Charltemon: What to watch out for as Pokemon Go comes to SE7

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Never mind the new cabinet, Brexit or whatever our new mayor’s up to, for some people the biggest news right now will be that Pokemon Go is available to download in the UK from today. You might not ever have attempted to catch imaginary monsters to train them to fight before – I certainly never had, here’s a handy introduction – but you will likely know someone who will be very keen to hit the streets of SE7, smartphone in hand, to collect as many creatures as possible.

In brief, Pokemon Go is an ‘augmented reality’ game: using the GPS tracker in your smartphone, you need to walk to pre-defined places in the real world to find things and meet goals in the game. We downloaded the free app, took a walk, and found that Charlton has its share of monsters and other landmarks.

You might have younger kids who want to play but you’re concerned about letting them loose on their own – the NSPCC has concerns about the game being played by unaccompanied children, for example.

We thought it might be helpful if you could decide a bit more about what the game entails before you make decisions about your kids playing, so we had half an hour’s wander around the Village, Charlton Park and Charlton Church Lane, and this map (obvious spoilers there for older Pokemon trainers) shows what we found.

There are a couple of things for Charlton parents and players to be wary of: one Pokemon gym can be found at the rope sculpture on the corner of Woolwich Road and Anchor & Hope Lane, next to the busiest road crossing in Charlton.  

When I was wandering around there were a couple of Pokemon to be found on a private road near Charlton Park, and I really didn’t feel comfortable loitering near a block of flats doing something that looked like I might be taking photos with my phone so I had to let those ones go.

On the other hand, if you do decide to make a family outing out of a monster hunt, it might be useful to know that the White Swan is a Pokestop.

Have you played it? Have you found other things to be found around here that you can share with the rest of us? Is there a Pokemon Gym outside your front door? Let us know in the comments.

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Charlton Village Conservation Area: There’s still time to have your say

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Charlton Assembly Rooms: recommended for national listing

Have you seen Greenwich Council’s recent proposals on Charlton’s conservation area?

If you haven’t commented on the council’s proposed changes to Charlton’s conservation area yet, there’s still time. The consultation closes at 5pm on Tuesday 5th May and is based on two documents that can be found here.  The first document is the Draft Character Appraisal, which is an easy and interesting read covering the architectural history and character of the area.

The authors argue that ‘countryside in the city’ is “one of the area’s most significant and defining characteristics” and that “the extent to which Charlton Village can accommodate further development – at least without significant compromise to its historic character – is probably limited”.

The risks to Charlton’s character identified are the loss of retail uses, unsympathetic extensions, redevelopment of historic properties, infill development and the loss and replacement of features.

The council go on to explain how they hope to manage the challenges of conservation in the Draft Management Strategy, which suggests it will:

  • Extend the current conservation area to cover properties at the top of Charlton Church Lane, properties in Lansdowne Lane and south west Hornfair Park, including the Lido
  • Restrict the colours and signage available to shops in The Village, and provide a design guide to be followed for future changes
  • Set a target of 50% of properties in The Village to be used for retail businesses
  • Put the Assembly rooms forward for national statutory listing
  • Add further properties to the local listing to give them some protection against future development:
    • properties on Charlton Church Lane, The Village and Lansdowne Lane
    • the east lodge in Charlton Park
    • The chapels in Charlton cemetery
    • Charlton Lido

The authors write that they considered extending the conservation area to include Maryon and Maryon Wilson Parks, the inter-war houses near Charlton Park, and the Victorian and Edwardian housing north east of Charlton Park and also to the north and north west of the Village. These proposals are not being taken forward: the parks have a sufficient degree of protection from various other measures, and the areas of housing don’t offer sufficient historic interest or rarity in the context of London.

Are these the right things for the council’s planning department to focus on? Do you agree that signs and paint should be more closely controlled in the village?  Should the conservation area be extended further?

We’re thrilled that the Lido will have another layer of protection against redevelopment: is there anywhere else in Charlton that should benefit from similar protection? Let us know in the comments below.

Do you have the broadband you need in Charlton? Greenwich Council would like to know

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Recent broadband speed test results for Charlton, taken from broadbandspeedchecker.co.uk

Keen readers of the council’s Greenwich Time paper will have spotted that this week’s front page story was about how the council has given permission for a start-up company to trial its grocery-delivering robots in Thamesmead. This is the latest announcement under its Smart City strategy, and the publicity has played heavily on futuristic self-driving cars and robots.

There’s a lot more to the Smart City strategy that the council published last year than that, though, which is worth a read if technology infrastructure and planning is your thing.  The document spends very little time talking about shopping robots and concentrates more on whether Greenwich borough will have the right digital infrastructure for the future, along with whether the council can make more use of open data and internet-enabled sensors on council premises.

You might have missed, meanwhile, that the council would like to know more about your experience of using broadband services in the borough.

There’s a survey here, open until April 23rd, and it’s probably in the long-term interests of anyone struggling with connectivity to fill it in so that the scale of any problems are known.

Back in 2013, we reported that Charlton was supposed to have London’s fastest broadband – is that still right? How is your internet connection? Do you run a business dependent on internet connection or work from home in Charlton and how do you get on? What would you tell the council about the digital future that it hasn’t asked?

 

The winter shelter at St Thomas’ Church, Charlton still needs you

IMG_2425If you’re a member of the congregation of St Luke’s or St Thomas’ churches, you’ll already know this, but it came as a surprise to some of us: there’s a winter shelter for homeless people in St Thomas’ hall, and still has another six weeks left to run.

The weather can be cruel at the start of the year and while you may see more campaigns around Christmas, the need for shelter is just as pressing now.

Seven churches across Greenwich borough take part in the night shelter project, run by volunteers, with each church opening their doors one night of the week.

St Thomas’, working together with the congregation of St Luke’s, welcomes its guests on Fridays. They arrive at 7pm, are offered showers and a hot meal, breakfast the next morning and a packed lunch to take with them. The hall can hold 15 people and most of these places are usually taken, with between 12 and 15 people normally sheltering for the night.  

Most guests are now regulars, and the volunteers have got to know them well.

We asked James Kinsella, a volunteer at the shelter, to describe the experience of running the shelter in one word, and he chose “humbling”.  

He says volunteers have found the project rewarding and that they have been made “more aware of the plight of the homeless in London”. James says his attitude to homeless people has changed:

I am more aware of the homeless that are on the street in this cold weather, and if I give them some money I don’t cast judgement on how they spend it: if I was out in this cold weather I may need some alcohol to numb the pain

Asked how he thought guests found the shelter, James says he hopes they have found the church hall “a very warm and welcoming place where they are treated with dignity and kindness”.

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If you’d like to support the valuable work that St Thomas’ Church is doing this winter, while there are enough volunteers, the team woud be very grateful for donations.

You can donate food to the shelter by leaving it at the church after 4pm on a Friday, or you can donate money.  The church has a good relationship with its local community and already receives a good amount of food, but it also needs to pay for heating, fresh food and lighting, so money is – if anything – more welcome.  

Cheques should be made out to St Thomas’ PCC and can also be dropped off at the church – the volunteers can give you a written acknowledgement of your donation if they know your name.

Hustings round-up – and how was it for you?

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The panel listens to a question from the audience at the Woolwich Riverside hustings.

The hustings for Charlton and Woolwich Riverside wards have come and gone, and there wasn’t one fist fight to report – barely even a cross word. A good amount of people turned out for both evenings, and those that stayed around to chat at the end seemed on both nights to think that the Charlton Society’s experiment in access to local democracy had been worthwhile. Discussions were civil – audience members had a chance to put to the candidates the local issues that were really bothering them, and candidates responded thoughtfully.

Questions put to the panels ranged widely across local topics: how to tackle youth crime, road safety, air quality, the council’s responsibility for public health and even the future of the Woolwich Ferry were all mentioned. Perhaps you couldn’t make it and you’d like to catch up? If you’re in Woolwich Riverside, and you’d like to find out:

  • why Labour’s Jackie Smith thought maybe one day Woolwich could be like Berlin,
  • which of the candidates had to admit to not having heard of Windrush School or
  • which of the candidates agree with rent control and landlord registration

there’s much much more detail to be found in this collection of recordings and tweets: Woolwich Riverside Hustings.

Or you’re in Charlton ward, and you’d like to know:

  • whose reaction to being shown around cycling infrastructure in the borough was ‘Christ, are these the good bits?’
  • who thinks that the treatment of Charlton House shows Charlton to be ‘an unwanted child’
  • or what the panel as a whole thought that councils should do with their new public health responsibilities

then, likewise, there’s much more for you to take in here:  Charlton Hustings.

In both meetings, one party’s candidates declined the invitation to appear: in Charlton, no Conservative candidates joined the meeting while in Woolwich Riverside none of the Liberal Democrat candidates appeared. In both cases, the Greenwich borough parties offered to send a substitute speaker, but the Charlton Society felt that the meetings would only keep their integrity as local hustings if only the candidates from that ward were on the panel.

It’s probably fair to say that many of the attendees were not entirely new to local politics, and in both meetings the hosts didn’t make a point of asking those submitting questions to declare interests or introduce themselves. It’s probably worth thinking about this for the next time we do something similar in Charlton. At both meetings, questions were asked by people active in party politics and the process might be more transparent if everybody knew who was asking what.

Did you go to one of the meetings? Were you happy with the way the candidates answered? Did you get out of the meeting what you hoped for? If you had anything to suggest to the organisers, what would it be? Let us know in the comments below.

UPDATE – 14th May

The organisers of the hustings meetings have been in touch to offer a correction:

To say “the Charlton Society felt that the meetings would only keep their integrity as local hustings if only the candidates from that ward were on the panel.”  isn’t accurate.

After it became clear that the three Riverside Lib Dems were unable to attend, the organisers went to some considerable effort to include Lib Dem candidates from the next door and nearby wards in the interests of providing as wide a range of views as possible on the night.  However, this was not considered acceptable by other attending candidates, and the organisers agreed that this was not an unreasonable position for them to take.  Consequently, it became impossible to reach a compromise with out-of-ward candidates from the Conservative party for the next night. The organisers were disappointed that in each case major parties were not represented during the discussions but hope that now a precedent has been set for running fair, well moderated and unbiased hustings events, all those seeking election for the future will be keen to attend and make their case in front of the voters.

Apologies to the Charlton Society for the initial error.

Meet the candidates: hustings for Charlton and Riverside wards

CharltonHustings_Poster_v4Local council elections will soon be upon us – they’re due to take place on the 22nd May – and now Charlton residents will have the opportunity to put questions to the candidates at two hustings for the Charlton and Riverside wards organised by the Charlton Society. Do you have questions for local candidates about how they’re going to make a difference in Charlton? Do you want to ask the parties what their priorities are?  This is your chance to make your voice heard.  All candidates for election have been invited to join the panel, and these events should be a good opportunity to understand more about the people that hope to represent us.  The Charlton Society write:

RiversideHustings_Poster_v2Please come along and hear what our prospective councillors have to say about the vital local issues facing our area in the next four years.

Each of the parties will make a brief opening statement, followed by questions from the floor.  These are free events supported by the Charlton Society and St Thomas Church.  All welcome.

  “These are the first ever Hustings to take place in Charlton and Woolwich Riverside.  We’re breaking new ground.  We anticipate that these will be two interesting and exciting evenings of debate on the future of our communities and the area we live in.  Charlton and Woolwich Riverside have an awful lot happening at the moment.  It’s an exciting place to be, with a great future if we get it right.”        Roden Richardson – Secretary, Charlton Society

Woolwich Riverside Ward Hustings – 7:30pm to 9pm on Sunday 11th May 2014 at St Thomas Church Hall, Woodland Terrace, SE7.

Charlton Hustings – 8pm to 9:30pm on Monday 12th May 2014 at Charlton House, SE7

Thinking of coming along? Going to give it a miss? Any thoughts on the format of the debate? Let us know in the comments below. You can also keep up with the Charlton Society on twitter (@TheCharltonSoc), and the Woolwich Riverside hustings has its own account there too (@RiversideWard14)

January’s dates for your diary

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13th-19th January, 12-8pm: There’ll be a week of open days at the new gym and lifestyle club facilities at Charlton Lido. You’re encouraged to have a look around, find out how the new development turned out, and there’ll be Better staff members available to answer your questions about membership. More information can be found at Better’s website.  The gym will be fully open for members the following week.

17th January, 1pm: The Bernadel Quartet – winners of the 2013 Royal Greenwich Intercollegiate String Quartet Competition – will be holding a free recital at Charlton House. The programme is: SCHUBERT Quartettsatz in Cminor D.703, PURCELL Fantasies (selection),  BRITTEN String Quartet No.3 Op.94

19th January, 2.30pm:  Meeting of the Charlton Society at Charlton House – the speaker will be Diana Rimel, who was instrumental in saving the Assembly Rooms for Charlton.

20th January, 6.30pm: Second meeting of the Friends of Charlton Lido at Brew and Choo – everyone’s welcome. FoCL are still in the early stages of setting up their group and would love to see as many people there as possible.

21st January, 7.30pm: The Friends of the Pet Cemetery are holding their AGM at Minnie Bennett House, 164 Shooters Hill Road, SE3 8RW.  More information about their group and the meeting can be found at their Facebook page.

26th January, 8pm: Live music at Cattleya & Chu, with Gus Glen and other local musicians. 52 Charlton Church Lane, London, SE7 7AB

30th January, 7.30pm: A public meeting – NHS in Crisis – arranged by Lewisham and SE London NHS campaigners will be held in Charlton House. Speakers include Dr Jacky Davis, the co-founder of Keep Our NHS Public, and Teresa Pearce MP. Further details can be found here.

We’ve tried to round up the things we know about, but perhaps you know of something happening in Charlton that we haven’t listed above? If you’d like us to add anything, let us know – either in the comments below or you can mail me at nikki.coates[at]gmail.com.

PS. The Charlton Champion is now on Facebook – ‘like’ us here: https://www.facebook.com/CharltonChampion!