Murky Depths

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Abbey Wood, Plumstead, Woolwich

Town Centre deep cleaning across Greenwich borough to be axed

Town Centre deep cleaning could be axed if a wave of plans for 2020 are approved by Greenwich Council’s Cabinet.

If agreed, cleaning work would be cut just as expensive new public realm schemes either complete (around Abbey Wood station) or begin (Plumstead High Street).

Plumstead High Street junction – note sign blocking path for wheelchairs

Cleaning in Woolwich could stop just as the Creative District opens over on the Arsenal site – a project Greenwich Council found £31 million (plus £11 million for contingencies and fees) to fund.

Courtesy Bexley is Bonkers. Paving on both sides of street stained beside new Abbey Wood station

Jet-washing of town centres begun after complaints of how dirty areas such as Plumstead High Street had become. One problem is that much recent public realm work such as Abbey Wood has chosen a palette of materials that quickly show up dirt. Instead of using cream paving slabs those in charge opted for a bright white.

Similarly light coloured paving was chosen at Eltham.

Eltham paving highlights stains

Greenwich town centre on the other hand sees darker paving which requires less intensive cleaning and copes with high footfall.

Greenwich Town Centre

The report claims it is difficult to continue jet washing town centres due to “health and safety risks to the public” and a need to do it at quiet times. As anyone who’s been to various European cities will tell you, a great deal manage it during daytime hours.

Greenwich town centre – paving copes well in such a busy town centre

There are of course areas it is difficult, such as along narrow Plumstead paving, but far from all town centre locations are the same.

In addition to cuts for deep cleaning, the council are proposing cutting staffing to keep Plumstead clean on a routine basis. They work in Plumstead due to “heavy footfall, large volumes of littering and other enviro-crimes such flytipping”.



The reports notes “removal of this supplementary service provision in Plumstead High Street may impact the appearance of the environment which may in turn lead to enquiries and complaints.”

15 Comments

  1. Charles Calthrop

    It’s nonsense like this that finally persuaded me to leave the Borough last month after nearly 50 years. I now pay half the council tax to live in a clean, quiet part of Waltham Forest. I’m sure I’ll find it drags in its own ways but the simple joy of being able to walk along real, uninterrupted pavements to and from the shops or market make me realise how oppressive Greenwich has become in its obsession with building new flats. I haven’t seen a pavement railing all week…

    • Lord Lew Can

      Council taxes rise just as the spending cuts kick in. One wonders how our hard earned money given to the council for the right to live here is wasted. Presumably much of it gets hoovered up by fat salaries & expense claims.

    • John

      I assume that if you’re paying half the council tax you have downsized considerably – Greenwich’s Band D rate is £1490 annually, while in Waltham Forest it’s a couple of hundred quid more at £1694.

      Whatever your view of the service we get for it, council tax here is cheaper than about two thirds of London boroughs, and it’s disingenuous to claim you’re saving just by moving to a different area.

      • Charles Calthrop

        Indeed, a big house on Humber Road for a terraced place near the town centre. What I’m enjoying so far is the sheer cleanliness and ease of making my way around the town. There’s a big thing here about making the area friendly for cyclists and while there are some – frankly daft – road closures, I can see where my money is being spent.

        As a taxpayer, I want to see evidence of my contribution being used in my local community and aside from the odd patches of dirt Greenwich are palming off as ‘pocket-gardens’ there was little evidence of that in Greenwich. That, and getting out before the works for Silvertown Tunnel begins in earnest. I write this from a lovely coffee shop on the High Street which like many of the local places is happy to stay open to 11pm, without the feeling of constant danger you’d get dining out in Woolwich after 9pm.

  2. Kathy Bills

    Charles, I agree with you! And incase they haven’t actually looked plumsted is a dump 99% of the time… So where’s the clean up people!? Cannot wait to leave this place. The place is dirty the people are just hurrendous and then there’s the professionals all come with a dose of attitude problems, passive aggressiveness sprinkled with a dash of complacency

  3. Roger

    It does seem pointless spending money cleaning this place when we all know it will be filthy again in a heartbeat. Let’s wait for gentrification first.

  4. Steve

    Obviously Greenwich Council are panicking as they ‘only’ have about £330 million in the bank now…
    It’s one of the richest councils not just in London but in the country. I’m sure they can cover all these cut backs easily given the council tax rises due this year.

  5. Graham

    Agree with you all 100%. You all make very valid points. We are going to be paying higher council tax bills just to see services cut !!

    With out deep cleaning the Boroughs Town Centres will be filthy which will do nothing to encourage people to come to them to shop or for leisure.

    New business will not want to set up in the area as they will not be nice areas to work in or for their customers/clients to come to.

    The Borough will just continue to fall in decline which we have already seen in Woolwich and Plumstead Town Centres/High Streets.

    There is a consultation on the Council budget proposals for 2020/21 which is open until Monday 27/01/19 for residents to give their views. It can be found on the Greenwich Council website.

    • Ashley

      Never witnessed a deep clean. It’s hard for them to push a broom around now and again. But what do you expect from a Labour run council? Always increasing the Council Tax while neglecting the upkeep of street cleaning, parks etc. While wasting money on GLLAB and other failed upstarts. Our Public Realm, parks and estates are in dire need of rejuvenation.

  6. CDT

    The consultation on the Council Budget for 2020/21 is open until next Monday 27/01/20. As council tax payers in the Borough it is important to have your say om matters that really concern you.

    Like services to vulnerable people including vulnerable children, The elderly and disabled residents. .

  7. John Norman

    I dont understand, Greenwich is one of the fastest growing boroughs.
    Council tax receipts must be at an all time high. Greenwich should be awash with money.
    Most new residents will be in high density flats + be professional workers that use less council services….

  8. Ed P

    The state of the area in front of Woolwich Arsenal station is a disgrace. Rubbish, squashed food and cig butts, chewing gum. The first thing people see when they visit Woolwich for the first and walk out the station. I don’t see how they can cut this cleaner back any further… rubbish and mess encourages more rubbish and mess … let’s be proud of Woolwich and encourage people to visit and use public transport hubs.

  9. Graham

    I have to agree I have never seen the Boroughs Town Centre’s getting a deep clean. I have lived in the Borough for many many years.

    However, it does have to be said that Greenwich Council have wasted several millions of pounds as reported by Murky and fellow local journalist 853 over the last couple of years

    So Greenwich Councillors do have to take a lot of the responsibility for the current around of cuts The Council are proposing.

  10. ‘Deep cleaning’ would not be necessary if the council carried out proper, regular cleaning, which could be done at night. Using light coloured paving and thin, pale rendering doesn’t help the appearance of the public realm either.

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