Why I cannot support the Mayor of London’s Silvertown Tunnel proposals

I have never met a constituent who did not agree that the two sides of the Thames east of Tower Bridge should be better connected. The issue is how we achieve that cross river connectivity in a way that contributes to a sustainable local transport system that delivers benefits for local residents in terms of improved air quality, inward investment and expanded opportunities.

In the wake of Transport for London’s (TfL) October-December 2014 consultation, I took the view that the case for a new road tunnel under the Thames linking Greenwich Peninsula and Silvertown had not been made convincingly. I hoped at the time that TfL would listen carefully to the concerns that had been raised and respond positively to the range of suggestions that were put forward by the council and others to improve the scheme. [Read more…]

Greenwich Time: The courts will decide

In the last days of this Government with Purdah kicking in shortly, Eric Pickles decides to strike another blow against democracy by trying to prevent the Royal Borough from publishing Greenwich Time.

This was subsequently followed by him deciding to go the whole hog and include a number of neighbouring Boroughs. They are now considering their legal options. The cabinet met last week and decided to seek a judicial review. This decision was not taken lightly but based on the legal advise given in advance. [Read more…]

If we’re to have an IKEA in Greenwich let’s make sure it’s the right one

Few local issues have been as controversial as IKEA’s plans for a new Greenwich store on the Bugsby’s Way site currently occupied by Sainsbury’s “eco-friendly” low energy supermarket and the former Comet building. I recall vividly the large number of local residents that took the time last year to attend the meeting of the Council’s Planning Board at which IKEA’s outline planning application was considered. They did so not only to express their sorrow at the loss of Sainsbury’s Stirling-prize nominated landmark store (sadly hamstrung by a highly restrictive covenant) but also to raise concerns about what a new IKEA store on the site would mean for an already congested local road network and the noxious air pollution that is its corollary. [Read more…]

Thousands to benefit from Living Wage Incentive Scheme

After four years involved in local goings-on in Greenwich, I have learned that we live in a borough with a particularly frustrating political culture.  With three Labour MPs, 43 Labour councillors and only eight Conservatives on the council, as a member of the opposition, it can sometimes feel like an uphill struggle to get things done.  All eight of us on the Conservative benches have a solid track record of local achievements in our wards – but when it comes to the council chamber, I don’t mind admitting that the Labour Party’s huge majority can make the going tough. [Read more…]

The Mayor of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone proposals lack ambition. The zone should be made bigger, stronger, and more effective.

The consultation on the Mayor of London’s plan to improve our city’s air quality by making central London an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) ends today (if you haven’t submitted a response please do so here, it only takes a few minutes).

The Mayor’s proposals would require all motor vehicles driven within the ULEZ, which would cover the same area as the congestion charge zone, to meet new exhaust emissions standards with the aim of limiting nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions. The ULEZ would take effect from 7 September 2020 and would apply 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. [Read more…]

The case for the Silvertown Tunnel has still not been made convincingly

Transport for London (TfL) is once again consulting on proposals for a new tunnel under the Thames that would link Greenwich Peninsula and Silvertown. Having been designated a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) by the Government, the Mayor of London’s scheme is in the process of being “fast-tracked” through the planning system with this latest non-statutory exercise a precursor to a statutory consultation expected in the middle of next year prior to formal submission of an application for a Development Consent Order (DCO). [Read more…]

Campaigning to restore Greenwich’s war memorials

The centenary of World War One has been on many people’s mind for some time and across the Royal Borough of Greenwich residents felt that restoring our war memorials was the absolute minimum required to commemorate the sacrifice of so many people one hundred years ago.  I thought the Council agreed with me on this, but as the centenary came and went, the memorials across the borough were not restored, so I launched a petition to help remind Councillors how important this issue is to residents from communities across our Borough – you can sign at http://spencerdrury.com/warmemorials/. [Read more…]

Getting Greenwich and Woolwich working

After three damaging years of flat lining, the economy is finally growing and new jobs are being created. I hope that will continue to be the case. Yet the recovery is far from secure. It’s going to take considerable effort to deal successfully with the legacy of the global financial crisis and three years of negligible growth.

[Read more…]

Planning in Greenwich: “What about democracy?”

Politics is about choices. At its most basic, it is the process of debating alternative courses of action and deciding which to follow. Do you raise taxes or lower them? Go to war or not? Grant the planning application, or refuse it? The issues can be profound or mundane, but from observing local and national politics, it is the last example that I find perhaps most illuminating.

Planning policy has a reputation for being rather dry, even dull – but it is in fact politics at its most fundamental. Passions run very high indeed. Think of the recent local controversies over plans for IKEA on Greenwich peninsula, the proposed demolition of the Woolwich Grand, the Lovell’s Wharf development… the list goes on.

[Read more…]

Fighting for a better deal for passengers during the redevelopment of London Bridge station

London Bridge is a dark, cramped, overcrowded and poorly designed station. It is by no means an adequate gateway into the capital and often adds to the misery of what are (all too frequently) unreliable services for those travelling into central London from Blackheath, Greenwich, Charlton, Woolwich or Plumstead.

Its redevelopment as part of the Thameslink Programme will therefore be welcomed by many that hope that it will provide for an increase in the punctuality and reliability of services and a transport hub that is more spacious, better connected and easier to navigate.

However, managing the associated disruption to Greenwich line passengers during the redevelopment phase is going to be a major challenge and it’s crucial that everything feasible is done to mitigate it.

[Read more…]