5 June 2017, at 11.00, in the Woolwich Centre
Present: From Royal Borough of Greenwich (RBG): Tim Jackson, Mark Hodgson, Malcolm Smith, John Lynn
From fogwoft: Mary Mills, Martyn Daniels, Ian Blore
1. Draft new bylaw
Malcolm Smith (MS) outlined the status of the new bylaw which is in draft and with undergoing final editing before being presented to July Cabinet. After then it is expected to go to Council as well as to Tower Hamlets (LBTH) and Newham boroughs. The final version will be sent to the Sec. of State (Communities and Local Government) for approval. The adoption of the new bylaw is not expected before the end of 2017, so we may expect to see it in operation in 2018.
The bylaw prohibits certain activities, including cycling, except when permitted by RBG. The new fine is Level 1 or £200, which is index-linked. Enforcement may be by RBG wardens through Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs). No additions to RBG’s warden team is expected but those covering Cutty Sark Gardens would be deployed in the tunnel on a randomised basis.
Martyn Daniels (MD) informed the meeting of a Health and Safety audit by LBTH on Island Gardens which is the surroundings to the north entrance to the Greenwich tunnel and which may have a bearing on cyclists (cycling is banned in Island Gardens). Margaret Cooper may be a key officer contact in LBTH. FoIG had also secured the Calders Wharf wall on which the tunnel electricity substation abuts.
MD also recommended that the northern Greenwich tunnel sign be relocated to the south of the narrow bomb damage section and it was agreed that this feasible and implemented before the MMS launch. It was agreed that the intention is to give permission to cycle only within the MMS signs excluding entrance, lifts and stairwells.
Fogwoft welcomed the likely provisions of the bylaw, sought an early draft for information and admitted that the old levels of fines precluded any enforcement to date. It was agreed that an early random application should be planned together with a well-co-ordinated informational and publicity campaign, in which fogwoft is prepared to participate.
2. Operation of the Movement Management Scheme (MMS)
The technical testing of the electronic element movement had revealed that the technology appeared robust enough to consider it’s being the basis of permitting cycling through the operation of suitably worded signals at each end of the tunnels (which have been undergoing trials for a year).
All agreed that the test signals would now be switched off. RBG would consider if a warden presence (presumably to issue warnings) could coincide with this, in order to begin publicity.
It was expected that the full MMS would be implemented when the new bylaw comes into force. It would be preceded by a public consultation and a safety audit. Trigger levels of traffic to allow/disallow cycling would be set and agreed at the MMS relaunch.
Both Mary Mills and MD asked if the current method of reporting any incident could be improved. MD further raised the question of possible terrorism to which Tim Jackson responded that there is likely to be advice on this. MS pointed to the 3 emergency stations in both tunnels which can be used for terror or any other emergencies.
John Lynn (JL) reported that the system was providing good realtime information on traffic. It looked like there has been a significant increase since the last (manual) estimates in 2015. JL and MS would liaise and provide fogwoft with comparable (to previous data) daily figures for the relevant period in September 2016. It was agreed that the new system could prove invaluable for examining trends, peaks and scheduling works and operations.
3. Trial of lift remote alert system
Mark Hodgson (MH) gave a status report on the experimental system that linked lift outages with the RBG IT system and to a webpage and twitter alert. For several reasons the system had occasionally failed (for example by shutting down after a longer outage and then failing to correctly indicate status after rebooting). MH suggested that the system not be made public but that in its present form it should continue to be periodically monitored but not upgraded yet. Ian Blore (IB) regretted the position but noted that lift failure was now far less of a problem than it had been during 2013-15. Better lift performance has lessened the need for the system. It was noted by all that lift outtages were now largely either planned or caused by vandalism (especially but not only in the Woolwich tunnel). Scheduled maintenance is shown on the RBG website: (http://www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/info/200102/walking/693/foot_tunnels). Vandalism sadly usually means that a lift is down for a longer period which should also be publicised.
4. Greenwich tunnel bomb damage plaque
MH informed that the text, which had been shared with fogwoft, need to be edited a little. This would again be shared with fogwoft and the hope was to install the plaque at the bomb damage section before the high summer season. This was welcomed by fogwoft. It was agreed that better locational signage at Woolwich should await plans to redevelop that whole area.
IB indicated that there would be a summer event by Friends of Island Gardens on 5 August in which fogwoft would participate with a stall. It was agreed that this could be a good opportunity to provide public information and that fogwoft and RBG would liaise on this.
The meeting ended by 13.00