The 10 most annoying phrases on the internet

The Brockley Central talkback seems to have given birth to a new and irritating internet phrase - the "mung-bean elite": an anachronistic label applied with the wit and precision you'd normally ascribe to Gaunty or Littlejohn.

Obviously, we spend far too much time on the internet, but it prompted us to compile a list of the other phrases we hate. What have we missed?

"Fiat money"

Any GCSE economics student will be able to tell you that the most effective forms of currency are those with no inherent value. But Ron Paul supporters use this term like it's a hallowed secret of the Illuminati that they alone have uncovered.

"ZaNu Labour"

Lacking all sense of perspective? Yes. Clever? No. (See also: Tony Bliar)

"Truth to power"

If there is any phrase more self-righteous than this one, we can't think of it. The people who use it like to imagine themselves sticking it to the man, but it usually just involves shouting down anyone they disagree with.

"Mainstream Media"

It's not 2002 any more. Newspapers and blogs cross reference eachother all the time.

"Spot on Jeremy"

If you think the Top Gear audience is sycophantic, check out the comments that follow his every word on the Times website.

"But who can we vote for?"

This phrase is the new "Enoch was right", left hanging on threads by BNP supporters who believe the answer is obvious...

"The once-proud BBC"

Usually followed by a reference to Civilisation or I Claudius and a threat to tear up their license. The narrative of decline conveniently overlooks the Black and White Minstrel Show and Noel's House Party.

"Eurofags keep your noses out of our business"

It was impossible to read an article about the US Presidential election without someone writing words to this effect. Usually in response to a piece written by someone like Lionel Shriver, Gore Vidal, Michael Tomasky or Irwin Stelzer.

"Lycra-clad terrorists"

Anyone with the temerity to ride a bike to work, thereby reducing congestion on roads and overcrowding on public transport. The bastards.

Crofton Park International

Crofton Park Ranger, a welcome newcomer to the site, has found another reason for the people of Brockley to be cheerful.

When the IMF arrive to quarantine Britain to prevent a leak of toxic debt, we will be able to make a quick getaway courtesy of the Thameslink work, which will cause trains to be diverted to Kings Cross International station and then Luton for the airport.

This all happens from mid-March onwards.

The Good Life

Today is about sunshine and optimism. So here is a list of good things that have happened to us locally lately. Please feel free to add to it.

  1. An early morning taxi journey took us over the top of Telegraph Hill. London twinkled before us and has rarely looked more beautiful.
  2. We finally got around to getting our hair cut at Geddes. We have rarely looked more beautiful. Actually that might be an exaggeration, but they certainly coped with our cowlick and propensity to look like a schoolboy better than most. Unprompted (we were incognito), they also mentioned how many new customers had come in as a result of the discussion on Brockley Central
  3. Thanks to Twitter, we now know what a few of you look like. Twitter followers have rarely looked more beautiful. For the pitiable luddites who have not yet fallen in to lock step with the march of social networking fashion, there is now a Twitter box on the right hand side.

Brockley pays it forward

Jeremy: Mark! You've got to toughen up. This is the 21st century. You've seen Mad Max haven't you. That's what's going to happen!

Mark: Mad Max is not necessarily going to happen

Jeremy: Oh sure mate. You live in your Hitchikers' Guide world where you wander around in your dressing gown and have a nice cup of tea.

While the rest of the world contemplates its imminent doom, BC regular Fabhat has noticed that recession has brought out the kinder, gentler side of Brockley's personality. As well as detecting a more positive tone on among the comments on this site [her email pre-dated the return of Fred Vest to these pages], she's experienced the rebirth of chivalry on the streets:

"I've got a new work toy - a trolley to carry my very heavy work portfolios on which is brilliant on the flat, but somewhat challenging to get up and down stairs. In the last two weeks, not once, not twice but almost every time I've been struggling, people at Brockley and St Johns station have been kind and helpful and lifted the trolley or generally been nice about it rather than grumpy about me being slow.

"Anyway - just wondered if there is a new dawn of old-fashioned kindness and so forth now that everyone has no money - and if anyone else had noticed it."

We've never believed that kindness was an old-fashioned value, but we're always happy to relay news of good things happening to good people.

Are there any acts of kindness you want to report?

Not Brockley Central: Calling all SMEs

Brockley Nick here, apologies for the interruption to normal service.

My company is currently doing some work with the Learning and Skills Council in London to raise awareness of the free training support available for small and medium-sized companies. We're looking for local business leaders willing to take part in a PR campaign to explain why providing skills training for employees is vital to business success, particularly during an economic downturn. For participants, it's an opportunity to showcase their company and their commitment to employee training.

There will be no cost involved, just a little bit of your time. If you run a business and have had positive experience of using Train to Gain or employing Apprentices, please email me at nick.barron@gmail.com

New Cross Gate masterplan update

We're a bit late with this, but the website detailing Sainsbury's proposals to develop the New Cross Gate retail park is now fully operational - click here.

We all seem to agree that the site needs a major overhaul, it's just a question of the fine detail. The website is all fairly aspirational stuff and standard fare for early-stage public consultation. We particularly like the idea of creating a proper streetscape but, when they list some of the possible occupants...

  • Caf├ęs
  • Restaurants
  • Nursery or community facility
  • Book shop
  • Bike shop
  • Music store
  • Clothing shops
  • Banks
  • Florists

... It's worth remembering that the list could equally read: funeral parlours, fried chicken shops, vacant units...

Brockley Twitter

Facebook is tired, Twitter is the new king of social media. So goes the meme.

So if you want to twitter with Brockley Central, come and find us. We're called BrockleyCentral.

Just don't expect too much.

Brockley Winter Warmer

BrocSoc are organising a free event for senior citizens with the Brockley Social Club on Brockley Road. Here's the flyer, spread the word:



Predictions for Brockley in 2009

Before 2009 runs out, we thought we'd better get out our predictions for the year.

Like every pundit, we are heavily caveatting all this with the fact that "the world will never be the same again", etc. But then, every boom relies on people thinking that "this time it's different", just as every bust relies on the same belief. We're betting that armageddon will not arrive and the that, while Brockley's course through 2009 will be rocky, the fundamentals will be the real drivers of change. These are:

1. The East London Line
2. The influx of young people that has already settled in Brockley in the last few years

Undeterred by how hopelessly inaccurate our 2008 predictions were (although this one proved prescient), we are plumping for more of the same.

So, reassured by the fact that no-one pulled us up on last year's unfounded optimism, here we go:

1. Brockley Road

One of Brockley's existing retailers will take the plunge and spread their wings on to Brockley Road, near Brockley Station. The demise of the holistic therapy place means that there is now a prime site available and we know that one or two businesses have been looking to expand, despite the credit crunch.

2. The Talbot

Despite the inertia afflicting the pub's revamp, we are not ashamed to say that we have been seduced by the Honor Oak team's can-do spirit and we are predicting that 2009 will see the rebirth of The Talbot. After all, the collapse in property prices means that even with the problems affecting the pub trade, there's little incentive to try and turn the thing in to flats at the moment.

3. Coulgate Street

Coulgate Street will still have a full complement of shops and cafes open for business by the end of the year.

4. The East London Line

The project will progress steadily, with the opening date remaining on course for summer 2010. The government will eventually cough up the funds necessary for the ELL2 extension to Clapham Junction.

5. The Brockley Cross scaffolding yard

We were contacted a few months back by the PR people for this project to turn Martin's Yard in to a new street. They told us to stay tuned because they were about to send us some information about the next stage in the development process. While the silence that followed is ominous and we don't expect any further news for quite some time, we're going to bet that the developers decide to press on with this by the end of 2009.

What at are your predictions for 2009? Will the Rivoli's future be sorted out? Will recession change the face of Brockley? Will we ever get our Turkish patisserie and will the sea container remain?

Brockley Common - the official response

Following the recent controversy over the quality of materials that will be used in the construction of the next phase of Brockley Common, the ever-diligent JPM sought official reaction from Lewisham Council.

The response he received came from the Executive Director for Regeneration, Malcom Smith and we reproduce it almost in full below. Though it's understandable that the Council should seek value for money from public works projects, the conversations we have had with the BXAG recently suggest that the BXAG has unreasonably been kept at arms length during the most recent stages of the project's development. The BXAG conceived the project and provided a lot of free consultancy time from the group's members who include professional architects and planners.

We hope that, given the latest delay to the project, there is still time to get all sides back around the table to discuss how a project can be delivered that the community will feel proud of. If the end result of years of work and and pain is a basic tarmac ramp then it will have been a colossal waste of time and energy, to rival the aborted attempts to improve Brockley Cross itself.

The quality of materials used will be essential to the project's success. If the budget doesn't allow for the materials specified, then some lateral thinking is required to find an alternative solution. But that kind of solution will be hard to reach if the Council won't engage the BXAG properly.

Here is the letter:

The Council has worked very closely with the Brockley Cross Action Group (BXAG) to realise the construction of a DDA-compliant ramp and steps to replace the rather severe ramp that currently links Coulgate Street and the ticket office to Brockley railway station and the public footbridge that leads onward to Mantle Road. The Council has held extensive meetings with the BXAG's designer and has shared global costing for the work. The term contractor's rates are commercially sensitive and remain confidential.

Located entirely on land owned by Network Rail, the project requires a licence before any site works can commence. Unfortunately, it has not been possible to carry out any physical work on site. The loss of the project this year is very disappointing, but it is hoped that, subject to funding being available to be slipped into 2009/10 and the terms of the licence reviewed, that the works can be carried out in early 2009/10.

BXAG has been very proactive with the project but from the press release seen and at various meetings does not always seem to have widely appreciated the constraints within which the Council has to operate. I would like to take this opportunity to explain the background to events.

The agreed pre-works layout comprised a ramp up to circulating area adjacent to the ticket office via an intermediate hairpin turn at a performance area, with [southern] steps leading up to the circulation area and other [northern] steps to the performance area.

The project was originally planned to proceed at the end of 2007/08 and continue into early 2008/09 as there were two separate budgets attributed to each of those years. For various reasons it was not possible to proceed with the works and part of the budget expired. With additional funding, the project was resurrected in August 2008 and despite the concerted efforts of Council and Network Rail officers no acceptable agreement with regard to insurance coverage could be reached in time that would permit the works to be completed before the close March 2009.

It has been impressed upon the BXAG that it is the Council that is responsible for the procurement and execution of the works and as a publicly accountable authority the Council has to deliver the project within the available auditable budget and on time. Based upon the state of licence negotiations at the time of the South London Press article you refer to, BXAG was advised that work would have to commence late in November if completion was to be achieved within the time available, and that costs would have to be contained within the budget. The materials BXAG prefer are hand-made to order and significantly more expensive than the quality materials the Council uses everywhere else in the Borough - it was made quite clear that delivery of the materials would have to meet the requirements of the works programme.

In the event, and notwithstanding the good intentions of BXAG and its representations to the specialist materials supplier, the paving, high edging units and cladding materials were quoted at £90,000 to only supply, a sum well in excess of what had been discussed in earlier meetings where the supplier was present. In addition, half this sum was to be paid in advance. Given that the Council had still not gained authority to work on the site and was unable to issue an order to the contractor, delivery of all the materials in time was questionable. Advance payment on materials for works that could not be guaranteed to start would have been a high risk to the Council in terms of unknown ongoing liquidity of the supplier and future safe storage, and associated costs thereof, of any stock delivered.

The budget for the project was £182,000. The BXAG ideal would have cost £295,000. Schemes using alternative paving systems were therefore assembled - asphalt [£193,000], block paving [£183,000] and small format paving slabs [£197,000]. All sums included a 10% contingency. Initially the block paving option was adopted, due to its ready availability and to meet the budget, but as a compromise, and with ever reducing construction time available whilst awaiting the licence, the project was curtailed to incorporate only the ramp, southern steps, circulating area and small section of the performance area but using BXAG-preferred hand-made paving units only, in-lieu of the block paving, which were understood to be available in stock.

Thanks to JPM for his work.

Foxborough Gardens flat smashes the million pound barrier

Brockley's fashionable Foxborough Gardens has shaken-off the recessionary gloom that has afflicted the rest of the UK property market, as a one-bed maisonette has been put on the market for £1.4m. The asking price recalls the infamous Knightsbridge Broom cupboard deal of 2007, although the high-spec description by agents OakEstates does boast its own front door.

Property experts have long-forecast that Brockley's micromarket would outperform the rest of the capital, but the rapid rises have left some concerned that young buyers trying to get on the first rung of the ladder will be forced out of the area.

The vendors are understood to have received a cash offer from Hugh.


With thanks to the Quick Brown Fox.

Residents campaign against tree clearance along West Brockley railway line

Scorched earth policy: tree cover has been removed from back gardens

Residents in West Brockley have launched a protest campaign against tree clearance by Network Rail along the railway line behind Avignon and Aspinall Roads.

Reader Oli explains:

Network Rail appear to be currently on a tree-cutting mission country-wide, and it's most recent victims have been the residents living alongside the railways in Brockley. I live on Aspinall Road and all the trees that previously ran along side the railway at the back of our garden have all been cut down.

We got a handposted note from Railtrack's contractors warning there would be some night work involving 'tidying-up railside vegetation', but it actually turned out to be whole sale mature tree cutting down.

Another member of the community, Maria Gonzalez, posted a note through our letterboxes this week summarising the situation better than I can:


a) We have lost our privacy: now we can see the properties on the other side of the railway and every passing train allows passengers to look straight into our bedrooms.

b) We are being disturbed by increased vibration/noise pollution coming from the trains.

c) We are distressed by this pointless annilation of nature. The new view from our windows is an awful scene of destruction and devastation. Additionally, there are more foxes on the street around us as they have lost their homes.

d) We are unhappy that residents had not been properly consulted. What's more, a 'round-robin' letter was delivered which explained that some vegetation was going to be removed. This seems deceptive when in the end all the trees along the line have been chopped down.

e) Our houses have been devalued.

All the above will be exacerbated when the Thameslink upgrade kicks in with the proposed increase in trains.

The contractors [have told me] that they were clearing all vegetation within 5 metres of the running rail. By law, they are allowed to do this up to 10 metres, with the exception of conservation area where the 5 metre limit is the maximum. They said that where there were residential properties they tried to adhere to 5 meteres even if it was not a conservation area.

With regards regrowth, they siad that the tree stumps had been treated with a substance that prevents regrowth. Therefore the current trees won't grow back. They have tried to leave a screen of vegetation where possible, but that won't help us with the view, especially from the first floor.

1) Other neighbours have been in touch with Lewisham Council. Are you one of them? We need to join forces

2) Gather photographic evidence of the trees cut. It would be helpful if you had a photo of how it looked before and how it looks now

3) Get in touch with Lewisham Council to complain

4) Complain to Network Rail - tel 08457 114 141. Ask for a reference number

5) Get in touch with Joan Ruddock, our MP. Her website is: http://www.joanruddock.org/ It'll be good to make her aware of our concerns and also our councillor Chris Flood (Socialist Party), and the Lewisham Green Party.

ANY OTHER IDEAS? WANT TO GET INVOLVED?
Please contact Maria by email: m_gonzalezrey@yahoo.co.uk


Oli adds:

We're cracking on with the campaign - Joan Ruddock MP is going to contact Network Rail and questions will be asked at the mayoral question time.

It would be great if you could post a quick thing on Brockley Central to see if anyone else was affected and would like to add their name to our petition.

The view from Oli's window (above) looks like clear-cutting in the Amazon and although we're not sure what can be done, we wish them well with their action.

Aquarium, Harefield Road




Brockley Central always quite liked Ecosium - the bar / restaurant on Harefield Road - but after repeat visits, we understood why some readers were less enthusiastic. The service and eye for detail occasionally let it down.

Recently, Ecosium changed hands, changed its name to Aquarium and introduced a few innovations. Since that time, the feedback has been a lot more positive. Aquarium is the sort of place Brockley needs to do well. So we were delighted to receive this email yesterday:

"My name is Halim and I am the new owner of Aquarium (formerly known as Chez Ecosium).

"I was very interested in reading the comments about the Chez and would like to promote the new restaurant through the Blog. Is it possible to create a new post to add to the reviews page for my restaurant which can help customers re-visit this lovely restaurant?

"We have a new chef with a delicious new bar, lunch and evening menus as well as the quick and friendly service. As a promotion, I would like to offer your blog readers a free bottle of house wine when they have an evening meal with us. It is valid Mondays to Thursdays until April 2009 (see terms and conditions on the voucher)."

We're always happy to help businesses talk to our readers, especially when they're happy to offer customer incentives. So please feel free to take Halim up on his offer (we guess you need to click on the image to enlarge it before printing it off) and also post your reviews of Aquarium here.

I Spy #6


An Oriental influence - but whereabouts in Brockley is it?

TickleMe, Elmo?

Brockley's best bagel bar's back, bigger and badder than before, with a brand new look for '09. So long Brockley Cross Bagel Bar, say hello TickleMe Food.

Fans of the old place's trademark "bagel surprise" will be delighted to know that the owners are sticking with the tried and trusted bagel motif, but adding jerk of various kinds in to the classic mix.

It's not open yet, but they've actually gone to the trouble of creating a website - so it can only be a matter of time, surely?

Frendsbury Gardens workshops

Goodbye Pincott Place People's Park (that name was so late 90s anyway), hello Frendsbury Gardens.

The west Brockley oasis has been rebranded and to mark the occasion, they are holding some free, informal gardening workshops, where you'll learn how to grow garlic, shallots, potatoes, brussel sprouts, jerusalem artichokes, summer cabbage and beetroot.

The workshop dates are:

January 2009
Saturday 24th and Thursday 29th

February 2009
Saturday 7th and Thursday 26th

March 2009
Saturday 7 and Thursday 26th

Sessions are free and run from 11am - 2pm with refreshments provided. If theweather is terrible they will try to reschedule. Sessions will continue through the summer.

Please call Gareth on 020 8314 2071 to book a place or for more information.

The park is located here. We'll update this article with photos next week.

Brockley and The Alps

The Alps are billed as a Greenwich band but like all good Greenwich natives, The Alps' lead guitar and vocalist Sam has defected to Brockley.

Their new single - Obstacle Race - is out on February 16th and you can watch it at their MySpace page here or visit their blog here for more about the band.

Thanks and good luck to Sam.

The Guardian has been to Brockley and found it to be good

This week, one reader suggested that this blog is all very well but what we really need to do is tell the world how great Brockley is via something like the Guardian.

A while back, we were approached by The Guardian's travel editor to write a piece about Brockley for the relaunch of their "Been There" blog. The site will feature reviews of places by people who live there, in an attempt to give the true flavour of an area. We were asked to be honest, not to gloss over Brockley's flaws and to write it for the person who's never been there before. And we were asked to be concise.

So we wrote something. And now it's live and Brockley is laid bare for all to see. It is the very first entry on the blog.

Due to space restrictions, some places have been missed and the keen-eyed will notice that west Brockley gets little recognition - this isn't a reflection on the area as a place to live, rather on its limited offer for the tourist.

We hope we have done it justice. You can read the article "Brockley begins to wake up" in full here.

We hope, before long, to be able to share more of South East London's delights with the readers of that blog.

Dentists in Brockley

Can anyone recommend a particularly good dentist in SE4?
According to the Lewisham Primary Care Trust, the following are NHS dental practices in the area:

Mr Page
18 Brockley Grove
SE4 1QY
Lewisham
020 8699 8233

Dr Wahid
349-351 Brockley Road
SE4 2AQ
Lewisham
020 8692 2425

Mr Mehta
76 St Norbert Road
SE4 2EY
Lewisham
020 7635 8899

In total some 22 dentists are listed as working in SE4, across these three practices. Does anyone have experience of them?
If so, please post (appropriate) reviews below.

Edit: Thanks to reader Barry, here is a more complete listing, and below are the names of other NHS dentists working in Brockley and nearby:

L Ziman & Associates Ltd
349 Brockley Road,
London, SE4 2AQ
020 8692 2425

Herring Dental Surgeries
49 Lewisham Way,
London, SE14 6QD
020 8692 3472

CDS
Waldron Health Centre,
Stanley Street,
London, SE8 4BG
020 7771 5870

Dental Care Centre
195 New Cross Road,
London, SE14 5DG
020 7639 3323

John Rohan Dental Practice
70 Deptford High Street,
London, SE8 4RT
020 8692 2597

Lewis Grove Dental Practice
3 Lewis Grove,
London, SE13 6BG
020 8852 4986

The true meaning of Christmas

Whenever we read this kind of debate about which type of middle-class professional is the most morally reprehensible or would constitute an undesirable addition to Brockley's social status-quo, we are reminded of this article by David Mitchell, ostensibly about Christmas, but actually about tribalism reductio ad absurdum among the middle-classes:

"We British love to judge our close class competitors - people incredibly similar to us and therefore most threatening.

"We're quite tolerant of genuinely different ways of life but, for those very like our own but with just a hint of either the stuck-up or common, we reserve our highest octane vitriol. And Christmas exposes so much of this because it's when families revert to type, do what they've always done: by your traditions you shall be judged."

Not all designers are drug-users, not all financiers are evil, not all social workers are dull.

Plans for New New Cross Gate Unveiled

The initial concept designs for a major redevelopment of New Cross Gate have been relesaed by Sainsbury's ahead of a public exhibition.

The development, which Cllr Alexander referenced here, is one of the biggest opportunities in the borough and, if done right, could remedy one of the greatest crimes perpetrated on the urban fabric of Lewisham in many years - the set-back Sainsbury's, petrol station and retail sheds which suck much of the life and character out of this end of New Cross.

The initial concept designs will be unveiled properly in a couple of weeks, but brilliantly helpful Telegraph Hill resident Nick, who will soon be writing for c&binet, sent us some scans of a leaflet that was recently posted through his door.

The plan is to create a new streetscape on the approach to a remodelled Sainsbury's. The scheme is in its early stages and we find it hard to tell how well it would work, but we're strongly in favour of creating new "streets" rather than cul-de-sacs, so that's one thing in this plan's favour. What do you think?

Sainsburysnewcrossgate

Deptford Deli redux

In case you still need another reason to walk to Deptford, there are some lovely pictures of the Deptford Delicatessen here, courtesy of the Deptford Dame.

Another new business for Brockley Cross

Following hot on the heels of Ska Travel, comes a new plumbing, heating and electrical supply shop, which will be opening next door at Brockley Cross, on the site of the former Yana beauty salon.

The site lends itself far more to a DIY / trade shop than it ever did to a beauticians and it's great to see this stretch come to life at last. The dry cleaners also looks set to reopen shortly under the new name "Sam's Dry Cleaners." Given the number of workmen's vans that park nearby throughout the day and its close proximity to the timber yard and Tony's Cafe, the shop would appear to have a ready-made market.

Hilly Fields update

Here is a local PR masterclass from the Hilly Fields User Group.

Step 1: email Brockley Central with news
Step 2: include pleasantries in introduction to brighten our mood on a Monday morning
Step 3: make it easy to understand what story is about by writing a self-descriptive headline
Step 4: write coherent, spell-checked article so BC merely has to cut and paste
Step 5: attach link to new blog about Hilly Fields birdwatching

Progress on Playground

We applied for £50K from the Lottery's Changing Places Grant. Our first stage application has been successful. We now need to prepare a second stage. In order to progress this we needed a survey of the park, a design, costings and a planning submission, along with some community engagement. To help get this done, we applied for a development grant (just under £1,500) from the lottery. We were told we had been successful just before Christmas.
We will now be meeting our development officer from Groundwork to plan the next stage of work and progress our outstanding items.

The grant is also dependent on the user group becoming a constituted group, so that is something else to progress in the next few months.

In addition we have been trying to secure money from central government's play builder funding. The information submitted to council is attached. This was also supported by a presentation two local parents, Ruth and Lee did at end of last year to the Mayor. (they were part of the group behind the petition)

Glendale with the user group are also planning an event in the park to coincide with the RSPB bird survey on 25th January. We haven't finalised the event yet.

As people may have seen there has been some tree work done recently. I met with Sean McBride (the tree officer) in November (I think) to discuss a long term tree strategy for the park. He identified some trees with extensive decay and these have now been felled or had their crowns heavily reducing as appropriate. They have already replaced one tree on the Adelaide Avenue Montague junction. Further tree planting will take place for the other felled trees.

Glendale prepared a management plan for the park, which will be required for the council's submission of park for the Green Flag awards.


Here are the Group's initial thoughts about how the playground would change as a result of the investment, which sound fantastic:

Play in the park currently takes the form of a traditional enclosed play space, focused on equipment, and featuring extensive areas of tarmac and rubber surfacing and excessive railings. The new scheme will aim to make the whole playground more creative and integrated
with the park


• The playground will retain its perimeter fence to prevent access to dogs

• Retain East - West footpath with self closing pedestrian gates

• Create a windbreak across site to help shelter from exposed winds

• The top site will be sensitively designed to incorporate more traditional fixed equipment

• Lower sloping site to be designed with more natural play and an integrated sand pit

• There will be more emphasis on quieter, creative, social play, than is the case at present. This will be achieved by the use of more natural features and surfaces within the play space

• Safety surfacing will be chosen bearing in mind all of the relevant factors, including the activities which are to be catered for. Loose fill surfaces such as sand and play bark will be considered, especially where these can contribute to the play value of the equipment and the surrounding area

• The play space will not be separate, but will be integrated in to the park landscape

• Play equipment will be chosen partly for its ability to harmonise with the park landscape

• Existing play equipment may be refurbished and re-sited within new design

• There will be a minimum water provision of a drinking fountain and a possibility of water play

• The local community and schools will be involved in the new plans with art workshops, creating art work that will be built into the final scheme

Thanks to Rachel for the great work and the comprehensive update.

I Spy #5



Can anyone work out whereabouts in Brockley these two cheeky chappies can be found?

Ska Travel Services, Brockley Cross

Ska Travel Services is the new business that has replaced the Nicki Fiander flower shop (priced out by their landlords) in Brockley Cross. It appears to be in the final stages of preparation prior to opening and there are clear signs of life behind the shutters - unlike many of the "businesses" in that area - so good luck to them.

The travel agency specialises in journeys to Africa, the Caribbean and the US and was formerly based in the Brockley Cross Business Centre, so its opening still represents a net gain of -1 for local busineses operating in SE4.

Help the aged - one time they were just like you

The Brockley Society are looking for people to help out at their Winter Party for Senior Citizens. It takes place on the 31st January at the Brockley Social Club.

They need volunteers for the day itself, but are also looking for donations or just good ideas for the event. You can see more details and get in touch via their website.

Shiny shiny


In Southwark, they have lots of ugly bridges criss-crossing their streets. So they've stuck interesting light displays underneath, like this one, to cheer you up as you pass under the railway track. Even through the greasy, useless lense of our phone camera, see how they sparkle.

We have a few grotty underpasses in Brockley too and nothing but billboards (usually for some evangelical organisation or other) to light our way...

Voodoo ergonomics

While fully sympathising with the thrust of this debate about train provision in Brockley started by Brockley Kate, we look at the squashed faces of our fellow commuters in a different way. The crush is a symptom of success, not failure.

Train services have definitely become more crowded in the last few years - just as they were forecast to. Those who've lived in Brockley longer than us remember the days not so long ago when few people would board or disembark a train at Brockley Station.

These new commuters reflect the changing demographics of the area, encouraged by the imminent arrival of the East London Line. As we said here, it is their spending power which will drive the ongoing regeneration of Brockley long-term. And, lest we forget, they are us. Brockley Nick and Brockley Kate are both relative newcomers who've added to the strain on train carriage space. We did so in-part because we knew a new tube was on its way.

Changes to train timetables take ages to plan and implement. Even in the most positive scenario, we couldn't expect new trains to be scheduled before next summer, by which time, we'll have a lovely new tube service which will deliver a massive capacity boost on the line.

Until then, what option do we have other than to sit tight or travel to one of the several other stations within fairly close reach (St John's, Ladywell, Nunhead, New Cross, Crofton Park, Lewisham)? Kate suggested an alternative to more frequent services - more carriages. We agree that this would help on the evening services, but the morning trains aren't going to get any longer.

There is a third way we can think of. That is to substitute the older carriages for more modern ones. The difference in capacity between two similarly-sized trains is astonishing. The old trains, with their narrow doorways, extra seats and perspex walls allow very few people to stand. The newer designs are a joy - wide doorways and plenty of standing room offer the Brockley commuter a completely different experience. If new carriages can't be purchased and delivered quickly, then our old carriages could be swapped with newer ones elsewhere in the network, where crushes are not a regular occurrence.

Consultation on recreational spaces in Lewisham

Lewisham is asking residents what they think of the provision of recreational space (including parks and other public spaces and sports facilities) in the borough. The form's short and easy to complete and it does ask open questions, as well as multiple-choice, so you can say exactly what you think.

We guess it will help to identify blackspots in terms of provision and also give a clearer understanding of what facilities would most improve people's lives. Of course, it's one thing having the data and another doing anything about it. The promise of a framework for future planning is unlikely to result in anyone building a squash court near you any time soon.

There was quite an interesting discussion on sport provision in the borough here (starting roughly half-way through the comments trail).

From Lewisham Council Press Office:

Lewisham residents are invited to give their views on what improvements they would like made to open spaces, outdoor sports and recreational provision across the borough.

The public consultation, which opened on Monday 22 December, is seeking feedback on parks, natural green-space areas, outdoor sport facilities, provision for children and young people, and allotments. Local people, groups and organisations are encouraged to give their opinion about the quality of the facilities they use at the moment and what their needs are both now and in the future.

The study has been commissioned by Lewisham Council and will be carried out by Strategic Leisure Limited, a management consultancy company specialising in the planning, development, management and evaluation of sport and leisure facilities, services and events.

The consultation will end on Saturday, 31 January with the findings expected to be published at the beginning of April 2009.

The study will provide the Council with a clear framework for planning and future management. It will also provide targets for future improvement and provision, and ensure local needs are met.

Residents can have their say by completing the online questionnaire.

Brockley Central welcomes its 200,000th visitor

It seems like only yesterday we were welcoming our 100,000th visitor, but at some point today, we will host the 200,000th visitor since our records began last year. So hello, we hope you like it.

Recent comments restored

The internet is the best. When a problem with Google's coding caused the recent comments widget to malfunction, bloggers got together on forums and fixed the problem before Google's engineers could come up with a solution. They then shared it with technical incompetents like us and order is restored.

Altruism and co-operation is still more common on the internet than whining and moaning and that ought to give us all hope for 2009. The discussion has also been noticeably nicer on BC recently (without dulling its critical edge), so we'd like to thank you all for that and ask that we can continue in this vein.

Close encounters of the fir kind


Last night, a strange formation of Christmas trees gathered in a corner of Hilly Field, like the Parliament of Trees. Local artist Oskar managed to capture The Happening today.

It's not the first time that aliens have visited SE4, but it's certainly their happiest legacy.

South East London travel update

In this column and in answers to the London Assembly, Mayor Johnson has given the strongest indication yet that the East London Line extension from New Cross to Clapham Junction will get his support:

Valerie Shawcross: If the government does not fill your £15m funding gap will you drop plans for phase 2b of the East London Line Extension to Peckham, Camberwell and Clapham or will you find this sum from within your budget - perhaps from the £19m you have "saved" by dropping plans for a Tram service to Peckham, Camberwell and Brixton?

Boris: I recently discussed the need to fill the funding gap with the Secretary of State and am awaiting his formal response. TfL's current business plan is fully committed but I would continue to explore ways of funding this important link should the DfT not support us.

(Thanks to Pete for the quotes)

Progress on the first phase of the East London Line extension appears to be relatively steady and the DLR extension to Woolwich Arsenal is expected to be completed ahead of schedule, with London Reconnections predicting its opening this month:

At the new Woolwich Arsenal interchange station, the final cleaning and ‘snagging’ is underway. The opening of the extension is planned for 10 January 2009, more than a month in advance of the contracted date of 28 February.

Meanwhile, a slightly confused Evening Standard editorial recently welcomed the news that Mayor Johnson is considering a new river crossing between Greenwich Peninsula and Silvertown. The paper couldn't make up its mind whether it was a bridge or a tunnel they were in favour of, but we can help them with that one - a bridge in that area would be almost impossible and hugely destructive of the masterplan for the area, which is gradually coming to fruition. So we are left with a tunnel. Which is no use for pedestrians, cyclists or the DLR and only suits cars (unlike the Thames Gateway bridge, which would have been mixed-mode). Additionally, its location next to the Blackwall Tunnel would result in all traffic being forced in to the same bottle neck on the south side, as opposed to the Gateway Bridge, which would have provided an entirely new crossing point.

Considering this alternative, those who opposed the Thames Gateway Bridge on environmental grounds might now feel like supporting Greenwich and Newham Councils' bid to get the project back on track.

Other people's armpits

Having just been stung by the New Year fare rises and suffered the oh-so-predictable delays thanks to this morning's snow flurries, now seems as good as any to canvass BCers' opinions about our transport services.
In our experience train services from Brockley Station have become notably more crowded over the past year, possibly due to the closure of the East London Line to create our shiny new tube route, or perhaps it's down to that influx of Guardian-reading mung bean eaters. The morning services are operating at full capacity and then some. With another 18 months to go before the London Overground opens, now would be an excellent time for Southern and South-Eastern to schedule a Brockley stop for a few more of those fast trains that rattle past in the mornings.

Possibly even more important, however, is the evening service. No matter what time it is, from about 8pm through to the last train, services from platform 5 of London Bridge are seriously overflowing. There are always some people left behind on the platform, and - apologies to residents of other locations on the same routes - the trains always empty out at Brockley. With half-hour gaps being the norm from mid-evening onwards, this seriously inconveniences a lot of people on a regular basis. Either we need a few more trains to stop at Brockley, or we need double the carriages on existing services.

BC has listened enviously to other locals' tales of services through St John's, Ladywell and Crofton Park, on which that holy grail - a seat! - can regularly be found for anyone who wants one. We're also aware that there's a strong cycling contingent on here, who can be trusted to turn up promptly to express their incredulity that anyone can consider paying astronomical prices to be treated like a sardine.

So are they right? Are Brockley Station's users the most long-suffering in SE4? What's your view of the area's transport services?

Brockley Station project delayed

We have just received this statement from Lewisham Council concerning the Brockley Station ramp on Coulgate Street:

A Lewisham Council spokesperson said:

“The proposed work to provide disability access from Coulgate Street to Brockley railway station’s ticket office has had to be suspended.

“There was an initial delay in the Council receiving the licence required from Network Rail to carry out the work and the conditions contained in the final version of the licence were not acceptable. They placed too much financial responsibility on the Council.

“We share the disappointment that local people will feel. However, we are hoping that new licence terms can be agreed so that works can begin this spring.”

ENDS

BC hopes that the barriers occupying Coulgate Street can be removed in the mean time.

Lewisham transport history

Want to see what New Cross Gate's tram shelter looked like in 1923? Of course you do.

Click here for the London Transport Museum's Lewisham photography collection. The world looks a lot nicer when you don't litter every view with signs and when you take design for the public realm seriously. We're sure there's a lesson there somewhere, we just can't quite put our finger on it.

With thanks to FabHat for finding it.

I Spy #4


Is this a sentiment most Brockley residents would share? And whereabouts can this intriguing bit of graffiti be found?

Missing Recent Comments feature update

"With all due respect John I am Head of IT and I have it on good authority. If you type Google into Google you can break the internet. So please, no one try it. Even for a joke."

- Jen, The IT Crowd

For those of you missing the Recent Comments feature, we've got to the bottom of the problem. It turns out that BC is a victim of its own success and the collected wisdom of Nobbly, Cat Man, Hugh, Monkeyboy, Headhunter, Fred, et al have finally broken Google itself.

According to the Blogger Help Group forum, we are not alone. Any blog that has recorded more than 5,000 comments has this problem. Google engineers are working on the problem with the feed and hopefully it will be back up and running soon.

Build me up, buttercup

A new year, a new start - and what better New Year resolution for Lewisham Council (and their PFI contractors) than to finish off last year's 'to do' list?


Let's start (and sadly this is becoming predictable) with that wall. You know the one. On the corner of Wickham Road and Cranfield Road. We've written about it before. Endlessly.

It received a bit of festive cheer just before Christmas with the installation of some solid-looking white boarding, but after a good nine months of being tumbledown and unsightly, it remains fundamentally unrepaired.





And another section further down the Cranfield Road side has been unrepaired and unboarded for even longer.



We know a bit about the labyrinthine nightmare of PFI contracting and therefore have a fair amount of sympathy for the frontline council staff who have to try and make this ridiculous set-up work. The experience of the wall has however given us less sympathy for whoever made the decision to go with this PFI contract - and of course for the PFI contractors themselves.

It's not too much to expect, guys, that you might get round to sorting out a brickie or two in the next couple of months, is it? Because I doubt we want to mark the wall's first broken-birthday with cake and party poppers.
But if that's what it takes ...

Congratulations Liz Sayce OBE [Updated]

Brockley resident and Chief Executive of disabled charity RADAR, Liz Sayce has been awarded an OBE in the New Year's Honours List.

Update:

The South London Press also reports that Yana Johnson, the owner of former Brockley Cross beauty parlour Yana (a business which began in Deptford in 2001), picked up an MBE. Congratulations to her too.

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