Meet the candidates: Charlton Society confirms general election hustings on 25 April

Greenwich and Woolwich candidates

Confirmed candidates so far (clockwise): Ryan Acty (Ukip), Abbey Akinoshun (Green), Lynne Chamberlain (TUSC), Matt Pennycook (Labour), Tom Holder (Lib Dems), Matt Hartley (Conservative)

With 7 May’s general election getting closer, the Charlton Society has confirmed it will be holding a hustings for the Greenwich & Woolwich constituency (which covers most of Charlton) at the Assembly Rooms, Charlton Village on 25 April at 2.30pm.

It’s open to all, and all six declared candidates have agreed to take part. They are:

Current MP Nick Raynsford is standing down after 23 years in the post. A full list of candidates won’t be known until after the nominations have closed on 9 April.

There are other hustings across the constituency, mostly aimed at special interest groups, but another open to all will be held by the Blackheath and Greenwich United Nations Association at Mycenae House, Blackheath, at 7.30pm on 15 April.

The Charlton Central Residents Association is also holding a hustings at St Richard’s Hall, Swallowfield Road on 27 April at 7.30pm (members and associate members can reserve a place by contacting CCRA).

Details of other hustings would be appreciated, including those covering the Eltham constituency, which covers streets to the south of Charlton Park.

PS. Are you registered to vote? If you’re not sure, contact Greenwich Council’s electoral services to check.  You can now register online at gov.uk/register-to-vote. The deadline is 20 April.

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Ikea coming to Greenwich – can we stop it grinding Charlton to a halt?

Ikea plan
As you may know already, Ikea has planning permission to build a store on the site of the old “eco” Sainsbury’s in Greenwich – a prospect which has flat-pack furniture fans five miles already reaching for their car keys, and residents who live a mile away groaning.

Campaigners against the store recently switched to a strategy of damage limitation after being advised that a legal challenge would be unlikely to work, since Transport for London had agreed with Ikea’s claim that the development would not add extra traffic to the area.

The new Ikea will come on top of a relocated Sainsbury’s plus M&S at Gallions Road, another an expanded retail park close to the river, and a relocated Matalan on Woolwich Road.

For its part, Ikea has been talking to local residents’ groups, including the Charlton Society and Charlton Central Residents’ Association.

The Charlton Society says:

“How can we make the best of this situation? What do we, as neighbours of the proposed store, want to see to prevent Ikea grinding local transport to a halt? What do we think the store should look like? And what part should Ikea play in the local community?

“The Charlton Society’s planning committee is talking to Ikea about the future. We’d like to hear your ideas. Should the road junction at the Woolwich Road flyover be altered? How can we make it easier for people to have goods delivered? What extra public transport would you like to see? And how can we improve on Ikea’s trademark blue box?”

Ideas include emulating the new-ish Ikea store in Altona, Hamburg, which is aimed at attracting a 50/50 split between car drivers and those coming on public transport, on bike or by foot.

Do you have any ideas you can feed into the process? Let the Charlton Society know.

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Look up – nine-storey tower planned for Woolwich Road

A CGI from architects Chassay & Last showing the  view from the BP petrol station

A CGI from architects Chassay & Last showing the view from the BP petrol station

Would you want to see this on Woolwich Road? Developers want to knock down a derelict office block on Woolwich Road, next to the new Sainsbury’s/M&S development, and build 74 new homes plus a retail unit on the site, crowned by a nine-storey tower.

The old office block – most recently called Valley House – has an odd history of its own – it was once Sykes House, home of Sykes Pumps; then it was taken over by Greenwich Council and renamed Guy Barnett House after the late local MP; but then that name was withdrawn when it had the bad luck of being the place where it tried administer the poll tax from. The council pulled out a few years ago; this website understands Metro Bank had been eyeing up the site for a branch, but that came to nothing.

valley_house_site01

So instead, it becomes the first concrete proposal for housing development north of the Woolwich Road since the Charlton Riverside Masterplan was produced. It looks smart enough from the renders, and London needs new homes, but is nine storeys too high for the Woolwich Road? The Charlton Society has voiced its disapproval*, you, however, may have a different view.

This has been going through planning for a while – it’s now at a “reconsultation” stage, and comments need to be with the council by 10 March. If you want to find out more, go here or enter 14/3258/F on Greenwich Council’s planning search.

(*Declaration of interest: I’m on the Charlton Society’s committee, but I’ve no strong view on this building.)

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Charlton Lido’s spring 2015 opening hours revealed

Charlton Lido

The sun’s out (sort of), it’s getting warmer (sort of), so what could be better than a dip in a nice heated open-air pool?

Thanks to Vicki Butler at Charlton Lido for getting in touch with the spring opening hours, which begin from 30 March, and the customer forum (on 10 March):

I thought you and your readers may like to know that the Charlton Lido & Lifestyle Club pool programme for the Spring has been published and it has some extended sessions.

You can pick up the timetable from reception on your next visit. The Spring timetable will commence on Monday 30th March (the start of the school Easter holidays).

In short, it is :
Monday 7am-2pm
Tuesday closed
Wednesday 2-8pm
Thursday 2-8pm
Friday 7am-2pm
Weekends 9am-5pm.

An email to members has also been sent this afternoon regarding the next customer forum, if you want to receive the email and have not, please notify reception who can add you to the database.

The team look forward to seeing you and your followers at the Club soon.

Current winter times are 7am-2pm Mondays and Fridays, 2pm-8pm on Wednesdays, 5pm to 8pm on Thursdays and 9am-2pm on weekends. You can also check the (unofficial) Twitter feed or the Charlton Lido website for more details.

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Help secure Maryon Wilson Animal Park’s future, council leader urged

Greenwich Council needs to step in to secure the future of Maryon Wilson Animal Park, its leader Denise Hyland has been told by park users.

The running of the park was handed to to a charity after the council announced plans to withdraw funding four years ago.

But Maryon Wilson Animal Park Ltd is struggling to raise the £100,000 per year it needs to keep the park going – leading to the Friends of Maryon and Maryon Wilson Parks to ask Greenwich to consider taking it back into council ownership.

In an open letter to Cllr Hyland, the Friends group proposes the council takes on the costs of running the animal centre, with MWAP Ltd acting as an independent fundraising body to help pay for animal feed and improvements to their acommodation.

Greenwich taking back the park would also end the issue of part of a public park being leased out to a third party for 30 years, the Friends group says.

The letter reads:

For the Friends group, the best solution is for the council to own and run the Animal Park, and for the charity, MWAP Ltd., to act as fund-raisers to help pay for the animal feed and improve the animals’ living conditions and care. If the charity becomes successful then they could also help pay for the council staff but not line manage them.

The charity could concentrate on running events and developing an animal education service for schools and young people. The Parks and Open Spaces staff can then continue to run the Animal Park on a day to day basis, maintaining the established high standards of Health and Safety needed for managing the combination of animals and child visitors.

Such an arrangement would also avoid any unwelcome issues with leasing the land and losing significant sections of a public park from the public domain.

The suggestion above seems to us to be something that respects everybody and is a much more sensible, realistic, and sustainable financial arrangement than the current plans.

It would be fantastic for the new council administration to agree a new solution that secures the Animal Park’s long term future.

We ask that you take the Animal Park back into the council’s long term care whilst continuing to work with the dedicated people at MWAP Ltd. to improve the park’s animal welfare and educational facilities.

The council’s 2010 budget savings document put the park’s annual running costs at £43,000. But it’s understood that this was massively under-estimated, as it didn’t include staffing costs as well as other outgoings such as paying for park rangers to run tours.

While some sponsorship has been found from developer Durkan and supermarket Sainsbury’s, making up the shortfall has been a tall order for the charity.

Regular events at the park include its annual Easter egg hunt, which takes place this year on 29 March.

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Water pain: Westcombe Hill closure set to last all week

Westcombe Hill, 23 February 2015

We’re indebted to Craig at the @TfLBusAlerts Twitter feed for giving us some more info about the closure of Westcombe Hill in Blackheath, which is causing problems for local travellers at present.

The road’s been closed for four days to deal with a burst water main, with works not expected to finish until this Friday at 5pm.

Routes 108 and 422 are diverted via the A102 between Blackheath Standard and Woolwich Road, while the 286 is running straight down the A102 from Sun-in-the-Sands roundabout, skipping the Standard.

Wednesday update: Job done…

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Charlton Athletic Museum now open Fridays at The Valley

Charlton Athletic museum

While the current state of Charlton Athletic is in a certain amount of turmoil, fans and neighbours can now find out more about the club’s past in a small museum that’s recently opened at The Valley.

The fan-run Charlton Athletic Museum is based in old office space at the top of the stadium’s north stand, on Harvey Gardens.

It’s now open 11am to 3.30pm on Fridays – the entrance is by turnstile 40, near the Charlton Lane end of Harvey Gardens. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.

Charlton Athletic Museum

Exhibits include memorabilia from the club’s 1947 FA Cup victory and the Addicks’ famous 1957 win over Bill Shankly’s Huddersfield Town, when they came back from being 5-1 down to win 7-6.

Material from the club’s seven-year exile from The Valley is also on display, along with newspaper cuttings depicting the club’s highs and lows.

Charlton Athletic museum

It’s an absorbing collection which depicts not just how the club has changed, but how its local neighbourhood has changed too. Could you imagine the players’ kits being taken down to a laundry in Charlton Lane to be washed now?

The volunteers behind the museum are hoping to arrange for it to be open by appointment on matchdays, but for now, if you’re free on a Friday, it’s well worth a visit.

One of the volunteers, Clive Harris, will also be talking about the club’s history to the Charlton Society this Saturday (2.30pm, Charlton House, £2 for non-members).

Charlton Athletic museum

Of course, it’d be remiss of this website to neglect the fact that events at the club recently haven’t exactly been harmonious. Head coach Bob Peeters was fired last month and many fans object to what they see as dishonesty and interference in team matters from current owner Roland Duchatelet. The electronics tycoon is running Charlton as part of a “network” of clubs led by Belgium’s Standard Liege, whose former head coach Guy Luzon has now turned up in charge at The Valley.

The club’s supporters’ trust is holding a public meeting tomorrow night at the Woolwich Grand Theatre so fans can air their views.

Meanwhile, it’s unlikely to end 7-6 this time, but tickets for Charlton’s match against Huddersfield Town on 28 February – which sees the return of former manager Chris Powell – have been reduced to just £5 each across the ground. Tickets can be bought from the ground or by calling 03330 144 444.

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