Guest post from new Greenwich Council leader Danny Thorpe

Today is something a bit different; a guest post by new Greenwich Council leader Danny Thorpe explaining what he hopes to achieve in his new role. Thanks to him for taking the time to do it.

I am honoured and delighted to be given the opportunity to lead the council in Royal Greenwich – a place I’m proud to call my home.

For the past two years I have served as deputy to Denise Hyland, a leader who has worked tirelessly to deliver affordable housing, greater opportunities and quality services to all our residents, while at the same time dealing with the government’s austerity cuts. Denise is a tough act to follow.

My early experiences ignited my determination to make a difference to people’s lives and my sense of social justice. The first few years of my life were spent on the Ferrier Estate, before moving to the Page Estate in Eltham.

I went to Haimo Primary School and then on to Thomas Tallis School – a true comprehensive with children from every background.

One of my teachers asked me to represent students on a Council run project and I helped establish the first ever Young People’s Council in Greenwich. It was an incredible opportunity which taught me the importance of youth services, and of early intervention.

I know first-hand the crucial role schools play, not just in providing an education, but in shaping the future lives of young people.

This Council will work with our schools across the Borough to create outstanding education opportunities for all our children.

When I was growing up I saw real improvements in my community. Decent homes became a right for everyone, not a luxury for a few. Today, one of the biggest challenges we face is ensuring that decent, affordable housing is available for ordinary people.

A key part of this Council’s work will be delivering more council and genuinely affordable housing. Under my leadership, we were the first Council in the country to bring greater transparency to planning viability assessments, a move which stops developers reneging on their affordable housing promises. I am proud that this is now a policy taken up by the Government.

To maximise our ability to provide affordable housing I am setting up a housing delivery board to undertake a full review of all our current projects to identify what resources we can find to build Council homes. We have to ensure that significant, game-changing investment is available for the Council’s housing building programme across the borough. I’m also committed to working with Meridian and other partners to get building going.

Recent years have seen massive change in Royal Greenwich and I have been part of driving that forward. But I know there are residents who feel uncertain about the speed and level of development. We need to make sure that tenant and resident engagement is at the heart of all our work as a Council.

I want greater transparency and fairness in our planning process. There will be increased community engagement in planning and regeneration, with more local representation.

No Cabinet Member will sit as a Member of the Planning Board under my leadership.

A crucial issue for our residents is clean air and the environment. Following the Government’s announcement to progress with the Silvertown Tunnel development, we will need to take stock of the decision and how this will affect the Borough and residents. I will be seeking an early meeting with the Secretary of State to understand why our proposals for a sustainable transport fund appear to have been rejected.

Royal Greenwich has started work on schemes to reduce traffic and improve air quality around our schools and establish a programme of healthy streets across the Borough and this is something I’m going to drive forward. I’ve taken a close interest in the work delivered by Mayor Phillip Glanville in Hackney on this and it’s really made a difference to local communities. Equally, the work happening in Waltham Forest around healthy streets is exemplary and I’m looking forward to meeting colleagues from across London to see what Greenwich can learn and take forward.

We need to do more to boost the local economy. We will review our procurement strategy to increase, year on year, the amount of money we spend in our communities. We will examine how we can best use our properties and assets to support local business growth and local creativity.

Like every Council, we face the twin challenges of continued Government austerity and increasing demand on our services. I am currently establishing a Cabinet, which will include a dedicated Cabinet Member post for Finance and Resources. This is part of our commitment to ensuring that every pound we are spending is delivering on our priorities.

And of course, a very real concern for many families and parents is the rise in knife crime and serious youth violence across London. There have been a number of serious incidents this week in Greenwich which have caused concern across our communities.

As well as looking at what we can do to work with young people in our schools and communities, we will liaise closely with our colleagues in the police and criminal justice system to face these challenges head on.

I became involved in politics for the same reason I became a school teacher – I want to make a difference in people’s lives and do what I can to ensure other people in the Borough have the support and life chances that I had.

I am immensely proud to be elected Leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich and am excited at the future prospects for our fantastic Borough and everyone who lives, works or learns here.

Cllr Danny Thorpe

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17 thoughts on “Guest post from new Greenwich Council leader Danny Thorpe

  • Why should we have to pay a toll to go to work, if you are going to charge people from south east London to pay this tax then surely every bridge over the river should have a tax on it!

    • Agreed 100%.

      Also the other issue is home building.
      Yes new homes need to be built but it needs to be done correctly – i.e. not the dense high rise blocks. They are not suitable for families! Where are the gardens?!

  • Fine words butter no pasnips.

    The Borough coffers is full of the proceeds from ‘planning gain’ and expensive new high rises are shooting up all over the place, but where is the much needed social housing and why are construction companies allowed to play the ‘non-viability’ card on affordability so often?

    Will the council look at ‘quick build’ schemes such as that employed by Lewisham at The Place, Ladywell? Ironically, this took quite a long time to build, but this was probably a manpower issue.

    I used to be a resident of Greenwich and the difference between there and Lewisham where I now live if very telling.

  • Absolutely uninspiring.
    More council housing? Give over!

    • There over 16,000 people on the council’s waiting list for housing. Why do you think they are not entitled to live in the Borough? It seems to me that you are in favour of ‘social cleansing’ and that poor people, or those who were born in the borough and want to continue living in it, should be exported elsewhere.

      • Nobody is entitled to live where they want.
        That is earned through working or property being passed down from an inheritance.

        I’ve lived in the borough all my life (37 years) but i’ll be pressured to move out of the borough to purchase my first property as I can’t afford to buy in the borough.
        I have no divine right to live in the borough, especially at the expense of the tax payer.

        • Local authorities used to be the providers of social housing. By your analogy, councils should just close their waiting lists and abandon all pretence to help the less fortunate. Too bad that you can’t afford to live in the borough, but you at least have the option to buy elsewhere, which is something that a lot of people can’t do.

          The mark of a civilised society is how it treats the less advantaged and to say that poor people should be excluded is horrid.

          • I never said local authorities should close their waiting lists and abandon the less fortunate.
            I’m just saying I (and everyone else) do not have an automatic right/entitlement to live in a borough of their choosing!
            Just as you say I have the option to buy elsewhere, the poor and less fortunate have the opportunity to live in social housing elsewhere – however I do think it’s preferable that housing is found in the borough they have grew up in the majority of their life (whether social housing or to buy to live in).

            Where did I say poor people should be excluded?
            Please lets not descend into emotional rhetoric!

  • Pretty unconvincing on air quality and local environment, frankly. A serious commitment would include requiring shore power for the new cruise terminal, extension of cycle superhighway across the borough, advocacy to give TfL the right to run the Southeastern metro franchise and a major increase in trees in our streets, alongside the meeting to ask Chris Grayling why he’s blocking sustainable transport funding.

  • Platitude upon platitude, are we supposed to forget the failures of the last Council, on things like planning, lets not forget Cllr Thorpe was the Cabinet member directly responsible. The failure on regeneration, Cllr Thorpe directly responsible. More Council Housing, when the “regeneration” of the Ferrier got rid of a great number of Council Housing, Cllr Thorpe responsible. So I say again Platitudes

  • Firstly I would like to applaud you for using the internet to speak to the Greenwich electorate. It takes some guts to put oneself forward for the potential negative response.

    Having said that I would like to respond to the dull uninformative party political broadcast you have posted.

    When a council leader spends a proportion of a post, such as this one, on detailing his personal history, it says a lot about how little he is aware of the issues. To have local historical insight into the borough is the minimum requirement for any council leader. I really don’t care if you were brought up on Mars so long as you have the right local knowledge and can do the job well.

    I am happy to see that housing shortages is taken seriously by yourself, however you are over 10 years too late. Unless I am mistaken you need land to be able to make a bold statement like you have. When the council could have done something to provide more affordable housing they left the vast majority of the new construction to the private sector. North Greenwich, Greenwich hospital, Woolwich and Kidbrooke are all private developments with little or no consideration for affordable housing. Also the council don’t seem to be able to use their legal powers to guide the developers or the planning process so we are unlikely to see an increase in the amount of affordable homes in the future.

    3 Now that the Silvertown tunnel has been given the go ahead, I am worried that the council is on the ‘back foot’ if they are now just looking at the impact on the environment. Did they not know that TfL were planning this? If not, where was the council’s focus? It is really worrying that issues such as this does not seem to be on the council’s radar in the first instance.

    4 If I was in your position I would not mention central government financial restrictions. Especially if my council is sitting on unspent money e.g. £5m for Plumstead high street upgrade. If I was in central government I would restrict the money RBG has. If the council cannot be trusted to make good use of the money it currently has why should it receive more.

    In short I don’t believe you have the right team or the commitment from the council workers to take your vague vision forward, so I suggest that you stop telling us what you think we want to hear and start being honest about the council’s capabilities. At least that way the electorate can assess your success or failure on achievable goals.

  • Well said. Greenwich needs to open the chest and start spending the money where it is most needed.

    The mistake that central and local governments make is in thinking that the private sector will take up the slack for housing the less fortunate.

  • Well done on your election Danny. It is in some ways fitting that you will be leading the Council with nowhere to hide during the period when projects you approved against the wishes of many residents including IKEA & the offshore diesel cruise liner are due to open. The already toxic air quality in Greenwich will unfortunately deteriorate sharply. I hope you do prioritise the environment going forward and can help reverse/mitigate the damage from your prior decisions.

  • @Harminder K: you don’t know much about social housing do you. People can’t just pick up and move to another borough in the hope of being housed and if they leave a property, no matter how poor, they will be deemed to have made themselves ‘intentionally homeless’.

    I am an unashamed socialist who thinks that society has a duty to help the marginalised and not trample them into the ground. Greenwich Council’s record is a poor one and providing social housing is part of its very core.

    • I know Socialism and many Government interventions don’t work and causes many unintentional consequences despite the good intentions.

      I’m an unashamed classical liberal/libertarian – there is a role for the state/Government but not to the extent we have today, however that’s a debate not to be had on this thread.

  • Goodness, Danny Thorpe was born on the Ferrier. Sing it from the rooftops. Shame then Danny that you were part of a Labour group that simply allowed Berkeley Homes to make a mint at the tenants’ expense. Silvertown Tunnel? Weren’t you the one who supported this Danny? Just like you did with the toxic cruise liner terminal. And you have co-led the Labour group that has failed so disastrously to deliver social housing over the last few years, whilst kow-towing to big developers. And to top it all you have given yourself the brief for community engagement. The very thing you will stop dead in its tracks as soon as the community says something you don’t like. We have entered the era of the Thorpe Theme Park. It won’t be much fun.


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