October 2014

Minutes of the Meeting 7pm 6 October 2014 at Greenwich West

  1. Welcome, apologies and introductions  Mary Mills (MM) opened the meeting of 10 people. Apologies had been received from Francis Sedgemore (who had left the Committee to take up a new career in Cambridge), and Bob Rogers
  2. Matters arising from the minutes of the General Meeting 23/1/2014 The Minutes had been approved by a Committee Meeting on the 15 April. The only matter to be carried over was the issue of subscriptions which was agreed would be addressed under item 4 Finance.
  3. Review of the year Dick Vincent (DV), London Towpath Ranger for the Canal and River Trust took the Chair and MM spoke to a short report on the activities and achievements of the Friends since the foundation in 2013. The key points are shown in Annex 1.
  4. Finance John Phillips (JP) spoke to the accounts for the year ending 30 September 2014 (shown at Annex 2). DV asked if there was a more detailed breakdown of the August event costs which is available in the accounts.    Income -. JP suggested that, rather than subscriptions which it was felt would tend to be exclusive, we should rely on donations. This was agreed by the meeting. A payment method would soon be available on the website.
  5. Committee Vacancies and Elections The positions of Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer were for election. The only nominations were for existing officers:

Chair – Mary Mills elected nem. con.
Secretary – Ian Blore elected with 1 abstention
Treasurer – John Phillips elected nem. con.
Other co-opted committee members elected were :
Susan Bennett (SB, for Tower Hamlets) nem. con.
Mike Shallcross (MS, for Newham) nem. con.

MM asked if there were any volunteers to act as Press Officer, or as representative of Woolwich. SB agreed to identify a possible Woolwich resident.

  1. Any Other Business MS noted that signs at the Woolwich tunnel needed addressing and it was agreed to take this up as part of a updating of signage in both tunnels.

Subsequent Discussion on the Initiative of the Royal Borough of Greenwich to Bid for Funds to Better Manage Traffic in Both Tunnels

1. The London towpath scheme and reflections on the tunnels
DV summarised the origins and experience of the London canal towpath shared use (pedestrian and cyclist) scheme. He admitted that cycling control is a problem but that it is a problem in many narrow roads in London because of their nature. The RBG proposals were of interest to the Canal and River Trust particularly because of narrow bridges where traffic control would be advantageous. The introduction of shared use had been preceded by a lot of publicity and positive attempts to change behaviour.

 2. Summary of the RBG proposals, status and the fogwoft position 
IB summarised the Council proposals and emphasised that they were initial proposals to TfL for an experiment in shared use of the tunnels at appropriate times when traffic is low. If funded the scheme had to be designed and fogwoft had been invited to participate in that design and especially to contribute to the monitoring and evaluation of the experiment.

The position of the fogwoft committee was neutral in its support of the TfL proposed scheme; it had been agreed that members could continue to question any form of shared use. It had, however, been agreed that fogwoft should partner any scheme. This would help ensure good monitoring and evaluation.

3. Discussion of the proposals and suggestions for:
a) . Design of any scheme (including opposing it) Given that the result of the bid was not yet known it was decided to make suggestions :
With the TfL Scheme :  JP suggested that a much simpler scheme could rely on more manual methods and Anthony Austin (AA) suggested that it was not possible to make comments until the scheme had been designed more fully. The meeting approved this view.    
Without the TfL Scheme IB informed that the Council would fund a scheme itself in the absence of TfL funds. The meeting, after some discussion, emphasised the need for people to do any enforcement and to use less expensive technical solutions.

b) Scheduling and publicity. It was noted that,  even with TfL funds, the all-important Greenwich tunnel would not be addressed until 2016/17. It was agreed that interim measures were required

c) Managing user behaviour.                                                                                                               A discussion about whether visual signs would be sufficient to change behaviour again emphasised the need to have (even occasional) human back-up.

d) Monitoring and evaluating its success                                                                                             Most discussion centred on this point. Whatever is implemented it was accepted that continual assessment was needed, and that Qualitative evaluation was more important that Quantitative for user satisfaction. It was stressed that, to be successful, all groups of users should be “more satisfied” than at present.   The question of contractor performance was raised (after refurbishment experience) and what could be the usefulness of CCTV and manual survey methods.   Above all it was asked who would undertake the monitoring and evaluation – it needed to be independent and trusted.
4. Summary of the discussion
IB attempted to highlight some of the key questions above and it was agreed to use the website to inform of the developing shape of any scheme.

5. AOB
AA, MS and others suggested that the Greenwich tunnel could well be reaching capacity even with better “traffic management”. It was agreed by the meeting that fogwoft should explore the possibility of a new non-vehicular crossing of the river within Greenwich

Annex 1: Review of the Year

In the first year of fogwoft’s operation, we
a) raised our email list numbers from nought to 83 people
b) raised the public profile of the tunnels by publicity in the local and regional press
c) pressured the Royal Borough of Greenwich (RBG) to complete the stalled refurbishment along the original specifications without frills
d)  pressed for softer lighting and for better signage, the first being gradually installed and the latter an ongoing issue
e) held two events, 1 at Woolwich and 1 at Greenwich and 3 public meetings, as well as working meetings with RBG (7 in all)
f) participated in a tour of inspection of each tunnel
g) conducted an online survey about cycling
h) responded to the initiative by RBG to bid for funds to better manage traffic
But we will admit that tunnel cleanliness, graffiti, and the continuing failure of (particularly Greenwich) lifts are still issues

Annex 2: Accounts for 5th September 2013 to 30th September 2014

Final accounts tp 30 Sep 2014  (click to open)