Rita Beckwith, co-owner and chief executive of Cherry Garden Pier-based City Cruises on Monday received her OBE for services to the leisure and tourism industry and regeneration of London’s Docklands.

Rita founded City Cruises with her husband Gary in 1985, though the roots of their river business go back to 1976 when they bought a fuel barge which provided a filling station for many boat operators. In 1985 they acquired the company’s first sightseeing vessel, The King, which operated a daily summer service between Central London and Hampton Court.

Today, City Cruises carries more than 3 million passengers a year on a wide range of sightseeing, entertainment and charter services.

“This is a great honour, particularly in the year that we have celebrated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympic Games, with the spotlight on London and a legacy of increased tourism for London and the whole of the UK,” said Rita Beckwith.

“As a company, City Cruises continues to invest in the future of the business, our people and the River Thames, striving for innovation and high standards to provide the very best tourism experiences on our world famous river.

“In London we have better access to the river than any city in the world. The River Thames is the heart of London; it is enjoyed by Londoners, tourists, businesses and people of all ages. It offers people a moment of calm in a busy city and we at City Cruises are proud of our heritage for providing quality services for people to enjoy this city from its best angle.”

Rita is also Chairman of UKinbound, representing the interests of members to help them manage successful, profitable businesses that contribute to a vibrant and sustainable inbound tourism industry.

City Cruises managing director  Kyle Haughton said: “Rita’s ongoing commitment to developing London river tourism remains one of the key drivers behind City Cruises.

“We are proud of her achievements and delighted her hard work has been acknowledged with this truly special accolade.”

Thames Water has applied to Southwark Council for permission to remove the large heaps of material from the Chambers Wharf site.

When the Chambers Wharf buildings were demolished, 24,000 tonnes of hardcore was kept on the site for use in future development.

With the land now likely to be used for Thames Water’s ‘super sewer’ project, the utility company has decided to remove the material from the site.

Most of the spoil will be loaded onto barges using a specially constructed conveyor belt and taken to a recycling plant at Tilbury.

Because of the presence of Japanese knotweed some of the material will be removed by road.

Thames Water says planned hours of operation for the removal works will be Monday-Friday 7am-9pm and Saturday 7am-1pm.

“As a responsible landowner, Thames Water has decided to remove the spoil material from the site, for the sake of the local community,” says the company’s application to Southwark Council.

More details here.

Our London Assembly member Val Shawcross tabled a question to the Mayor:

Your response to Thames Water’s Phase 2 consultation on the Thames Tunnel indicated your ‘acceptance’ of the use of the Chambers Wharf site, subject to ‘further appropriate work’ and stated your support for the use of Chambers Wharf instead of Kings Stairs Gardens. In a letter to Thames Water dated 27th March you stated that the use of Chambers Wharf was ‘intolerable’ to residents and demanded a reassessment of alternative sites. Please clarify your position on this. Have you withdrawn your consultation response as Mayor in light of your subsequent statements?

Boris Johnson’s response was published this week:

I have not withdrawn my consultation response as this contained a great many generic points relating to the proposals as well as over 200 specific points relating to the numerous proposed construction sites.

It has become clear to me that both the overall cost of the project and the impact at a number of specific sites, Chambers Wharf being one, appeared excessive.

Thames Water has recently published its response to the consultation exercise and I will closely examine the company’s report on the issues raised but I am disappointed that there is not more within it to limit disruption and reduce costs.

From Thames Water’s Summary report on phase two consultation for the Thames Tunnel

In light of the feedback that we have received, we believe that no new information has been highlighted that would change the conclusions of our site selection process to date. Chambers Wharf therefore remains our preferred site to drive the main tunnel to Abbey Mills Pumping Station and receive the main tunnel from Kirtling Street; and the long connection tunnel from Greenwich Pumping Station. Additionally, no new information or issues have been identified that would fundamentally change our proposals for this site. Therefore we will continue to develop the proposals for this site that we published at phase two consultation.

The feedback we have received included detailed comments on the construction and operational effects of the proposed development and the measures we propose to reduce and manage those effects. Detailed comments were also made on our proposals for the permanent design and appearance of the site. Having regard to the feedback received we are continuing to refine our detailed proposals for this site to improve the design and reduce the impacts on the local community and environment. Currently we are considering the following changes to the layout and/or appearance of our proposals:

  • reviewing the raised ventilation structure previously proposed to abut the river wall to minimise the effect on the future new public realm
  • additional noise attenuation measures during construction
  • providing a pedestrian crossing near Riverside Primary School
  • opportunities to make further use of the river to transport shaft, other excavated materials and sand and aggregates for secondary tunnel linings to reduce the number of lorries on local roads
  • appropriate arrangements for cross borough monitoring of the construction phases where relevant in the Code of construction practice.
Cllr Peter John, leader of Southwark Council, says:

It’s disgraceful that Thames Water are ploughing on with their plans to use Chamber’s Wharf for part of the Super Sewer.  The community, the council, the Mayor of London and the local MP are all opposed to the use of this site. It seems Thames Water are only listening to their shareholders.

We have fought this proposal at every opportunity as we can find no possible justification for placing a major building site in the middle of a densely residential area and right next to a primary school. We have consistently argued that the disruption caused by 24 hour HGV traffic and drilling will blight lives for years to come.

It beggars belief that these arguments have fallen on deaf ears. Thames Water don’t even appear to acknowledge the petition presented to them by the pupils of Riverside Primary School. They should have closed this issue for good, but are instead just railroading opposition.