streets, dodgy dealings over free air race tickets and the waste of money on a corporate box at the O2. Actually you'd best not tackle the box at the O2, until you were named and shamed your snout was rammed right into that trough right alongside Chris Roberts (read about that here, scroll down a bit, oh Greenwich Watch, you are missed...).

Those issues are what you should be dealing with and what I would expect to see a true local opposition writing and campaigning about.

Taking Greenwich away from the current group of disinterested and arrogant Labour Councillors will be tricky and it will take a lot of work. Devoting so much of your time to national issues is not only doing nothing to advance peoples confidence in you as a potential local Government but also damages that cause by giving the impression that you're not interested in what is really going on around here.

Proving that a Conservative Councillor is interested in the real low down and dirty problems of Greenwich when it's not just the few weeks before an election will do far more to set Greenwich right than talking about how "call me Dave" acknowledged your existence.

However not talking about your connections with the national party won't bring their attention upon you, which will slow down your climb out of Greenwich to a seat and an expense account at Westminster.

However what are you in this for?

I'll drop my cards right on the table, I have never once voted Conservative in any type of election.

However they can prove that they really are committed to making a difference to the borough and it is here that their passion and interest lies then I can see myself looking beyond the blue rosette and voting for the person behind it.

Right now though that just simply isn't the case.

Greenwich Council's Response

Well my street has been cleaned and the rubbish has been taken away, but other than that not one person from either the Council or the ruling Labour party has seen fit to give me any kind of a reply or response to my email.

Now Google's a wonderful thing, it indexes pages on the web and makes them searchable for years after they were written. So in the interests of any any inquiring mind who goes goggling for details on any of these people over the next few years let's name them nice and clearly here.

If you have any doubt as to the power of Google then try searching for "Councillor Gary Parker", I'm in there at number 2 right after Greenwich Council's own site.

What these people do, or fail to do, will stick around on the internet for years...

On the positive side that also means that if they do pull their finger out of wherever it's been stuck for the last year then that will also go on record.

Unfortunately my cunning plan that holding these people up to the dim light of what public accountability I can provide may get results is somewhat hobbled by the fact that not only do the Council clearly not care about Charlton, but they don't appear care who knows that they don't care. Why else would we have a year of inaction?

Anyway, on with the naming.

These are the people who I've contacted and have had absolutely nothing to say:
Councillor Allan MacCarthy
Councillor Gary Parker
Councillor Janet Gillman
Councillor Chris Roberts
Jim Wintour, Director of Neighbourhood Services
Ray Collingham, Assistant Director of Neighbourhood Services

It's interesting to note that throughout the most recent saga of the Council taking all of our bins away Jim Wintour, the man nominally in charge of waste services, hasn't replied to me once.

Even Councillor Allan MacCarthy found time to reply to me, even if it was to do his usual trick of passing dodging any kind of responsibility and laying it onto his colleagues.

However perhaps I'm being too harsh on Mr Wintour, he is after all Greenwich's resident equine sporting expert and is therefore no doubt far too busy to actually do his job.

So perhaps I should send him the following photo, maybe that would combine his experience with what he's actually meant to be doing and would get the job done....

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Council in not doing what it promised shock!

Well there's rubbish out in the street again, this email to the Council just about sums it up....

On Wednesday night, the day after our rubbish collection, there were sacks of rubbish out on the pavement along Floyd Road.

This evening they are still there.

Yet I was told by Ray Collingham that you "have arranged for further, regular monitoring and action by the Council's Enforcement Team and for street cleansing crews to remove bagged domestic waste from the western part of Floyd Rd (between Valley Grove and Charlton Church Lane) on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays."

Later he clarified that "the back up service from street cleansing is due to start on Tuesday 5th May."

So did the extra cleansing begin but for some reason the rubbish was left behind?

Did the monitoring occur but perhaps they failed to notice the filth?

Or did you lie? Is it yet another broken promise of action?

Is there not one among you who has the ability and determination to follow through on your commitments?

Ineptitude I can understand, at least that indicates a willingness to try.

It appears that Greenwich Council can't even be bothered to do that.

Now, what are you going to do and what assurances do I have that you will actually do it?

Must I spend another summer walking along a road clogged with foul smelling rubbish rotting in the heat?

I have had some communication with Conservative Councillor Spencer Drury over these matters and I include him on this email in the probably vain hope that some of you might fear enough for your comfortable Council seats that you will finally after a year or pressuring do something. At the very least this gives the Conservatives more examples of the shocking disregard that the current Council shows to it's residents.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

The Conservative "Opposition"

Councillor Spencer Drury has recently been in touch with me about the state of my street and my struggles with the Council to get them to sort it out.

I am wary of becoming a mouthpiece for the Conservatives, which could happen quite easily given my refusal to accept the disdain and contempt with which the ruling Labour party treats us locals. I've said similar things before and one of Spencer's comments to me was "I know that you are somewhat suspicious of Conservatives".

Well I'm not sure if suspicious is quite the right way to put it, what I said back to him was:

"Yes I am indeed somewhat suspicious of the local Conservatives. Too many of your Councillors, or would be Councillors, seem far more interested in what is happening in Westminster than what is happening in their own borough. To be ignored by the local Labour party is bad, to then feel that the local opposition seem interested in using the area as little more than a stepping stone onto bigger things is depressing."

So I thought that that statement needs some qualifying, so I looked into the three local Conservative bloggers of which I am most aware.

Simon Emmett, Conservative Candidate for Shooters Hill Ward
Nigel Fletcher, Conservative Councillor for Eltham North
Conservative Council Group Leader

So what do those people blog about?

Is my statement that they're seemingly more interested in national rather than local politics based in truth?

At this point I'm quite literally going to find out, I've not checked out the results before starting this entry so I could very easily be proved wrong, let's see.....

Simon Emmett
1Labour Suporting Media Show How Much They Are Out Of TouchNational
2Representing The Constituents?National
3Having Your Pension ScrewedNational
4Obsolete I.T.Local
5London MarathonLocal
6Promise on the CommonLocal
7Fly the Flag TodayOther
8George Osborne’s Response To The BudgetNational
9Economic Competence?National
10Brown's Expenses ReviewNational
Totals30%60%10%
Councillor Nigel Fletcher
1Bin and GoneLocal
2Celebrating St. George's DayNational
3Day 3 of the Henry trailLocal
4Henry VIII and modern GreenwichNational
5Newsflash: The King is Dead, Long Live the King!Other
6A Labour man with an internet planNational
7Oysters in the ThamesLocal
8Boris pledges to protect Greenwich ParkLocal
9Normal service is resumedOther
10Mandelson's Custardy BattleNational
Totals50%30%20%
Councillor Spencer Drury
1LABOUR CLOSE CHILDREN'S PLAYGROUND FOR EASTERLocal
2Conservatives write to residents about roadworks on A2Local
3More help needed for Greenwich and Woolwich’s small firms during the recessionLocal
4Labour reject Conservative proposalsfor increased police numbers and reduced council taxLocal
5School closure is short-term panicked decisionLocal
Totals100%


Well all told they did better than I expected.

Simon Emmet managed a depressing 30% of his posts with a local focus. On the one hand I enjoy reading his national commentary, on the other shouldn't a prospective candidate be generating more posts about his area? Isn't there something going on of importance like the bins around me?

I've commented on Councillor Fletcher's focus before and since then he's improved, he was on about a 25% local post rate and he's now doubled that to 50%.

Councillor Drury did impress me, a 100% local focus. On the downside though he's managed 5 posts since the end of February. As I've said about Simon Emmet isn't there something local to post about?

So in conclusion think my initial impressions have been pretty much justified. It's not as bad as I felt it was but the local opposition doesn't seem that interested in local issues, or at least in blogging about local issues. National issues also take up a higher proportion of their posts than I would hope or expect when in opposition against a Council as rubbish as Greenwich.

Please note though that I'm not saying that the local Labour Party is any better, but then you only have to look at the state of our streets to know that they don't care.

However all the links and posts are up there, so take a look and make you're own mind up as to how interested the opposition is in Greenwich and your lives.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

A talk on Gilbert's Pit

I've been meaning to post about Greenwich Industrial History Society for a while now, however life taking a turn to the busy side and the Council still letting my street descend into a rats paradise have side tracked me.

However out the blue they've emailed me with an announcement about a talk on Gilbert's Pit. The pit is in Maryon Park and I've blogged about it before. Since then I've found out some more about it and become really rather interested, so needless to say I was chuffed to get the email.

I'm very tempted to go, if you're curious as to who I am I'll be the person at the back looking really interested.

Anyway here's the mail, it also includes some other talks they are doing.



This is to remind people that Greenwich Industrial History Society has the well-known (internationally famous) historical geologist PAUL SOWAN to speak at its next meeting on 12th May on GILBERT'S PIT.
Gilbert's Pit is an incredibly important site in Maryon Park - which we all hoped would be the recipient of restoration funds from the London Mayor's Office - but sadly it went unappreciated and lost the ballot. Here's your chance to learn more about it!

Its at the Old Bakehouse, Bennet Park, SE3 7.30. The Old Bakehouse is behind the Age Exchange Building in Blackheath Village

This is also a cry for Help - Paul would like a slide projector - does anyone have one which they could bring along to the meeting for him to use??? Please!!! I know its old tech but .........

Remember to look at the GIHS blog http://greenwichindustrialhistory.blogspot.com

and here are the rest of the meeting bookings we have at present. See you there!

23rd June Lorna Coventry on System Building on the Morris Walk Estate
21st July Thames Discovery Team on discoveries on the Foreshore.
15th September Mary Mills on the Hills of Greenwich and a lot of other places
20th October Duncan Hawkins on Waterfront Archaeology of Greenwich and Lewisham
17th November Edward Sargent on The Grand Surrey Canal
16th March Ken Mcgovern Pitcher’s Northfleet Dockyard (provisional booking)
13th April Diana Rimel. The Ashburnham Triangle - a Reappraisal.

The Council has a plan for the rubbish in our streets!

Could it be tackling the people doing it?

Could it be being seen to be serious about keeping our pavements clean?

Or could it be just throwing more extra collections at the problem?

Have a guess for now, I'll get back to it later.

Since last weekend a fair bit has gone on. It's curious to note that since I blogged about the lack of a response I've suddenly had a lost of emails from various people within the Council. Now a cynic would say that that's only because I've written about the Council's shocking indifference to the filth on our streets on a public web site. On the other hand you could argue that it takes a short time for the Council to formulate a plan and respond, about the only thing they seem to be quick at is taking peoples bins away, they're so quick with that they don't even tell us.

Anyway.....

First off the blocks this week on Monday was Councillor Gary Parker who promised a response from Ray Collingham, who is an Assistant Director with responsibilities covering Cleansweep and waste management issues for the Council. But other than that had really little else to say.

However the residents of Floyd Road struck back and on Tuesday, a day after our normal collections, rubbish was already appearing in the street.

So I emailed the Council pointing out the fact that the letter tactic had clearly failed and asking what would be next.

Members of staff at the Council did get back to me the next day (Wednesday) saying that the "Enforcement Team are monitoring the road regularly, and in fact did so this morning, so hopefully they may have captured the culprit."

Well perhaps they were monitoring the road, but they weren't doing a lot of enforcing because on Wednesday night not only were Tuesday's sacks still in the street but they had been joined by some more.

Then on the 30th (Thursday) I got my promised response from Ray Collingham (kudos to Councillor Parker here, he may not always say a lot but what he does say tends to happen). It's worth repeating it in full here so I'm not seen to be potentially taking things out of context.

Thank you for your letter dated 11th April to Jim Wintour, Director of Neighbourhood Services and the attached letter to your ward councillors and the Leader of the Council.

I was very concerned to learn that wheeled bins had been removed from properties in Floyd Road without prior notice or consultation with residents. This should not have happened in this way and I would like to apologise on behalf of the Council for the inconvenience caused to you and your neighbours.

We received your letter on 16th April (the delay may have been due to the fact we have just moved from Peggy Middleton House to Crown Building) and the matter was referred to Peter Dalley, Head of Waste Services. Peter arranged for Jo Oliver (who I know you have met before) to visit Floyd Road.

Jo reported to me that she and a colleague visited properties from 2 - 30 Floyd Road on 21st April and contacted as many residents as possible.

They:-

Apologised for the fact that bins had been taken away without prior notice or consultation

Explained purpose of their visit - to ensure that residents were ok with their waste arrangements since the removal of bins

Explained the reasons for bin removal - in particular the problems caused by bins being left continuously on

Discussed individual property arrangements and requirements with residents

Explained that collection day is a Monday and waste in sacks or bins should only be presented on this day (or Sunday night) and that bins must be returned to within property after being emptied

Explained that Enforcement Officers would be monitoring Floyd Road and should waste be presented on days other than collection day then they could risk a fine of £100

Following the visit she arranged for crews to deliver bins to those residents who confirmed that they were able and willing to store them off the pavement and recycling bags to other residents. Letters were sent to all properties contacted in Floyd Road to confirm the discussions that took place on 21st April.

In addition, we have arranged for further, regular monitoring and action by the Council's Enforcement Team and for street cleansing crews to remove bagged domestic waste from the western part of Floyd Rd (between Valley Grove and Charlton Church Lane) on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

I will be meeting with Council colleagues on 6th May and will we review these arrangements then.

I can assure you we will continue to work to improve the cleanliness of the area.

Yours sincerely

Ray Collingham
Assistant Director of Neighbourhood Services
Greenwich Council
020 8921 3656


My first comment is that the callers only apologised for the complete lack of any consultation or communication about our vanishing bins after I mentioned it to them. It certainly wasn't their opening gambit, in fact they seemed shocked to hear that we'd not been told anything about the removal.

The second point regards the daily collections they've decided to introduce. Unfortunately on my way home prior to reading that email I'd had to pass a whole new load of rubbish that had been dumped out in the street, I was to put it mildly somewhat grumpy. My response to the Council sums things up pretty nicely...

Thank you for your reply, I'm CC'ing my response to my local Councillors, Council Leader Chris Roberts, Head of Neighbourhood Services Jim Wintour and the people at Waste Services with whom I've communicated.

I would remind you that I've been in contact with the Council for over a year trying to resolve the problems that the "new" bin scheme introduced. Yet here I am still discussing the same problems and trying to get you, the Council, to act and keep my street clean. Please excuse me if I therefore come across as being a touch frustrated.

I am curious as to when the "regular monitoring" and daily removal of bagged waste will begin? There certainly haven't been such collections either yesterday or today, bags of rubbish have been out in the street since at least Tuesday evening.

Also how long will the daily removal of bagged waste continue?

While I do want my street to be clean I do not believe that continuing to waste tax payer funded Council resources is the right way to do it. We've already seen the Council fund extra collections and buy us extra bins (the latest of which only lasted a few weeks before you then took them away) in order to tackle the symptoms of the problem while continually dodging dealing with the actual causes itself.

Such actions might be needed in the short term but they must be coupled with action being taken so as to actually stop having to do them.

To my Councillors, I voted for you in the last elections and so I therefore feel that I am somewhat responsible as I elected people who demonstrably don't care about their constituents. You've had over a year to iron out the wrinkles with the new scheme and you've failed. If you still can't resolve the issues that you have created will you please consider stepping down at the next election so that someone who is interested in the lives of local people can take your place.

I attach some photos showing the current state of the street a week after the visits, the letter and the street getting the "daily attention" of Clean Sweep.


Ray Collingham did reply today to that email and he had this to say:

Thank you for your reply and the attached photographs. Waste Services arranged the clearance of the bin and sack this morning and have identified the properties from where they came for further action.

The back up service from street cleansing is due to start on Tuesday 5th May.


I don't know what further action they had in mind but at least one of the houses who had dumped plastic bags in the street have dumped so more out today after the first load had been taken away.

I've said this before, I've said it above and I'll say it again but let's make this really clear shall we.

Extra collections alone will not fix the problems they will simply cover them up. In fact they will make matters worse by giving people the clear understanding that they can dump what they like when they like. This will only be solved by engaging with residents and actually sorting their problems out.

So are the Council going to stand by their letter and actually sort the problem out?

Or will they just slide away back to their corporate box at the O2 and think that spending our money on extra collections is the solution.

Well, time will tell, I do however appear to have caught the right peoples attention and if the problems are solved then you'll know which Councillors and which Council Workers to thank.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Someone's doing something...

It's been over a week since my last comment on the matter and since then I've heard absolutely nothing from all of my Councillors, Chris Roberts the Council Leader and Jim Wintour (the head of Neighbourhood services).

Nothing.

Not one word.

However something is happening...

Workers from Waste Services came around in the week and tried to talk to people, though it was during the day so much success they had is debatable. That was followed up with a letter which basically said that bins and rubbish go out on Monday and only on Monday and that the Enforcement team is watching.

At the moment there are still many sacks of rubbish out along the pavement, however I believe that they were all dumped out early in the week and I'm not sure that many more have been added since the letter was sent out.

However next week will be telling.

Will people still throw out whatever they want when ever they want?

Will the Council actually do something about it?

By do I don't necessarily mean throw their legal muscle around and fine people, but instead to try engaging with them so as to resolve the problem.

The Council has spent the last year enabling and encouraging people to ignore the new bin system and litter our streets by continually refusing to address those with difficulties and wasting our tax money funding extra bins and collections.

Might things now be changing?

Fingers crossed...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

What Would Roberts Do?

Not a lot, or so it would appear....

Over a week ago I emailed my three local Councillors, Jim Wintour and Chris Roberts the Council Leader an electronic copy of a letter that I also posted to them (which given the holiday they should have got on Tuesday).

Overall I have had no proper responses to my questions. I still haven't been told why the bins were taken away, why there was no consultation or why the Call Centre have after nearly 4 weeks still not called me back.

Here's a summary of what each person has done, and I'll tell you now it's not long...

Councillor Allan MacCarthy
He emailed me on Monday to say:
My colleagues are dealing with the matters you have raised. Nevertheless I want to assure you of my concern with these issues. I shall look out for your letter and help as best I can.

Passing the buck onto his colleagues was his response the first time that I tried to contact him. Given as how nothing has happened I have to presume that the best he can do is, to be frank, nothing.

Councillor Gary Parker
Councillor Parker actually had a preview of a draft form of my letter on the 4th of April. He replied on the 11th saying:
I have just come back from holiday and will get onto this as soon as possible.

Well "as soon as possible" doesn't appear to be within a week, I've not heard anything from him since.

Councillor Janet Gillman
She emailed me on the 13th of April saying:
Thank you for the email and photographic evidence of the rubbish in Floyd Rd about which I am pleased to say as the Leader of the Council was in the vicinity of Floyd Rd over the weekend, he was able to take immediate action. I am not in receipt of your letter yet, but as you and my co-Councillors are aware there is a history of problematic rubbish collection in Floyd Road. I will therefore ascertain what has happened to the Floyd Rd wheely bins and why it has taken so long to let residents know of the situation resulting in rubbish on the pavement over the weekend.

Since then? Nothing.

Council Leader Chris Roberts
Unfortunately despite his early rising to the challenge and responding within the day to my email he's now sunk back down to the standard level of Greenwich Council's commitment to it's residents, that is to say that I've heard no more from him.

Jim Wintour, Director of Neighbourhood Services
Absolutely nothing...

Is this lack of action and concern a surprise? Well no, not really, though I had hoped for a change when Councillor Roberts swung the arrogant silence seems to be pretty much par for the course.

I'm also aware that now I've mentioned this on here we'll never know if any response that I do get is because I've publicly shown how little they care or because they genuinely were working on the issue.

For completeness here is the letter that I sent to all of the above over a week ago:

On Wednesday the 25th of March all the wheely bins from my side of Floyd Road vanished. A neighbour managed to find out that it was apparently due to complaints received about the bins blocking the pavement.

I would like your responses to the following issues and questions.

1) On Wednesday the 25th of March I called your service centre to ask what had happened to my bins (call reference 378658). The person on the end of the phone didn’t know and I was told that a supervisor would call me back with an answer. Over two weeks have passed and I still await a response. Is this an appropriate level of service? If not what is going to done about it?

2) There was no communication about there being a problem with the bins before they were taken away. Do you believe that it is appropriate for such actions to be taken with no consultation before the event and, to date, none after?

3) Storage of the bins is a problem along my part of the street with the only off street area being accessible via a steep flight of stairs. Despite this many residents may have preferred to have tried to keep one bin back, balancing their physical capabilities and the expected weight of rubbish. Why were we not given this choice?

4) Many residents will now probably give up on the idea of separating their rubbish, keeping three bins running inside a small flat being somewhat difficult. Are you happy with the effect that this will have on Greenwich Council’s land fill statistics? Again consider that this could have largely been avoided had you talked with residents first.

5) One of the reasons that Floyd Road had so many bins is that we were issued them in an attempt to deal with the problems of contaminated bins and black sacks put out in the wrong week. The issuing of bins seems to have been the chosen solution rather than talking to residents and trying to resolve the problems with the implementation of the “new” bin scheme.

6) How many complaints were received about bins blocking Floyd Road and when did they occur? Consider that it took one resident of Victoria Road four weeks and emails to his Councillors and Council executives to get a few bins removed (http://853blog.wordpress.com). Did the complaints occur before the new black bins were issued? If before then why were the black bins sent out? If after then why did the Council act so quickly and with no word to residents?

7)Residents are now dumping sacks of rubbish out in the street from the day after the rubbish collections. Rather than wheely bins blocking the pavement we now have plastic sacks full of rotting food doing the same. They are damaged by wildlife and pedestrians and rubbish is now scattered across the pavement on a daily basis. Do you believe that this is an improvement? Will you now talk to the residents who are having problems or will some other “out of the blue” solution be foisted upon us all?

8) Looking through the above points Greenwich Council’s failure to communicate with residents comes through time and time again. Sending out leaflets or publishing articles in Greenwich time trying to assure us that all is well with the new scheme is not communication. Why has the Council repeatedly avoided talking to residents? Over the past year due to a number of residents having difficulties we have been given extra bins, extra collections and now a complete removal of all of our bins. Do you not feel that all of this could have been avoided had someone actually talked to those people who were having problems.

I await your responses with interest.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Emailing the Council

I've sent my Councillors, Jim Wintour (the head of Neighbourhood Services) and Chris Roberts (the Council Leader) a letter and I also emailed them all a copy taking advantage of the medium to attach some photos too.

The first surprise, well to be honest perhaps not that much of one, is that Jim Wintour's details page on the Council web site has the wrong email address on it. It lists his email address as brenda.howlett@greenwich.gov.uk (his PA). If you try and contact him via that address you get a bounced back message saying that Brenda no longer works for the Council and, rather helpfully, Brenda Howlett has now left the building.

Nice to see the Council making sure it's contact details are up to date and that it's easy for us residents to contact them.

The second surprise is that within an hour Chris Roberts himself replied to my email, that did somewhat set me back. In all honesty I've not held a very high opinion of Mr Roberts ever since he stood on stage at the O2 and lied to me and thousands of other residents. However in all honesty he does deserve some praise for this. On what I presume was a day off he received an email from a resident from a different ward to his own and very rapidly he responded.

However unfortunately he couldn't read the letter attachment as he was on a mobile gadget that didn't support the format, though I presume that he could see the photos. He did provide me with Jim Wintour's proper email address which, for the record, is Jim.Wintour@greenwich.gov.uk.

Later in the day he emailed me again saying that he had walked along Floyd Road and that the rubbish in the street had been cleared away, which had happened at some point in the morning.

I replied saying:
The actual problem isn't the rubbish it's that the rubbish keeps happening and the wheeley bins along my side of the street were all taken away with no contact from the Council before or since (in fact I'm still waiting a call back from a supervisor at the Council call centre over two weeks since I called them asking where the bins had gone).

I'll wait for you to be able to read the letter which details the problem and some of the history behind it.


So so far I'm actually impressed with his response. It's not just what I believe we should get from a Councillor but is, in my opinion, above and beyond the call of duty, and I can't believe I'm saying that about a Greenwich Councillor but I've got to be honest and pat him on the back over this.

However what will happen when the letter is actually read?

Will the call centre actually call me?

Will we get an apology for the way our bins were just taken away?

Might we be offered a small bin if we keep it off the pavement (which is actually fine with me)?

Might the Council finally do something about those people who throw rubbish out in the street on any day and block the pavement?

Or will the Council think that cleaning up when prodded is a genuine and satisfactory solution and replace it's head in the sand?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Photo Diary of my street

Wednesday
This is the second day after the bins were collected, a lot of the sacks were actually dumped out at some point on Tuesday just one day after the collections.


Thursday
The difference a day makes... Yes that is a food caddy bag in the first photo and yes it has split open. Note how the second shot shows rubbish dumped outside almost every house along the street. There's still five days to go until it's taken away.


To my Councillors
You have spent the last 14 months refusing to tackle the problems with the new bin scheme and the photos show what you have caused. By refusing to speak to those who were having problems and instead choosing to spend our money funding extra collections and bins you have enabled this sort of behaviour. You have sent the message out loud and clear that people can put anything out in the street, on any day of the week and you will, eventually, fund something to paper over the problem. As if that didn't chip away enough at the morale of those trying to follow the complexities of your new scheme the final slap in the face is when you took all of our bins away without any word to us either before or since. You don't care, that much has been made perfectly clear. And now it's apparent that your attitude has rubbed of on many of the residents along the street.

You have safe seats and you know it. You sit on your chairs in the council chamber, take our money as pay and then spend our tax so that you can avoid taking responsibility and talking to us. As if that's not insult enough you then have us fund a paper that tells us that everything is wonderful. Our money is spent to avoid facing problems and then our money is spent again to try and convince us that there aren't any problems.

Why waste money on extra bins, extra collections and white washes in a paper when I'm sure that so much could be achieved by the simple expedient of knocking on a few doors and saying "hi, how can we help you out?"

I hope these pictures, the memories of your inaction, the money you have wasted, and the arrogance that you show by refusing to talk to us haunt you when next you stand before us and ask for our votes.

What will it take for you to do something and to come down and fix the problems you have caused?

PS: The call centre still hasn't contacted me and it's been over two weeks since they said that they would.

PPS: There's a Charlton Match today. As if the shameful evidence of your lack of care to tens of thousands of visitors isn't sufficiently bad I'm sure that the bags will also be kicked and torn even more.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Early, early bin bags & a Chocolate Teapot nomination!

Well the bin collection was yesterday and somewhat surprisingly the bin men did indeed take all of the sacks of refuse along the street. However they left behind a lot of waste that had spilled from the bags that had been ripped open, the street looks lovely.

Someone has also claimed the prize for the earliest bin bag out on the street and had dumped a bag outside there house before the early hours of this morning. So that’s going to be there for a whole week given that next Monday’s collection will be pushed back to Tuesday due to Easter.

I can only imagine how things will look in another seven days time.

And still the Council will do nothing and after nearly two weeks the call centre hasn’t even bothered to get back to me.

The call centre has certainly earned itself a Chocolate Teapot 2009 nomination….

Saturday, April 04, 2009

This is an improvement on bins in the street?



These photos were taken on Saturday, people been dumping sacks of rubbish in the street from Wednesday onwards and this is how it looks now. We had our usual collections on Monday and an extra one on Tuesday that took away the sacks that Monday's didn't.

Yes this is the fault of the residents but I can understand even the most determined recycler becoming disheartened and sick of the Council after a year of seeing them fail to deal with people who ignored the new system and then having their bins taken away with any notice.

A letter is being sent to my three local Councillors, Jim Wintour (head of neighbourhood services and apparent Olympic Equine specialist) and Council Leader Chris Robers, if you don't like how they are happy for our streets to look then please please please contact them yourself. You wouldn't know it from the lack of consideration, contempt, and arrogance that they show but they are meant to be working for and to be accountable to us.

Councillor Gary Parker
Councillor Janet Gillman
Councillor Allan MacCarthy
Jim Wintour
Council Leader Chris Roberts

Friday, March 27, 2009

Our money and then landfill targets sacrificed so the Council can avoid talking to us

Well it's true, someone has taken all the bins away from one side of Floyd Road. The finger of suspicion has got to point at the Council over this. I have called their contact centre to ask and was told that a supervisor would call me back, that was two days ago and I've heard nothing since.

When I discussed this with someone the other night they said to me, "surely the Council wouldn’t just take everyone’s bins away without saying something?" My response came quickly and unthinkingly, "this is Greenwich Council, what do you expect?" It says a lot about the level of service that we get that not only do we get treated with this level of contempt but that it's really not that much of a surprise.

Looking into the future I can see emails and letters going out to various Councillors, a lack of response from them and then the drawing up of yet another Monkey Chart, as if we need further proof of how little our Council cares about us.

So why would the bins have gone?

As I said last time the Council say you can't have a wheely bin where the property has insufficient space for storing the container off the public highway.

I remember also that the staff from Waste Services said to me at last years Great Get Together that "black bins are going to be introduced for black sack waste, couple with this is going to be an increased drive to get bins stored off of the street."

So after we got the black bins could this be the councils drive to get bins off of our streets. If so it's interesting to note that in typical Greenwich fashion the drive involves no consultation and no communication.

Now on the one hand I can feel some sympathy for the Council over this, Floyd Road had dozens of bins along it's pavement and they were often overflowing with the wrong uncollected waste and generating a rather foul smell in the summer.

However walking around the area and seeing the number of other streets that have no choice but to keep their bins on the street and continue to do so I can't help but feel that Floyd Road is perhaps being somewhat picked upon?

Picked on over what? Well regular readers will now of my long running struggle with the Council to get it talk to residents and fix the rubbish problems they, both the Council itself and the residents, have caused.

The Council have tried various "fixes" to avoid them having to actually lower themselves to engage us in a conversation ranging from unannounced regular extra collections through to the recent issue of new black bins. All of which involved spending more of our Council Tax, I can only presume that our Council must be terribly shy.

Could this be another new move from the Council to fix the problem without actually tackling it by simply taking the bins away?

Or is it just coincidence that some new Council drive on bins on the streets starts in one of the streets they couldn't be bothered to try and help?

Also remember that the proliferation of bins was caused by the Council and that as recently as a few weeks ago they were continuing to issue new bins to residents.

The Council, it's Councillors, Waste Services and the head of Waste Services (Jim "I'm an expect of equestrian sporting events, fly me to Hong Kong, someone else can deal with the bins" Wintour) have all known for sometime about Floyd Road and not once have did any of them ever give any sign that a bin purge was coming. Indeed Council Gary Parker was hoping that the new black bins would help out. What a waste of money they turned out to be.

And I can't help but feel that all of this is happening because the Council just won't admit the problems it has caused and just refuses to come and talk to us.

Up until now the Council has been willing to sacrifice our money in order to avoid talking and admitting there is a problem.

Many of the properties along Floyd Road are converted flat and have no access to a garden. Do they really expect them to continue to separate their rubbish out in to three different types and to keep them all indoors until rubbish day?

Or is the latest sacrifice that the Council is willing to make to pay for their lack of action their landfill targets as residents just pop it all into black sacks?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

No more bin problems!

The bin problem along Floyd Road appears to have been solved at a stroke! Despite over a year of the Council assuring us that there were only a few teething problems and that giving people even more bins to choose from would solve them decisive action now appears to have been taken.

The bins have gone from one side of the street.

All of them.

Apparently people have had plastic sacks popped through their door.

So do we have a bin thief on the prowl? Some Robin Hood type figure perhaps who believes that a stash of plastic sacks is fair recompense for your wheely bins?

Or could the Council be up to something?

A page on the Council’s web site does say that you won’t get wheely bins where the property has insufficient space for storing the container off the public highway.

Many of the houses along the street don’t have anywhere off of the highway, or if they do it’s accessible via a steep set of steps down to the basement level and that’s clearly unacceptable and dangerous for many people.

And in a fantastic display of financial prudence and joined up thinking the Council have been dishing out extra bins for a while now. New black bins made their appearance along the street a few weeks ago.

So who’s taken my bins away?

If it was the Council then why weren’t we informed either before the event, which would have been nice, or after, which you would think would the bare minimum for any decent organisation.

However you’ve got to admit that it’s a brave solution to the problem, though I dread the state of the street in a few days time…

I should add that I actually haven’t yet seen the results of the great bin dissapearing act but have been informed of it by a friend.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Maryon Park didn't win a grant

Maryon Park was one of the contenders in the Help a London Park competition where a number of parks were going to be given cash grants.

Well the results are in, and unfortunately it didn't win.

The park came third from bottom but did get what seems to be a respectable number of votes (2101).

Greenwich is home to one of the winning parks though, Avery Hill, which must be a good thing.

It's a real shame that Maryon Park didn't win, apparently there were plans to allow access to the Roman settlement and Iron Age fort.

Still congratulations to the winners and fingers crossed they do this again next year.

Friday, February 27, 2009

RIP Bi-Weekly Bin Collections

Firstly a question. What should I refer to the bin collection system as? I would normally call it the "new bin scheme" but it's now over a year old. However it's also still not working as it should with the Council refusing to tackle the problems that have been apparent with it from almost it's very first week. "The bin scheme the Council couldn't be bothered to fix" is perhaps accurate, but a bit of a mouthful. For now I'll stick with the "new bin scheme" and we'll probably still be calling it that and discussing it's continued failings in another years time.

Anyway.

It appears that the Council have silently backed away from one of the key ideas of the new scheme, bi-weekly collections of black sack rubbish.

Did Greenwich Time tell me this? Well no they didn't, though I'm sure that they soon will once they can come up with some spin as to how it's a good thing for us residents and not a sign of Council ineptitude. Local blogger 853 was the first place I heard about it, and he heard about it from Councillor Nigel Fletcher's blog.

It's actually very nice to see Councillor Fletcher blogging about genuinely local issues. I've commented in the past that Councillor Fletcher seems to have his eye more on Westminster than the people who choose him to represent them. His blog used to be full of "I'm Dave Cameron's mate", "I'm President Obama's mate" or "the national Labour Government sucks" type stories of hardly any relevance to his actual position.

However it's also interesting to note that this stepping up in gear and shift back to local issues happens at the same time that we see David Evennett, the MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, blogging on the News Shopper web site. He's facing an election this year so the blog does look somewhat like an obvious attempt to engage with voters now that he needs their votes. Could there be a move among local tories to try and engage local residents via the internet? Could Councillor Fletcher's suddenly local focus be a part of that?

Anyway, I'm digressing again.

Bi-Weekly bins...

Well if you've read the above links to 853 and Councillor Fletcher's site you'll see that the Council does appear to be reintroducing weekly collections for black sacks.

Now maybe I'm "lucky" but Floyd Road has had those extra weekly collections for months now. Faced with the choice of actually talking to local residents who were having problems or blowing our Council tax on trying to cover up the flaws with the new system the Council choose the latter path.

The black bins also seem to have been another attempt to deal with the issue of blacks sacks being left on the pavements week after week. And once again it was one that involved spending our money rather than admitting there were problems and tackling them.

And now the Council are going to roll out their sticking plaster solution over the whole of Greenwich.

I think that's a great shame. Bi-Weekly collections could have worked and should have worked but the Council lacked the honesty to admit there was a problem and the fortitude to tackle it.

So the black sack issue should now hopefully fade away, covered up with money that I'm sure could be used for better things than hiding the Council's failings.

That leaves the "contaminated bin" problem where residents put the wrong waste in the wrong bin. Once again in Floyd Road the Council have taken the "spend our money" path instead of the "admit there's a problem and fix it" one and we've had yet another extra weekly collection to deal with it.

Numerous homes now have black bins but the problem remains.

The Council's reaction to the black sack issue appears to suggest that the Council just doesn't want to deal with that problem and they will continue to fund those extra collections in order to pretend that everything's rosy.

However we shall see...

Friday, February 13, 2009

If at first you do quite well, lie.

Well the new copy of Greenwich Time is out and once again Greenwich Council is trying to tell us that all is good and wonderful in Greenwich.

They mention the weather and sing the praises of Greenwich Council's response. All things told I was actually reasonably impressed with how well the Council did. I was out and about very early on the Monday of the snow and Woolwich Road was pretty clear and running well. Considering we'd just had the worst snow in 20 years I think that's a good achievement.

So I'd have been quite content to see Greenwich Time praise the Council for keeping the main routes open and clear.

Except Council Leader Chris Roberts just can't help himself, he's in a position to be positive but then he goes and lies.

Now this isn't the first time I've seen our good leader do this. Back when the O2 opened he told thousands of Greenwich residents at the residents' preview that the tickets for the event had sold out in 2 or 3 hours. Except they hadn't. I got mine 3 days after they went on sale, others around me made similar comments.

Chris Roberts couldn't just accept the glory of getting a special residents night at the O2, oh no, he had to big it up even more and lie to us.

Likewise with the gritting. Rather than stating the challenges and resting on his Council's achievements Chris Roberts has to go and be less than frank with the truth.

He apologises that the Council "weren't able to get to some minor roads and residential streets."

"Some"?

Streets in Greenwich are, as I've said before, broken into three priorities. A few are Priority 1, some are then Priority 2 but the majority are Priority 3.

My street, a Priority 2, didn't see a gritter at all during the week of the snow. So therefore presumably the Council never got down to Priority 3's and a number of other 2's were quite probably also not done.

That's borne out by the people I've spoken to, many of whom could list many of the roads in their area that were never gritted. Being more specific the only road's around Floyd Road that I know were done were Woolwich Road and Charlton Church Lane. Despite being on a hill and being a bus route Charlton Church Lane wasn't done until at least after Wednesday morning.

Yet the leader claims that only "some" weren't done.

I guess you could call "most" "some" but at best that's being disingenuous, at worst that's lying.

Now as said I'm not that displeased with how the Council actually did, these were truly extreme conditions. However don't try to lie to me about it in the local propaganda magazine.

The worst of it is that there's no one to really call him out over it. Only a few people read this, the opposition will keep their heads down and the local press won't be bothered.

Edited to add: Catching on my morning reading I've discovered another local blogger is also a bit annoyed about the Council newsletter's take on the gritting.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Councillor Parker on the commuter boats, gritting and the "new" bin scheme

Edited to add: Well I emailed/blogged just a bit too early, the extra collection of contaminated bins happened over lunchtime today. This entry will however remain as it is what I said to the Councillor and it also illustrates what will happen if the Council do just stop the extra collections.

Councillor Gary Parker has responded to my last email with details that also cover a number of other blog postings.

I do just want to take a minute here to point out how good he's being over this. He's willing to enter into a conversation over several issues and I do believe that's a truly good thing. He's also quicker at emailing than I am, his response came in last night, it's only over lunch today that I've been able to reply so I'm the slow link here.

However in the end actions speak louder than words so let's see what happens. I must admit to still being a tad sceptical, after all we're still discussing the problems with the "new" bin scheme over a year after it was introduced and to be frank my street today looks pretty much as bad as it did a year ago.

it's interesting to note that I've received a response about the claims over the Council's Clipper Boats campaign but that the News Shopper seemingly didn't, then again that could be down to them being more than a bit rubbish.

Also something that I didn't say to the Councillor is in answer to his statement that all school closures were advertised on the Council Website on both days. Basically on Wednesday morning at about 9am I checked out the web site and it said nothing. Later on in the day changes were made and something was added. So was there information up there on Monday and Tuesday, that was taken down early on Wednesday morning and then added again Wednesday afternoon? Does anyone remember seeing anything on the web site Monday or Tuesday?

But anyway, here is the Councillor's email and after it comes my reply.


I think you have misinterpreted my previous email ,even though it was a very quick response. I will deal with the issues once I get clarification from officers.

Other points I would make though from your recent posts having read them
though are:

Clipper Commuter Boat service- Greenwich council has supported and provided financial support for the service as did the previous mayor Ken Livingstone. The council leadership did approach the GLA to discuss the issue as I understand it and were only offered meetings with one of the inumerable deputy mayors who subsequently cancelled several appointments. So if the Tories at City Hall find communication difficult that's down to them. They cannot say they were not aware of the issue because they are about to end their subsidy for the service- a decision presumably by the Mayor. The Mayor and the local tories can resolve this easily by confirming their position on this issue- the silence is deafening. But to claim some conspiracy by the council is completely off the mark.

Snow & Gritting & Schools-
Some of the comments on this are totally inaccurate and I would like to point out that there were staff injuries- see below, as a result of carrying out normal & additional duties after struggling to work

I attach an extract from a recent report by the chief executive

2. KEEPING THE ROADS OPEN

2.1. As a result of the severe weather warning for 1st and 2nd February, Greenwich Council's road gritting teams worked continuously from 7.30am Sunday morning (1st February). All priority roads were gritted on Sunday 1st February before and after the heavy snow fall and during Monday 2nd February. Vehicles have covered over 1,000 miles in that time and the Council has used 300 tonnes of grit in the 3 days (1st to 3rd February).

2.2. The road gritting operation has been prioritised using the Winter Plan. Main roads, emergency routes, town centres and keeping areas clear to operate public transport are the key priorities. It has also focussed on bus garages and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to ensure emergency vehicles can access safely. All roads of high and medium priority have been gritted and were kept open.

2.3. In addition to the gritting of roads, some 230 Cleansweep staff have been diverted to undertaking gritting and cleaning operations on pavements. The priorities are town centres, shop parades, entrances to schools, sheltered blocks and pavements on hills. This is in accord with the Winter Plan.

2.4. The need to prioritise does mean that minor and residential roads may not have been tackled. In addition to focussing staff resources on priority areas as set out in the Winter Plan, it has also been necessary to use our store of grit in a targeted way. The Council maintains a large store of grit but the volume needed has been significantly higher than normal and it is known that the level of demand nationally was high leading to a depletion of suppliers' stocks. By Thursday 5th February the Council held approximately 320 tonnes of grit and received a further delivery of 90 tonnes that day. The Council, therefore, has adequate stocks to last several days, depending on conditions.

2.5. In addition, we have sourced an additional stock of 20 tonnes of 'glass sand' (made from recycled glass) from Days Aggregates on Greenwich Peninsula. We have mixed this with salt to make it available for use on hard surfaces away from the public highway, eg schools, parks, entrances to Council services etc.

3.1. Refuse Collection
As a result of the heavy snowfall, refuse collection services were suspended for Monday 2nd February and Tuesday 3rd February. It was not safe to use refuse collection vehicles on residential and minor roads which were still icy or blocked by snow. A limited refuse service resumed on Wednesday 4th February, prioritising the collection of nappies, black sacks and Euro-bins. That day fourteen members of staff fell and injured themselves and there was one minor traffic accident.

3.2. Schools and Children's Services
a. Schools
The decision to close schools rests with the Head Teacher and the School Governors. All Schools and Children's Centres were closed on Monday. After school clubs were also cancelled on Monday.

Following the severe weather warnings which were issued by the Met Office on Monday afternoon and circulated by the Council to schools, a number of Head Teachers took the decision on Monday night to keep schools closed on Tuesday. This meant they could inform parents well in advance. Further schools took the decision to close on Tuesday morning when they discovered the schools sites were unsafe, and staff could not make it in. There was liaison between Children's Services, Press Office and the Council web team throughout Monday and Tuesday to ensure all school closures were
advertised on the Council Website on both days.

Each Head Teacher/Governing Body will determine how to deal with any staffing issues, eg use of training days.

Other Services

Sufficient staff succeeded in getting to work to ensure that all other services could operate. Libraries, leisure centres and parks were open to the public, funerals and cremations were able to proceed. The pest control service could not operate on 2nd February due to the conditions and the noise team did not operate out of hours on Monday 2nd February. Services
were operating normally from 3rd February.





And this is my reply.....

Thank you again for your very rapid response.

Regarding the Commuter Boats can I just clarify that you are saying that Greenwich Council have contacted the GLA about your campaign in particular? Or have you, as in the Council not you personally, just spoken with them about the issue in general? Furthermore you are saying in particular that at least one of the Deputy Mayors knows about this, and this if the Mayor doesn't then that's not your fault? What about TFL? Have they been spoken to or is there no need for that? I'm aware that I've given space to Councillor Drury's claims that neither the Mayor or TFL know anything about your campaign and would like to make clear what the Council's position actually is.

Thank you for the information about the gritting of roads. I do have a question about the "glass sand", what is classified as being "away from a public highway"? Is it suitable to be used on pavements?

Finally a few words more about the rubbish collection situation. This week in Floyd Road the additional bin lorry that used to empty the "contaminated" bins every week has not appeared. Now that may be because it is an extra collection and waste services are still recovering from the situation last week. However could it also be because that despite your statement that it's "too early to assess the success or failure of the new arrangements" someone within waste services has decided that it's not too early and that given how we now have our black bins they can stop the extra collections?

Well I do hope not, the attached photos illustrate the state of the road today where alongside unemptied bins it appears that residents, frustrated at finding their own bins still full, are dumping waste sacks in the street. It's another two weeks before our next scheduled black sack/bin collection so this could be quite a problem for quite a period of time if the additional collections are simply stopped with no other remedial action.

Can you confirm if the additional weekly collection of contaminated bins and the upgrading of black sack collections to weekly is to continue?

Or if it is they are to stop, which I agree that they must, that something is being done about the state of the street?

Without announcement or admission of the problems extra collections were introduced by the Council, residents have now obviously come to expect them and withdrawing them without comment will create the problems that the photos clearly show.

Waste sacks dumped by a public bin.

This is almost certainly due to the contaminated bin being unemptied, the sack could only have been there for a day or two and already it's been torn open by animals and rotting food waste is spread across the pavement.

Incorrectly filled and unemptied green and blue bins next to a seemingly empty black bin.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The History of Floyd Road (Part 2 - 1894)

Following on from The History of Floyd Road (Part 1 - 1867) here's part 2 27 years later. This is once again using a map published by Alan Godfrey Maps and as I've said before if you're enjoying this go and buy yourself a copy either from their web site or the Heritage Centre. They're £2.25 each and they really are good. There's just so much to look at, especially if you pick up all the the three vintage maps.

Anyway, here we go, Floyd Road in 1894.

The first thing to notice is that Floyd Road still isn't on the map. There are a few houses there but the street is known as "Cedar Grove". That's now the name for the little road that comes off Floyd Road and lies between it and the railway, well almost, that's Cedar Place. There are buildings marked out along there but those along what is now Cedar Place are obviously far too new. So I wonder what was there?

The garden that was where Floyd Road will be in 1867 has now gone completely and the buildings that were on the NE corner of it now appear to have changed. The one nearest the railway is marked as being a bank which is the logo you can still see faintly painted on it's side. The newsagent on the west side of Charlton Church Lane was the Post Office back then.

The chalk and sand pits now appear to be closed down, off the scanned area of the map they're labelled "Old Sand & Chalk Pits". Note how the tramway has also been removed. However before that all went there had been substantial further excavation. The excavations have gone further south and Charlton Grove, what I imagined to be a large house has been lost. Industry remains in the area though, a disinfectant works has appeared.

Charlton Station has also changed, and not just it's name to Charlton Junction. It's now got a Coal Depot and goods handling facility to the north of the current eastbound platform with what appears to be at least two lines of track. You can see a photo showing the beginning of that area here. Those tracks lasted up to the 1960s and explain why Troughton Road has some newer houses and car parking space there now.

The Railway has also had bigger changes. Back in 1867 there was no train through to Greenwich, the Royal Navy College and/or the Observatory had been refusing permission to tunnel underneath them. However by 1894 that's changed. A new set of track cuts straight west away from the line running off to Blackheath and Westcombe Park Station has appeared.

The biggest change in the area has just got to be the amount of extra housing that has been built. Delafield Road, Sundorne Road, Priolo Road, Invarine Road and Fossdene Road were fields back in 1867, now they're there and lined with houses. Roads that were already there have gained extra housing. The entire east side of Charlton Church Lane is now full of houses right up to the village. Wellington Road used to have some substantially sized buildings on it's south side, they've now been joined by some smaller neighbours on the other side of the road. Around the new Westcombe Park Station a whole new estata with dozens of houses has sprung up.

On a personal level of history a building to the north of the railway has now been named, Lime Villa. You can read all about it here. It was the home of a Thomas Nichols who was a Lime Merchant and he moved in in the mid 1860s. The article linked to mentions the trouble he had getting local chalk/limestone, that ties in nicely with the decline in the quarries between this map and the one from 1867. I wonder if when he moved there the local quarries were already running their production down? The house, and the name he gave it, remained there until the 1960s when it was demolished and Barney Close built over it.

So there's been a lot of change in the few years between 1876 and 1894 and there's a lot more to come in the 20 years between this map and my next one from 1914.