Taking pride in our streets and public spaces

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Here are seven words that should be said more often: Hats off to Greenwich Council’s highways department.

The council has just completed the resurfacing of the Royal Standard one-way system (the first half was done in June and the second in November). This busy junction now has no potholes and new road markings, and the work was completed smoothly over four nights with very few complaints about noise. This follows work in the spring to make the corner of Charlton Road and Westcombe Hill, where cars often used to zoom round the corner at high speed, safer for pedestrians to cross.

I am sorry that local Conservatives keep claiming that Greenwich’s Labour council neglects the Standard: as well as the recent highways works, over the last five years the council has  frozen shop rents on Old Dover Road, planted more trees, refurbished Blackheath Library and extended its opening hours, and helped to get an office for our local police team opened above Marks and Spencer’s – and helped defeat Boris Johnson’s recent plan to close it.

Half a mile south of the Standard, the council’s Highways department has just responded to residents’ concerns about the ridiculous amount of signage on the mini-roundabout on the corner of Kidbrooke Gardens and St German’s Place. The council’s highways engineers simply took half of the signage away, within just a couple of weeks of a site visit in late October.

About five years ago I attended a similar site visit with highways managers, who said that nothing could be done as all the signage was legally required. I am glad that sense has now prevailed and the council has removed much of the unnecessary clutter that was an eyesore on this part of the Heath.

Over on Maze Hill, last year the council secured English Heritage funding to replace the ugly metal fire gates (which can be opened to allow fire engines through, but are normally locked to prevent rat-running lorries), with much prettier wooden ones.

After housing and planning issues, the biggest issue that residents contact me about is highways-related: broken pavements, potholes, and dangerous junctions.

Greenwich Council’s highways department has a tight budget  and there is still much to do to make roads in Blackheath and Westcombe Park safer for motorists and pedestrians, and make them places we can all be proud of. But as these photos show, there have been several recent successes. If residents have further suggestions for improvements, please let me know by commenting below.

 I only wish Transport for London could be as active in responding to concerns about their own roads locally: speeding on Shooters Hill Road, and the need for proper fences alongside the A102 motorway (where they are more interested in putting up huge advertising hoardings which no-one wants at the Sun-in-the-Sands roundabout). I am not holding my breath.


3 Responses to Taking pride in our streets and public spaces

  1. Credit where credit is due. Those are some good improvements.

    I hope this is the start of a fundamental cultural change within the highways department and other areas of the council. I have wrote extensively on my blog about the very poor public spaces across the borough and lack of improvements. Greenwich rank as probably the worst borough in London, and are also far worse than many other UK towns and cities. This isn’t hyperbole but the reality I noticed, and I travel all over London and the country regularly, so I’m glad to see those improvements.

    Hopefully the tide has turned and improvements will occur all over the borough. Many are cheap and easy to do with immediate improvements.

  2. Pingback: After 16 years as a Labour councillor in Blackheath and Westcombe Park, Alex Grant says thank you and goodbye | Blackheath Westcombe Labour

  3. Pingback: Cycling in Greenwich borough: Two steps forward, one step back | 853

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