Williams is the consultant appointed by Greenwich and Bexley councils to see
how Wilton Road might be transformed into a nicer place to shop. She addressed another
traders’ meeting last night which was well attended. Sally showed her
confidence in local businesses by hosting the event in the Abbey Arms which has
been noticeably improved externally over the past month or two. Internally, I wouldn’t know, I’d never
before been inside.
It wasn’t clear to me who had called the meeting. Everyone I spoke to was saying Bexley council, but Greenwich has done so previously. If it was Bexley it was especially badly done. I heard two different days at two different times before things settled on 4th November at the very same time as Bexley was running an awards ceremony followed by a Full Council meeting.
Only Danny Hackett (Labour, Lesnes Abbey) managed to squeeze in a brief appearance. No one thought to invite the MP, Teresa Pearce.
It was primarily a progress report including a summary of the public consultation. 222 people had filled in the long form at the street tent which considering how many responses Bexley council usually gets across the whole borough, 333 last time, is a very good score indeed.
The theme generally was that people would like to see all sorts of improvements but while the area suffers more than its fair share of anti-social behaviour people will tend to stay away.
For example, 100% of respondents thought it would be nice to have street benches but barely half wanted them to be installed, fearing they would attract more and even longer term problems. Experience outside the new Sainsbury’s suggests they may have a point. (Photo 2.)
On a brighter note, shoppers praised the good service and reasonable prices on offer.
Formal submission to traders of the proposed redesign is still up to a month away but some sketches were available for viewing. It is already clear that the consensus is moving towards the new name being ‘Abbey Wood Village’.
A brief discussion of crime levels revealed that traders do not always report the petty crime that goes on and one lady said that police foot patrols are entirely absent. She may be right. In all the years I have made near daily trips to Wilton Road I don’t remember seeing a copper there either.
A council officer from Greenwich pleaded with the traders to report crime to her even if they were reluctant to involve the police. One man who I did not recognise said he would not be “a snitch” on his customers and stormed out of the meeting at the very thought that his fellow shopkeepers might become “grasses”.
I suspect that Wilton Road is not the easiest problem for Sally Williams to solve what with the Crossrail disruption, the very difficult parking situation and the division between two boroughs neither of which has shown the area much love. The last thing she needs is bolshie shopkeepers.
Note: I was able to stay only for the first hour because of the aforementioned Bexley council meeting.