FromTheMurkyDepths

Housing and Development in London

Greenwich borough, Plumstead

Frustrated Greenwich Borough residents form new independent political party

Plumstead residents fed up with being ignored for years have created a new Plumstead Party to contest local elections in May 2018. You can visit their website here and see the aims. Click here for their Twitter. They are looking to work across party boundaries to ensure Plumstead receives the attention its long needed. It will be free of any ties to traditional political parties. There is talk of candidates and local parties springing up in other areas.

Typically unattractive shopping parade in Greenwich borough – this at Woolwich Common

This site has covered many Greenwich Council failures over the past few weeks. Problems cover numerous areas in many towns which cannot be simply blamed on central government cuts by the Conservatives, as bad as they’ve been.

Plumstead has seen years of neglect culminating in Greenwich Council failing to submit any evidence to a planning appeal by William Hill for yet another bookies in Plumstead High Street, leaving taxpayers having to pay costs with the inspector letting rip at Greenwich Council’s failings.

Greenwich Council failed to submit evidence.

The funny thing is many of those sick of Greenwich Labour candidates are naturally left-leaning or Labour supporters and vote for the party in general elections. Labour has great MPs locally such as Teresa Pearce who manages to communicate widely and fight hard in many areas, often having to get involved in local issues the council should be undertaking.

The area sadly has a hell of a lot of coasting Labour councillors who often ignore local residents emails, have a bunker mentality and live many miles away from the area they are supposed to represent. Matt Morrow, for example, is a Plumstead councillor who lives in Greenwich. I have numerous emails and messages telling me people have emailed him plus other Plumstead councillors and never received a response. Plumstead councillors such as Rajinder James and Angela Cornforth.

Unappealing public space is common at numerous estates

I can understand reticence from politicians about using Twitter but in this day and age what excuse is there not to keep locals informed with a Facebook post, or a personal blog or website, or using the local Labour party page?

The examples are numerous. Woolwich Riverside councillor John Fahy has been asked at least 10 times over the past month what he and council officers asked the DfT when a presentation was given on future Southeastern rail plans. He has ignored most of those requests and never provided the info.

With that level of action and engagement it’s not hard to see why south east London will probably continue to pay more for single oyster journeys than most of London (including a £1.60 surcharge to switch to the tube from rail that other parts of London don’t pay), continue to lack station staffing from first-to-last train and miss much in the way of capacity improvements. Greenwich Council were able to spend taxpayers money mobilising a campaign to lobby for the Silvertown Tunnel (“Bridge the gap”) but can’t do it for the rail network.

Money going begging

One great example of ignoring Plumstead is the £3.5 million Transport for London give Greenwich Council each year through the Local Implementation Plan (not the major scheme element). Some of that funding is ringfenced to specific areas but a large amount of funds has flexibility on spending. Improvements for pedestrians and street upgrade work is permitted and widely used elsewhere in London. Other boroughs have rolling programs to improve town centres and social hubs. Not Greenwich.

This Plumstead development brought in £400,000 to the council. They sent money allocated for “local improvements” to central Greenwich

Almost a third of the way through this financial year and no detailed plans of where the money will be spent is in the public domain and no consultation has been undertaken of where it can go. Lewisham Council use local ward meetings to draw up lists.

Once again we can expect areas like Lakedale Road in Plumstead to avoid seeing a penny to make it more appealing. The same as the past 20 years the fund has been coming to Greenwich Council. Units are vacant or have shutters down some of the time, and the cluttered, ugly street is no incentive to visit or for new businesses to open. Few utilise the outside space.

Little footfall seen here. Much potential – trees, bike stands, outside seating etc

Greenwich Council’s default response to questions of neglect is spending £11.2 million on upgrading Plumstead library. Great, but that’s by flogging off public buildings and zero cash from external funds. Bexley Council are spending £20 million improving Erith, and only £4m is local money. £16 million is external money after they won bids for London Enterprise Panel funds. Lewisham Council are currently upgrading Deptford High Street – again using external money.

If Greenwich Council weren’t so poor at winning bids for external funding would they have to sell local buildings that could be used for community facilities or even converted to housing? And even if they did sell, the pot of money would go further if they also won bids enabling both library improvements and High Street work.

Local parties will have to overturn large majorities but locals are far more savvy about the internet and social media. Posts on groups like Plumstead People reach up to 10,000 people and that’s before post shares. It’s the main source for news and local information now for many, many people.

Also in Abbey Wood

There’s also a possibility some residents will form an Abbey Wood party and stand there. Abbey Wood has seen some money spent on the street by the station which is welcome but the vast Abbey Wood estate has seen similar lack of focus in many areas. The main shopping area at Eynsham Drive leaves much to be desired. The Council leader Denise Hyland represents the area though lives in Eltham. To be fair, I hear more positive views on her than many others.

One Abbey Wood councillor who I hear is poor at communication is Clive Mardner.

Labour are due to select their candidates for next years election in September. It’ll be interesting to see who they select – the same old or new candidates? Even if they choose new candidates, there’s some concerning rumours about possible candidates and their backgrounds. More will probably come out about that in the near future.

Labour only have themselves to blame for taking people for granted. They’ve treated areas like unwanted irritants for many years, long before cuts were imposed by Central Government. And since 2010 they havn’t used numerous funds to improve areas, such as:

  • The annual £3.5 million from TfL through the Local Implementation Plan,
  • £40+ million from the New Homes Bonus which was introduced in 2011,
  • £13+ million from developer Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy contributions each year,
  • Letting millions slip through their fingers by failing to enforce parking issues (£9 million less than budgeted over the past five years)
  • Wasting at least £9 million income from Right to Buy housing sales by buying homes off the market instead of joining with partners at a quarter of the cost per extra unit,
  • Numerous external funding bids to improve the High Street and other public spaces have gone begging as they’ve failed to win time and time again,
  • Not implementing landlord licensing for years whilst other London Councils did so, then adopting one of the weakest options possible thus missing income to monitor housing conditions and associated issues.

The failures and flaws are popping up almost daily right now. Greenwich Council is not a well operating entity.

Click here to see the new Plumstead Party’s website and sign up for more information. Locals coming together and fighting for the area will achieve far more to improve every part of the town than distant, lazy and complacent councillors have managed.

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8 Comments

  1. Good for them!

  2. Bob

    Yes! All very exciting. I will find out more and get out there with leaflets etc. Never done that before but enough is enough. Not many have time for this council. Fed up with the dross councillors here. Ive always voted Labour too. Maybe that’s why they let this area rot.

  3. Adi

    Massive respect and well done to those setting it up. Could do with this in Woolwich and Charlton. It certainly wont be easy, but they won’t lack people with energy and passion fighting for better, instead of fighting for a party they want to support but lets them down.

    If other parties don’t stand I could see a Plumstead Party candidate getting close, if not winning against Labour, especially when residents hear that their local politician lives nowhere near the area and resides at the other end of the borough. Not to mention one walk down the High Street and you know immediately that this is an authority that long ago stopped caring for the place.

    The issue is if they have three candidates in a ward would the vote be diffused?

  4. MiceElf

    Most interesting. However I see that the organiser is also listed as the chair of the local LibDems. In that case how can the new party be free if existing party politics?

    • He was a Lib Dem but left. He’s been doing a grand job for years digging into Council behaviour. I cant stand the Lib Dems but wouldn’t let his former membership count for much as he wants what’s best for the town and puts a lot of time into it. A lot of people are sick of the old party political posturing at local level.

  5. MiceElf

    Fair enough

  6. Sue

    Got my support. I’ll even help out with logistics. Sick of this council ignoring us. A bloody library is hardly a great improvement when the rest is so poor. We already have a nice one – no one I know thinks it’s a priority.

  7. Will

    I’m in!

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