With the advent of social media it has become increasingly clear that Greenwich council are being informed of numerous problems across the borough, yet aren’t acting on them. The rise of local Facebook groups, Twitter, Fixmystreet and more have revealed just how broken some departments within the council are. Despite being informed on numerous occasions of various issues within their power, they appear either unable or unwilling to act. This causes minor issues to spiral. A lot of these things arent too serious in isolation, but the message given out by constant failure to act is one of acceptance, with knock-on effects felt more widely.
Let’s start with parking. In Abbey Wood, some drivers have been parking pretty much anywhere they can – often going off-road and blocking paving or parking on communal grass areas. I’ve seen it pretty much every time I visit. I’ve been told about many times. On Twitter I’ve seen people contacting the council almost daily with photos showing it. In addition, the consultation website on the limited regeneration scheme highlights it. The photographer turned up, and as is typical, snapped a car parked on the pavement by the shops, and others blocking crossings and parked in loading zones.
The council claim they have acted. Nothing seems to altered. For example, by the station one or two cars started parking on paving all day, every day. As no enforcement occured it ended up with about eight cars at a time on a small patch of paving by the station entrance blocking pedestrian access. Dozens of photos and messages were sent on Fixmystreet and Twitter. Nothing seemed to happen for months. Same cars, same issues. Day after day. The department and its procedures seems broken. I’ve been told they are hiring more staff. Have they lacked staff for years? So few they cannot drive five minutes to visit?
The area where a lot of it happens is within a newly extended Controlled Parking Zone. It was extended recently at a cost of tens of thousands of pounds. As an aside, to show how crap the Highways Department is, a few more signs and street clutter went up alongside. On a pre-existing stretch there were signs up every 10 metres. The extension saw Greenwich council spend thousands putting new signs up in between, so now every 5 metres. Not neccesary at all, and they didn’t match of course. But no worries, a few more grand spent in an area where other things under the same departments control are falling apart – fences, paving and the like. The Highways Department seems to be one that is devoid of any sort of common sense, or indeed, any sense of design.
So, as mentioned, locals now have to now pay a fee to park locally. Yet some don’t and so just park on any available off-road area – grassed areas, parks, paving – you name it, some will do it. The council are provided with proof. Nothing ever seems to happen. If it did most people would stop, right? The fact so many don’t, and any trip there shows numerous examples, is a bit of a hint that any visit by Parking Services that does occur is extremely irregular and ineffective. Short staffed or not, it seems like they turn up for half hour a month.
Then there’s planning permission breaches. Also in Abbey Wood is the Lyndean Industrial Estate. It was used illegally since 2004, by the users own admission. As time went on things got worse. The council were informed many times of all night parties, parking problems, rubbish and a whole bunch of issues. Very little happened, until three people were stabbed and one died a few months back. It should never have got to that stage. Another Greenwich council failing, and another example of ignoring problems going back years. Starts small but spirals as very little happens.
The same old pattern is seen in many areas and many places. Small things are left. They then get worse until it’s a real blight. Problems within numerous council departments are contributing to this. Fly tipping is a big thing at the moment. Plumstead has it terribly. And it’s the same story. Failure to crack down has caused it to get far worse. Greenwich are great at clearing it, but what about preventative measures or going after the people doing it constantly. There’s areas where it happens almost daily. Surely a bit of investigative work is needed in these areas. And when people are contacting them through email, twitter and fixmystreet about the exact same spot it happens, then investigate and crack down as often it’s a professional job. Not just belatedly ‘warn’ offenders if they chance upon someone. Too little, too late, and the processes adopted caused the issue to spread. Eventually a small group within the council have been set up to look into it. So far little seems to have happened. Probably as the horse has long bolted.
The next issue I can see being a big problem is houses advertised as ‘holiday homes’. This has been cropping up in a few areas. Residential houses are being let out as holiday places. No problems with that, except the often dodgy owners appear to own numerous places, do not live there or seemingly visit, and over-occupy them with noise and parking problems. Not to mention taking badly needed family homes off the market. Like most of the issues I’ve mentioned, although illegal it’s not really a big deal if people didn’t start taking the piss pretty quickly, as is now happening. Will the council look into this and nip it in the bud, or will they turn the other check until it’s rife?
Time and time again issues have not been acted upon, even when the council cannot be told any more clearly. Have a look on social media. It’s all there, and pretty revealing of systemic failings. Some Councillors are chasing departments up but often seem to be fobbed off as much as the public. Time for a bit more than the odd bi-monthly scrutiny commitee where department leaders can sweet talk about all their supposed action? The reality is quite a bit different.