There’ll soon be a Greenwich Carbon Neutral Plan – help us to shape it

C78DC6B8-8519-40FE-8717-2DA241E209B1Last night I joined with my fellow Greenwich councillors in voting for the Council to declare a Climate Emergency. And in a rare occurance at the Town Hall, the Conservative Group actually won a vote, passing our our amendment which will significantly strengthen the Council’s actions – and gives us further opportunities to help shape them, through a new Greenwich Carbon Neutral Plan.

For background, the motion on last night’s agenda declaring a Climate Emergency was brought forward by the Cabinet Member for Air Quality, Cllr Denise Scott-McDonald – and follows more than 90 such motions passed by other local authorities in recent months.  To Denise’s credit, she brought forward a substantive motion that went beyond just words to actions (as I said last night, declaring a Climate Emergency sounds pretty good, but there’s always a risk with this kind of thing of simply virtue signalling – a trap she very much avoided).

The motion was centred on a pledge for the Royal Borough of Greenwich to become carbon neutral by 2030 – and of course comes in the same week as Theresa May legislated for the UK to target net zero carbon emissions by 2050, making us the first major country to commit to ending our (ongoing) contribution to global warming.   Continue reading There’ll soon be a Greenwich Carbon Neutral Plan – help us to shape it

Our Greenwich Council Budget proposals

Budget2019-Twitter-GraphicTonight Greenwich Councillors will vote on the Council’s Budget for 2019/20 – and together with my Opposition Conservative colleagues I’ve spent the past few weeks in the Town Hall developing our alternative proposals.

You can read our alternative plan, which we are putting to a vote at tonight’s Full Council meeting, here.

Back office efficiency savings – belatedly

We welcome some aspects of Labour’s Budget proposal – in particular, Labour councillors’ belated acceptance that back office efficiency savings are possible.  For years and years we have been making the case that, at a time of financial constraint on all councils, Greenwich needs to do more to make efficiencies away from the front line, in back office functions.  We are pleased that the Labour leadership has finally accepted the need to do this – although the delay has been extremely costly to the taxpayer.

As our plan shows, however, Labour’s Budget still contains nearly a million pounds of wasteful spending that the Labour leadership is refusing to deal with. Continue reading Our Greenwich Council Budget proposals

Greenwich needs a new drive against loneliness

Loneliness heatmapLike other councillors in Greenwich, I’ve spent a lot of time over the last year knocking on doors.  In fact, I’ve spent most of the seven years I’ve been involved in Greenwich politics doing this, pretty continuously and across the borough, in the course of six election campaigns in that time.

During each of those campaigns – and through my casework and at our weekly surgeries – I have often been struck by how many people I speak to who are either clearly experiencing loneliness, or indeed tell me they are. Continue reading Greenwich needs a new drive against loneliness

Greenwich needs an Opposition – and it seems the voters agree

Our final pitch to voters in the council elections
Our final pitch to voters in the Greenwich Council elections last Thursday

The results of last Thursday’s local election are in, and despite Labour’s plan to win all 51 seats on Greenwich Council this year, we held all nine Conservative seats at the Town Hall – actually winning one more seat than at the last full set of local elections four years ago.

In a borough where Conservative grassroots members are outnumbered by Labour members by more than 10 to 1, this trend-bucking result represents a significant setback for Greenwich Labour – and could contribute to big changes in Greenwich politics in the years ahead. Continue reading Greenwich needs an Opposition – and it seems the voters agree

Our manifesto for a strong Opposition in Greenwich

Manifesto-Twitter-0-MainGraphicToday Greenwich Conservatives have launched A strong, independent voice for you – our manifesto for the 2018 Greenwich Council elections.  Most local election manifestos set out what a political party would do if it took over the running of the council after the election.  This one doesn’t do that.

Instead, we are asking for residents to support us in these local elections to ensure our borough continues to have a strong Opposition Group at the Town Hall. Continue reading Our manifesto for a strong Opposition in Greenwich

Our proposal to lift 15,000 low income residents out of Council Tax – and why Labour councillors should accept it

Budget Twitter graphicAt last night’s Greenwich Council meeting, Labour councillors voted against a Conservative proposal to increase Council Tax Support for working age residents from 85% to 100% of bills.

The change would effectively lift more than 15,000 Greenwich residents on the lowest incomes out of Council Tax altogether – at a cost of £800,000 a year, which could be paid for by scrapping just some of the £1.6 million of council waste we have identified. Continue reading Our proposal to lift 15,000 low income residents out of Council Tax – and why Labour councillors should accept it

Tonight’s October Greenwich Council meeting – how to watch and what to expect

chamberTonight is the first Full Council meeting at the Town Hall since July – and it seems that Labour and Conservative councillors alike have missed the cut and thrust of the Council Chamber over the summer, with no less than six motions for debate on the agenda.

Followers of Greenwich politics (and there are a few) will know the score when it comes to these motions – some can be useful in airing an issue, some just occasionally manage to get something done, and some are utterly pointless.

There’s a mixture of all three varieties on display tonight!

Here is a potted guide to tonight’s meeting, and what to expect, from the entirely biased and subjective perspective of the Leader of the Opposition’s seat… Continue reading Tonight’s October Greenwich Council meeting – how to watch and what to expect

Southeastern commuters have suffered for far too long

Matt Hartley and Chris Grayling at Eltham station


I invited Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, to Eltham yesterday to talk about the Department for Transport’s ongoing consultation on the future of the South Eastern rail franchise.  You can read the interview that Chris gave yesterday to the Greenwich Mercury online here.

As an Eltham councillor and Leader of the Conservatives at the Town Hall, I have strongly opposed any suggestion that Bexleyheath line trains should go to Cannon Street only.   The answer to South East London’s transport problems is more connectivity, not less – and I have been making the case to Ministers for Charing Cross and Victoria services to be maintained.

This week I submitted the Conservative Council Group’s formal response to the consultation, which has been extended until 30th June to give commuters more time to share their views.

In our meeting yesterday and in his interview with the Mercury, Chris Grayling was very clear – his priority as Transport Secretary is improving services and crucially, delivering longer trains – and when it comes to the issue of the terminals served from our local stations, he is not going to make any change that doesn’t have the support of commuters. Continue reading Southeastern commuters have suffered for far too long

Inauguration of the new Mayor of Greenwich

I was pleased to attend the inauguration of the new Mayor of Greenwich, Councillor Peter Brooks, at the Chapel of the Old Royal Naval College last night – and to celebrate the work of our outgoing Mayor, Councillor Olu Babatola, who has worked his socks of for our borough over the past year.  My colleague Councillor Geoff Brighty, our Group Whip, helped sign the new Mayor into office on the Opposition’s behalf.

Mayoral inauguration

The event last night was of course overshadowed by the devastating news from Manchester this week – and the Leader of Greenwich Council, Denise Hyland, spoke movingly in sympathy and solidarity with the city of Manchester in her address.  She did the borough proud in her words, which were very powerful.

Like other candidates of all parties across the country, I suspended my campaign on Tuesday until this afternoon, when local campaigning is resuming across the country.

Meeting with Greenwich Citizens at OneSpace

One of the very best parts of my role as Leader of the Opposition on the council, and now as our Parliamentary Candidate, is meeting the many community, residents and faith groups that work so hard for local people right across our area.

That’s why I was pleased to meet with representatives of Greenwich Citizens last night at OneSpace community centre in Kidbrooke, to learn more about their work across our borough.  We discussed a wide range of issues such as the potential of Community Land Trusts in tackling the challenge of affordable housing, local healthcare provision and my work to promote the Living Wage in our borough.

Matt Hartley meeting Greenwich Citizens

After a rain-soaked afternoon campaigning across Eltham yesterday, I’ll be out with the team all day knocking on doors today – and hoping for better weather!