Greenwich Council leader Chris Roberts has lambasted media coverage of the London riots – but not for ignoring Woolwich, whose town centre was wrecked in the disturbances a fortnight ago.

Roberts accused Sky News of glorifying looters in a column in this week’s edition of council weekly Greenwich Time, and criticised the BBC for not allowing the council to show images of suspects on its big screen in Woolwich town centre.

He also said Woolwich did not need “a fixation with burnt-out buildings” – likely to be a reference to the Woolwich wall on the side of the Great Harry pub, painted over on Monday morning. There is no direct reference to the wall in Greenwich Time, despite it being covered by other local and national media.

This website understands Roberts declined two offers of interviews with Sky News when the channel’s reporters arrived in Woolwich to film at the wall last week, claiming that coverage of the damaged town centre would further stigmatise the area.

“It is galling to witness Sky News interviewing rioters, dressed as though they were attending a paramilitary funeral, on the shores of Greenwich and then permitting them to walk away after confessing their crimes on camera,” he said.

“After the News of the World, it appears our media have learned no moral lessons on how about behave.”

He continued: “Even the BBC has not distinguished itself. They own our Big Screen in Woolwich, and yet, despite showing the riots live and screening programmes like Crimewatch, they refuse to let us post CCTV images of rioters on their screen in Woolwich [sic].

“The last thing Woolwich needs at this time is a media circus. What we need… is not a fixation with burnt-out buildings, but getting back into all of our shops and all of us buying what we need from our local businesses.”

Despite the damage caused to Woolwich, the media all but ignored the area until nearly a week after the riot, when the Woolwich wall attracted the interest of Sky News, which returned the next day for a follow-up feature.

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No VIPs have visited the area either as locals come to terms with the damage done. Only junior minister Bob Neill (pictured above talking to police officers with Roberts) has come to Woolwich so far.

Greenwich Time is one of only two council weekly newspapers in the country. The council’s cabinet decided to continue publishing it earlier this year even though it defies a government code which aimed to restrict council papers to appearing four times each year.

The code also states that council publications should be “objective”, “even-handed”, “appropriate”, and “be issued with care during periods of heightened sensitivity”.

12 replies on “Greenwich Council leader: No ‘media circus’ in Woolwich”

  1. Seriously though, what are we supposed to DO? It seems like it suits Greenwich to be in charge of a forgotten and neglected part of London that everyone seems happy to dismiss as shithole. Maybe we should consider seceding from Greenwich, maybe Bexley would like Woolwich instead then they might get Inner London borough status like Greenwich has? They couldn’t be any worse, even if they are Tories…

  2. The more I think about this, the more I’m sure that Greenwich Council do these things on purpose, I know its a cliche but “should know better than to get above ourselves & be thankful for what we got”. Really starting to annoy me now!!

  3. Community members and concerned visitors are, by gathering, and by calling out for their voices to be heard via script on the blank shuttering of the shell of a vibrant place, aiming to “fixate” on the future and its possibility.

    Minds turn away from ashes and recoil from debris. They fix onto hope, action, answers. These buildings hold meaning which is not lost. “Burnt-out” but not “out of the picture”. Symbols, Mr. Roberts, of importance. Starting points.

    I hope that, somehow, the many photographs taken by the visitors to the Wall will be collected, and a replica made – perhaps incorporated into the community mural to be created when that campaign succeeds !!

    Beauty and colour conquer neglect and decay. Music gets heard over noise.

  4. Should Chris ‘where’s the hospitality tent’ Roberts be banned from visiting Mr Fast Fry?

  5. It’s absolutely fascinating to see how much a local council leader can be so out of touch with the people he’s is supposed to represent.

    We know that councillors look at this web site. What have you got to say? You’re obvously interested enough in the local community to stand as representatives for it — and I know it involves hard work (I was going to say ‘graft’ — oops!!) for little reward and plenty of brickbats.

    So what do you really think?

    Are the commentsd on this site unrepresentative? Are they the result of malcontents with little else to do?

    Or are they the voices of people genuinely concernes about their locality and the seeming ineptitude of its leaders?

  6. Just back from holiday and catching up on events. While I have full admiration for the contribution made by 853 to the life of the Borough I cannot agree with all that is said. I do resent the suggestion that the Tesco jobs are of little significance. Having spent a large part of my life as a Trade Union Official working on behalf of shopworkers they are the most dedicated group of workers you could find. If,as it should 853 remains objective and focused there needs to be ballance in respect of report the Council engagement in promoting training and employment for young and old. The development of Apprentice Colleges is a case in point.

    I would be the first to admit that we dont get everything right,far from it. Recent events make this abundantly clear and there needs to be a period of reflection. Getting the Woolwich Town Centre up and functioning must remain a key priority.

    Having just spent some time in Hew York and Washington (holiday) I was enormously impressed by the determination to grapple with crime. Vast number of Police and security in the streets and visible. Community endevours through their local Ambassador scheme reflecting the importance of engaging young people in their own areas.

    The voice and emotions of people need to be heard,. Much has been said about “graffitti” on the Woolwich Wall. Matter for debate. Interesting to see the contribution that graffitti played on Ellis Island in 1840 . The expression of thought reflected in a moving exhibition that has been preserved for future generations.

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