Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Plumstead Common nightclub license rejected

Word reaches us from our spies that the application for a license to convert the old Ship Inn on Plumstead Common Road into a private members nightclub has been rejected this evening. Apparently there were around 200 people at the meeting and they had to move it into the Public Hall. It's likely the applicant will appeal but if they maintain their request to remove a 48 hour cooling off period for new members then the local Police have said they will also be making representations.

Council breaks new agesim laws in job advert?

A reader has just sent us a link to a job on the Council website and suggested that the Council may be in breach of the new agesim laws that came into force at the beginning on October.

We're not going to pretend that we're HR lawyers, but the advert states the applicant must "have at least 3 year's experience". If the reporting of these new laws in the national media is correct, then the advert could well be a contravention.

Monday, October 30, 2006

It's not better by bus!

The other day we posted regarding the car park at North Greenwich station. As we said back then, the number of spaces for station users is going to significantly reduced in January to make way for car park spaces. According to the Council we shouldn't really be that bothered by such things we can all use the wonderful public transport system instead.

The picture you see in this post (click for larger version) is Greenwich this morning. Total gridlock. Why? Well it appears that someone thought it would be a brilliant idea to have roadworks at the Blackwall Tunnel approach lane and on Trafalgar Road at the same time. You're better off by bus? No, you're better off on foot, it's quicker.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Four Year Rule?

A reader has brought this rather worrying article in today's Guardian to our attention. The Government it appears is proposing to change the rules so that leaders of Council's are formally elected to their positions for four years.

The current scenario is that leaders of Council enjoy their position much like Tony Blair enjoys his as Prime Minister. Their party elects him as leader and he does the job, always mindful that he coulc be booted out at any time. This is how Greenwich works right now.

We're aware that the split in the local Labour Party is, to say the least, acrimonious, so we imagine the news of a "four year rule" will certainly set the tongues wagging.

Newsshopper short of copy?

The NewsShopper is running an article this week under the headline "Boroughs have deprived areas" and lists how poor Greenwich is (and Lewisham), and how unhealthy it is as well, citing the Department of Health's profile of the borough.

This is in no way the same story that they ran on June 20th and we ran on June 12th. Still, repeating stories like this are quite important, else there is no counternance to the spin the Council puts out.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

EXCLUSIVE: Raynsford does some work

We just thought we'd let people know that it's been brought to our attention that the MP for Greenwich and Woolwich, Nick Raynsford, having apparently delegated to his colleague from Eltham recently, is back and working for you in the House of Commons.

Yesterday he put down an Early Day motion which was also signed by Clive Efford and John Austin, calling on the Secretary of State for Transport, Douglas Alexander, to reverse his decision which rejected the Crossrail Station for Woolwich.

Sadly, it may well be the supporters of the motion that bring about it's failure. We've noticed that whilst there are a significant number of signatures, they're mostly made up of people the Government ignores on a daily basis. They're all either backbench pariahs, ex-ministers or what the media lovingly call the "usual suspects".

We watch with baited breath.

North Greenwich station car park to become car park

The propaganda at North Greenwich station has begun in ernest it seems. Yesterday, we were emailed about leaflets put on every car in the car park stating the following:
Fron 1st January 2007 the number of car park spaces in the North greenwich station car park will be signifciantly reduced"
The great thing is the small print whch essentially says the car park spaces will be lost to make space for errr.... car park spaces. What we don't understand is why the numerous car parks created for the Dome can't be used, there are literally hundreds of parking spaces that have been standing inaccessible and empty for the past six years. Whatveer happened to joined-up thinking?

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Woolwich hospital cuts budget by more than £15m

We've just learnt that the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich, a flagship Government PFI project, cut its budget last year by £11 million. It is expecting to cut it further by somewhere in the region of £6 million next year.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Where are the Tory Party?

Many months ago we ran a piece that reviewed the party political websites. The long and short of that review was that the Tories were the best at updating their website. Sadly, we've changed our minds on that recently.

Now obviously the Labour Party still has problems with their websites, but the local Tory website seems to be going the same way. The last time they bothered to update it was September 19th.

Obviously there's been a suspension of democracy in Greenwich, but it appears there's also been a suspension of party political activity too. So we have to ask oursleves, where are the Tories? We've seen them in the local papers so why the silence on their website?

Update: Cllr Jennings has emailed us to say that "normal service will be resumed next week".

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Crossrail for Woolwich canned

We felt we ought to pass comment on this although we admit we've again been a little slack recently. As many will remeber, back in July there was quite a bit of fanfare by the Council about it's alleged success at the Crossrail Select Committee.

Back then we pointed out that there remained a massive shortfall in funding for a station at Woolwich and were concerned about who was going to foot the bill. It appears that the Government have decided that it definitely won't be them as they've canned the proposal on cost gorunds. However, the Council says it will fight on.

The Council leader Chris Roberts says that the "financial case for Woolwich has been made on several occasions" which is certainly true, the case has been made on several occassions and on several occassions it has now been shown to be a poor case. If the Council collected arrears more effectively, and spent it money a little more wisely perhaps it might have been able to win that argument?

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Council Leader spins line on Dome to Councillor

Greenwich Council's leader, Chris Robert has been caught out spinning about the Dome to a local councillor. Back in May, Cllr Nigel Fletcher made a request to see a PriceWaterhouse Cooper report into the Dome casino bid. As we originally reported, Cllr Fletcher was told at the time that a "decision has been made by the Leader of the Council, in consultation with the Chief Executive, not to release the report".

Then, in later correspondence with the Council, Cllr Fletcher was told by the Chief Executive, Mary Ney, that decisions would "not taken by the Leader but would be dealt with by [the Head of Legal Services] and myself".

However, emails obtained by Cllr Fletcher under the Freedom of Information Act show that his original request was sent directly to the Council Leader Chris Roberts by an officer stating: "Could you let me know if you want Cllr. Fletcher to be sent a copy of the draft report?".

In further emails, the officers discussed with Chris Roberts how they should handle media requests and asked. "Would it be fair to say it's not the property of the Leader and that it's not simply up to you Chris to release it?"

This revelation yet again brings into question the Council's claims that it is unable to release the report into the Dome. It's pretty clear the entire Dome project is destined to be mired in controversy. Perhaps at the next Council meeting someone will ask questions about it, assuming the Council bother having a meeting of course.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Will the Council ever admit its failed with local schools?

Back in 2000, to much national fanfare, Mike Murphy became the head teacher of Crown Woods Comprehensive School. At the time it got massive coverage because he was the highest paid Head in the country on a salary of £90,000 which, presumably, with inflation is above £100K now. The media dubbed him a "super-head".

In that academic year, 2000-2001, 33% of Crown Woods pupils achieved 5 A-C grades at GCSE *. In the academic year 2005-2006, 32% of Crown Woods pupils achieved 5 A-C grades at GCSE *. Perhaps the "super" prefix was misplaced?

We've been wondering for some time now whether Greenwich Council has the courage and honesty to admit that local schools are failing so disasterously. Crown Woods is a case in point. We have a headteacher being annually paid what would take some 20 years to earn, and the results at his school are now worse than when he took over five years ago.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A message to Patrick

We moved to Beta Blogger recently and it appears all comment email alerts were being categorised as spam. However Patrick, you will note that the comment you posted here has now been posted because we're not afraid of debate.

We're not sure about this "run by tories" line though. When we said we didn't have a party political line to toe we meant it. Hence we've written stories about all the parties represented on Greenwich Council, as the Councillors and regulars who read this site will confirm.

The sad fact is though, the Council is controlled by Labour, and has been for 35 years. The Tories are not particularly effective given they're split straight down the middle, and with the greatest of respect to Cllr Webbewood who comments here, the Lib Dem dynamic duo are even more ineffective.

We do think Patrick that you should have a look at the archives of the site as they do have reports about crime, hospitals, education and housing. Thanks for your comment Patrick though, we do always publish comments that are critical of us.

Yes, we're opinionated about Greenwich, and yes, we're negative because we walk around with our eyes open. This site however is about engaging in debate. If you don't like what we say then post a comment and say so. If you think we've got something wrong, then so say. Unlike the Council we're not interested in closing down discussion or controlling "the message".

Kind regards

Greenwich Watch

Council fails to spot benefit fraud for eight years

The Council's failure really does know no bounds it seems, even when it comes to fraud. In a truly spectacular piece of spin, they're attemtping to portray the prosecution of a women who successfully defrauded the Council for eight years as a success for the Council's anti-fraud team.

According to the Council Leader Chris Roberts, the case "once again demonstrates how committed Greenwich Council is to taking action against people who defraud the system." So committed to taking action that in this case it went on from 1996 to 2004 before anyone noticed?

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

South-East London Bloggers site

As it's Sunday we thought we're take the opportunity to promote another local blog we've just discovered in our traffic referrer logs. It's called SELblog and is about "Life and politics in Bromley, Bexley, Greenwich and Lewisham". Hopefully over the coming months we can work with the two people running it and cross promote stories that may be of relevance. Bookmark SELblog today.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Greenwich Watch makes the Mercury

You can't beat a bit of free publicity, and we've got that this week in the Mercury. They've reported on the issue of our logo and the Council's legal department (click image for larger version). Amusingly the Council spokeswoman said that "legal action was not threatened" and is then reported as saying if we don't agree to their request they will take legal action.

So let's just clarify, they're not threatening us with legal action but if we don't do what they say they'll take legal action? We're not quite sure what they can actually take legal action against us for though. We're not using their image, we're using an image that was inspired by them but is not theirs. At least they've moved away from the idiocy of claiming owenrship of "green".


Clive Efford - MP for Eltham and Greenwich and Woolwich?

Where exactly is Nick Raynsford MP? That's the question we've been asking ourselves since we saw the front page of this week's News Shopper. The paper reports on the death of man in Woolwich during a police arrest and carries an inset and quote from the MP for Eltham, Clive Efford?

Why is Efford sticking is nose into business outside his own constituency we wonder? It's not as if he has a remit on matters of law and order or criminal justice. Besides being a backbench MP the only other position he holds is the Transport Select Committee.

Our initial thought was that he might be filling in for Raynsford, so we called Greenwich & Woolwich Labour Party (yes that was us), and asked whether Raynsford was ill. Apparently he's not, in fact he's a "hard working MP". What was interesting is that they knew nothing about Efford and the News Shopper story.

So what does all this mean? Well, given the comments here, perhaps Efford is looking to his post-Parliamentary future already? It's an open secret that there is little love loss between Eltham and Greenwich Labour parties, we imagine there will be some angry phone calls between some of them tonight.

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