From The Murky Depths

Housing and Development in London

Greenwich borough, Plumstead

Greenwich fail to spend at least £270,000 income from TfL to improve streets as financial year ends

Each year TfL gives every London Council millions of pounds through the Local Implementation Plan. Greenwich Council received £3.5 million in the financial year which is now ending.

For those with long memories I extensively covered how Greenwich Council have squandered money given from TfL annually and failed to engage the public for years regarding how this income from the Local Implementation Plan can improve the borough

Beautiful

Unfortunately its happened again and they’ve failed to spend at least £270,000 which was allocated in the 2017/18 financial year.

And not just that, but they havn’t even begun consultation or engaged with the public on how and where it should be spent.

I warned about this throughout 2016. Sure enough they’ve done it again.

Here’s where some money should have gone:

2017/18 schemes. How many have not been carried out?

The amount could be higher than £270,000 unspent. Did Trafalgar Road see £50k? Did the other schemes progress?

Way back in November 2016 I highlighted how Greenwich Council failed to engage and consult.

Some emails from councillors back then had a bit of dig at this site raising the issue. Readers had forwarded them on.

The emails fto residents wondered suggested this site was requiring full details of schemes at the start of the year. Yet that was not what was being raised.

What was being asked was a general overview of schemes built up after consultation to be in place before the financial year begun so schemes could progress instead of a last minute rush (or not at all as has happened this year).

We were also told consultation would instead happen throughout the year. It hasn’t.

By now any scheme proposed will lack any time to meaningfully engage with residents.

I’m sorry to say I was right in my skepticism when I called out a decade of failure back in 2016. What have Greenwich Councillors been doing since? As soon as the issue stopped being highlighted on this site little progressed.

£150,000 could have done a lot for Plumstead High Street over the past year.

Would this happen if an independent party won council seats?

Other areas of London

For many years Greenwich Council have had threadbare plans in advance of the financial year beginning, with almost no details in the public domain or before council committees.

This means there’s an obvious danger of lack of project details or planning until very late in the day.

This past year it was £150,000 for Plumstead High Street and £120,000 for Eynsham Drive  – the main road in Abbey Wood’s 3000-homes Abbey Wood estate – that was allocated and not spent. Both could do with improving – sharpish.

Ringfenced?

Some of the total £3.5 million funding is tightly ringfenced but much isn’t and local authorities have wide scope to choose projects under broad themes.

All London councils receive it but some are far better at engaging than others.

It could, and should, be used to improve many public areas – streets, estates, parks, main roads and shopping parades.

Back in 2016 a Greenwich Councillor was claiming in emails to residents:

“I am aware that bloggers and people using anonymous Twitter accounts have claimed that Lewisham Borough publish full details of Local Implementation Plan spending more fully”

It’s not a claim. It’s a fact. Well, the “more fully” aspect. Here’s an example from Lewisham on future plans:

Lewisham use it to improve shopping areas and town centres to boost local business

Here’s Islington, for example, which drew up plans before the year begun:

Here’s the state of play in Greenwich:

Yes. That’s it. No details or even a slight hint of where the £150,000 would go.

That was before the Highway’s Committee when they signed off plans.

A lack of consultation or spending TfL income in Greenwich has echoes of tens of millions in Section 106 income from developments across the borough.

Even now when we look at millions of pounds of Section 106 spending (which is only in the public domain as the law now requires it) there are areas of spending totaling millions of pounds that have no details attached whatsoever on where it went. A serious failure of accountability.

Despite TfL and S106 money being available many estates and shopping parades in Greenwich borough are in a dire state.

Last week I passed through the centre of Coldharbour estate. It’s a great example of ignoring the heart of communities. It hasn’t had a penny spent on improving the shopping parade in many years. It could be far more appealing as the heart of a large estate and the money is there to do it. Another £3.5 million is coming in this year.

Are Greenwich Cabinet members demanding to know why relevant Council Departments are failing in this way and have for many years?

With an election coming many local councillors can be seen across the borough  claiming they’re doing a great job, yet money is there to improve areas and it isn’t happening with few questions asked of departments. If they were then this would NOT continue year in year out.

EDIT: Cuts are often brought out as a reason for failing departments. Yet high levels of income from development mean more staff can be hired. New CIL rules allow a set percentage to be allocated to administration and Greenwich have set their level below what is possible.

And if they didn’t have such a dysfunctional Parking Dept with a £10million budget hole, more income would be received to hire staff to invest in the Highways department to draw up schemes alongside residents before the financial year begins.

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11 Comments

  1. Ed

    If £50,000 has been spent on Trafalgar Road I’ve not seen where. It’s still ugly as hell and poor for those on foot.

    The thing is no one EVER takes responsibility for this waste of public money that could do so much to make all corners of this borough a better place to live.

    £50,000 might not seem much but it’d plant a good few trees, remove a decent amount of clutter and maybe, just maybe, get some more people walking short distances in a nicer environment instead of driving.

    I presume now the next year begins with NO real plans and the cycle starts again and another year goes by without improvements.

  2. Bob

    How much crap street clutter can £270,000 buy?

  3. George

    Just remember this when you go to vote, maybe the current ‘bunch’ think they are bullet proof!!

  4. Gordon of Greenwich

    This money could be spent on the area around Woolwich Road flyover. A hideous eyesore.

  5. Spencer

    Given the pot holes in my ward I am pretty sure that I know what many residents would want it spent on. Not sure it would be allowed but the roads are becoming a complete state, with potholes and freshly installed speed humps occasionally placed between them. Not against the speed humps, but why not fill the pot holes while you are there?

    • fromthemurkydepths

      Some of it can go towards potholes buy depends on what pot. I wouldn’t be surprised if the pots of cash for new tarmac haven’t been spent either

  6. gwest

    damn that could have paid for at least another 2000 more street bollards

  7. anonymous201486

    Even when Greenwich council does decide to ‘renovate’ a block or estate, the contract goes out to the lowest bidder and the work is poor. I lived in a block for which I was charged nearly £10,000 as a leaseholder and within a matter of weeks, both the internal and external paintwork for looking very shoddy and the building entrance door fails to close with sufficient force to engage the locking mechanism. If I printed out all the letters and communications I had with the council about the major works contract, it would fill a lever arch file.

  8. CDT

    I am not surprised at all by this report. However, we have local elections coming up in May 2018. Perhaps it is time for a shake up at the Town Halls. I do not know how they can justify holding on to this money. There is just no excuse for it.

  9. anonymous201486

    The council money chest must be straining at the seams with all the money in it. Perhaps with the recent unfavourable publicity that Labour is currently attracting, a change of power may well be in the offing.

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