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Bonkers Blog July 2015

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21 July (Part 2) - Wilton Road Stakeholder Forum

Wilton RoadIt’s all happening down in Abbey Wood. Not only have we got Crossrail and Network Rail calling meetings to keep everyone as happy as possible with their life of noise and dust and traffic chaos but Greenwich council is trying to keep everyone, traders in particular, sweet too.

Rather late in the day (15th July) Greenwich’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Danny Thorpe, invited the traders and all the relevant Bexley councillors, including his opposite number Linda Bailey, to The Link in Thamesmead to keep them all up to date on the £300,000 scheme set to improve the shopping area around Abbey Wood station.

I was rather looking forward to listening to councillor Bailey speak on this subject because Greenwich has made all the running so far, but alas although councillors from both sides of the borough border showed up in force last night, Linda didn’t. Maybe Teresa O’Neill will announce that fact at the next council meeting as she did when Labour (and Tory) councillors missed the first Crossrail Panel meeting. I’m sure she would like to be even handed.

Danny Thorpe not only chaired the meeting but he was supported by his Director of Regeneration and several knowledgeable support staff.

Just as is the case at the Crossrail Panel the chairman had to diplomatically deal with some damn fool questions. He kept his patience when asked about the noise and pollution caused by aircraft flying in and out of London City Airport and the state of Greenwich’s public toilets. Do they still have some? Bexley sold all theirs off. First they came for the bogs and good men stood by and did nothing. Now they come for your parks and playgrounds.

Despite all that quite a lot of useful information came to the fore.

No bridge Greenwich council is “seriously” talking to TfL about river crossings at both Gallions Reach and Belvedere and the word seriously was repeated in connection with a DLR extension to Thamesmead. “We must deliver all those crossings. There is a momentum now.”

The possibility of an Overground extension did not get a mention.

£6·08 million is to be spent on Public Realm in connection with the new Crossrail station and footfall in the surrounding area is expected to go up by 100%. Subsequent questioning tested that figure somewhat and maybe it should be regarded as a best guess.

There is to be a public square on the Bexley side of Harrow Manorway.

A retail consultant has been hired to plan and facilitate the improvements that will come from the £300,000 which in effect extends the area to be improved with the £6 million. That extended area will go as far as the Community Centre in Knee Hill.

It is the same retail consultant who redesigned Sidcup High Street and introduced what I always regarded as rather nice shop fronts. It should be possible to spend in the region of £15,000 on each of the shops around Wilton and Felixstowe Roads.

Artist’s impressions showed a green avenue from Knee Hill to the station and parking spaces in the Bexley council owned land at the end of Wilton Road facing Gayton Road, but only a small fraction of the money will be spent on improvements to the street. If there are to be basic infrastructure changes they will not be extensive. The consultant favoured removable seating provided by the traders to reduce overnight abuse and none of the Greenwich people were aware that Bexley has the car parking space up for sale, or at least on its consideration list.

The lady behind the redesign (Sally) appeared to be very keen on consultations offering to spend a couple of hours with each trader and to set up a ‘pop up tent’ in Wilton Road in the next few days so that shoppers could have their say too. Later on she started to speak of having one in the Community Centre, so keep your eyes peeled if you are local to the area.

An audience member said that “Bexley and Greenwich have never worked well together” and gave as an example the two betting shops opposite each other, one in each borough.

Do you remember when cabinet member Peter H. Craske labelled Greenwich council “disgraceful” in Bexley’s council chamber and found himself on the front page of the News Shopper for his pains? Does a leopard ever change its spots?
News Shopper
The differing parking enforcement regimes was the subject of audience comment as was the fact that the Wilton Road was “rubbish everywhere” and “Bexley no longer empties litter bins”. Chairman Danny Thorpe thought there might be scope for synchronising street cleaning and there was now “a greater will to get things moving”. On some days morning visitors might conclude that Bexley is clean and Greenwich is filthy and during the afternoon the reverse is true.

An interesting 90 minutes with the Greenwich council officers, Tom and Pippa and others, brimming with enthusiasm and Bexley showing its usual contempt for the north by staying away and contributing nothing.


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