With the year almost at an end – and many will be glad to see the back of it – it’s about time for another round up of the top 10 posts this year.
As has been the case when I’ve done this previously, Woolwich and Greenwich tend to top the interest levels.
So then, let’s get going with the tenth most popular story this year.
10) Traffic cameras going live across Greenwich borough
Traffic cameras were switched on across Greenwich borough in September, 16 years after powers became available and after 29 of 32 London boroughs had adopted them.
In the end Greenwich Council bodged the introduction (after a two week grace period was planned) and it happened weeks late. Given they hadn’t used powers available for 16 years, perhaps it wasn’t a big surprise.
The move proved controversial as you would expect. Locations that see regular contraventions were not on the CCTV list. One such example is the junction at Beresford Street in Woolwich where drivers regularly ignore no-right turn signs and head towards pedestrians crossing on greens. Local residents fought for years for action. Signs were installed and achieved very little. I saw many cars ignore the sign and drive at speed to the crossing when writing up a post.
Residents are still fighting after many years.
9) Rail services coming to parts of Kent for first time since 1960s
This story was a surprise to see so high – and one far from the normal patch on this site. Millions were allocated for an extension of rail services onto a line on the Hoo Peninsula which saw passenger services axed in the 1960s.
An agreement between Medway Council and Homes England saw a £63 million award from the Housing Infrastructure Fund to provide rail services for 12,000 new homes.
8) Bexley Council in severe financial difficulties
Last month saw more details emerge of heavy cuts planned in Bexley Council – and that was before tier 4 restrictions. Many staff losses and cuts across libraries are just a couple of things in store for 2021.
While the ruling party in the borough mocked other councils for their troubles, Bexley council had to seek emergency funding of £15 million from central Government and conduct a firesale of land.
Interestingly news of severe cuts in Lewisham (and to a lesser extent Greenwich) did not gain anywhere near as many readers.
7) Street clutter and social distancing in Woolwich
Back in the spring attempts were made to create greater space for pedestrians in many areas – though parts of Woolwich didn’t get the memo. Many areas were cluttered with obstacles in the midst of a health crises. This has been a problem for many years, particularly impacting pedestrians in wheelchairs. Greenwich Council turned a blind eye. A pandemic didn’t change it.
6) Greenwich Council considers selling small park in Greenwich
Back in late summer news emerged that Greenwich Council were looking to sell a small patch of greenery in Greenwich. It’s an area of limited greenery amid a rising population. The news predictably didn’t go down well.
The plan was abandoned within two weeks.
5) Covid street changes in Woolwich, Eltham and Greenwich
With a need for street changes, money was to be spent across London as a condition of the first TfL bailout. In Greenwich this begun an all too familiar process of little communication with the public, no detail of bids to TfL revealed publicly nor information on what work would be carried out – or costings.
It took Freedom of Information requests to gain information, which revealed some extremely high costs for basic work which hindered pedestrians and cyclists as much as helped.
Plastic barriers in Greenwich town centre cost £120,000.
Other projects such as modal filters were not part of that spend. Spend totals were higher than projects submitted by other authorities – in some cases substantially so given the limited, temporary nature of materials. The lack of transparency and high costings have never been fully explained.
4) Car-only cinema on Blackheath
This controversial event saw a drive-in cinema on Blackheath while arguments raged over excessive traffic – and while Greenwich Council were releasing reports on reducing car use.
The council not only permitted cars to drive onto the heath but advertised the event on social media – which didn’t go down well with some.
3) Greenwich Union pub shuts for good
In August it was revealed that the Meantime-owned Union pub was closed for good. It was the last Meantime pub still operating. The company is now owned by Japanese brewer Asahi.
In following months 14 Antic pubs were taken over by Portobello Brewing – while those not part of that deal such as Woolwich Equitable have not reopened after closure in March.
2) Major plans in North Greenwich including 6,000 homes
A proposal to revise the Greenwich Peninsula masterplan, add thousands more homes and demolish north Greenwich bus station drew in many readers.
Despite the vast project and associate payments to Greenwich Council, improvements for cyclists and pedestrians on the stretch towards east Greenwich were all but ignored once again.
1) Major changes to Greenwich Park
This post from September was the most viewed as changes were presented (and then approved) for the much loved park.
I’ll confess I’m surprised at this one given I’d forgotten it amongst all the news this year, and it seemed to have a short shelf life unlike issues such as street space which still continue to generate debate daily.
I’m sure when the diggers arrive it’ll come to the fore once again.
So anyway, that wraps up the top 10 for this year.
The first weeks of 2021 will bring big stories as Peabody plan to submit further major plans for Thamesmead and tier 4 restrictions further batter organisations from leisure centre to councils to TfL. All were in dire straights even before the current restrictions – and so far there’s no guarantee central Government will cover the costs.
Have a great new year – and here’s to a non-socially distanced pint in a few months time if all goes well.
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