Greenwich borough councillors meet tonight for their semi-regular Regeneration, Transport and Culture scrutiny meeting. The agenda isn’t packed given the huge amount of issues that could be covered. The panel hasn’t met for months.
It’s not the most exciting list of topics to be covered. Most big issues related to transport and regeneration aren’t mentioned.
One thing that has stood out when reading through is that once again the parking budget is miles off course. Again. How long can this go on for? It’s looking as though Greenwich Council will receive £1.4 million less than expected this year. The same as last year and bringing the total parking budget hole to over £10 million since 2011/12.
It was £2 million out in 2015. Then £1.4 million last year which suggested some slow progress:
It looks to be the same this year:
Despite this continual failure nothing seems to happen to those overseeing the problem. Poor parking is widely seen in the same spots despite the public notifying authorities. Pavement parking, blocking dropped kerbs and parking for weeks in time-limited spots are all extremely common but little changes.
I’ve previously covered how Greenwich Council employ few staff to oversee parking enforcement. A small increase planned is likely to be offset by other staff leaving or retiring.
Another thing that is noticeable is how few details on the borough’s town centres are presented at meetings compared to Bexley borough’s equivalent meetings which cover new stores opening, stores closing and work being undertaken to improve areas.
The lack of detail in Greenwich Council meeting notes could well be down to a lack of strong leadership and town centre managers. Bexleyheath has strong town centre management which has leveraged large sums of money from national retailers for improvements.
Woolwich doesn’t have similar management so isn’t capturing funds, for example through Business Improvement District status, to lift up the town centre nor feed information back.
With that in mind, it was a bit of a kick in the teeth that they have decided to spend £309,360 on a Project Director for their new creative district in the Royal Arsenal.
Cuts are likely to be the reflex answer when the lack of town centre management is raised. Well, to give just one example, the £54 million brought in from New Homes Bonus payments could help.
It’s a similar story to increased parking officer numbers in that increased staffing for town centres is likely to be cost neutral at worst if they generate greater income through working with retailers and formulating bids for external funds.