COMMUNITY groups in Charlton and Plumstead are leading the charge for new resident-led councils to take control of powers in places which sometimes feel ignored by the local authority.

A group of Plumstead residents are exploring the idea and now the Charlton Society has been handed a government grant to look into a parish-style council for the area, with the hope of making it apolitical and harnessing growing community activism.

Still in its earliest stages, if there is enough support, the group can hold a local referendum and later negotiate with Greenwich Council for powers to be devolved to them.

Nikki Coates from the society explained: "Where we are at the moment is at the very beginning of all of this. What we need is for people to come along and help us and join the campaign, putting the idea out there and seeing whether this sounds like a good idea or not."

In Westminster's Queen's Park, a similar scheme is due to begin this year, with a group of independent parish councillors tackling anti-social behaviour, help for the young and vulnerable, supporting local businesses and setting up community events.

Ms Coates, who wants the council to be independent of party politics, recently successfully campaigned against Charlton Lido changing its name to Royal Greenwich Lido, while people in the area have rallied around a number of different causes with the help of social media and blogs recently.

She said: "The borough of Greenwich is a bit of a large place with a really large amount of historical interest and huge amounts of fairly different communities.

"With Woolwich, Eltham and Greenwich nearby, in Charlton we don't get the sense very often that it's top of anybody's priorities.

"But we've seen recently there's a massive upswing in petitions and local engagement and there are large numbers of amenity societies here.

"People are trying to organise themselves in variously effective ways with different targets and it would be nice if there was one focal point to allow people to do that."

She added: "It also wouldn't be a bad thing at all to start a conversation about Charlton and why people feel so many different about living here. There's a huge amount of local pride that really came out of the lido stuff."

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