Gasholder Trumps

Last week I went to a conference on gasholders.  I have been researching gas industry history for many, many years and we have a large and important (and probably doomed) holder just down the road. I used to sit at Council meetings with a little paper model of a gas holder on my desk – the only person who noticed it was Chris Roberts (and he laughed, he did, honestly).

The conference was organised by the Institution of Gas Engineers — and the industry is one that doesn’t really recognise people who don’t work for it (never has) but they did allow specialist historians like me to go. But they did get us all to stand up at the start so we could be identified as the aliens among them.

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Tall Ships Festival ends with stunning Parade of Sail

The five day Tall Ships Festival has drawn to a close with a beautiful parade of sail. On a gloriously warm day, the fifty ships that have been in London for the Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Festival mustered up towards Limehouse before being led down river by Polish sail training ship Dar Mlodziezy.

Crowds packed along the riverside to see the parade of barques, brigatines, schooners, sloops, cutters and ketches snake around the bends of the river. Here is a selection of photographs taken over the past few days in Greenwich.

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Tall Ships Festival gets under way

The biggest tall ships event on the Thames for a quarter of a century is getting under way, with about 50 ships in the capital for the Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Regatta.

Over the next five days there will be lots to see on the river and also plenty of activities taking place on dry land, too. Today’s events include a parade of traditional Thames Sailing Barges, a spectacular launch performance from a Catalan theatre group at the ORNC and fireworks on the river as tall ships sail by.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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All Change At The Town Hall

It is an enormous privilege to be elected Deputy Leader of the Royal Borough. Although we had a brilliant result in the local elections. Nothing must be taken for granted. With power comes responsibility to get things right in the interests of the community we serve. In the age of social media, problems and criticism emerge quickly, not always accurate but they demand a more urgent response. Sometimes seen as uncaring, more often seen as unwilling to listen and taking everyone for granted. So far from the truth. [Read more…]

9 crucial months to go

Two weeks ago today I was selected to stand as the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Greenwich and Woolwich at next year’s General Election. I have had a busy fortnight since, getting my campaign up and running, and have been inundated by very kind messages of support – including locally from some very, very unexpected places.

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Frank Burton

It’s never been easy to park near The Valley on Charlton’s matchdays. So before the club generously offered me a spot in Valley Grove behind the away end, I tried my luck up on the heights around Charlton House, which made it a piece of cake cruising down Charlton Church Lane, but not so pleasant toiling uphill later on, especially when we lost.

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I want to talk about the Greenwich riverside…

I really want to talk about the Greenwich riverside, and perhaps about the industrial past – but, before that to say ‘thank you’ to Rob for this slot, and that it is flattering to be asked to write next after Denise – and of course to wish her the best of luck in her new role in the future.

I should also mention the experience of having been a local councillor – I could write so much on that – and also to say that I know how many desperate issues there are to be addressed in our area.  Most of them – tunnels, supermarkets, roads, housing  – are things taking place because of the development process and – sadly – they are really too much for one old lady ex-councillor to take on.  I’m happy to support other people. But don’t think that because I haven’t mentioned them here that I don’t know or care about them.

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