The event of the summer

The Brockley Society has recently announced details of this summer's Hilly Fields midsummer fair - the highlight of BC's summer season, so we're very excited. This year's event will take place on Saturday 21st June, 12-5pm, on Hilly Fields.

It looks set to live up to previous years' festivities with highlights including:

- A steel band, displays of karate and birds of prey, salsa dancing;

- Old-fashioned fun including a tug of war contest, a dog show and a coconut shy;

- Competitions: cake decorating (theme = 'the Olympics'); Vegetable modelling; photography (theme = 'local cafe life'); self portrait (any medium).

- Entertainment including children’s rides, an animal farm, bouncy slide, a rodeo bull and a mini-train.

and let's not forget the vital tea tent and homemade cakes, as well as barbecue, Caribbean and Thai food, popcorn and candy floss for sustainance.





There's been no word yet on whether the Brockley Campervan Society will be turning up, but we greatly hope so ...







The plants and gardening stalls were very good in previous years, and it's also well worth looking out for all the bric-a-brac and second-hand stalls, as brilliant bargains can be picked up.

(Pics from the '06 Fair).

What's the fastest way to Brockley's liver?

After a long period of decline, there are signs that Brockley pub scene is livening up, with two locals developing radically different strategies to win the affections of Brockley's boozers.

First up is the Wickham Arms, which according to an oddly lecherous review in the Pubspy column of the News Shopper, has started employing supermodels as barstaff.

Under the headline "Spy finds staff tastier than pint", the News Shopper's ageing reviewer proceeds to write at length about how fit the barmaids are:

"The barmaid reminded me of a cross between Duffy and Julie Andrews... If I had been 30 years younger I might have engaged her in a longer conversation than "a pint of Pride please.""

The Wickham gets five stars for the staff, but only one for the beer.

The Talbot's new management, on the other hand, plan to tempt you with food. Here's the sample menu which they unveiled at the recent BC drinks:

Starters
Spinach soup, Beetroot puree, Peppercorn Creme Fraiche
Brown Trout and Avocado Tian, Tree pepper Saucxe Vierge
Smoked ham Croquetas, Sage and Almond Pesto
Spaghetti, Garlic and Anchovy Oil and Pine Nuts
Classica Vegetable and Flower Salad, lightly spiced vinegrette
Petit Charcuterie of European Cheese and Meats, Grapefruit and Pickled Jalepenos.
Mains
Pan-fried sea bass, Confit fennel, Balsamic reduction
Baked trout, Tomato fondant, Dill sauted potatoes
Globe artichoke, Hollandaise sauce, Crispy fired leeks

-->
Rabit and dark chocolate stew, Saffron spiced rice
Free-range chicken breast (roasted), Wild mushroom ketchup, Tarragon
Mash potatoes
Sirloin steak, Beetroot, and Potato Rosti, Seasonal greens, Red wine jus
Desserts
Bread and butter pudding, Cream chocolate and Cranberry Almond tart, Vamilla ice cream
Appleas and Champagne jelly, Pera sorbert
Cheees plate, Quince jelly, Celery, Water biscuits
Bar food and lunch
Seasonal pork pie served with home mad epickles and Chutney
Ploughman's platters
Trout, Horseradish cream, Toast
Mixed platter

So which will win out? Brockley's stomach or its libido?

Thanks to JPM and Anna.

Manners maketh the blog

"You know, I asked him about that. He said, good manners are just a way of showing other people we have respect for them. See, I didn't know that, I thought it was just a way of acting all superior."

- Blast From the Past

Earlier this week, BC recorded its 100,000th visit, which makes this as good a time as any to ask people to use the site considerately.

  1. Observe the code of conduct. Here it is - it's pretty simple.
  2. Give it a name. 'Lb', 'Drakefell Debaser', 'Fabhat' - these are just some of the 'names' people given themselves, which give away nothing about their true identity. If you feel more comfortable remaining relatively anonymous, by all means make up a name. But please can more of you post under a pseudonym, rather than "anonymous". It makes it very hard to follow conversations and to know whether you're the person I strongly disagree with, or the person I strongly agree with.

Thanks, gang!

Brockley Deep Throat

Brockley Central has been contacted by a reader who wants to seek the advice of the BC community of leaseholders affected by the Council's PFI contract. For reasons that will become clear, we are protecting his / her identity...

"Hi Nick, I got your email address from 'Brockley Central'. I live in a flat in the Conservation Area in a converted Victorian property and am unsure about the Regenter B3 Refurbishment Programme. Unfortunately I have not had the opportunity of attending their 'open meetings' and am wondering if you can start a discussion on the blog.

As a long-time Leaseholder in a large block, 2 flats of which are still Council Tenant occupied and 2 flats Leaseholder occupied, my main question is whether the smart money is on tactfully avoiding responding to the Regenter letters asking me to agree an appointment for a surveyor to visit my property.

I don't think there are any major repairs required and my concern is that Lewisham and Regenter will use the opportunity that there are two Leaseholders in situ to charge significant amounts of money for a share in the 'repairs and refurbishments' they may undertake including new windows, scaffolding, new roof, painting etc. The counter argument of course is that I should contact Regenter to benefit from potentially a discounted refurbishment that will ultimately put value on the property (it is a bit scruffy - council front door, needs a paint job, hallway needing a facelift etc.).

I also assumed that rightfully surely Regenter's priority should be improving low quality social housing in the borough. I am wondering if other readers have any advice.

Timed Collections for Brockley Road

This is actually much more interesting news than the headline might suggest...

Why does the main road through Blackheath Village stay largely dumpster-free, while the pavements of Brockley Road heave with bins?

They both have shops and people living in flats above, who need to dispose of their rubbish.

The difference is that Blackheath Village has timed collections - regular collection of rubbish bags that avoids the need to save it all up for a week on the street.

The good news is that timed collections are coming to Brockley Road.

When we interviewed Cllr Heidi Alexander earlier this week, she revealed that, following very successful trials in Catford, timed collections are being rolled out more widely across the borough (The Forest Hill Society is also keen on timed collections) and that residents of Brockley Road between Cranfield and Harefield Roads will soon be receiving letters telling them how the new scheme will work.

Refuse lorries will arrive at pre-defined times of day, so that residents and businesses can leave their rubbish bags out in time for collection, rather than storing them on the street. Fewer bins, more pavement, a better street.

Combined with the initiative to mask the bins by the Sorting Office, this is an incredibly positive move for Brockley Road and we hope that it will soon be adopted for the entire length of the street.

We'll be publishing the interview with Cllr Alexander shortly.

Brockley Station: Spot the Difference

The keen-eyed among Brockley's commuters might have noticed some subtle changes as a result of the week-long closure of Brockley Station office. Chief among them is the fact that the benches have gone, to be replaced by thin air.

The station managers intend to insert a ticket machine where the benches used to be and install barriers - at which point, the exit on platform 2 will be closed, for maximum inconvenience.

We plan to write more on the station's future soon, but ultimately, the likelihood is that the whole ticket office will be relocated and the station layout remodelled to coincide with the arrival of the East London Line, and the anticipated trebling of passenger numbers between 2007 and 2011.

Brockley MAX Programme Announced

The Brockley MAX starts this weekend. After Moira Tait stepped down from organising Brockley's arts festival, a new team stepped up, to take on the challenge. Without their efforts, the festival could have died, so we owe them a debt of thanks for their hard work. This year, much of the action shifts to Jam Circus and the Brockley Jack Theatre.

We hope to bring you more coverage very soon, but for now, here's what the new organising team say:

Now in its 6th Year, Brockley Max has become an established event in the local community. An opportunity for people to experience the talent and creativity of this part of South East London.

This year we have a fantastic mix of Art, Music, Film, Theatre, Dance, Workshops and more. With most of the events free for all to enjoy!

For more information, and up-to-the-minute listings and line-ups, you can find out more on the Brockley Max website, www.brockleymax.co.uk

Including ways you can take part and make this year’s festival the best to date!

We’d like to thank all of the artists, volunteers, venues and supporters that have chosen to take part this year. Without them, the festival could never take place.

Power failure

According to the BBC, Brockley was among the areas hit by power failures today.

Did you notice? If so, has the chaos been greater or less than that brought by the earthquake?

Them and us: Nunhead

Maybe it's just because the sun was out last time we visited Nunhead, but we've recently been forced to reevaluate the area. We used to think of it as a lonely parade of shops pressed up against a quaint but empty little green, on the way to other places.

But on the last couple of occasions, we've started noticeing little architectural details which make the place more interesting and flower boxes have burst in to bloom, which make Nunhead feel more homely. The universal praise from BC readers for FC Soper has also given us a reason to think of Nunhead as a destination, rather than a shortcut.

We also discovered that we know someone who lives there. So we asked her a few questions about the place. Here's what she told us:

How long have you been living in Nunhead?

Since August last year, so about 9 months.

Why did you move to the area?

It was cheaper than the area of Peckham that we were living in… you could actually buy a whole house for the same price of a flat!

What are the best and worst things about living in Nunhead?

Best things: The local shops and pubs. The butchers and bakers are superb, the Old Nun’s Head pub is just around the corner, and the Rye Hotel isn’t too far away either.

Worst things: If you miss your train it's 1/2 an hour wait till the next one, and no matter how much you think you can beat it by getting on the bus, you never do!

Why should people in Brockley think about visiting?

Nunhead cemetery is beautiful, and Peckham Rye park is just around the corner. From time to time there are also a few little fetes and art events that happen on Nunhead green.

Do you ever visit Brockley? What is your perception of Brockley?

I never have and to be honest and don’t know too much about it. I’m sure I’ve probably driven through before, but that’s about it I’m afraid.

Tell us one thing about Nunhead you won't find on Wikipedia?

It apparently gets its name from a nun who was executed many years ago (not sure why), but whose head was then placed on a stake and put in the middle of Nunhead green as a warning to any other people looking to defy the government. No idea if that’s true, but they’re the rumours!

Brockley Bites: Green-fingered edition

Brockley's bane: The blue peril

It's a reasonable bet that anyone with any outside space in Brockley has encountered these big, rapidly-growing, blue-flowered plants:






But what are they?


Admittedly BC's gardening knowledge is limited, but we haven't seen these plants in other parts of London. So we throw the question out to green-fingered BC readers - what are they? Weed or rare specialist species? Exclusive to Brockley, or a Gardeners' Question Time regular? And how the hell do we eliminate them from our garden?



Green Brockley: Yay for trees


The sharp-eyed among you will have noticed the new trees outside the postal sorting office on Brockley Road.





BC suspects this has been funded by Lewisham Council's localities fund, after the complex and passionate debate on this year's allocation. We think it's a much-needed perk for this part of Brockley Road and hope they don't become a target for mindless, moronic vandals.


Long live the sorting office trees!

My Street Makeover

Getting the basics right with our streets is the single most important thing that we (residents, businesses and the Council) can do to regenerate our area:

  • Collecting litter (and not dropping it in the first place)
  • Reducing refuse bins through more effective waste management (or hiding them)
  • Choosing good quality street furniture (benches, railings, bins, etc) and then looking after them
  • Reducing unnecessary clutter (especially pointless signs)
  • Putting some effort in to shop fronts (and then supporting the shops that do)
  • Planting flowers (and maintaining them)
  • Fixing the pavements and towing people who park their cars in the middle of our streets so they can get their hair cut.

Stuff like that. The kind of stuff people do to shift their houses on property programmes, because they are relatively cheap and very effective.

Brockley Central's political manifesto would put these basic things at its heart. Look after stuff like that and people begin to respect their area more, enjoy their area more and invest in the area more.

So we're delighted to hear from Cllr Sue Luxton that Lewisham Council will be organising a "My Street Makeover" on Coulgate Street soon. This will involve:

  • Painting the railings and lamp posts
  • Repainting road markings
  • New road signs (hopefully replacement ones rather than more road signs)
  • Gully cleaning
  • Graffiti removal
  • Weed removal
  • Litter clearance

There will also be a clean up for all to get involved in around the Station - including both Mantle Road and Coulgate Street. Some good joined-up thinking would also involve enforcing the regulations on shop fronts, to make Speedicars change their horrible signage in time for the makeover day.

My Street Makeovers are a borough-wide initiative, launched in 2006. We hope they also come to Brockley Road and Lewisham Way very soon.

Playtime for Brockley

The Council has been given £1 million by the Government to spend on Lewisham's children's play facilities and Cllr Walton would like to hear our suggestions for how some of it could be put to use in Brockley over the next three years.

We know that Hilly Fields Users Group is looking for funds to rebuild and enhance the play area, to create something more like the facilities in Telegraph Hill. So we'd vote for some of the money to go to that project, a facility that will be accessible to all and greatly enhance one of our prize assets. Tanners Hill would be another obvious choice.

Here's the release - Cllr Walton's promised to raise any good suggestions at Council level:

Lewisham awarded £1m to develop play areas

Lewisham Council has been awarded funding of around £1 million over 3 years by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) for the transformation and creation of 20-25 play areas in the borough. This capital funding will allow approximately £50k for each play area to be developed.

Lewisham Council is seeking the views of local residents, including young people, on how they would like to improve and/or develop a play area in their local area. Following this, the Mayor of Lewisham, Sir Steve Bullock, will select the new sites and local Third Sector organisations will be invited to tender to build the new play areas.

This DCSF programme is part of central government’s agenda, recently highlighted in its Children’s Plan, to improve play opportunities for children and young people. This is to ensure children enjoy their childhood and to contribute to key social and health priorities, such as tackling obesity. Play can also act as a gateway to structured, positive activities and support services for children and families who may be hard to reach through other routes.

To submit an interest in developing an area, we need to know the following information:

- Name and address of the proposed site
- Whether there has been any consultation with the community and children and young people about what they want
- Who would lead on this
- Who would be the beneficiaries
- What will make this area exciting to children and young people
- How it will ensure access to children of all abilities
- How boys and girls will use this area
- Your name and address
Lewisham’s Play Partnership board is responsible for improving play facilities and will decide which bids are successful.
Please forward your views and ideas by Friday 20 June 2008, to: Chris Bull, Children's Centres, Childcare and Play, 3rd Floor Laurence House, 1 Catford Road, SE6 4RU E-mail: Chris.Bull@lewisham.gov.uk Telephone: 020 8314 3685

Degustation - o ye of little faith

Brockley Central was plunged in to a profound gloom a few hours aogo when someone on the site asked whether Degustation had closed down. Shelves had been seen outside and the shop has been closed for a few days. Was the Brockley renaissance over before it had truly begun? Could this be the end of our pain au chocolat fix on a Saturday morning? Would we never again lay eyes on Augustin's cheery face?

Well the good news is, Degustation's back, bigger and better than ever.

Augustin just rang to explain that they are expanding their range of wines, which is why the shop has been closed for a few days.

The shop and his wine business has been doing well and Augustin is delighted with the support he has had from Brockley shoppers, who have formed a regular customer base.

To celebrate the arrival of a new range of products this weekend, there will be a special half-price offer on a range of cakes and pastries on Bank Holiday Monday.

So, panic over. Vive le Brockley revolution.

Hard to Kill

Coulgate Street is Brockley's one unreserved regeneration success story. But Speedicars' recent move to deface the street with their rubbishy old signage has put them On Deadly Ground.

Since then, the Council planning office has been Under Siege from irate residents, Out for Justice.

The Council enforcement team's response has been swift, writing letters to all complainants to inform them that an investigation has begun, but that it could be some time before they can take an Executive Decision.

Speedicars is not Above the Law. It can only be hoped that the tacky signage is Marked for Death.

With thanks to The Glimmer Man.

The Wisdom Of Crowds - Brockley Speaks

Brockley MAX, The Telegraph Hill Festival, The Summer Fayre, Open Studios, Hillaballoo, The Brockley Fun Run, The Christmas Market, The Brockley Cross Action Group, LoveLewisham, Friends of Brockley and Ladywell Cemetery, even Brockley Central Drinks...

Apparently, what Brockley really needs is some sort of event to build community cohesion. This was one of the concerns raised at the first ever Brockley Ward Assembly.

Unable to make it that evening, Brockley Central asked Cllr Walton for an update on how the event went. Here's what he reported:

"It was a very successful evening - we reckon there were up 120 people attending from across Brockley Ward, including a lot of young people.


The meeting was a table-talk facilitated session and feedback from the attendees was good. Though not a comprehensive list, the main issues that floated to the surface via the process were:

1. Improvement of the local area - flytipping, bulky waste etc, shopping facilities
2. Excuse the jargon 'Community Cohesion' - a need to do something for the community
3. Crime (sorry we have to call it community safety)
4. Youth provision - the relation of young people to crime

One unexpected concern was people urinating in the grounds of Goldsmiths College!

During the Assembly, we selected a co-ordinating group to take these priorities forward."

Brockley Central was a little incredulous that the need to stage more events to bring the local community together should be a key concern, given the wealth of community events that Brockley boasts (and the numerous other issues that might have been raised). However, it was pointed out to us that Brockley is a big ward and that most of the cultural events in SE4 take place on the south side of Lewisham Way - a point we grudgingly conceed.

Cllr Walton also provided us with a sample of some of the positive feedback which the event generated, much of which revolved around the catering...

"Need an opportunity to state how good the event was! I've really enjoyed this evening, for someone like me who has recently moved to the area it was a great way to meet local people and understand the issues of the area. Made me realise I've moved into a community atmosphere."

" I'm 17 and I found it very interesting, and on our table I think we got alot across to other people about what we think about our area."

"Very well organised - listening to residents positively talking about meeting members of the community and how much they enjoyed the meeting and its purpose. A very good cross section of the community including young people. A receptive community and excellent how the co-ordinating group selected and endorsed by all the clapping."

"Thankyou for the excellent refreshments - both quantity and variety were impressive."

Statistics compiled on the night suggest that, ethnically at least, the Assembly succeeded in attracting a reasonably representative sample of the local population:

32% of attendees were of a BME [Black / Minority Ethnic] background [versus ward profile 40%]
23% of attendees were of a Black British/Caribbean Mixed Caribbean/White background [versus ward profile 16%]
42% white British [versus ward profile 48.8%]
13% of attendees were disabled

Thanks to Dean for providing so much feedback.

Healthy Brockley

The Brockley Bowling Green is the starting point for both gentle and vigorous exercise programmes this weekend. Choose your path...

Gentle

The Francis Drake Bowls Club's home ground is the Hilly Fields theatre of dreams. They are always looking for new members, of any standard and their new website provides a comprehensive run-down of fixtures and club news.


Vigorous



This Saturday will see the launch of Brockley's OpenGym, a series of outdoor fitness sessions run by a local trainer, which uses Brockley's green spaces to help you get fit. As anyone who did the fun run can tell you, Hilly Fields is a challenging terrain.


The sessions will be run by Jo Hill, a qualified fitness instructor, who was inspired by SE4 to create OpenGym. She explains:

"The idea is to provide fitness sessions in Hilly Fields – a fun and local way to exercise which is much nicer than slogging away on a sweaty old treadmill! The first OpenGym class is on Saturday and I will be running them every Sat and Wed from now on. We will meet by the bowling green."


Classes start from £7.50 and full details can be found at the OpenGym website.

Brockley elects ... Mayoral election results

A little behind the times, this: ward-level results for the Mayoral elections have recently been released and we thought readers might find it interesting. It's been quite hard to process the results into a readable format, so please note that each candidate's name is followed by the number of first preference votes they won, then the number of second preference votes then won. We haven't calculated percentages or had a look at the Assembly voting results, though we might consider it if there's enough demand out there ...

Brockley ward results: Mayor

Richard Barnbrook (BNP)
49
66
Gerard Batten (UKIP)
19
62
Sian Berry (Green Party)
377
1040
Alan Craig (Christian PP & Alliance)
78
102
Lindsey German (Left List)
52
134
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
692
284
Ken Livingstone (Labour)
2170
685
Winston McKenzie (Ind)
8
37
Matt O’Connor (Eng Dems)
9
44
Brian Paddick (Lib Dem)
447
890

TOTAL
1st prefs: 3901
2nd prefs: 3344

Spoilt
1st prefs: 60
2nd prefs: 557



Telegraph Hill ward results: Mayor

Richard Barnbrook (BNP)
47
98
Gerard Batten (UKIP)
18
64
Sian Berry (Green Party)
226
859
Alan Craig (Christian PP & Alliance)
84
144
Lindsey German (Left List)
52
116
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
691
242
Ken Livingstone (Labour)
2174
545
Winston McKenzie (Ind)
12
44
Matt O’Connor (Eng Dems)
7
48
Brian Paddick (Lib Dem)
331
844

TOTAL
1st prefs: 3642
2nd prefs: 3004

Spoilt:
1st prefs: 47
2ns prefs: 638


Ladywell ward results: Mayor

Richard Barnbrook (BNP)
43
79
Gerard Batten (UKIP)
14
77
Sian Berry (Green Party)
319
1013
Alan Craig (Christian PP & Alliance)
67
109
Lindsey German (Left List)
52
106
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
759
301
Ken Livingstone (Labour)
2065
595
Winston McKenzie (Ind)
6
58
Matt O’Connor (Eng Dems)
9
45
Brian Paddick (Lib Dem)
369
849

TOTAL
1st prefs: 3703
2nd prefs: 3232

Spoilt:
1st prefs: 67
2nd prefs: 471


Crofton Park ward results: Mayor

Richard Barnbrook (BNP)
62
119
Gerard Batten (UKIP)
35
138
Sian Berry (Green Party)
271
923
Alan Craig (Christian PP & Alliance)
79
117
Lindsey German (Left List)
48
74
Boris Johnson (Conservative)
1072
322
Ken Livingstone (Labour)
2054
585
Winston McKenzie (Ind)
10
56
Matt O’Connor (Eng Dems)
12
87
Brian Paddick (Lib Dem)
464
1023

TOTAL
1st prefs: 4107
2nd prefs: 3444

Spoilt:
1st prefs: 58
2nd prefs: 663



From a quick glance at first preference votes it's clear that this is a Ken-friendly area, though we note that Crofton Park residents were reasonably well disposed towards The Boris. Perhaps unsurprisingly there was a strong showing from the Greens.

The Brockley Jack, Brockley Road

The Brockley Jack is the southern gateway to Brockley. Built in 1898, it's a huge, handsome monolith, comprising a pub and a theatre.

By common consent, the pub had fallen on hard times in recent years, losing a lot of its character and clientele and becoming estranged from its theatrical neighbour, with theatre-going footfall failing to translate in to drinking customers.

A few weeks ago, the Jack closed its doors for a quick facelift and the effect is a success. It appears to have nicked a few style tips from Jam Circus - marrying natural wood and bold, patterned wallpaper. The result is saloon pub meets Edwardian drawing room, which is a good thing.

On Saturday, when we snooped around, there seemed to be a good mix of people, from regulars who looked like they had never left their high perches in the middle of the bar, to a large, jolly, indeterminate group enjoying a late lunch.

We've not yet tried the food or experienced a weekend in full swing, but the initial impression is that the new-look Brockley Jack is a 'classless' pub, with a fair amount of class.

The Brockley X Files

This explains a lot...

The South London Press reports that UFOs were witnessed flying over Brockley Station in the mid-1980s, their superior technology allowing them to predict the rise of Brockley, long before Phil and Kirsty woke up to the charms of SE4.

It is not clear whether these blobs were working class or middle class but it seems likely that they were childless, due to the amount of travelling required for their work.

Thanks to Patrick for beaming this to us.

PFI Leaseholders in Brockley

On Thursday, May 22nd, Brockley leaseholders whose homes are affected by the Council's PFI contract are invited to a meeting at 7.00pm in St Andrew's Church Hall, Brockley Road.

The aim of the meeting will be to implement a process to democratically elect a body that can represent the interests of Brockley PFI Leaseholders.

The meeting is being organised by Pinnacle, which is part of the PFI contract team and follows residents expressing a range of concerns about the plans, both here and elsewhere.

Thanks to Kraig for keeping us updated.

Portland wins Homeview appeal

Despite massive local opposition, Portland Bookmakers today won their appeal at Bromley Magistrates Court. As a result, the Homeview Video site on Brockley Road will become a.n. other bookmaker in SE4.

In announcing his verdict, the judge made it clear that none of the arguments against Portland's plans mattered - under the current legislation, the community have no say in whether a bookmakers is allowed to set up shop. Unless it can be demonstrated that the applicant will serve under-18s or encourage people with mental health problems to gamble, there are no grounds to refuse a license.

So that's it. Portland Bookmakers will be opening. The only question now is how much custom they will generate. Given the relatively low rents and the number of potential customers in Brockley, it seems a forlorn hope that they will be forced to close through lack of trade.

We look forward to them making good on their pledge to play a positive role in the local community...

What the Council Giveth, the Artmongers Taketh Away

(well, cover up, at least)

The Brockley Max team bring word that Artmongers, the people behind Moo Cross and the Toadsmouth Key, will be transforming one of Brockley's famous eyesores - the bin farm down by the post office.

The theme for the piece is love, environment, recycling, local heritage, conservation and cleanliness – all subjects very close to Brockley's heart. The aim is to have the work all ready for the forthcoming Brockley Max festival. We're not sure whether the transformation will be permanent, but we hope so!

There will be workshops so that Artmongers can work with local people, the first being tomorrow, Friday 16th May, 11am in Toadsmouth Too. You should also be able to find A4 leaflets with more info in cafes around the area. Email studio@artmongers.com for more info.

More news on the Max coming soon!


The bin farm!
What will become of the Brockley Road bin farm?

Brockley Cross Action Group: a history

Brockley Central is helping the Brockley Cross Action Group to draw up some publicity materials and as part of the process we sat down with its chair, Des Kirkland, to talk through the history of the group. He provided a useful insight into its achievements and we thought BC readers would be interested to hear more ...

BCAG was founded in 2000 by a group of local people who were concerned that the area had become overlooked by the council and was becoming shabby.

It initially covered the conservation area only, but its remit has expanded 'because nobody else is doing what we’re doing', Des explains. The group now aims to cover the whole of Brockley ward.

BCAG has a broad-based ongoing improvement programme which includes:
- Engaging with Lewisham Council, other public bodies and local businesses to address infrastructure and public realm issues such as litter, graffiti, poor roads and pavement maintenance, and pedestrian safety.
- Carrying out community works such as the creation and maintenance of public gardens and trees, and the installation of noticeboards on housing estates.
- Liasing with prospective developers about their schemes to ensure they are in keeping with the local area and contribute to the established community.

The group is a registered charity with 9 trustees. There are 15 committee members and attendance at meetings varies but Des estimates that 50-70 is the average. Priorities are set by local people’s feedback at the meetings.

In addition to its ongoing improvement programme BCAG has undertaken several major projects, including:
- Launching the annual Brockley Max arts festival
- Installing that poem written in large letters along Shardloes Rd
- Organising a clean-up of derelict land on Mantle Rd by Brockley train station
- Setting up Brockley’s first Christmas market in Coulgate St
- Launching the area’s first 5k fun run, which took place recently
- Creating a train station flowerbed over the course of a weekend with a team of volunteers at a cost of £1,500
- Winning planning permission to create a new public space on Brockley Common.

BCAG's funding comes from donations from local people and businesses, and the council from time to time. The group picks its priorities and then fundraises specifically for these projects.

BCAG’s goals for the future include:
- Finishing off Brockley Common;
- The launch of new gallery Tea Leaf Arts later in 2008 (subject to funding, as already covered here on BC);
- Campaigning for improvements in local retail: 'There are too many takeaways and locals want a good butchers and fish shop,' Des says.
- Clearing up a derelict garage on Vulcan Terrace;
- Improvement of the Mantle Rd planters by John Stainer School, using money from Lewisham Council’s localities fund;
- Re-opening Brockley Lane train station, which is on the Lewisham-Victoria line. This is something the group has been interested in for quite some time. 'We did a feasibility study to demonstrate there was enough demand to justify re-opening the high level link but Lewisham Council are against it,' says Des.
- Re-development of the Brockley Cross roundabout. The council paid for a surveyors’ consultation in 2005 and a number of different possible designs were drawn up, but no further action has yet been taken.
- Campaigning for more facilities for local people. 'There are very few facilities for local kids, nowhere for them to go to play snooker and nowhere for young teens other than playing on Hilly Fields,' Des said.


Obviously the group has achieved a lot in a short space of time and hopefully it will continue to thrive. BC wishes it the best of luck in its efforts; it would be great to see our readers get involved with the hard work and help to shape the group's priorities. Anyone interested in volunteering can check out the group's website here.

Untitled (ode to delis)

Once, Brockley Central was accused by one Lewisham blogger of getting above its station by adopting the 'royal we'. We risk enraging her still further by hoping to create the position of Brockley Central's poet laureate.

But sometimes, a post is so good that it deserves a thread all of its own. At 1.30am last night, an anonymous poet - our own Wilfred Owen - sent this poem from the front line of the Great Gentrification War:

Surely the happy clappy
Fecund families
In the bosom of their brood

Would not begrudge
Continental comestibles
For the sad singletons
Of the neighbourhood.

A little respite, a little joy
For those who have no girl or boy.
Why resent money spent
On continental fripperies

Cheese and wine and vol-e-ventes
and multi-berried muselies.

In the end what they spend
is no reflection
on the wholesome two point twosome who fill their
trolleys across Lewisham.

With family fodder piled up high. They brave the
ailes
To stock the larder.

Glance at the fuel, let out a sigh. To pay the price
means to work harder.

To face the race to make a life
do you need a husband or wife?

It certainly ain't the only way.
Being on your tod can also pay.

Great economies are often possible
and surplus income quite disposable.

What if I spend it in a deli
On frenchie cheese or fancy jam? It's my lolly, I
earned it
And I really, don't give a damn.

----

We hope this anonymous artist posts again.

Brockley Bites - Clean Living Special

Gamble less

The Appeal by Portland Bookmakers against the Council’s decision not to grant its license application is made next week on:

Tuesday 13th May – Thursday 15th May 2008
10am
Bromley Magistrates Court
London Road
Bromley BR1 1RA

This is the final battle to prevent yet another bookie from colonising the area, by taking over the Homeview site. For the uninitiated, this issue has been a long-running one, which you can read about here.

At previous hearings, a large number of protestors have been present to make their feelings known and the protestors are hoping for as much support as possible throughout the hearing.

To date, only one person commenting on this site has spoken out in favour of the application and they accidentally outed themselves as the owners of Portland Bookmakers.

Recycle more

Lewisham Council wants to find the Best Recycling Street in Lewisham. The Council wants to find dedicated recyclers to champion the cause in their nominated street, to encourage their fellow residents to recycle more each week in their street than in any other.

You can nominate yourself and your own road (or a section of a road, or another road), for the award. Then you just need to speak to the neighbours and persuade them to recycle that bit more!

Lewisham Council will provide information and a toolkit to make sure residents know what can be recycled. Each streets’ participation rate and the types of materials being collected for recycling will be measured when all the nominations are in, and again six weeks later.

The winning street will be the one that sees the biggest increase in recycling behaviour in terms of the number of people recycling three or more materials, such as paper, cardboard, glass bottle/jars, food/drinks cans and plastic bottles.

A special street sign will be erected on the winning street, proclaiming it to be the ‘Best Recycling Street in Lewisham’. The winner will receive a ‘Recycling Champion’ plaque recognising their efforts. All participants will receive recognition for their efforts and contribution.

If you would like to get involved call 020 8314 2245 or 020 8314 2053 now or email recycle@lewisham.gov.uk to request an entry form and more information.

The deadline to register is Friday.

Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables

Kirsty’s been in touch to say that the derelict grocers near The Talbot pub may come back in to use soon. It’s a property that has lain dormant for many years and which the Council has been trying to resuscitate for some time, although offers of help were strongly resisted by the elderly owner, whose family used to run it.

However, sadly, the owner recently passed away, meaning that it may once again become a functioning shop. Together with the planned restoration of the pub, it would transform that corner of Brockley.

Take part

Don’t forget that the first Brockley Assembly will be held tonight from 7-9pm at Lewisham College, 16 Lewisham Way SE4 1UT. If you're planning to go, we'd be interested to hear what issues will be most important to you.

Art-less

Brockley Central has been very excited about the prospects for a new community art gallery at Brockley Cross. Run by charity Tea Leaf Arts, it will serve as a centre for the local artistic community, a venue for new kinds of events and installations and an expression of Brockley's vibrant community.

However, as the Tea Factory slowly emerges from its scaffold coccoon to reveal a handsome new building, the gallery is still a distant prospect.

During the planning process for the Tea Factory, the Council negotiated with the developer to ensure that, for the first two years of its new life, the Tea Factory would have to give one of the commercial units to the community, at zero cost, to be used as a new gallery. If, after those two years, the gallery was able to run on commercial terms, they will have first refusal on the site. This made sense for a host of reasons...

Firstly, the Tea Factory owners win because this deal was secured as part of the Section 106 agreement, which is the price councils are able to extract from large-scale developers - it's payment in kind, rather than in cash.

Secondly, the ground floor units had to be commercial (rather than residential) anyway and the new development on the west side of the station has proved that these kinds of units, in areas of low footfall, with few other shops around, are hard to shift. By giving away one unit, the developers ensure that they have a nice gallery instead of an empty window - all the better to attract residential buyers and help secure more commercial tennants. The Tea Factory is due to house a new cafe, and there's no-doubt the management would have been attracted by the prospect of having a gallery for a neighbour.

Thirdly, for the Council, it's a much-needed gesture towards regenerating Brockley Cross, but the burden of effort to make it a reality is handed over to the local community and Creative Lewisham.

However, when we recently contacted the community team behind the new gallery for an update, we were shocked. While the Tea Factory is due for completion this month, the gallery has no opening date - in fact, its future is still in doubt.

Instead of a functioning commercial space, the developer is planning to deliver the gallery owners an empty shell, without basic requirements like electricity, heating, lighting, plumbing and even windows. By doing so, the developer will fulfil his agreement under the terms of the Section 106, but leave the gallery team with a £14,000 funding gap.

The gallery team have finalised their plans for the space and are frantically trying to raise funds from other sources, but it is an unexpected mountain they have to climb and, even if they are successful, it is likely to take time before they are in a position to get the Gallery up and running. There are no further funds available from the Council's Section 106 budget to support the project.

We don't understand how the Council could have negotiated a deal which effectively leaves a community group having to pay the fit-out costs for a commercial developer, particularly since, after two years, it becomes the developer's again, to profit from.

In our view, the Council must take more responsibility for this problem than it appears to have done so far. They must intervene by playing an active role in identifying new funding - not just pointing the group in the direction of various funds the group can apply for but actually finding funds within the Council budget, to clear up the mess they've made. After all, if the Gallery doesn't happen then the Council have effectively negotiated zero value from the Tea Factory's redevelopment.

Despite several years of consultation by the Council about the regeneration of Brockley Cross, the Tea Factory is the only meaningful development to have come to fruition. It would be a travesty if their one success story was marred for the want of a small amount of money.

BrocSoc Bowling

A quick post to let you know about the Brockley Society's 'Bowls Beano', happening this Sunday (tomorrow) from 10am-12pm, at the Francis Drake Bowling Club on Hilly Fields. This is the second of two free Sunday sessions aimed at getting people into lawn bowls and helping to support the local club.

Each session is limited to six bowlers - yes, six. So, if you're a busy blogger-about-town like we are, who decides to do things at the last minute, then it could well be too late to join in. Still, spectators are welcome, so do go down to show your support for the club. It's a great English pastime, and we should cherish having a green on our doorstep - perhaps the only bowling green in the country with a fab view of the O2!

For information and to see if there are any places left, phone Jill or Billon on 020 8691 8926.

Trees and CCTV: the final chapter

Here's a footnote to the longest-running saga in Brockley Central's short life. Lewisham Council's CCTV manager Anne Sharp has been in touch to let BC readers know that the CCTV cameras on Lewisham Way and by St John's Station are now working properly, following the felling of a tree in Lewisham College car park (as previously covered at exhaustive length on BC).

To those who attended the meeting with Lewisham Council officers last month it was fairly clear that it wasn't a particularly healthy tree and the situation was more complex than we had originally thought. Having said that, the recent national debate over CCTV cameras throws up some wider questions about their positioning and usefulness in Brockley. But if any cameras should be working in our area, then it's those by St John's Station. So do BC readers concur that we can chalk this saga up as having a happy ending?

How Brockley Central Works


Man in pub at Brockley Central Drinks:

Have you seen tonight's thelondonpaper?

Brockley Nick:

No?

Man:

There's a picture of some graffiti in Brockley in it.

Nick:

That's tomorrow's article of the day sorted then. Thanks.


The featured graffiti is one of a series of biting social commentaries scattered across SE4's walls.

Brockley Central Drinks III @ The Talbot

Last night's BC Drinks was a more intimate affair than our second outing, with about 15 readers turning up to see The Talbot before its rebirth.

Those who came were rewarded with a behind-the-scenes tour of the crumbling pub and a detailed explanation of the rennovation plans from the new management team, including Jamie, James and Tom.

The Talbot suffered more than a decade of neglect under its former manager and the walk-through revealed just how much work there is to be done, from basic wiring to the installation of a new kitchen.

Jamie, the manager who will split his time between The Talbot and the Honor Oak, explained that The Talbot will be a pub first and a restaurant second. The ground floor will be remodelled, moving the bar back to reunite the front and back rooms, but the seating layout will retain a "boothy" intimacy. The first floor will be completely restored and turned in to a dining room that will seat 30 people. Currently, the room is a dumping ground for 10 years of accumulated bric-a-brac, but even so, the potential of the space is blindingly obvious. A handsome, high-ceilinged room with windows on two sides and fireplaces at either end - it will be lovely place for lunch or dinner.

But while Jamie emphasised the pivotal role of drink, the Tiggerish new chef Tom was handing out sample menus (which we plan to reproduce on here shortly) and talking excitedly about his plans to grow his own vegetables at the back of the pub and the fact that he will be in the market for any locally-grown produce that people have in their back gardens and allotments. We were just happy to see a menu that didn't involve reheated hamburgers, but Tom's passion for food is obvious and, besides his training at the OXO Tower, he has spent years travelling round Europe learning about food. Most notably, his "Rabbit in Dark Chocolate" dish was copied from a Catalan cooking programme whilst on holiday in Barcelona with his mum.

James is the designer and promised a very different look and feel to the Honor Oak. Jamie spoke in awe of James' "mood board", but vowed to find a place for the neon cocktail sign that hangs above the bar and is just about the only working light source in the pub, once the sun goes down.

Even though a new bar manager is already in-situ and two skips-worth of debris has been cleared, final arrangements with Punch Taverns are not yet agreed. Though it is looking very positive, we must still wait with baited breath.

Above all, the team explained that The Talbot will live or die by how well it serves local customers. They can't rely on tourists and casual visitors, they need to attract a regular, loyal customer base, which means offering good, friendly service and listening to the local community. In that respect, last night was a great start and we're sure that everyone who heard them speak will be as enthused as we were. Even Tyrwhitt Michael, who was initially suspicious of the menu, seemed to have been won over by the end of the night.

Thanks to everyone who came. Again, one of the best aspects of the evening is that there were plenty of new faces, including regular posters, Sian and Bobblekin.

Post Office closures

We must confess to being ambivalent about the fate of post offices. In fact, we've always considered the fact that "the countryside" gets so worked up about closures as evidence that the countryside communities aren't everything they're cracked up to be by Daily Mail readers.

If your community relies on a dingy spot to buy stamps and pay your TV license, then it's a pretty fragile sort of a community in the first place. Give us Brockley MAX, the Broca and the Telegraph Hill Festival any day of the week.

And as for people who rely on their services, we're still not convinced that they offer much that other shops and the internet can't do better. The digitally dispossessed? Not as long as there are public libraries offering free access.

However, we never expect to be in the majority on this kind of issue and those who think Post Offices are national treasures will be heartened by Mayor Bullock's latest pronouncement:

Mayor condemns Post Office closure announcement but pledges to fight on

Sir Steve Bullock, the Mayor of Lewisham, has condemned an announcement made today that three local post offices are to be closed. Hither Green Lane, Lee and New Cross Road post offices have been earmarked for closure this Autumn.

Commenting he said: "This is unacceptable. The decision flies in the face of local opinion and will be condemned by councillors of every party in Lewisham. Lewisham residents have been let down by Post Watch - the so called ‘watchdog for Postal services’. Their failure to oppose these closures, undermined the case made by the Council and many others locally.

“This battle is not over yet. I will look at what further options are open, including legal action, and an investigation of other ways in which those post offices can be kept open."

Brockley's services remain untouched.

Lewisham Market

The arrival of a new juicer at Brockley Central prompted us to try Lewisham Market, in search of cheap fruit. Even a state-of-the-art centrifugal machine requires mountains of the stuff to muster a glass, so finding low-cost fruit is the only way to make juicing an affordable hobby.

Lewisham Market - open daily between Monday and Saturday along the pedestrianised section of the high street - is fantastic for fruit and vegetables in the way that Brockley, sadly, isn't.

We managed to get a carrier bag of grapes for a quid, but it wasn't just the prices that were good, the quality of the produce is too, with plenty to choose from across a wide range of stalls.

BC Drinks III - Judgement Day

Don't forget, tomorrow night, 8pm - The Talbot, Tyrwhitt Road.

Drink, talk, meet real people, learn about The Talbot's future.

Brockley Bites

Steady underfoot: good news and bad news

The eastern path on Hilly Fields is being re-surfaced, which is good news for all the runners and joggers who use the park. This is something that was identified as being necessary on the previous thread about the Hilly Fields users' group, and it's good to see action being taken.

However, the bad news is that some idiot has created massive tyre track indentations into the grass in several parts of the park, in particular by the stone circle. If they're not smoothed over, these will be a real pain underfoot as well as being visually unattractive. Let's hope Glendale are going to fix this.


Mucky business

You can help to cut the amount of waste Brockley generates by turning organic materials into good old muck. Yes, we're talking composting.

Lewisham Council is currently promoting composting through a deal with Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP). Compost bins are being sold for £17 (220 litre), £20 (330 litre) and £40 for a massive, 4-sided bin.

To order, visit here and quote reference number HCA2 or call 0845 077 0757.


BBC have a CHAT about cats on Lewisham Way

The Celia Hammond Animal Trust (or CHAT) have been in the news recently, not for anything Brockley-related, but for chasing some 80 cats round the Olympic Village building site! The BBC's ultra-slick outside broadcast came to us live from CHAT's Lewisham Way HQ.

Brockley Central was also impressed to find out that Celia Hammond is more famous as a '60s supermodel'. We'll leave the commenters to make the puns about catwalks.

We'd urge any Brockley Central readers who are thinking of getting a pet to consider adopting from CHAT, but you better hurry if you want Dave the Cat, as we've got our eye on him...


Rolling stock revealed

Here's a pic of the design for the trains that will run through Brockley on the London Overground network:




BC likes the orange and blue colour scheme, and the doors look nice and wide which should help prevent those morning wrestling matches as everyone tries to get both on and off the carriage at once.



(with thanks to London Connections for the pic).

Brockley: A Sun Worshipper's Guide

For the first time this year, the BBC weather forecast is predicting five consecutive days of sunshine, unbroken by rain.

So, we're taking this narrow window of opportunity to ask for the best places in Brockley to enjoy the weather. Hilly Fields, Telegraph Hill and Blythe Hill are all automatic choices. We're short of decent beer gardens or cafe terraces, but there are a few bright spots:

Toads Mouth Too: Forget perching on a plastic chair out-front (flanked by the bookie and the sorting office) and make your way out-back for Brockley's mellowest sun-trap. A relaxed atmosphere, occasional BBQs and plenty of shade.

Jam Circus: Throws its doors open on sunny days, so front row seats to the road catch plenty of rays, while the road is quiet enough that you don't have to fight with the traffic to talk to your friends.

Skehans: Great spot for an afternoon drink, on the bend of Telegrah Hill.

The Wickham Arms: As long as they've swept-up the fag-ends that occasionally carpet the decking, head for the front garden of the Wickham and look down on the tranquil beauty of Upper Brockley Road.

The Brockley and Ladywell Cemetery: Dappled sunlight plays through the elderly trees, casting gorgeous shadows. Not a great place to have a drink, unless you like Carlsberg Special Brew, but a nice place to escape the midday sun.

UnLoved Lewisham?

The Love Lewisham project is a celebrated case study of how local government can harness new technology to engage with the public - improving speed and access to council services and "democratising" information about the public realm.

It means anyone with a mobile phone - even those who aren't given taxpayer-funded ones - can report a problem on their street instantly. It is a good idea. It's the kind of idea that the "internet evangelist" who Brockley Central works with in our day-job wishes they'd come up with.

However, the idea is only as good as the execution. If the site's not easy to use or the clean-up service is inefficient then using it is just as frustrating as if the Council hadn't applied the white heat of technology to the problem. And the service should be an additional weapon in the Council's armory for combating litter and fly tipping - it shouldn't replace the eyes and ears of council employees and contractors responsible for cleaning up the rubbish on our streets.

Barry, a reader from Crofton Park, recently felt compelled to contact Mayor Bullock, when problem sites in his area showed little sign of improvement. He wrote:

"I am shocked at how many long standing fly-tipping sites there are in Lewisham.
Despite reporting them to LoveLewisham, various sites in Crofton Park are still festering months later.

"The particular site in question is at 94 Sevenoaks Rd, SE4 (side alley), adjacent to a garage close to the junction of Otford Crescent and Sevenoaks Rd.

"Sofas and old tyres sit happily in the rain for months while refuse collectors sail by, and street cleaners busy themselves picking up cigarette butts."

Mayor Bullock has promised to look in to the problem immediately, but we'd be interested to know about your experiences of using the service. How loved is Lewisham?

The Brockley Assembly: a new voice for local people?

Lewisham Council has come up with a new way of listening to its constituents: local assemblies for each council ward. These were suggested by the mayor's commission and passed by the council last year, and Brockley's version is due to launch next week.

The assembly will meet four times a year and all local residents are invited to attend. It aims to give residents the opportunity to:
- Discuss and share what matters to them;
- Work with councillors and others to shape the neighbourhood;
- Raise issues of concern to the mayor and other public bodies;
- Find out what is happening in Brockley;
- consider how Brockley's £10,000 annual Locality Fund should be spent.

The assembly's priorities will be taken on by a working group chaired by councillor Dean Walton. Other local councillors will also attend.

Brockley Ward:

Tuesday 13 May 2008, Lewisham College, Breakspears Building, SE4 1UT from 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Crofton Park Ward:

Wednesday 2 July 2008, St Hildas Church Hall, Brockley Road, SE4 2DG from 7:30pm to 9:30pm

Ladywell Ward:

Thursday 26 June 2008, St Andrews Church Hall, Brockley Road, SE4 2SA from 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Telegraph Hill Ward:

Tuesday 17 June 2008, Meadowgate School, Revelon Road, Brockley, SE4 2PR from 7:00pm to 9:00pm

You can find out more about the assemblies here.

This could potentially be a powerful voice for Brockley's interests in the wider coucil area, but on the other hand it could simply be a talking shop. It also remains to be seen how well the assembly will work with existing community-based groups such as the Brockley Cross Action Group, which fulfils some of the assembly's remit already. However it seems to be a promising development and Brockley Central hopes to follow its progress in the months to come.

Brock the Vote!

Don't forget to cast your vote in the Mayoral and Assembly elections today.

Brockley Central Label Cloud