September 2013

Minutes of the Meeting 19th September 2013 at Woolwich Town Hall

1.            Introductions and Apologies

Present: Mary Mills (Chair), John Phillips, Francis Sedgemore, David Dennison, Parm Mahil, Ian Blore Apologies: Richard Sullivan

2.            Approval of inaugural meeting minutes

The draft minutes were proposed, seconded and approved.

3.            Matters arising

David clarified that he lived in Newham in “North Woolwich”

4.  Finance

•             Greenwich Cyclists’ (GC) line of credit (or rather draw down grant)

John tabled the account with the GC donation and noted there was a balance to call on of up to £209.  We would formally thank Greenwich Cyclists. ACTION: Ian

•             Soliciting seed support from other organisations

Mary circulated a written offer from Greenwich Industrial History Society (GIHS) of £50 seed funding.  We would again thank the Society. ACTION: Ian

We agreed to seek funding from other local societies, namely: Greenwich, Westcombe and Charlton Societies and Woolwich Antiquarians.  We may suggest they fund future discrete events or products. ACTION: John to write after liaising with Ian

•             Funding discrete events

We decided to review this at a future meeting when events become clearer.

John suggested that we temporarily ask if GC could hold our small cash account.  A decision about how long we should defer opening a bank account would be made at the next meeting.  Parm described her recent experience of opening an account for a Friends organisation and would provide advice.  She added that the account seemed quite flexible and free.  ACTION:  Ian to find out how long GC are happy to be our bankers, and operate on an invoice basis.  JOHN/PARM to exchange ideas and perhaps recommend a preferred course of action before the next meeting.

5.            Review of the Proposals from the inaugural meeting

Liaison with RBG

Mary recommended that we write to the Leader of the Council (of the Royal Borough of Greenwich – RBG) to request an exploratory meeting with appropriate officers.  ACTION: Ian to draft for Mary

It was discussed whether an agenda be suggested and agreed not; the approach would be to establish engagement with RBG.  Ian suggested that many of the Proposals should be on the agenda for the ensuing meeting with RBG officers.

The proposal to host a Q&A session with all three affected borough councils was deferred to the next meeting (after we had established official communication with RBG).

Mary noted that the RBG Cabinet Meeting (of the 18th September) that was to discuss the management of capital projects had been deferred.  Francis suggested that our knowledge of the history of the refurbishment works be a piece on the website with some comment.  This was agreed since few citizens appear to be aware of the reasons for the current state of the tunnels. ACTION:  Ian and Francis

Ian explained that a the need to clarify the roles of other organisations stemmed from a contribution at the Inaugural Meeting that the other two boroughs (Newham and Tower Hamlets – TH) may have had an original contract with Greenwich when the tunnels devolved from the GLC.  Mary would ask Kim Smith* of RBG and Parm offered to enquire within TH. ACTION: Mary, Parm

Major actions on the refurbishment scheme

After discussion, it was agreed that both the schedule and management of the completion of the scheme be high on the agenda for any meeting with RBG.  It was also agreed that many of the subsequent proposals would be included on that agenda, specifically:

•             Illumination of the domes

•             Updated signage and information plaques

•             Improved safety

•             Ban on busking

The tunnels as transport links

Francis suggested that this was a really important point, and asked who would have the expertise and knowledge to model future demand, likely major impacts and the effect of both tunnels on development.  David questioned if the Woolwich Tunnel was on anyone’s radar as to transport or regeneration.  Compared to Crossrail it is tiny.  After discussion it was decided to find out if TfL have undertaken any studies and how the tunnels feature in RBG “regeneration” ideas. ACTION: Ian (TfL), Mary (RBG)

Heritage and public art

Francis suggested that the website have a longer history section.  Mary would let John have her material from GIHS. Ian commented on the lack of a brochure for either tunnel.  David recommended that the Woolwich tunnel needed boosting (perhaps in the High Street), although John felt that it would be unwise to do this till it was more welcoming and safer.  Parm recommended the London Metropolitan Archives as a source.  It was decide to explore possible speakers for public talks, the Brunel Tunnel Museum and the possibility of a commissioned brochure.  ACTION:  Mary, Ian (to approach Paul Tyler), any others with ideas

Public art and the tunnels could be first explored, suggested Mary, by sounding out the local art communities.  ACTION: Ian, Mary

John, David and Francis recommended that a “hug and tunnel” event in the autumn/winter months (and especially at Woolwich given its condition) would be premature.  This was agreed, but other ideas for events at the Greenwich entrance were called for.  ACTION: All


John asked if there were national laws that regulated the use of cycles in the tunnels.  Ian suggested that there were likely to be design standards including widths for allowing shared use.  Mary suggested we get a legal clarification of this.  ACTION: Ian

John also suggested that the existing Greenwich tunnel barriers could be redesigned so as not to be such a bottleneck.  Ian questioned if the existing barriers had been subject to consultation (as appears to be required).  Mary suggested this could be clarified.  ACTION: Mary (of Kim Smith)

Francis suggested that the use of the tunnels could be part of a wider campaign to promote more considerate use of highways by all users.  He would outline a possible campaign involving various stakeholder organisations (Living Streets, LCC, Sustrans, etc.) at a future meeting.  ACTION: Francis

6.            Calendar of events and meetings

It was agreed to hold the next committee meeting after we have a response from RBG.  We could then organise another public meeting after meaningful discussions.  In the meantime there was agreement on trying to focus on Woolwich with:

•             the use of the Waterfront for publicity

•             a possible Woolwich Tunnel walk. ACTION: Mary

•             a possible Woolwich Tunnel press release (for its birthday on 26th October).  ACTION: Francis

•             a consultation with John Austin on promotion. ACTION: Ian

•             an examination of Tripadvisor.  ACTION: Parm

•             finding any Youtube material (especially Woolwich).  ACTION: David

7.            Website, media and publicity

John gave the Gmail password and agreed to use folders to manage messages when traffic has built.  After suggesting the alternatives of a sole respondent or jointly moderating all responses, it was decided to use the former with the Secretary as respondent.

John also explained that he had transcribed all names and addresses of those at the inaugural meeting to electronic format, there being 51.  It was decided that they would be regarded as the founding members for the purpose of the constitution.

Francis requested that the Web Homepage be static.  After a discussion between he and John it was agreed that they would reorganise the Website.  ACTION: John and Francis

On press (and blog) media, Francis indicated that there was continuing interest from much of the local media, including BBC London.  Immediate work would be for the Greenwich Visitor, a text of which would be circulated on 24th September and NuSound Radio which would be resolved between Ian and Francis.  ACTION: Francis

8.            Any Other Business

John suggested that we may consider as members of fogwoft all the founder members (51) plus any who have joined the Yahoo Group for one month.  It was agreed that the month sign up to an email group may be too difficult to police, and that all should be considered “members”.

The meeting closed at 9 pm.

*Other soundings that Mary would make of Kim Smith not covered above were:

The abolition of lift operators

CCTV operations and data sharing with neighbouring boroughs

Emergency hotline phones

Council wardens