Column by councillor Denise Hyland the leader of Greenwich council
I’m sure it won’t have escaped your notice that there is a General Election taking place in just a few weeks time on 8 June. Some readers may not be that interested in politics but I really do urge everyone to make sure they are registered to vote so that they can take part in this big decision on our country’s future.
As a local authority we help to run the election, as do councils up and down the country, and we have all the information you need on our website about how to vote. You can vote in person at a polling station, or apply for a postal vote if you are going to be away from home. If you do want to vote by post you need to apply by 5pm on 23 May. Alternatively you could apply to vote by proxy, which means having someone vote on your behalf.
Whatever your circumstances, take a look at all the information on the election at www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/waystovote so you can make sure you have your say.
Back to the day-to-day business of the Council and news of what we are doing to address the issues that matter most to our residents. One subject that comes up time and again when I am out and about meeting people is the concern about the shortage of affordable housing. This, of course, isn’t specific to Royal Greenwich, but it’s something that affects so many of our residents and we are doing all we can to address the issue.
We have recently handed three Council owned sites to a Community Benefit Society called Meridian Home Start so that they can start work on building 200 new affordable homes for working local people in the borough. The rents on these homes will be 35% less than market value – or even lower. We are tackling the housing shortage on a number of fronts, ultimately with the aim of making sure as many of our residents as possible have a decent roof over their head, at a truly affordable rent.
Another issue I discuss at length with residents is littering and street cleaning. We do all we can to clean up after the irresponsible few who do think it’s okay to drop litter, drop gum, graffiti or not pick up after their dogs. I always find it so heartening to see the immense pride most people have in their local neighbourhood – it’s a real strength of our borough. As much as I wish we could, we cannot be in all places at once and we rely on residents to be our eyes and ears to report street cleaning issues and to go further and to work with us to help keep the borough clean and tidy for the enjoyment of all.
We are working with communities in Plumstead at the moment where we are launching a ‘Love Plumstead, Hate Litter’ campaign. I was also thrilled to hear about one amazing community acitivist from that part of the borough – 88-year-old Monica who has been taking on fly-tippers single-handedly, confronting them as they try to illegally dump waste. She’s a true community champion and I’m so proud of her and the efforts of all of our spirited community members who work so hard to keep their local area clean and safe.
Community safety is another common concern and I’m so pleased that along with the police we do maintain a largely safe and peaceful borough. We recently worked with the police on Operation Sceptre, the Metropolitan Police’s London-wide anti-knife crackdown which included police stop and search operations and weapons sweeps by Council wardens. As part of that, ten people were arrested which I hope gives assurances to residents that those foolish enough to carry weapons face a significant chance of being caught.
Councillor Denise Hyland is the leader of Greenwich council