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Bonkers Blog August 2017

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28 August (Part 2) - Drinkers and beggars successfully deter shoppers

Wilton RoadOver the past 18 months or so more than £300,000 has been ploughed into Wilton Road (Abbey Wood) in a concerted effort by two Councils and the previous Mayor of London to try to make it an attractive place to visit.

The £300k. went on tarting up the shop fronts and Greenwich followed up with some much needed Public Realm work (Greenwich side Photos - Bexley Photos) and the cumulative effect on trade has been? Absolutely nothing. Sure it looks better but nobody goes shopping there, not for anything significant anyway.

It’s not unusual to see Wilton Road completely devoid of shoppers although it should be noted that the photo shown here was taken today, a Bank Holiday.

On the 9th August Wilton Road was the subject of an animated Twitter conversation. It started with a complaint about bad parking and rapidly developed into a massive put down of the whole area.

Here’s a flavour of it…

• If there were more diverse shops there instead of low end ones more of us would spend our money locally.
• I commuted 1994-2006, same then, I did my evening meal shop at Tesco in Covent Garden.
• I’m part of the commuter rush that gets out of there as quickly as possible!
• Wilton Road desperately needs a good quality mini food market + cafe-restaurant for weekends with outside seating.
• With the current shops and betting shop gangs, majority will go to Sainsbury’s.
• When Crossrail starts, Wilton Rd will slowly change but RBG could help.
• That’s the key. They already have high footfall via commuters but how many stop off at shops?
• There is no proven fact it will increase trade for local shops. Main entrance to station on Harrow Manorway, out of station on to bus!
• Parking is then going to be bigger issue, there has been talk about Wilton Road having parking meters.
• I’m up for parking meters. Residents can walk, customers can be quick.
• Bigger issue with meters, it totally puts people off. Will go where parking free.
• It will get worse. When the new station is finished, how many people are realistically going to shop at Wilton Road instead of Sainsbury’s?
• Interesting. Wonder if they complain about the groups of men drinking + cursing there putting people off too? Arguably more off-putting.
• Yes I know, I’ve seen them buying their cans of beer! Shops missing out on commuters with disposable income too.
• Problem here is some of these spend money in shops. Double edge, they spend but some avoid area because of them!
• Traders complained to both councils they were losing trade with ticketing. With carparks closed, so way forward?
• Hopefully will change as more folk speak up in the east of borough. They’ve been too silent (&/or all talk but ineffective) for too long.
• I am often in Bexley and Eltham and I see them there often too. It’s just the classic ‘who cares about AW’ old story.

I took the complete list of complaints to the Traders’ Association meeting that same evening and naturally they were horrified by the comments, but on the other hand it was nothing they hadn’t spoken of before. None of them like the groups of men that stand around in groups drinking and occasionally worse.

Since BiB last mentioned that mums with children had been driven away I have only been able to confirm it. Today just after one o’clock I passed 22 men in Wilton Road and no females at all.

Despite appearances in Wilton Road and my daily visits in daylight hours I have never witnessed anything that has had me worried for my safety although the sound of obscenities being yelled down a phone is not something likely to attract family shopping trips.

Normally what goes on at Trader’s meetings (my main job there is Minute taker) cannot appear on Bonkers but this time members asked that it should.

The Abbey Wood Traders’ Association is very much aware of the problem Wilton Road experiences and deplores them while noting that no shopper has come to any harm there for more years than anyone can remember. It has made formal applications to both Bexley Council and the Royal Borough of Greenwich for Wilton Road and the commercial areas of Abbey Road (Bexley) and Abbey Wood Road (Greenwich) to be made Alcohol Free Zones.

Quite possibly neither Council would bother to enforce them but their existence would give those willing to do something about the loitering drinkers the encouragement to do so.


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