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Lovely Rita Meter Maid…

The saga of the non-functioning SourceLondon / PodPoint units in Woolwich Arsenal continues, with the lightning pace usually associated with continental drift, and the rise and fall of mountain ranges.

We had a period of about six weeks where one of the dead units would periodically and arbitrarily come back to life for enough time for us to get a charge. This was great for us, as we finally got a chance to really explore the benefits of the PHEv, but abruptly came to a halt after the charging unit was vandalised. The timing of this did roughly coincide with when my contact at SourceLondon/BluePoint/Bollaré (Maryline Marilly) had indicated that they would totally be replacing the units, so I once again began to pester her.

This revealed there would be at least some progress: a meeting between Bollaré and the Head of Estate at Berkeley was scheduled for 4th August. This did not deter me from beginning to shotgun annoying messages out on Twitter about the Arsenal units, and other broken units I pass on my commute, which resulted in shaking loose a direct conversation with the bloke from Berkeley, one Simon Challen, who took time out to have a chat with me on the 5th about the meeting with Christophe Arnaud (someone who I had begun to think was a myth).

I don’t know why it has taken months for the two organisations to reach the same understanding of the situation that I was able to determine from the outside: TFL pushed Greenwich Council to install the units, who did some undocumented deal with Berkeley to get the units onto the Arsenal, and then walked away leaving the responsibility with PodPoint. As it stands, Challen did confirm the understanding that I had arrived at: none of the organisations have a record of who paid for the units, who owns them, and who will fix them.

Hilariously – from my point of view, Challen did know about the work done by some navvies to cement the broken unit back upright, but admitted he had no idea that none of the units were working. Less hilariously, and frustratingly for me, he did not seem to get my point that it’s not a good look for Berkeley and the Royal Arsenal to have the local management company (Rendall & Rittner) unaware of the ownership and responsibility for infrastructure in the Arsenal.

There was some hopeful news though: Berkeley and Bollaré have agreed that they will draft an agreement for Bollaré to take on responsibility for the units. Of course, this is still at the stage where lawyers are discussing the agreement to make an agreement, so I can anticipate that sometime in 2018 they may discuss the agreement having agreed to make an agreement. Simon did say though that Christophe would “do something about fixing the units at BluePoint’s risk” before the agreement to make an agreement was concluded.

So, we will see. Today it is 208 days since I began trying to report the broken units. The units have been broken for much longer. Let’s see if it can take less than a year.

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