Long-delayed refurbishment works at Greenwich Foot Tunnel could finally be finished by next March, the inaugural meeting of a pressure group on the issue was told last week.
About 50 people filled the first gathering of the Friends of Greenwich and Woolwich Foot Tunnels, which aims to protect and promote the two cross-river links, both badly hit by a botched revamp managed by Greenwich Council.
At a council meeting in July, Greenwich regeneration cabinet member Denise Hyland, who is in charge of the tunnel scheme, announced work on to get the tunnels finished would be brought forward – but there was still no date as to when a report, commissioned last October, into the fiasco would be published.
Hyland, who is in charge of the tunnels, did not attend the packed meeting at the 10 Centre last Thursday. But Tower Hamlets councillor Gloria Thienel was there, and the Conservative representative for Blackwall & Cubitt Town said her own council’s officers understood that Greenwich planned to have the work done by March.
But she did add: “We’ve been told this before.”
If true, this would mean the work at Greenwich would be finished in time for May’s council elections. There was no news as to when work at Woolwich would be finished – indeed, users of that crossing were thin on the ground.
Much of the meeting, chaired by outgoing Peninsula councillor Mary Mills, was concerned with filling positions on its committee. Indeed, But a wide range of issues were raised, with the issue of cycling in the tunnels causing almost as much concern as their poor state of repair.
The other big issue was the lack of lift staff – made redundant by Greenwich Council, with passengers able to operate the lifts themselves. Dubbed the “guardians of the tunnels” by one speaker, their ability to control cycling in the tunnels merely by denying errant cyclists entry to a lift was much missed.
Crime and anti-social behaviour were brought up – with suggestions for closer working between Greenwich, Tower Hamlets and Newham councils and borough police forces. Others also feared the Greenwich tunnel was nearing capacity – and it was time to start looking at alternative pedestrian and cyclist links.
While no Greenwich cabinet members turned up, backbench councillors Alex Grant and Matt Pennycook were there for part of the meeting, along with parliamentary hopeful David Prescott. Shortly after the two councillors went, with perfect timing, London cycling commissioner Andrew Gilligan popped in for the end.
There were also representatives from the new Friends of Island Gardens group, formed to protect the park which faces Greenwich from across the Thames.
I’ve compiled some of the most pertinent points from the evening in this Storify page. For more information about the friends group, visit the FOGWOFT website.
So Greenwich gets its foot tunnel sorted whilst Woolwich is neglected.
It’s exactly the same story with the post-Olympic repairs to Woolwich Common as against Greenwich Park (http://diamondgeezer.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/one-year-on.html).
I appreciate that the Greenwich foot tunnel gets far more use than its counterpart in Woolwich but it doesn’t seem right that the most deprived part of the borough is neglected at the expense of the most affluent.
I agree Mark
Steve- Mark – I don’t think anything said at the meeting implied any preference for Greenwich over Woolwich. There were a lot more people there from Greenwich – a few from Woolwich – and a contingent from Tower Hamlets. The statement about work on the tunnels was made by a Tower Hamlets councillor – who, as the Woolwich tunnel goes to Newham, is only interested in the Greenwich tunnel. It was pointed out at the meeting that we should not speculate but wait for an official statement from Greenwich Council.
There is of course a moral to this – Steve and Mark – turn up to the next meeting and have a say about Woolwich. This is a Friends organisation and it is for local residents to turn up and put their point forward.
Both tunnels are essential and need attention. Wonder if the mayors office really will sort things out and find out what went wrong?
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