At the Guardian: Boris, Ken, and a wasteland in Charlton

Over on, you can find me and other London scribes discussing the effects Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone have had on their areas.

My bit is illustrated by a picture of Charlton’s glitzy Victoria Way, but really it’s on about the scene if you walk down to the bottom of the road. The land in the picture above was originally earmarked for the Ken-era Greenwich Waterfront Transit scheme, canned by Boris a few years back. The GWT had been watered down from a tram to a bus by the time it was scrapped (and, indeed, would have run via Bugsbys Way instead of the planned dedicated road through the retail parks). But it was still a commitment to improving transport in the area, and it’s something that should have been up and running by now.

Instead, we got the cable car, which is very nice, but largely useless as a form of public transport. From the hill on Victoria Way, you get a lovely view of both the GWT wasteland (now due to be turned into a Travelodge) and the cable car – a quick summary of the past decade of London transport politics all in one glance.

With the campaign in full flow, you probably won’t find much mayoral stuff here unless it directly relates to south-east London, but I’ll be contributing to Snipe’s The Scoop.

Oh, and that bent-up “Woolwich Road SE7” street sign in the photo? It’s been left like that by Greenwich Council – sorry, Royal Greenwich – for 10 years after a car smashed into it, despite complaints from local residents who want to see it removed or replaced. Despite the splashing out on new signs in more high-profile areas, it shows just how Greenwich is happy to leave much of its patch looking anything but regal.


  1. oh dear – off down the Town Hall in five minutes to talk about all that, hopefully!!

  2. Am I the only person interested in this???? I put the first comment up a couple of hours ago – since then I’ve been down to Woolwich and talked about nothing but these sites with Council officers for over an hour – and chased up why the road sign hasn’t been replaced.

  3. I for one am pleased that you are being active on our behalf Mary.

    It does highlight the mild absurdity of perfectly fine road signs being replaced in some (mainly touristy) areas, whilst others that do need replacing are ignored.

  4. I complained to LBG about a width restriction sign in Tunnel Avenue that some wag has turned the wrong way round (with inevitable results). Months later it’s still pointing the same way.

  5. Oooh, if this is a contest, I can tell you that I complained about a defaced road sign in Bugsbys Way in the autumn of 2006 (I still have the email somewhere) – still waiting for something to be done.

    Can anyone beat 10 years, though?

  6. Nice one Mary. Little worried about mugger’s alley next to it too. Lights were fixed in January but failed again last month. Thankfully just last week they’re back working again. We’ll get them strobing soon.

  7. Just keep sending them through! Happy to deal where I can.
    Gordon is that sign down at the pinch point by the rose garden – hadn’t noticed it but will go down later and look.
    Darryl – find the email and forward it to me. I will also go and look
    Matt I am also worried about the muggers alley – which I think is the one which is privately owned and where I know there have been problems with getting lighting fixed. It is one of the things I talked about with the officer who is now dealing with the area yesterday

  8. Eventually, you just have to write off any chance of this council doing its job and sort it out yourself.

    If someone has a decent tool-kit, maybe they could go and fix the sign themselves. And someone else could fix that sign on Tunnel Avenue so it faces the right way…

  9. Nelson – give me a chance! I can’t be everywhere at once. Just spent the morning trying to think of new ways of getting the railway to clean up their areas – (and there is a whole saga about Westcombe Park as well as Maze Hill – and other residents raising different issues about them) – hope you are going to let me know how your get on with your letters. Working together would be helpful.
    I am waiting to hear back from officers about the signage issues – they were going to go and inspect the sites – will keep it on my to-do list though.
    As I said – keep telling me – very happy to be nagged

  10. Sorry to come back so quickly – Gordon – please get on to me about the sign which is the wrong way round. Very unclear which one you mean – there are a couple of wonky parking signs – – but they all seem to have a reason for why they are the way round they are. So please let me know and I will get it sorted.

  11. Humble apologies Mary! Please don’t think for a millisecond that I was referring to you when I used the term ‘council’, I meant the staff whose job it is to actually deal with these problems. As many of us know, it’s *that* part of the council which takes years (literally!) to even deal with really minor issues.

    As for the letters, there is nothing more to tell. “The station master has been informed” is all they ever say or do. Saying that, at the next opportunity, I will write to them again with a slightly more robust effort.

    Failing that, I’ll pick it up myself and spread it all along the platforms and the ticket office. Then they’ll have to clear it up!

  12. The sign is by the junction of Denham Street /jw Tunnel Ave. I would sort it myself but I seem to do the councils job for them already when it comes to issue’s around my part of the world.

    I seem to be on to Cleansweep and TFL constantly complaining about street cleaning, graffiti, planning issues etc etc. etc.

    The whole area around the Woolwich Road roundabout is bloody filthy and it makes me ashamed to live here sometimes.

  13. sorry Gordon – will try and sort it. Copy me in when you get on to these various departments
    Thanks anyway

  14. Mary, there’s a lovely weeping willow tree just along from the bent sign. Can you confirm whether the tree will be protected in the event of any development on the site?

  15. No I can’t remember – will ask. I have a feeling it was discussed and the willow lost – but don’t take that as definite. Might take me a week or so to get the answer to that, but will try

  16. How about the East London River Crossing? If you’ve ever been over to Gallions Reach you’ll see the finished sliproad that was supposed to connect to it. They really should restart that scheme – given the increase in housing along that stretch of the river, the area really needs better connections.

  17. I have been complaining about this part of Woolwich Road for over 10 years. I have written to the Council about it on numerous occasions and raised the sign and the overall area in meetings – including with Cllr Roberts when he was council member for Peninsula. Still nothing.

    The willow – which I can see from my window – is also doomed. What a shame. Only Mary from the Council has ever shown any interest.

    Not sure I want a “Royal” sign – I’d prefer the sign being removed and some tidying up to be done. We haven’t even got the Travelodge yet as the Olympic status of the road (intended pun) mean no more building work to be started until after we’ve over the summer jollities.

    At least the “spatial plan” silliness actually came up with something that was relatively cogent and sensible. Will it ever happen? I long for the day when we will have begin to see a streetscape again with trees not surrounded by concrete bollards or hoardings.

  18. […] Residents also addressed the cabinet at the meeting. Some representing local groups such as CRAG, the Charlton Society and the Westcombe Society. Each underlined the main themes from their formal responses. There were calls for Charlton to be seen as a whole and for residents and businesses to be involved as much as possible. The traversing of Woolwich Road was highlighted as key as well as improving our streetscapes. […]

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