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Bonkers Blog December 2014

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1 December (Part 1) - How should £6 million be spent?

Tatty The area around Abbey Wood station is undoubtedly a mess. To the south it boasts twenty or so businesses but not a single old style shop, butcher, green grocer etc. The electrical goods and ironmonger are long gone. It has a newsagent, a gift shop which doubles as a florist, a couple of bookies, ditto cab offices, a trio of estate agents, and at least half a dozen hairdressers. Oh, and a chemist which I no longer use because some of its prices are near to double that of another in Picardy Street only a mile away.

And did I mention it looks perpetually tatty? Frequently litter and gum strewn pavements on the Greenwich side, a narrow but cleaner path on the Bexley side. And there’s a pub which got the worst News Shopper Pub Spy review ever. “Unforgivably repellent.”

To the north there is another shop and a Caribbean Cash & Carry.

Get the picture? The area badly needs loving attention.

If you can believe a News Shopper’s report, Bexley and Greenwich councils have conjured up six million pounds from various money pots (TfL, Network Rail etc.) to spend on the new station environs. That’s one hell of a lot of money for one small location. It’s the same as what was spent on Broadway and Sidcup High Street combined.

What do they plan to give us with our money? The plans appear to be half baked at best.

Gayton Road (all of 50 yards long) and Felixstowe Road which run alongside the railway south and north respectively are to get new paving. Good, they need it. Disabled parking, short stay parking and drop off points too. Really imaginative; we had those until Crossrail recently took them away.

So what’s new and what costs £6 million? Well there’s going to be a bench or two scattered around and some trees - there are already trees but maybe the existing ones will have to come down. The only thing that might cost serious money is a dedicated cycle path along Harrow Manorway. Boris gave Bexley some consolation money to spend on cycling when it failed to win the mini-Holland bid.

There seems to be a grave shortage of ideas, something which has been noticed by the energetic local MP, Teresa Pearce. She has approached all the local traders to encourage them to organise themselves and offered to help them do it. Two weeks on she has had just one response leaving the path clear for Bexley and Greenwich councils to do what they like. Only a couple of months ago those same traders were complaining about Bexley council ignoring them when drawing up plans for the area during the station construction period. Given a chance Bexley will do it again.

Clearly we have seen the end of the Harrow Manorway bus lane. Its existence is one of the earliest examples I have of Bexley council’s dishonesty. Bus lanes, if they serve any purpose at all, are there to facilitate faster bus journeys. One just 200 metres long was never likely to have any effect and this extract from a 14 year old letter tells you why.

It was installed to deter parking and had nothing to do with speeding the passage of buses. It therefore failed to meet the legislative criteria.
Bus Lane
Despite the signs about bus lane cameras, Bexley did not collect a penny in bus lane fines during the last financial year.

Presumably Abbey Wood station will be served by even more buses when Crossrail opens. A route much better than the meandering B11 to Bexleyheath must be on the agenda and even now one can occasionally see four buses queuing for the one stop. As Mr. Murky says on his blog, post-Cross Quarter and post-Crossrail, gridlock will be difficult to avoid.

Mr.  M. is not wrong about the appalling introduction to London meted out to the thousands of tourists who set up camp at the site only a few minutes walk away either.

P.S. The Harrow Manorway pedestrian crossing was repaired overnight.


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