One final post* on Silvertown for now – I can’t let this go without highlighting the considered thoughts of Harry Singh, the Greenwich Council cabinet member for something called “Greener Greenwich”.

Harry Singh's written response

(See the full bundle of Silvertown Tunnel “answers”)

Yes, the man with a “green” portfolio actually believes building a new four-lane road will help ease the notorious air pollution which blights east Greenwich. It’s a reply which truly puts the “moronic” in “oxymoronic”.

There’s more from Wednesday night’s council meeting here, and you can listen to the evidence against in Wednesday’s post – delivered by the experts Denise Hyland refused to meet.

Maybe Harry could spend the weekend reading this 1990s study into “induced traffic”, which shows building new roads simply attracts more traffic.

One of Greenwich Council’s greatest mysteries is the “Greener Greenwich” portfolio – apparently created to ward off a possible electoral threat from the Green Party. If you ask a question about roads in the borough, it goes to regeneration cabinet member Denise Hyland; if you ask the same question as a cyclist, it goes to Harry. If you ask a question about litter on the pavement, it goes to environment member Maureen O’Mara. If it’s about litter in your wheelie bin, it goes to Harry.

It’s basically cycling and bins. Because that’s all being “greener” is, apparently. The rest of it, it would appear, is doing what what you’re told, and putting your name to answers which are clearly nonsense.

Thank you to everybody who’s signed the petition (it went to TfL yesterday) and to all those who filled in TfL’s hopeless consultation. The river crossings proposals will return later in the year, and the petition will remain open until then. We’ll be thinking about where the campaign goes next – your thoughts would be appreciated.

(* which guarantees the next post will be on Silvertown, of course.)

8 replies on “‘Greener Greenwich’ councillor says ‘yes’ to new roads”

  1. “It’s a reply which truly puts the “moronic” in “oxymoronic”.

    Let’s try and have a mature debate, mmm? There are considerable flaws in the anti-tunnel argument but no-one from the pro-tunnel side has started throwing insults around.

    For starters, would say 120,000 cars travelling at speed really produce more pollution than 100,000 cars ‘caterpillaring’ through a traffic jam? The experience of walking alongside any traffic jam would suggest not.

    Also, what is the impact of any proposed toll, with higher charges at rush hour, on the primary anti-tunnel argument of “increased car use”?

  2. It’s not an insult, Steve. It’s a moronic answer purportedly from a man whose job title is oxymoronic. (The strange third person reference gives the game away – their answers are written for them.)

    Take a listen to the audio from Monday and have a read of the report I’ve linked to.

  3. Having moved to Greenwich from Lewisham only 16 years ago I am still trying to get used to how local politics functions here. Bureaucratic nonsense happens everywhere, but in Lewisham the public response tends to be more vociferous. Perhaps this is why my first response to council plans that I have serious problems with is to object to them. The culture in Greenwich seems to be ‘let’s not object but ask polite questions in case the council decide not to consult with us because we are not in the loop.” It’s true that neither my outright objection to the Sainsbury’s plan, mostly on environmental grounds, nor the qualified reservations of others, also on environmental grounds, resulted in any significant concessions, but could it be true that the main reason Greenwich consultation mismanagement is rife is because we let them get away with it too easily, rather than because it is a ‘safe’ Labour borough?

  4. The experience we’re having in Greenwich isn’t unique to Labour councils. While I do believe each and every Labour party member in this borough should read and listen to Wednesday night’s “answers”, and reflect if that’s how their party’s representatives should be treating their electorate, there are similar horrors in Conservative councils – take a look at Hammersmith & Fulham and Barnet for similar horrors.

    It’s all about pressure and scrutiny, though. Two issues.

    One is party political, but it’s to do with the media. It’s always struck me that it’s easier to point at a Tory council and get attention, simply because a great section of the media and public, frankly, find the Tories acting with vested interests in mind a better story, because it fits the “Tory bastards” stereotype. It’s much harder to do the same when there’s a Labour council involved – for a good example, compare the coverage of the Earl’s Court redevelopment fiasco (Tory councils chucking out council tenants for private redevelopment) with the Carpenters Estate fiasco in Stratford (a Labour council chucking out council tenants for private redevelopment). When the Guardian covered Silvertown, all the criticism was about Boris – but nobody’s yet investigating the roles of Labour councils in assisting these schemes. (Worth pointing out Lewisham and Islington object to Silvertown – both are Labour councils. Why do they get it and Greenwich and Newham don’t?)

    Secondly – yes, there does appear to be a greater deal of apathy in Greenwich borough than in others. I think Lewisham’s always been more bolshy – look at the fierce pride in Deptford (that still objects to incorporation into Lewisham borough, nearly 50 years on). But this hasn’t always been the case – in the early 20th century, Woolwich’s Labour movement was positively revolutionary, and there were sit-ins to protest against traffic through Charlton in the 1970s. I suspect it’s because people don’t know what’s going on – we’re solely served by fading freesheets which rarely bother the doormat, and the council’s taken advantage of this to run Greenwich Time weekly. (That said, the Mercury and NS have covered Silvertown well – the appearance of some opposition has given them a better story.) But I think once people know about things, and once they know they won’t be alone, they will protest – look at the amazing turnout at the Lewisham demo last week. I was amazed 50 turned out at Monday’s meeting on Silvertown/Gallions, and now facts are emerging, I think this will be just the beginning. What this means for the current political set-up, who knows? But I think that the more individual decision-makers, like Harry Singh, are pulled out of the shadows and held to account for their decisions, the better. And, again, that Labour party members in this borough reflect on this, and decide whether this culture of evasion and deceit really sums up their party.

  5. This census data put into a brilliant map by drawingrings

    shows that almost everyone in Greenwich uses public transport to go to work and it is the lazy commuters from the outer suburbs who drive in and block the A2 between Falconwood and Eltham each morning. And since it is only two lanes wide it will continue to be blocked however many tunnels are built at Blackwall.

  6. Census – Travel by Local authority – Greenwich population -186,722

    Work at home – 2.5% Tube/Metro/light rail/tram – 9.7% Train – 14.8% Bus – 10.2% Taxi – 0.3%
    Motorcycle etc – 0.7% Driving – 17.5% passenger in road vehicle – 1.2% Cycle – 1.5% on foot – 4.1%

    We are close to the mean for cycling, but distinctly low on being able to walk to work.

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