Wednesday, January 31, 2007

AEG presentation to Council cancelled?

The AEG presentation about the O2 to the full Council tonight appears to have been removed from the Agenda. Can't begin to imagine why!

EXCLUSIVE: TV star to present to Council tonight

Rumour has it that at tonight's Council meeting, AEG will be bringing a special guest to present for them. Jim Bowen of Sunday television fame with Bullseye will be opening the presentation.*

According to the advance copies of his speech he will begin by saying "Look at what you could've won"

* may not be true

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Tories blame Labour for "tainted" Casino bid

The local Tories have been quick to put out a press release blaming Labour directly for the Dome's casino bid becoming "tainted" by sleaze. Cllr Nigel Fletcher said
"I’m angry that Greenwich has paid such a high price today for Labour’s clumsy mishandling of this process. Our bid was badly tainted by suspicions that not everything was above-board or that it was a done deal. John Prescott and other ministers must take a large part of the blame for that, along with the Labour council.”

“We now need to work with AEG as the developers to salvage as much of the jobs and investment as we can from this sorry mess."
As we've already said in our previous post, we don't believe that this is it for the Dome, and frankly, we are positive that it will still get a license.

As we've already noted, the Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell made it evidently clear some months ago that she was able to issue three licenses if she chose to do so. This statement occured not long after the scandals which have mired the Dome in the past year.

We also draw our readers attention to the press release that the Council leader Chris Roberts has issued which simply states
The Council has responded to the Casino Advisory Panel's recommendations to the Government regarding the location of the first regional casino in Manchester. The Casino Advisory Panel made the recommendation today to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport over the casino location.

The Leader of Greenwich Council, Councillor Chris Roberts said: "I would like to congratulate Manchester on the success of their bid and wish them every success for the future." I would also like to pay tribute to the Casino Advisory Panel for their hard work and commitment
to the process."
We have it on good authority that the Council is very much of the mind that the decision is only "advisory" (hence the name of the Panel), so we doubt very much that this tale is over.

At some point in the not too distant future expect an announcement about Greeniwch and Blacpool licenses, but expect it to be buried somewhere in the back pages by a bigger, more important story, for example, "Prime Minister resigns"?

Greenwich loses Casino to Manchester... or does it?

The news has hit the wire that Manchester, not Greenwich or Blackpool will get the first super-casino license. However, we would like to remind out readers that the Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell has it within her power to issue three licenses if she wants. It ain't over for Greenwich and Blackpool yet.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Casino decision due tomorrow

Tomorrow the decision on whether there will be a license issued for a super-casino at the Dome will be announced. The following day, according to the Council agenda, AEG will be presenting their O2 vision to the full public meeting of Greenwich Council.

Does 2 + 2 = 4?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Of course we looked at other options!

Last Tuesday saw the latest instalment in the Plumstead Manor vs Prince Albert pub and vicarage saga as the Tories on the Council called the decision in to something called the ‘Overview and Scrutiny Call-In Sub Committee’ (with names like these you can see why more people don’t get involved in democracy).

The Tories argued that the original decision to compulsory purchase the pub and vicarage was wrong because there was no evidence that the Council officers had seriously considered any other option. The elderly deputy leader of the Tories put forward an alternative plan, which officers said they had considered and dismissed although they had no documentation to this effect and the wording of the CPO brief suggested they hadn’t.

Another one argued that the plan was wrong as it didn’t fit in with any education plan and was only happening as a result of the Council’s inability to plan school places and desperation to get the Private Finance Initiative money before Gordon Brown spends it all elsewhere.

It was also revealed that the reason they are taking the pub and vicarage off their owners is so they can have more playground space in a school which faces Plumstead Common. More power to the bureaucrats we say!

Quote of the night: Labour Cllr and Chair of the Education Scrutiny Committee Danny Thorpe “I don’t think anyone would see this Compulsory Purchase as part of a grand plan.” We couldn’t have put it better ourselves Danny – no plan, no idea and no way forward for the kids of Greenwich!

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Councillor to be censured for speaking honestly

Liberal Democrat Councillor (one half of the dynamic duo) Paul Webbewood is not in the good books of the ruling Labour Group of the Council it seems. In the Agenda for next week's full Council meeting there is a motion of censure against him which states,
"Council believes that it is imperative to uphold the integrity of the office of the Mayor and respect the individual holding that office. As such it believes that all members should conduct themselves in a manner which befits this standard.

Council believes that the behaviour of Councillor Webbewood at the conclusion of the Council meeting in November 2006 fell short of that standard of behaviour and regrets that a request conveyed to him via his party leadership to apologise at the December meeting was not acted upon.

Therefore Council censures Councillor Webbewood for this behaviour both at the conclusion of the meeting and subsequently for the continuing his abuse of the Mayor in the Parlour following its conclusion.

Council calls on Councillor Webbewood to apologise for his inappropriate action."
All he did was say "shame on you Mr Mayor" from what we can tell when the last meeting was abruptly closed. Understandable given that the closire was, apparently, against the rules laid down in the Constitution (soon to be changed).

It must be some sort of joke for them to say that it's "imperative to uphold the integrity of the office of the Mayor" though. After all it's not as if the Mayor's office hasn't been utterly compromised by political interference in the past from the ruling group is it?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

AEG to give presentation to full Council?

We've just learnt that AEG, the owner of the Dome/O2, will be giving a presentation to the full Council meeting next week (Jan 31st) on what it's been up to in the Dome.
Item 12. Presentation from AEG on the O2 Dome
It's a public meeting so if you're interested we suggest you go. If you look carefully you might even spot us.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Council to ban press from taking notes without permission?

According to a document we've received, the Council is planning to curtail democracy further by changing it's Constitution in order to restrict the reporting of proceedings aswell as closing down scrutiny and debate.

The Council wish to make the length of notice it requires for public questions to be extended by two days. It is also proposing to bring in a new rule that will require the press or public to get permission from the Mayor in consultation with the Chief Executive to "record" meetings.

The wording of the proposals seem to suggest that "record" literally means sitting in the room with a notepad, as the document later goes on to talk about having meetings "sound recorded" in order to help with "recording" the meeting.

The implication of this change is that the Council does not believe someone should be allowed to enter a public meeting, make note of what was said, and then repeat it with out first getting permission to do so. We're not quite sure how the meeting can be called "public" in those circumstances.

The Council also plans to restrict the number of questions it can be asked at a meeting, and wants to extend the length of time before a question on the "same substance" can be asked again to "three meetings or greater". In the case of last year that would mean a question asked at Council in May 2006 could not be re-asked until January 2007 (given the cancelled meetings).

Long live scrutiny and democracy!

Update: We've been advised that when the Council says "record" they really only mean with a sound device. We're not sure why they then specifcally tak about "sound recording" as well, but we'll give them the beneift of the doubt.

This does make us wonder though, why the sudden requirement? Has someone been recording the proceedings? It certainly wasn't us, we just use the minutes. There still remains the issue of public and councillor questions.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

"String'em up" in Eltham?

News reaches us about a meeting that was held in the past week where the Council reviewed the "Great Get Togethers" to see how it was going. Katrina Delaney, chief Council spinner press officer apparently informed the meeting about each areas in the borough and what the feedback was.

As you'd imagine, there were concerns about ASBOS, graffiti the usual stuff in places like Thamesmead, Charlton, Kidbrooke etc. Then when she got to Eltham it was announced that all they cared about was bringing back the death penalty.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Council's latest IT system revealed

Thanks to one of our readers who points out that in an advert for the new library catalogue, the council have accidently revealed the latest IT systems they use.

Click image for large version

They are saying that the '80s are coming back!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Greenwich educashun in a mess

Six of Greenwich's secondary schools are in the bottom 63 of the 450 or so secondary schools in London according to league tables released yesterday. Not only this but the borough has some of the worst GCSE results in the entire country for the basic core subjects. This doesn't come as a surprise to us, everyone knows that Greenwich's education is absolutely atrocious. That's why a parents with half a brain uses Bexley instead.

Sadly, we, that is the people of this borough, continue to vote in a Council leadership who care more about their own property investments, political careers or just getting the cash allowance than they do about the kids. We reap what we sow.

If you want a life, then don't believe the Council's bookmark.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Council workers made to re-apply for their own jobs

Word reaches us that because of the Council's budget cuts efficiency savings, a number of staff are being made to re-apply for their own jobs. In some cases, staff who have been on secondment places for quite literally years are finding they have to apply for the job they should be on rather than their seconded role.

If anyone re-applying for their own job would like to get in touch and tell us what's going on you know what to do.

Friday, January 05, 2007

South and East London Against the Casino

As readers of the site will know, there is quiter a health discussion going on here regarding the decision of local campaigners to petition Downing Street about the lack of consultation over hte proposed "super-casino" at the Dome/O2.

The group behind the petition is called South and East London Against the Casino (SELAC) and has also now launched a website to accompany their campaign here.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Immigration raid at North Greenwich Station

According to a reader's email there were a number of Immigration officials backed by police at North Greenwich station this morning stopping Eastern european builders heading for the Dome and the Tube. The email says this is the second time in as many months that they've seen this happen.

We realise this has nothing to do with the Council, we just thought we'd throw it out as a bit of news from the area that the press probably won't report.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Local group petitions Downing Street over Dome casino?

We've just been sent a link to an e-petition on Downing Street's website which is protesting at the plans for a casino located in the Dome (officially now called O2). The petition states:
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to ensure that the new regional casino goes where local people have been fully consulted and both want and need a regional casino. Greenwich and south-east London does not want one.

The people of Greenwich and south-east London have not been asked whether or not they want the UK's regional casino located in Greenwich. There has been no public debate; attempts by local stakeholders to express views against the "supercasino" have been quashed. Yet it appears that the supercasino is about to be forced upon them by Government, the Anschutz Entertainment Group, and Greenwich Council, in the O2 (Millennium Dome).

Large casinos attract organised crime and cause family break-up, and the cost to the local community of a large casino is nearly double any short-term benefits that it might bring. South and East London Against The Casino (SELAC) represents all those local people, probably the majority, who would rather the regional casino went where it is wanted. It is not wanted here in south-east London. Greenwich desperately needs real wealth-creation initiatives, and the only people who make money out of casinos are the casino operators.
There are currently 13 signatures including that of a local Imman.

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