Monday, 24 November 2014

Sorry if you have missed me.

The Thamesmead Grump has not been around for a bit. This is due to a number of reasons that I won't bore you with.

One problem I have had that you may have noticed is with the blog itself, I have been trying to jazz up the presentation a bit and getting myself into a complete mess doing so. I know there are a number of possible formats available but every time I try and change anything, my blog ends up looking a mess. I would then spend hours trying to put it back the way it was and eventually give up in frustration. I have settled on what you can see now but I'm not happy with it and will probably try and change it again. If I do, expect it to go down for a time again. In the mean time, I apologise if any of my earlier posts look a little strange but changing the formatting has a knock-on effect on everything.

I thought I would have a picture heading and change it from time to time with whatever takes my fancy. The current picture shows the view of the river from the Thames Path behind my back garden.

Bus Lane Fiasco

The idiotic programme of bus lane creation along the A2041 Central Way in Thamesmead is almost complete.

This dual carriageway that never carries more than a little light traffic now has a bus lane along almost it's entire length in both directions. It is completely unsuitable for buses in most cases, as it runs along the nearside lane and leads up to junctions where the buses need to turn right. This forces all the traffic into the now busy outside lane and has two main consequences.

Firstly, as all the other vehicle traffic now has to use only the outside lane, it prevents the buses from being able to turn right when they need to; cars which would have originally moved to the inside lane to let the buses out can no longer do so. It also means that traffic reaching the next junction and needing to turn left has to cross the path of buses in the nearside lane who need to turn right. This has created what is now a genuine hazard and it is only a matter of time before there is going to be a serious accident.

One dangerous part is at the roundabout where Central Way meets Bentham Road and Thamesmere Drive. Anyone driving West and needing to turn left into Bentham Road will have to cross the path of buses trying to turn right into Thamesmere Drive. The really dangerous point though is for traffic coming in the other direction. Cars coming along Central way from the West and wanting to turn left into the shopping centre will have to cross the path of buses needing to get into the outside lane for the right turn into Bentham Road. This area actually does become quite busy, especially at weekends and is now a real accident waiting to happen.

Crunch time, if I can use the expression is going to be in the run up to Christmas when that part of the road can become seriously blocked. With only one lane now being available, there is going to be a real problem for everyone.

Belvedere Splash Park

It isn't my intention to make a big story about the closure of the Belvedere Splash Park as it is being comprehensively covered elsewhere. I used to live in Belvedere in the 1980s and would take the children there from time to time. My main recollection of the place is that it used to be shut most of the time. When it was open, the pool would be full of broken glass and people would take their dogs there to crap in the sandpit. It was a pleasant surprise when I saw it's redevelopment although my children were now too old to use it and had moved away anyway.

There is a Facebook page which can be accessed here.

The shutting down of the Splash Park and the possible sale of the site to developers, if some of the rumours are to be believed, raises another issue altogether. If I am ever able to get my personal profile onto the page (don't hold your breath), you would see that I list my occupation as professional photographer, now long retired. I did also have a number of other jobs as well that would fill in the time when I wasn't behind the lens. For a number of years I worked on and off for the Citizens Advice Bureau as a specialist money adviser; sometimes part time, sometime full time. Although every case is different, there are certain processes that are common to most situations. Sometimes it would make sense to sell a personal asset in order to pay an unexpected bill or expense. Selling the TV set to pay an electricity bill might make sense, after all, if the electricity is disconnected the TV won't work anyway, and later when your circumstances improve, you can always buy another one.

Selling off assets to meet day to day expenses is not recommended however. Assets are a limited resource, eventually you will run out and there will still be bills to pay. If the council is selling off public places to pay it's running costs, it is going to end in tears. There is also the fact that, unlike the TV set, once something like a public park or open space has been sold, it can never be recovered. Local people will have to pay the price of the loss of those things for generations to come.

I'm no expert on how to run a local authority but I would suggest that if the council is having difficulty balancing their books, they might first look at their day to day expenses, starting with the eye wateringly high salaries being paid to their senior staff before stealing the park off the children.

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