Brockley in the eye of the storm [Updated]

Tomorrow morning, BBC Breakfast News will tear itself away from the unfolding global economic drama to concentrate on the fate of Brockley Road.

While researching the rapid proliferation of betting shops in the UK, they came across this blog's coverage of the Homeview controversy and got in touch. The next day, they were being shown around Brockley Road by leading local campaigner Glenda Rodgers and Cllr Sue Luxton, who were both interviewed for the piece.

Needless to say, it's too late to make a difference to this particular case, but if our example helps to make a difference to other communities, then perhaps that some consolation for those who opposed Portland Bookmakers.

Glenda says:

"Our case has set a precedent for Britain where Councils will be afraid not to grant a licence because they don't have enough money to lose an appeal to their decision in court. Residents should keep an eye out for Change of Use signs for Commercial Premises from A1 to A2. It's good to write in opposing A2 use if you do not wish to have a betting shop on that site. A2 includes banks, real estate agents and bookies amongst a few other things."

And if Lewisham Council is watching, perhaps they will concur that our High Street could do with a makeover.

Update: Cllr Luxton writes - "It should be going out on the hour on BBC1 Breakfast news bulletins tomorrow morning. Cllr Ute Michel and Glenda are hopefully doing a live studio discussion too."

64 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'd take a smart Portlands over a grotty Gogis any day.

Brockley Nick said...

It would be nice to think there was a "third way"...

Anonymous said...

Sadly, that proposed third way usually involves a promenade of delis, cafes and mung bean shops... Brockley says "no".

The Cat Man said...

The third way would be to not use them when they open!

Anonymous said...

What this shows is Brockley Central is a great way to get the message out - well done to everyone who got involved

Anonymous said...

We'll see how smart portlands is. I'm not hopeful

The Cat Man said...

The portlands sign for their premise in Abbey Wood looks much better than most of the ones on brockley road near the station. I havn't seen the new one, but honestly, it could be a good thing in the end..

..at the very least they know how some people feel in Brockley about it opening, I'm sure they would have factored in an element of improving the image of the shop locally.

Anonymous said...

Just goes to show how blogs like this can be heard on a bigger platform.

Bea said...

Anon : 14:42 - couldn't agree more. And above all I seriously hope that "Lewisham Council is watching" and that "they will concur that our High Street could do with a makeover."

Anonymous said...

Cat Man why are you sure they have "factored in improving the image of Brockley?"

What on earth makes you think that?

I agree the sign is OK. But the point about bookies is that they cover up all their windows because their regular punters don't want to be seen (mostly because they are pissing their family's weekly budget away or bunking off work).

That and the fact that only a tiny proportion of the community will want to use its services or feel welcome in there is much more significant than the sign you plonker.

Anonymous said...

Moderators, sorry about calling him a plonker but the guy drives me nuts

Anonymous said...

I thought it was the law that turf accountants couldn't have transparent windows, so as to protect the kiddies. They are, of course, full of absolute states of human beings and littred with betting slips, so its not all bad.

fred vest said...

ever been in, or passed by, a barbers?

absolutely littered with loose hair, i mean it's just not on is it

ever been in a pub etc....

Anonymous said...

Cutting hair off is necessary to being in a hairdresses. Usually gets swept up.

Beer on a carpet - well, it happens.

Throwing bits of paper on the floor instead of in the bin is just scumworthy.

Gerta from Norway said...

What it is of utmost importance to remember is this:
when strolling with your dog don't whatever else you do take her/him anywhere near Portland's doorstep.

And absolutely not on the menu is allowing your favourite pouch whatever else he/she doesn't do to mess right on the doorstep.

Take care and no doggy dos or horsing around please.

jpm said...

Greta, I've got a number for a good shrink.

Richard Elliot said...

Hope I get a chance to catch Brockley on the news. It's been a long time since we were last featured on Location, Location, Location all those years ago!

Congratulations to Nick, Jon and Kate. It is a testament to this blog that the BBC thought it worthy enough to make contact and select Brockley for a news feature.

tj said...

Hear hear to all those who have praised Nick et al on the blog - and to all those naysayers who thought it had no clout...welcome to the 21st century.

Monkeyboy said...

Only just rolled out of bed! Have i missed it? if so anybody recorded it? if so bung it on youtube.

JPM said...

Bit of a shame that it placed Brockley amongst the 'deprived' areas of London.

Anonymous said...

My partner and I had a good laugh when we saw that this morning, at least they didn't mention Brockley when referring to one of the poorest areas ha ha, quality!

Anonymous said...

FROM JOHN@PORTLAND....my second and last entry on this forum.

I can't help myself but feel I have to reply to a number of ill informed comments that have been made over the past 18 months. The latest being from the once respected BBC. I was working on the shop at Brockley the day the filming took place yet my comments to the reporter were not broadcast. How is it that they can invite people to the studio to give a one sided, biased view without inviting the other side? What are they afraid of? We've sent comments, responses, company background etc to the Newshopper but not once has it gone to print. We created a website purely for the residents of Brockley, giving our reasons for targeting Brockley and inviting you all down to Abbey Wood to see how we operate. Only one resident took the time to visit. I only wish she would repeat her comments on this forum. She knows who she is as she was driving past the shop and spoke to me briefly.

Portland Bookmakers are a locally run business with owners born and brought up in neighbouring Greenwich. They entered the industry as they saw a continual decline in both service and facilities being offered by the major players (Hills, Corals, Ladbrokes, Coomes). Portland target areas that have seen the greatest decline in these key areas. Brockley is one such area. Ask yourself why Corals have suddenly decided to improve the facilities at 308 Brockley Road. Don't you think their long suffering customers deserved a refurbishment some years ago?? When they took over John Humphries (the last surviving independent in the area), the first thing they did at 308 Brockley Road was remove the refreshment facilities along with all the concessions that were offered. Don’t take my word for it, ask the staff and customers. What choice did the customers have? Go to the other Corals further up Brockley Road? Or the other Corals at Ladywell or how about E.Coomes towards Brockley Cross?? Monopoly comes to mind and THAT is what the 2005 Gambling Act has addressed. We (small companies) can compete on equal terms with the big boys.

We've seen services and facilities stripped away in pursuit of profits and happy shareholders. Just like your local fishmonger, baker, fruit and veg stall and butcher. All have been swallowed up by the superstores. We're trying to bring something back to the industry.

We’ve tried our utmost to facilitate the residents of Brockley in the way we’ve designed the shop. We will see in a few months time if our style of business is welcome to the customers of the area. All I ask is that we be left alone to get on with that business whilst you get on with yours, and we all live happily ever after.

We’re not asking you to agree with the gambling industry merely respect and try to understand those that do.

Anonymous said...

So I take it that you will have no problem if six other independent bookies were to open over the road and next door from you? It's a free market after all. I tell you what, why don't we make the whole parade of shops independently run bookies?

Marisa said...

Actually, they did show Paddy Power give the other side of the story at the BBC. He thought the presenter was exagerating about bookies opening next to sheltered housing with recovering gamblers. In our case it's actually true!

Anonymous said...

There are all sorts of reasons for not broadcasting your views. Maybe they thought they were already covered in the editorial/narrative and didn't add anything new - or maybe you didn't come across well on camera. Maybe there was a technical fault. All sorts of things.

Thank you Portland, though, for responding. I've always maintained that whilst I probably won't end up being a regular, you are a legitimate business playing by the rules just like all the mung bean shops that people defend so vociferously.

Name and address supplied, of the Conservation Area.

Monkeyboy said...

I caught the tail end of a story on BBC news 24. There was a chap from the Bookies trade organisation. Made a couple of points that I thought were priceless.

1) Bookies can brighten up a parade of shops...erm...well the sign IS Ok I s'pose.

2) It's one of the few places where people can get together in a community. Where (and I kid you not) they can commiserate together when they have a loss and celebrate when they win.

Rather more of the former I'm thinking.

Actually I'm not anti gambling, but I've seen unrestricted gambling in Australia where almost every pub has a room full of 'pokies'(slot machines). Seeing dead eyed punters chucking money into them as if in a trance is really depressing. It's not like a day out at the races, it's just chasing a cheap thrill.

Steve said...

I'm pleased to see that Chris White from the Local Government Association is calling for a change in the law. Hopefully this is something the LGA will be pursuing with the Government. The report on the BBC was about the national impact of the new legislation. Local Councils must be a judge of what works in their community. Lewisham supported the views of its residents but couldn't do anything about it in the end - as will be the case for other councils up and down the country.

Anonymous said...

no actually, Anon, the differnce between Portland and the local deli or mung bean cafe that you cite is that POrtland makes money out of people's misery.

I am a businessperson and hugely in favour of entrepreneurial activity but there is something very distasteful to me about taking money from poor people in deprived areas who, quite frankly, are very susceptible to the chance of making a few quid on a bet.

make your money from thise who can afford to lose it, by all means, but don't increase human suffering among poor addicts and their families.It's a moral issue not a legal one.

Brockley Nick said...

John@Portland

On the issue of fair representation, I'd have more sympathy if it weren't for the following:

I contacted you via your website to ask for a comment about your plans after the Council initially rejected your application.

I got no reply.

Instead, what we got were anonymous comments from you / your partners posted on this site in support of your own shop and criticising other readers. The exchanges are all still on the site, as a matter of record.

fred west said...

"I am a businessperson and hugely in favour of entrepreneurial activity but there is something very distasteful to me about taking money from poor people in deprived areas who, quite frankly, are very susceptible to the chance of making a few quid on a bet.

make your money from thise who can afford to lose it, by all means, but don't increase human suffering among poor addicts and their families.It's a moral issue not a legal one."

you have a very condescending and somewhat dickensian view of the people who enjoy having a bet - i suppose you think that all people who go into a pub are alcoholics and also in needs of your paternalistic philanthropy

on the same basis as you are against bookies i presume you are also against pubs as they make money out of people's misery and encourage addiction? it's such a black & white open & shut case isn't it

as for your apparent synthesis of a paternalistic moral crusade and running a business that's just deluded nonsense

The Cat Man said...

look, please stop advocating a political agenda against Portland and concentrate on the main issues. This debate transcends the opening of an independent business, that has proven to be, even in a court of law, a reasonable enterprise in brockley.

You cannot villify Portland for what was a political act to open up the markets to competition. Brockley is neither a poor area anymore and Portland has done more than the 'average' betting shop to at least communicate with the Brockley community.

I suggest we concentrate on inclusion and bringing them in to support the development of brockley.

@Portland. You cannot even win the general debate about the opening of the markets so do bit even try. Concentrate on promoting the brockley area, prove your worth to us and we will respect you more.

Anonymous said...

Cat man, at who is your suggestion not to vilify portland aimed? Who's doing that?

Brockley Kate said...

John: Thanks for your contribution, interesting to hear from you. There are two issues here I think:

The first is your point about small, independent businesses, which is well-made.

The second is the presence of bookies in general. On this one, I have less sympathy I'm afraid.
If Coral or any other firm of bookies had bid to open up in that shopfront, I would have felt the same way. Indeed, if any of the existing bookmakers were applying for a licence for their current premises, I would oppose it for the same reason.
I can understand why you might feel that, given the number of existing chain bookies in and around Brockley, you're being unfairly singled out. But it's not because you're independent. It's because you're the only one who's applied for a licence recently. If any of the others had to apply for a licence from scratch, I expect they'd face the same amount of flak.

Tamsin said...

More flak because of the very points John made earlier and the fact they are not a local independent business, but the mucky fingers at the end of a long arm, just raking in the money and, apparently, offering the minimum service.

Tamsin said...

It's a bit cheeky to ask, John, but do you (and if not would you) draw the attention of your customers who may be sliding into long-term trouble to the fact that there is a fairly local Gamblers Anonymous Group that meets every Tuesday at 8.15 in the Telegraph Hill Centre. I expect I would get a very dusty answer if I suggested this to the main chains (or they would have to refer it to head office which is the same thing) but you are the bosses on the spot.

Anonymous said...

The piece on the BBC was about the impact of the legislation not about Portland, I don't understand John why you feel picked on?

I seem to remember in court that the owner of U-Turn felt quite picked on when two large men from Portland visited him who were angry that he'd written in to complain.

I think you've cried wolf once too often.

Anonymous said...

Is that true? Have Portland been naughty boys? Or, is somebody exaggerating?

nobbly brick said...

I think that picking on a local business, whatever that business might be and whether you agree with that business or not, is very regrettable in a forum such as this and should be discouraged by the moderators, indeed, people should be able to moderate themselves.

Almost any public business (shops) can be accused of something; pubs, alchoholism; takeaways, obesity; cafes, indolence; mini cab offices, laziness and undermining the structure of public transport; etc

It just leads to people propping up their own dogma at the expense of balanced debate. (well, as long as its balanced towards me...)

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else remember one of the director's from Portland working for speedy cars when the turf wars were happening about 20 years ago?

max said...

Was it called "Speedy car's" back then?

fred vest said...

were these turf wars between accountants?

Anonymous said...

"Speedys' taxi's" - on a sign made entirely out of GM veal.

bbewk said...

I think it is a dreadful shame and a waste that a large retail outlet is going to be used as a betting shop. There is a bookies across the road. Another one down the road near the station. And there is the internet. Tourists will soon flock from all over the world to Brockley Road to sample the different types of chicken and place bets.

Anonymous said...

You can say what you want about the bookies, but don't knock the chicken.

jt said...

I love how Portland claim they're being picked on. You 'targetted' (your words John) us.

Deptford Girl said...

Great blog. Have popped your link on mine too now!

bbewk said...

Perhaps the secret to Brockley's continued resurgence is for Brockley Road to become synonymous with fried chicken/ Western Union Money transfer - like Brick Lane has with Asian cuisine.

Anonymous said...

Worked for Old Kent road. They say the border between Ghana and Nigeria runs right down the middle of it...

Marisa said...

I was at the Court hearing when the directors of Portland said they visited the owner of U-Turn before he wrote in (to ensure U-Turn did not write in) and after. Portland representative said under oath "when I saw U-Turn had written in, I was dismayed and felt compelled to visit him".

It was actually THREE LARGE MEN from Portland who visited the owner of U-Turn who felt very threatened by their visit. Again this was all said under oath.

Roll on the independent betting shops!

Anonymous said...

You need to be careful here. They may have been 3 men who just weren't small men who thought they could put over a convincing case. You're inferring that they were heavies, and that's bad.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who still needs convincing on the effects of too many betting shops in street needs only visit Deptford High Street after 5pm. Absolutely dreadful! What decent shop is going to want to open up there when potential customers are intimidated away by gangs of aging drunks hang around outside each of the 3 bookies.

b. said...

i love gogis. my late night saviour.

Anonymous said...

Ok Anonymous. You've got some cheek responding to Marisa, a resident, by saying she is infering anything. She's not infering anything she's stating facts.
Fact: Your spokesperson in the council said you, Portland, Wynne hatton Leisure and all your other names were angry that the manager of U - turn wrote in.
Fact: Portland et al paid a visit to U - turn before and after they wrote in
Fact: The owner of U - turn stated under oath that these visits were intimidatory
Fact: This is all on record and this is shameful and unacceptable.
That's a fact. Got it?

G said...

I see, after a break from reading BC comments section, that people still haven't worked up the nerve even to give themselves consistent (or any) names. These threads are impossible to follow, they just look like some saddo called Anonymous arguing with himself endlessly.

Anonymous said...

Other anonymous, was stressing that the men were 'LARGE' not inferring anything? Did she feel the need to point out that they were a bit overweight perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Fatist...!

bbewk said...

That Portland Bookmakers could have been a cracking KFC.

Anonymous said...

Oh wouldn't it though? Perfect street corner location.

Bea said...

Why did "three large men" feel the need to visit? Did they call U-turn before and after the court hearing to arrange a meeting?

Doesn't sound like it!!!

From the descriptions here - and under oath - looks like we have a bully moving into that corner.

Somehow, I can't see them fitting comfortably in to the supportive, business sponsors of the Xmas market scene (as Andy keeps hoping they'll do) - peace and goodwill to all men etc. Doesn’t sound like the three wise men bearing gifts!

But who knows, they may surprise us yet?

The Cat Man said...

We've tried the stick (it failed) lets try the carrot.

Anonymous said...

I'm a large man. Does that make me inherantly intimidatory?

Bea said...

No - but that's not the point.

Anonymous said...

Why say it then?

Anonymous said...

There are actually five bookmakers in deptford high street.Number six opening soon and hopefully more to follow.HA HA HA

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