The Greenwich Society

Local Elections - VIRTUAL HUSTINGS

The Greenwich Society, conscious that we are unable to arrange hustings for every one of the council wards in our area (Greenwich Creekside, Greenwich Park, East Greenwich, Greenwich Peninsula and Blackheath Westcombe), has devised 6 questions on the subjects of planning, environment and traffic & transport that we have submitted to the main parties fighting for seats and requested answers from the candidates. These are the questions: -

ENVIRONMENT
1. What are your plans to ensure that all waste collection activities accelerate progress towards achieving the council's zero carbon targets?
2. How will you enforce policies for the inclusion and subsequent maintenance of sufficient green space in current and future housing developments so that all residents have easy access to these spaces for their wellbeing?

PLANNING
3. Members of the Greenwich Society have been increasingly concerned about breaches of planning permission and lack of action by RBG in enforcement. How would you help residents ensure that what gets built is actually what got planning permission?
4. Would you be prepared to insist that all new buildings should be carbon neutral, in accordance with RBG Policy?

TRAFFIC & TRANSPORT
5. What processes will you establish to ensure that the decision-making process for future changes to road layout and traffic flow (e.g. LTNs) is transparent to all local residents and includes timely collection of appropriate and adequate data?
6. How will you ensure that the Council works effectively with TfL, so that local road use policy and any changes to this can be 'joined up' with public transport provision.

ANSWERS FROM CANDIDATES - by ward

Greenwich Creekside

ENVIRONMENT

  1. What are your plans to ensure that all waste collection activities accelerate progress towards achieving the council's zero carbon targets?

Conservative: answer awaited

Green : We believe that an overall waste reduction goal is required, to underpin new work and policies to reduce resource use in our Borough, and to support new re-use and repair businesses. This goal would complement the council’s zero carbon targets, with progress towards the former contributing to the achievement of the latter. We also believe there is a need for greater consistency in recycling collections across London – at the moment residents moving from one Borough to another can be confused about (often significant) differences in what is recycled. By aligning recycling with neighbouring Boroughs, Greenwich can make it simpler and easier to recycle. 

Labour: answer awaited

Liberal Democrat – Anthony Austin: Ask relevant questions in full council and relevant committees.

  1. How will you enforce policies for the inclusion and subsequent maintenance of sufficient green space in current and future housing developments so that all residents have easy access to these spaces for their wellbeing?'

Conservative: answer awaited

Green: We will look to amend council planning policies to deliver clearer planning and strategic protections for smaller green spaces in the Borough, and to ensure they are well maintained and are publicly accessible. We have been calling for some time for the Council to employ a full-time ecology officer, to make sure that green spaces deliver for wildlife species. This need is particularly urgent given the advent of Biodiversity Net Gain – an ecology officer needs to be in place to ensure that new developments contribute meaningfully to building a network of connected, accessible, nature-rich spaces in the Borough.

Labour: answer awaited

Liberal Democrat – Anthony Austin: LibDems have always focussed on environmental issues whether caused by poorly planned traffic schemes or carbon heavy building design – we have promoted greening in our towns and cities and argue for the speedy transition to better insulation of our housing and less damaging forms of heating.

PLANNING

  1. Members of the Greenwich Society have been increasingly concerned about breaches of planning permission and lack of action by RBG in enforcement. How would you help residents ensure that what gets built is actually what got planning permission?

Conservative: answer awaited

Green: Enforcement failures are the result of strained resources in council planning teams, arising in part from central Government cuts and in part from the council’s failure to collect sufficient Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) receipts. This latter failing can be addressed by councillors and would be a priority for Green councillors. As local independent journalist From the Murky Depths has consistently highlighted Greenwich Council set a very low rate of CIL in 2015and ‘overlooked’ a recommendation to review it in 2018. As a result, despite huge amounts of new development (especially in Greenwich), CIL income in 2019/2020 was lowest in London (£1 million). The council’s review of CIL is at last almost underway, but with an 18-month timeline to completion. Green Cllrs would accelerate this, close the CIL deficit and use some of the funds to bolster enforcement activity. 

Labour: answer awaited

Liberal Democrat – Anthony Austin: Insist on site visits by members of planning committees. We have objected to several development proposals and opposed the height of the Morden Wharf towers while expressing our concerns about the current pressures on local services at all levels – GP surgeries, public transport - as well as the impact of the buildings on existing residents’ quality of life. We remain concerned about developments such as the proposed Peninsula Gardens multi-tower plans (Ikea car park) and question the density and height of the recently approved Kidbrooke Station Square. We need to question the policy of the Council’s setting of the CIL rates which were last reviewed in 2015 and should have been increased in 2018.  This means that the level of developers’ contributions to the borough’s infrastructure is lower than it should be. This is a complex issue, and we need to work on this before too detailed challenging.

  1. Would you be prepared to insist that all new buildings should be carbon neutral, in accordance with RBG Policy?

Conservative: answer awaited

Green: Yes

Labour: answer awaited

Liberal Democrat – Anthony Austin: Yes

TRAFFIC & TRANSPORT

  1. What processes will you establish to ensure that the decision-making process for future changes to road layout and traffic flow (e.g. LTNs) is transparent to all local residents and includes timely collection of appropriate and adequate data?

Conservative: answer awaited

Green: Greenwich Council has been saying for nearly a year now that it’s going to come up with a borough-wide transport plan, whilst erratically going back and forth on individual street projects. This isn’t good enough. If elected we will draw up ward-level traffic reduction & road safety strategies, emphasis on the word strategy. These will be holistic, looking at how action on one street will affect another. The strategies will set out how vehicle numbers passing through East Greenwich can be reduced by 45% by 2030, with a focus on delivering the bulk of these reductions soon. 1/3 of car journeys in London are under 2 km. Everyone will benefit if we can replace the majority of these with walking and cycling. We already have some climate safe streets in East Greenwich (like the eastern section of Pelton Road) which have been working well for years. Our strategies will work with residents, resident groups & traffic experts to holistically connect these up with new projects, to deliver more streets for residents where children can play in safety, the air will be cleaner and noise reduced – all the while contributing to overall traffic reductions. We can do it, with some bold and strategic thinking.

Labour: answer awaited

Liberal Democrat: Anthony Austin: There is a need for a holistic approach to these issues – not street-by-street, neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood or by mode of transport by mode of transport but through an integrated strategy.

  1. How will you ensure that the Council works effectively with TfL, so that local road use policy and any changes to this can be 'joined up' with public transport provision.

Conservative: answer awaited

Green: TfL policies can help deliver traffic reductions in Greenwich. These include enabling cycle and e-bike hire schemes for residents (including cycle parking), along with new cycle lanes, and active encouragement of car commuters living in Kent to use the new Elizabeth Line instead of driving to central London through Greenwich.  We will include TfL in the preparation of our traffic reduction and safety strategies. 

Labour: answer awaited

Liberal Democrat- Anthony Austin: See above

Greenwich Park

ENVIRONMENT

  1. What are your plans to ensure that all waste collection activities accelerate progress towards achieving the council's zero carbon targets?

Conservative: answer awaited

Green : We believe that an overall waste reduction goal is required, to underpin new work and policies to reduce resource use in our Borough, and to support new re-use and repair businesses. This goal would complement the council’s zero carbon targets, with progress towards the former contributing to the achievement of the latter. We also believe there is a need for greater consistency in recycling collections across London – at the moment residents moving from one Borough to another can be confused about (often significant) differences in what is recycled. By aligning recycling with neighbouring Boroughs, Greenwich can make it simpler and easier to recycle. 

Labour - Aidan Smith: Our Carbon Neutral Plan states that requires us to introduce strict quantitative targets for waste reduction and increased recycling to attain a 70% recycling rate and total waste mass reduction by 45% by 2030. We have a Towards Zero Waste strategy, which is being implemented between 2020 and 2023, with different elements being delivered at different times. An example of something already implemented is the restriction of recycling sacks for households with blue bins, as these are not necessary for dry recycling. A measure yet to be implemented is fortnightly black bin collections. This is expected to lead to a significant increase in our recycling rate. Weekly blue and green bin collections will remain. We are also looking at measures to improve recycling rates in flats, through planning policies for new developments and resident engagement. We should encourage people to reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle what they can, promoting zero waste retailers and more environmental measures. I believe there is more to be done with advising people on where they can recycle waste, such as promoting that Curry’s allow you to recycle electrical and electronics products and where people can recycle soft plastics, lightbulbs and batteries. We should also look at options for collecting waste in more localised areas for those who do not drive and cannot access the Re-use and Recycling Centre at Nathan Way.

Labour - Pat Slattery: I would like to associate myself with all of Councillor Smith’s responses and also add  that we will be trialling fully-electric refuse vehicles in the coming months.

Liberal Democrat - Rhian O’Connor: In my day job Rhian works with the plastics industry to increase recyclability and environmental impact of packaging and other materials. We think the major problem with Greenwich Council's waste collection and recycling operation is communication. Residents are simply not clear on what can and cannot be recycled. For instance, on one councillors Twitter feed they stated that the Material Recycling Facility now accepts soft plastic packaging (film and flexible bags) but this is not clear at all on the council's website. So much of our waste is contaminated with food and people aren't clear what is and isn't acceptable. We need to inform residents who mostly want to be greener but don't know how.

  1. How will you enforce policies for the inclusion and subsequent maintenance of sufficient green space in current and future housing developments so that all residents have easy access to these spaces for their wellbeing?

Conservative: answer awaited

Green: We will look to amend council planning policies to deliver clearer planning and strategic protections for smaller green spaces in the Borough, and to ensure they are well maintained and are publicly accessible. We have been calling for some time for the Council to employ a full-time ecology officer, to make sure that green spaces deliver for wildlife species. This need is particularly urgent given the advent of Biodiversity Net Gain – an ecology officer needs to be in place to ensure that new developments contribute meaningfully to building a network of connected, accessible, nature-rich spaces in the Borough.

Labour - Aidan Smith: The Council has invested over £1m in our parks and open spaces over the last four years. This went towards maintaining and enhancing our green spaces, planting new trees and adding new facilities. It is not just green spaces that we need, it is play spaces too. We have refurbished several playgrounds in the current ward, including the playground on Nectarine Way and we have continued to support our leisure services, including the running of the Meridian Adventure Playground. As acknowledged in our Parks and Open Spaces strategy and action plan, there is not enough green space in the Greenwich or Woolwich areas of the Borough. We aim to increase the amount of green space available, whether that through the development process, or by greening other spaces, such as developing pocket parks, as we have created of Trafalgar and Creek Roads in recent years. The maintenance of accessible public space on private land is ultimately the responsibility of the freeholder, but the Council has powers to ensure access is maintained through planning enforcement. We should insist new make green spaces accessible to the public so that the whole community benefits.

Labour - Pat Slattery: I would only add that we have put forward for refurbishment the play area behind Dabin Crescent/Cade Tyler House. We have argued that this area deserves priority as the children in these blocks have only the heavily congested Blackheath Hill to look out on at the front of their homes. 

Liberal Democrat – Rhian O’Connor: Rhian campaigned for the garden on Royal Hill to remain as a community space and was saddened when this ultimately wasn't successful. We do think a nice compromise would have been to ensure that a suitable garden space was available on the old police station development across the road. Time and time again space is just given to developers who build private gardens and no public space. I think planning need to take this issue more seriously and build for the whole community. Developments like the peninsula seem to do this better than around West Greenwich. 

PLANNING

  1. Members of the Greenwich Society have been increasingly concerned about breaches of planning permission and lack of action by RBG in enforcement. How would you help residents ensure that what gets built is actually what got planning permission?

Conservative: answer awaited

Green: Enforcement failures are the result of strained resources in council planning teams, arising in part from central Government cuts and in part from the council’s failure to collect sufficient Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) receipts. This latter failing can be addressed by councillors and would be a priority for Green councillors. As local independent journalist From the Murky Depths has consistently highlighted Greenwich Council set a very low rate of CIL in 2015and ‘overlooked’ a recommendation to review it in 2018. As a result, despite huge amounts of new development (especially in Greenwich), CIL income in 2019/2020 was lowest in London (£1 million). The council’s review of CIL is at last almost underway, but with an 18-month timeline to completion. Green Cllrs would accelerate this, close the CIL deficit and use some of the funds to bolster enforcement activity. 

Labour - Aidan Smith: We will make sure that the Planning Officers and Planning Enforcement continue to take action against developments which have been built without permission, or not to the approved design. Planning and planning enforcement can be a long, complicated and expensive process, particularly for larger developments, so these can take a long time to resolve. There are time limits on how long new applications have to be approved, so these tend to dominate the high workload of the planning department. Added to this, there is also a national shortage of planning officers, which has led to problems with recruitment and retention of planning officers. The Council has found some innovative solutions to this and is working on more strategies for the medium to long-term. 

Labour - Pat Slattery: To some extent, the Council relies on residents to inform them when they believe Planning conditions are being breached.  I am keen to hear from residents who think this.  

Liberal Democrat – Rhian O’Connor: If elected, we will take each and every breach seriously. We think having a strong opposition to the ruling party on the council means more scrutiny of planner behaviour. Greenwich Liberal Democrats have objected to several development proposals and opposed the height of the Morden Wharf towers as well as the impact of buildings on existing residents’ quality of life. including building services like GP clinics, children's play areas and transport links. At the same time new houses need to be built and Greenwich Labour are behind their own plans for council house provision. 

  1. Would you be prepared to insist that all new buildings should be carbon neutral, in accordance with RBG Policy?

Conservative: answer awaited

Green: Yes

Labour - Aidan Smith: Yes. I would be happy to insist on this, although I cannot promise it will be adhered to in every case as planning is a complex process, weighted in favour of developers. I would support measures to tighten the rules around this in the new Greenwich local planning policy framework. I would go further to say that I also support policies supporting the retrofitting of existing buildings to make them carbon neutral and encouraging developers to retrofit existing buildings in preference to demolition and new construction.

Labour - Pat Slattery: The built environment contributes 64% of Greenwich’s carbon emissions (at 2019) so I am very happy to insist on this where it is legal to do so. It has to be an important element of our strategy to achieve carbon neutrality in the Borough by 2030.

Liberal Democrat – Rhian O’Connor: Yes absolutely - its policy and is morally right 

TRAFFIC & TRANSPORT

  1. What processes will you establish to ensure that the decision-making process for future changes to road layout and traffic flow (e.g. LTNs) is transparent to all local residents and includes timely collection of appropriate and adequate data?

Conservative: answer awaited

Green: Greenwich Council has been saying for nearly a year now that it’s going to come up with a borough-wide transport plan, whilst erratically going back and forth on individual street projects. This isn’t good enough. If elected we will draw up ward-level traffic reduction & road safety strategies, emphasis on the word strategy. These will be holistic, looking at how action on one street will affect another. The strategies will set out how vehicle numbers passing through East Greenwich can be reduced by 45% by 2030, with a focus on delivering the bulk of these reductions soon. 1/3 of car journeys in London are under 2 km. Everyone will benefit if we can replace the majority of these with walking and cycling. We already have some climate safe streets in East Greenwich (like the eastern section of Pelton Road) which have been working well for years. Our strategies will work with residents, resident groups & traffic experts to holistically connect these up with new projects, to deliver more streets for residents where children can play in safety, the air will be cleaner and noise reduced – all the while contributing to overall traffic reductions. We can do it, with some bold and strategic thinking.

Labour - Aidan Smith: The Council is developing an holistic transport strategy for the Borough, promised by the current Cabinet Member for “the summer”. This should set out aspirations and policies for traffic management in Greenwich Park and other areas of the Borough affected by acute traffic congestion and pollution. We intend to return to the issue of traffic management once this is published. We will strive to ensure that any traffic management schemes have clear measures and success criteria and that quantitative measurements related to those criteria are collected before, during and after implementation of any scheme. The format and operation of any schemes may be the same as previous proposals, but may differ. This is something we wish to discuss with residents.

Labour - Pat Slattery: The consultation and decision-making processes to be associated with the coming Borough-wide Transport Strategy have to be published and transparent from the outset.  I am very keen that decisions are evidence-based.  As well as delivering our ambitions for fewer vehicles on the road and improved air quality, I would also want the strategy to address road safety issues including, in Greenwich Park, speeding vehicles along Greenwich South Street and the hellish crossroads at Blackheath Hill/Road.  We are reliant on TfL for improvements on both of these roads but I am happy to be robust on insisting that, finally, improvements must be made. I am also keen for the Council to explore what leverage its huge procurement power can give us to negotiate reduced prices for electric vehicles for residents (and reduced rate insulation etc).

Liberal Democrat – Rhian O’Connor: Traffic is the no 1 issue when we knock and doors and debate has got so heated. Opinion is so divided on this and we have talked to disabled people or people on early shifts who need their car and need access. At the same time, we appreciate residents desire to reduce emissions, and make streets safer for everyone. We think a compromise is needed but more thought into what that compromise is. Future LTN proposals must be the result of proper area wide consultation and thinking that is transparent to all and takes account of pedestrians and all transport users, ensures that pollution is not increased, school areas are safe, and emergency vehicles can move freely. The Council has shown a lack of ambition in exploring different types of filters that can help local traffic move more effectively while deterring cut-throughs from non-local vehicles. 

  1. How will you ensure that the Council works effectively with TfL, so that local road use policy and any changes to this can be 'joined up' with public transport provision.

Conservative: answer awaited

Green: TfL policies can help deliver traffic reductions in Greenwich. These include enabling cycle and e-bike hire schemes for residents (including cycle parking), along with new cycle lanes, and active encouragement of car commuters living in Kent to use the new Elizabeth Line instead of driving to central London through Greenwich.  We will include TfL in the preparation of our traffic reduction and safety strategies. 

Labour - Aidan Smith: The Council already works with TfL all the time. In regard to major road changes, TfL is a statutory stakeholder in consultations, but is also a partner for any major works, especially where these affect areas in the locus of TfL control, such as traffic signals, bus stops and bus lanes. TfL is usually the main source of funds for transport changes and our priorities are influenced by the Mayor of London’s Transport Strategy. We work with TfL and bid for money to make transport changes to achieve these aims, through the Local Implementation Plan and bids to other pots of funding.

Labour - Pat Slattery: As above, we will heavily lobby TfL for safety improvements and I will lobby for tweaks to the arrangements on the Trafalgar Road to reprioritise bus passengers again, and protect pedestrians in an increasingly complicated road layout.

Liberal Democrat – Rhian O’Connor: The Silvertown Tunnel is a classic example of where transport policy is not joined up across London, with the local council now against the scheme but TFL pushing ahead. Liberal Democrat GLA Assembly Members continue to pressure Sadiq Kahn to cancel this expensive and carbon heavy project. We also would work more closely with TfL on the following issues: 1) SE rail and Thameslink services to improve frequency and reliability given the fare increases, 2) impacts of the late delivery of the Queen Elizabeth line, 3) push for separate cross-river cycle tunnels which should have been included in the Silvertown Tunnel plans or undertaken as separate schemes (this includes improving the reliability of the Greenwich foot tunnel), 4) to better consider local public transport when planning new developments. At the moment Greenwich Council has no transport strategy - we believe an integrated plan is called for with local resident consultation

East Greenwich

ENVIRONMENT

  1. What are your plans to ensure that all waste collection activities accelerate progress towards achieving the council's zero carbon targets?

Conservative: answer awaited

Green : We believe that an overall waste reduction goal is required, to underpin new work and policies to reduce resource use in our Borough, and to support new re-use and repair businesses. This goal would complement the council’s zero carbon targets, with progress towards the former contributing to the achievement of the latter. We also believe there is a need for greater consistency in recycling collections across London – at the moment residents moving from one Borough to another can be confused about (often significant) differences in what is recycled. By aligning recycling with neighbouring Boroughs, Greenwich can make it simpler and easier to recycle. 

Labour:  Our Carbon Neutral Plan requires us to introduce strict quantitative targets for waste reduction and increased recycling to attain a 70% recycling rate and total waste mass reduction by 45% by 2030. We aim to achieve Zero Waste strategy, which is being implemented between 2020 and 2023, with different elements being delivered at different times. An example of something already implemented is the restriction of recycling sacks for households with blue bins, as these are not necessary for dry recycling. A measure yet to be implemented is fortnightly black bin collections. This is expected to lead to a significant increase in our recycling rate. Weekly blue and green bin collections will remain. We are also looking at measures to improve recycling rates in flats, through planning policies for new developments and resident engagement. We should encourage people to reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle what they can, promoting zero waste retailers and more environmental measures. We believe there is more to be done with advising people on where they can recycle waste, such as promoting that Curry’s allow you to recycle electrical and electronics products and where people can recycle soft plastics, lightbulbs and batteries. We should also look at options for collecting waste in more localised areas for those who do not drive and cannot access the Re-use and Recycling Centre at Nathan Way.

Liberal Democrat: answer awaited 

  1. How will you enforce policies for the inclusion and subsequent maintenance of sufficient green space in current and future housing developments so that all residents have easy access to these spaces for their wellbeing?

Conservative: answer awaited

Green: We will look to amend council planning policies to deliver clearer planning and strategic protections for smaller green spaces in the Borough, and to ensure they are well maintained and are publicly accessible. We have been calling for some time for the Council to employ a full-time ecology officer, to make sure that green spaces deliver for wildlife species. This need is particularly urgent given the advent of Biodiversity Net Gain – an ecology officer needs to be in place to ensure that new developments contribute meaningfully to building a network of connected, accessible, nature-rich spaces in the Borough.

Labour: The Council has invested over £1m in our parks and open spaces over the last four years. This went towards maintaining and enhancing our green spaces, planting new trees, and adding new facilities. It is not just green spaces that we need, it is play spaces too. We have refurbished several playgrounds in the current ward, including the playgrounds and outdoor gyms in Caletock estate and we have continued to support our leisure services. As acknowledged in our Parks and Open Spaces strategy and action plan, there is not enough green space in the Greenwich or Woolwich areas of the Borough. We aim to increase the amount of green space available, whether that through the development process, or by greening other spaces, such as developing pocket parks, as we have created off Trafalgar Road. The maintenance of accessible public space on private land is ultimately the responsibility of the freeholder, but the Council has powers to ensure access is maintained through planning enforcement. We should insist new make green spaces accessible to the public so that the whole community benefits.

Liberal Democrat: answer awaited 

PLANNING

  1. Members of the Greenwich Society have been increasingly concerned about breaches of planning permission and lack of action by RBG in enforcement. How would you help residents ensure that what gets built is actually what got planning permission?

Conservative: answer awaited

Green: Enforcement failures are the result of strained resources in council planning teams, arising in part from central Government cuts and in part from the council’s failure to collect sufficient Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) receipts. This latter failing can be addressed by councillors and would be a priority for Green councillors. As local independent journalist From the Murky Depths has consistently highlighted Greenwich Council set a very low rate of CIL in 2015and ‘overlooked’ a recommendation to review it in 2018. As a result, despite huge amounts of new development (especially in Greenwich), CIL income in 2019/2020 was lowest in London (£1 million). The council’s review of CIL is at last almost underway, but with an 18-month timeline to completion. Green Cllrs would accelerate this, close the CIL deficit and use some of the funds to bolster enforcement activity. 

Labour: We will make sure that the Planning Officers and Planning Enforcement continue to act against developments which have been built without permission, or not to the approved design. Planning and planning enforcement can be a long, complicated, and expensive process, particularly for larger developments, so these can take a long time to resolve. There are time limits on how long new applications must be approved, so these tend to dominate the high workload of the planning department. Added to this, there is also a national shortage of planning officers, which has led to problems with recruitment and retention of planning officers. The Council has found some innovative solutions to this and is working on more strategies for the medium to long-term. 

Liberal Democrat: answer awaited

  1. Would you be prepared to insist that all new buildings should be carbon neutral, in accordance with RBG Policy?

Conservative: answer awaited

Green: Yes

Labour: We would be happy to insist on this, although I cannot promise it will be adhered to in every case as planning is a complex process, weighted in favour of developers. We would support measures to tighten the rules around this in the new Greenwich local planning policy framework. We would go further to say that we also support policies supporting the retrofitting of existing buildings to make them carbon neutral and encouraging developers to retrofit existing buildings in preference to demolition and new construction.

Liberal Democrat: answer awaited

TRAFFIC & TRANSPORT

  1. What processes will you establish to ensure that the decision-making process for future changes to road layout and traffic flow (e.g. LTNs) is transparent to all local residents and includes timely collection of appropriate and adequate data?

Conservative: answer awaited

Green: Greenwich Council has been saying for nearly a year now that it’s going to come up with a borough-wide transport plan, whilst erratically going back and forth on individual street projects. This isn’t good enough. If elected we will draw up ward-level traffic reduction & road safety strategies, emphasis on the word strategy. These will be holistic, looking at how action on one street will affect another. The strategies will set out how vehicle numbers passing through East Greenwich can be reduced by 45% by 2030, with a focus on delivering the bulk of these reductions soon. 1/3 of car journeys in London are under 2 km. Everyone will benefit if we can replace the majority of these with walking and cycling. We already have some climate safe streets in East Greenwich (like the eastern section of Pelton Road) which have been working well for years. Our strategies will work with residents, resident groups & traffic experts to holistically connect these up with new projects, to deliver more streets for residents where children can play in safety, the air will be cleaner and noise reduced – all the while contributing to overall traffic reductions. We can do it, with some bold and strategic thinking.

Labour: The Council is developing a holistic transport strategy for the Borough, promised by the current Cabinet Member for “the summer”. This should set out aspirations and policies for traffic management in East Greenwich and other areas of the Borough affected by acute traffic congestion and pollution. We intend to return to the issue of traffic management once this is published. We will strive to ensure that any traffic management schemes have clear measures and success criteria and that quantitative measurements related to those criteria are collected before, during and after implementation of any scheme. The format and operation of any schemes may be the same as previous proposals but may differ. This is something we wish to discuss with residents.

Liberal Democrat: answer awaited

  1. How will you ensure that the Council works effectively with TfL, so that local road use policy and any changes to this can be 'joined up' with public transport provision.

Conservative: answer awaited

Green: TfL policies can help deliver traffic reductions in Greenwich. These include enabling cycle and e-bike hire schemes for residents (including cycle parking), along with new cycle lanes, and active encouragement of car commuters living in Kent to use the new Elizabeth Line instead of driving to central London through Greenwich.  We will include TfL in the preparation of our traffic reduction and safety strategies. 

Labour: The Council already works closely with TfL. Regarding major road changes, TfL is a statutory stakeholder in consultations, but is also a partner for any major works, especially where these affect areas in the locus of TfL control, such as traffic signals, bus stops and bus lanes. TfL is usually the main source of funds for transport changes and our priorities are influenced by the Mayor of London’s Transport Strategy. We work with TfL and bid for money to make transport changes to achieve these aims, through the Local Implementation Plan and bids to other pots of funding.

Liberal Democrat: answer awaited

Greenwich Peninsula 

 ENVIRONMENT

  1. What are your plans to ensure that all waste collection activities accelerate progress towards achieving the council's zero carbon targets?

Conservative: answer awaited

Green : We believe that an overall waste reduction goal is required, to underpin new work and policies to reduce resource use in our Borough, and to support new re-use and repair businesses. This goal would complement the council’s zero carbon targets, with progress towards the former contributing to the achievement of the latter. We also believe there is a need for greater consistency in recycling collections across London – at the moment residents moving from one Borough to another can be confused about (often significant) differences in what is recycled. By aligning recycling with neighbouring Boroughs, Greenwich can make it simpler and easier to recycle. 

Labour: answer awaited

Liberal Democrat: answer awaited 

  1. How will you enforce policies for the inclusion and subsequent maintenance of sufficient green space in current and future housing developments so that all residents have easy access to these spaces for their wellbeing?

Conservative: answer awaited

Green: We will look to amend council planning policies to deliver clearer planning and strategic protections for smaller green spaces in the Borough, and to ensure they are well maintained and are publicly accessible. We have been calling for some time for the Council to employ a full-time ecology officer, to make sure that green spaces deliver for wildlife species. This need is particularly urgent given the advent of Biodiversity Net Gain – an ecology officer needs to be in place to ensure that new developments contribute meaningfully to building a network of connected, accessible, nature-rich spaces in the Borough.

Labour: answer awaited

Liberal Democrat: answer awaited

PLANNING

  1. Members of the Greenwich Society have been increasingly concerned about breaches of planning permission and lack of action by RBG in enforcement. How would you help residents ensure that what gets built is actually what got planning permission?

Conservative: answer awaited

Green: Enforcement failures are the result of strained resources in council planning teams, arising in part from central Government cuts and in part from the council’s failure to collect sufficient Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) receipts. This latter failing can be addressed by councillors and would be a priority for Green councillors. As local independent journalist From the Murky Depths has consistently highlighted Greenwich Council set a very low rate of CIL in 2015and ‘overlooked’ a recommendation to review it in 2018. As a result, despite huge amounts of new development (especially in Greenwich), CIL income in 2019/2020 was lowest in London (£1 million). The council’s review of CIL is at last almost underway, but with an 18-month timeline to completion. Green Cllrs would accelerate this, close the CIL deficit and use some of the funds to bolster enforcement activity. 

Labour: answer awaited

Liberal Democrat: answer awaited

  1. Would you be prepared to insist that all new buildings should be carbon neutral, in accordance with RBG Policy?

Conservative: answer awaited

Green: Yes

Labour: answer awaited

Liberal Democrat: answer awaited 

TRAFFIC & TRANSPORT

  1. What processes will you establish to ensure that the decision-making process for future changes to road layout and traffic flow (e.g. LTNs) is transparent to all local residents and includes timely collection of appropriate and adequate data?

Conservative: answer awaited

Green: Greenwich Council has been saying for nearly a year now that it’s going to come up with a borough-wide transport plan, whilst erratically going back and forth on individual street projects. This isn’t good enough. If elected we will draw up ward-level traffic reduction & road safety strategies, emphasis on the word strategy. These will be holistic, looking at how action on one street will affect another. The strategies will set out how vehicle numbers passing through East Greenwich can be reduced by 45% by 2030, with a focus on delivering the bulk of these reductions soon. 1/3 of car journeys in London are under 2 km. Everyone will benefit if we can replace the majority of these with walking and cycling. We already have some climate safe streets in East Greenwich (like the eastern section of Pelton Road) which have been working well for years. Our strategies will work with residents, resident groups & traffic experts to holistically connect these up with new projects, to deliver more streets for residents where children can play in safety, the air will be cleaner and noise reduced – all the while contributing to overall traffic reductions. We can do it, with some bold and strategic thinking.

Labour: answer awaited

Liberal Democrat: answer awaited

  1. How will you ensure that the Council works effectively with TfL, so that local road use policy and any changes to this can be 'joined up' with public transport provision.

Conservative: answer awaited

Green: TfL policies can help deliver traffic reductions in Greenwich. These include enabling cycle and e-bike hire schemes for residents (including cycle parking), along with new cycle lanes, and active encouragement of car commuters living in Kent to use the new Elizabeth Line instead of driving to central London through Greenwich.  We will include TfL in the preparation of our traffic reduction and safety strategies. 

Labour: answer awaited

Liberal Democrat: answer awaited

 Blackheath Westcombe

ENVIRONMENT

  1. What are your plans to ensure that all waste collection activities accelerate progress towards achieving the council's zero carbon targets?

Conservative: answer awaited

Green: We believe that an overall waste reduction goal is required, to underpin new work and policies to reduce resource use in our Borough, and to support new re-use and repair businesses. This goal would complement the council’s zero carbon targets, with progress towards the former contributing to the achievement of the latter. We also believe there is a need for greater consistency in recycling collections across London – at the moment residents moving from one Borough to another can be confused about (often significant) differences in what is recycled. By aligning recycling with neighbouring Boroughs, Greenwich can make it simpler and easier to recycle. 

Labour: answer awaited

Liberal Democrat - Roger Spence: We subscribe to the Council’s Community Charter for a cleaner Borough, but question whether it is known about or understood by most residents and organisations, but also whether in fact it is put into action as thoroughly as we might wish. I would want to question the current administration on their detailed plans and their effectiveness as when moving around our area there are seemingly endless examples of poor refuse collection, fly-tipping, barely existent street cleaning, etc. I would certainly like to see a far more proactive stance by the Council in the support of separation of waste in large flats and multi-occupied dwellings, greater activity in clearing of large waste and its proper recycling from all domestic properties – this facility needs to be easily accessible to all at all times. All streets, wherever they are, should be clear of leaves and waste, and the composting of all biodegradable materials increased. There should be active monitoring and collection of fly-tipping and a concerted effort to close opportunities for these illegal acts and to catch offenders. On vehicles, while cutting the frequency of some refuse collections may reduce emissions to a certain extent, focus on the fleet of vehicles that do those collections and their conversion to green electric operation or timely staged replacement is paramount. A single easy to read statement about the council’s policy and a time frame for its actions would be very helpful for all and more accessible than the small unconnected elements on the RBG website.

  1. How will you enforce policies for the inclusion and subsequent maintenance of sufficient green space in current and future housing developments so that all residents have easy access to these spaces for their wellbeing?

Conservative: answer awaited

Green: We will look to amend council planning policies to deliver clearer planning and strategic protections for smaller green spaces in the Borough, and to ensure they are well maintained and are publicly accessible. We have been calling for some time for the Council to employ a full-time ecology officer, to make sure that green spaces deliver for wildlife species. This need is particularly urgent given the advent of Biodiversity Net Gain – an ecology officer needs to be in place to ensure that new developments contribute meaningfully to building a network of connected, accessible, nature-rich spaces in the Borough.

Labour: answer awaited

Liberal Democrat - Roger Spence: I would argue strongly in Council, should I be elected, to ensure that there are good allowances for green space and play and sports areas in all new developments. This is about quality of life and over the past two years we have seen how important this has been in our lives.  It is easy to say that the Council and developers want the most income generating use of the sites they are planning, but I would argue strongly that the right balance and good planning of green and recreational areas adds value. I would also argue that in industrial and commercial areas, some of which within the borough, are in a poor state, should be invested in, have green spaces for workers to relax outside and generally increase the quality of life at little cost

PLANNING

  1. Members of the Greenwich Society have been increasingly concerned about breaches of planning permission and lack of action by RBG in enforcement. How would you help residents ensure that what gets built is actually what got planning permission?

Conservative: answer awaited

Green: Enforcement failures are the result of strained resources in council planning teams, arising in part from central Government cuts and in part from the council’s failure to collect sufficient Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) receipts. This latter failing can be addressed by councillors and would be a priority for Green councillors. As local independent journalist From the Murky Depths has consistently highlighted Greenwich Council set a very low rate of CIL in 2015and ‘overlooked’ a recommendation to review it in 2018. As a result, despite huge amounts of new development (especially in Greenwich), CIL income in 2019/2020 was lowest in London (£1 million). The council’s review of CIL is at last almost underway, but with an 18-month timeline to completion. Green Cllrs would accelerate this, close the CIL deficit and use some of the funds to bolster enforcement activity. 

Labour: answer awaited

Liberal Democrat - Roger Spence: I join in this concern and would want a Planning Committee that holds developers and the Council’s own company and their contractors to tightly drawn development agreements that tie them to agreed RBG development criteria and strategies. With the reduction in Government cash support there is perhaps an argument that the numbers of inspecting officers are not at adequate levels for the amount of development and redevelopment required in the borough and if so, addressing this should be a priority. We acknowledge the pressures from central Government to provide homes and of the real need to provide affordable housing and council accommodation for its waiting list, but it is more important than ever that design and planning of new estates and homes is of the highest standard to offer the quality of life, energy efficiency and economic running cost needed to restore some hope in a tough world and that those reasonable expectations are delivered. It is about ensuring at the start that there are no loopholes that allow the developers to back out of commitments and the manpower is there to hold them to account. We would also want to see greater clarity on the raising of CIL and S106 contributions from developers and transparency on how that is invested in community improvement.

  1. Would you be prepared to insist that all new buildings should be carbon neutral, in accordance with RBG Policy?

Conservative: answer awaited

Green: Yes

Labour: answer awaited

Liberal Democrat - Roger Spence: Yes, as somebody who has built and remodeled a lot of buildings this is always easier to agree to than achieve, however personal experience makes me confident that we should be insisting on tighter policies and sticking to them. This does mean consideration of what we are building and how we use available space and sites and must mean questioning materials used and the planning of concrete intense structures that are carbon heavy. A key consideration must also be new building versus the re-use of existing buildings to provide housing or alternative local employment spaces that reduce the impact on the environment of building and reduce transport pollution. There are number of significant buildings in our area which could be used, and plans should be made and expediated for appropriate uses.

TRAFFIC & TRANSPORT

  1. What processes will you establish to ensure that the decision-making process for future changes to road layout and traffic flow (e.g. LTNs) is transparent to all local residents and includes timely collection of appropriate and adequate data?

Conservative: answer awaited

Green: Greenwich Council has been saying for nearly a year now that it’s going to come up with a borough-wide transport plan, whilst erratically going back and forth on individual street projects. This isn’t good enough. If elected we will draw up ward-level traffic reduction & road safety strategies, emphasis on the word strategy. These will be holistic, looking at how action on one street will affect another. The strategies will set out how vehicle numbers passing through East Greenwich can be reduced by 45% by 2030, with a focus on delivering the bulk of these reductions soon. 1/3 of car journeys in London are under 2 km. Everyone will benefit if we can replace the majority of these with walking and cycling. We already have some climate safe streets in East Greenwich (like the eastern section of Pelton Road) which have been working well for years. Our strategies will work with residents, resident groups & traffic experts to holistically connect these up with new projects, to deliver more streets for residents where children can play in safety, the air will be cleaner and noise reduced – all the while contributing to overall traffic reductions. We can do it, with some bold and strategic thinking.

Labour: answer awaited

Liberal Democrat - Roger Spence: We have been very clear after the recent problems with “trial” LTNs that such planning cannot be on an ad hoc basis. That traffic planning needs to be holistic, so as not to create traffic-free roads in one area which simply intensify and displace problems onto other nearby areas. Future LTN proposals must be the result of proper area wide consultation and thinking that is transparent to all and takes account of pedestrians and all transport users, ensures that pollution is not increased, school areas are safe, and emergency vehicles can move freely. We believe that we contributed to persuading the Council to drop its plans, but I must emphasise that as LibDems we are certainly not against the concept of LTNs, traffic calming and reducing measures. Elsewhere there are examples of these measures where technical (ANPR and other systems) and physical measures, signage and information can work well to achieve a reasonable environment for residents, without damaging access to services and freedom of movement, while holding back “cut-through” traffic.  It is also clear that there needs to be meaningful liaison between adjoining boroughs to ensure that decisions and implementation of LTNs do not impact local neighbourhoods as has happened recently in the Lee Road/Horn Park area. Thorough consultation is required across wider areas, options provided with meaningful impact assessments, so that people can properly recognise the implications for them and others and so as not to set communities and neighbours against each other. There is no easy answer, but it must be possible to do better!

  1. How will you ensure that the Council works effectively with TfL, so that local road use policy and any changes to this can be 'joined up' with public transport provision.

Conservative: answer awaited

Green: TfL policies can help deliver traffic reductions in Greenwich. These include enabling cycle and e-bike hire schemes for residents (including cycle parking), along with new cycle lanes, and active encouragement of car commuters living in Kent to use the new Elizabeth Line instead of driving to central London through Greenwich.  We will include TfL in the preparation of our traffic reduction and safety strategies. 

Labour: answer awaited

Liberal Democrat - Roger Spence: The Council’s own Transport Convenor noted recently that the Council did not have a Transport Policy. It seems hard to imagine that a Labour controlled GLA, and a Labour controlled Council cannot come to sensible agreements over traffic arrangements, but this doesn’t appear to always happen.  The implementation of the cycleways on Trafalgar and Woolwich Roads as well as Shooters Hill have each met levels of criticism and particularly on the former the narrowing of the useable roadways has caused a range of problems – chief amongst the complaints are: - public transport buses are seriously delayed by traffic jams causing loss of income and employment issues for passengers, traffic speed is slowed or stopped by unloading delivery vehicles, buses themselves, pollution increased and air quality reduced, while many complaints are noted together with genuine anxiety over the ability of emergency vehicles, particularly ambulances and fire services to get through.  Wider and more detailed public consultation is required with the Council and TfL together with other key players to identify options for alternative cycle routes to restore safe bus routes, reduce congestion and pollution and allow speedy transit of emergency vehicles.

 

Greenwich Park Hustings on 29th April

As a guide to the issues of live local concern, here is a list of all the questions that were submitted to the hustings, not all of which were asked: -

  1. How would you address the housing crisis in view of rising private rent, soaring property price, high priced developments and limited funding for social housing and with housing poverty in the borough?
  2. What is your alternative to the LTN?
  3. In view of the very high pollution levels throughout Greenwich (including Egerton Drive) what are the candidates’ views on the best way of tackling this, including views on the low traffic neighbourhood?
  4. What is your position about the low traffic neighbourhood scheme? (not asked, as the questioner felt the issue had been addressed by the previous question)
  1. Does your party support the Silvertown tunnel scheme? Do you agree with your party?
  2. There have been cases of new developments and refurbishments of properties where planning conditions attached to permissions granted have not been respected. What are the candidates proposing to do to ensure enforcements of planning permissions?
  3. Do you agree with providing improved infrastructure prior to major new developments or changes to planning proposals. Is that your policy?
  4. Pavement widening in Greenwich town centre
  5. Council funding has been cut by round 50% over the last decade due to cuts to central government grant. In these circumstances what are your priorities for investment?
  6. Do you support (re)introduction of the West Greenwich LTN across all of the roads where it was previously implemented?
  7. How can ‘Greenwich Park’ [ward] cope with all these new developments, ie services etc?
  8. What is your vision for the future of education in the borough?
  9. What measures are the candidates going to apply to ensure that future consultations and decisions about traffic restrictions are fair, proportionate and transparent and that decisions are not driven by internal party politics but by the interests of residents?
  10. If you were elected, how would you ensure that council tenants are fully consulted on decisions that are made on their estates that directly affect them or have an impact on their lives, before they are implemented?
  11. What will you be doing to promote climate safe streets in the borough?
  12. What are your priorities for investment given central government cuts to council funding?
  13. How would your party meet the council’s target of cutting vehicle use by 45% by 2030?
  14. How can we/you improve the police services in the Royal Borough of Greenwich?
  15. How would candidates reduce traffic and air pollution on busy roads like Blackheath Hill?
  16. Do you think Greenwich Town centre provides a good experience for either residents or tourists at the moment?
  17. How would candidates guard against self-interest while representing the whole community?
  18. What do candidates propose to do to improve the dire situation with respect to social care?
  19. What plans have the candidates got to ensure that when they are elected, the council makes public, spaces such as The Point, safe and pleasant for use by residents at all times of day and in whatever season?
  20. What is your vision for the ward?
  21. What will you do for young people?
  22. Do you support the proposal being championed by the Greenwich Society, Greenwich Hospital, The Greenwich Market Traders and others to make the Town Centre a safer and more pleasant environment for local people and visitors by widening the pavements on College Approach and King William Walk?

The proceedings were recorded and can be watched on YouTube by clicking on the button below: -

Hustings on YouTube