Thursday, June 29, 2006

There is someone there!

Last night we received an email from Cllr John Kelly in response to our post about a one-way system in Admaston Road, and the lack of response by the Council to residents' emails.

Cllr Kelly confirmed that in Admaston Road, a work order "for the contractor to carry out the necessary work on site will be issued shortly." On the matter of enforcement, Cllr Kelly said it was the responsiblity of "the Police and this matter will be brought to their attention when implemented."

Whilst the Councillor's response is welcome, can the Police really enforce a one-way system in such a specific area effectively? As was already suggested, there are more innovative ways to enforce one-way systems, such as pinches or traffic calming devices that allow traffic to flow only one way.

If something like that was implemented then the Police could concentrate on dealing with serious crimes rather than wasting time on minor traffic offences. Instead of having the police deal with the problem after the fact, how about we prevent the problem happening in the first place?

Cllr Kelly also apologised for the lack of response to emails. This was apparently due to the "volume of correspondence received during the consultation period" from the handful of street involved. He said there would be a letter drop to "all residents in Admaston Road and Palmerston Road" to inform them of the plans.

Can we request an electronic copy of the letter drop please? We'd like to pass it on to the resident as he doesn't actually live on either of those roads. Alternatively, perhaps the Council could deliver to the neighbouring roads impacted by the plan as well? Just an idea.

Time for Physical Jerks Winston!

It's fair to say we couldn't help but notice that the "Leader's Comment" section in this weeks copy of Greenwich Time had a lot about the topic of health. Presumably this is a reaction to our post and the local press, which showed that Greenwich's health is in a pretty poor state.

The amusing thing in Greenwich Time is that no mention is made of the Government's statistics. Instead we're subjected to Chris Roberts telling us to "get active in one way or another and create a healthier culture that's good for us and for Greenwich."

We thought it was interesting he said it would be "good for us and Greenwich". We expect a "healthier culture" would be good for them, it would mean their failures wouldn't be publicised by the NHS for all to see. We also noticed he's not actually proposing solutions to the poor health of the Borough expect that we should all get out more. That suggests to us he sees the Borough's health problems as our fault rather than the Council's which he leads.

Now get in front of your telescreen, Physical Jerks commence in three minutes!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Is anyone there?

From the very inception of this site it was always going to rely on input from residents in the Borough as much as it does on Council press releases and other sources. We've had a number of emails from local residents in recent weeks, and we've been researching some of the issues raised for future postings.

One mail we received was from a resident on the Plumstead side of Shooters Hill who was concerned that no one at the Council answers emails. They told us that sometime ago local residents near Plumcroft School were asked for their opinions on making Admaston Road a one-way street. This resident responded to the Highways Department saying that they supported the idea but wanted to know what what enforcement of the one-way system would be used. They received no reply to that email and heard nothing more on the matter.

The reason they raised the issue of enforcement was because surrounding roads, which were already one-way streets, often had traffic flowing the wrong way. They told us "all types [of transport] from cyclists to lorries" travel along the street the wrong way and that "it happens at all times of the day". They said that they’d also emailed the Highways Department about this and suggested there should be a pinch at one end of the street to deter breaches of the one-way system. Again they received no reply, not even an auto-responder. They said they felt like correspondence with the Council must be “destined for file 13".

Now, we're pretty sure that Admaston Road is in the Shooters Hill ward, so we've emailed all the ward councillors to find out why residents emails are ignored, and what the Council's plans for Admaston Road's one-way system actually are. Hopefully at least one of them will respond.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Jobs for the boys

At the beginning of every Council term the jobs are divvied up between the sitting Councillors. From Committee chairmen, to quango executive, there should be enough for everyone to go around. In the interests of good governance you'd hope that some of these roles would be evenly split on a cross-party level, however we're sad to say this isn't the case. Machiavellian positioning and party politics rule supreme in this arena.

This point was beautifully illustrated last week when the ruling Labour Group insisted on appointing it's own "yes men" to the Community Centre Management Committee for Middle Park. We should point out that Middle Park and Sutcliffe is a split ward with two Liberal Democrats and one Labour councillor. The management committee had two places on it so you'd expect at least one of them to go to a Liberal Democrat councillor, wouldn't you? We're sad to tell you the answer is no.

Instead, the Greenwich nomenklatura decided that, rather than give one of the places on the committee to the elected Liberal Democrat for the ward, it would give the place to a Labour bod from a different ward instead. From what we can tell the Tories abstained on this issue which seemed odd to us. After all, it seems an issue of principle rather than party politics, but as we speculated and were then told, the Tories are split down the middle. Having said this even if they had voted in support of the Liberal Democrats it probably wouldn't have made much difference, Labour numbers dominate the chamber.

Don't be disheartened though people. Democracy is alive and well, it's just not living in Greenwich.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Parking fines: A light at the end of the tunnel?

On Thursday, the House of Commons Transport Select Committee reported that parking policy was a mess. We read this on the journey home from Westminster to North Greenwich and we wondered what significance it might have for Greenwich. We then discovered that Eltham MP, Clive Efford is on this committee and so endorsed the report.

We also endorse the general findings of that report. The parking control system has indeed failed, and Greenwich is no exception. We wonder how strongly one of the Borough's MPs will push the conclusion on the council. Especially given the Council's income from parking fines is in excess of £2.5m a year.

Ignorance is Strength

Whilst we were having a spring clean of our work desks we came across a copy of "Safer Greenwich" from Spring 2006. For those that don't remember, this was one of the bits of propaganda put out about four weeks before the local elections. It was published under the guise of being news from one of Council's many "partnerships". We're not going to labour the point about the timing of it though, or the fact that it was paid for by the taxpayer. Instead we thought we'd have a quick look at some of the "facts" in it.

According to the leaflet, the number of burglaries in Greenwich since November 2005 had fallen by 5%. We took a quick look on the Met's website and according to that burglary in the borough is actually up by nearly 10%. The leaflet also says that "robberies in Greenwich have fallen by 18%", yet according to the Met robbery is up by 12% this year.

Remember the Ministry of Truth's motto, "Ignorance is Strength"

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Another day, another blog

It seems another councillor on Greenwich Council has set-up a blog. Cllr Nigel Fletcher has set up his blog here. We hope - as we said to Cllr Jennings the other day - that Cllr Fletcher will keep the site updated.

Why you should get to know your Council Leader personally

It's official. In the Borough of Greenwich, who you know is what really matters if you want to get something done. That's what the Council Leader Chris Roberts implied in a letter he wrote to the Mercury this week.

In response to an article by Gareth Dorrian on June 13th about changes to the hiring times of Woolwich Town hall (we can't imagine who broke that story two weeks earlier, keep up Gareth!), Chris Roberts said that he was surprised the Asian Chamber of Commerce secretary Sadhu Biring had chosen to go to the press as he "is not short of contacts within the council".

We welcome the Council leader's honesty and openness in admitting what many of us residents have suspected for a long time. Such an admission validates our decision to set up this site.

It's seems pretty clear. Don't expect to get something done in Greenwich unless you know the right people. We suggest you all email the Council leader and invite him to your next barbecue.

Another one bites the dust

It's been reported in this weeks News Shopper that the Town Centre Manager in Greenwich, Ian Taitte has just resigned.

As the report says this comes less than a month after the town centre manager for Eltham, Shawna Stonehouse, resigned as well. That leaves just one town centre manager in the borough, in Woolwich.

What the News Shopper doesn't ask is why they resigned? We've made a few phone calls and the overwhelming comment we've been getting is that excessive political interference leads to disillussionment. We guess that explains why it took 18 monthes to fill the position in Greenwich last time.

The odd thing though is that the Council's said they'll advertise the position "as soon as practicable". As far as we can see the Eltham position is not advertised on the Council website. When you couple that with no advert for the Greenwich position we can't help but wonder if the Woolwich manager is about to see an increase in pay, responsibility and job title. Far be it from us to wildy speculate though, it just seems highly odd that the Council's not started the recruitment process.

We'll just have to keep watching.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The hypocrisy of Greenwich planning

At the Council meeting prior to the elections one of the petitions submitted was by the leader Chris Roberts. It contained just over 1,200 signatures and was against the demolition of Greenwich Market.

We're going to be totally frank with you on this. We don't think the part of Greenwich Market that is in question should be closed and developed on. In that respect we support the petition.

After consideration, the Council has acknowledged it cannot directly save the market because the land is privately owned. However, its made it pretty clear that any development requires planning permission. In other words, "we'll make it very difficult for you to do this".

Interestingly the Council highlighted how Greenwich being a "conservation area" would factor heavily in any planning decisions for the market. When you place that in context of the huge architectural pollution dumped next to Greenwich Station known as the Novatel, the hypocrisy of the Council's planning decisions are quite breathtaking!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Modernising some homes whilst ignoring others?

Back in May we reported about the Council’s housing improvement plans. Although we won't knock anybody wanting to improve people’s homes, a question has to be raised about the maintenance of homes that aren’t due to be modernised until the final phases of the programme are completed in 2010.

From what we've been told, many council tenants have repeatedly complained to their housing office about a variety of problems which include: broken front doors, rising damp in living and sleeping areas, faulty cookers, and (most worryingly) faulty boilers. Now this wouldn’t be an issue if they were actually fixed, but as one resident (who wished to remain anonymous) told us,

“My boiler has been faulty for nearly a year, and we’ve lost count how many times we've reported it. Each time we go to the housing office to complain a work order is placed. However, we then have to take a day off work to wait for the workmen, but often no one shows, and when they do the work men don’t have the correct parts.” Even a visit to their councillor’s surgery hasn’t resolved the issue. “All that the councillor did was to place another work order”.

So what is the council doing to maintain these properties? Is it a case of just “place the work order to keep the tenant happy”, but then not checking to see if the work is done, and wait for the tenant to come back and report it again? Or, as it seems to be the case in a number of areas, properties are to be left until the headline making “Housing Improvement Programme” rolls in. The problem with that is that people are still living in these homes in the meantime.

Despite the Council spending money on telling tenants how much has been spent on homes, the reality of living in much council property isn't even a neighbour of the spin.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Cleansweep Database Records

We've been told that in a response to a petition about graffiti in Coldharbour and Eltham Hill, the Council say there's been extensive graffiti removal in the past three years by Cleansweep staff on both public and private property. They also said Cleansweep have database records cataloguing the work.

We wonder if there would be a sudden IT problem if a councillor asked to see the database records?

The "Greenwich Watcher" speaks to Greenwich Watch

Somone calling themselves the "Greenwich Watcher" (original huh?) has emailed us about the Tory split and some other possibly more libelous things. Thanks for the tip-offs, we're consulting our lawyers on the first one.

According to this new "Greenwich Watcher", the Tory Group is indeed split right down the middle. The whip, Cllr Eileen Glover, got her position as part of a deal which saw Cllr Spencer Drury beat fellow Cllr Chris Taylor for the leadership.

To be fair, we're not really sure this has vast implications to the day to day running of Greenwich. The opposition parties are so poorly represented on the Council that a split will make little difference in their ability to hold the nomeklatura to account.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Local Scouts may get show hall after all?

This evening we've learnt that a written question was submitted at last week's full Council meeting about the Woolwich Scouts Gang Show. The question apparently called on the Council leader, Chris Roberts, to make a statement about whether the Scouts would be able to use the Town Hall for the show.

In his response, Chris Roberts acknowledged the hall was not available after 6pm and that the Council were aware the Scouts wanted to use it beyond that time. Importantly, he concluded that the Council was happy to discuss specific requirements with the Scouts.

We hope our friends in the local scouts will keep us informed of how those discussions go.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Why are we celebrating Sure Start?

This month Greenwich Council is celebrating "National Sure Start Month". This is fourth such celebration and will be marked by a number events across the borough about the achievements of the Sure Start programme. Sounds great doesn't it?

However, besides self-congratulatory celebrations of policy being a little bit Soviet, the evidence suggests that Sure Start might not really be worth celebrating. According to research published in the British Medical Journal by the national Sure Start evaluation team and Birkbeck College, University of London, Sure Start actually harms the children that need it most in deprived areas.

The research conducted comparative analysis of 150 families in Sure Start communities with families in 50 areas of similar deprivation. It found that the most deprived families, such as teengage mothers, lone parents or the unemployed, benefited least from Sure Start. The research found that the primary problem for these groups was that Sure Start was "stressful and intrusive".

Now, as we mentioned the other day, a recent NHS report showed that nearly 70% of the wards in Greenwich are among the "most deprived in England". The report also noted that Greenwich has a serious problem with teenage pregnancy. Arguably, Greenwich's demographic is precisely the groups this research found are being harmed by Sure Start, which beg's the question, why are we celebrating it?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Are the Tories split?

On Wednesday evening it was the first full Council meeting since the elections. Lots of exciting things happened it seems but we're still trying to piece together the full details. One thing we noticed was a motion to re-name Riverside House in Woolwich to Dorothy Mepsted House in honour of the former Tory councillor for New Eltham and Coldharbour, who stepped down at the elections.

The motion in itself isn't particularly interesting, however the fact it wasn't backed by the entire Tory Group is. You'd think that a motion to re-name a building in honour of one of your former councillors would gain the full support of your party, but for some unknown reason it didn't.

The only obvious conclusion we can draw is that the Tories are split down the middle. Presumably someone mentioned Europe!

Council launches anti-drugs initiative

The Council has teamed up with Charlton Athletic striker Darren Bent to promote an anti-drugs campaign over the summer. According to the Council, Bent's image and a legend saying "Get your natural high from sport" will appear on 15 bus shelters around the borough. The posters will have contact details for advice and information. The Council is also printing 30,000 credit card sized cards with the same image and information on it to hand out throughout the summer.

We think any drug education campaigns are highly commendable. We are concerned though that 15 bus shelters is probably less than 1% of the total shelters in the Borough. Surely more posters and less credit card sized cards would have been better? We don't want to be misunderstood though. We think this is a worthy initiative by the Council of which they should be praised, we just wonder if it could've been done even better than it has.

Kidbrooke with Hornfair gets it's own blog

Yesterday, new Tory councillor for Kidbrooke with Hornfair, Andy Jennings, posted a comment to this site. We noticed that Cllr Jennings had actually registered a Blogger account so had a look at his profile. It appears he's set up a blog for his ward.

We're going to monitor the blog closely and see if Cllr Jennings updates it with news for his constituents. If it does become updated regularly we'll add a link to it. We'd like to offer some advice to Cllr Jennings about blogging though. Given the blog is for the ward and not just him, it would be great if he could get his fellow ward councillors to register Blogger accounts and then they can be added as "Team Members" on the blog.

We think the people of Kidbrooke with Hornfair would appreciate being able to read what their ward councillors are doing for them. It would also be refreshing if the party political differences of the Kidbrooke councillors was not an obstacle to them engaging with their constituents together.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Register of Members' Interest

According to the Members Code of Conduct in the Council Constitution it's a requirement for Councillors to register their interests "within 28 days of the provisons of an authority's code of conduct being adopted or applied to that authority or within 28 days of his or her election or appointment to office (if that is later)". By our calculations that means the deadline was the beginning of last week.

Unfortunately we've no way of knowing whether all Councillors have met the requirements. This is because - at the time of writing at least - each Councillor's individual web page simply says "Member's interests forms will be posted as soon as possible". Surely if Councillors had to have the forms in nearly two weeks ago the information should be on the website by now? We're waiting to see whether Cllr Cornforth lists an interest in Tilfen Land.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Our thanks to Glenn at the News Shopper

We'd just like to thank Glenn Ebrey at the New Shopper for taking the time to write an article about us for this weeks paper. No doubt this will add to our unique hit count, which is nearly 1000 for the first two weeks of June.

As we said to Glenn, we're not just here to speak out about the Council but also to provide a platform for your views. In the News Shopper article, the Council has complimented us for taking an "active part in democracy" and we appreciate that acknowledgement, however we also note they don't think we can "make a real difference."

We'd just like to take this opportuntity to point out to our readers that for a site that cannot make a difference it's interesting that the majority of our traffic originates from the Council. We've also heard that in a recent Committee Meeting a question was raised as to why a defense procurement company was going to build Greenwich's schools. If that isn't making a difference we're not quite sure what is.

Thanks again Glenn.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The problems at St Paul's

Back in May, we mentioned an article in the News Shopper about the funding crisis at St Paul's Academy. We're sad to say that the crisis continues, but this is hardly a surprise given the document we've seen about the foundation upon which the project was started.

As some may know, "City Academies" are one of the Government's flagship policies. The scheme is a Public-Private-Partnership type scheme where individuals or groups can sponsor a new school build with a donation of £2m (whether this money also buys you a peerage remains to be seen).

In the case of St Paul's Academy, the Archdiocese of Southwark is the sponsor. It agreed to pay £2m toward the Academy whilst the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) would pay the other £29.5m. However, according to this document released under the Freedom of Information Act, the Archdiocese was "not in a position to meet this [£2m] donation in full". We've found out that the Archdiocese has only actually provided £200,000, and Greenwich Council agreed to pay the outstanding £1.8m upon the sale of the original St Paul's Comprehensive site in 2007.

Just to clarify, the St Paul's Academy project began on the basis that £1.8m of the completion cost would not be available until after completion. The Council says that they're in the hands of the DfES, but from what we can tell they may in fact be the ones responsible for the shortfall in funds.

NHS Report damns Greenwich

According to the new NHS Communtity Profile website, Greenwich is in a shockingly bad state.

The report states that of the 16 wards in the Borough, 11 are among the "most deprived in England". It goes on to say that quality of Council housing is "poor", and GCSE achievement is "low".

The report also confirms what we mentioned about the Leader of the Council's speech at the Mayoral inauguration. In his speech, Chris Roberts admitted that Greenwich was an unhealthy place to bring up children. It appears that the NHS agrees with him, as do we.

We think it'll be interesting to see how the Council reacts to this daming indictment. Especially as the report so clearly contradicts the view of the Borough that the Council promotes through it's press releases and Greenwich Time.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Greenwich one of worst anti-social behaviour areas says Home Secretary

It's come to our attention that the Home Secretary, John Reid MP, is about to mention Greenwich in a big policy announcement. As the Home Office struggles to get back on track after months of scandals, Reid is going to start an "aggressive" media campaign to promote the Prime Minister's much vaunted "Respect Agenda".

As part of this campaign, Reid will be setting up "Respect Areas" in what he considers the worst 10 areas in the country for anti-social behaviour, one of which will be Greenwich. That's the same Greenwich which the Council says is effectively dealing with anti-social behaviour and is a safe place to live.

We welcome the Home Secretary's intervention into Greenwich. It's about time someone in the Labour Party acknowledged the realities of this borough. Perhaps attention from the very top will shock the career-minded council leader's head out of the sand.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Greenwich Station's forecourt

"New and improved Greenwich station forecourt officially unveiled!" says the headline on the latest news release from the Council. It goes on to tell us that the forecourt of Greenwich Station has been "modernised to make the interchange easier for people to use the DLR, train, and bus services and also for passengers arriving by taxi or car.... there is also a new interchange designed specifically for mobility-impaired passengers who will now have access to dedicated parking spaces and tactile paving ramps."

Or in other words, the car park's been turned into a slip road but the disabled bays have been kept. We've managed to sum it up in just 15 words rather than the inane management consultant drivel above.

The odd thing about the press release though is that it's been put out like the Council were directly responsible for these changes. Now we may very well be wrong on this - and perhaps the councillors who read this site from their free home broadband lines can correct us if we are - but isn’t the land managed by the franchise owner, South Eastern? It will have been the franchise that stumped up the cash for the work, and it’ll have been part of its contractual obligations to the Rail Group at the DfT. The only involvement of the Council would've been a planning application, and sending a bloke in a gold medallion to cut a ribbon and smile.

Still, and in the interests of fairness, Len Duval who also went along to the jolly did make a comment about the "collaboration between different agencies". However, we’re pretty sure that’s politician speak for "lots of other people that were not me", but we are quite cynical.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Crossrail update

Well it's been a month since Greenwich Council's petition for a Crossrail station at Woolwich was submitted to the Crossrail Select Committee, and we did say we would try to keep you updated with preceedings.

There appears to have been a number of ammendments made to the bill from the last round of petitions but there is no mention of the Woolwich station in them. However, some parts of the Council's petition relating to Plumstead and the White Hart Road area have got in.

The Council is currently promoting a video it's made with Nick Raynsford MP and local people as part of their campaign, however, we presume much of the campaign must be back door lobbying as Raynsford hasn't spoken about CrossRail in the Commons for some time.

The Select Committee petition process continues and the final date for depositing petitions to the Amended Crossrail Bill is 13th June.

Woolwich waits with baited breath.


Thursday, June 08, 2006

Immunisation restrictions?

According to our spies a memo has been sent out by the local Primary Care Trust stating that it's "universal" BCG immunisation for tuberculosis is to only be given out to ethnic minority children. An interesting definition of the word universal we thought.

In fairness to the Council, the demarcation of power between local medical services and local democratic institutions has been made so hopelessely fuzzy over the past 25 years we're not sure if this is something they could've been involved with or not.

However, what we do know is that at least some of the healthcare professionals working for the PCT think it's ludicrous. After all, infectious respiratory diseases don't just infect someone on the basis of their ethnic origins.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Let them know what you think

Ironically, just after we updated our About Us page and said this site exists to "give the people of Greenwich a platform to make their views known that isn't affiliated to the Council", the Council puts out a press release about how it want to get in touch with the people of Greenwich. Of course, we're not suggesting they're reacting to us (yet) but we thought it was amusing timing.

In the latest press release, the main talking point is something called the "Great Get Together", which will take place at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich on July 1st. According to the release it's a "great chance for residents to talk to their Councillors, face to face, about the regeneration of Woolwich". We agree.

We urge all those people in Charlton, Abbeywood, Middle Park or the other forgotten places of the borough to go along and tell them what you think about the neglect of your area in favour of Woolwich.

City Airport expansion?

Given we know that people in the Council are reading this site we thought we'd take an opportunity to raise an issue and see if we could get a response from any of our Councillors.

About two weeks ago, Airbus conducted compatibility tests at London City with it's 132-seater A318. The tests were part of the airport's expansion plans to carry 8m passengers by 2030 without the need for an extra runway or a change in its operating hours. This comes at a time when the airport is also up for sale by it's owner, the billionaire Dermot Desmond. Currently the property tycoon Robert Tchenguiz and the Carlyle Group are interested in the purchase.

Whilst the airport is not actually in Greenwich Borough, we do have concerns about the introduction of much larger planes and more regular air traffic to the airport. As far as we know, no members of the Council have made any comments on the airport yet, so perhaps we could get a response from someone now? Has anyone spoken to Newham and London City about these developments and the potential noise and environmental impact for our side of the river?

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Kidbrooke Hallucination?

The "Kidbrooke Vision" as it is commonly called regards the timely demise of the hellhole that is the Ferrier Estate. In a recent press release by the Council much play is made of the new partnership the council has with Berkeley Homes (tiny cardboard houses r us) to transform the Ferrier Estate into a veritable oasis. The release says,

"If everything goes to plan, public consultation on the development options could start on the Ferrier Estate in the summer, followed by a planning application later this financial year. Building work on the estate could begin the following year."

That all sounds lovely but may we offer an alternative translation. Instead of "if everything goes to plan" try it with, "if we can successfully bully the owner occupiers into accepting a derisory offer for their homes". That is fair more realistic view of the situation.

For anyone who doesn't know, the Council has been trying to get the last few owner occupiers in the Ferrier to sell up. In fairness to them they don't mind the idea of moving, the problem is what the Council is offering. According to a comment by Chris Roberts in the News Shopper, the Council have offered "the market value of their home plus 10 per cent". That offer was - on a three bedroom flat - £65,000. Market value plus 10% for where? Hartlepool?

The Council have now started to threaten compulsory purchase orders, but by their own admission that will cause about three years of delay. It all puts the hubris of the Kidbrooke Vision press release in perspective. Perhaps hallucination would be a better term than vision?

Defense procurement company to build Greenwich schools?

According to the following press release, Greenwich Council has "entered into final negotiations with a preferred bidder for its multi-million pound Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme." The release goes on to state that subject to condition being met, they have provisonally appointed VT Group plc.

Now we're willing to be corrected on the above link (or our understanding of the press release) but after much Googling the only VT Group plc we can find is a British Defense procurement company who specialise in - among other things - building warships and US defense equipment. The one thing it doesn't say they do is build schools.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Local scouts left without show hall

Woolwich Scouts are looking to Bexley borough to provide the venue for their yearly Gang Show because Greenwich Council has refused to rent the Town Hall out after 6pm.

Woolwich Scouts have been performing their Gang Show at the Town Hall - with the occasional exception - since 1953. In it's current guise, the show has been put on every Easter since 1989 with the exception of 2004 and 2006.

In the past the Council have been highly supportive and accommodating to the show, with the mayor as the VIP guest each year. Nick Raynsford also attended when he was Minister for London. The show's reputation in the Scout Association is so good that groups from as far as field as Glasgow have come to watch. However, the ability of the scouts to perform in their own Borough now looks unlikely due to changes by the Council in available hiring times.

From what we've heard, Woolwich Scouts has written to the Council about this and has not even received a response. We've also heard that the hire time changes are because a member of the council lives in the locale and is not happy with parking and noise during evening events. Sadly we don't have the addresses of every Councillor so cannot confirm whether this is true, however we do think there is a wider issue of concern here.

The Council has made promises to work with local Youth Organisations in order to combat anti-social behaviour. Is ignoring Woolwich Scout Association and forcing them into the neighbouring borough really the best way to go about it?