Sunday, April 29, 2007

Crack dens shut down in Woolwich

We've just learned that the Police made 19 arrests and shut down a number of crack dens in Council property in Woolwich last week. The leader of the COuncil Chris Roberts said in statement that the Council will not "tolerate people bringing misery to Greenwich and will use all our resources, including removing Council tenancies and seeking ASBOs, to support the police. Local residents brought this problem to our attention and I am pleased to report that it was successfully tackled."

We fully agree with the Council leader on this. Shutting down drug dealing dens in Greenwich is an effective use of Police time and resources. However, it bothers us that whilst the Council says this, it's also been alleged to us that a senior councillor on the controlling group lives next to a property that many residents suspect of being involved in drug dealing too.

If the allegation is correct, we'd have thought it would be one of the first places to be shut down by the Police.

Labels: , ,

Friday, April 27, 2007

Council to confiscate Ferrier residents furniture?

It's been brought to our attention that the last remaining residents in the Ferrier Estate who are being forced out of the homes they own and chucked a derisory sum of money that will see them forced back into social housing have had yet another slap in the face from the Council.

Apparently, the Council will not allow the residents to take any of their furniture with them and instead will pay them half of the second-hand sale value for it. The Council says that the Ferrier Estate is infested with fire ants therefore all the furniture in it might be too hence the disgustingly low compensation.

So not only is the Council confiscating the privately owned homes forcing aspirational working class voters off the property ladder, they're taking away their furniture too irrespective of age and giving them peanuts for it that will never cover the cost of replacement. In our view it's criminal.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Council labels pub it wants to demolish a local landmark

According to page 52 of the Council's Plumstead Common Conservation document, the Prince Albert Public House is to be added to the protected "local list" of buildings. Is this the same Prince Albert Public House that the Council wants to demolish and has a compulsory purchase order on?

Or perhaps they actually mean the Prince of Wales Pub in Plumstead Common Road, as that is the address they give for it? Even if it is, it's amusing that they've also listed the Prince Albert as a "memorable" building that can be "described as having landmark character".

Incompetence in proof reading? Or just incompetence in calling a place they wish to rip down a landmark? Either way, any purchase should, in our opinion, be halted whilst the Council explains how it can praise somewhere it is planning to get rid of.

We'd like to thank the Plumstead blogger, Sibonetic for bringing this to our attention.

Labels: ,

Would let your kids play here?

An annoyed resident from Plumstead has just emailed us this morning about the state of Winns Common playground area, they kindly sent us some pictures too. He says that state of graffiti in the playground is appalling and it's hasn't been cleaned in over a year.

So much for Greenwich being cleaner! Our advice to the resident is to go along to the Council's Great Get Together on June 30th. It just so happens to be on Winns Common. Grab the lazy overpaid waste of space and drag them over to the playground and point out what an absolute shower of shit they are. Probably best that you don't swear at them though, they might try and give you an ASBO.

If anyone has anymore more pictures of the appalling mess that the borough is in do send them in. It's easy to contact us

Labels: , ,

Full Council tonight

Readers may or may not be aware that it's full Council tonight. Unlike the past few meetings this one is unlikely to go on late. The Agenda that we've seen appears to rather short. The Budget cuts have been set already, the Audit Commission has told the Council how brilliant shit it is and pay rises have been agreed.

There is the matter of the controlling Labour Group choosing who it's new sheepdog Mayor is of course, but who really cares about that? After all, everyone knows that they won't pick an Opposition person to do the job, they haven't for the past 35 years so why should the nomenklatura change the habit of a lifetime? You live in a democratic paradise in Greenwich, never forget that, the Glorious Leader says so in Pravda Greenwich Time.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Creating conditions to justify a policy?

Let's see shall we, first they start secret plans for a congestion charge in Greenwich. The Council and Mayor both blame each other with a "nothing to do with us Guv" line and that it's one of many possibilities. Then the parking facilities at the local Tube station are drastically cut forces traffic to park within the perimeter of the proposed zones having a knock on impact on traffic congestion over all.

The Council then started proceedings to shut down an old school that sits on the edge of the proposed congestion zone and says it wants to move it to the other side of the said zone on waste ground that is contaminated with all sorts of shit, thereby forcing more traffic through the zone and creating greater congestion.

Finally the tidal flow system for Northbound traffic on the congested Blackwall Tunnel approach is scrapped on the grounds that there have been a handful of accidents in its 29 year existence, thereby dispersing traffic off the dual carriage-way and through Greenwich creating more congestion.

Soon we will hear a joint announcement from the Council, Mayor and TfL about how congestion in Greenwich has become untenable and a charge is the only solution to a situation they exasperated through either (a) deliberately manipulation or more likely (b) sheer incompetence in the traditional pastime of "thinking".

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, April 19, 2007

We're not shit, honest!

Firstly let us apologise for not posting for so long. First there was Easter and then we had a minor catastrophe in our office involving a fuse box and daisy-chained plug extension. We've now sacked the pimply faced youth we were employing and replaced him with bag of frozen peas. The team felt the peas would be more useful.

Now that we have the apologies over with, we did laugh heartily at Council's spin on their report/letter from the Audit Commission. "Greenwich Council’s finances 'improving well'" it says, and then tub-thumps about how they keep the books so well. We're subjected to the leader of the Council, Chris Roberts, telling us that the letters shows the Council are "prudent" in "handling our public finances" and that the report is "positive about the council’s abilities to manage its finances, both currently and into the future". What the press release doesn't mention is that the report actually said some very negative things too.

Greenwich is shit at culture; it's shit at education; it's shit at housing; it's shit at social care. It's really good at giving the shits in power pay rises, and it's really good at not spending money properly on us shits. The shit, by far, out weighs the non-shit in the letter. We're shittier than a shitty stick stuck on a shitty park that covered in litter and..... shit.

We shouldn't forget of course that the "direction of travel" in improvement is going the right way. We also shouldn't forget that there is no reverse in the scoring scheme. A Council cannot not "improve" anyway. There is only one direction that Audit Commission can say a Council is going in. Yes, the Audit Commission is independent, but the rules under which it operates are nonsense. Hence we have a report where the Council gets shittier in numerous areas and is still scored as "improving well".

Should people wish to read the letter then it can be downloaded for FREE here. Alternatively people could PAY Greenwich Councils' Finance Director £10 for a copy of the 14 pages to printed out and posted to you. That's just over a pound a page - is it any wonder they scored well on finance? First they bleed us dry with their salaries for doing sod all; then they charge us a tenner to print out a letter.


Saturday, April 14, 2007

No late license for McDonald's in Eltham

News reaches us this morning that McDonald's have withdrawn their application for a 5am license in Eltham High Street. The Olympic sponsor in an Olympic Borough has failed it seems after the Tories kicked off the opposition and the Labour MP followed. The questions we have are where were the Lib Dems? And when will the application for late licenses at other Borough McDonald's arrive?

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A recipe for good decision making?

Ingredients: take one meeting, make it too long for any member of the public to want to sit through, then stir with a sprinkling of preventing the public from speaking. Cook for at least 3 hours.

Should readers wonder where we are coming from, we've been contacted over the weekend by a clearly disgruntled attendee of last Wednesday's Greenwich Area Planning and Environment Committee meeting.

From what we've been told it seems the agenda was heavily loaded meaning the meeting didn't finish until after 10pm. This may not seem late to some, but given it started at 6.30pm we think it might actually be longer than a lot of the full Council meetings (assuming they don't get abruptly ended by own puppet Mayor.

At the meeting there were nine items for debate; the first 5 apparently took over 3 hours, and the final four took about 20 minutes - this was due to everyone deciding they wanted to go home and catch Newsnight.

As with any planning type meeting, the public often attend and part of their local democratic rights mean they are entitled to speak as well on matters of concern to them on the agenda. Sadly we've learnt that this right was overlooked completely as the meeting went on.

Apparently, a decision was taken by the committee and the chair of the Planning Board, Cllr Alex Grant simply moved on ignoring the someone who had been patiently sitting for three hours waiting to speak.

This local resident protested, and the Chair allowed them to speak. However he also made clear that the decision had already been taken anyway so their words would have no bearing on the matter.

We wonder whether it would make more sense to have more frequent, but shorter meetings, so that the public don't have to sit for three hours only to be denied their rights by the Chair of Planning?

This would mean a little more work for Cllr Grant but as his members' interest entry shows he's doesn't have a job so it's not like he doesn't have the time to actually earn his £27,701


Thursday, April 05, 2007

The cost of democracy for the YouTube Generation

Yesterday we wondered whether the Council would be brave enough to webcast more of their meetings. We think that they probably wouldn't be willing to do it simply because they're not the biggest fans of transparency.

Of course if they did consider it they probably wouldn't say that was the reason for rejecting it. We imagine they would be more likely to reject it on the grounds of cost even though it is actually relatively cheap when it is compared to the Council's total spend on publicity each year.

To take a starting system from Public-i, which would cover the leasing of hardware, full support, streaming and hosting costs would actually only cost them between £13,000 and £15,000 for the around 60 hours of webcasting each year.

That would, given the Council's habit of necessarily holding a full meeting each month, would easily cover the cost of letting us watch them. They would have to employ an operator for those 60 hours, but that could be pro-rata and would come in at next to nothing.

This would mean that councillors from the controlling group would be able to be watched by the public though. Given that they're apparently not allowed to speak to press it's unlikely an experiment in democracy for the YouTube Generation will ever come about.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Could the Council be so brave and radical?

Here at GW Towers we've been having a look around the Internet at how other Council carry out their duties to the electorate and it really doesn't make Greenwich look very good. Other Councils are exceptional at making documents available online for residents and a significant number of them even provide video webcasts of Council meetings.

We think it would be great for Greenwich if the meetings could be watched live (and archived for later viewing). Given the amount of money that Greenwich is spending on IT each year this shouldn't be difficult for it to do, and there are even organisations out there just for Public Authorities too use such as Public-i.

Something tells us that the leader wouldn't have the balls to do it though. Transparency is not exactly the Council's strong point, plus residents would be able to watch exactly what nonsense goes on in the Council chamber.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Council threatened with Judicial Review over sheltered housing cuts

News reaches us that the Council has been threatened with legal action and the potential of Judicial Review into its proposals to arbitrarily close a number of old peoples home, beginning with Richard Neve House.

In recent weeks we've learned that the Council has been sending out letters to sheltered accommodation residents across the borough using phrases such as "we want to assure you you're accommodation will not be closing at this time" and then inviting them to consultation.

The consultation meetings from what we've been told consists of the Council essentially telling elderly residents that it is too skint to make their homes meet the "Decent Homes2 standards so they plan to change their use and kick the old people out.

This was until last week where it emerged that residents of Richard Neve House have got a lawyer involved who threatened the Council with Judicial Review. The result was that the Council backed down and agreed to further consultation, whilst of course holding the line that a review would "fail". If they're so sure why back down?

Monday, April 02, 2007

"We don't want a payrise"

This morning we've received an email telling us that the Opposition parties on the Council voted against their pay rises.