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  • hilly 10:27 pm on June 21, 2016
    Tags: politics   

    How Shooters Hill voted in 2016 

    Percentage of votes cast for London Mayor in Shooters Hill

    Percentage of votes cast for London Mayor in Shooters Hill


    Sadiq Khan was Shooters Hill’s choice for London Mayor, taking 48% of the vote in the ward, against Zac Goldsmith’s 28% according to the breakdown by ward of the capital’s votes published by London Elects. The Green’s Sian Berry was third with 7%, followed by UKIP’s Peter Whittle and the Lib Dem’s Caroline Pidgeon. This compares to the 2012 result when Ken Livingstone got 46% of the Shooters Hill vote, against Boris Johnson’s 37%. Across the whole of London Sadiq took 44.2% of first preference against Zac’s 35%, so Shooters Hill was a bit more pro-Sadiq than the rest of the capital

    Sian Berry got the most second preference votes, with 24%, though of course these votes don’t count under the system adopted. Only the votes of the top two candidates count, and Sadiq again beat Zac in Shooters Hill with 16% against 10%.

    In the ballot for the Greenwich and Lewisham constituency member of the London Assembly, Labour’s Woolwich-born Len Duval once again out-performed the mayoral candidate, taking 52% of the Shooters Hill vote, well ahead of the Tory’s Adam Thomas on 19%. Green Imogen Solly was narrowly beaten into third place by UKIP’s Paul Oakley. The BNP and Britain First did not put up a candidate for the constituency member. Len increased his margin of victory from 2012 when he got 51% of the vote against the Conservatives’ 22%.

    The turnout in Shooters Hill ward for the London elections was just 44.24%, excluding postal votes which made up some 22% of the total votes cast. Let’s hope this week’s referendum on whether to stay in Europe gets more voters voting.


    Percentage of votes cast for London Assembly Constituency Members in Shooters Hill

    Percentage of votes cast for London Assembly Constituency Members in Shooters Hill


    One of the striking trends in the ward-by-ward breakdown of the elections for London Mayor is how the balance between the two major parties has changed in Greenwich over the last three elections. This is shown in the three ward maps below showing which party had most votes in each Greenwich ward in 2008, 2012 and 2016. Back in 2008 the borough was split between Labour North and Conservative South, with Shooters Hill ward very much on the cusp voting for Tory Boris for Mayor and Labour’s Len for London Assembly member.  Over the course of the three elections Labour have had the largest share of the vote in more and more wards, moving southwards, until in this year’s mayoral election the conservatives had most votes in just three, and in the London Assembly ballot Len Duval narrowly topped the polls in Eltham North too.

    UKIP have also seen an increase in support over these three elections. In the London -wide assembly member polls, where we vote for a party rather than a person, UKIP’s share of the vote in Greenwich has gone from 2.78% in 2008 to 5.67% in 2012 up to 9.35% this year. I understand that we may get a ward level break-down of referendum results: it’ll be interesting to see how this correlates with the parties’ polling in this year’s other ballots.

    In the meantime, I’ve finished all my deliveries of Remain leaflets, and freed up Thursday to help with leafletting and reminding Remainers to vote. Fingers crossed that the nation sees sense.


    2008 London Mayoral Elections Greenwich Ward Map

    2008 London Mayor Election Results

    2012 London Mayor Election Results

    2012 London Mayor Election Results


    2016 London Mayor Election Results

    2016 London Mayor Election Results

  • hilly 11:06 am on June 29, 2015
    Tags: , politics   

    Divest Greenwich 

    Divest Greenwich Flyer

    Local group Divest Greenwich, who are campaigning for the Royal Borough of Greenwich to move £17million of their pension fund investments out of fossil fuel companies’ shares, are holding a launch event at St Alfege’s Church Hall on Thursday, 2nd July at 7.00pm.  Why should Greenwich do this? Well, if we are to avoid catastrophic levels of climate change most of the reserves that fossil fuel companies hold, which provide the basis for their share prices, must not be burnt for energy. Divestment will have the twofold advantage of protecting the pension fund from consequent drops in fossil fuel company share prices as well as making a stand against the powerful lobbyists of the petrochemical industry. Thomas Greenwood, who wrote to tell me about the event, succinctly summarised the case for divestment:

    The Greenwich Pension Fund has around £17 million invested directly in fossil fuel companies and more invested indirectly. Such investments carry a high degree of risk on ethical, financial and scientific grounds and the Pension Fund’s investments therefore expose the people of Greenwich to those risks.
    Already, hundreds of institutions around the globe have committed to divesting from (ending their investments in) fossil fuel companies to the tune of billions of pounds, including the Church of England and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. The Royal Borough’s Pension Fund can add significantly to this movement.
    The reason we consider divestment such an important issue is because if global warming is to be limited to 2°C – the threshold for irreversible climate change – up to 80% of known carbon reserves must be left in the ground. Available evidence indicates that fossil fuel companies intend to burn enough reserves to push global warming far above 2°C, as they insist on searching for further reserves, often in the globe’s most ecologically sensitive areas. Around the globe, the first five months of this year were the hottest on record. We urgently need to act.
    The Pension Fund has a fiduciary responsibility to maximise returns which can be met whilst divesting. In April 2015 MSCI, the world’s leading stock market index company, found that investors who divested from fossil fuel companies would have made an average return of 13% a year since 2010, compared to the 11.8%-a-year return earned by conventional investors, including in the years before the fall in oil prices. Moreover, if decisive action is taken by governments to limit climate change and a large amount of carbon reserves are left in the ground, shares in fossil fuel companies are likely to drop significantly in value. As such, pension funds currently investing in fossil fuels risk exposure to this ‘carbon bubble’.
    We believe our local government has a responsibility to divest from an industry that’s destroying our future. By remaining open to investments in fossil fuels, the Royal Borough of Greenwich is supporting the power, influence and activities of the fossil fuel industry. We would like to see the Royal Borough of Greenwich lead the way on sustainability and cease to invest in activities that are damaging for the environment and human race.
    Divest Greenwich’s launch event will take place on Thursday 2 July from 7.00-8.30pm in St Alfege Church Hall.

    The launch event will include a screening of the film Do the Math which is narrated by Bill McKibben, who is the author of a dozen books about the environment, including “The End of Nature” published in 1989.  He is also the founder of climate change campaigning group 350.org. Another of the directors of 350.org is Naomi Klein whose book “This Changes Everything” documents how fossil fuel companies use their money and influence to campaign against climate change, but also the successes that campaigners against fossil fuels are having around the world. As easily extractable fossil fuel reserves have been used up extraction companies have had to move into more dangerous technologies, such as deep water drilling and fracking which have larger potential impacts on wider areas of the countryside and many more people. The only good thing about this is that it has increased and broadened the number of activists campaigning against these developments.

    In Greenwich the Labour councillor for Greenwich West is a supporter of the campaign and has arranged a meeting between Divest Greenwich and the leader of the council. Divest Greenwich also has a petition urging Greenwich to divest from fossil fuels.

    London climate change march 21st September 2014

    London climate change march 21st September 2014

    London climate change march 21st September 2014

    London climate change march 21st September 2014

    London climate change march 21st September 2014

    London climate change march 21st September 2014

  • hilly 10:14 pm on May 24, 2014
    Tags: politics   

    How Shooters Hill voted in 2014 

    Percentage of valid votes cast per party

    Percentage of valid votes cast per party

    Labour candidates were the winners in the Shooters Hill ward in this week’s local government elections, with a 9% swing from Conservative to Labour in the percentage of total votes cast. Danny Thorpe continues as one of our councillors – he’ll reach his 10th anniversary on 29th July – and is joined by two new councillors Sarah Merrill and Chris Kirby. Fourth place in the poll was UKIP’s Les Price, followed by Michael Westcombe from the Green Party. The Greens more than doubled their share of the vote compared to the last local council election in 2010, while the Conservative share dropped by 9.6% and the Liberal Democrats’ vote share almost halved.

    The pie chart above perhaps doesn’t give a true picture of the support received by different parties because the Greens and UKIP only put forward one candidate each for the ward, whereas three candidates stood for each of the other three parties. If I allow for this by factoring in the number of candidates per party then I get the following percentages: Labour: 42.8%; UKIP: 20.4%; Green: 15.7%; Conservative: 14.5% and Liberal Democrat: 6.6%

    The full results, taken from the Royal Borough of Greenwich web site, are included below. The percentages here are based on the turnout figure of 3968 – just 40.99% of those eligible.

    Candidate Party Votes %
    Anthony Phillip AUSTIN Liberal Democrats 269 6.78%
    Mo BURGESS Conservative 820 20.67%
    Stewart Charles CHRISTIE Liberal Democrats 390 9.83%
    Pat GREENWELL Conservative 684 17.24%
    Christopher Charles Andrew KIRBY Labour 1,940 48.89%
    Sarah Jane MERRILL Labour 2,027 51.08%
    Les PRICE UKIP 933 23.51%
    Bonnie Christopher SOANES Liberal Democrats 249 6.28%
    Danny Lee THORPE Labour 1,894 47.73%
    Amit TIWARI Conservative 482 12.15%
    Michael David WESTCOMBE Green Party 716 18.04%

    That 40.99% figure for turnout is particularly worrying. More than half of eligible voters didn’t vote, so even the candidate with most votes was only supported by about one in five of Shooters Hill’s voters. It also seems likely that quite a few ballot papers were spoiled. If the total number of votes is divided by 3 (the number of votes allowed per voter), the answer is 500 less than the turnout figure. Of course this may also be because some voters didn’t use all three of their allowed votes, but it could mean that 12.6% ballot papers were spoiled.

    The data I’ve used for comparing the performance of parties at recent elections comes from the London Datastore created by the Greater London Authority. This contains a spreadsheet with the 2006 and 2010 local election results, and a set of pdfs with data from earlier elections. The percentages of the vote received by political parties in the Shooters Hill ward each year are plotted below, though these figures do not allow for parties fielding fewer than the allowed number of candidates. Prior to 2002 there was no Shooters Hill ward – the nearest equivalents then were Shrewsbury ward and Herbert ward, but I haven’t tried to work out the exact mapping to the current boundaries.

    The results for the European elections that were held at the same time as the local elections haven’t been published yet, and I don’t know if they will be broken down to ward level. If they are I’ll update this post with Shooters Hill’s European decision.

    Vote percentages in local elections since 2002

    Vote percentages in local elections since 2002

  • hilly 7:07 pm on July 24, 2013
    Tags: , politics,   

    Mayor to decide Woolwich Fire Station closure 

    Woolwich Fire Station – London’s oldest operational fire station

    Woolwich Fire Station – London’s oldest operational fire station

    After all the months of consultation, 24 public meetings with 1,330 attendees, 23 council and scrutiny meetings, 13 petitions with a total of 21,770 signatures, 2,323 questionnaire responses at a cost of at least £172,377,  the decision on whether to close 10 London fire stations, including Woolwich, comes down to one individual: Boris Johnson.

    The consultation did result in some changes to the London Safety Plan: Clapham and New Cross fire stations would remain open, East Greenwich fire station would gain an additional fire engine and Chelsea fire station would keep its two fire engines. I couldn’t find anything in the consultation report and revised safety plan that mentioned the commitment made at the Greenwich consultation meeting to reconsider the closure of Woolwich Fire Station in light of the expected massive increase in the population of Woolwich Riverside. Coincidentally the day after the report was published I received a letter from the Royal Borough of Greenwich informing me that they had given planning permission for a further 2,032 homes in the Arsenal site – this is the plan for a series of blocks of flats up to 22 storeys high along the river front. That’s 2032 homes on top of the thousands already being built in the Arsenal site, just down the road from the fire station.

    It seems from the consultation report that public opposition to the closure of Woolwich Fire Station wasn’t as strong as for others in the capital. Only 156 people signed the petition to save Woolwich Fire Station, compared to over 8,000 for the 3 petitions  to keep Bow Fire Station and over 6,500 for those to save Clapham. Also no-one specifically mentioned Woolwich in their response to the questionnaire: other fire stations were named by respondents opposing their closure. The consultation meeting back in May was dominated by politicians, it was even commented during the meeting that very few “ordinary citizens” asked questions, though this may have been influenced by holding the meeting in Greenwich rather than Woolwich.

    The YouGov analysis of the responses to the consultation questionnaire showed that an overwhelming 94% of respondents opposed any fire station cuts, graphically illustrated in the snippet from the report below.

    Snippet from Appendix F of Fifth London Fire Safety Plan Report

    Snippet from Appendix F of Fifth London Fire Safety Plan Report

    Despite the opposition the Fire Commissioner presented the new plan, but the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) voted by 9 to 8 to reject the proposed cuts. Their e-mail on the subject said:

    A majority of LFEPA Members (by 9 votes to 8) approved the following amendments – That:

    1.       The Authority instructs the Commissioner to delete from the Fifth London Safety Plan, supporting documents and appendices all references to station closures, appliance reductions and consequential operational post reductions, including reductions in Fire and Rescue Units, reductions in crewing levels of Fire and Rescue Units, alternative crewing of specialist units and reductions in officer numbers, and to make the subsequent changes that are necessary.

    and also:

    7.       This Authority recognises and respects the single clearest issue raised during the consultation process: that Londoners do not want to see local fire stations closed. The Authority notes that the 1.2% Council Tax cut implemented by the Mayor came at a cost of £9.4million and that the Mayor’s plan to cut it by 10% over his four-year term will cost a further £70million making some £80million in total. Consequently the Authority calls on the Mayor to reconsider his policy of a 10% council tax cut and instead work with officers and members of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority to develop an approach that preserves London’s fire cover, saves London’s fire stations and balances the budget into the longer term.

    The decision now rests with the Mayor of London, though a tweet from the London Fire Brigade Union yesterday reported that he is “minded” to overturn the LFEPA decision and close the fire stations.

    I’m not sure exactly what politicians mean when they are “minded” to do something. Have they just not quite made up their minds? Have they decided but are trying to avoid the criticism that a bad decision will attract? Whatever …  it is starting to seem likely that Woolwich Fire Station will close after a hundred and twenty six years of operation.

    Woolwich Fire Station – five-storey, round tower on an octagonal base

  • hilly 7:54 pm on June 6, 2013
    Tags: , politics   

    Shooters Hill Suffragette Plot 

    Freedom of Spirit Flyer

    “In 1914 a suffragette plot to blow up the water reservoir on Shooters Hill was foiled” – an intriguing tweet from @TOWIWoolwich about the Greenwich Heritage Centre‘s new free exhibition on suffragettes in Greenwich set me on a hunt for more information. Which reservoir were they talking about I wondered – was it the Shooters Hill water tower, or one of the reservoirs on Woolwich Common or Jacob’s Corner, or even that under Oxleas Meadow?  Who was responsible for the plot and how were they foiled?

    Museum of London Cat and Mouse Act Poster from Wikipedia

    Museum of London Cat and Mouse Act Poster from Wikipedia

    A quick search of the web using the DuckDuckGo search engine didn’t help, so off to the library to consult Bagnold and W.T. Vincent – nothing. I did find some useful information at the Heritage Centre. They have a fascinating  folder about the suffragettes in Greenwich which includes a copy of an interesting and informative little booklet by Iris Dove, entitled “Yours in the Cause, Suffragettes in Lewisham, Greenwich and Woolwich”. This mentioned  the alleged plot, and gave slightly more information – a date:  June 1914.

    The Freedom of Spirit exhibition is well worth a visit. As well as telling the story of the life of Blackheath- born suffragette Rosa May Billinghurst there are displays about the suffragettes’ campaigns and the authorities’ reaction. One case holds one of the force-feeding tubes that were used on imprisoned suffragettes who were hunger striking. It’s not surprsing broken teeth resulted from the ceramic mouthpiece. I’d never heard of the “Cat and Mouse Act“, under which extremely weak hunger-striking prisoners could be released until they were well and then rearrested.

    Woolwich was a centre of support for women’s right to vote, with both the local council and labour party strongly in favour. Many people travelled from Woolwich up to London for speeches by suffragette leaders and demonstrations.

    I tried another web search, looking for Woolwich reservoirs rather than Shooters Hill and this yielded a number of articles in overseas newspapers, such as the New York TimesThe Singapore Free Press and Mercantile AdvertiserThe Press from New Zealand and the Otago Daily Times all with essentially the same text:  “A suffragettes’ plot was discovered to blow up the Metropolitan Water Board’s reservoir at Woolwich”.The New York Times went further:

    London; Tuesday, June 16.- A plot by militants to blow up the Metropolitan Water Board’s reservoirs in the Woolwich District was communicated to the authorities last night. These reservoirs supply a large part of the Eastern district of London, and their destruction would cause widespread inconvenience.

    As a result of the information, a large force of police guarded the reservoir all night.

    Perhaps the local papers would have more details of the plot, I thought, so armed with a precise date I headed back to the Heritage Centre where they have drawers full of microfilmed copies of local papers going back to the nineteenth century. Trying to resist being deflected by interesting articles about a 1914 Woolwich Photographic Club outing and comparisons of Woolwich in 1914 with 1893,  I scanned through to find the suffragette plot. The Kentish Mercury from June 19th 1914 was sceptical about the reports, which must have appeared in the London newspapers too:



    A daily contemporary announced on Tuesday that a plot by the “fool-furies” who are known as the “militant Suffragettes” to blow up the Metropolitan Water Board’s reservoirs in the Woolwich district had been communicated to the authorities. It was added that these reservoirs “supplied a large part of the eastern district of London” and that “their destruction would entail widespread inconvenience”. If the writer’s information in regard to the plot is no better than his knowledge of London’s water supply, there is little ground for alarm. As a fact, the reservoirs referred to, which are at Plumstead and Shooters’ Hill, are of altogether minor importance. Nothing is known of the “plot” at the offices of the Water Board, but, in any case, the reservoirs and works of the board are always well guarded, and it would be a difficult matter indeed to do them any serious injury.

    But the Kentish Independent and Kentish Mail from the same date reported that the stories were based on an innocent enquiry:



    Some excitement has been caused during the week through stupid rumours published by certain of our London contemporaries that Suffragettes had threatened to blow up the reservoirs of the Woolwich district

    It appears that a few days ago a young lady appeared at the water tower on Shooters Hill and asked a number of questions of one of the residents near by.  How much water did the tanks hold? and where did the supply come from? and other queries were amongst those asked. The questioned one immediately jumped to the conclusion that his fair questioner must be a Suffragette, who had in view a dastardly attack upon the water tower with a bomb. The rumour soon spread, gathering picturesque and unveracious embellishments as it went along, and someone was soon found to telephone the exciting incident to the London “dailies”, who naturally made the most of it. From enquiries made by a “Kentish Independent”  representative it is found that the supposed “wild woman” was a teacher making harmless enquiries so as to be able to give a lesson to her class on how our houses are supplied with water. Innocent of the alarm her questions had given, she subsequently appeared at the water tower with the children, but was not allowed within the enclosure.

    It seems the reservoir plot was just a teacher researching a lesson about water supply! However the Heritage Centre’s exhibition is a reminder of the suffering endured by many suffragettes in the battle for the vote – such a shame so many people don’t use it.

    Freedom of Spirit Flyer

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