Charlton and Woolwich Free Film Festival confirms 2017 line-up – including Withnail in the pub

Withnail and I

The Charlton and Woolwich Free Film Festival is back for a second year – with a screening of Withnail and I at the White Swan pub among the highlights.

The cult 1987 movie about two down-at-heel actors on a disastrous break in the Lake District, starring Richard E Grant and Paul McGann, will be screened at the pub on Sunday 10 September, presented by louche SE London blog (and mates of ours) Deserter.

All films are entirely free to watch – just turn up at the venue. The festival, which runs from 8-16 September, is entirely run by volunteers and is one of a network of free film festivals across south-east London.

Danny Boyle’s Sunshine will be playing on Saturday 9 September at The Stables – next door to Charlton House – with Flamsteed Astronomy Society on hand to bring you a solar observing session. That evening will see thriller The Others, starring Nicole Kidman, screened in the eerie surroundings of Charlton House after dark.

The Stables also plays host to Dirty Dancing – with bonus salsa class – on Wednesday 13 September – and Rising From Ashes – about the first Rwandan cycling team – on Saturday 16 September.

Documentary Ha’way The Lads – about legendary Charlton Athletic manager Jimmy Seed’s determination to break away from the North East’s coalfields and play football – plays at the Swan on Monday 11 September, with a short talk from Seed’s grandson James Dutton. This night is hosted by the independent, volunteer-run Charlton Athletic Museum.

Kids’ animation Kubo and the Two Strings plays at Thorntree Primary School on Tuesday 12 Septembember, with Hidden Figures showing there in the evening.

Documentary project 1000 Londoners will be at The Old Cottage Cafe on Thursday 14th September. Charlton House will host a short films competition later that evening, with a £1,500 prize for the winning film-maker on offer from sponsor Rockwell Property.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens the festival at Building 10 in Woolwich’s Royal Arsenal on Friday 8 September, while a Grease sing-a-long will close it at the same venue on Saturday 16 September.

Other highlights include Suffragette at Greenwich Rugby Football Club, Plumstead Common on Sunday 10 September, Trading Places at the Woolwich Equitable pub on Monday 11 September, Salma Hayek in acclaimed biopic Frida at Artfix in Woolwich on Wednesday 13 September and Battle of Britain at St George’s Garrison Church off Woolwich Common on Friday 15 September, featuring a guided walk from local historian Steve Hunnisett.

For more information, visit the Charlton & Woolwich Free Film Festival website.

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Crossrail bus changes: TfL plans to halve bus frequencies between Greenwich and Charlton by switching route 180

Route 180 bus
All change: The 180 will switch to North Greenwich if Transport for London’s plans go ahead

Transport for London is planning to halve the bus service between Greenwich town centre and Charlton as part of changes set to be brought in for the launch of Crossrail services at Woolwich and Abbey Wood.

Route 180, which links Charlton with Greenwich and Lewisham, will be diverted at the Woolwich Road flyover to run to North Greenwich station, with small cuts to be made to the frequency of the 472, which will continue to run to North Greenwich. The 129 service, which runs from North Greenwich to Greenwich town centre, will be extended to Lewisham as part-compensation.

TfL says 770 passengers will have to change buses each day as a result of the changes – and with no plans outlined to boost the frequency of the 177, the number of buses between Greenwich town centre and Charlton will drop from 12 buses per hour to six.

Both the 180 and 472 will also see changes at the other ends of their routes: the 180 will run to the Quarry development in Erith rather than the Belvedere industrial estates, while the 472 will run via Western Way in Thamesmead to terminate at Abbey Wood station, instead of its current route via Nathan Way.

Other changes will see route 178, which serves Shooters Hill Road, return to using double-decker buses to cater for expected extra demand for travel to Woolwich. Double-deckers will also return to routes 244 and 291, which run to Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

A new service, the 301, will run from Woolwich to Bexleyheath via Nathan Way (replacing the 472) and Abbey Wood. There are other service changes affecting the Erith and Belvedere areas, which can be seen on the TfL website.

There are no changes to buses along Charlton Road, or the 380 or 486 services.

The change to the 180 will make it harder to reach Greenwich from Charlton, Woolwich, Plumstead and Abbey Wood.

Route 472
There will be fewer buses on the 472 on Bugsby’s Way, but more buses via the slower Woolwich Road route

What does this mean if I want to travel from Charlton to North Greenwich?

If you live east of Charlton station, there will be more buses to North Greenwich (20 rather than 16 per hour in peak times), but you’ll be more likely to get a slower service. There will be fewer buses on the faster 472 service via Bugsby’s Way – eight per hour instead of the current 10. More buses will run on the slower route via the Woolwich Road flyover – 12 per hour on the combined 161 and 180, compared with six on the 161 now.

From Charlton station, there will be no change to the 486. But from the stop in Anchor and Hope Lane next to Makro, there will now be 16 buses per hour rather than 18 (not including the morning-only extra services from here on the 472, which will continue). Or you could cross to the stop by the Antigallican, where 12 buses per hour will run on the slower route via Woolwich Road flyover, shared between the 161 and 180 (compared with six now on the 161).

Local transport campaigners have long complained about the “dance of death” where services from Charlton station to North Greenwich are split across the three stops serving the Woolwich Road/Anchor & Hope Lane junction. These changes bring more buses across these stops (28 rather than 24), but will mean more people will have to do that “dance of death” at a junction Greenwich Council says is the borough’s most dangerous.

From west of Charlton station, it’s a straightforward increase – from six 161 buses per hour to 12 on the combined 161 and 180 service. If you travel to/from the Greenwich Ikea site, however, you’ll see the overall level of service up the Greenwich Peninsula is hardly changing – it’ll increase from 44 to 45 buses per hour in the rush hour.

From Charlton Village – no change. Nothing is planned for the 422 or 486.

Bus stop Current peak service Proposed peak service
Charlton Lane 472 N G’wich: 10
161 N G’wich: 6
180 Greenwich: 6
177 Greenwich: 6
472 N G’wich: 8
161/180 N G’wich: 12

177 Greenwich: 6

Anchor & Hope Lane 472 N G’wich 10*
486 N G’wich: 8
472 N G’wich: 8*
486 N G’wich: 8
Rose of Denmark 161 N G’wich: 6
180 Greenwich: 6
177 Greenwich: 6
161/180 N G’wich: 12

177 Greenwich: 6

Greenwich Ikea site All buses: 44* All buses: 45*

*Does not include the extra buses on the 472 between Charlton and North Greenwich, which run mornings only and are due to continue.

I want to travel from Charlton to Greenwich town centre – what do I do?

You’ll have to wait longer if you want to travel from Charlton to Greenwich – you’ll only have the six buses per hour on the already-busy 177 to rely on in future. A possible – but more expensive – alternative will be the National Rail service from Woolwich Dockyard, Charlton or Westcombe Park stations to Maze Hill or Greenwich.

Or you could change buses at Greenwich Ikea, although the proposed 129 service from there to Greenwich and Lewisham will be cut to a bus every 12 minutes – less frequent than the current 180.

The steep cut to bus services linking Greenwich and Woolwich will inconvenience many passengers. If you’re one of them, be sure to fill in the consultation and tell your local representatives what you think.

What about my buses from Charlton to Woolwich?

The cut to the 472’s frequencies mean there will be slightly fewer buses to Woolwich from Anchor & Hope Lane – down from 30 buses an hour at peak times to 28. Up the hill, no changes are planned to the 53, 54, 380 or 422.

Where’s my bus from Woolwich Road to Lewisham gone?

The Charlton stretch of Woolwich Road loses its bus service to Lewisham under TfL’s proposals – breaking a link which has endured since the days of trams.

TfL suggests you change buses at Greenwich Ikea, but the proposed 129 service from there to Greenwich and Lewisham will be cut to a bus every 12 minutes – less frequent than the current 180. There are also fears of widespread traffic congestion when the Ikea store opens in late 2018, around the time these changes are due to take effect.

Taking a 177 to Greenwich town centre and changing there for a 129 or 199 will be a more sensible – but still fiddly – option. Those who want to change to other buses in Lewisham will lose out by having to pay another fare. TfL wants to expand its Hopper fare so it offers unlimited bus changes in an hour rather than just two – there is no date for this yet.
If you’re one of them, be sure to fill in the consultation and tell your local representatives what you think.

There will be no change to the 54 or 380 services to Lewisham, while there is a half-hourly National Rail service from Charlton to Lewisham.

TfL map

Squeezed finances at TfL – but questions over modelling

These changes are being made against a background of austerity at TfL, whose finances are being squeezed both by central government cutting its funding and mayor Sadiq Khan freezing some fares.

Technical notes supplied by TfL indicate that it expects demand for bus travel between Greenwich and Woolwich – including Charlton – to drop after Crossrail services begin in December 2018. It also expects demand to drop along Charlton Road, although there is no cut planned for services there.

It is not made clear how TfL has reached this conclusion, although it could reflect some journeys from Woolwich to places such as New Cross and Peckham switching from bus to Crossrail and London Overground.

TfL’s demand modelling for the area has already come in for criticism from local councils at the Silvertown Tunnel public examination, and this cut may mean it comes under closer scrutiny.

TfL demand map
Transport for London’s map of projected demand – higher demand in red, lower demand in green. We’ve added in some place names. TfL predicts huge extra demand in Woolwich by 2021, but lower demand in Charlton and Greenwich.

I have a view on these changes – what do I do?

This isn’t a done deal – your views can influence what happens next.

* Take part in TfL’s consultation on these changes. It closes on 17 September.

* Tell your local representatives – especially London Assembly members, whose job it is to scrutinise TfL, and councillors, who should already have been consulted.

* We’re sure local campaigners Transport for Charlton will be active here – so let them know what you think and offer your services if you can.

We will be keeping an eye on what happens next.

New Whitehall cut – 53 bus to stop short at Lambeth North again

Route 53 bus in Whitehall

More bad news for users of the number 53 bus – the service, which usually runs to Whitehall, is being cut back to Lambeth North again from Monday, as a result of roadworks at Parliament Square.

The cut to the service, which is the only bus from Plumstead, Woolwich, Charlton and Blackheath to central London, is due to last four months.

However, it’s worth being vigilant about this – in January 2015, a similar temporary cut lasted 18 months.

While the new “hopper” fare – which enables people to take two buses within an hour for the price of one fare – reduces the impact of the latest truncation of the route, it will still inconvenience many passengers. Indeed, recent figures obtained by London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon show the 53 is the 10th most popular route for hopper fare users – these passengers won’t be able to take a third bus to finish their journey. (It’s worth asking the bus driver for a transfer ticket if this affects you.)

Two years ago, Greenwich councillors bound a motion calling for the restoration of the 53 service up with criticism of Boris Johnson’s stewardship of the bus network. Hopefully there won’t need to be a new motion this time…

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.

Charlton & Woolwich Free Film Festival starts on Friday – can you help?

Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator
Predator, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, is at Bunker 51 in Herringham Road on Wednesday

As you’ll hopefully already know, the Charlton & Woolwich Free Film Festival starts tomorrow in Woolwich’s General Gordon Square. It’ll bring nine days of movies to SE7 and SE18, without you having to pay a penny.

You can see the full programme on the Charlton & Woolwich Free Film Festival website – and it’s not too late to get involved. If you’ve got a spare pair of hands and can help with stewarding, setting up the events or helping with the screenings, the organisers would love to hear from you. Get in touch via the website, Twitter or Facebook.

One late addition to the line-up uses the Bunker 51 laser-tag venue down by the Thames Barrier – a screening of 1987 sci-fi hit Predator, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, gets under way at 7.30pm on Wednesday, with chances to have discounted laser tag sessions if you come an hour earlier.

Other SE7 highlights include documentary Virunga, about conservation volunteers battling to save mountain gorillas (Saturday 10th, 2.30pm, Charlton House); English Civil War thriller A Field In England (Sunday 11th, 2.30pm, Charlton House); horror comedy Shaun of the Dead at the White Swan (Sunday 11th, 7.30pm, with barbecue from 4pm); Shaun The Sheep at Charlton Park Academy (Wednesday 14th, 6pm); and a night of short films at Charlton House (Thursday 15th, 7.30pm).

Finally, there’s a Blow-Up Walk & Talk on Saturday 17th (5pm, meet at White Horse pub, Woolwich Road), exploring Maryon Park, where parts of the cult 1966 film were shot. That’s followed by a screening at Charlton House (7pm) and a Sounds of ’66 after-party at the White Swan from 10pm.

Don’t forget, it’s all free. And there’s plenty more to see in Woolwich, too, including The Third Man at St George’s Garrison Church (Saturday 10th, 7.45pm) and Monty Python & The Holy Grail in the gorgeous surroundings of Shrewsbury House on Shooters Hill (Friday 16th, 7.30pm).

The Charlton & Woolwich festival is part of a growing movement of south-east London free film events, and overlaps with other festivals in Peckham & Nunhead, Forest Hill and Catford. We wish the team luck – and hope you can get along to support it.

Talk Brexit with Greenwich & Woolwich’s MP this Saturday

Direct Matin, 6 June 2016
France didn’t want the UK to leave, but…

Four weeks ago, most people who live in the four council wards that include Charlton voted for the UK to stay in the EU. The rest of the country didn’t follow suit, and the events that followed have been felt far and wide.

But what does that mean for us here in south-east London? Greenwich & Woolwich MP Matt Pennycook is organising a public meeting this Saturday:

In the days since the EU referendum, I have been inundated with correspondence from local residents concerned about the implications of the result.

In order to give everyone who lives in the constituency a chance to discuss and debate what happens next, I have organised a public meeting.

Date: Saturday 23 July 10.30am – 1pm
Venue: Building 10, The Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, London, SE18 6FR

Numbers are limited, so make sure you RSVP here if you want to go.

Little Heath and Hillreach road safety measures planned after 1,100-strong petition

Back in November 2014, we covered a 1,100-name petition being handed into Greenwich Council demanding road safety improvements on Little Heath, Charlton and Hillreach, Woolwich, after newsagent Ash Patel was run down and killed outside his shop.

The area has long been notorious for speeding traffic, but it finally looks as if some action will be taken, with speed cushions planned for this stretch of road. We’re grateful to neighbour Jane Lawson, who brought us news of the original petition, for this update on the story.

Little Heath and Hill Reach, on the Charlton/Woolwich border

I attended a meeting with the Borough Engineer to update on the progress of the measures to calm traffic on Hill Reach.

As you know, TfL have refused a request for average speed cameras to be installed, despite that request having the support of the police. The policy states:

“The criteria for the implementation of a speed camera is that there must have been a minimum of four KSI (Killed or Serious Injuries sustained) collisions in a three year period within one kilometre of the proposed camera site and two of these must have been as a result of speeding.”

So there you have it. Not enough deaths.

However, the Borough does have authority to implement other measures and the plans for these will go to consultation shortly.

In brief, there will be speed cushions added, double yellow lines around the bus stop, a traffic island added with a wider refuge and two additional speed indicators.

Richard explained that the factors that had to be considered were the width of the road, the fact that it is a bus and emergency vehicle route and, further westwards on Little Heath, the spacing and position of the trees. That means that a pedestrian crossing cannot be placed as the sight lines would make it dangerous.

The department has carried out average speed checks and the results show that on the Little Heath stretch the average speed is 34/35mph and on the Hill Reach stretch average speed is 38mph, which is very high.

Commendably the department analysed data for a ten-year period to yield the patterns of deaths and RTCs – a pattern which would not have emerged in a shorter period of time.

The work is likely to be done in July and August during the school holidays, when traffic will be lighter. The road will probably need to be closed for a short time and diversions put in place.

So, it’s not quite the result we had hoped for, but the Borough has done a good job within the limitations of its powers, and it does show the impact of a local petition with hand written names and addresses.

At well over a thousand signatures the depth of local feeling was very clear.