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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Charlton Road’s bridge barriers are coming down – but get set for disruption

Charlton Road, 15 February 2015
Work begins today on fixing the bridges that carries Charlton Road over the Blackwall Tunnel Southern Approach – but expect some disruption while work is carried out.

The bridge at Charlton Road was damaged following a collision in October 2013, in which a car veered off the carriageway and knocked some of the railings into the A102 below.

Nobody was injured, but following safety inspections the Charlton Road bridge and its sister structure on Old Dover Road, Blackheath, had temporary barriers put in place last spring while Transport for London figured out what to do.

Now, “stakeholders” (that is, neither me nor you) were told last Thursday that work begins tomorrow. We managed to get hold of this via the Greenwich Cyclists newsletter, so thought it only polite to pass it on.

Remarkably, even this notification of essential safety work is being spun to make it look as if it’s a big bonus; rather than TfL belatedly acknowledging that its 46-year-old bridges weren’t up to scratch.

The Charlton Road Bridge and Old Dover Road Bridge over the A102 have been identified for refurbishment in order to improve user road safety. Transport for London (TfL) have appointed EM Highway Services to carry out this work.

To ensure the safety of pedestrians and personnel who will be carrying out these works, traffic management measures will be put in place at both locations.

Why are we doing this work?

Temporary concrete barriers have been installed at both bridges following a collision at Charlton Road Bridge, which caused damage to the existing parapet. The objective of this scheme is to replace the damaged parapet at Charlton Road Bridge and upgrade the parapet at Old Dover Road Bridge to enable them to contain any errant vehicle. The new parapets will be similar in appearance to the old parapets but the height will be slightly increased to 1.4metres to improve safety for cylists. Once the works are completed, the existing temporary concrete barriers and fence will be removed.

The Road Modernisation Plan is the biggest investment for a generation consisting of hundreds of projects to transform junctions, bridges, tunnels and pedestrian areas. Working with London’s boroughs it will make our roads safer and more reliable, and London will be a better place in which to live, work and travel.

What times will the work take place?

The parapet replacement works are planned to begin on Monday 16 February 2015 for approximately 6 weeks or until the work is completed. The general working hours will be from 09:30 to 15:30, Mondays to Fridays. Works will take place on Charlton Road Bridge between 16 February and 13 March 2015 and on Old Dover Road Bridge between 9 March to 3 April 2015.

To facilitate the works to be carried out safely, the existing concrete barriers will be temporarily repositioned in the footway until the parapet replacement work is completed, at which point all the temporary barriers will be fully removed from site. The repositioning of the barriers will be carried out at night time between 22:00 and 05:00 on weekdays.

Temporary two-way traffic lights will be deployed at each of the two bridges as and when required during these works and localised pedestrian diversions will also be put in place while these works take place.

What we would like you to know

As with all works on the Transport for London Road Network, we must balance possible disruption to residents with disruption to traffic. Working these hours provides us with the best chance to complete these works safely and as quickly as possible whilst minimising disruption.

Keeping London moving

Transport for London is firmly committed to minimising disruption. We have worked closely with our contractor, EM Highway Services and the Royal Borough of Greenwich in order to reduce the impact of these works on road users, local residents and businesses as far as possible.

I hope you will appreciate that a certain level of disruption is inevitable, and I apologise in advance for any inconvenience that may be caused as a result of these essential works. Should you require further information or an update during the delivery of these works, please contact our Streets Customer Services department on 0343 222 1234, email customerservices@tfl.gov.uk or via the web at www.tfl.gov.uk/contact.

So get set for a few weeks of disruption while some rather precarious work is carried out on the bridges. But at least the ugly barriers are finally coming down…

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30 years ago: Greenwich councillor’s Thames Barrier buffet bother

Clips from Thames News, the ITV news programme for London from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, are being uploaded to YouTube by Fremantle Media, which owns the former broadcaster’s archive.

The cataloguing’s touch and go, and as ever with news about the capital, south-east London material is very thin on the ground – there’s some limited footage of the aftermath of a 1988 shooting at an abattoir in Shooters Hill, or the announcement of plans to extend the East London Line in 1989, 21 years before it actually happened. This clip about the Met Police’s annual report ends in a very 1980s Blackheath Village.

But the two best clips actually relate to Charlton. Above is footage of the Queen opening the Thames Barrier in 1984.

And here’s long-serving Greenwich councillor Jim Gillman complaining about the price of tea and coffee in the Thames Barrier’s cafe in June 1985.

Here, Gillman – who stepped down as Kidbrooke with Hornfair councillor last year – is seen telling reporter Marc Wadsworth how he doesn’t want to see people ripped off. Wonder what he makes of the prices now? Enjoy.

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Charlton ghost sign uncovers long-lost Arthur Cooper wine merchant

Bramshot Avenue
Work to convert a corner shop in Bramshot Avenue into a house has revealed a sign belonging to a long-gone chain of wine merchants.

The ghost sign reveals the old off-licence on the corner of Wyndcliff Road used to be part of the Arthur Cooper chain of wine merchants, which by the 1970s was a 300-strong chain of stores, mainly across southern England and south Wales.

Arthur Cooper wine merchant

Part of the Courage brewing giant, the name fell into disuse by the 1980s and the chain seems to have been all but forgotten about.

If you remember this as Arthur Cooper, it’d be great to hear your memories. You can still bid for some Arthur Cooper wine coasters on eBay…

(Thanks to Tweeter @CDPL1 for pointing me in the right direction on Arthur Cooper.)

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Charlton Toy Library’s Easter party – can you help?

Last year's Charlton Toy LIbrary Party

Diddi Dance providing the entertainment at last year’s Charlton Toy Library Easter Party in Charlton Assembly Rooms

Charlton Toy Library needs sponsors and donations to support its fundraising Easter Party. Can you – or your business – help?

Charlton Toy Library is a small, independent registered charity that has been running for over 30 years. It is based at Charlton House and provides a range of facilities to the local community including: a low cost borrowing service of toys, books, DVDs, CDs, baby safety equipment, dressing up clothes and games and puzzles and stay and play sessions three times a week from 9.30am – 12.30pm on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. It also offers advice, support and information on a wide range of child development and parenting skills.

Additionally the Toy Library runs an Outreach Programme which provides a much needed service in the local community, providing advice and support and taking clothes, books, toys and games to women’s refuges and four HomeStart groups in the area.

The aims and objectives of the Toy Library are two-fold: to provide child development and parenting support to disadvantaged families and a safe and welcoming environment for local families with young children to have access otherwise unaffordable toys, books and child safety equipment.

Charlton Toy Library does not receive any public funding and relies on the endeavours of a small team of tireless volunteers in order to continue to operate. We are currently planning a fundraising Easter Party for Saturday 21st March and are looking for local businesses who would be willing to sponsor or give donations in return for free publicity. To make the party a success we need the following:

  • Donations of £150 to cover venue hire
  • Children’s dance/music activities
  • Children’s craft activities
  • Cakes
  • Raffle prizes
  • Small chocolate eggs (bags of mini wrapped eggs or small wrapped eggs)
  • Small party bags (to fill with chocolate eggs)

As well as helping to raise much needed funds these are great community events enjoyed by up to 150 local parents and children. If you would be able to help Charlton Toy Library by providing any of the things listed above please contact Charlotte on 020 8315 0055 or via e-mail at charltontoylibrary@gmail.com.

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