What was your highlight of the year?
This is going to sound a bit weird because it's not the mainstream stuff but to me it was probably going with my kids to the rehearsal of the opening ceremony. That was just spectacular to see it in that setting and it was nice to see it before everyone else. It was quite nice doing something with the kids and I appreciate that's not a very political answer but it was nice to be there. The telly couldn't get across quite how big that was.
The council has just launched its London 2012 legacy report and it was recently presented to the Scrutiny Committee on which you sit...
That was a stroke of genius, the way they handled that.
What makes you say that?
Because they tabled two 40-page reports. There was no chance of anyone having read them. All we could do was listen to what was being said and then it was impossible to ask any questions because you hadn't read the report.They told you about the report in a way that meant you weren't going to ask any questions. So it was beautifully handled if you were the person presenting it but less good if you wanted any scrutiny.
If you'd wanted any proper scrutiny you'd have sent it out first and let us read it, or even bits of it that we were interested in.
Now that you have had a chance to look at the report, what do you make of the council's claims over legacy from the Olympics?
The physical legacy is clearly there. The stuff they've built is there. The following question is "will they maintain it?" I don't think they are necessarily best at maintaining these things because they cut the people in the parks department and they are quite good at sticking this stuff in but not necessarily making sure it stays the same way.
There's other stuff that I asked about at that meeting which I got some follow-up replies on about the schools sports competitions. If you look at the way most of the other boroughs, particularly Bromley or Bexley, run their selection for London Youth Games, they use it as a platform to have local competitions between clubs and schools for say, rugby or football or netball or whatever. Whereas what Greenwich seem to do is find the nearest person they can think of and ask them to put forward a team.
This doesn't seem, to me, to be sensible. We should be using this as a legacy in terms of promoting sports for all of our kids. I want to see a much bigger emphasis on developing school sports and sports for young people so that they see sport as a habit and something they do as normal.
One of the sports legacy projects was the BMX track at Hornfair Park. There were concerns before it opened about the impact it might have. Have those concerns been justified?
Hornfair Park is interesting. It's a fascinating example of the lack of planning that the council has. So what you've got is Hornfair Park where, in theory, they said they were going to build an £11 million diving centre even though it was quite clear to anyone with a brain but they didn't have the person to do that.
Then you're going to redo the swimming pool, fine, and then you're going to build a vandal-proof set of changing rooms but you haven't got anyone there to open the vandal-proof changing rooms because there's no one in the park.
Then you've got a bowls green which you semi-restore and then I go round and take some pictures of the tennis courts and put them on the conservative party website and you realise that the tennis courts are dreadful. You re-do the tennis courts and build over the bowling breen which was there and at the same time because you haven't got anyone in the park, something burns down.
At the very far end of the park you build the BMX track so what you've now got is a park with lots of different bits and pieces in. You could have had the new changing rooms in the lido development, that would have made much more sense.
If you had the BMX track down this end, it would have been much easier to keep secure and you would actually be able to charge for the tennis courts if they were somewhere close to the lido rather than over on another side. My point is that any sports facilities will be broadly welcome but this is just a series of piecemeal initiatives which they stuck in one park and I don't really understand the thinking. That park is emblematic of the lack of forward-thought and lack of planning that Greenwich is serially guilty of.
But just specifically about the BMX track because there were those worries before it opened, do you think those concerns are still there?
I think if you're a local resident then I'm sure they are. I haven't heard any complaints so I'm assuming it's better than they thought. I know things like the gate have been stolen from it but that comes back to things like security. I don't think it's the BMX track per se that's an issue, it's how it's used and how it's supervised in terms of opening and closing. If it had been closer to the lido though it would have been a much better facility because it could have had longer opening hours and more people using it.
Has the council done enough to secure an economic legacy from the games?
No, I don't think it was ever going to... there were studies saying Olympic towns lose money when the Olympics are there because there is not a massive increase at the time.
In Greenwich you could see that people were going to the stadium and then leaving again. When you talk to some of the traders they've been clear to me there was a loss of business. So I don't think there's an economic legacy in that sense but one hopes there is a long-term economic legacy in terms of Greenwich's tourism but I wouldn't expect to see that in the short term.
I think the council has been slightly disingenuous in talking about a legacy. There won't be an economic legacy at the moment, in fact I imagine the immediate impact may be quite negative.
Looking ahead, what are the areas you think the council needs to perform better in?
For me, it would have to be schools. It's three or four years since we said that we needed 17 forms of entry extra at reception level because of the growth of population in the borough. The reaction to that has not been to build more schools but to put more Portakabins into schools and to open old schools. Broadly speaking, we've got a lot more crowded schools now with smaller playground space. That is slowly feeding through and you can see it coming to secondary level soon. I would like to see some serious forward planning.
So the big long-term issue for me is that, and the short term issue it's how you deal with the austerity package. How you cope with those cuts that are going to come and how we cope with, potentially, the introduction of business rates as the basis for local funding which is a bit arcane but could be huge in terms of the impact on council finances.
Moving on to Greenwich Time, which has been controversial...
It's still controversial.
Do you feel at an electoral disadvantage because of the existence of Greenwich Time?
Of course! A Labour councillor said to me in the past, "you're never going to win anything while Greenwich Time goes through everyone's doors every week." They are quite open and blunt about that but the Government should legislate to stop them doing it and that's the truth. It's just propaganda paid for by the state. In my view, it's immoral.
The Government had a go and thought people would abide by the spirit of what it had said but Greenwich did not abide by the spirit at all. That can come as no shock. I think it's a disgrace that they continue to publish what I consider to be propaganda.
If the Government did tell the council they couldn't publish it, is that at odds with their localism agenda?
No, I don't think it is. I read through the government guidelines, I thought they were far too generous anyway about what you could do in terms of local publications. The bottom line is you can do all of the things they claim Greenwich Time is for in much cheaper and more effective ways. It's wrong for councils to be putting out newspapers that actively undermine the local press.
Question from a twitter user: why are the government attacking people on sickness benefits and blaming us for the rich bankers' mistakes?
I wouldn't agree with that analysis of what's going on.
Do you support all of the government's measures on benefits?
I think Iain Duncan Smith spent a lot of time coming through with a set of proposals. I'm fascinated to see [Labour MP] Frank Field heavily involved in this as well and the extent to which those two have come to remarkably similar conclusions about the way of dealing with this and frankly I'm absolutely behind it as a programme.
And you support the housing benefit cap?
Would you support a cap on housing benefit even without the context of austerity cuts?
Do you accept the concerns that a cap will drive people out of central London and in to the outer boroughs?
I think Greenwich Council are being deceitful about the way this is happening. They built the new Ferrier estate, the Kidbrooke Village , and they're actually giving away two thirds of the homes in that new social housing to non-Greenwich residents. They've done a deal, I believe, with Lewisham and Southwark so we're taking Lewisham and Southwark residents anyway and we were before this housing benefit cap came anywhere close, so they're just playing it because they want to.
I think the Labour party in Greenwich have been disgraceful over this because they set up their own company which charges 80% of market rates, they said "we're going to make sure there's no security of tenure." Basically everything the Government have done, Greenwich were already ahead of them on and they just don't want to admit that.
Reader's question: If you had been elected to parliament at the last election...
That wasn't likely.
But if you had been, you would now be having decide on the equal marriage debate that's causing some problems within your party. What's your view?
I wasn't expecting to be elected to be absolutely honest. I was hoping to make more progress on the council but that didn't work. I have to say broadly speaking I'm in favour of plans for same-sex marriage. I wouldn't want to say I have an in-depth knowledge of what they were exactly but, as I understand it, churches won't be forced to conduct them and that seems to be a reasonable solution. But if churches are happy to have same-sex marriages I don't see why that shouldn't be the case.
Wouldn't a third tunnel at Blackwall soon just get full up too and add to congestion and damage air quality?
Well, I would have to say that the lesson of the past is that whenever we build roads they soon fill to capacity. Not tunnels particularly but roads anywhere. Having said that, I think I read an interesting statistic recently about car ownership slightly dropping around London so I don't know. But if we based it on the past, the answer is probably "yes" but that's not a reason for not building more capacity where it's obviously completely overladen at the moment and we do need that extra capacity.
Wouldn't the people of Peninsula ward be paying the price for that in terms of air quality for the convenience of people driving up from Kent?
If we reduce the congestion, which I think it probably would overall, and if they weren't sitting there in traffic for a period of time, you'd have thought that in fact air quality would improve so it's going to depend partly on whether or not it solves the traffic flow.
We're still awaiting an independent report in to what went wrong with the foot tunnel refurbishments, but what do you think went wrong?
I know the council think they're really good at managing these big projects but I've got some doubts based on things like the Eltham centre where you had an electrical fault which caused a fire and currently the creche is closed because one of the pools is leaking. This is in a building which is not that old.
In the Woolwich Centre you had some problems with water going through to the computer storage unit which is in the basement. So I think possibly the council aren't quite as good at this as they think are, it's just that previously they had lots of money to spend. All of that could be supposition and I'll be very interested to see what the independent person has to say.
Do you think there's anything specifically the council can do to help the borough's town centres or are town centres everywhere just suffering at the moment?
I still maintain the council is far too focused on Woolwich. When you look at the centre of Woolwich they've made an enormous change over the last 10 years so you couldn't criticise them over Woolwich but I think they've done that to the detriment of everywhere else.
Thamesmead's fascinating. As far as I can make out when you look at what Trust Thamesmead are doing, it's almost all on the Bexley side not on the Greenwich side. Look at the centre of Greenwich: for the Olympics they suddenly got involved but is there a long-term plan there? I've got my doubts, if I'm honest. Destination Greenwich might make a difference.
Obviously as someone from the south of the borough, I've got to say I don't think they really care at all. We are there to pay some council tax and be left alone. There is a lack of clarity as well. I'm relatively sure when you look at the revenue from the increased parking charges it's well off of what was predicted and some of that is because the car parks are so expensive people don't park in them.
If I pop down to Greenwich, I used to struggle to find a space but now you can park fairly regularly in car parks because it costs so much and that must be hitting businesses.
Has the council missed having a second opposition party since the Liberal Democrats lost their councillors in 2010?
No. No, I don't think it has. The problem that we've got is that broadly speaking we have a small opposition and what we need is a bigger opposition. Now, whether that was the Liberal Democrats or more of us, I don't think it would much difference. What the council does miss is a serious opposition voice in the north of the borough, in Greenwich, in Woolwich and in Thamesmead. There is a real need in the north of the borough for an opposition voice.
Let's take the foot tunnels. The nearest opposition councillors you've got to that are people who are in Blackheath, both of whom live south of Shooters Hill Road so they're not necessarily going to be cycling through the tunnel every day and that's what you're saying, there aren't the people on the ground looking at this critically.
I'll go down when people invite me down, and Alex [Wilson] and Geoff [Brighty] will but without actual opposition councillors in Greenwich and Woolwich, you simply don't get the kind of response and feedback that's required.
Is there a possibility that, depending on how popular the coalition parties are nationally at the time of the next council elections, there could be even less opposition in Greenwich?
Yes, there's a chance.... The big unknowable frankly is the Liberal Democrats. Last time, they got about 20% of the vote doing nothing. They got 20% of the vote in some seats where I know for a fact they didn't deliver a leaflet. They didn't knock on a single door. That 20% of the vote is up for grabs and could go anywhere. That's going to be the interesting bit. Say for instance in Peninsula if those people all decided to vote Green, suddenly you could end up with some Green councillors.
Will you be standing again at the next General election?
Yeah I think I might do.
Would you stand again in Greenwich & Woolwich because I think it would be fair to say people associate you with Eltham?
Yeah, I think they do although I would hope also across the whole borough because I do a lot of work across the borough. The toughest thing about standing in Eltham where I live is that I do feel there's a responsibility as leader of the opposition to make sure you're going up and visiting people in Thamesmead and Greenwich - that's an important part of the job.
But I don't know is the honest answer. I quite fancy it but we'll wait and see.
Thanks to Spencer Drury and for questions submitted via twitter and email.