Column by councillor Denise Hyland the leader of Greenwich council
Improving air quality is a key commitment for the Royal Borough of Greenwich so I’m delighted that we are launching a new project in the Greenwich Low Emission Neighbourhood in Greenwich West and Peninsula wards, to get people there to think about walking and cycling more. The wonderful Charlton Athletic Community Trust will be out and about for the next few months on our behalf, encouraging people to ditch the car and walk or cycle more.
There’s an app that goes with it to make it easier to reward people who choose to walk or cycle. It really is a win-win situation – not only can you track your route but you also earn points which you can cash in for vouchers for high-street shops or a donation to charity. We all know that cycling or walking is better for the environment and this gives an added incentive which I hope will make people swap their cars for a greener option. Anyone who lives in the Greenwich Low Emission Neighbourhood can download and use the BetterPoints smartphone app. For more information about Personalised Travel Planning for residents in the LEN, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Talking about all things green, I’d like to say a big well done to all of our Greenwich in Bloom winners who were recognised at an awards ceremony last week. Once again it was a tough competition with strong contenders in all five categories. All the winners have helped bring colour to the borough with their beautiful gardens, window boxes and hanging baskets. Thanks again to our sponsor Coolings Garden Centre for providing the prizes. I hope that even more residents will be inspired to enter next year to help improve the environment and help boost local pride!
It has been fantastic to receive the results of our survey into the spectacular Tall Ships Festival 2017. Anyone who visited either of the event sites will remember how bustling it was so I am delighted to have it confirmed that a staggering 809,000 people visited Woolwich and Greenwich over the four-day Easter family festival. 95 per cent of those surveyed described the atmosphere as either ‘very good’ or ‘good’ and almost half (45.4 per cent) said it ‘much better than expected’ or ‘better than expected’. I am particularly pleased that 96 per cent of visitors ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ that the free festival was a good thing for the Borough. Events like these undoubtedly strengthen our international standing and boost tourism which has knock-on economic benefits. Almost half of businesses (49 per cent) said they had an increase in customers and over half (51 per cent) had an increase in turnover.
The event also gave 50 youngsters an opportunity of a lifetime after they were selected as Tall Ships Sail Trainees and completed 15 nights on board a Tall Ship during the first leg to Sines in Portugal. They built a variety of life skills during an unforgettable trip – and two of them had such a brilliant time that they stayed on for the second leg to Las Palmas in Gran Canaria. Thank you to all the sponsors, partners, volunteers and council staff who made the festival such a success.
If you’re a parent or carer you may have spotted our ‘Free Early Learning’ poster and banner campaign at local children’s centres. It aims to make it clearer that some families with three or four year olds will be able to get 30 hours per week of free childcare and early learning from next month – double the current offer. This is great news for families so I’d encourage everyone to check if they are eligible by calling 020 8921 6921 or visiting www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/earlylearning before the closing date on 31 August.
Thank you to everyone who has taken part in the Woolwich Creative District consultation so far. This is your chance to have your say on an exciting and ambitious project and you’ll also be entered into a competition to win tickets to see a show at The O2. The consultation closes on 13 August so make sure you visit www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/consultations before then.
Young people across the borough will be receiving their exams results very soon – I would like to wish all our school leavers well in embarking on further education and training, or taking the first step into employment.
Finally, I’m sure that many of you will be heading on a summer holiday so I’d like to wish you a good time and a safe trip.