Spencer Drury on 2012, Schooling and the General Election: Interview Pt3

March 11, 2010 by  

This is part three of Adam Bienkov’s interview with Spencer Drury – Conservative candidate for the Greenwich & Woolwich parliamentary seat and leader of the Conservatives on Greenwich Council. Part one and part two were published on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.


Hosting the 2012 Olympics has a been a polarising issue in the borough, but the Greenwich Conservatives have so far been relatively quiet about it. Drury himself has mixed feelings about the Games.

He tells me that while the cross country equestrian events will be “fabulous for the park” and an “amazing event” he admits that "this is not the line that NOGOE would like to hear.”

However, he also thinks that the temporary stadium is a “sticking point”:

“The 20,000 seat stadium I have got serious questions about. I mean the fact that it’s a temporary stadium, I’m already thinking is that worthwhile? But where they’re planning on putting it will actually ruin the views down the park to Maritime Greenwich. I mean if you put a great big stadium in front of that then you’re ruining the very views that they seem to want. That seems to me to be self defeating."

He also believes the Council have missed a big opportunity to capitalise on the Games.

“The Olympics have got tonnes of money and as far as I can work out Greenwich as an area is going to have no legacy from it. Well I mean I say no legacy, but there might be trees chopped down but no legacy from it in any positive physical way.”

So will the Games be good for Greenwich overall?

“Well if you could sort out the congestion as a legacy then I think that people in Greenwich would take the rough with the smooth but at the moment we are just getting the rough.   We’re just getting problems from it and we’re getting damage to a much valued park although I don’t think it will be as bad as NOGOE are making out. I really don’t feel that.”

Are NOGOE representative?

"I think they are representative of a certain group of people in Greenwich but when you go out knocking on doors, I mean I was out in Greenwich last weekend and not one person mentioned it to me. Not one person. Schools, bins and recycling are the things that come up. People are more concerneed about other things. I think that is why you won’t see political parties focusing on it in a major way because on the doorstep it is not the major issue that people are concerned about.”


I’m speaking to Drury after the announcement that the John Roan school will no longer be moved to the Peninsula. He is relieved:

“The plans to put the John Roan school on the peninsula were always ridiculous. They were planning to put a bigger school on a smaller site, five stories tall with a playground on the roof. It was madness.”

While pleased about this, he believes that it is symptomatic of a wider problem:

“The Council’s education policy is in chaos frankly. We’ve still got the worst GCSE results in London.  They’ve improved a lot but they’re still the worst in London. So our kids are leaving education at a substantial disadvantage to most other kids across London.  And that’a huge blow to us and a massive shame”

He supports the Conservative plans to create smaller “Free Schools” run by parents:

“Parental choice is absolutely vital in this and we know parental choice is already happening in Greenwich because so many hundreds of kids at eleven go out of the borough, whether to private or to Grammar schools.  But what’s interesting when you look at the figures is that they are not just going to the Grammar schools they are also going to Welling and other schools along the border with Bexley because they are better run than Greenwich schools frankly.”

The General Election

Drury is set to stand against Nick Raynsford in Greenwich later this year. I ask him if he knows him well. He tells me that while he sees him annually at the borough's Remembrance Sunday event, he hardly ever comes across him otherwise:

"I think Clive Efford [Labour MP for Eltham] marked himself as a local MP who didn’t care about Westminster very much. Well I think that Nick Raynsford is the opposite to that. There is a local area. He’s aware that it exists, but Westminster is where his heart is."

Like Efford, Drury has a close attachment to the area. Raised in Woolwich and a long standing councillor in Eltham, Drury still lives within the borough.

With boundary changes giving the Conservatives a real chance of winning Eltham, I ask him why he didn’t choose to stand in his home town again:

“I did [consider it] but it was for various personal reasons. My daughter had been in hospital for two months and then my wife became ill as well. It was in the run up to the selection for the parliamentary seat and I came pretty close to just packing it all in frankly. And ironically it was a letter from Chris Roberts asking if everything was okay that changed my mind.

“It made me think think that maybe politics isn’t just about doing silly stunts and playing silly games. That maybe there is a point to it"


7 Responses to “Spencer Drury on 2012, Schooling and the General Election: Interview Pt3”

  1. Indigo on March 11th, 2010 10:08 am

    Spencer Drury has not read LOCOG’s planning application – that much is obvious – nor any of the stuff on the


    NOGOE web site. What is proposed by LOCOG is far worse than ANYONE thought it would be, before the planning applications were submitted to the Council last December. LOCOG are even planning to use a chemical compound that includes ethylene oxide, and this sort of application has been banned in the UK since 1990.

    Drury is so out of touch. What Drury has said in this interview about 2012 and Greenwich Park has done the Conservatives no favours at all. Missed opportunity, Drury – and why haven’t you read the planning application? Why should anyone vote for you?

  2. AdamBienkov on March 11th, 2010 4:35 pm

    I think Spencer has taken what is a fairly common position about the games in Greenwich. He’s unconvinced by the predicted legacy but also unconvinced that the event will be the kind of major earth-shattering disaster predicted by NOGOE.

    He’s also rather looking forward to enjoying the events. Seems perfectly reasonable to me.

  3. Nigel Fletcher on March 11th, 2010 4:47 pm

    I agree with Adam (and with Spencer, as you would expect!). I met with NOGOE recently, and understand their concerns and strength of feeling. Many of the issues they raise need proper answers, and it is right for LOCOG to be subjected to scrutiny, but I have never believed that fundamentally the plan was unworkable, and think that overall it will be very good for Greenwich. What we are focussed on as the Opposition is ensuring that there is no lasting damage, that access for local people is not unacceptably restricted, and that there is more of a legacy than seems to be on offer at the moment.

  4. jan stewer on March 12th, 2010 7:49 am

    oh dear, that is my vote for Spencer Drury gone. What a wasted opportunity – can’t vote for Raynsford so guess the Greens will get it. If Mr. Drury had read the Planning Application he could not fail to be concerned at the proposed damage to The Park and to the safety and sanity of the community – the community including the wider borough and neighbouring boroughs on both sides of the river. It is very disappointing that he has not thought through the wider consequences.It,s no doubt true that doorstep canvassing reactions are about day to day issues but that is because the truth about Park closures, damage and exclusion of locals to the Games has been deliberately underpublicised.

  5. Wolfe on March 12th, 2010 1:51 pm

    The poor voters of Greenwich are really facing an appalling and doomed decision come election day, aren’t they? There’s Nick Raynsford, who couldn’t care tuppence for what his constituents think and possibly has to check his TomTom for directions to the constituency on the very rare occasions he visits. Then there’s Spencer Drury who clearly isn’t the brightest of buttons – not on this evidence anyhow – he can barely frame a sentence.

    Presumably there’s a Lib Dem and a Green around that no-one’s ever heard of or from and finally a bunch of mad people intent on losing their deposit by calling themselves Purple Rainbow Custard Freedom Alliance or similar….

    Tough choices everybody, tough, tough choices…..

  6. Rob Powell on March 12th, 2010 1:55 pm

    I do think Spencer Drury and Nick Raynsford deserve some credit for both engaging with this website and taking part in interviews. Hopefully we will feature other candidates as election day looms…

  7. k bozek on June 13th, 2011 1:25 pm

    iam a parent whose 3 children attended charlotte turner primary school in deptford on the greenwich borough. the council closed our primary school down because they felt the children were under achieving and the school was failing to provide a good education for the children. it was said that all the children would be better placed into other schools within the borough to recieve a better education. my children were prioritised along with many others to recieve extra support in their new schools. they now attend st alfeges with st peters who pride themselves as an outstanding school in the borough. my children again were lost in the system failed promises of support to help them catch up with the other pupils who attend this school. the head teacher runs this school like an army camp not a church of england school. children feel uncomfortable bullying is strife and swept under the carpet. we again have a senco who is new to the job and not as experienced as she should be. i have been fighting the education system since my children attended this school. one of my childrens grades are so poor she has gone back 2 levels since being at st alfeges. her grades were better at charlotte turner. when i asked what support the school were providing for her i was told shes doing fine she dosnt need support. no support has been given my son was prioritised for spld because the spld failed to provide support for him at charlotte turner for 15 months. when this was investigated by the department he was then given support at st alfeges which then stopped and started and now i have been told its stopped again. when i consulted the department they said they have not stopped it the school have. why may you ask. that i have been waiting on an answer from since march 19th 2011 and still do not know why. greenwich council prides itself on the best education possible for the children of its borough but as a parent all i can see is that it makes promises it fails to provide. st alfeges is bursting to capacity they provide no support and like dealing with things internally trying to save on their budget. many children have left this school because of the way it is run and as soon as it has a vacancy this is filled by yet another unsuspecting parent hoping that their children will get a good education. the bullying is out of control they do not suspend children who have problems because the school believes giving children a chance is better than kicking them out the school because no other school will take them. so the bullying continues and they do nothing to provide protection for all her students. my son was coming home with black eyes and brusing on his face in the reception class after stating i would call social services into the school mrs burnie agreed to monitor him and told the staff to be more vigalant. but other children are not so lucky because they are too scared to tell their parents that they are being bullied. this school i believe is failing to provide a decent standard of education to my children and many others and i hold greenwich education authority responsible for the constant neglet of support they were supposed to provide for them and to date still have not done so.