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Greenwich leader announces street changes coming – but gives no detail

This area NOT included in first stage.

Greenwich Council leader Danny Thorpe yesterday responded to calls asking what measures will be taken for pedestrians and cyclists with a series of tweets.

Sadly there were no details of any projects nor dates for when any measures will be announced.

There’s some explanations in the tweets – though if one was being cynical perhaps they could be seen as excuses. They include having to work with other agencies such as TfL and having to manage existing streets, plus strained finances. These are issues every authority is currently having to wrestle – though many have managed to overcome them with measures already in place.

Financial pressures are very real, yet that is something that applies to every council and TfL. TfL belatedly announced measures last week – behind many other cities across the world. However they then quickly set to work including widening paving at bus stops in Brixton. Very few of the measures extend in Greenwich borough.

Boroughs such as Hackney got to work on projects last week:

Measures in Greenwich borough would be extremely cheap and take less than a day to implement. Cones and wands are not expensive. This is Dublin:

We could, and perhaps should, see similar in Charlton and Woolwich with no loss of space for general traffic:

Existing unprotected cycle lane in Charlton

There was mention in the tweets of a meeting last Tuesday between London councils and TfL. On the same day Tower Hamlets announced this:

One tweet from Greenwich’s leader stated:

“I hasten to add that funding is a big issue for all of us and this costs money. I’m pleased to hear the announcements from Grant Shapps tonight and we await more details about how of that money we can access in Greenwich. Money is a problem for us”.

If the authority waits for money from Shapps and the DfT it’ll miss the boat. As stated many times now, numerous other councils are acting before money arrives.

What’s frustrating is this simply compounds years of waste and lack of focus in Greenwich. The authority managed to spend £123,000 on wooden bollards in three years, usually to the detriment of pedestrians. There was always money for clutter.

Courtesy Google. Click to enlarge and see how both narrow pavements feature bollards blocking wheelchairs and buggies

Meanwhile money for street improvements near the notorious Angerstein roundabout wasn’t spent.

Taken from Greenwich Highways work document around 2014. No sign this ever happened

An interim project due last year didn’t happen either (click to enlarge):

 

Back to last week, and Labour run Hounslow Council – to give another example – also announced shortly after the pan-London meeting that “parking to be suspended on Turnham Green Terrace, rat run to be blocked on Wellesley Rd, dangerous bridge on Duke’s Meadows to be filtered in first tranche of traffic measures to improve safety for pedestrians and people on bikes.”

Looking back before the current situation, and Hounslow allocated £3.3 million over three years from developer income to improve public spaces and streets:

Hounslow allocation

In Greenwich it is £208,000 over three years, with zero this year and next.

Greenwich spending plans from 2018/19 for three years

Greenwich are pretty much plum last across all of London’s authorities for allocating money from new developments despite seeing some of the highest number in recent years.

Lack of action seen in recent weeks continues years of similar trends. It suggests cultural and departmental inertia are more pressing factors.

Income

Past behaviour with parking enforcement could also be coming back to haunt Greenwich right now.

The shortfall in 2016

Not only did income fall below budgeted numbers by over £12 million over the past decade (hampering prior street investment) but a culture built up in many area with some drivers of being able to park how you please.

A common site for years. This from 2017.

That emboldened some drivers to do what they like, with the issue exacerbated as numbers of wardens reduce due to sickness.

Can Greenwich shake off years of dated behaviour and lack of focus? What we’ve seen for some time is deflecting blame despite action seen across London. With this fresh in the mind, a further lack of action since March is no surprise but the tactic of deflection is getting harder to pull off now as many boroughs take action in the spotlight.

East Greenwich

Not that every borough is getting is right. Some are also yet to announce anything of substance (though these are usually outer London boroughs) and even those that have implemented schemes get it wrong (see Lewisham borough and Deptford High street yesterday). A lot of the errors are basic and can be easily fixed.

Whether this new wave of action will see Greenwich changing culture remains to be seen, as will whether blame and deflection is simply shifted from TfL to Shapps and the DfT.

3 Comments

  1. Ashley

    Formidable change is desperately needed to make us Pedestrians safer at this time. Danny Thorpe and is administration have become too complacent, Just pains me to why Labour Greenwich are unwillingly helpless in there ability for change in developing or adapting to schemes designed to better our Public Realm.

    Not forgetting dangerous outdated design which led to a large amount of unwanted street furniture such as Guardrails and bollards.

    As a suggestion, lengthening or replace-swaths of footpath which in foremost left in disrepair for many years could easily make a difference.

  2. Disappointed

    You would be forgiven for thinking that RBG has been taking political direction from the Trump administration……..Blame others for your inabilities. Note they come the opposite side of the political spectrum. I guess ineptitude has no political boundaries.

    As predicted, RBG will follow the same strategy, spend valuable resources and time highlighting their financial constraints, as opposed to focusing on what can actually be done.

    If Danniy is only thinking about the issue now where in Gods name has he been for the last 8 weeks. Social distancing is here to stay. It’s a new way of living as opposed to dying. If we are to accept RBG stance then we only have 2 options. A 2nd wave of covid as the pedestrians are unable to practice social distancing. Or pedestrians will play dodge ball with traffic to create space. Either options is likely to increase the number of deaths and accidents in the borough.

    How bad does things have to be before the current administration stops playing political games. If other councils can at the very least provide a plan why can’t RBG not start to upgrade and improve the roads now. Especially as I understand it the council is sitting comfortably on developers money.

    If we miss this opportunity to improve our public realms then any adverse outcomes will be solely down to RBG and I doubt people will buy that it’s the fault of TFL or central government. RBG has used that old chestnut too often and for too long to be valid now.

  3. Charles Calthrop

    It’s extra money for drainage as the council salivates over more money sent to them to install wooden bollards and barrier fencing

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