‘We don’t want to raise expectations’ – Greenwich won’t adopt Lewisham’s street map scheme

Lewisham Streets map
Lewisham’s map now has over 1,100 suggestions

Greenwich Council says it won’t be adopting neighbouring Lewisham’s idea to ask residents for ideas where its streets can be improved – with leader Danny Thorpe saying he doesn’t want to “raise expectations I can’t meet”.

Lewisham has had over 1,100 suggestions on an interactive map where residents and visitors can place suggestions of where the borough’s streets can be improved for walkers and cyclists.

Gripes shared include missing crossings, rat-running, speeding traffic and fly-tipping.

But asked at last week’s full council meeting if Greenwich would be adopting the idea, Thorpe said the council preferred to focus on specific projects rather than take a borough-wide approach.

Greenwich uses the same platform – Commonplace – to gather views on smaller projects, such as one to find places to install lamp posts with electric car charging points and small-scale schemes in the limited Low Emissions Zone area in east Greenwich and Greenwich town centre.

Responding to a written answer from public realm cabinet member Denise Scott-McDonald, Conservative leader Matt Hartley said: “I understand the answer is that we’re in favour in principle, but only in certain parts of the borough, whereas the strength of the Lewisham approach is that all residents can contribute ideas for their local area.

“I wonder whether that can be taken away and reconsidered.”

Thorpe said Lewisham’s map was “an excellent examples of Labour in local government”, but added: “I think the reason why we’ve focused locally is that we’re doing specific projects in those areas.

“I’m being completely honest, when we’ve lost up to 77% of our funding* – you can shake your head Matt, but if I put a map out there that says which streets do you want cleaned and what things do you want built, then I’m raising expectations I can’t meet.

“So we’ve focused on the areas where we already have funding. Clearly we’re always working to improve our public realm and we’ll continue to do so.”

Watch the discussion here.

Lewisham is sourcing ideas for its new transport strategy through the map, which remains open until 13 August at lewishamstreetsmap.commonplace.is.

(* It’s not clear where this figure comes from. A check of Greenwich’s core funding from government shows it received £159.6m in 2008/9 and is due to get £108.5m in 2019/20 – a 32% cut in funding, although because of changes over time this does not compare like with like and does not take into account other sources such as the New Homes Bonus. By the same measure, Lewisham has suffered cuts of just under 30%.)

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