Cllr Gary Parker’s Charlton Ward Report: September 2019

What has Charlton ward councillor GARY PARKER been up to? Here’s his latest report.

Cllr Gary Parker

Dear Charlton Residents, this is my current ward report, this is a ‘snap shot’ of my recent activities it does not cover individual case work or a range of other meetings. I try to highlight a few key activities which maybe of general interest. Please contact me direct if you want more information- gary.parker [at] royalgreenwich.gov.uk; Twitter: @CllrG2013

Apologies that I have not reported for sometime, but I will try to get back to more regular reporting, in future.

The past year or so has seen the local elections, Euro elections, more Brexit issues and a lot of campaigning, I have done a lot of this both locally, regionally and nationally, which I did not expect to do, together with local street campaigning in the local and Euro elections. I have always supported Remain, but respect the views of Leave voters (I oppose Brexit, not them) and I hope that we can move beyond this issue in due course, though at the time of writing that looks doubtful to say the least!

New funding

Charlton-based organisations or those that support Charlton residents can now bid for new funding from the council. This includes the ward budget – your ward councillors want to give money to as many local organisations as possible within the £30,000 budget allowable and also from the Community Infrastructure Levy 2019 programme – a fund from actual development to support local neighbourhood wards including Charlton, the new programme with significant funding will be launched soon, in either late September or early October 2019 – for more info see www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk.

Planning & Development Issues

I have been working with local groups and individuals regarding a range of planning issues, yet again. I also support the local campaign to establish a Neighbourhood Planning Forum by Charlton Together and other groups/individuals and have had a number of meetings with local people about this on an individual basis. For more information, visit www.charltonneighbourhoodforum.com and click on ‘’Contact’’ to get in touch.

I opposed the recent application by Rockwell and spoke at the planning board meeting in July 2018 as did many local residents. The application was rejected and the Mayor of London ‘called in’ the decision for review and rejected it too. There is a large group of residents, community organisations, businesses and groups in the area actively opposing this development – I will support them as much as I can. Rockwell and Meyer Homes developers have both made eleventh hour appeals to the Secretary of State against rejection of their planning proposals, and Meyer Homes for a 24 storey tower in General Gordon Square, Woolwich. Greenwich Council’s Planning Board rejected the proposals in separate planning considerations in 2018, and the London Mayor turned down an appeal by Rockwell last January – this further appeal was submitted on 13 August, just two weeks before the six month deadline. The Secretary of State has decided both appeals will be determined through public inquiries, and both are opening on 19 November – Rockwell for 12 days, and Meyer Homes for 6. The council will be vigorously resisting both applications as will I as one of your local councillors.

Events & Engagements – A selection

I attended the meeting on Co-ops and community development on Tuesday 16th April at the Town Hall, which I am a strong advocate of and their capacity to create and support local jobs.I attended the Board meeting of the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust on 14th May and a meeting with Speak Out Woolwich on regeneration issues in the area on 20th May. I also attended the AGM of Volunteer Centre Greenwich on 22nd May, which was an excellent event. Other events included:

  • The launch of the new Woolwich Creative District on 11/3/19
  • Met with the CEO of Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust about Charlton House and the re-location of the RGHT Heritage Archives 29/5
  • The Great Get Together event at Woolwich Arsenal on 29/6
  • CASE public meeting on new National Education Service
  • Unite Community SE Lnd Branch- spoke on Universal Credit issues on 19/6
  • Unions 2019 event in Woolwich on 22/6
  • SE London Business Network meeting on 2/7
  • Greenwich Housing Forum on 25/6

I supported the John Roan anti-academisation campaign and attended the picket line to support striking workers and supportive parents and also at the Halley Academy in Kidbrooke.

Surgeries and Casework

I am concerned about issues being raised regarding Universal Credit and Disability Benefit, some of which are shocking but due to confidentiality and GDPR rules I cannot go into details. I have a large amount of housing and planning related casework, community safety and crime related issues which is ongoing. I also dealt with some issues in Charlton Park related to alleged drug dealing, motorcycling, dangerous dogs and anti-social behaviour and continued graffiti and vandalism around the toilets. I am concerned about the escalation of such behaviour in Charlton Park and am working with my co-councillors to address this issue.

Council

I have attended all of the main council meetings in 2018/19 so far and have spoken on several occasions on issues including, Climate Change Emergency, Austerity and economic development and others

I attended the July 2019 full council meeting and other meetings including main overview and scrutiny panel meetings of which I am a member. This received reports from senior council officers and cabinet members about major issues in Greenwich. I chair the Regeneration, Culture and Transport Scrutiny Panel, which will shortly publish a review of Community Regeneration in Greenwich, which has taken nearly a year to complete and was developed in association with community representative from across the Borough; the report will be presented at the next meeting on 26th September 2019 or will be available online via the council’s website at www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk

You can contact Gary Parker and any other councillor via the Greenwich Council website.

 

PLEASE SUPPORT THE CHARLTON CHAMPION

We tell the SE7 stories you won’t read elsewhere. We can’t do it without your help.
– Please tell us about your news and events
– NEW! Advertise your business with us from £10 per week
– Become a monthly supporter at patreon.com/charltonchampion
– Donate to our running costs at paypal.me/charltonchampion

Cllr Gary Parker’s Charlton Ward Report: Summer 2018

What has Charlton ward councillor GARY PARKER been up to? Here’s his latest report.

Cllr Gary ParkerDear Charlton Residents, this is my current ward report, this is a snapshot of my recent activities it does not cover individual case work or a range of other meetings. I try to highlight a few key activities which maybe of general interest. Please contact me direct if you want more information: gary.parker[at]royalgreenwich.gov.uk Twitter: @CllrG2013.

Charlton Society – I attended the Charlton Society meeting on redevelopment and regeneration of the village and surrounding areas, together with my co-councillors and other officers from the Charlton Society, some good ideas came forward, I will be working with the CS and others to develop and support these ideas wherever possible. A meeting is scheduled in the near future with council officers and we gave the Charlton Society some information about current funding opportunities through the council – more below.

New Funding- Charlton-based organisations or those that support Charlton residents can now bid for new funding from the council this includes the ward budget – your ward councillors want to give money to as many local organisations as possible within the £30,000 budget allowable and also from the Community Infrastructure Levy (to be launched on 17 September) – a fund from actual development to support local neighbourhoods. There is over £109k to support projects in four wards including Charlton. This is a one year fund with more money available next year – for more info see www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk.

[Charlton Champion note: read more about previous ward budget funding here]

Planning & Development Issues – I have been working with local groups and individuals regarding a range of planning issues, yet again. I opposed the recent application by Rockwell and spoke at the planning board meeting on this in July as did many local residents. The application was rejected but since then, the Mayor of London has ‘called in’ the decision for review, as he claims that Greenwich has not been achieving its affordable housing targets. In my view this call in is a challenge to local democracy, the planning board, who I have been sharply critical of in the past, did the right thing as did local residents. There is a large group of residents, community organisations, businesses and groups in the area actively opposing this development – I will support them as much as I can. If the application is upheld by the Mayor I will be encouraging the council to seek a judicial review on this issue. I will continue to campaign vigorously on this issue, which is now as much about local democracy as it is about planning issues and defending local communities against big developers.

Pocket Homes – Pocket Living is a property development company supported by the Mayor of London which builds homes for sale to first time buyers at reduced prices. The Council cabinet took a decision on 16 July to go out to consultation with residents on the sale of three plots of land to the company at three sites – in Blackheath Westcombe, Greenwich West, and The Heights in Charlton. I called in this decision with Cllr Fletcher from Blackheath ward, a “call-in” is a council process by which councillors can ask for decisions to be reviewed. I have some specific concerns which I raised about: social value, the impact in Charlton ward, land contamination at the site and the nature of the consultation. Many local residents attended this meeting and they too voiced their concerns. Since then this issue has featured significantly in social media and in the local press.

Events & Engagements – A selection

I attended two Better Together Community Engagement events covering Charlton.

I attended the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust board meeting on 17th July and raised a number of local issues including parking charges at Charlton House and access to the archives for local residents and historians – I will issue a separate report on the trust soon.

I support the John Roan- anti academisation campaign and attended the picket line to support striking workers in July.

I attended and supported the new Greenwich Housing Forum which held an open public meeting about housing issues in the Borough – I estimate nearly 100 people attended- more info @greenwich_forum

I chaired the Council’s Regeneration Scrutiny Panel on 23 July – it reviews policy and executive actions on regeneration issues in the borough.

I held a meeting with the council’s deputy chief executive about the Woolwich Creative District and other heritage and regeneration issues in the Charlton area on 24 August.

SURGERIES/CASEWORK – Raised a very large amount of housing and planning related casework, community safety and crime related issues which is ongoing. I also dealt with some issues in Charlton Park related to alleged drug dealing and anti -social behaviour and continued graffiti and vandalism around the toilets. I am concerned about the escalation of such behaviour in Charlton Park and am working with my co-councillors to address this issue.

COUNCIL  I also attended the July 2018 full council meeting and the main overview and scrutiny panel meetings of which I am a member. This received reports from senior council officers and cabinet members about major issues in Greenwich.

The Charlton Champion provides news and information about issues and events in London SE7.
– Help us by telling us your stories
– Buy Neil a coffee at ko-fi.com
– NEW! Become a monthly patron at patreon.com/charltonchampion
– NEW! Donate directly to the site at paypal.me/charltonchampion

 

Charlton hustings: Councillors acted ‘appallingly’ over Victoria Way scheme, ex-planning officer says

Victoria Way, February 2017
The Victoria Way site last year. Demolition teams have now moved in.

A former Greenwich Council planning officer who is standing for election in Charlton this week says councillors acted “appallingly” when they decided to back a controversial development in Victoria Way without explaining why.

The eight-strong planning committee faced jeers from the public after after endorsing the Fairview New Homes proposals for a former warehouse site, which include two 10-storey blocks and 144 car parking spaces, as well as a nursery and office space.

Neighbours had called the plans “overbearing” and had voiced concerns about traffic congestion and the lack of facilities for residents. Others criticised a lack of consultation with residents about the scheme.

In the meeting overseen by vice-chair Ray Walker (Labour, Eltham West), councillors Mark Elliott (Conservative, Eltham South), Clive Mardner (Labour, Abbey Wood), Danny Thorpe (Labour, Shooters Hill – council deputy leader and regeneration cabinet member), Sarah Merrill (Labour, Shooters Hill), Norman Adams (Labour, Kidbrooke with Hornfair), Steve Offord (Labour, Abbey Wood) backed the scheme without discussig 125 objections from residents, three written objections from local councillors in Peninsula and Charlton wards and concerns raised by Transport for London and the Greater London Authority about the high level of car parking spaces.

Only Thorpe attempted to offer any explanation when it came to vote on the scheme. Conservative Geoff Brighty (Blackheath Westcombe) voted against it.

At the Charlton ward hustings on Saturday, Green candidate Clare Loops – a former planning policy manager for Greenwich who is standing in Thursday’s council election – condemned the way the councillors acted.

“Just looking at the way the committee is structured at the moment, they should be discussing the points raised, and that is appalling that it didn’t happen,” Loops – who now works for neighbouring Bexley – said.

But incumbent Labour councillor Gary Parker said: “What you have to remember is that the Planning Board is not whipped, and it wasn’t just Labour candidates that voted for it. They get the papers in advance and they get officers’ recommendations, and there was a recommendation in favour of it.

“I do think we should listen to residents a lot more, but the complexities of planning law make that very difficult.”

‘Charlton has no representation on planning committee’

It is normal convention in a Greenwich planning meeting for councillors to discuss the application – no explanation has been given as to why they didn’t on the Fairview Victoria Way case.

Parker agreed with Loops that the council needed to bring some applications to planning committees at earlier stages to obtain residents’ input.

Fellow Labour candidate Gary Dillon said that the Charlton area had no representation on the Planning Board, which is the council’s main planning commitee, “I hope that changes after the next election,” he said.

But Lib Dem candidate Ian Gerrard responded: “Parties decide who serves on committees – if Charlton isn’t being represented, that’s down to Labour.”

Women’s Equality Party candidate Pamela Ritchie also attended the hustings, along with one of the three Conservative candidates, Macharia Gakuru, and a second Lib Dem candidate, Charlie Rome. Linda Perks – the Labour candidate condemned by a judge for rule-breaking in a union election – did not attend.

Planning issues dominated the hustings, with concerns raised about the fate of the Charlton Riverside masterplan in the light of the planning application by Rockwell for 771 new homes on an industrial estate at Anchor & Hope Lane including five 10-storey blocks.

“All residents of Charlton could be affected by this,” Ritchie said, adding: “We’ve already seen the segregation in Woolwich between the new-builds and the town of Woolwich.”

“I don’t like calling it Charlton Riverside,” Loops said. “The best way to integrate it would be to call it ‘Charlton’.”

Parker said the council was consulting via the Charlton Stakeholder Forum, which he called “a public forum”. “I’ve been at some of them, I haven’t seen any of the opposition there.”

(The Charlton Champion has never been invited or asked to publicise its meetings. Furthermore, this website understands that at the last meeting, representatives of developer Rockwell outnumbered all other attendees.)

He also pointed to the council’s Better Together meetings and public planning meetings – such as the one which discussed Victoria Way where councillors ignored residents.

Loops said it was “worrying” that council officers had recommended the Rockwell development even though it was contrary to the masterplan. “What’s the point in having a plan if you’re not going to follow it?,” Lib Dem Rome said.

There was also criticism of both council leader Denise Hyland and deputy leader Danny Thorpe sitting on the Planning Board – Greenwich is the only council in London where the leader sits on its main planning committee. Gary Parker said a leader or deputy leader on the planning board “leaves you open to potentially being compromised, blurring the distinction between the [council’s] planning function and being a member of the executive”. “If I was in that position, I wouldn’t be on it, but that is for them to decide.”

On Sunday, a resident at the hustings for Woolwich Riverside ward – which covers some of the eastern side of Charlton – also brought up former Greenwich Council leader Chris Roberts’ role as deputy chairman of Cratus Communications, which has acted for the developers of both the Fairview Victoria Way and Rockwell Charlton Riverside schemes. “I suppose ex-leaders of councils have to earn a living,” Labour councillor John Fahy said.

Ideas for Charlton’s future

Back at the Charlton ward hustings, candidates were also asked how they would improve Charlton Village and Charlton Church Lane. Conservative Macharia Gakuru said he would change Charlton Church Lane into a one-way street, while Lib Dem Gerrard suggested the council could temporarily lower business rates.

Loops said: “We need to make sure footfall in the Village is all of us using it. We could be changing some of the A5 uses – hot food takeaways – into more of a cafe culture, to provide more places to hang out. And slow down the traffic – 20mph is much better.”

Parker said: “We need to look at more pop-up shops and a range of other short-term measures to support businesses and people who want to get into business. I think the council could be more flexible about this.” Ritchie complained about the state of the pavements on Charlton Church Lane and suggested parking in that street could be moved.

All candidates also spoke out against the current plans for the proposed Enderby Wharf cruise liner terminal in east Greenwich, which will allow ships using it to use their own highly polluting engines rather than energy from the National Grid.

All 51 seats in Greenwich borough are up for election on Thursday – see candidates, manifestos and more hustings coverage over on 853. Of the councillors that passed the Fairview Victoria Way scheme, all are up for re-election in their various wards except Mark Elliott and Ray Walker; while Steve Offord was deselected in Abbey Wood and is now contesting Eltham North.

Video from selected parts of Saturday’s Charlton hustings – including opening and closing statements – can be seen on YouTube.

The Charlton Champion sent a questionnaire to candidates…

Charlton ward candidates (three are elected): Gary Dillon (Labour), Macharia Gakuru (Conservative), Ian Gerrard (Liberal Democrat), Rebecca Ireland (Liberal Democrat), Catherine Latham (Conservative), Clare Loops (Green), Maya Mann (Conservative), Gary Parker (Labour), Linda Perks (Labour), Pamela Ritchie (Women’s Equality Party), Charlie Rome (Liberal Democrat). Polls are open from 7am to 10pm on Thursday 3 May.

  • The Charlton Champion provides news and information about issues and events in London SE7. Help us by telling us your stories – or buy the author a coffee.