Murky Depths

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Greenwich borough

Greenwich release slightly more info on street measures – but has time run out?

Not much to go on

Greenwich Council have come in for much criticism since lockdown after minimal measures to encourage walking and cycling were introduced as public transport capacity was substantially reduced.

Criticism is both external and internal, and requests for patience have not gone down well while numerous other authorities have unveiled and already launched a number of substantial schemes.

Greenwich streets

After missing out on the first three rounds of funding and so far releasing barely any detail, they’ve now released slightly more – but still far less than many other local authorities.

I’ll go through the latest update – and link to previous failings to show how despite years of warning that previous annual street plans were inadequate, no change in internal culture was undertaken leaving them in a very poor position to now act.

Clutter

They start with the somewhat ludicrous claim that “our plans have developed very rapidly” which, as anyone who has seen what has been both installed and revealed so far has seen, is simply not the case. Compare it to many other corners of London and it’s a poor showing.

We immediately see passing the buck – as has been the case with funding for years – towards TfL:

“How much of this programme we can deliver will depend on funding allocations from Transport for London (TfL) under the London Streetspace Programme.”

Pedestrian crossing point in Greenwich peninsula. Not good on a cycle either

TfL need to see good, thorough plans to award money. So far there’s none in the public domain from Greenwich – and no funding wins. Greenwich Council refuse to release any substantial detail in numerous area which is suspicious. Does it exist? Why were there not a backdated list as most other boroughs had ready to roll?

And have they learned anything? Previously they’ve ignored TfL street guidance on other projects such as cycle highway 4 in Deptford.

Courtesy Google. Greenwich quiet on bus lane removal in this part of Creek Road but did seek to retain railings

Next up on the council’s webpage is something new – but again it barely says anything.

“Plumstead High Street

This busy bus route and high street is narrow so it is more challenging to create wider footways, however, we have asked for funding to make changes where possible and reduce footway clutter”

Other boroughs across London have listed exact locations where paving is narrow, exactly where new crossings or wider pavings could go and just what the pinch points are. There is nothing here like that as seen below on Bromley:

Other boroughs have details

Claiming to want to reduce clutter now is pretty ridiculous in the context of recent history. In 2017/18 TfL gave Greenwich Council £150,000 to enact street improvement work along Plumstead High street which should have reduced numerous obstacles for pedestrians, as seen below:

2017/18 schemes.

Firstly, with this previous funding they didn’t consult widely (sound familiar?) despite work being in a major town centre shopping location. Then, they released no detail in public (they’ve got form here) and when work was carried out it was over a year late and achieved little to address many chronic problems.

Numerous items of clutter

What is happening now is simply the continuation of years of similar behaviour. They bumble along in a bunker-like mentality and achieve little.

Plumstead High Street junction. Street sign blocks wheelchairs and buggies

Current problems go back a long way, politicians come and go and none appear able or willing to address serious cultural failings.

Next up is this:

Queen Elizabeth Hospital

The borough’s major hospital is served by seven bus routes. This means there are often many people waiting at bus stops so we have bid for funding to create extra space for waiting passengers on Stadium Road.

Not much to say about this. Decent I guess, but would have helped three to four months ago. It’s a very small area.

Hospital entrance

What would make sense is another path on the right hand side of the road above.

Next up is some new info on potential cycle lanes.

“Eltham to Greenwich Park

Protection for cyclists would be added on the A210 corridor, then the route would pass through Kidbrooke, across Blackheath to Greenwich Park. This route would potentially serve five secondary schools, and provide an alternative to the bus for pupils of those schools.”

Very little to go on here.

“Woolwich to Abbey Wood

Our proposals between Woolwich and Abbey Wood would create a cycle route across our entire borough, by connecting to TfL’s planned Cycleway 4 extension between Greenwich and Woolwich. Protection for cyclists would be added to the A206 by the Royal Arsenal to connect to the cycle tracks on Plumstead Road, and then quiet back streets parallel to Plumstead High Street would lead to Abbey Wood station.”

Mention of protection for cyclists on the A206 sound is welcome, but is this including Woolwich High Street past the waterfront which is frankly awful on a bike? No mention. Again, barely anything to go on.

Courtesy Google. Parking is “interesting”

Parking is almost always terrible here and rarely if ever enforced.

As for “quiet” back streets in Plumstead and Abbey Wood, well, they often aren’t. What will be done here? It’s been part of National Cycle Route 1 for many years which is ultimately some tiny signs.  The lack of information continues.

“North Greenwich to East Greenwich

This route would create a protected cycle lane on Blackwall Lane to connect the Peninsula and its community to East Greenwich and the rest of the borough. It would also include upgraded crossings on major roads in the Peninsula and a connection to the Thames Path.”

This sounds positive but again any drawings or detailed maps are absent. No real info.

The basic gist is what this site has been calling for for many, many years as tens, if not hundreds of millions of pounds from Greenwich peninsula developments brought Section 106, Community Infrastructure Levy and New Homes Bonus income. Nothing was done. Years wasted.

Pedestrian links

Greenwich don’t want to use their own income but deflect to TfL. They’ll need a lot more information submitted to succeed. But if they don’t, voila, it’s all TfLs fault. Not Greenwich failing to spend huge sums new homes have brought them.

Cross here

“Greenwich Park to Shooters Hill

This route would connect Greenwich Park and Shooters Hill via Old Dover Road and Shooters Hill Road. We want to deliver safe, protected cycling space along Shooters Hill Road and create a better environment along Old Dover Road for walking and cycling. There are four secondary schools and one sixth form college on or close to this proposed route.”

No exact details. If this is the sum total of what they’ve sent TfL after three months of work they’ll be astonishment at their end.

“Charlton Road 

We want to upgrade the existing cycle route along Charlton Road between Blackheath Standard and Marlborough Lane to add light segregation to improve protection for cyclists.”

No mention of where light segregation will go.

Then it’s the same old, same old.

“School Streets

Three new School Streets (Invicta, Charlton Manor and Wyborne) began on Monday 15 June. We are continuing to engage with schools to deliver temporary School Streets in the borough using Streetspace funding”

I think just about every authority I’ve looked at has more than three school projects. If Greenwich does they don’t mention them. Why so slow to identify more?

The newly updated webpage ends with Modal Filters but gives no location of any whatsoever.

So yep, this is still dire stuff. Embarrassing for them. We come to the same conclusion; if this is the total information submitted to TfL the organisation will be amazed at how poor it is (or possibly not given the authority’s history), yet if there’s more why do keep it secret and not share?

Whatever the answer, heads should roll. It’s months now since lockdown – and years of the same old problems. The weak, almost pitiful performance by the Cabinet Member for Transport in a council meeting last week was a sorry sight. Asking for patience. Years of failure mean no one should be patient.

They shouldn’t be patient when public health is at risk and we could see gridlock on a scale rarely seen before. Years of pathetic practices now culminate in what is a huge, huge failing.

And do you think they care? Every single action says otherwise.

 

 

 

 

 

16 Comments

  1. Simon Garson

    Hopefully, it will stop parents from using their ‘Chelsea Tractors’ to take their kids to school. However, they will try to find alternative routes to take their children to use. Whether it is Tfl or Greenwich funding the projects nothing will be achieved in the long run. What happened to human crocodiles to take the children to school? Blocking streets will achieve nothing. What about the elderly and disabled

    • fromthemurkydepths

      I lived very closed to a filtered street. It achieved a lot after a few weeks when people adjusted. A busy road became dead quiet. Anything takes weeks if not months to adjust

  2. Charles Calthrop

    They have developed their plans rapidly – last minute as a matter of fact

  3. Chris L

    It was interesting to see some Amsterdam school buses. They are multi pedal powered. The kids get fit as well as a safe way to school.

  4. LS

    Why on earth should they care when they keep getting re-elected every time?

    • Ashley

      Very true LS, people need to wake up and see that nothing gets done to a satisfactory standard. Every part of the public realm is dirty and cluttered And requiring upgrading. From decaying old and tired footpaths to roads and their lack of landscaping for estates and local parks.

      So much more could be done! A change of party is required

  5. Matt w

    Very well said, I can’t add anything. Heads need to roll and the LGA should put a microscope on Greenwich and it’s history of incompetence.

  6. Plumstead Resident

    Isn’t the cycle path along the river by Woolwich ferry pier still closed for maintenance? When I tried to use it a couple of weeks ago I had to follow a very awkward diversion along the main road.

    • Matt w

      Yes, was orgionally due to be closed for 12 months however that has been extended to 18 months (most likely without the required resident notifications and due process). Note that the council’s map shows it exists… Expect the fiasco that Greenwich council had with all other sections of the path that were closed for 6 months which were extended to 2 years.
      The worse bit is its a duel carriageway without cycle lanes or any temporary cycling provision. It’s the most dangerous road section in the borough!

  7. Plumstead Commoner

    The plans are so basic, it’s no wonder TfL are basically giving Greenwich the crumbs from the table rather than serious money.

    Why isn’t the focus on simple cheap easy to implement things on areas where have been high numbers of accidents in the past. Why is it that difficult to put wands along the A206, there’s plenty of space and cyclists would only take the room currently used by those illegaly parking so win win. Or making more routes one way between Plumstead and Woolwich, improving traffic flow and making it safer for cyclists?

    All this nonsense about having no money to make safer streets when plenty of other councils in the same situation just got on with it. Maybe the site should start a crowdfunder to raise the money for some planters to close some streets off to through traffic?

  8. Shannon

    How can we add some collective pressure to get them to move on this? Who should we start to contact to let them know constituents want this changed? At the minimum we could start an online petition and present it to the council.

    • Charles Calthrop

      The Council would simply use any petition for a photo opportunity – “Leader Danny Thorpe today met with concerned citizens to listen to their views on..” and promptly ignore it. As LS pointed out, the citizens can be safely ignored as the Council will get in and the opposition is barely operating here.

      Greenwich unfortunately will remain a Labour stronghold because its a protest vote against the Tory government. Not because Pennycook has excelled at anything or even stuck his head above the parapet – it’s a mix of sticking it to the government and a longstanding history of voting for the traditional party of the working class (yes I know and I pains me to even type that).

      The fact is that to get an entrenched, insouciant and secretive Council to pay attention, you need to put it in fear of its job. The only way to do that is to create a single groundswell for the opposition and get get some votes sent to the enemy. Fear and self-preservation are far better motivators than duty or integrity.

      • Gary J

        What local democracy in Greenwich needs is for Keir Stramer to become Prime Minister in 2024 and then become unpopular in time for the 2026 Council elections, giving other parties a chance to topple the local one-party state. New Ward boundaries by then too.

        I note that Eltham MP Clive Efford celebrates his 62nd birthday next week. Will this be his last Parliament? Does Council Leader Danny Thorpe fancy succeeding him?

  9. Chris L

    I’m old enough to remember when a lot of councillors on Greenwich Council were independents and another time when the Conservatives won a lot of seats.

    Some of the councillors do a good job but others just take the money. for nothing

    A lot of the the problems come from the lack of council staff who understand the real World.

    • Plum Res

      I echo the above comments. We badly need change. This safe Labour Council are holding the borough back in so many ways. I would encourage anyone that thinks otherwise to visit other London boroughs and see the difference.

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