Greenwich 10: Victoria Borwick responds

Victoria Borwick is the first of our London Mayoral candidates to answer the Greenwich 10.  Her responses follow in full.










Should the early morning contra-flow in the Blackwall Tunnel be re-introduced? 

Anything that helps keep the traffic moving I support – I know that Bob Neill has spoken up about this too, I think the way that this scheme was stopped was also deplorable and has caused endless delays.  Stationery traffic is polluting traffic, so we need schemes that keep the traffic moving.

So YES is the short answer, unless you locals have an even better scheme.

How can Greenwich take advantage of its Olympic status to encourage healthier lifestyles amongst the borough's residents?

I am hoping that the natural enthusiasm for young people in all the fun and razzmatazz of the Olympics will encourage all Boroughs to use the Olympics to encourage young people to participate in sports.

However we need to make sure that this government does not continue to sell off playing fields, and build over sports grounds in the constant need to build over all the rest of the green space we have in London.

Your local plans for Greenwich should be made locally – this is not the time for central interference from the Mayor.  Local people working locally will be much more effective in encouraging healthier lifestyles.

How do you evaluate the success or otherwise of the rollout of Safer Neighbourhood Teams across Greenwich?

Looking at your crime statistics, some have fallen and some have risen.  Over the last three months London has become the gun crime capital in addition to its other street crime failures.  As Sir Simon Milton, Chairman of the LDA, and Leader of Westminster Council said a few weeks ago – “it is time for local authorities to take back control of the streets through visible figures of authority including police, police community support officers and wardens”.   Many of the PCSO have only had a few weeks of training, and they will take time to become effective. 
Hammersmith and Fulham have invested as a Borough in extending the hours of their PCSOs in their “worst wards” but it has come at a price – over £1 million from the Council budget.

I believe in locally accountability.  Police working with the Council and local community groups to tackle the crime hotspots, being open about what is needed and agreeing on solutions.  We all talk about the lessons learned in New York – but they did take time.  However we need to get on with this now – I believe that tackling crime and giving people back the feeling of safety on the streets is the highest priority. 

Police should be locally accountable, and responsible and rewarded for effective local policing.

Do you think the current type of new housing units being built in Greenwich is right for the borough?

Every borough has an audit of what it needs: family units, smaller units, but whatever you build it has to be right for that area.  We need to build communities with access to doctors and health facilities, local schools, shops, job opportunities, access to good transport links.  It is no good just building more high-rise flats – we saw centralised planning in the 60s and it was a disaster. 

It is important for the Council to listen to the needs of local residents.

In my borough the real need is for family units, which not only gives people a home, but frees up other accommodation further down the “chain”. 

Again I believe that local planning decisions should be made locally, by the people who the residents have elected.  I know from visiting almost every borough that planning is usually the MOST contentious issue.

South East London is poorly served by public transport. How would you address this issue?

This is a complaint from a great deal of “outer London” as it is rather unattractively called.  We need more orbital routes, so that people can travel from town centre to town centre, rather than having to go into the centre.  We have continued to see cut backs in local services in the outer Boroughs.

In the long term you will hopefully have some benefit from Crossrail, and the Docklands Light railway and East London line extension.

All these scheme cost a great deal of money, so we shall need central government funding and agreement with local residents on the final routes.

Do you think the proposal to have a Congestion Charge zone in Greenwich is a good idea or not?  

I am not in favour of the Congestion tax.  This has just become another tax on Londoners in central London. Congestion Tax is separate issue to traffic congestion -  traffic speeds have not increased in spite of fewer vehicles coming into London.  TfL have installed 4,000 extra traffic lights, road narrowings, and artificial pinchpoints which has slowed down the traffic.

However in addition to the cost of the Congestion Tax - £930m raised from motorists, but only 1.5% spent on transport improvements.   This is a divisive tax as it restricts our movement – have to pay the tax to visit a friend in hospital, go to the shops, and if you are someone who needs to use their car or van for their business, you are penalised again – cleaners, plumbers anyone who has to carry samples or tools and equipment around.  I am a Councillor in a ward on the West side of London where the charging line runs through the middle so I know that it divides communities, and harms local businesses.

How will you address the safety concerns of Greenwich residents travelling late at night on our buses?

We need more investment in British Transport Police – as you will be aware this is different section to the Met Police.  Every year the Conservative Members of the GLA have recommended more money into this budget which is vital.   

In spite of increased police numbers because of administration and other tasks only 1 out of 60 police are actually on the street at any one time.  This comes down to local management and accountability. 

We must increase safety on all public transport.

Do you think the decantation of the Ferrier Estate has been handled well by Greenwich Council?

Here I quote from David Gold, local Conservative Councillor:

Labour’s councillors - and MPs - have treated both tenants and leaseholders with utter contempt on this estate.  Anyone watching from afar may not see why this matters, indeed many would like to see the estate demolished and replaced with something more attractive.  Whatever the rights and wrongs of the plans for redevelopment, the council’s approach to the decanting of the estate shows their true colours - uncaring, nasty and inhumane.  Such bullying tactics would cause a private landlord or developer to be front page national news. 

As I know from visiting almost all the Boroughs, local planning decisions are always the most contentions, particularly as we now build smaller, “units” not homes, which are usually poorly built, have no soundproofing, lower ceilings, and are not designed to last. 

Everyone aspires to their little bit of space they can call their own, both indoors and out, with some privacy.  I know from the estates near me in North Kensington that we ignore these basic needs at our peril.  If we want harmony and people to feel happy, we need to start with proper homes.

I can see this is a very difficult situation moving people out of the estate for it to be re-built.

Would you support the construction of the Thames Gateway bridge as currently proposed?

I believe we do need to have more bridges and access ways across the Thames to help people find jobs and improve transport links.  I know that the plans as currently proposed are not popular locally and very contentious.  There is also a feeling that these plans have been rushed through by TfL. 

I believe we need to re look at these proposals for the benefit of the community, and see if modifications need to be made. 

Do you think Greenwich gets value for money from the mayor’s precept?

All Londoners have suffered from the increase in the Mayor’s precept.  When Ken first came to power it was about £123 for the average household per year, it has now gone up to over £300, and for many larger homes, of course the rise has been more.  The cost of living has risen about 20% so the cost of Ken is rising at 7 times the rate of inflation – do you feel you have value for money?  Most people do not feel any safer, and they have certainly not seen an increase in their “quality of life”