Dirty Charlton: Councillors to discuss Greenwich’s struggling street cleaning service

Flytipping

Street dumping off the Woolwich Road – a regular hotspot not covered by the “taskforce”

Noticed any changes in how clean your street is? Changes in Greenwich Council’s street cleaning services are being discussed by a panel of councillors on Tuesday – with a special focus on Charlton.

Internal changes in how the service is run means streets are now – apparently – swept on the same day as rubbish and recycling are collected. For most of Charlton, that will mean Monday, although for some streets towards Maryon Park this is Thursday.

Councillors on the Community Safety and Environment Panel will be reviewing the progress of the new arrangements at Woolwich Town Hall on Tuesday evening.

A report presented by council officers reveals cuts in funding have hit a service which already gets less cash per resident than neighbouring Lewisham and Southwark boroughs, with street cleaning services predicted to overspend by £1.6 million this year (or 8/10ths of a tall ships regatta).

It also claims that “perceptions that streets are not as clean as they have been in the past” are just perceptions, as fewer people are contacting the council to complain – although in August, Greenwich borough failed more than one in ten inspections of street detritus.

A separate report admits there have been specific problems in Charlton – but not all streets are getting the attention needed to deal with the issue.

Earlier this year, part of Plumstead got an “environmental taskforce” to deal with flytipping and other issues. The approach, the report says, “proved successful”, so has resulted in similar teams “being deployed in the Charlton area following a meeting with the Charlton Church Residents Association [sic] in December 2015″.

Taskforce area

The taskforce area. Almost all the Charlton Central Residents Association patch (west of Charlton Church Lane) is covered, along with Floyd Road, once notorious for flytips

So, if you live in the area covered by Charlton Central Residents Association – along with a stretch of Charlton Church Lane, Floyd Road and the Valley Grove Estate – you should be getting extra street cleaning and prompt attention to flytipping.

The report says: “The introduction of the Charlton Taskforce has improved the public realm, especially around the Charlton station area where litter was a particularly problem [sic] and in the vicinity of Charlton Athletic FC, where street cleansing operations are now more effectively co-ordinated to coincide with home game fixture timings.”

However, it appears the rest of the area is still being neglected – something highlighted by Greenwich’s annual struggle to deal with autumn leaf fall.

Victoria Way, 12 November

These leaves were actually taken away – but it was Victoria Way’s first sweep for many weeks

I’ve heard anecdotal reports of streets not being swept for weeks on end – and there’s certainly evidence of leaves being left in piles and abandoned on Charlton Road and elsewhere rather than being bagged and taken away.

Unfortunately, dealing with Greenwich’s street services teams can be like a war of attrition.

After a Greenwich councillor claimed streets were being swept on Mondays, I thought I’d take some photos…

Wellington Gardens (left) and Victoria Way (right), Sunday 30 October

Wellington Gardens (left) and Victoria Way (right), Sunday 30 October

On Sunday 30 October, I took some pictures ahead of the supposed Monday sweep. Left is Wellington Gardens (in the area covered by the taskforce), right is Victoria Way.

Wellington Gardens (left) and Victoria Way (right)

Wellington Gardens (left) and Victoria Way (right), Wednesday 2 November

On Wednesday 2 November, I returned. And guess what? The street covered by the taskforce had been swept. Victoria Way had been ignored. I later found a bag of leaves had been abandoned further down Victoria Way – it appeared a council cleaner had just walked off the job and left it there.

But even after presenting these photos to local councillor Gary Parker, who then pressed officers and senior councillors to act, it took Greenwich Council 10 days to bother sweeping the leaves off Victoria Way – and that was only after I copied local MP Matthew Pennycook into a follow-up complaint. There was no response to me from any of the council officers involved, although it was noticeable that neighbouring streets were ignored.

Victoria Way

Three separate reports of this bent lamp post have been sent to Greenwich Council – but nobody has taken action

While the council is to be applauded for using the FixMyStreet system, it clearly isn’t using it properly – three separate reports of a dangerously bent lamp post on Victoria Way have been filed since last Thursday; nobody has acted on them at the time of publishing.

It’s also clear that council staff aren’t encouraged to report street issues themselves, as they are in Lewisham – refuse teams will have passed that bent lamp post three times on Monday.

Fix My Street map

This map of live Fix My Street reports shows how the taskforce does not address areas such as Victoria Way, Charlton Lane and Gallon Close. A further hotspot, around Marlborough Lane/Canberra Road, is not on this map.

FixMyStreet also reveals reports that anyone with a basic knowledge of the area will know have been simply ignored. They’ve been filed, but not carried out.

If the councillors take their job seriously, they should be looking at the map of complaints. And if council officers are recording a drop in complaints, it may be because people have lost confidence in the council’s ability to respond.


“Leaves and litter piling up at the beginning Canberra Rd, junction with Marlborough Lane and Charlton Road”
(28 October)

“Rubbish needs sweeping up. Lots of paper rubbish and tree rubbish needs clearing up – it’s not been done for a few weeks.” (Marlborough Lane, 22 August)

“The top section of Victoria Way beside the shops has been getting more and more littered over the past few months. As well as being unsightly, it is encouraging or at least condoning littering in the area. Yesterday, I had to ask someone to pick their litter up when I saw them dropping crisp packets right on the pavement.” (15 August)

“This road has not been swept in months, leaves are now a major issue, causing blocked drains and dangerous conditions for pedestrians walking down Charlton Lane” (10 November)

“After 2+ months this side of the road on Bramhope Lane still hasn’t been swept.” (6 October)

It goes on. There are also numerous reports of flytipping in Charlton Lane and at the Woolwich Road end of Victoria Way, as well as Gallon Close – another reminder that the “taskforce” appears to be far too narrow in scope, and perhaps has been partly influenced by lobbying rather than data.

Has the taskforce worked for you? Did you even notice any difference? Please share your experiences below.

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Talking tower blocks: More Charlton Conversations about riverside plans

Anchor & Hope Lane development site
There are three public exhibitions this week from developer Rockwell, which is looking to kickstart the Charlton Riverside redevelopment by building on land off Anchor & Hope Lane.

An earlier exhibition, held in September, was pretty light in information – contrasting with off-stage grumbles that Rockwell was planning to build a large tower block (specific grumbles have placed the towers at anything between 23 and 27 storeys).

You can see the information boards here, there’s a consultation report here, and there’s a box ticked here: ☑

Now there’s a new exhibition of Final Proposals – that was quick, wasn’t it? It’s not in Charlton, it’s down at Greenwich Yacht Club on Wednesday 23rd November (4pm-8pm), Thursday 24th November (6.30pm-9pm) and Sunday 27th November (10am-4pm). There’s (not a lot) more at charltonconversations.com. (Update: Wednesday’s session has been cancelled.)

There’s still no sign of Greenwich Council bothering to release its latest masterplan for the area – the old one envisaged a “garden city”-style set of low-rise developments for the Charlton riverside. Presumably it’s hoping to let the developers take the flak for proposing tower blocks before releasing a document that encourages tower blocks.

Rockwell is familiar with Greenwich Council, with founder Donal Mulryan behind the original version of the Enderby Wharf cruise terminal and flats development in east Greenwich.

Of course, London has a housing crisis and not much space, so one answer is to build up. Whether a spot overlooking Atlas Gardens and Derrick Gardens is the right place to do it is another question. There’s an honest debate to be had and this proposal is likely to face opposition. Hopefully those who challenge these plans will be as open and honest as they would wish the developers (and council) to be, rather than indulging in the sniping from the shadows that has characterised past planning rows in this area.

The next stage of the Anchor & Hope Lane scheme follows the announcement by U+I and Galliard Homes of plans to redevelop the Westminster Industrial Estate, on the Charlton/Woolwich border, as a “creative style urban quarter for London”.

Lead developer U+I is currently finishing off the Deptford Market Yard/Deptford Project retail and residential scheme by Deptford station, it is also behind the Movement in west Greenwich, the Cross Quarter scheme at Abbey Wood and Telegraph Works off Blackwall Lane in Greenwich.

Galliard, which recently won planning permission to redevelop the Ogilby flats in Wellngton Street, Woolwich, is a client of lobbying company Cratus Communications, whose deputy chairman is former Greenwich Council leader Chris Roberts.

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‘Friends of Charlton Lido: Let’s get started!’

Charlton Lido's heated 50m pool at night

Charlton Lido’s heated 50m pool at night

Charlton Champion reader Rosemary Leeke has been in touch with plans to start a user group for Charlton Lido:

“Back in the autumn of 2013, a group of committed Lido swimmers held an initial meeting to discuss setting up a user group under the banner Friends of Charlton Lido; lots more expressed an interest but weren’t able to attend the meeting. 

“The consensus, both of those who attended the meeting and of those responding via the Charlton Champion website, was that a group would be beneficial.  However, at that time there weren’t enough people able to commit to getting it off the ground, and there was a hope that the full reopening of the Lido with the new gym and café would increase usage and address many of the concerns that were being expressed at the time.

“Three years on it is clear that many of the same issues still continue to surface on a regular basis, so perhaps the time is now right to return to the proposal of establishing a Friends group to try to find a constructive way of tackling these.  Informal conversations in the pool and the changing rooms suggest that lots of regulars would support the idea – so let’s try and make it happen!”

To find out more or to get involved, visit friendsofcharltonlido.co.uk or email charlton.friends.lido [at] gmail.com.

 

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Shop at Tesco? Here’s how to help the Maryon Park Community Garden

Maryon Park Community Garden

What you’ll find inside Maryon Park’s community garden…

The team behind Maryon Park Community Garden have been in touch….

The Maryon Park Community Garden has been nominated for a Tesco Bags of Help grant to upgrade the garden fencing and gates.

We may receive £8K, £10K or £12K depending upon a vote in local Tesco stores.

Voting starts on Monday 31st October and lasts until Sunday 13th November.

If you would like to support the work of the Community Garden, please vote for us at one of these participating stores.

Woolwich Extra; Peninsula Square, Greenwich; Trafalgar Road, Greenwich; Blackheath Road, Greenwich; Creek Road, Deptford; Eltham High Street; Well Hall Road, Eltham; Clifton’s Roundabout, Lee; Lakedale Road, Plumstead; Major Draper Square, Woolwich; The Reach, Thamesmead.

You will receive a voting token with every Tesco transaction. Please drop your token into the Maryon Park Community Garden in-store voting box.

Many Thanks – Tim and Edna

Chair and Secretary MPCG

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In pictures: Charlton and Coventry fans march together and launch pig protest

Fans United Protest - The Valley - October 2016

Saturday saw fans of Charlton Athletic and Coventry City march together to protest about the running of their clubs.

Charlton fans are angry at the stewardship of Roland Duchâtelet, who has not attended a match at The Valley in two years, and his chief executive Katrien Meire, which has seen the club go through seven managers, an exodus of experienced backroom staff and the team relegated to League One. Coventry fans face losing their ground for a second time under the ownership of a mysterious hedge fund, Sisu.

These fans were packing a surprise – thousands of plastic pigs rained upon the pitch at kick-off, delaying the match by seven minutes and getting worldwide media attention.

Plastic Pig Protest at the Valley October 2016

Greenwich & Woolwich MP Matt Pennycook is writing to the Football League following a post-match incident where a fan was grabbed by the throat by a plain-clothes security guard after having protested with a North Korean flag during the match – a reference to Meire’s comments about not caring about the club’s history.

“Antagonism between supporters and club owners is [is] at worrying levels,” he tweeted.

The Charlton Champion‘s own Neil Clasper took these photos of the march. You can see more here.

Fans United Protest - The Valley - October 2016
Fans United Protest - The Valley - October 2016
Fans United Protest - The Valley - October 2016
Fans United Protest - The Valley - October 2016
Fans United Protest - The Valley - October 2016
Fans United Protest - The Valley - October 2016
Fans United Protest - The Valley - October 2016
Fans United Protest - The Valley - October 2016
Fans United Protest - The Valley - October 2016
Fans United Protest - The Valley - October 2016
Fans United Protest - The Valley - October 2016
Fans United Protest - The Valley - October 2016
Fans United Protest - The Valley - October 2016

You can find out more about the protests at the Coalition Against Roland Duchâtelet.

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Charlton’s Horn Fair returns this Sunday 

Charlton’s Horn Fairbanned for an excess of drunken behaviour in 1874 – is back for a second year in its new guise as a family-friendly, heritage-themed event run by Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust.

Taking place at Charlton House on Sunday October 16th from 10am-4pm, the event promises: “…a day for all ages. With activities from Stone Masonry by the Building Crafts College, plaster workshops from Philip Gaches, and our very own WWI Nurse Ivy and Devoted Frank. Amongst all the music and revelry of the day come along and enjoy our range of short talks, food and drink treats, and lots of children’s activities that are on offer”.

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Catch the train? Take the bus? Come to Transport for Charlton’s first meeting

A weekend train at Charlton: There'll be fewer of these over the next few months
The Charlton Rail Users Group, which has been dormant for a few years, has come alive again under a new name – Transport for Charlton.

It’s holding its first public meeting on Wednesday 12 October, at 6.30pm at Charlton Liberal Club. Representatives from Southeastern, Transport for London and other local campaign groups will be there.

The new group will be encompassing all forms of transport around the area – one of the things the group is likely to be campaigning for will be a better link to North Greenwich, by diverting the 472 so it serves the stop outside Charlton station.

The ongoing engineering works at London Bridge and Abbey Wood – and the lack of information about weekend closures – is also sure to be on the agenda. (Because Southastern can’t be botherd to announce this stuff, we keep a full diary here, currently up to Christmas.)

One piece of good transport news to note – the Night Tube will come to the Jubilee Line at North Greenwich from Friday night/Saturday morning. Trains will run all night at weekends, every 10 minutes, feeding into half-hourly all-night buses on the 108, 132, 188, 472 and 486.

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