Having been knocking around Wilton Road daily for nearly 30 years I have
got to know a number of the traders and over the past week have tried to
squeeze a little information out of them regarding the £300,000 award that was
allocated for improving their street.
When the subject was reported a week ago I was a little disbelieving that Bexley and Greenwich would add to Boris’s money pot and then snatch most of the money away. I was wrong.
It is now apparent that of the £150,000 that the two councils contributed, approximately two thirds of it has already disappeared in fees. In fact if the planning fees I have been shown represent the average, £106,000 has been spent with nothing tangible to show for it. Why are planning fees being imposed when the plans are the council’s and the traders are simply asked to accept them?
The traders have also been told that they must contribute 10% of the planned expenditure if they are to receive any part of the grant. Where did that come from?
It was to be expected that the design consultant would have to be paid but the councils have been charging for their time too, £2,000 for registering the new Traders’ Association. Taking notes at meetings, hiring The Link, and helping with filling in application forms has all been taken from the £300k.
I have been told, I am assuming it is true, that the remaining money, including the Mayor’s £150,000, is to be divided equally across the two boroughs. I can understand that Greenwich taxpayers might not want to see any of their money spent in Bexley where there is a greater need. Depending on where one defines the end of Wilton Road, literally or including the shops around the corner, Bexley has ten premises in need of improvement and Greenwich has only six because the corporates have been excluded.
So why is Boris’s money being divided neatly in half? Surely he expected it to be used to improve the road as a whole, not to effectively favour one side over the other? Which council officers made this illogical decision?