Anti-cold calling campaign gets council ward budget funding

Inverine Road
Inverine Road is one of the streets covered by the scheme

A Charlton residents’ group is to launch an anti-cold calling campaign in its area after getting £740 from Greenwich Council’s ward budget scheme.

The Charlton Central Neighbourhood Watch plans to turn its area – 10 streets between Victoria Way and Charlton Church Lane, south of Charlton station – into a “no cold caller/rogue trader zone”, raising awareness among the 800 households who live in those roads.

“Every household will receive a door sticker to ward off unwelcome callers and signage will be put in the area to promote the campaign and to deter cold caller and rogue traders from operating in the area,” the council document outlining the scheme says.

Cold callers and scammers have long been a problem across the Charlton area. One Charlton Champion reader told us she was approached on her doorstep last week by a man falsely implying he was from consumer journalist Martin Lewis’s MoneySavingExpert.com – a website which never employs people to go door-knocking.

Other irritants have included charity cold callers, burglar alarm salespeople and scammers with sob stories about getting locked out of their homes.

You can download your own signs telling cold callers to clear off and get useful tips about dealing with all kinds of unsolicited sales calls at MoneySavingExpert.com.

The money for the campaign comes from the Charlton ward budget fund – get in touch with local councillors if you have an idea for a community scheme. (If you don’t know which ward you are in, check on the council website.)

The Charlton Society has also been given money from the fund – £1,620 to support its events programme. The society says it is hoping to attract more families to events and is “considering events which could increase the range of age within the membership”.

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It’s the Charlton Society AGM: ‘Tell us what you like about Charlton, and what you don’t’

Charlton House

A word from Charlton Society chair Carol Kenna…

Dear Charlton friends,

Please come and join us for the Charlton Society AGM this coming Saturday, October 17th in Charlton House, starting at 2.30pm.

Charlton has seen a lot of changes in the last year. Please come along to the AGM and tell us what you like about Charlton, and what you don’t. We’d love to have more members and more of you involved.

The past year has been a very busy one for the Society and largely unnoticed as our public face is rather like a handsome swan – calm above the water – for the Society a successful series of talks and paddling like crazy below – setting up sub-groups to facilitate an ever-burgeoning programme of work, setting up our website, encouraging new members and taking an active part with other local and borough-wide organisations keeping a careful eye on new developments either in Charlton or those which will have a major impact on Charlton.

Saturday will present an interesting programme in addition to the regular AGM business. The committee will present its past year to you and we hope that you will join us in discussing the progress made and what still needs to be done.

We will also have three guest speakers: Greenwich mayor Norman Adams will give a short presentation, Matthew Pennycook MP will be present and we look forward to his reflections on his early months in his new role. Finally Mark Hughes of AECOM consultants will be giving a short presentation on current progress with the Charlton Riverside Masterplan Phase 2 and their future programme of consultation.

It should be a busy and very interesting afternoon. Please join us for this important discussion, followed by a welcome cup of tea.

I hope you can join us on the 17th.

Kind Regards

Carol

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.

Meet the candidates: Charlton Society confirms general election hustings on 25 April

Greenwich and Woolwich candidates
Confirmed candidates so far (clockwise): Ryan Acty (Ukip), Abbey Akinoshun (Green), Lynne Chamberlain (TUSC), Matt Pennycook (Labour), Tom Holder (Lib Dems), Matt Hartley (Conservative)

With 7 May’s general election getting closer, the Charlton Society has confirmed it will be holding a hustings for the Greenwich & Woolwich constituency (which covers most of Charlton) at the Assembly Rooms, Charlton Village on 25 April at 2.30pm.

It’s open to all, and all six declared candidates have agreed to take part. They are:

Current MP Nick Raynsford is standing down after 23 years in the post. A full list of candidates won’t be known until after the nominations have closed on 9 April.

There are other hustings across the constituency, mostly aimed at special interest groups, but another open to all will be held by the Blackheath and Greenwich United Nations Association at Mycenae House, Blackheath, at 7.30pm on 15 April.

The Charlton Central Residents Association is also holding a hustings at St Richard’s Hall, Swallowfield Road on 27 April at 7.30pm (members and associate members can reserve a place by contacting CCRA).

Details of other hustings would be appreciated, including those covering the Eltham constituency, which covers streets to the south of Charlton Park.

PS. Are you registered to vote? If you’re not sure, contact Greenwich Council’s electoral services to check.  You can now register online at gov.uk/register-to-vote. The deadline is 20 April.

Other hustings for Greenwich & Woolwich: Friday 17 April, 6:30pm, Greenwich West Community Centre (organised by Breast Cancer Care – register for free ticket); Sunday 19 April, 11.30am, Greenwich Dance Agency, Royal Hill (Christian Life Fellowship); Wednesday 22 April, 1pm, Greenwich Community College Plumstead campus; Thursday 23 April, 7.30pm, Christ Church East Greenwich (local Church of England churches); Tuesday 28 April, 6.30pm, Forum at Greenwich (Greenwich NUT); Wednesday 29 April, 6pm, Forum at Greenwich (Greenwich Association of Disabled People).

Ikea coming to Greenwich – can we stop it grinding Charlton to a halt?

Ikea plan
As you may know already, Ikea has planning permission to build a store on the site of the old “eco” Sainsbury’s in Greenwich – a prospect which has flat-pack furniture fans five miles already reaching for their car keys, and residents who live a mile away groaning.

Campaigners against the store recently switched to a strategy of damage limitation after being advised that a legal challenge would be unlikely to work, since Transport for London had agreed with Ikea’s claim that the development would not add extra traffic to the area.

The new Ikea will come on top of a relocated Sainsbury’s plus M&S at Gallions Road, another an expanded retail park close to the river, and a relocated Matalan on Woolwich Road.

For its part, Ikea has been talking to local residents’ groups, including the Charlton Society and Charlton Central Residents’ Association.

The Charlton Society says:

“How can we make the best of this situation? What do we, as neighbours of the proposed store, want to see to prevent Ikea grinding local transport to a halt? What do we think the store should look like? And what part should Ikea play in the local community?

“The Charlton Society’s planning committee is talking to Ikea about the future. We’d like to hear your ideas. Should the road junction at the Woolwich Road flyover be altered? How can we make it easier for people to have goods delivered? What extra public transport would you like to see? And how can we improve on Ikea’s trademark blue box?”

Ideas include emulating the new-ish Ikea store in Altona, Hamburg, which is aimed at attracting a 50/50 split between car drivers and those coming on public transport, on bike or by foot.

Do you have any ideas you can feed into the process? Let the Charlton Society know.

Charlton Society AGM this Saturday – your society needs you!

Charlton House

It’s the AGM of the Charlton Society this Saturday at 2.30pm at Charlton House. I’ve been on the society’s committee for a year now, so I can’t really pretend to be unbiased over this one – come along, join up (it’s £12/year to join), grab a glass of wine, bend the ear of local politicians and chew the fat over local issues.

There’ll be a talk from Greenwich & Woolwich MP Nick Raynsford, while I’m sure Greenwich cabinet member David Gardner will have a few words to say as outgoing chair.

I think it’s fair to say the Charlton Society’s been a bit of a sleeping institution in recent years – it does a lot of work on planning issues behind the scenes, but it’s been not really well-known beyond its membership. It started in 1969 in response to threats to the Village from roadbuilding – but in recent years its profile had slipped somewhat.

So I’ve been working with the committee to try to make the society’s light shine a bit brighter – starting with the long, long overdue creation of a simple Charlton Society website. But the society’s also been involved in getting the White Swan pub listed as an asset of community value. It’s also given help to the campaign for a community council.

It’s easy to mock amenity societies as being out of touch and serving small-minded interests – but I thought I’d come into help open the Charlton Society up, and get more people involved in its work. We’re hoping to make some changes to the way the committee work, so there’s a stronger focus on issues such as environment and planning, while still preserving its traditional programme of Saturday talks.

But all this is a bit of a waste without more people involved, so if you’re the sort of person who reads this website and takes an interest in local issues, you’re just who the Charlton Society needs as a member. I’ve a few regular Charlton Champion commenters in mind here…

So, if you’ve got Saturday afternoon free, please come along and say hello – it’d be great to see you.

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

wrhustings
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.