This is part two commenting on the 2018 variant. I’ll go through the chapters one at a time and comment on anything that stands out. So, without further ado…
Cleaner, Greenwich Greenwich
This chapter features this welcome statement:
incentivising people to get out of their cars and use public transport, walking or cycling
But how? There’s no real detail.
It’s a generic statement in a chapter with few concrete policies. What will change from the past four years of mainly poor design? Apart from the odd good scheme it’ll take a complete change in approach by Greenwich’s Highways Department to make a difference.
This chapter contains much of the same vague, non-committal stuff seen previously. I suppose the spectre of Clegg and tuition fees hangs heavy over all politicians these days but a few solid policies wouldn’t go amiss.
It mentions clean streets and how a pleasant environment is an incentive to get out of the car and walk. Yeah, true, but that’s half the story. If streets are very poorly designed being clean won’t do much to change people’s behaviour.
The elephants in the room are not mentioned. That’s Silvertown Tunnel, various retail parks including Ikea, the cruise terminal and how docked ships will be powered plus the overall street network.
In addition to those schemes there’s other developments that’ll also bring sizeable challenges and increased traffic around Greenwich in the very near future. The 1,600 pupil St Mary Magdalene School is one.
The forthcoming Icon shopping centre within the o2 is another. If only a fraction of the expected 4 million annual visitors drive it’s going to make a substantial impact.
Both open later in 2018.
A commitment to retain weekly bin collections is featured and very good news.
There is some stuff about electric and driverless cars. They are coming but it wont be local authorities who are the main drivers and it’s hardly the most pressing issue over the next fiour years where Greenwich Council hold sway.
There’s some coverage on the Low Emission Neighbourhood scheme in east Greenwich. There’s nice ideas included but overall it’s a bit of fairy dust on a massive steaming turd of poor decisions and crap design in the area.
Good projects like the missing cycle link in Charlton are superb but outweighed by car-centric retail parks in the area.
There is also a commitment to plant 2022 trees by 2022. Is 500 a year more than normal? And given they chop down so many what’s the net increase?
Of course everyone wants more trees, but for Greenwich Highways it often appears to be the only street improvement they know of.
In terms of rubbish and flytipping they state:
step up our enforcement action to tackle those who do not respect our
environment, by imposing fines and penalties for littering, fly-tipping and other enviro-crime
Which is good, as enforcement through fines has been one of the lowest across all of London.
work with schools and communities to encourage a reduction in school runs making sure school entrances and surrounding streets are safer
They better get a move on with St Mary Magdalenes at Greenwich peninsula with better crossings and upgrades to encourage walking.
And as long as parking enforcement is so poor some parents will keep driving and stopping in the immediate area at many schools.
encourage the Mayor to extend the Ultra-Low Emission Zone to Greater London so that our children can grow up breathing cleaner air.
Yet they’ll allow children to breath dirty air by a new tunnel, a cruise terminal with no clean on-shore power or retail parks?
And that’s the crunch. For all the clean air statements, the manifesto is avoiding those issues.
ask residents with 100% electric private vehicles to only pay £25 a year for on-street parking permits in a controlled parking zone;
An actual policy! Welcome to see. It’s a good incentive but with the price premium electric cars have, a saving of less than 60 quid a year won’t sway too many people.
There’s not much though on the other parking zone expansions coming up straight after the election. Abbey Wood is one such place that a parking zone is coming after (it was due by now).
And given Greenwich Parking Department (running a £10 million deficit due to barely any staff or enforcement) do not act against widespread crap parking it’ll hardly go down well making people pay £82 a year.
“Encourage”, “incentivise”, “support”, “lobby”, “challenge”
Lots of this like in this chapter like much of the manifesto. Less actual firm policies on things they can be judged by.
establish an annual Business Awards event, following the pilot in 2018.
Sponsored by McDonalds, Ikea, housing developer Lovells (behind the One Woolwich scheme alongside Greenwich Council which sees a large reduction in social homes) and U&I.
Trebles all round.
Improving Our Town Centres
This chapter is very weak and simply lists already-approved schemes or is vague in the extreme. I’m a bit surprised they didn’t list the recent award of £5 million for Plumstead High Street which was great to see.
There’s little acknowledgement or apparent understanding from some council departments of just why some Town Centres and High Streets are poor and not appealing to many residents.
Really vague lines like this isn’t saying anything:
employ a strategy to attract investment into town centres to make them appealing places to spend time
What strategy? There’s no shortage of case studies out there.
Will they hire a town centre manager for Woolwich? Incredibly for a major town centre is hasn’t had one to coordinate improvements and work with businesses.
Will they push for a Business Improvement District (BID)?
Bexleyheath has one, which is Bexley’s rival to Woolwich, and it means High Street names putting money into a pot to improve and promote the town. A great deal of towns across London and the UK have BIDs.
Parts of Woolwich town centre are left to wallow without direction or apparent strategy.
Local Infrastructure and Transport Ambition
This chapter completely ignores Southeastern and forthcoming Thameslink services. It’s hard to think of many London Councils that would not mention crucial rail services when talking about transport.
True, like many issues in the manifesto they don’t have much power on the subject but that doesn’t stop them including those nor lobbying on other issues.
There’s also nothing at all about a London Overground extension from Barking Riverside to Abbey Wood via Thamesmead either, just the DLR which offers much fewer options over the Thames.
The pie in the sky Bakerloo plan is mentioned.
extend our cycle network, work towards providing a cycle hire scheme and aim to treble the number of cyclists
Greenwich previously blocked the Santander cycle scheme coming to the borough as they didn’t want to pay £2 million towards it despite sitting on far more than that through S106 income.
Expect more smaller-scale scheme along the lines of other trials that lack the visibility and reach of Santander Cycle hire.
repair our roads and pavements to the best of our ability. Keep the Highways and Local Labour Scheme in place, whereby unemployed people are offered training by our highways contractor to repair potholes and resurface our roads.
The Highways and Local Labour (HILLs) scheme is a good scheme yet previously promised projects seem to have not materialised.
£50,000 was due to be spent from a previous HILLS scheme improving the area underneath the Woolwich Road flyover in 2015. Little happened.
continue to invest in improving and creating new sports facilities and
upgrading our libraries.
Greenwich have done well to keep open many libraries (not all though as Kidbrooke closed was and not reopened).
However the Plumstead library and gym scheme has shot up in cost offers less sporting facilities than the previous site.
And what happened to the £75,000 they received from the Sainsbury’s development in Abbey Wood back in 2014/15 for a new local library?
“Strong Financial Management”
The parking department has run up a £10 million budget hole in recent years as it misses targets every single year and little changes. It’s been going on for at least five years now. It’s another £1.4 million deficit again this year.
That’s atrocious financial management.
Then there’s a bit about community groups.
We greatly value our wonderfully close relationship with our community organisations, religious and secular. We respect each other’s work in the community and enjoy the
dialogue we share.
Take a look at this. Greenwich Council have been mixing with some eyebrow raising groups.
At the end it states: “Your Labour Council: the figures speak for themselves”.
They certainly do. To give one example, after about 100 requests into what has happened to various funds given to Greenwich Council and unspent, such as £514,000 received and still unspent from Sainsbury’s Charlton to improve the local area, there’s been not one answer.
Ultimately, reading through the document – which you can see here – it’s full of good stuff on the surface but with a real lack of specifics or details. Some massive issues are ignored completely. Much of what is listed is not within their power to change.
I guess that’s to be expected but even given low expectations, the lack of soild policies to arouse some interest or excitement is a shame.
Next up will be the Tories manifesto.
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