Where is Eltham’s Street Cleaning machine?

One of the jobs of a local Councillor (especially an opposition one) is to get the Council to admit that it is doing something wrong even when it doesn’t want to.  In this case, a simple question from a local resident about a street cleaning machine purchased with the funds allocated to Eltham by Boris Johnson when Mayor of London seems to suggest that the Council is more worried about the new Plumstead Party than it cares to admit.

 

Let me talk you through it…..

 

What street cleaning machine?

 

A local resident emailed me to ask whether it was true that the Council had decided not to seal the new paving on Eltham High Street as was originally planned and whether the Council had indeed spent £25,000 on a street cleaning machine.  The resident’s follow up question was if there was a street cleaning machine, why was it not being used in Eltham?

 

After a lot of back and forth, I eventually nailed down an answer which read as follows:

 

“Dear Cllr. Drury,

 

I thought I had answered these points via my email below but apologise if I was not clear enough.

 

  1. It was decided not to seal the paving as it has not proved successful elsewhere and would not be cost effective.
  2. A specialist cleaning machine was purchased by Waste and Street Services and is/will be used to clean the High street as well as other areas of the borough. I understand the cost was in the region of £23,250”

 

So there we have it – there was a street cleaning machine purchased for £23,500 which could be being used in Eltham.  Now the impression I was given was that the machine would be used some days in Eltham, some in Plumstead, some in Greenwich and so on, however, despite these reassurances, the High Street didn’t seem to be getting any cleaner and many people commented on how dirty it was looking.

 

So where was the street cleaning machine?

 

So my next question was the wrong one – why isn’t the street cleaning machine being used effectively in Eltham.  I assumed it was there a few days a week, but when out with a drink with a friend from Plumstead he mentioned that the Eltham street cleaning machine had been deployed to his High Street.  I quizzed how he knew this and he said because he had asked the operatives who had confirmed it was going to be there for at least six weeks.  Now naturally I emailed the Council to ask was this true, but so far I have received no answer at all.

 

Instead what I noticed was that the Council was actually advertising the fact that it was cleaning Plumstead High Street.

Plumstead cleaned

 

Now obviously it is possible that the Council is using another machine to clean Plumstead High Street, but the dirty streets of Eltham and the failure to answer direct questions make me deeply suspicious.

 

Of course if I was completely honest, I’d suspect that the creation of a new party (The Plumstead Party) making the point that Labour had ignored its part of the Borough for too long has scared the Council so much they simply decided to abandon Eltham and head north with the street cleaning device bought specifically for Eltham.

 

I could be wrong, but it feels like a strong coincidence.  I’ll keep you updated on the reply I receive from the Council when I get it….

Eltham waits on Controlled Parking Zone proposals as decision are taken across north of Borough

A month ago, Conservative Councillors for Eltham received a briefing about the results of the Controlled Parking Survey undertaken in January 2017 together with proposals for changes in the future.

 

The political bit (which includes a health warning)

While the area concerned covered 7 Labour Councillors and 5 Conservatives ones, there was no Labour member in attendance which makes me concerned that there might be further changes (as there was to the previous proposals in Eltham Park) so I thought it might be best to keep the details private.  However, a resident has now written to me asking what is happening as the Council Officers were measuring up his road for the introduction of controlled parking so I feel obliged to put the details in the public domain as they are steadily leaking out anyway.

 

Before you read further though, please bear in mind that last time the Council chose to ignore the wishes of residents in several roads and introduced a CPZ despite residents voting against it, so it may well be that these are not the final proposals which go before the Cabinet Member.    In my mild paranoia, I consider that this seems more likely to be the case as other areas of the Borough have already had proposals published about their CPZ changes and Eltham appears to be lagging behind.

CPZ Summary Aug 2017

Results of the Controlled Parking Zone Survey (CPZ) Expansion Survey

There are two different surveys here, with one for residents currently living in the CPZ and another for residents living outside it.  This initial section looks specifically at those residents in areas where there is no CPZ and who are voting on whether they would like a CPZ to be introduced.

 

I have lobbied Officers for a further survey of Strongbow Crescent and Gardens where residents have raised specific problems relating to the timings of the CPZs around them and the introduction of paid parking on western Glenlea Road.

 

Having said that, the tables of response from Eltham North Ward are fairly straightforward and read as follows.

 

Progress Estate:

The Progress Estate results are based on a relatively low response rate of 25%, with a lot of that being based in Prince Rupert Road and Congreve Road.  All roads in the area around Well Hall Road (south of the roundabout) voted to be included in the CPZ, except Moira Road (where only 6 out of 62 homes responded).

Progress Estate results CPZ Jan 2017

So overall, this appears to support an expansion of the CPZ, although this may change during the statutory consultation because the response rate is so low.

Eltham Park:

Eltham Park results CPZ Jan 2017

 

The overall response rate here was much better with 47% of households replying to the consultation.  In this case the response is a resounding ‘no’ in all roads except Eltham Park Gardens where there is a pretty substantial majority for a CPZ being introduced.  This expansion seems to fit quite well with the existing CPZ as it can simply be added on to the roads which are adjacent to Eltham Park Gardens.

 

Results of the existing Controlled Parking Zone Survey (CPZ)

The results here suggest that residents currently in the CPZ are broadly happy with it in Eltham Park but would like it extending around the southern Progress Estate area.

Progress Estate responses:

In this case, it seems clear that residents on Well Hall Road are genuinely not happy with the arrangements, but mainly as they would like longer/stronger CPZs across their area – this seems to fit with the votes for those area asking to be included in the CPZ (except Moira Road).

Progress Estate Existing CPZ results

Eltham Park Responses:

In this case, there are relatively low levels of response and broadly speaking all roads are in favour of the existing CPZ except Glenesk Road (south of Glenure Road).  Cllr Charlie Davis and I will follow up on this, based on our policy that the Council should really respond to residents’ wishes on this non-political issue.

Eltham Park Existing EO results CPZ Jan 2017

 

Eltham Park Existing E results CPZ Jan 2017

 

What are the Council’s proposals?

I would just like to repeat the policy which Eltham Conservatives have followed (and managed to get included in the Council’s Parking Policy) which is that no road should be included in a CPZ unless the residents vote for it.  We do not think this is a political decision, but one which should be left to local residents.  The important thing is for the Council to respond to residents’ wishes and this is what Cllr Charlie Davis & I will try to encourage them to do this time.

 

In this case, can I flag up that we have registered with Officers our firm conviction that the switch to pay and display in western Glenlea Road (where there are no residents) is damaging the High Street and the Westmount Parade.  We have campaigned for free parking there and will continue to ask for a change (as the Council seems to like the revenue which this policy produces) which supports local residents and shops.

 

The green areas below show where Council Officers believe that residents’ responses support the introduction of a CPZ.

 

Eltham Park:

Eltham Park Proposal

Progress Estate:

Progress Estate Proposal

 

What next?

It is expected that the Cabinet Member will bring forward a decision for a statutory consultation on these proposals.  This might be held up if Strongbow Crescent and Gardens are included as that will require another consultation, but this might be done outside of the process above.

Charlie and I will try to make sure everyone is kept updated on the process as and when the proposals are formally published by the Council in the name of the relevant Cabinet Member.

Sainsbury’s applies for late licence to serve alcohol

Residents might be interested to know that Sainsbury’s in Eltham have applied for a late licence to serve alcohol until midnight from Monday to Sunday.  This is an extension from the 11pm which it is currently allowed to serve alcohol until and unfortunately, it appears there is no clear explanation for this application in the public domain.

Residents only have until 17th August to respond if they have any questions or concerns.

 

The formal notification can be found at http://www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/downloads/file/1453/current_licensing_applications_-_27_july_2017 and if you would like to object, the Council’s Licensing Department can be contacted at:

 

Fourth floor, The Woolwich Centre,
35 Wellington Street,
Woolwich SE18 6HQ

 

Tel:  020 8921 8018/8374

 

Email:  licensing@royalgreenwich.gov.uk

 

Please do copy me in if you would like me to ensure that any objection or comment has been received by the Council’s Licensing Department.

The application details are below:

Sainsburys Licensing Extension

UPDATE (12th Aug 2017)

I have been informed that as the Council has received 4 representations against this application, it will be reviewed at a sub-committee hearing which will probably take place in September.

If any residents or other interested parties would like to make a comment or representation, it is worth visiting the Council’s website at:

http://www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/info/860/licence_-_alcohol_and_entertainment/490/object_to_a_premises_licence_application

Do contact me if you have any further questions or comments.

Are Councillors making good use of their ward budgets?

I’ve increasingly come to realise that I need a holiday when I start reading the appendices of Cabinet reports, seeking the things that have been hidden in the hope no one will make it that far.  This old ‘Yes, Minister’ trick is still surprisingly effective as buried in appendix H of the ‘Cabinet Performance Report – High Level Objectives’ which was considered at Cabinet at the end of June was a table which revealed the way local Councillors have used their ward budgets.

Cabinet High Level Report Ward Budgets

The ward budget scheme was one I strongly supported as Leader of the Opposition, although this one was considerably bigger in scale than the one we  proposed.  Each ward was allocated £30,000 over the four year period before the 2018 Council elections to spend on local causes which it thought worthy of support.  Not only did this give local Councillors the ability to actively improve their wards but it also gave local electors a way of judging whether their Councillors were supporting causes close to their hearts.

 

So the publication of the way ward budgets have been spent gives voters across the Borough the chance to see what their Councillors have been doing over the last three years and probably the opportunity to ask them to get it right if there are funds remaining to do this.  I guess that there are three ways of measuring the performance of Councillors:-

 

  • How much of the £30,000 has been spent? (Although this does not reflect the quality of the projects)
  • How many different projects have each ward team backed?
  • What were the projects and do voters like them?

 

The first two are clearly simply numerical measures; the third is a matter of judgement for each individual voter.

 

So look at the first two, we can see that Kidbrooke with Hornfair Ward have spent the most of their budget (89%) compared to Thamesmead Mooring who have allocated only £1,356 or 4.5% of their ward budget.  The average is 45.8%.

 

Ward Total Approved Amount Remaining Ward Budget Percentage Spent
Thamesmead Moorings 1355.62 £28,644.38 4.5
Woolwich Riverside 1450.00 £28,550 4.8
Middle Park and Sutcliffe 3400.00 £26,600 11.3
Plumstead 3455.62 £26,544.38 11.5
Charlton 6677.00 £23,323 22.3
Peninsula 7400.00 £22,600 24.7
Eltham West 8045.87 £21,954.13 26.8
Coldharbour New Eltham 9950.00 £20,050 33.2
Blackheath/ Westcombe 12618.20 £17,381.80 42.1
Greenwich West 17383.00 £12,617 57.9
Eltham South 18245.10 £11,754.90 60.8
Abbey Wood 20973.50 £9,026.50 69.9
Shooters Hill 22650.00 £7,350 75.5
Woolwich Common 23177.00 £6,823 77.3
Eltham North 24311.10 £5,688.90 81.0
Glyndon 26000.00 £4,000 86.7
Kidbrooke and Hornfair 26658.97 £3,341.03 88.9

 

A second measure might be the number of projects approved, which is as follows:

 

Ward Number of Projects Approved
Middle Park and Sutcliffe 2
Peninsula 2
Thamesmead Moorings 4
Woolwich Common 4
Woolwich Riverside 4
Eltham West 5
Glyndon 5
Shooters Hill 5
Blackheath/ Westcombe 6
Greenwich West 6
Coldharbour New Eltham 7
Eltham South 7
Kidbrooke and Hornfair 7
Plumstead 7
Charlton 8
Abbey Wood 10
Eltham North 14

 

Again, as with the amount of money spent, this is an imperfect measure as a lot of low cost measures might be better than one large cost one.

 

It might be worth bearing in mind that for most wards (except Glyndon, Greenwich West and Kidbrooke with Hornfair); the Greenwich Foodbank Van was a contribution to a cause which works across the Borough.   As the person who co-ordinated this bid in Eltham North, I was extremely grateful for the support of all Councillors (regardless of party) on this important cause and particularly for ex-Councillor Wynn Davies’ work in bringing everyone on board.

 

Which brings us to the last point, which is whether the projects represent wither good value for money or reflect the priorities which residents have?  Personally, I am proud at the range of causes Eltham North Ward has supported and the way Labour and Conservative Councillors have worked to draw bids from across the community.  The causes we have backed are listed below:

 

Eltham Arts – Winter Festival 2016

Restoration and Improvement of Eltham War Memorial

Greenwich Foodbank Van Bench to celebrate 10 years of Friends of Well Hall Pleasuance
Eltham Park Festival Greenwich Food Bank – Extra Grant Funding
Boys Brigade Equipment Eltham Arts – Summer Music Festival
Eltham Arts Winter Festival – CD Eltham Park Festival 2017
Centenary Book Progress Estate Playwell Playgroup – Developing Communication Skills
Junior Park Run

Girls Brigade trip to Lego and purchase of Parachute for Practical Sessions

 

While I know Linda, Wynn, Charlie and I have all got different, personal priorities; I think this represents a really good range of interests and groups across the Ward.  We signed off another bid for the Gordon School last night and I am hopeful we might be able to fit in a last bid to make good use of the last few pennies.

 

Of course, I am sure everyone will have a different view – you can check out your own ward if you don’t live in Eltham North Ward at http://committees.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/mgAi.aspx?ID=21069#mgDocuments. Bear in mind that across the Borough the majority of funds (54%) remain unspent, so it might be worth submitting a bid to your Councillors if you have some ideas.

 

So overall, as the person who first bought this proposal to Council, I think the ward budget scheme has been a really successful way of allowing Councillors to support their local communities.  I hope it continues after the 2018 elections, but I guess we will have to wait and see what the manifestos say.

Mayor of London is holding up Eltham High Street works

The press release below has been issued by local Conservatives:
At the Meeting of Royal Borough of Greenwich Council last night (Wednesday 19th July) Labour’s Cabinet Member for Transport admitted that the failure to install a new pedestrian crossing at the top of Eltham High Street at the junction withJunction no lights 1 Footscray Road is the result of delays by the Mayor of London’s (Sadiq Khan) Transport for London organisation.
In response to a question from Eltham Councillor Spencer Drury, Cllr Sizwe James replied that “Traffic signals in London are installed ….. by Transport for London(TfL).  The Council’s contractor completed the preparatory work for the signals sometime ago and Officers have been pressing TfL to install signals for some time.”
Cllr James stated that the traffic lights should be installed by the end of 2017, but agreed to keep up the pressure on TfL at Cllr Drury’s request.
This work appears to be so late that the Council’s shop updating people on the work has been closed down and now lays empty.
Spencer said “In my opinion, this junction at the top of Eltham High Street is quite dangerous – it is laid out and marked up for traffic lights, but they simply aren’t there.  Many drivers and pedestrians have a guess at when is the right time to enter the junction, but with two lanes merging into one it really isn’t easy.”
Spencer continued “This situation really shows the difference between how the new Labour Mayor of London treats Eltham compared to Conservative Boris Johnson.  Boris allocated £5m to improve the High Street while Mayor Khan can’t find the time to put in the traffic lights which have been agreed.  Even worse his current proposals to close and sell off Eltham Police Station reflect the fact he wants to downgrade our High Street even further.”

Eltham High Street and Eltham Hill to be closed nights at start of July

A quick post to let you know that Council Officers have written to me to let me know that carriageway resurfacing work is due to take place in Eltham High Street/Eltham Hill between Well Hall Road and Kingsground at the start of July.  Officer wrote as follows:

“The section of road will be resurfaced under night time closures between the Monday the 3rd July and Thursday the 13th July 2017. Work will start each evening at 8.30 pm and will finish by 5am the following morning although the noisiest activities will be restricted to before 11pm each night. Local diversions will be put in place. The road will reopen during each day. Temporary arrangements for the affected bus stop will be put in place by London Buses.”

Apparently the work forms part of the Borough’s Principal Roads Major Maintenance Programme for 2017/18 and compliments the work carried out for the Eltham High Street Public Realm Improvement work.

The letter I received is here: Eltham High Street resurfacing summer 2017

Highways Committee considers reports on Crookston Rd and Eltham High Street

If you live in Eltham, it may be worth considering the items on the Highways Committee this week (15th June) which is looking specifically at a parking space on Eltham High Street and traffic calming on Crookston Road.

The details of the meeting can be found here: http://committees.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=4522&x=1 and the specific report considering the various options to slow down traffic on Crookston Road is here.

006 – Petition Response – Crookston Road Area – Report

Cllr Charlie Davis and I are hoping to meet with Officers and residents to discuss the scheme in the near future, so do let us know if you have any thoughts at spencer@spencerdrury.com.

 

 

 

Planning Application to turn garage into new house

Rochester Way New House 2

Following on from my previous post about planning, I don’t think it is possible to put them all up, but perhaps a few which are of interest would be useful.

The latest application is to turn two garages into a new detached house (what it will look like in the end is pictured right).  The new site will have a separate entrance into Rochester Way and I don’t have any problems with it as a specific proposal.  What I think it open for further debate is the extent to which the Council could/should allow local residents to convert their garages into houses.  Where I live a lot of people have garages behind or beside their houses, often with a separate access road and I can see the attraction of converting it to a smaller bungalow for children who can’t afford to move out or older parents.  However, these sorts of changes could make a real difference to Eltham’s community and the way we live, so I think the Council’s Planning Department needs to make clear in this decision that it is not setting a precedent beyond this specific application.

The site on the Rochester Way is shown below and the application number is 17/0873/F which you can use to search for it on the Council’s Planning Portal (https://planning.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/online-applications/).

Rochester Way New House 1

 

Will a seven day a week NHS emerge from the Eltham Community Hospital?

Eltham Community HospitalAt the recent meeting of the Eltham Town Centre Partnership (ETCP) held on 19th April, there was a substantial update provided on progress in bringing the Eltham Community Hospital into full use.  After a period where its usage appears to have been inefficient (to say the least) I am pleased to say that the briefing provided real hope that services there would improve, providing a better quality, all week service for local residents and releasing pressure on the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

I’m not sure that this makes a good blog, but I thought I would just take you through the presentation given at the meeting from the notes I took.

Background

To clarify the situation, we were given an overview of the facilities which are currently available in the hospital.  The basic facilities and structure are that the hospital is a 3 storey building consisting of:

  • A ground floor with 2 GP surgeries, some space for outpatients and an operating theatre with recovery suite, x-ray and ultrasound.  The outpatients area is mostly used by the Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, although there was a suggestion that it could be used more efficiently. The operating theatre, x-ray and ultrasound have never been used.
  • First floor, two inpatient ward of 20 beds each. One ward is used, but the other closed around a year ago mostly as a cost cutting measure from the local NHS CCG.
  • A top floor which is office space.

The person briefing the ETCP was a new appointee but had managed similar situations elsewhere previously.  In my opinion, this was reflected in the confident way she dealt with the issues and outlined her plans for the way forward.

Opening the Operating Theatre

One of the interesting statements made was that this experienced NHS employee had never come across a Community Hospital with an operating theatre in it as it simply wasn’t an efficient way of using the very expensive staff who do operations.  In essence we were told they would spend too much time sitting around because they could not move quickly from one operation to another.  The solution to this we were informed was to change the way the operating theatre would be used from procedures involving a general anaesthetic to ones with only a local anaesthetic and as a result physiotherapy and podiatry services would start to use the space.  In addition, there were plans being developed so that the local NHS Trust would start to use the x-ray and ultrasound services from 1st July this year (although this did depend on some planning issues being sorted out with the Council).  Ideally the x-ray and ultrasound services will work six days a week from this summer with an aspiration to increase this to seven days in the long term.

Opening the GP surgeries at the weekend

In December, GP services started to run from the Community Hospital all day on Saturday and Sunday morning so every single practice across Borough can refer their patients to this hub.  The services are very busy on Saturday but quite quiet on Sunday.  The new plan is from late April to open until 8pm in the evening on weekdays (4.30pm to 8pm) so this will be an extra layer of services beyond the practices (which tend to close at 6.30pm).  How this new system works will be reviewed and then the Community Hospital will consider longer opening hours at the weekend on both Saturday and Sunday.  The general aim is to use this service to reduce the numbers going to the QE – Urgent Care Centre where usage normally spikes at 4.30pm in the afternoon (after school).  From my point of view this sounds exactly like the Grabadoc Service, but I guess they were always going to have to reinvent that after the Council allowed it to close and the local MP failed to stand up for it.  These extra opening hours sound a really useful service but when I asked, it was quite clear that not all GPs are using it – you have to ask your GP to refer you to the surgeries at the Community Hospital(not turn up as an emergency), but there are appointments there over the weekend which sounds an excellent development.

Opening both wards on the first floor

It was quite clear that there was a real shortage of beds in Greenwich over the winter, but 20 remained closed in Eltham while the NHS paid for a private company to open and run a ward in Sidcup at Queen Mary’s Hospital.  This is clearly inefficient and the plan is to get the second ward open by September or October at the latest.  The core point of the plan is to avoid the Community Hospital Ward becoming a long-term convalescence home for older patients (which is not a good way of caring for people apparently) and as a result there are still questions about whether this should be a ‘step-up’ or ‘step-down’ ward (not sure what this means entirely but open to clarifications).  Ideally the NHS would open these beds, but it may take a private sector provider to do this as NHS locally is struggling currently.  Ideally, by next winter both wards should be open and working properly.

I think this covers the main points which were discussed and it is certainly great to hear that there are plans for the Eltham Community Hospital to become a full part of the community.  The overall aim is for the Hospital to attract an extra 37,000 patients, although it was acknowledged that the parking in Eltham might struggle to cope with this level of increased visitors – something which I know many people (including me) have pointed out as a potential problem over the years.

Planning Application in Eltham North: Fashion World

I don’t normally publish planning applications, but it struck me that this might be a useful service for residents who wanted to know some of the things being applied for in the local area.  So the first one is below for Fashion World, 193-195 Eltham High Street, Eltham, London, SE9 1TS.

Please do not think this is making a judgement on the application, I just thought I had to start somewhere and this seemed as good a place as any.

Planning 020517

 

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Spencer Drury

0750 785 9184

spencer@spencerdrury.com

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The views expressed on this website are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Conservative Councillors' Association or the Conservative Party.