Sorry seems to be the weediest word

I wondered why a post about weeds was doing very good business in page views, and it looks like we’ve seen why. A couple of weeks ago, I had a grumble about the triffids that are sprouting out of pavements and gutters in Charlton and Greenwich, and suggested that community clean-up days helped Greenwich Council get off the hook when it came to looking after the streets. (Incidentally, does anyone know how the Charlton Central clean-up day went? I can’t see any obvious difference in the streets, but it could just be me being blind, and I had to be elsewhere that day.)

But, lo, on Friday, there was a statement. A STATEMENT, no less! The winged messenger for this was hard-working Peninsula councillor Mary Mills, who brings this statement on behalf of Maureen O’Mara, the cabinet member in charge of leaving streets filthy. Or “neighbourhood services”, as it’s known as at council HQ. This is what she says, as reported by community site…

“Weed growth and its control has proved to be a real problem this year. We are doing our best to deal with this issue and can only apologise to residents for this happening. I could blame the EU for new regulations that stipulate we have to use a new weed removal spray, meaning it takes longer to get rid of weeds, but I do not intend to do that. We have not cleared weeds as quickly as we should have this year and I apologise to residents for that. We are putting more resources into weed control to ensure that the remaining weeds are dealt with swiftly and that we tackle any regrowth very quickly. I will do my best to make sure that this.”

So clearly, the council has simply not bothered to go out and buy some new weed killer. How hard is it to do this? Do local councils never talk to each other? Those EU regulations also apply in Lewisham and Bromley, but they’ve not had any problem shifting weeds. Here’s an idea, Maureen. Get your people to ring up Lewisham or Bromley, ask them what they use, then buy some. And use it. It’s not that hard, is it?

It’s a shame, but entirely indicative of how Greenwich Council works, that a statement from a leading councillor has to come via one of her back-benchers. Mary Mills shouldn’t have to act as a go-between – the likes of Maureen O’Mara should talk directly to the people who pay their wages. Isn’t that why Greenwich Council has a press office, and a silly propaganda rag? The organisation badly needs reforming.

beat2Speaking of the silly propaganda rag, last week’s Greenwich Time featured an odd little story about the Run to the Beat half-marathon and its licence application.

The previous week, Greenwich Time had buried a licence application for the event, condemned by participants for being badly organised and by some locals for the disruption caused, but the application didn’t feature either the name of the event or the date; and nor was there any supporting editorial to point people towards this.

And the suddenly, this story appeared in Greenwich Time – “a premises licence application was published in last week’s GT with regard to areas affected by road closures and music that will accompany the fun run, but may need clarifying”. Er, you don’t say. But they don’t reprint the advert, instead directing readers to the fiddly-to-use website, from where the links aren’t particularly obvious. And there’s nothing about the changed route, either. A slightly different version of this story appears on the council’s website.

I would say that they’re actively discouraging people from getting in touch, but I just don’t think they’re competent enough to even do that. Talking properly to people isn’t in the council’s mindset. Until it is, it’ll never be able to do its job properly.


  1. Thanks for asking, the CCRA cleanup day went very well. I got rid of all that rubbish from the cellar, and some of the vaguely useful junk was Freecycled. The council provided blokes with vans, and cleared up the two lots of flytipping, presumably from people on the mailing list. In the evening the Barn Dance was (I gather) rammed and suffused with the joyous community spirit you only get east of Victoria Way.
    The apparently non-communicative council sent a missive to say what was happening, and then another one to get cars out of the way on the following days. They cleaned the road and gutters, and removed the weeds, probably with tweezers. Must go, I have to scrub my front step.

Comments are closed.