How can Greenwich Council help improve the area? Tell them at Charlton House on Tuesday

Rubbish in Victoria Way, Jul 2016

Junk at the top of Victoria Way – cleaning the streets is something the council has struggled with

Wednesday update: Did you go to this? Let us know in the comments below what you thought…

Most fair-minded observers would agree that Greenwich Council’s recent history of engagement with the public isn’t brilliant – the saga of the Charlton skatepark, a potentially good thing but made more difficult because it was imposed on people without discussion, being the perfect example.

We’ve tried to do our bit to improve matters here by carrying updates from Charlton councillor Gary Parker. Now the council’s holding public meetings – the first for about a decade – in parts of the borough to get views on local areas and how they could be improved.

They’re called Better Together, and the Woolwich & Charlton event is on Tuesday 20 September at Charlton House. If you’re around during the day, you can come to drop-in sessions from 2-6pm, and there’s a formal meeting from 7pm to 8.30pm. You don’t need to sign up in advance.

The meeting covers most of Charlton as well as Woolwich – Charlton, Kidbrooke with Hornfair, Woolwich Common and Woolwich Riverside wards. (An event covering Peninsula ward was held on Monday in Greenwich.)

What to bring up? Current gripes include the state of the streets from litter – in November, a council scrutiny panel will discuss “particular challenges in maintaining the state of the environment in Plumstead and Charlton” – to general maintenance, it could be road safety (have the 20mph zones worked?), reviving the fortunes of Charlton Village or fathoming out what the hell is going on at Charlton Lido.

Of course, the council can’t do everything – but raising an issue here might start a ball rolling.

If you can’t make it, you can always fill in this survey on the council’s website.

Posted in Charlton, Charlton news | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Cllr Gary Parker’s Charlton ward update: September 2016

Charlton ward map

What do your local councillors do for you? Charlton ward councillor Gary Parker explains what he’s been up to in recent months.

This report details some of the activities I have been involved in as a councillor in the Charlton area. It does not include surgeries or case work, which is significant.

Charlton community

    • I attended a Greenwich University event on workers’ cooperatives and social enterprises in June. I am keen to promote more activity in this area linked to these structures.
    • Attended and spoke at two meetings on the EU Referendum at Greenwich University and Charlton House, I strongly supported the Remain campaign.
    • I was the main guest speaker at the Big Red Bus Club AGM in Charlton at the end of May.
    • I met co-councillors to review ward budget applications. Several have already been authorised including Thorntree School PTA and Greenwich Foodbank.
    • Met a Nepalese community group to discuss some of their concerns.
    • Held a meeting with Greenwich Carers at their centre in Charlton about a range of issues, in June – this is a great local facility and should be supported.
    • Held discussions with local groups and individuals on a range of planning issues and made submissions on various other planning issues, met with planning officers on some of these issues too.
    • Held discussions on the planned skateboard park with pro and anti- lobby groups and individuals during June to August 2016. (Charlton Champion note: Planners will come to a final decision on this on Wednesday evening.)


  • Met cabinet member Cllr Sizwe James to discuss support for small businesses in the area and in the wider Greenwich area.


  • Attended all surgeries on a rota basis with other colleagues in the last quarter.
  • Attended full council meetings on June 29th and July 27th.
  • Attended Regeneration Scrutiny panel meeting on 21st July and raised issues relating to planning and development.
  • Chaired Council Scrutiny Community Safety and Environment panel on 20th June and 28th July.
  • We are going to have a review of Parks and Open Spaces policy and issue in the Royal Borough of Greenwich at a special meeting of the Community Safety and Environment panel in January 2017, this is open to the public. We are particularly wanting to hear from young people on these issues, please contact me for further details. I met council officers to discuss the format of the meeting in August.

Other meetings and discussions

  • Charlton Riverside stakeholders’ forum – in June 2016 at Charlton House to discuss issues related to the 30-year development programme. This is a public meeting and further meetings will take place in due course.
  • Affordable Homes working group – attended on 7th July, this was a joint meeting of council scrutiny panels who are looking at this issue.
  • Met with chief executive of Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust to brief her on how to generate external funding for the trust and other potential income generation opportunities, in August.
  • I have been in contact with Charlton Community Gardens in August, about their Orchard project, I really like this group, which is a fantastic volunteer led project that I and others are trying to support.
  • Held preliminary discussions in August on the forthcoming launch of the new Transport For Charlton group, which is emerging from the old Charlton Rail User Group (CRUG), which wants to focus on other modes of transport too, include buses, road, rail and cycling. More details soon.

If you want to contact Gary Parker or any Greenwich councillor, find their details on the Greenwich Council website.

Posted in Charlton | 1 Comment

Open Day at Maryon Park Community Organic Food Growing Garden – this Saturday

News in of a community garden event this Saturday in Maryon Park:

Capital Growth’s Urban Harvest on Saturday 17th September 2016

10.00 am – 6.00 pm

Urban Harvest

Community food growing gardens across the capital will be open throughout Saturday 17th September 2016, to welcome in visitors and volunteers to take part in free garden activities and workshops.

Maryon Park Community Garden Open Day

Get a taste of London’s edible gardens by dropping in to Maryon Park Community Garden in Charlton, one of Capital Growth’s flagship gardens, from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm

Capital Growth

Capital Growth is London’s largest food growing network, with over 2,000 gardens throughout the city.

Community Garden Open Day Activities

At the Maryon Park Community Garden activities include:

  • Tours of the Garden and Forest School.
  • Activities for children: Making lavender bags and bird feeders.
  • New volunteers can meet the team
  • Pizza Oven fired up from 12 noon, bring your own dough and toppings
  • Refreshments: Organic teas & coffee, cake and herb teas
  • Fundraising activities: Plant Sale, A Bric-a-Brac Stall, Community Garden Shop


In the Community Garden Forest School there will be free Outdoor Art workshops at 1.00, 2.00 and 3.00 pm.

How to find the Garden

Enter Maryon Park from the main entrance in Maryon Road, follow the path past the park lodge and find the Community Garden at the end of the park perimeter fence. Look out for the bunting.

Garden Address

Maryon Park Community Garden, The Old Nursery, Maryon Park, Maryon Road, Charlton, SE7 8DH.

Posted in Charlton, Charlton news | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Charlton skate park gets go-ahead from Greenwich councillors

Charlton skate park site

The skate park will wrap around the outdoor gym

Charlton Park is all lined up to get its skate park after councillors backed the scheme at a planning meeting on Wednesday evening.

The new skate park is funded by £365,000 from Berkeley Homes, which is building on the site of an old facility at Royal Arsenal Gardens, Woolwich, and £15,000 from Greenwich Council.

Councillors on the borough’s planning board voted by 10-1 to endorse outline proposals for the scheme.

The meeting saw Denise Hyland – the only council leader in London to regularly sit on her borough’s main planning committee – withdraw after objectors pointed out she had voiced support for the scheme at a council meeting last year.

But councillors criticised objectors for stereotyping young people as troublemakers, and voiced the hope that the facility would help residents become fitter and more active.

Objectors had submitted a 50-page dossier of local newspaper reports focusing of allegations of anti-social behaviour at skateboard parks elsewhere in the UK, while one, John Tidy, said: “It’s the wrong design, and it’ll get covered in graffiti.”

One resident, Geoff Cooper, claimed wheelchair users were at risk of falling into the skate park, which will be dug out of ground behind the outdoor gym, meaning a tree will be felled and two table tennis tables will be moved. Another called skateboarding “a minority sport”, adding it would be “unfair that the majority of [park] users won’t want to use it”.

Two local councillors, Charlton ward’s Gary Parker and Kidbrooke with Hornfair David Stanley, backed the objectors, but on the surer ground of the facility’s management.

Parker said there was no management plan for the park, adding that Charlton Lido operator GLL was interested in being involved if the skate park was in nearby Hornfair Park.

Stanley said there was “no evidence of a proper noise assessment”, adding that there were already anti-social behaviour issues at the Canberra Road entrance to Charlton Park. He added that there were already many sporting facilities in Charlton and Kidbrooke and a better skatepark could be placed in the east of Greenwich borough “where there is more social deprivation”.

Former councillor Jim Gillman told the meeting: “If council officers look hard enough, they can find a more suitable place.”

But the skate park’s backers found support from Charlton ward councillor Miranda Williams and fellow cabinet member Jackie Smith, who said Charlton Park was the only site that fulfilled the criteria for a skate park, including accessibility by public transport.

“If there is anti-social behaviour we will deal with it. But there won’t be,” she said. “Skateboarders currently use General Gordon Square [in Woolwich] and there is no graffiti.”

skatepark plans

Andrew Donkin, who organised a petition in support of the skate park, said there would be no problems in a skate park that could not be solved. “It’s not like landing a man on the moon,” he added.

Local skateboard fan Kevin First explained how we was still riding a board at the age of 38. “It’s not just for teenagers,” he said, adding that a similar facility in Clissold Park, Stoke Newington was barely visible to the public. Another supporter said skateboarding had given him confidence that had helped him start his own business.

Stuart Hopper, of the Greenwich Skate Park Co-Op, said the park should help boost social integration, and that “oversight” – having plenty of people near it – would help it become a safer facility.

Planning decisions in Greenwich often fall on party lines, but Conservatives Matt Clare and Geoff Brighty also supported the scheme, with Brighty even suggesting he might try skateboarding after hearing evidence from older enthusiasts.

The only dissenter was planning chair Mark James, who objected to the effect on the Charlton Village conservation area.

Councillors backed the scheme with conditions including no construction work on Saturdays. But before that work can go ahead, the council’s agent will have to return to the planning board with more detailed proposals that meet those conditions.

If they are quick, the park could be in place next summer – it’s understood concrete skate parks can’t be built in winter, so the earliest work could start is next spring. But considering the glacial pace of this scheme, perhaps summer 2018 is more likely.

Charlton Champion comment: While Wednesday’s decision looks like bringing the saga to an end, the skate park battle has been dispiriting even by the low standards of Greenwich borough politics.

Few come out of this with any credit, except the council staff lumbered with polishing up the scheme, and the local parents and skateboard fans who have taken the idea and backed it.

A well-maintained facility would Charlton Park’s appeal. But the consultation-free choice of location raised eyebrows considering the council opened a BMX track in Hornfair Park only a few years back – with some suspecting Charlton Park was picked as a salvo in long-running squabbles in the local Labour establishment, with some of the council leadership’s fiercest internal critics living nearby.

Critics also suggest there is no overall strategy for the skatepark – or the park itself – and raise questions about its future funding. Essentially, Woolwich is losing a skate park because Berkeley Homes did not want it anywhere near its luxury homes, and gave the council money to build it elsewhere, albeit within three miles of Woolwich.

A recent Freedom of Information request revealed that there is just a £62,000 annual budget for all playgrounds and skate parks in the borough. There is no evidence of an plan to secure outside funding.

So it looks as if much of the onus for caring for the skate park will fall on those who use it. This may not be a bad thing – skate park fans are a resourceful and passionate bunch – but it helps if the council has a plan for how to incorporate the energy and talents of the park’s users.

But many critics over-stepped the mark with lurid claims that the skate park would increase crime, as they did at Wednesday’s meeting. Council staff rebutted these claims in a recent petition response – pointing out, as Miranda Williams did on Wednesday, there is evidence that they can be good for local communities. It all felt like the failed campaign to stop the Olympics coming to Greenwich Park.

Objectors were right to highlight council leader Denise Hyland’s role on the planning board – an issue which has been highlighted elsewhere and will continue to cause problems for the council. One exchange saw Hyland ask objector Frank Salmon: “Do I know you?”. “Yes, you abused me at a council meeting,” he responded.

But the sudden emergence of a Friends of Charlton Park group in response to the skatepark proposals was as disingenuous and cynical as anything to come out of the town hall. Charlton Park is an amazing but overlooked facility – it deserves better than being squabbled over by two equally cynical sides.

There’s also been a lack of leadership from local councillors – unwilling to publicly stand up the council leadership, or to bother selling the skateparks merits to local people until the day of the meeting itself. If councillors feel unable to speak publicly on a local issue in their own ward, this is not healthy.

We’ve no doubt that the skate park will be a success – just as the outdoor mini-gym has been. There’s certainly the demand from young people for sport in the park, as a look around Charlton Park at weekends would tell you.

But this could have been handled so much better. We hope those who want the skate park get the facility they want and deserve – and the politicians and their friends at Berkeley Homes step aside and allow skateboard users to take the plaudits when the opening day finally comes.

Posted in Charlton, Charlton news | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

Charlton Lido winter opening hours: Pool to close midweek from 1 October

Charlton Lido in the September sunshine.

***UPDATE 3rd OCTOBER 2016***

Friday morning sessions have now been reinstated until the end of October. The pool will be open 7am-12 noon.



***UPDATE 28th SEPTEMBER 2016***

A note has appeared on Charlton Lido’s website announcing changes to the new winter pool opening hours: the pool will now open on Tuesdays and close on Fridays.


Presumably they’ll be emailing members with the update at some point….Many thanks to the commenters on this post for alerting us to the change. We’ve also been told that there will be a customer forum held on October 18th; email invites are due to be sent on the 3rd of October.


Charlton lido swimmers’ hopes that a late summer heatwave would lead to extended winter opening hours have been dashed, with news that the pool will be completely closed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays until March.

The announcement on the centre’s website – yet to be communicated to members at the time of writing – says:

We hope you have enjoyed the summer and are planning to swim into the winter months. Unfortunately the colder months will be soon upon us. With this in mind we would like to introduce you to our winter programme which will operate from the 1st of October 2016 through until March 2017.

Monday 7am-12noon & 2pm-8pm

Tuesday – Thursday Closed

Friday 7am-12noon & 2pm-8pm

Weekends 9am-5pm

The programme has been carefully thought out taking into consideration last years trends in usage, customer feedback and facility feasibility. 

If you are an annual or monthly member here at Charlton Lido & Lifestyle Club you will shortly recieve[sic] an email to confirm the programme changes. This email will also outline alternative options available to our members over the winter months.

Last winter saw a reduction in opening hours, though not to the extent of closing the pool for three days a week, and by November had been extended to daily opening:

Monday: 7am-12pm

Tuesday: 7am-12pm & 2pm-8pm

Wednesday: 7am-12pm & 2pm-8pm

Thursday: 7am-12pm

Friday: 7am-12pm

Saturday & Sunday: 9am-3pm

It’s unclear why – after a presumably busier-than-usual summer, thanks to the good weather – it’s necessary to cut opening to this extent; GLL have held fewer customer forums this year than previously, and emails to members remain infrequent. Hopefully the email to members mentioned above will shed some more light.

In the meantime, enjoy midweek swimming while you can! Current pool hours are:

Monday: 6.30am-8pm

Tuesday-Friday: 7am-8pm

Saturday & Sunday: 7am-5pm

We recommend checking the timetable before visiting.

Thanks to Steve Toole on Twitter for alerting us to the new opening hours.

Posted in Charlton, Charlton Lido, Charlton news | Tagged , , | 35 Comments

Charlton faces having three MPs under boundary shake-up

Victoria Way polling station

Charlton could be represented by three different MPs under proposals to redraw parliamentary constituencies in England.

At present, most of the area is represented by Labour’s Matt Pennycook as part of Greenwich & Woolwich, with a small area to the south of Charlton Park – the area in the Kidbrooke with Hornfair ward – coming under Clive Efford’s Eltham constituency.

But new proposals from the Boundary Commission, aimed at reducing the number of MPs, see the Greenwich & Woolwich seat split up and Charlton divided even further.

Charlton proposed boundary map

Peninsula ward, which covers the area of SE7 north of the railway line and west of Ransom Walk, would go into a Greenwich & Deptford seat stretching to the New Cross, Brockley and Lee Green wards of Lewisham borough.

Meanwhile, Charlton ward itself, along with Woolwich Riverside, gets parcelled off into a “Woolwich” seat which includes the western half of Thamesmead, but reaches down into Bexleyheath (or, strictly speaking, the St Michael’s ward of Bexley borough).

Oddly, this seat splits Woolwich too, with the Woolwich Common ward joining Kidbrooke with Hornfair in an enlarged Eltham seat.

It’s hard to see the links between the two ends of the “Woolwich” seat, although bus users may note that it roughly follows the line of route 422.

Indus Road

Indus Road: Left side to be in “Woolwich”, right side stays in Eltham

But this isn’t the end of it – the proposals are going out to review and are likely to change. A previous set of proposals suggested splitting Charlton in a similar fashion, then complaints saw most of the area taken into an odd Eltham & Charlton seat before the whole idea was abandoned.

Furthermore, the council wards that these constituencies are built around are due to be redrawn after 2018 to take into account Greenwich borough’s population increases.

What does seem clear, though, is that boundary-drawers seem to be very keen to break the link between Charlton and Greenwich that has existed for well over a century.

You can see the proposals – and comment yourself- at

1.45pm update: You can try makig your own constituencies at

Posted in Charlton, Charlton news | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

What’s happening at Charlton House? Local councillor Gary Parker explains

Charlton House

Charlton ward councillor Gary Parker has sent us a report on what he’s been up to over the past few months. We’re presenting this in two parts – the first is about his work on the board of the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust, which runs Charlton House.

The Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust was formed in 2014 and I have been a board member since its inception. The special report below highlights the work myself, staff, volunteers and trustees have been involved with recently. The Trust launched a range of leaflets and promotional materials earlier this year, along with their new website where details of all events can be found at

You can also follow the Trust on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, join the mailing list, or sign up to the newsletter online for regular updates. Some recent projects include:

Here Come the Girls – The Heritage Lottery-funded project has been a great success this year. The project introduced Ivy the Nurse, Nell the Munitionette and May from the Progress Estate, 3 local women who share their stories of the First World War with the people of the borough.

Ivy was a Nurse at Charlton House, and the Family Fun Day there in the summer was a huge success. Charlton residents came to meet Nell, the rest of the nurses, and some wounded soldiers in a convalescence hospital recreated for the day. The project continues to tour the Borough with further events in Eltham and Woolwich before the end of September.

Making Woolwich – Generously supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Royal Artillery Museums Ltd, including the Friends of Firepower, this new gallery for the Greenwich Heritage Centre will tell the story of a Royal Artillery soldier from 1716-2016.

World Monuments Fund – The Trust’s work with the World Monuments Fund continues. Thanks to WMF funding, Donald Insall Associates have now completed the Condition Survey and Measured Drawings at Charlton House. Yale University Scholar, Lily Higgins, recently presented the findings of her research work over the summer to the Friends of Charlton House, Trustees and other invited guests. The Trust are now working on next steps toward a Heritage Lottery Fund application in partnership with the World Monuments Fund.

Other activities – The Trust delivered a programme of heritage events that continue throughout the year including Summer activities for children through August. London Open House takes place this year on Sunday 18 September, from 10am – 4pm supported by the Friends of Charlton House.

Your Devoted Frank is a dramatic performance inspired by First World War love letters found in a Plumstead home. The performance, first delivered for Valentine’s Day at Greenwich Heritage Centre, will come to Charlton House on Friday 11 November at7pm. Tickets are available from Charlton House for just £8.

I have been using my professional skills to advise the Trust on fundraising and how to generate income. I briefed Tracey Stringfellow, the CEO, on this recently and there are likely to be some new initiatives coming forward including a potential crowdfunding project – watch this space.

Charlton House continues to be a fantastic community resource and I am working with many others to improve and develop it.

The second part of Gary’s update will follow in a day or two. If you want to contact Gary Parker or any Greenwich councillor, find their details on the Greenwich Council website.

Posted in Charlton, Charlton House, Charlton news | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments