Thursday, January 29, 2009

Black Bins Appear

Well Black Bins are beginning to make an appearance along my road. The Council seems to hope that these will be the magic bullet solution to the problems with the new bin scheme.

As Councillor Gary Parker says "The introduction of a third bin for residual waste should further improve the situation. The reason for this is it will assist those who are reluctant to place residual waste in black sacks."

At the moment there's only a very small number of the black topped bins and certain properties which have repeated problems with dumping black sacks out in the wrong week or filling up their bins with the wrong waste don't have them. So are they on the way or is this it?

The houses that do have them also don't appear to have had any of their old bins taken away, so the pavements are looking impressively cluttered right now.

You can read more about the Council's view on the black bins here.

It's interesting to note that they try and make it sound like they're giving us a choice with the new bins rather than admitting that they're doing it to try and tackle the problems with the new scheme. Problems that the Council haven't had the tenacity, honesty or resolve to genuinely attend to.

It's also very interesting to read that to "be eligible for wheeled bins, you must be able to store the bin off the highway and where it can be reached without steps."

Not so.

Walk down Floyd Road and you'll see a number of black wheeled bins outside houses that don't have anywhere to store them.

So if you do want a bin and the Council say "no" because you don't have anywhere to store it then ask them why they're giving them out to some streets.

Anyway let's just see what happens over the next few weeks.

Personally I'm willing to bet that we'll continue to see black sacks on the street in the wrong weeks, over spilling wrongly filled bins that won't be taken by the regular collections and extra rubbish collections every week to deal with those issues.

I don't think that black bins alone are going to solve the problems, heads will have to be removed from sand and contact actually made with the residents who are having problems in order to get it sorted out. To me that would appear to actually be the easier option as opposed to buying in a whole new load of bins, but maybe that's just me.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Remember to vote for Maryon Park

Someone's popped a little leaflet through my door asking me to vote for Maryon Park to receive a grant for a makeover.

I've actually already done so but this is good chance for me to remind any readers out there to cast their vote.

Click here to vote.

I'm also really impressed that someone out there is organised enough, and also cares enough, so as to get some leaflets printed up and posted through doors. Good on you!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Charlton in 1746

I've been hunting around for more information about Charlton in connection with the old maps that I've got and one of the things that I've found is a map of Charlton from 1746, you can find it here.

Unfortunately it's not got the greatest amount of detail on it but there's several interesting things to see.

Where Floyd Road is there are "Lime Kilns" marked on the map. That used to be one of the things done with the chalk that they dug out of the ground from there. Lime played a bit part in the area for quite a while to come, I'll be mentioning a Lime Manor when I do the follow up to The History of Floyd Road (Part 1 - 1867), and it's interesting to see that it goes back at last that far.

There's a road that seems to follow the present course of Woolwich Road already there and it also looks like there's something running south from it that seems to follow the path of Charlton Lane too.

Anchor and Hope Lane is there, complete with the kink half way along, but it's known as "Manor Way". That's got to have something to do with it running up to Charlton Manor and I'm left wondering what then came first, the Anchor and Hope pub or the road name? Did the pub manage to get the road renamed as a bit of free advertising at some point over the next 120 years?

To the east of Charlton there's "Hanging Woods", which was apparently a haunt of highway men and other such dubious characters. It doesn't appear to have changed very much from then until the 1867 map.

If you look at the village itself you can see the original road and village green layout in front of Charlton House. The owners of the house didn't enclose the green, thus stranding the gate, until 1829.

One final interesting thing compared to the 1867 map is that up in the top right you can see the Dockyard and/or Arsenal. The later map ends in almost exactly the same place but has a curiously blank area enclosed by roads, Ordnance Survey covering up military secrets no doubt...

Anyhow it's nice to see how much you can get out of such a seemingly simple map!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Lewis Glenton's Tramway

A very helpful comment to my last past on the history of Floyd Road has confirmed that their used to be a railway, or a tramway as a number of documents refer to it as, running from the sandpits under where the football stadium is down to the river. The footpath under the railway on Ransom Road with it's arches is indeed the course it followed. I'm tempted to nip down there with a tape measure at some point to check it's width out, I'm not at all sure it's big enough for a standard gauge track.

The tramway was built by Lewis Glenton who got permission for it in 1840, it was certainly there in 1852 as it's referred to when giving the location for a garden in another document. That reference also confirms that the pub on the corner of Church Lane and Woolwich Road was known as the Antigallican (or Anti-Gallican, making it's anti French meaning very apparent) at that time too.

There appears to have been some legal problems building the tramway, there was a court case between Sir Thomas Maryon Wilson (whose family owned much of the land around here) and the Reverand of the parish Church and Lewis Glenton in 1840 or 1841. The Reverand might have been involved because the case refers to the tramway being built over "Glebe land", which is Church owned land that is rented out. So maybe the Church owned the land, Lewis Glenton rented it and built the tramway along it. I wonder what Sir Thomas' problem was?

Anyway thanks very much to the anonymous poster, if anyone does know anymore about the tramway please pass it on.

Here's some information that I've managed to find with a quick bit of googling....

Greenwich Industrial History Society
The National Archives

Monday, January 19, 2009

The History of Floyd Road (Part 1 - 1867)

Quite a while ago I posted an entry about my visit to Greenwich Heritage Centre and I said that I bought some maps, well I thought it would be nice to use them to try and tell some of the history of my street.

So here's a map of the local area from 1867.
As you can see Floyd Road didn't exist, where the top half of it will be appears to be a garden of some kind, possibly for the properties that are where the Chinese Takeaway is now. I'm saying that they're gardens because the layout seems to be pretty structured and organised. That's not just the normal map markings for woodland, there are other areas on the map that are woodland and they're drawn very differently with many randomly placed trees rather than the clear "avenues" that we have where Floyd Road is. You can also see what appear to be paths laid out, it must all have looked very nice.

Charlton Station is already there and there are some houses along Church Lane between it and Woolwich Road (or Greenwich and Woolwich Lower Road as it was known then). The Antigallican, as I believe it was known back then, is on the corner.

It's interesting to see that there's what appears to be a railway running from the Ballast Pits down to the river that passes under the railway. Does that explain those funny little arches that the footpath running from the eastern end of Floyd Road out to Woolwich road opposite PC World? It looks like once upon a time little trucks, and they must have been quite little given the width of the two arches, ran up and down there carrying quarried material down to the river. Could it have been a narrow gauge system with it's own little trains? I wish that I knew...

Looking a bit further afield a Church Lane runs up to the village but doesn't have any houses along it at all until you get to a couple of them opposite St. Luke's Church.

There is something marked as "Charlton Grove" about half way up Church Lane on the eastern side. There appears to be a decent size building in Woodland. A patch has been cleared in front of it and there appears to be paths or tracks sweeping around the cleared area and leading to the building. Could this be a well to do house? Opposite the entrance to Wellington Road (which is there) is a small building by the entrance to the path leading to the "house." A gatehouse?

I can imagine visitors coming up Church Lane in a horse drawn carriage. Then turn off by a gatehouse and then have woodland on both sides. After a minute or two the woods on their left open up into a landscaped garden and the large lavish house comes into view. The path takes them around the edge of the lawn before curving back into the house where a dinner party awaits.

Too imaginative? Well I do love maps and the stories that they can tell.

The area around Church Lane is mostly open and seems to have little tracks running along it like the one that seems to run away from the station, then west before heading back to the railway at the Signal Box. I think that is the most surprising impression from this map, the area's really not very built up at all, all of this will soon change.

I will say a bit more about the map itself, it's published by Alan Godfrey Maps and is a copy of the original Ordnance Survey map. As the small scanned snippet should show it goes into a huge amount of detail about the area and it's very well printed on decent quality paper. If you've got even the slightest interest in your area then do try and check these maps out. You can get them from the Heritage Centre itself or you can order online from the Alan Godfrey Maps web site. They're only £2.25 each and I consider them a real bargain, I've got hours of pleasure from my set.

With the 1867 Charlton Map not only do you get the map but a brief potted history of the area and a list of residents of the area complete with addresses. Not all of the roads are covered (Maryon Road and Victoria Road seem to be the most common ones listed) so don't go getting this thinking that you're certain to discover who lived in your house. However you just might, and wouldn't that be great.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Council's Domestic Violence Campaign

I've given the Council a fair bit of stick lately over the bins and the state of my street so it's actually really nice for me to be able to say that I'm really pleased with and proud of them.

In the latest copy of Greenwich Time they talk about the Council's new poster campaign about domestic violence.

The poster and the article both make very clear that men can be victims of this crime as well as women and that to me is a big change from the usual campaigns which are aimed at women and often only give numbers that they can call.

I've had the misfortune to know two victims of domestic violence, one of either sex, so I'm painfully aware of how anyone can suffer from it. I also remember the man confessing to what he'd been through years after the event still feeling shame that those sort of things shouldn't happen to men and that he felt there was no one, official or otherwise, he could turn to for support.

At least the woman knew that when she made the matter official, which is terribly hard for anyone, there were all sorts of support schemes and hostels ready and waiting for her.

So anyway a big pat on the back for the Council and I'll repeat the words of Councillor Maureen O'Mara:

"Domestic violence will only end when the whole of society challenges it as unacceptable and sees it as a crime."

A Council Briefing on the new black bins

Someone in the know has provided me with a copy of a briefing sent around to Councillors last week on the subject of the new black bins.

I don't think there's a huge amount of interesting material in there other than the discussion on how the new black bins are going to be allocated. It seems that the majority of them will go to the "54,000 households [that] received a letter and questionnaire at the beginning of October."

So who are those 54,000 households and why were they chosen to get the survey?

It's worth noting that the "background" to the briefing talks about the problems with ripped black sacks and sacks out on the wrong week and not about those residents who ignore the scheme and fill the wrong bins with the wrong rubbish.

Is that the Council trying to hide the fact that it's bringing black sack bins in to deal with those that it's shown an inability to deal with over the last year?

Or are the black bins only aimed at the "sacks in the street" issue, which generates an extra 1/2 a bin collection a week, and not at the more costly "contaminated bins" problem which is causing them to send an extra collection lorry out every week?

Personally I can't see the black bins helping the latter problem very much at all. At the moment people put can't, or won't, follow what bin to put what rubbish in when they've only got two of them. How is giving them a third bin to further complicate matters going to help?

If they do then put all their rubbish in the black bin then they're going to fill it up within a week (witness the green bins over spilling every Monday) and the extra weekly collection will have to continue.

Councillor Parker has said that he believes the extra bin will help matters because "it will assist those who are reluctant to place residual waste in black sacks. Typically this means putting plastic in the green and kitchen waste bin and food waste into the dry recycling bin.

Is the problem really with those who have lots of black sack waste or those who simply don't care what colour bin they put it in because they know the Council will send around extra bin lorries to take care of it?

Time will tell...

The Introduction of Black Topped Bins
Waste Briefing – 7th January 2009

1. Background

1.1. The new waste collection service was introduced on 21 January 2008. This initially consisted of weekly collections of mixed dry recycling from blue-top bins, weekly collections of green and kitchen waste and fortnightly collections of residual waste from black sacks. There were problems with black bags being put out on days other than the collection day and then being ripped open.

1.2. As a result it has been agreed to replace the black bags with black-topped bins. A consultation process has been carried out to find out what bins people want.

2. Bin Consultation Process

2.1. All households originally provided with a Red Top bin (approx 6,000) have received a letter and questionnaire. Approximately 160 households requested the removal of their bin and this has been undertaken. Other bins will be converted in accordance with household requests during the bins delivery programme commencing in January.

2.2. A survey was undertaken to re-identify properties that have nowhere to store their bins, or are in multiple occupation and may wish to share bins or need arrangements specific to their needs. A programme to provide the configuration of bins/sacks best suited to their needs is 75% complete and we expect to finish this by early February 2009.

2.3. Approximately 54,000 households received a letter and questionnaire at the beginning of October. This questionnaire invited households to specify what size Black Top bin they require (140 litre, 240 litre, or none) and identify any changes they require surrounding their Green Top bin.

2.4. The questionnaire was also made available as an e-form on the Council’s website and approximately 1500 residents used this facility.

2.5. Blue-top bins were not included in this exercise and deliveries will continue to be made in response to requests through the Contact Centre.

2.6. Households that did not return their questionnaire within three weeks received a reminder and a further copy of the questionnaire. Since mid November, Contact Centre and Waste service staff have been telephoning residents who did not responded during the evenings (from mid November onwards) to complete their questionnaire. Limiting the number of non-responses in this way is likely to reduce the level of calls in Feb/March when the bins are delivered to those who have responded.

2.7.Nearly 40,000 responses have been received including those on the website.

2.8. Of these, approximately 16,000 have requested 240 litre black top bins, 14,750 have requested 140 litre black top bins

2.9. In addition approximately 9,500 residents have requested a smaller, 140 litre bin for their kitchen and garden waste.

2.10. The order schedule will allow for additional requests from residents, based upon the survey results. Following the consultation, residents will still be able to register their bin requirements and changes. However, residents who have not returned their questionnaire by 31 December 2008 may have to wait until after the main delivery programme in January to March 2009 before receiving their bins.

3. Planning for Deliveries

The delivery programme will be undertaken by a specialist bin delivery company and will commence in mid January and is scheduled at the end of March 2009. They will be provided with detailed delivery sheets generated from the survey results and supervised by Greenwich Council staff. Waste Services will have a team to pick up any urgent issues that can not be met within the main programme. In case of problems with deliveries (due to bad weather or other slippages in the delivery programme) space for a week’s delivery of wheeled bins is being identified at Birchmere Depot. Should further problems occur, arrangements can be made to store bins temporarily at Tilbury docks.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Bombay Bicycle Club Update

Back in November last year I commented upon the Bombay Bicycle Club.

Well since then I've ordered from them a few more times and have also recommended them to friends who have all been very positive about them.

I did encounter a bit of a problem with an order the other day. They called me to let me know that they wouldn't be able to give me one of the things that I asked for. While unfortunate that's about the best that you can hope that a take away will do in such a situation so it's nice to know that they handle such things well.

Anyway they've certainly become my take away of choice and I think I've swayed a few other households as well so I'd say that there well worth a look. If you know of a better delivery service do let me know...

Full details about them can be found in the original review here

More from Councillor Parker, extra bins all round!

Councillor Gary Parker has emailed me again. I had not got around to replying to his last email so it's nice to see that he is following up on the bin situation.

Fingers crossed I'll be able to get respond to this soon...

Here's the Councillors email anyway:

Dear CA, I have now checked with officers on some of the points you have raised, in summary these are detailed below:
  • We appreciate the support you continue to give to the Council's recycling and composting efforts.

  • The scheme so far has increased the borough's recycling and composting rate to around 43%

  • For the last 2 years Greenwich Council has sent less waste to landfill than any other local authority in England.

  • We continue to work with residents who have difficulties in operating the scheme and continue to make progress. Since February this year the proportion of bins requiring follow up collections has reduced from around 17% to 5%.

  • The introduction of a third bin for residual waste should further improve the situation. The reason for this is it will assist those who are reluctant to place residual waste in black sacks. Typically this means putting plastic in the green and kitchen waste bin and food waste into the dry recycling bin. We will review our approach to residents and our collection arrangements once the bin delivery programme has been completed.

  • Costs for other associated services- new black bins, additional collection etc are being met through allocated funding in this years budget.

My additional comments are as follows:

  • In some local authority areas in England collections have been reduced to once every two weeks, leading to protests by local residents, yet we have increased collections, significantly addressed landfill issues and built a ‘state of the art’ recycling centre – all this without significant increases in the council tax

  • We have increased the service and dramatically reduced landfill, improving the environment and saving the local council tax payer very significant sums of money- we send less waste to landfill than any other local authority in England, something we can all be proud of

  • The council will look at collection arrangement and issues with individual residents once the new black bins are all delivered and we will continue with our education programme which includes, letters, leaflets, information on the councils website and interaction and events for local residents like the recent ‘Christmas Cracker’ event at Charlton House which attracted hundreds of local residents and at which incidentally, all local councillors were present ,representatives of all council departments, the mayor and various members of the councils executive were in attendance too

  • We are not complacent about these issues and will continue to try and improve both waste collection and environmental services in the Charlton area

I am always interested in your comments and those of others, who post them on your blogspot and as I said in my previous email will be bring to your attention some further proposals for improving the local environment in due course.

Once again happy new year

Cllr Gary Parker

Are the trains running on Sunday?

I'm seriously considering running a Chocolate Teapot 2009 award for companies working in the Charlton area and I think I've found my first nomination.

I've been helping a friend make some travel arrangements for the coming weekend and had heard that the Southeastern train service through Charlton wasn't running due to engineering. I thought I'd better check up on it.

So to Southeastern's web site I go where there's a nice bold link claiming Southeastern helps visitors get to The O2 on Jan 3 & 11, seeing how the 11th is this Sunday I thought I'd have a look at it as it could give me some clues as to what's going on.

That page all sounds good, the train line must be up and they've even laid on a special bus service from Charlton to connect to the O2.

However my friend had said that the line was definitely down, so to double check I dig down into the Southeastern site to find out. Now that's not so easy, unlike the O2 news there's no helpful link on the front page.

You have to click on the Plan my journey link, then on the Engineering Work link before finally clicking on Sunday 11 January.

When you finally get there you discover that There are no train services calling at Abbey Wood, Belvedere, Charlton, Deptford, Erith, Greenwich, Maze Hill, Plumstead, Slade Green, Westcombe Park or Woolwich Dockyard.

Oh. Right. Ok.

I thought that "Southeastern has teamed up with the O2 to help people going to see Chris Brown at The 02" on Sunday. They even told me that "one of the easiest ways to get to The 02 is to get a train to Charlton and then catch a special free bus service to the venue."

The O2 themselves are even talking about this on their web site. They make it sound like TFL stitched them up when "recently announced" that the Jubilee line would be closed.

They've got a document here that says that in association with Southeastern trains they've laid on special buses from Charlton.

Well it appears that Southeastern have stabbed the O2 in the back as well and have now turned the trains off.

Or have they? Which page is right? The nice obvious link on the front page or the engineering information that's buried deeper in the site.

I'll try and find out, well to be more accurate I need to find out so as to help my friend out.

Anyway don't you just love Londons's coordinated and linked up transport policy!

Updated: I've just called Southeastern and there are engineering works so Charlton station will be shut. I asked about the special free bus service to the O2 from Charlton and apparently it is still running.

To use it though you'll have to get on the wonky replacement bus service running from Deptford to Slade Green.

Blackheath station will be open however and I'll probably route my friend through it, why they don't divert the special O2 bus to there is a bit of a mystery...

So will there be a lot of Chris Brown fans who have read the news on the O2 and Southeastern's web sites expecting Charlton Station to be open?

Do I do the decent thing and phone the O2 to ask if they know?

Anyhow I've certainly got my first Chocolate Teapot 2009 nomination, Southeastern trains for running and boasting about a special free bus link to the O2 from a station that they then go and close.