Rival petitions do battle over Charlton skate park scheme

The skate park site in Charlton Park

The site of the planned skate park in Charlton Park is just to the right of here

Two rival petitions have been doing the rounds for a few weeks over the plans to build a skate park in Charlton Park. Let’s check in and see how they’re doing…

FOR: Show your support for the proposed skate park in Charlton Park: “As local parents, we think Charlton should embrace the exciting idea of having a skate park on its doorstep. The skate park has potential to be great fun for local children, teenagers, and adults as well as encouraging fitness and bringing together people of all ages.”605 supporters.

AGAINST: Skateboard Area: Consult Park Users Before Putting it in Charlton Park:“Local residents view Charlton Park as an oasis of calm at the community’s heart. This is threatened if we don’t do something soon about Greenwich Council’s plans for our Charlton Park to be the site of a skateboard area.”28 supporters.

A slam-dunk for the pro-skate park camp? Well, not quite, as the anti-skatepark lobby, which has adopted the name Friends of Charlton Park, has also been door-knocking in the Charlton Lane area. Looking at the “Friends” website, it all feels a bit like a re-run of the NOGOE campaign against the Olympics in Greenwich Park, where a handful of people generated a huge petition by telling visitors the old park would be destroyed by having horses run around it.

Charlton Park is an understated gem, but as one of the area’s best-known venues for Sunday football and other sports, it’s not exactly as tranquil as the petitioners claim it is.

Done properly, a skate park could be an enormous asset. But getting it done properly is the problem. And that doesn’t seem to be happening so far. The one thing both sides agree on is the lamentable lack of consultation by Greenwich Council on the scheme.

Link a skate park in with Charlton Athletic FC, the Charlton Park mini-gym and sports pitches, Meridian Sports Club (with Bridon Ropes FC and Meridian FC), Charlton Lido and the BMX track, plus Blackheath rugby club down the road, there’s potential for a real community built around sport and exercise.

But instead the whole skate park has been treated like a piece of dirt that has to be got off Berkeley Homes’ doorstep in Woolwich, and shoved up the road. Indeed, the council’s attitude to skaters is revealing – associated with the skate park is a plan for a bylaw to ban skateboarding in Woolwich’s General Gordon Square and other open spaces. If Greenwich Council is treating skateboarders in one part of its jurisdiction as criminals, it only has itself to blame if people in a neighbouring area become alarmed at their arrival.

Much of this taps into a wider, deeper malaise in how Greenwich Council relates to its residents that I normally write about elsewhere. But for now the Charlton Champion is considering joining in the petition fun. Titles under consideration include “Dear local councillors – why don’t you tell us what you’re doing about the proposals?”, “How about moving the Ed Stone up the hill from the Thames Barrier industrial estate to the skate park so we can all enjoy it?” and “We’d love a skate park in Charlton Park, but how about one in Eltham Park South too, so the council leader can have one at the end of her road?”.

But so far, the front-runner is: “We’re not that bothered about a skate park in our lovely sunny park, but if you’re going to do it, you’d better do it properly or we’ll hunt you down and build a rubbish one in your front garden, and then fill it with old people complaining about how young people are terrible.” What do you reckon?

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Valley House: ‘Poor doors’ lead to decision on controversial nine-storey block being deferred

A CGI from architects Chassay & Last.

A CGI from architects Chassay & Last. “Affordable” housing entrance not shown.

Greenwich councillors deferred a decision on controversial plans for a nine-storey block of flats on Woolwich Road at a meeting last night.

The Charlton Champion wasn’t at the meeting, but understands from those that were there that the decision to defer a decision was made because of plans to include “poor doors” – a separate entrance for residents living in the block’s “affordable” housing elements.

The block, at the junction of Gallions Road, is due to replace Valley House, a former council building and headquarters of Sykes Pumps, and sits opposite the Sainsbury’s/M&S development.

Just 18.9% of the accommodation was slated to be affordable, with all other residents able to use the building’s main entrance.

Three local groups – the Charlton Society, the Charlton Central Residents Association and the Greenwich Conservation Group – had objected to the building’s height.

From The Murky Depths puts the case for building high on the Woolwich Road here, as well as discussing a plan for more car parking on Bugsbys Way that was thrown out by councillors last week.

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‘The Essence of Love’ – latest production from The Alexandra Players

News of The Alexandra Players’ latest production:


By Philip Ayckbourn; directed by Janet Denne

Thursday 28th, Friday 29th & Saturday 30th May 2015 – 8.00pm. Doors open 30 minutes before curtain up. The Alexandra Hall, Bramshot Avenue, SE7 7HY

A mother and her daughter; a father and his son find themselves on neighbouring hotel terraces in Marrakesh. Add in a local trader with something very potent up his sleeve, all kinds of mayhem ensue! A lively comedy-farce that takes a wry look at the madness of infatuation and what remains when passions have run their course.

Seats cost £9.00 each (£8.00 for concessions) and can be reserved online here, by texting the box office on 07867 627 987 or by sending an email to alexandraplayers@gmail.com.

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Weekend night buses for route 486, but cut planned for the N1

London Central VWL37 on N1
Charlton’s late-night stop-outs are set to get a weekend night service on bus route 486 when the Night Tube service starts this September, according to plans unveiled by Transport for London yesterday.

But weekend users of the existing N1 service face seeing their service cut from three buses an hour to just two, if TfL’s current scheme goes ahead.

TfL is altering the night bus network so it complements the Night Tube, which is due to begin on 12 September.

At least six trains per hour will run in the small hours of Saturday and Sunday mornings across the Jubilee Line, with night services introduced on routes 132 and 486 to serve passengers at North Greenwich alongside current 24-hour routes 108, 188 and 472.

The 486 will get a half-hourly service across its full route through Greenwich Millennium Village, Charlton, Shooters Hill and out to Bexleyheath.

But route N1, the existing night service linking Tottenham Court Road with Deptford, Greenwich, Charlton, Woolwich, Plumstead and Thamesmead, will be less frequent at weekends.

It currently runs two buses an hour on weeknights and three at weekends. This will drop to two under the plan, which also sees it run via Evelyn Street in Deptford rather than serving the Pepys Estate, which gets a new N199 service.

Presumably TfL feels fewer people will use the N1 once the Night Tube begins, but the bus still picks up large numbers of people outside the West End, particularly at Elephant and Castle. The cut also penalises shift workers who will still depend on the service running in the other direction.

There are no changes planned to the area’s other night routes, the 24-hour 53 to Plumstead and the N89 to Erith.

One trick that Transport for London may have missed is in route 132, which is due to run fast via the Blackwall Tunnel approach to the Sun-in-the-Sands roundabout – as it does during the day – rather than via Westcombe Hill and Blackheath Standard, which would make it more useful to many passengers from Charlton and Blackheath.

To see the full proposals and to comment, visit Transport for London’s website.

Photo: London Central VWL37 on N1 – © John King

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70 firefighters battle blaze at Charlton Sainsbury’s depot

People living near the Sainsbury’s depot in Lombard Wall, Charlton, were told to close their doors and windows after a fire sent smoke billowing across the area.

The fire followed explosions that were heard across the area, and the resulting smoke could reportedly be seen as far away as Twickenham.

At its peak, London Fire Brigade said 70 firefighters were battling the blaze, has set part of the warehouse and six lorries alight.

The Charlton Champion‘s Matt Clinch at the scene reports that the fire is thought to have started on a truck in the loading bay, and that everyone in the depot has been accounted for.

Bugsby’s Way remains closed with traffic diverted down Gallions Road, past the supermarket giant’s as-yet-unopened new store. Buses are being delayed by 20 minutes, Transport for London reports.

From London Fire Brigade:

Station Manager Bruce Grain who is at the scene, said: “The fire is affecting six lorries and part of the warehouse which measures 150m by 70m. Local road closures are in place and motorists are advised to avoid the area.”

The fire is not causing any impact on flights to and from nearby London City Airport.

The Brigade was called at 1608. Crews from Greenwich, East Greenwich, New Cross, Deptford, Plumstead, Lee Green, Poplar and Shadwell fire stations are at the scene. The cause of the fire is not known at this stage.

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Cheerio to the Charlton Mercury

The Charlton Mercury: Closed after just 19 months

The Charlton Mercury: Closed after just 19 months

Charlton lost its very own local newspaper last week, but did you even know it existed? The Charlton Mercury, founded out of the existing Mercury title, has published its final edition after just 19 months in existence.

The paper launched in September 2013 as part of a move by its parent company, Tindle Newspapers, to produce ultra-local editions across London. The firm had already started producing area-specific editions of the South London Press, and the Charlton paper joined a Blackheath edition and one for “Greenwich Town”.

Essentially, the papers shared the same content apart from a different front page and a couple of different inside pages per area. All three papers have now been replaced once again by the free Greenwich Mercury – although that paper is a far cry from the one that dominated the local news market in this area in the 1980s and 1990s.

Company founder Sir Ray Tindle – who fiercely believes in the power of newsprint over digital journalism – said at the time the ultra-local papers had “reversed the [downward] circulation trend and added substantially to local revenues”.

The strategy to split the Mercury looked crackers at the time, and has clearly bombed. None of the ultra-local papers were delivered through letter boxes, and very little content was put online – they were sold through newsagents for 30p, a risky strategy in an area which hasn’t had a paid-for local newspaper since the Kentish Independent folded in 1984.

Save for some cheap-looking A4 ads in newsagent windows, they weren’t advertised. And Tindle didn’t invest in staffing, so producing the extra papers was just an extra burden on an already-skeleton staff (a reporting staff of one – Greenwich reporter Mandy Little). And the strain occasionally showed – the final Blackheath edition had simply given up and splashed on a story about something in Brockley.

But the Charlton version, on the whole, wasn’t bad at all – there were enough local groups such as the Charlton Society, the Charlton Central Residents Association, the Big Red Bus Club and others who were able to supply stories. Which is, frankly, miraculous, because Charlton is a very quiet news patch – if I was starting an ultra-local paper, I’d try Woolwich or Eltham.

Charlton Live: The News Shopper's short-lived attempt at a local site

Charlton Live: The News Shopper’s short-lived attempt at a local site

So why choose Charlton? I wonder if the existence of the Charlton Champion had something to do with it – perhaps some bright spark piped up “Greenwich Phantom, Blackheath Bugle, Charlton Champion – let’s go into those areas, they must be busy”.

Indeed, in 2011 the News Shopper toyed with launching a local site for Charlton called Charlton Live (pictured above), but then decided not to bother going through with it, presumably after seeing how quiet a news patch SE7 is. Out of all the areas the Shopper covers, I wonder why it picked here?

Sadly, the Shopper is also losing jobs and is moving to Sutton (making the Mercury’s Streatham base look local), which is another hammer blow for journalism in south-east London. It’s another story for another place but in this particular area, the existence of council weekly Greenwich Time, which undercuts rivals’ ad rates, continues to be a real problem for publishers.

Priceless: Me and the newsagent settled on 30p for this Greenwich Mercury

Priceless: Me and the newsagent settled on 30p for this Greenwich Mercury

But then again, I’m not sure the local press owners really understand what they’re doing, other than desperately trying bleed their titles for every last penny of profit. Axing the Charlton, Blackheath and “Greenwich Town” titles isn’t meaning the Mercury team can concentrate on a really good borough-wide Mercury.

In fact, it’s the opposite – they’re now producing free editions for Woolwich, Plumstead, Abbey Wood & Thamesmead and Catford.

As for Charlton, we’re left with a Greenwich Mercury that’s not delivered through letterboxes. Instead, you have to hunt it down in a newsagent. Last week, I found a Greenwich Mercury in the third newsagent I went into.

When I went to pay, I noticed there was no cover price and no bar code. With business genius like that, it’s time to start praying for future of the Mercury.

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Fix the 53: Charlton Society launches petition to restore full bus service to Whitehall

A 53 to Lambeth North
If you use buses regularly, you’ll have noticed January’s sudden cut to route 53 caused by roadworks by Westminster Bridge. The service stopped running the full length of its route to Whitehall, depriving many local workers, from cleaners to civil servants, of their usual route to central London.

The diggers have moved away from Bridge Street, but initial dates for the restoration of service in March and then April have been missed. Transport for London blames new works at the Elephant & Castle for continuing to stop the service at Lambeth North. However, no other bus through the Elephant is suffering such a severe cut in service.

Now the Charlton Society (declaration of interest: I’m on its committee) has launched a petition to get the route back to is full strength once again. To sign it, visit Change.org.

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