Brockley Cross

On Friday, July 25th, Brockley Central and a handful of readers met with Cllr Heidi Alexander and a phalanx of Council officers, to walk Brockley Cross and discuss some of the challenges the area faces. To underline just how joined-up Brockley's community forces are, both BrocSoc and the BXAG were represented in the form of one local superconnector, Des Kirkland.

We should begin by saying that walking and writing at the same time is not something we do well, so apologies to those who attended and whose names we've omitted. You know you were there.

In our original interview, Cllr Alexander said that the key to getting things done was for the community to highlight the problems and keep nagging until something happened [we paraphrase]. This was the highlighting stage. The nagging will follow.

Schools, leisure facilities, businesses - all worthy issues - were not on the agenda that day. The day was about pointing at things and saying "look, if you fixed that, imagine how much better it would be - imagine how grateful we'd be to you, our Council."

Our pitch to Cllr Alexander was that Brockley is an area with huge potential. With a small investment of time and money, really impressive change could be achieved.

Brockley is home to people who genuinely love and care about their area. People who've been working to make things better in small ways for many years and people who've recently arrived, full of excitement about Brockley's potential as a place to live. While the Council rightly wrestle with the problems of Lewisham and Catford, a once-in-a-generation opportunity to capitalise on the arrival of the East London Line is in danger of being missed. If the Council wants to be able to show that things can and do get better, Brockley is the place to prove it. The return on investment would be huge and they would have the support of the people every step of the way.

In our view, the tour was very constructive and - crucially - proposed some positive and realistic steps that could be taken to change things. We're thankful to Cllr Alexander and her team, who were there to help, not to deflect criticism.

We've already highlighted the discussions about Brockley Station, here are the main areas we discussed:

Coulgate Street

The officers were shocked by the parking in Coulgate Street, agreeing that it spoiled the look of the street, made it dangerous for commuters and probably brought little benefit to local traders, as the cars almost certainly belong to commuters, meaning that shoppers have nowhere to park anyway.

With a 300% increase in commuter traffic forecast, it was felt that action was justified to clear the road around Platform 2.

People worried about the prospects of CPZs can sleep easy - nothing so drastic would be considered [a CPZ would need to extend far beyond Coulgate Street]. We're also unlikely to see full pedestrianisation [sorry, Brockley Fox], but anything to make the streets more pedestrian friendly will be a huge step forward. The group made it clear that they would be happiest with a system which permitted limited short-term parking for customers of the local shops and cafes.
Cllr Alexander has since confirmed that they are now looking at options for appropriate parking controls.

Brockley Road

A common theme of the tour was the generally poor state of the streets - tatty street furniture, poor shop fronts and cracked and uneven pavements. The last of these points was dramatised when one of the group tripped and fell, quite spectacularly, on the uneven surface at the top of Brockley Cross.

The railings between Cranfield and Harefield, opposite the Barge, were a source of particular horror. The officers said that if the area was being planned today, the railings would not have been installed at all, but that people were very reluctant to remove railings because no one wants to be the person who takes away railings, only for a pedestrian to be mown down later on. However, there was no doubt that they are twisted out of shape and ugly. It may be possible to remove them (though not without a traffic study), but an alternative option could be to replace them with something less visually offensive. The Council agreed to look at the options and report back.

The wider issue of the poor condition of this stretch of Brockley Road was discussed and the Council agreed that they'd welcome further discussion of how to improve it. One of the key challenges is that the Council appears not to have any money to make any physical improvements. PFIs and grants from other sources are our only hope in terms of raising money to invest in our streets.

Enforcement of planning regulations has been a long-running problem, with high turnover of staff in this department, but they agreed that greater priority needed to be given to making sure that shopkeepers don't continue to flout the rules.

Brockley Cross Roundabout

The roundabout is obviously the biggest and most intractable issue that the group discussed.

Although there have been many options considered in the past, nothing will happen without a full traffic study, which measures traffic flow in a much wider area, to model how changes to the roundabout would impact on traffic elsewhere. Of course, that needs money and there's none available.

The best bet for securing funding would be if there was evidence that the roundabout is unsafe. Despite all the residents (including us) expressing the belief that it is indeed an accident black spot, the figures haven't shown this in the past, perhaps because there have been no fatalities.

Everyone agreed that the roundabout is ghastly for residents and detrimental to local businesses. There was agreement that it would be much easier to find people willing to invest in the regeneration of the timber yard if the road layout was improved, but that we are in a bit of a Catch 22 situation for the time being.

But this tour was about identifying what can be achieved in the short term, as well as worrying about the big long-term challenges. So our attention turned to the scoop of road that leads on to the roundabout from the east. It's circled in the image below and serves no useful purpose other than to provide somewhere for people to double and triple park during the working day and to hang out, shouting at one another from their cars at night. It does nothing for local business and looks like an accident of planning, so that, to people approaching Brockley Cross from Geoffrey Road, the road looks like a six-lane motorway.

We asked why the kerbs couldn't be joined up and the parking space turned in to a little park.

No one could think of a good reason why it couldn't and Cllr Alexander and her advisers seemed to get quite excited by the idea. We've since had an email from her explaining that they are investigating what could be done.

Other stuff we talked about

  • On the west side, The Glasshouse needs to be completed before work can begin on the building opposite, due to the physical restrictions of the sites and the necessity to keep the road open. After a few hitches, construction is due to get underway shortly
  • No one was quite sure what happened to Eternal Jerk, but it was pointed out that the contractors who occupied its old site are a major company, so it is likely that they were carrying out rail maintenance work
  • There was general irritation that the good work done to the flower beds by platform 2 was undermined by the concrete base for a non-existent ticket machine, which had been plonked down on one side of the bed and then taped off, for maximum uglification
  • Cllr Alexander was surprised to hear that the Community Art Gallery issue had not yet been resolved and pledged to investigate what was being done at Council level to ensure we actually get the gallery we have been promised

We will keep nagging Cllr Alexander about the issues above and let you know what progress is made. A lot of other points were discussed during the tour and we hope that others who took part will add their thoughts in the comments below.

150 comments:

Opening Anon said...

"No money" I had thought as much. What this tells me is that we have to get things done ourselves. Bring on the Brockley Development Think Tank.

Brockley Nick said...

No money other than what they can get from other pots. So there is money for road safety, there are London-wide grant schemes for better public spaces (if Boris doesn't shut them down), there are localities funds, etc, etc.

But yes, your point is apt.

Brockley Nick said...

Plus, not everything is a question of money. It's important to find ways of making improvements which don't need large capital outlays.

Anonymous said...

So, the bottom line is... nothing.

Perhaps a 'park' next to the most vilified junction in Brockley (I wonder how small a patch of grass has to be to qualify as a park)

and perhaps a gallery in an airless basement.

I can see why it took you a while to consider all this.

She has been doing a tour of the vicinities recently, she even came to Ladywell, (as yet to be reported in any depth by LVIG).

A cynic might have an opinion.

The Brockley Telegraph said...

and what about the £1.5k the BCAG had to spend on the grass areas on Mantle Road?

The BCAG never spent it, did you/the BCAG put pressure on the councillor to use the money directly to improve the grass areas?

No.

did you query the viability of opening up the footbridge from Mantle rd directly to platform 1?

No.

What a missed opportunity.

Anonymous said...

In what way does Coulgate Street need to be made more pedestrian friendly? It has a pavement on both sides doesn't it? Jesus christ, its a wonder some people manage to tie their (fair trade, organic, hessian-woven) shoelaces in the morning...

Brockley Nick said...

"did you query the viability of opening up the footbridge from Mantle rd directly to platform 1?

No."

Yes, it was discussed at length. The station is a separate (but related of course) topic we will be covering another time.

@Anon - key things taken from that one visit:

clearing cars away from Coulgate Street to create a much nicer space in what is essentially our town centre.

possibility of a park to alleviate some of the grim reality of Brockley Cross.

either removal of railings or brand new ones, to improve a hideous stretch of Brockley Road.

It's a start.

Opening Anon said...

At the most basic level what we need to do is make a list of the all essential things we'd like to see improved. This of course will include developments West side and then we have to go through each one devise a strategy to get the issue sorted.

Coulgate street parking, what kind of restrictions (all the pros and cons need to be appropriately weighed up) and what is the estimated date this will happen.

To get and keep people enthused we need to start solidifying ideas.

Brockley Nick said...

I'll vote for you to be chair of the think tank ;)

patrick1971 said...

Thanks for the detailed feedback Nick.

I think what's concerning is that "no money" is used by the council to justify doing nothing. They DO have money (they get over £100 of mine every month!)...but they choose to spend it on other things. That's where we as ratepayers and voters come in.

Anonymous said...

key things acknowledged.

there's always a backlash in Council-speak, a lulling-into-a-false -sense-of-security

I wonder what that is

Travellers site perhaps?

Brockley Nick said...

Anon - look at Brockley Fox's images. Can you not see the advantages of reducing traffic, freeing up some parking spaces for people who want to pop in to the shops (rather than drive from zone 3 and park for the day) and generally creating a welcoming entrance to Brockley about.

Wouldn't that be better than letting people just come and dump their cars on our high street for the day?

Anonymous said...

And I was hoping Andy had gone on holiday, it appears not.

If you give the the council the oportunity for some 'quick wins' you may actually build a rapour with them and get more things done - get some momentum going. Do you really think spitting your dummy out will encourage them to allocate any additional time to Brockley? Politicians are people too you know - apparently

Keep it up Nick, your doing a grand job.

Andy, I guess your still smarting at your imagined exclusion on walk about?

Anonymous said...

yes, yes, of course, that why I said 'key things acknowledged'

Brockley Nick said...

Yes Patrick, agreed, but the reality is that a clutch of people walking around Brockley Cross one afternoon were not in a position to completely restructure the Council's priorities and spending commitments, so that meeting was to deal in what is possible.

Anonymous said...

sorry, wrong anonymous

Headhunter said...

"In what way does Coulgate Street need to be made more pedestrian friendly? It has a pavement on both sides doesn't it? Jesus christ, its a wonder some people manage to tie their (fair trade, organic, hessian-woven) shoelaces in the morning..."

It can be made much more pedestrian friendly, by removing motor vehicles altogether (except perhaps for deliveries to the shops). People are so brainwashed that the only concept for a road that can enter there heads is cars down the middle/pedestrians to the side. Why do cars need to feature on Coulgate Street at all?

Brockley Nick said...

@anon - I think i was addressing a different anon. Please use a codename people everyone! :)

Opening Anon said...

Where are LB? Jon S? Max? men that posted in the origninal think tank thread?

Brockley Nick said...

Probably doing their jobs!

patrick1971 said...

Sorry Nick, I wasn't meaning to criticise; I think the walk around is part of the process I was referring to. I just meant that we shouldn't necessarily take council cries of "no money" at face value. I fully agree that the art of the possible is important, but it shouldn't stop people from continuing to press for bigger things.

Brockley Kate said...

While practical quick-win improvements would be great, I think it would additionally be interesting to hear from council officers and/or elected members how exactly we can go about obtaining some of this much-needed and mysteriously absent money. What do we need to do - lobby? Arrange a naked protest outside the town hall? If they tell us the rules of their ball game then perhaps we'd stand a bit of a chance ...

jon s said...

Andy, are you doing your best to make everyone dislike you? Whist I admire your enthusiasm for supporting the community, it may help if you moderate your tone and the perceived victim attitude. A leader with no followers is a man on a lonely walk.

I agree we need to start local action. Why not set up a company with shares issues to anyone that wants to invest in local businesses? As long as we get enough money to open 4 shops it would make a huge difference. Of course it would have a Chairman, CEO, business case marketing plan, and operations plan but with all the skills on this site it shouldn't be hard!

Brockley Nick said...

Patrick, agreed. I can understand the problem - the Council has to allocate its budget in advance, it can't keep a slush fund lying around. Hence, everything gets put in to pots, which have to be applied to.

Hopefully, by working with the Council, we kind ways to access the right funds.

Also worth thinking about is how we can get private companies to contribute somehow. Paris got its public bike scheme that everyone loves and a load of street furniture paid for by agreeing a deal with outdoor ad company JC Decaux.

Opening Anon said...

Those guys are the ideas men, they expressed intelligent strategies to get Brockley on track. They are needed.

Headhunter said...

I agree Patrick1971. I understand that there are limits to what can be achieved in a walk about with a local Cllr, but fundamental question is what actually do they do with all that money we all pay? In my building alone, 4 flats pay about £4500 per year, and that's just 1 building on Manor Avenue..... I suppose I should look more closely at those budget figures they publish. Anyway, back to the thread

jon s said...

Kate, for the money we can look to Charities, Lewisham, the Mayor of London, Whitehall and the EU (Yes, structural funds from the EU). When I get some time I'll put together a brief list of possibilities, unless someone els already has one.

As half of my job is defining the scope and evaluating business cases from major companies (I hate accenture and cap gemini a bunch of salesman!) and responding to RFPs, I can help with completing any application too.

Tressillian James said...

Agree it's a shame about the pedestrianised ares at Coulgate Street (can't help but think the Cllr saw a potential fight with Speedicars/cabs with that one) - but if we can get limited traffic, perhaps pedestrianisation can come later.

A lot can be done without money - and risking a tirade from Sign'O the Times - monitoring new businesses opening on Brockley Road and ensuring they comply with the conservation area rules they are part of will help massively.

Anonymous said...

The google ads at the bottom of the page always bring a refreshing breath of reality to a blog. On this one:

"Earn Cash From Issuing Enforcable Parking Tickets On Private Land"

Privatise Coulgate Street, issue parking tickets, use the money!

Sorted!

Tamsin said...

Isn't the Ward Assembly all about identifying priorities. A little quick fix gets something from the localities fund, a request that is in any event in line with some of the various pots of money available through various directorates gets fed immediately at a high officer level into that directorate, and so hopefully into the next round of routine spending plans, and bigger local projects might get a shot at the "Mayor's Fund".

It's all about using the rights routes to access funds that are available and the Ward Assembly is a flavour of the month way of doing that.

Mark you Brockley has a problem in that the geographic concept straddles two wards.

manorave said...

Kate the strategy is, start with quick wins (which aren't free: just involve smaller amounts of money) and work up to the bigger stuff.

Council workers are people too: they are motivated by seeing a job well done and not necessarily guerrilla tactics. I totally agree that it sometimes comes to that; but plonking a tree at brockley cross shouldn't warrant it. The nagging has to be somewhat proportional to what you're trying to achieve. There are loads of examples of statutory bodies building up a symbiotic relationship with voluntary and community groups, to create an impact that neither could achieve alone. The key is to start small and build trust gradually. Its not a relationship of equals, and the council needs to learn, over time, that a particular group is capable of delivering. The risk for them is just as much reputational as it is financial (if not more).

manorave said...

Jon S, don't forget national lottery grants. they give literally millions to this sort of thing - from small to larger grants. but again,you need to start small and prove that you can deliver, on time and to budget. see http://www.lotteryfunding.org.uk

The Brockley Telegraph said...

Actually, often privatisation of a road is often a way out of this 'no money' cry from the council.

Its worth looking into. I know it can be done.

I find it remarkable that we are worried about coulgate street when in terms of uglyness and inconvienience, Mantle Road is on a par with the Brockley Cross roundabout area.

Normally, if the area around a 'desirable street' improves then the desirable street itself actually improves as a result.

The roundabout at Brockley Cross really needs to be sorted out. There is circa 3 years left on the lease at the timber yard, so there is still time to improve it.

manorave said...

Those who don't follow these things might like to know that lewisham's localities (ward) funds are attracting national attention as an innovative and people-empowering way of allocating public money. Its called 'participatory budgeting' in most circles, although in the uk you often hear talk of 'community kitties' (which kind of ruins it for me!). But teh concept is essentially the same.

Anonymous said...

Headhunter, why do you have such a limp, hand-wringing attitude towards car ownership?

Brockley Nick said...

es, Mantle Road is poor but

A) It's not an either / or situation
B) There is a large amount of redevelopment work planned fot that site, as the article notes. Two major developments. Hopefully, they will bring vast improvements. If not, let's think of some ideas about how to improve things. But without knowing what the road will be like, it's hard to suggest ways to improve it.

The Brockley Telegraph said...

Tamsin, this is really the point that I'm trying to make. There is alot of focus on the Brockley ward area (east of the station) but little on the west side (telegraph hill ward).

The walkabout with the councillor proves just that - represented by the BCAG (a pressure group for the brockley ward area by their own declaration) but, and I suspect, no one from the telegraph hill area.

What does that tell you about local prorities? Its a sham.

Brockley Nick said...

Andy, there was a resident from the west side of Brockley present on the tour, who spoke very eloquently about issues specific to west Brockley. He's a member of the BXAG too, by the way.

You are the only one who continues to talk as if west and east are two warring feifdoms. It's very silly.

The Brockley Telegraph said...

Ok enough doom and gloom from me!!!

Hopefully Nick, but this needs to be complemented with a desirable 'streetscape' otherwise the road will not become a focal point.

What would be nice would be to start a competition of sorts for a statute to be located at the new brockley common. I think that would be a nice addition to the area.

jon s said...

I consider that national lottery a quango, and include it as part of Whitehall, there are a fair few.

The Brockley Telegraph said...

Its good West was represented, one member out of how many?

I know I over emphasis/portray it - but Ive highlighted quite an interesting point - local politics.

On a side note, did you know that the elected councillors in West brockley are on a knife edge between socialist and labour votes? I would of thought a few quid chucked in this area would do wonders for labour. (presently we have 2 socialists).

Worth a thought Heidi if you are reading this.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised they were able to get anyone from west brockley to go - you've got to consider the demographic. Most of them were probably sniffing glue, or setting cats on fire.

Headhunter said...

"Headhunter, why do you have such a limp, hand-wringing attitude towards car ownership?"

Oh, off the top of my head...

1. Most scientists finally agree that CO2 emissions are destroying the world and killing us
2. Motor vehicles (including vans, lorries etc etc) cause thousands of deaths and injuries annually
3. Most car journeys in London are very short and simply unecessary, try using your legs
4. Motor vehicles consume vast sums of state funding (surfacing roads, regulation/policing, licencing motor vehicles etc)

Although I am not completely blind to that fact that motor vehicles cannot completely be removed from our lives, in some circumstances they are necessary, especially as our public transport system is by and large pretty woeful, their usage can easily be reduced.

The problem is that since the 50s and 60s people have been taught to rely on motor vehicles and that motor vehicles are king.

For this reason I can understand people having been brainwashed and refusing to consider other options, such as yourself, anon, and forcing anyone who does not believe that cars are king should prove themselves rather than the other way round.

But there are other options.

Headhunter said...

And BTW, "hand wringing", perhaps, but "limp"??! I think I have categorically and clearly stated my view regarding cars without any limpness since I started writing here!

Anonymous said...

There are. Some of us just like having a car though. We all need an interest, headhunter. We all need something to make us feel alive. Whether that comes at the end of a steering wheel or an organic sunflower wholemeal batch, Headhunter, this forms the rich tapestry of life.

Headhunter said...

Interests fair enough, but not when your interest is slowly killing everyone else unecessarily.... And although I considers an "organic sunflower wholemeal batch" to be pretty tasty, I really wouldn't consider it an "interest" of mine. Call me old fashioned, but I generally need something a little more challenging in life...

Headhunter said...

And seriously, if that's really the only reason you can think of to have a car then I rest my case

Monkeyboy said...

....gosh this is all very exciting, I'm all for building a rapour with these big lumbering public bodies. If you can get one or two key members on side it can cut out a lot of bulls**t. I deal with LUL on a daily basis, they work at glacial speed but if you find someone who knows the system it can speed things along no end. If you dive in with the attitude that they are ALL a

By the way on the subject of council tax and the like, the reason why a lot of readers on here perceive the lack of value is because I suspect they are not a group that needs to use them too much other than picking up refuse. My old man (a dyed in the wool old school tory - weird when you think he was a cleaner and decidedly foreign) was always whinging about his council tax. Now he's 82 and not too well he avails himself of the social services, free taxis to get to hospital, the occasional home help etc, etc. Remember kids poshing up some streets is a bonus not a necessity.

Having said that I endorse a bit of beautification.

MB said...

....sorry got distracted, in my first paragraph. Grit your teeth and treat council staff firmly but with a bit of respect, they don't earn a fortune despite what the urban myths would have you believe.

Headhunter said...

I don't think that "poshing" up an area is a bonus rather than a necessity. Of course it's not necessarily top of the pile, but I don't think it's merely a bonus.

If the council has respect for an area and its appearance so will the people that live there. And (heaven forbid) said area, perhaps Brockley, would attract wealthier denizens, which the council can then tax at a higher rate in future provding for the wider area.

If the council leaves pitted and potholed road surfaces, inefficient and clumsy road layouts, fails to enforce its own regulations with regard to planning, and generally has little respect, why should people who live there?

Didn't some someone say something about "designing out crime" earlier here for example?

TJ said...

Especially when the area is well on the way and has active resident's groups who are keen to get involved.

Spot on HH.

Headhunter said...

Oh and I've thought of something else (sorry to monopolise this thread, I'll leave soon and go home...) Re designing Brockley Cross could actually help save lives, or at least reduce injuries or accident levels. Don't have any figures but surely a busy, complicated junction like that must suffer from plenty of minor crashes, especially judging from the number of horns honking I hear when I pass nearby. So spending money on that area isn't just about aesthetic pleasure

The Brockley Telegraph said...

council workers may not earn a significantly high amount but I bet that often comes with a much shorter (and more pleasant) working week.

I'm currently working a 45-50hr week on a 35hr contract, no extra money and this is even the 'quiet' time in my profession. I bet that doesn't happen in the public sector.

and oh, there isnt really a trade union for accountants. After all, we're chartered.

Headhunter said...

This is true Andy. Not to crap all over council workers but from what I have heard this is the case. Friends of mine who have worked in council jobs seemed to have very relaxed lifestyles and cast iron pension funds so there are benefits.

Anonymous said...

andy if you think council workers have such a great deal why don't you become one?

and there's nothing stopping accountants joining trade unions, your not a different species

Tamsin said...

@the Brockley Telegraph: there is also the Telegraph Hill Ward Assembly (second meeting 27th Sept. by the way, gradually moving north - in the Telegraph Hill Centre at 1pm). Get some priorities logged there and submissions for spending a bit of the localities fund in to Cllr Flood (chris.flood -at- mac.com)asap as the deadline for putting the proposed spend in to the Council has been brought forward this year to the end of September.

On the issue of Brockley being over two wards - the assemblies team do talk about linking up with other wards where relevant.

Anonymous said...

Councils are notoriously underpayed (otherwise they wouldn't strike) with little recognition, or evidence of talent.

Monkeyboy said...

So Andy are you saying everyone should work your hours? I'm not into that macho "I work loads of hours 'cos I'm important.." thing. Looks like you should look for another job with a more enlightened employer.

I'm Chartered and in a union, have a 35 hour week but do 40ish, not sure what that has do do with anything though.

HH, I don't disagree with you about poshing up but just you have to sell your ideas to win the money. Your arguments are perfectly reasonable. And yes less money but a better pension, or more money, less security is all part of the package you weigh up when you choose a job. I've worked in the private sector and public sector. Not noticed any real difference in competence to be honest. You get muppets wherever you go.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of the entrance/exit to the station being pedestrianised (jesus, my spelling) sort of a 'gateway' to brockley (no sniggering at the back!)

Tamsin said...

Possibly underpaid (although not in the child-care sector) but the always, always seem to be on "annual leave" whenever you want to get hold of someone.

The Brockley Telegraph said...

Monkeyboy, not sure how it works in your profession but in mine accountants are employed by other accountants - i.e. partner of an accountancy practice employing other qualified staff.

Its kind of frowned upon by complaining about the salary of other accountants as it brings the institute of chartered accountants into conflict with itself and dis-respects the profession. That in itself isn't a good thing in their books (excuse the pun).

It's all politics, but that's what you'd expect from ancient institutions like ICAS.

The hours are a pain, but having said that I've learnt so much about industry - i've audited construction companies, shipping, insurance, internet companies, inport/export and even porn companies to name just a few!

Anonymous said...

It's not about the hours you work, but the difference you make.

Anonymous said...

I work a few hours a week and make sod all difference - do I win?

Brockely Fox said...

It is tremendous to see such varied and emotional points of view. vibrant and varied. much likr our local area. Having read through the post twice now, i would like to make a couple of points, and suggestions.

Brockley has 2 main access points. Brockley train station and Crofton Park. These hubs give quick easy access to the "city" via london bridge (currently under re development) and the ELL. With Brockleys open spaces, and bohemian lifestyle, we could very attractive to city workers. Imagine, leaving Canary wharf or Bank, and 1o minutes later arriving a quiet, leafy suburb, and relaxing in its friendly bohemian atmosphere. THIS is what we should be aiming for. THIS is how we market brockley. But for this to work, we need to greatly improve the transport hubs. Yes, initially the investment will grvaitate around the stations. but it will spread... in time.

Coulgate street's pavements are narrow and un-level. The parked (sometimes seemingly abandoned) vehicles make matters worse. Especially at peak times. These just a couple of dangers. Having a level, mostly car free zone creates a welcoming, safe area for people to disperse. (http://www.streetparty.org.uk/traffic/) & (http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/sustainable/homezones/cfos/) It would also allow for a better market stalls at the weekends, and special occasions. As Nick mentioned before, these to bus ARE our town centre. They are what will attract people to come here, live here, and do business here. This is why i believe this idea to be instrumental to brockley's successful future.

Street furniture. It is interesting to see that Nick mentioned the advetising companies such as clear channel & astral. I was pondering this idea myself. Could we persuade these companies to "help" improve our community, by providing new shelters, bins, bedding areas (for plants) and informations points?? This is not so far fetched. These companies already DO this type of thing. It gives them a chance to "showcase" their producats, and aprovide a good company image.

Sorry for the long rant. there are other points i would like to mention, bu i will do that after a deep breath and a strong coffee!

Anonymous said...

Brockely Fox (sic) is sounding more and more like a property developer... 'very attractive to city workers', 'THIS is how we market brockley', 'greatly improve the transport hubs', 'hubs give quick easy access to the "city"'

I smell a dirty great big rat...

Monkeyboy said...

The language may be out of the big book of marketing but the idea of turning the station area into some kind of hub is not so daft. It's where a lot of people enter/exit Brockley so you would have thought it's a reasonable place to tart up? Now I'm a natural born cynic (but my hearts not in it) but surely no one is suggesting that the area around the station and Brockley cross is just fine the way it is?

Anyway, back to my book 'Ghost' by Robert Harris. It's about an Ex Prime Minister who allowed British citizens to shipped off to be tortured abroad and is being prosecuted for war crimes as a result. If only both parts of the story were true.

Amanda said...

Ok, here's a 'quick win' idea. How about making the 484 route take in Coulgate Street, which would be viable if the street were car free.

Pros
The 484 having a stop at the station would increase footfall on Coulgate Street and most likely increase business in the shops there. E.g whilst waiting at the bus stop (hopefully with an operating Countdown system) people could pop into Broca or Matchbox for a hot drink.

Also for the many that leave the train and head up Harefield road, to various parts of the conservation area, they'd be less risky crossing of Brockley Road to try and catch the 484, particularly good at night time.

Cons...? Well you tell me.

Richard Elliot said...

Thanks to Nick et al. Great bit of positive action in our community.

Anonymous said...

Nowhere to park, for a kickoff... London needs more free parking space, not less.

Tressillian James said...

Having the 484 go through Coulgate street is a bit of a con.

I'm still not totally convinced that there is no way that Coulgate street can't be a no-car zone. It's a shame there is no tea factory type project that couldn't be used to generate funding? Even without, I think we should keep a no car, cobbled zone at the heart of desirables for the area.

Hans Kencombe said...

No one was quite sure what happened to Eternal Jerk, but it was pointed out that the contractors who occupied it's old site were a major company, so it was likely that they were carrying out rail maintenance work

It's = it is

You mean its old site.

Your grammar is overwhelmingly impressive which makes this grammatical blooper quite odd.

Anonymous said...

Re. Eternal Jerk: A load of construction workers turned up one day with a handful of police cars and tore it down. I have to say that the road looks better without it.

Headhunter said...

As you say Monkeyboy, it's a balance, I couldn't now make the choice to more than halve my salary and work in the public sector and still pay my mortgage. But I'm pretty happy in what I do, I don't particularly mind the long hours. Not to say that if I won the lottery I wouldn't resign on the following day!

As you say, there are muppets in every walk of life, not purely in the public sector. I suppose the argument is not that council workers are less able but that perhaps productivity is not what it could be. Yes they get paid less but they also generally work fewer hours, and in those hours don't get much done from what I hear - things move at "glacial speed" as you put it a few posts back.

I guess that's a product of lack of competition, in the private sector if you move slowly you soon go out of business, but there's no risk of that in the public sector.

Anonymous said...

"no tea factory type project that couldn't be used to generate funding?"

Has this 'project' generated funding for any good other than lining (or not we hope) the pockets of the developers?

Or, as there is a bit of grammatical nitpicking going on, did you mean "*could* be used to generate funding".

Either way, if there's a developer involved, they're only interested in themselves.

You have the perfect example on your own doorstep - the so called gallery in the cutely titled tea factory. The developers will fight tooth and nail to give you nothing, after promising something, and when they are forced to give you something, it'll be the worse thing they can find and something they couldn't rent out/sell anyway!

No multiply this by any number and apply it to any development you like.

And don't call me cynical because the evidence, as I said, is on your doorstep.

Headhunter said...

Well if nothing else, the Tea Factory development has recycled what would otherwise have been a derelict factory site. That in itself has to be a good thing.

The Brockley Telegraph said...

Yes, I can't remember where it was exactly but there are old pictures of Brockley Cross, showing the tea factory in its old former glory.

patrick1971 said...

"Nowhere to park, for a kickoff... London needs more free parking space, not less."

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha, thank you for that, that has made my morning.

TJ said...

Yes, the Tea Factory was a missed opportunity (a gallery WAS tied in) - but I stand by the point that you could tie a development into a Coulgate Street uplift (it would also improve the saleability of their product). However, as I acknowledged, there is no such development pending. Also there's nothing wrong with 'couldn't' in that sentence.

@ Hans Kencombe - didn't know you had German ancestery Hans my lad - or that you were such a pedant for grammar.

Amanda said...

Oh, looks like the idea isn't going down too well.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Patrick, would you care to take off your woolen scarf and explain?

Headhunter said...

Anon - I think the whole point at the moment is to remove ease of access to our cities by car, for reasons outlined above. Cars are not the way forward now as they were considered in teh 1950s and 60s. The fewer the better.

Anonymous said...

They're the way forward for some people. They're the way forward (and back again) for me every week when I go to the supermarket, or regularly transport something heavy from one place to the other, or want to visit someone without hassle, or want to visit relatives outside of London, or just want to enjoy myself.

The Brockley Telegraph said...

anyone who owns property will know that sometimes a car is really very useful. Council services charge something like £50 quid to remove 3 large items - pedantic issues like a bed matteress, base and headboard would be 3 items. you also are given a reference and are supposed to stick labels on them before they pick them up. It doesnt cost £50 quid to go down the local rubbish tip to do it yourself, even if you take in the cost of the environment impact from emission etc.

Then there is food shopping - do you guys honestly know how much cat litter weighs????? I maybe a strong lad (emphasis on the maybe) but there is only so much I can carry/train back from sainsburies.

To get to places like B&Q/Homebase I often resort to a taxi if I dont have my car with me - it really is a nightmare not having one if you plan to do anything in terms of renovation etc...

Anonymous said...

BT: keep everything, don't throw it away; let the cat(s) shit in the garden; do not attempt DIY; shop locally.

Do you need a life coach now that BOss has gone?

look no further...

Tressilliana said...

Supermarkets deliver. Minicabs pick up from supermarkets. There are community car rental schemes where you can book a car for an hour or two, or a day or two, when you need one. There is no need to buy a car and have it sitting on the kerb 90%+ of the time just so that you don't have to carry your shopping yourself.

There are far too many cars in London. Some people genuinely need them, a great many could manage perfectly well without. Look at this picture - how much more pleasant Brockley was when the streets were not cluttered up with cars.

http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/lewishamheritage/BrockleyAHistoryInPictures/photo#5101934877732257458

Tressilliana said...

OK, try again:

http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/lewishamheritage/

and look at the pictures of old Brockley. There's a good one of Tressillian Road illustrating my point.

Headhunter said...

I know that we're highly unlikely to see a completely car free environment and that for some, cars are a necessity (mothers with kids, the disabled etc), however it is also true that there are many, many unecessary journeys made by car, when it would literally be easier to walk or cycle.

Providing more free parking and making car access easier just increases these unnecessary journeys. If parking is made tougher people think twice before jumping in the car to drive just round the corner to buy a loaf of bread and a newspaper, they may actually (shock horror) consider using their legs

The Brockley Telegraph said...

I think it would be easy to over-simply the 'low cost alternative' to not having a car. Seriously, can you imagine booking a car for an hr at a time when everyone else wants to use it at the same time? I.e. when certain shops/facilities are open? The car company would simply buy more cars to satisfy the demand, with not a great impact on the number of cars on the street.

I think having cars, even in london, should be fine. It would be better to encourage greener car ownership which actually, is happening already. - i.,e. if you have a electric car, you can even charge and park for free in many car parks in london.

Brockley Kate said...

For occasions when you do need a car (eg. trips to Ikea), why not use a car club instead?

Anonymous said...

We need lots of cars. Imagine all that horrible empty grey tarmac? Fill the roads with colourful cars!! We need em!

The Brockley Telegraph said...

Possible. But I think part of the 'cost' which is often forgotten is the administration part of organising it, etc..

The lack of convienience is a real issue for people who have hectic work schedules etc..

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I'm not the previous anonymous

but seriously, the whole future of London is gearing up to the 'modal shift' from private to public transport.

the only problem is that public transport couldn't possibly cope with demand and car drivers tend to be very selfish

Headhunter said...

BT - A friend of mine uses Street Car and never has a problem getting a car. Yes of course if Street Car demand increased they would buy more cars, but that is still likely to be a way of reducing car numbers on the roads. 1 car owned by Street Car could happily provide for several people in the area who all needed to use the car for an hour to go shopping or whatever meaning that these people not each need to own a car. And it'd work out cheaper too - no insurance, no tax, no MOT costs etc etc

fabhat said...

BT yes I have done exactly that. Booked a car for 1 hour on a sat afternoon to collect something heavy. Coolected car from near brockley station, drove to blackheath, picked up my items and drove home, dropped off the items, took the car to it's slot and walked back past a dli and picked up a little lunch. Perfect. didn't have to look for a parking space (it has it's own) and don't have to pay for it for the rest of the week, when I have absolutely no use for it...

fabhat said...

Apols for the spelling mistakes in my previous posting - I also booked with about half an hour's notice - very convenient.

Anonymous said...

If we only did, bought and used things that were 'necessary', life would be very dull indeed.

fabhat said...

William Morris's oft used quote is "buy nothing that you do not know to be beautiful or useful". The problem with cars is whilst they may look (to some) very beautiful and feel personally very useful, too many of them being used at once hinders everyone. I'm not anti car - I like driving, and they are useful - but I am anti selfish car use, because it slows everyone down, and creates even more pollution.

Anonymous said...

Some people in Brockley have two cars.

The Brockley Telegraph said...

yes, some people do! I have two but only ever have one with me at any one time.

@hh, you still pay for the costs with street car as this is built into the price they charge you to rent It. The other thing to consider is that I bet there are a number of people who could not afford to buy a car and hence would rather spend £50 quid for an hrs drive. What we don't know is how many people who used to own cars have switched to using a shared service like streetcar.

The beauty about having your own car is that over time you build up a trust with it, knowing what quirks it has and you can personify it. I hate to imagine how some people treat a shared car based on my experience of how people have treated trains (graffitti, ripped seats etc)

Tamsin said...

Streetcar is £50 for a whole day and £6 for an hour, so get the figures a bit closer to right. You are billed monthly which is quite convenient and, as fabhat said, you can book at very short notice.
They try very hard to keep the cars clean - with quite hefty fines going straight on your bill (and you start off by paying a deposit so they have the money up front) - and induce a rapport between the car and the customer by given them (the cars, that is) names etc. Either unbearably twee or rather engaging depending on how you look at it.

I own a car but I think Streetcar and the like is the way driving should go in London. I only wish we could have got one parked by the Telegraph Hill Centre.

Headhunter said...

Yes Andy, but if you only own a car to do a spot of shopping, pick something up from IKEA or whatever as you outlined earlier, then although you probably pay more per mile with Street Car, your overall expenses owning a car which spends most of its time parked up by the curb are far higher per year

Monkeyboy said...

I joined Street Car on a trial basis. It really is rather good, the cars are modern, clean (at least when I've used them)and if you only do a few miles a year a lot cheaper. I only keepo my tired litte Ka 'cos my parents (well only dad now) is elderly and i do need to make the occasional mercy dash to N London. By the wat Street Car also do vans. Check out their site, quiet a few around Brockley and if you have your own space you can let Street Car use it and they'll give you a discount.

The Brockley Telegraph said...

Do they run on LPG?

Amanda said...

I'd like to see a velib scheme. I saw a thread here discussing cycle use for work. I wouldn't want to own a bike, lack of space, but I'd be prepared to hire one.

Anonymous said...

My kerb car costs:

Insurance: £25/month
Tax: £200/year
MOT: £45/year (barring complications)
Petrol: as required although currently pretty low, around 20 a month as I get very little usage.

So that's £545 a year for the unescapable legal costs of ownership, and for me personally, £240 for the petrol although I'm sure its higher. So, £785 a year for the flexibility of being able to drive whenever I want.

Capitalise this cost and you end up with a car that costs £65 a month or £16 a week.

StreetCar would do well to beat that.

lb said...

Anon: You forgot the cost of purchasing the car itself, which most people will do on credit and will therefore represent an extra amount per month for x number of years; also regular servicing costs, unless you do it yourself.

Street Car is convenient but still pretty expensive; you can easily rent a car for much less than 20 quid a day, unlimited mileage, the only downside picking it up and dropping it off from the rental place.

Anonymous said...

'Yes they get paid less but they also generally work fewer hours, and in those hours don't get much done from what I hear' - Nice bit of sweeping generalisation Headhunter.

'Council services charge something like £50 quid to remove 3 large items - pedantic issues like a bed matteress, base and headboard would be 3 items'. Its £15 actually, please try to get the facts correct before posting.

The Brockley Telegraph said...

you know, i'm quite fond of these little side snipes from the anons! I even had my own blog anon troll a while back!

makes me want to reach out and give a big hug!

Headhunter said...

Anon 15:19 - Yes I guess a bit of a generalisation, but I always remember the story a friend of mine. She worked in banking as a PA, but got tired of the deluge of work and long hourse so went for a change and ended up as a PA in a local authority. She turned up for a her 1st day and was given a pile of work to get through. She completed it by the end of the day and told her boss expecting to be given more to work on, instead her boss gaped at her and said that what he had given her was supposed to be the whole week's work load. She told me she quickly learned to slow down....

NSFR said...

Good things about cars:

Freedom of movement

No having to waste time waiting for buses or trains

No having to plan shopping trips around trying to get hold of transport

Freedom to go to areas not easilly connected up by public transport

It yours, no one elses. You pick it. You drive it. You can do what you want with it.


On the subject of the Brockley tour, I think it sounds good and positive thing to have happened.

Headhunter said...

Yes, all good reasons to own a car, but I have to say, also all very selfish. You're basically saying "sod the planet and the rest of you, as long as I'm alright". Very Thatcherite.

I do agree though that public transport needs to improve. The government is oh so keen to get people out of cars, but they do very little to improve the rail network for example.

The Brockley Telegraph said...

@HH - Just because a person wants to own a car does not mean they are saying 'sod the planet'. You are making the assumption that all cars pollute, well mine are converted to LPG which have minimal pollutants. Also, there isn't really alot of congestion on my street where I live so its bearable to have a car parked outside.

Anonymous said...

I find the impact the car has on the planet to be reasonable. I'm not saying 'sod it'.

Headhunter said...

Well anyway, going back to my original point, I am not pushing for a completely car free nation. I think that's pretty unlikely to ever happen! The original point made was that there should be more free parking and car access around London and my argument was that this should not happen and we should be discouraging short, unnecessary journeys by car.

At the same time, if your only reason to have a car is because you can't be bothered to take public transport, I find that selfish especially in a city like London with reasonably good public transport. LPG or no, cars still pollute.

Annie said...

I wish this thread had stayed on topic, I was interested to hear ideas on developing Brockley.

Discussions on cars are fine, but people are unlikely to change their minds about their use. The info on streetcar was useful though.

Graeme said...

Welcome to BC Annie. Where threads often don't stay on topic. That's part of the annoying attraction. (insert smiley here)

Brockley Kate said...

Hi Annie - I sympathise with your frustration! BC admins are looking at ways of developing the site which will hopefully enable discussions to stay on-topic while also providing space for the keener posters here to chat away ... watch this space!

Headhunter said...

Nothing ever stays on topic, that's the whole charm! These threads are like real conversations not meetings with an specific agenda!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Headcunter. A thread going off topic isn't necessarily in itself a bad thing, if the conversation is decent.

We usually end up talking about gay people and blacks, of course.

TJ said...

Hear hear - Brockley Kate - please don't change the way it operates, the threads, like real discussions throw open side debates - that are often as pertinent as the main debate. I always thought that the header article was just a leading off point...ah...perhaps I'm part of the 'problem'.

jon s said...

It was a shame this one went so far off topic and turned into a cars vs bikes debate. It would have been good to get a list of people that were willing to roll their sleaves up and make the area nicer, as well as some ideas of what people wanted (and were willing) to do.

I don't mind when things go off topic for extended periods if it has something to do with Brockley or Lewisham council, but at least we avoided race or sexual preference this time. On a brighter note, I suppose it increases passive awareness about Brockley and what people do in the area identifying latent demand.

Tressilliana said...

Anon 10:11, was that a typo??

Anonymous said...

jon s, there are people who roll their sleeves up and get on with it, for instance the inestimable Quaggy people

Cheesed off said...

I have to say I was not happy that yet again, Headhunter went off into a diatribe about the environment. A lot of people moan about Andy- TBT but really if you look at threads it's oftenn HH mouthing off about something or other, I wouldn't mind but it's often very boring. And then he has to cheek to claim it's charming. One time the guy was writing in Japanese for God's sake, how rude!

Headhunter said...

It wasn't cars vs bikes, it was me vs cars and something about Street Car schemes. Bikes didn't get mentioned.

Headhunter said...

Sorry, but it takes 2 to tango. I don't discuss issues with myself so someone obviously finds it interesting! Also I have never claimed to be "charming"! Where did that come from?! If you find it boring, take the conversation in a different direction. I don't run this site and I'm not always around.

The Japanese was just me, TJ and Bea arranging to meet up. Nothing more exciting than that I'm afraid...

Tressilliana said...

I think HH is doing a sterling job in reminding people about the environment and I am with him all the way. As for the Japanese, there were three of them, as I recall, and I thought it was great. I can't be doing with people objecting to others talking about things they can't understand. I like to see people sharing enthusiasms, regardless of whether I understand what they're talking about or not. Easy enough to scroll on past, surely?

The Brockley Telegraph said...

Dont worry HH, come and join me in the 'naughty group' here at BC.

We get invited to all the posh bashes, honest!

Anonymous said...

Tressiliana, people don't need to be nagged about the environment, most people are doing their best.

This thread had the potential to develop useful ideas for Brockley.

Headhunter said...

Thanks BT and Tressilliana, I was starting to feel distinctly uncharming and unloved but point taken, I'll try not to mouth off in future

Kung Fu Hustle said...

You weren't mouthing off. You were making a point, having a discussion. It was also connected to Coulgate Street and whether it shoud be car free.

If others don't like a way a discussion is going they can post and take in in a different direction.

drakefell debaser said...

I think the environment is quite relevant to Brockley so I can’t see how a conversation about environmental issues can be seen to de-rail the thread. The word environment is not restricted to ozone layers or how many tons of Co2 and methane your steak is responsible for. The litter on the streets is an environmental issue as are the lovely pavements one of the group had the misfortune to trip over.

I see no issues with car ownership, my other half has one and I share a Clarkson type enthusiasm for certain models but I think London households particularly those in zone 1 and 2 should be restricted to one car per household and not one for mum, one for dad and one for each child that has passed his or her test. In these zones public transport is pretty well served and as you say HH, people do need to start using their legs for more than holding a clutch down when they go and buy bread from Costcutters.

patrick1971 said...

I'm going to be a bit controversial here and say that I think a bit more moderating could be good for the site. It's always a moot point where to draw the line when a thread starts to drift off-topic and into conversation, but do we really need to read yet another thread of everyone yelling at Andy that he's an idiot?

I also think that we'd benefit from a ban on "anonymous" posters, partly as it's difficult to follow but partly because everyone having usernames just makes sites a bit friendlier and more of a community IME. It doesn't stop people making up usernames to wind others up ("Cheesed off" and "wife beater", anyone?), though, which is a shame!

cheesed off said...

People should moderate themselves, Nick and the gang have enough work to do finding stories, writing them up etc, etc. This is all done for free remember.

Cheesed off was not a name to wind people up, it was an expression of how I felt. If it has wound you up, well welcome to the club. People need to have some self discipline, in some threads, general chat is great, but this thread had a serious and particular focus.

To be honest the fact that people are arguing against this, indicates that they probably don't care too much about Brockley improving.

Sometimes.... said...

....I'll post under a name and at other times remain anonymous depending on how secure I'm feeling in myself. Seeing the abuse some hurl at others for what can sometimes be an innocuous remark makes me shy away from revealing my identity in case I accidently offend somebody.

It's often just easier to join the sea of anonymice when offering a view or getting stuck into a thread.

Looks like we're drifting off again.

Headhunter said...

If you're so cheesed off, do something about it, change the topic. And why should this article be particularly ring fenced and treated like an AGM with an official agenda? Since this blog started, every article has gone off topic. Why should this stop now? I can understand a need for moderation to remove blatant flaming or expletives, but not genuine discussion be it on or off topic.

Personally I have learned so much from this blog about my local area, mainly from comments left by people here often during the course of off-topic conversations which follow. Often these off-topic conversations bring up other points which Nick, Kate or Jon write up articles on.

Discussion is fluid, this is not a council meeting, sticking to a rigid agenda for every article is a sure fire way to reduce comments and interest as a whole from everyone here

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

I was going to comment but decided to moderate myself instead, also I can't remember my point now......

Brockley Nick said...

I am happy for threads to wander off topic generally, but agree that there are far too many threads that wander off in to the same old grievances. Andy is the worst cause of this and we have often deleted his comments and the subsequent responses

It would be good if people could act more considerately to other users. Then we wouldn't need new rules or processes.

I suggest if there is an area that people want to discuss in more detail, that they post, asking that something be turned in to a standalone thread. I also suggest we have done the topic of Andy's offensive views and the role of cars in society to death for a while.

Headhunter said...

OK no more about cars in society. But I may find it hard to restrain myself if someone else makes a "aren't cars wonderful and there should be more free parking in London" comment...

Brockley Jon said...

It's quite apt that the 'off thread' debate should come up on the day that I post a call for people to help with new features on the site.

As Nick says, we don't mind off-topic as long as it's still interesting, and not pure bickering.

As for the future, better ways to moderate is just one of the many ideas floating about.

The Brockley Telegraph said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jon s said...

Andy, let it lie and stop making personal comments against one of the blog administrators!

As I've said before, I think you heart is in the right place but need to develop your EQ skills. You are your own worst enemy, describing yourself with negative comments and personally challenging a blog administrator repeatedly. We know your views well!

May I suggest you only post positive comments and stop yourself from posting anything that could veer to social analysis. It will make your life and all of ours much easier. :)

Nick/Kate/John - I assume you will delete Andy's and my thread. :)

Anonymous said...

class

Headhunter said...

Darn. I want to see what Andy wrote now. It's just too intriguing to see "This post has been removed by a blog administrator."

The Brockley Telegraph said...

I just re-posted it to Jon S's blog :o)

Anonymous said...

Jon S's blog?

Anonymous said...

it is curious how, sometimes, when a message has been deleted it remains in part to show that it has been deleted. When I had a message deleted once the whole thing went, no sign of anything... so let the posters name remain as a kind of public humiliation...

Anonymous said...

Drama (arguments) will beat discussion everytime, in capturing the attention. The internet is for short attention spans, leisure.

Those interested in Think Tanks, ideas and constructive dialogue are better off calling a meeting.

msis said...

I live on Brockley Cross and quite enjoy traversing the double roundabout. Keeps you alert.

"A little park" outside the drug front bagel shop? Truly pathetic suggestion

Brockley Nick said...

@Msis - not a park for young children to frolic in, just a green space to relive the horror of the roundabout.

What's pathetic about that?

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