Boundary review: Last chance to keep Charlton with Greenwich & Woolwich

Cutty Sark
Charlton has long had historical links with Greenwich

This weekend is your last chance to make sure that Charlton continues to share an MP with Greenwich & Woolwich, as a consultation into new constituencies comes to an end.

The Greenwich & Woolwich constituency – currently represented by Labour’s Matt Pennycook – has so far come out of a boundary review largely unscathed.

But neighbouring Eltham is due to expand to take in Chislehurst, something which has caused disquiet among Labour activists in the seat, who fear this would mean curtains for its local MP, Clive Efford.

A handful of streets in the south of SE7 already come under the Eltham seat, and The Charlton Champion understands that party activists are lobbying the Boundary Commission to change its plans so the seat includes the Charlton ward too – bumping up the Labour vote but separating while separating this area from its neighbours.

This latest review is the third attempt in a decade to redraw the parliamentary map to take into account changing populations. While past reviews tried to cut the number of MPs, this one keeps the figure at 650 – meaning London gains two new seats. In addition, most seats must now have between 69,724 and 77,062 electors – a significant change from more flexible rules in the past.

Under the plans, Eltham would lose the strongly Labour Shooters Hill ward but gain two Bromley wards – the marginal Mottingham and Chislehurst North, which has two Tory councillors; and the staunchly Conservative Chislehurst ward. The seat would be renamed Eltham & Chislehurst and have 74,179 electors.

Greenwich & Woolwich, however, shrinks to take into account the area’s growing population, losing Glyndon ward, leaving it with 69,824 electors – just 100 more than the minimum. Glyndon goes to Erith & Thamesmead along with Shooters Hill, uniting most of Plumstead under that seat.

Eltham High Street
Charlton has few links with Eltham and its high street

Past reviews would have Greenwich & Woolwich split up altogether – with one proposal suggesting an “Eltham & Charlton” seat, separating Charlton ward from its two larger neighbours altogether.

“It’s understandable that people in Eltham are deeply unhappy about the proposals, but keeping Greenwich, Charlton and Woolwich together is for the best, as is uniting Plumstead in Erith & Thamesmead,” one Labour activist told The Charlton Champion.

“There are close historic and present links between Greenwich, Charlton and Woolwich which there simply aren’t with Eltham – it makes sense to keep the riverside communities together.”

There are no direct public transport links between the Charlton ward and Eltham, while links for shopping and leisure are with the Charlton retail parks, Woolwich and Blackheath rather than Eltham High Street. Commuter links are with the Greenwich-Woolwich rail line and North Greenwich tube rather than the Bexleyheath line which serves Eltham.

Historically, Charlton was always linked with Greenwich for local government, while much of its early development was connected to the barracks at Woolwich.

Furthermore, keeping Charlton linked with its two bigger neighbours opens up the likelihood that the streets currently marooned in the Eltham constituency (these streets are known as polling district KH1) would be returned to Greenwich & Woolwich in the future. This is a separate process from the review of council ward boundaries, which places most of the SE7 area in two wards.

If you live in Charlton ward and want to stay in Greenwich & Woolwich – or if you live in the streets that come under Eltham and want polling district KH1 to come under Greenwich & Woolwich instead – tell the Boundary Commission for England at by Monday.


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Find out more about a new cricket pitch and discover bats in Charlton Park

Charlton Park
Charlton Park is due to get an all-weather cricket pitch

Charlton Park is getting a new cricket pitch, and you’ll be able to find out more about the plans at the Friends of Charlton Park’s regular Zoom meeting this Tuesday.

Stephanie Turner from Greenwich Council will be outlining plans for the non-turf pitch at the western end of the park and answering any questions from users. To find out how to join, visit the Friends of Charlton Park website.

There are also limited places for a bat walk in Charlton Park at 8pm on Friday night led by bat expert Les Clark. More details are on the Friends website.


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Charlton House needs £1.2m to fix leaking roof – but local groups asked for summer house ideas

Charlton House
More than 20,000 people have had Covid-19 jabs at Charlton House

Charlton House needs £1.2 million to fix its leaking roof, the chief executive of the trust that runs the Jacobean mansion has told Greenwich councillors.

Tracy Stringfellow, the chief executive of the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust, said that she would soon be launching a fundraising appeal to mend the roof, and that the issue had delayed wider plans for a £25 million refurbishment of the house.

She also told councillors that local groups would be able to use its summer house after the end of the current phase of refurbishment works.

While over 20,000 people have visited the house for coronavirus vaccines since the start of the year, some have spotted the damage caused by water getting into its old library, she said.

Councillors on the regeneration scrutiny panel were told last night that Historic England had funded a detailed survey of the roof to examine the damage.

“The assessment of complete and replacement works has come back at about £1.2 million,” Stringfellow said.

“We will be carrying out some work over the next few months to identify how we will raise the funds, and we will be launching an appeal with the Big Give campaign, giving local people the opportunity to support the roof works as well.

“There was some significant water ingress during the lockdown period which runs the risk of damaging some of the most significant spaces on the second floor.”

Charlton House summer house
Charlton House’s summer house is being restored

Asked by Woolwich Common councillor David Gardner about the broader future of Charlton House, Stringfellow said that a plan had been produced in 2018 that envisaged a £25m million refurbishment of the Grade I-listed building.

Stringfellow said that the plan had been to approach the National Lottery Heritage Fund for money to begin work, beginning with the ground floor, but the pandemic had forced a rethink, as the fund had changed its priorities.

“We will be looking at that strategy again,” she said. “We now need to prioritise the roof repairs and the rooms on the second floor as urgent. Those of you who have had your jabs in the old library might have noticed damage to the ceiling because of the water ingress – I’ve had lots of emails from people asking about the hole in the roof.”

The second phase of works to restore the summer house was coming to an end, Stringfellow added, with some of the original panelling being restored, ahead of a final phase where the ceiling would be restored.

Stringellow said that the trust would be interested in community groups using the summer house for exhibitions or other uses before the final phase of works started.

“If there are any local organisations who might want to come and have a look at that – a commercial hire might be at a later stage but for exhibitions or programming, we would be open to approaches from the local community,” she said.


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