Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Council bans the Mercury from its offices

Over the last few weeks readers of the local paper the Mercury might have noticed a change in editorial coverage, with the paper now being more critical of the council. The paper used to be given out for free in the entrance hall of the Town Hall but since the change in tone it is no more.

When the paper tendee towards reproducing Council press releases and it was responsible for distributing the Council's own propaganda paper, Greenwich Time, it was much more in favour. We guess there really is such a thing as bad press.

When we started this blog up we were a little rude about the local press, but in that time we've built a bit of a relationship up with some of them. We feel your pain, keep up the scrutinising work.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Will they have an office on Council property?

Having come in for some flak in the comments here for never writing about local Council politics, the Eltham North councillor Nigel Fletcher - he of O2 ticket infamy - has spotted an advert on the official Labour Party website which is looking for a "Borough Organiser" for Greenwich.

Councillor Fletcher calls the post a "spinner" which you'd expect because he's a Tory. The only question we have is where the successful applicant will operate from. If the applicant takes a role which sees them operating out of Council offices then expect comment from us. If not, then it's just a job for a leaflet writer in advance of the GLA elections (and any possible by-elections) next May.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Thamesmead "Fight the Flights" campaign launched

After the abject failure of the Council to consult with resident in Thamesmead about the expansion of London City Airport even though it was their duty, the local resident have launched a campaign called "Fight the Flights" and now have a Downing Street petition which includes the GLA Green Party representative, Jenny Jones amongst its growing signatories.

Meanwhile, we found it highly amusing to note that whilst residents that live less than a mile from the runway are being ignored by Greenwich Council. The residents further down the north side of river in Barking and Dagenham are seeing their views fought for by their Council. Council official there have said they will do all they can to block the airport expansion because of the increase in pollution and noise.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Council takes money from schools to fill black hole in its own budget

Anyone who watches the news may have heard about the plans for the claw-back of funds from schools that don't spend all their money. The theory, called "control balance mechanism" goes like this. If a school is given £100,000 to spend and it manages it finances well and still has money left in the bank at the end of the year the Government, or more correctly Council, can take the money back.

In Greenwich there are 56 such prudent and fiscally sound schools, four of which it has been decided simply cannot justify being allowed to keep the money they have failed to pour down the drain. As such our fiscally unsound, budget cutting, redundancy making, maladminstered and overall financially incompetent Council will be clawing back £36,000, which covered just over 33% of the money they wisely spent on a corporate box at the O2.

Government to give Council power to create congestion zone

Many local people have been rejoicing about the fact that Tfl's own polling research has shown a majority against congestion charging in Greenwich the plans for which were exclusively revealed by us in February. However, rejoicing may be premature as the charge may yet come without the help of TfL.

Yesterday the Government published its proposal for a local transport bill which will give the local authority, in other words the Council, the legal power "to develop proposals for local road pricing schemes" and give them "the freedom and flexibility to do so in a way that best meets local needs".

This would mean that the Council could if it so wished just set up a congestion zone whenever and wherever it likes in the Borough. Given the dictatorial nature of the Council leadership Greenwich may yet find itself subject to charging. The Council is quite skint right now (hence the looming job cuts) so they have a driver (excuse the pun) to have more revenue generation. It will mask their financial incompetence.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Thamesmead residents embarass local MP on airport expansion

Word reaches us that the MP for Erith and Thamesmead, John Austin, was present a special event in Thamesmead run by Friends of the Earth about what people could do in relation to climate change. We've been informed that Mr Austin gave a rip-roaring speech where he boasted of his commitment to reducing Co2 emissions in relation to the Government's Climate Change bill, but also, that he wanted to push for greater restriction on aviation as well.

Yes dear reader that's right, the MP for the area that has not been consulted about significant aviation expansion less than a mile from its border is apparently very concerned about the impact of aviation on the environment. Our spies also inform us that Mr Austin found himself questioned about this apparent hypocrisy and his response has caused us great amusement here.

He informed the room that he had only learned about the expansion a few days before - reading this website was he?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Labour rebellion votes for laziness?

Yet again it seems that leaving the Council Meeting early in order to get a drink in the pub has meant that we missed something of note. It would appear that for one of the first times ever the controlling Labour Group rebelled against its leadership.

According to the rules when a Full Council meeting goes past a certain time they have to have a vote on whether to extend it by ten minutes or so. When the vote came the leader of the Council , Chris Roberts, and his deputy Peter Brooks voted to do so (along with the opposition councillors). Meanwhile the rest of the Labour Group all voted against.

Now some people might say that we have it in for Roberts and Brooks but on this occasion we don't. Unlike their rebellious colleagues these two didn't vote for laziness.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Fear our Name!

The one thing that stood out for us at last nights Full Council was when a question was asked about the failure to attend a meeting of the London City Airport Consultative Committee for four years.

In his response, Peter "what do I do for my money?" Brooks referred to this website as the source of such accusations but didn't dare speak our name. He didn't deny that no one had attended the committee but, and our shorthand is not the best, we're sure he claimed that he did send apologies and the minutes showed these. These must be "special Peter Brooks only minutes" rather than the ones they publish then? The justification for not attending was that he always reads the agendas and if there is nothing of impact on Greenwich he does not attend.

That's right, according to the official line from the Council, the expansion of flights taking off and landing by a 40,000 a year over West Thamesmead (which sits less than a mile from the end of the runway) has no impact on the borough. Peter Brooks is the councillor that represents.... yep.... Thamesmead Moorings - although we wonder if he knows how to get there outside of an election period.