Greenwich Waterfront Transit Scheme Cancelled

Boriswatch reports that the Greenwich Waterfront Transit Scheme has been canned by the Mayor:

However, lower projections for future fare revenue caused by the deterioration in the wider economy and the drain on TfL’s resources caused by the collapse of Metronet means that some work planned for 2009/10 must be cancelled or deferred until a later date.

This means deferral of works at some Tube stations including the project to install step free access to the Circle and Metropolitan lines at Baker Street.
In addition, the Greenwich Waterfront Transit Scheme will be cancelled given the Mayor’s earlier decision not to proceed with the Thames Gateway Bridge.

When we lived in Charlton we were consulted on the scheme and though it was an undeniably poor substitute for a new DLR link, it would have cut journey times to connect with the O2 and the Jubilee Line and added 40% capacity to existing bus services in a poorly-served area of London.

This is another reason to rue the cancellation of the Thames Gateway Bridge.

Poor old Thamesmead.

The Brockley Housing Market Redux

"Check out Brockley Central for a test case in how a group of committed local people can start to catalyse change and deal with corruption at street-level, not on a “us versus them” level which sanctifies professional journalists at the expense of narratives that actually matter to people."
- Lloyd Shepherd, Head of Future Media Solutions, Channel 4

It's very kind of Lloyd to say so, and we hope we do make a useful contribution to local issues, but there is a time for rigorous analysis of local government policy and there is a time to talk indulge BC readers' other favourite hobby; talking about house prices.

BC regular Headhunter's been stoking the flames on the Suggest a Topic topic thread, but given how long that has become, we have decided to create a new one, to give those who wish to discuss housing market theories the opportunity here. This is what everyone's favourite Dutch-impressionist had to say:

"One of my neighbours on Manor Avenue sold his flat within 40 hours of it going on the market! There was an article on the ES website yesterday saying that th property market is picking up slightly with historically low interest rates."

Crofton Park Spring


Reader Anna sent us some photos she'd taken from her flat to celebrate the first day of spring in Brockley. Here's one.

Now Brockley Central doesn't need any excuse to publish a picture of blossom, but there are a couple of other things to be said about this photo. Note how the pavement is smooth and flat, how the tree helps to break up the monotony of the streetscape and how handsome the bench is. Note also how uncluttered this scene is by signs, paint markings or other assorted civic bumf. The businesses don't block their windows with security shutters and the cars don't hump the pavement.

It is no coincidence that Crofton Park is the most successful stretch of Brockley Road - it is a great environment for people and for businesses which depend on people wanting to spend time there.

One day, all of Brockley will have public spaces like this. Then spring will truly have sprung.


With thanks to Anna.

Royal Teas, Brockley Road [UPDATED]

BC reader "The Oracle" has been tormenting the good citizens of Brockley with conundrums worthy of the Riddler. On this thread, they wrote:

Riddle me this:

Royal but not Windsor,
Tea,
Green but not 'witch',
Coming soon,
Under the Moonbow,
Jake

The answer, as Beecroft Alex was first to guess, is that Royal Teas of Greenwich are taking over the greatly-missed Moonbow Jakes. Royal Teas is an extremely popular Greenwich institution and it's great to see that entrepreneurs from other south east London hotspots are alert to Brockley's potential. That stretch of Brockley has been a sorrier place in Moonbow's absence, so this sounds like good news.

The proprietor Ray responded to our enquiries with this email:

It is true. We are presently trying to get all the paperwork done so we can complete and move into Brockley. We are very excited about this opportunity. We understand that Moonbows was a much loved place and we hope that our presence will not be a disappointment to the people of Brockley.

We hope to integrate into the local community just as Moonbow Jakes did. We would be very interested to hear your readers thoughts on what they would like to see us provide at Moonbows. Opinions on all aspects are most welcome - food / seating / price / garden / decor / drinks / opening times / events ....

As soon as the paperwork is finished I will then have a better idea of our opening date. I will keep you posted.

Thanks and good luck to Ray. And of course, thanks to our mysterious friend 'The Oracle'.

UPDATE:

We've heard from The Greenwich Phantom (the friendly ghost) who confirms that this news represents the best of both worlds - Royal Teas will stay put in Greenwich and expand to Brockley.

Man vs Machine

Geoffrey Road is being dug up and resurfaced today. We mention this for two reasons, one particular to the street, the other a more general point.

Geoffrey Road is officially designated a minor residential road. However, by virtue of the fact that you can shave a few seconds off your journey to Lewisham or Ladywell if you drive up it, it is a major rat run, often clogged with traffic in the morning and evening rush hours. Local residents and the Brockley Cross Action Group have long campaigned for the road layout to be remodelled to reduce stress on this road and the other affected roads in the conservation area. The Council, while sympathetic to the problem, has pleaded poverty.

So while Geoffrey Road is in undeniably poor shape and we do need roads, we do wonder why improving this particular road - thus encouraging drivers - should be a priority at this time, when there are so many other deserving candidates. Why not wait until you have the money to do a proper traffic impact study and give local residents the remodelled system they've been asking for for so long?

The wider point is that, while the road surface is bad on Geoffrey Road, the pavement is many times worse. It is in dreadful condition, sunken in places, covered in broken tarmac in others and with tripping hazards every few feet. It is not one of the pavements targeted for resurfacing by the Council for the foreseeable future.

Geoffrey Road is not exceptional - many of Brockley's pavements are in very poor condition. Rather than relaying roads that we are trying to discourage drivers from using, why can't we spend the money relaying pavements that we do want people to use?

The shameless middle class food thread

BC reader Swifty was inspired by a thread in the Guardian to say:

Nick we need to have a thread like this on Brockley Central and it's best to deal with the discomfort head on and entitle it. "The shameless middle class food thread".

Now, we have never seen any comment from a BC reader that's remotely comparable to overheard comments like "the children are getting upset. Quick, where are the grissini?" or "they only have a middling Chardonnay in the mini-bar."

However, we understand that some people do regard anyone who wants more from their food than to be able to transport it in a greasy card box with a picture of a chicken on it as an insufferable tosser and an endless source of amusement. So, for those people, who are unable to distinguish between food sense and middle-class sensibility, we are happy to oblige.

Dirty windows, rotten scoundrels

Nish sent us this scam alert:

On March 25th, I was the victim of a window cleaning scam on Tyrwhitt Road. We were caught off-guard and persuaded to part with £10 to a man on the doorstep who said he represented a company who usually does all the buildings on the road.

Stupidly we paid upfront and of course realise now it was a complete scam. We wanted to share this with other Brockley residents as we would hate to think an elderly or more vulnerable person could be conned in this way. The man is very convincing.

Bridge House Begins


While the east side of Brockley Station is being torn up to create the first phase of the Brockley Common project, the west side is being torn down as the development of Bridge House finally gets underway.

Scaffolding has crept up the walls, preparing the way for the building to be dismantled.

Bridge House will be similar in scale to the Tea Factory redevelopment and is one of the most signficant development opportunities in Brockley. The building will add a bit of life at street level and the development should improve the access corridor on the west side of the station, which many people find intimidating at night.

The planning application describes the project as:

"The demolition of the existing building at Bridge House 4 Mantle Road SE4 and the construction of a five storey block, incorporating balconies/terraces, comprising 356 m² commercial floor space (Use Classes A1, A2 and/or B1) on the ground floor and 16 one bedroom, 17 two bedroom self-contained flats and 1 three bedroom self-contained maisonette above, together with refuse and cycle storage."

Lewisham Council today confirmed that the construction programme has begun.

London Assembly calls for further East London Line expansion

Following the recent announcement by Mayor Boris and the Department for Transport that phase 2 of the East London Line would get the go-ahead, the London Assembly has asked for a Phase 2+.

Phase 2 will complete a new orbital rail route for London, but according to Construction News, the London Assembly wants a new spur to Brixton and a station at Surrey Canal Road, to ensure maximum benefit from the line.

Brockley v The G20

RICH -They are very tasteful drawings, Stu, and I'd ask you this question: Who is the real sick man in this so-called society?
Is it the ordinary, normal man who gets some harmless pleasure from stalking five innocent young women, and then possibly sending them drawings - that he's done himself...

STEW -You are sick!
RICH - Let me finish, Stu!
...of his winkie, depicted as a dragon. They're very tasteful, like a Marillion sleeve.

STEW -You are sick!
RICH -Is he the sick one in this society? Or... is it the businessman in his suit and tie - drawing up his expense account?
STEW -Well... it's the first one, Rich. It's the dragon-stalking-winkie bloke. That one, he's the sick one. The businessman has done nothing wrong.
RICH -Well, in that case, yeah. That wasn't a very good example.
STEW -You chose it!
RICH -Well, I didn't think it through!

- Richard Herring, Stewart Lee

While some in Brockley concern themselves with dog-poo stencils, traffic-calming measures and tree-planting, others will settle for nothing less than the overthrow of capitalism and an end to globalisation.

BC reader Graeme spotted this report (latest report, 09.45) on last night's BBC London News.

"If you were just passing by, you'd never guess that this rather grand house on this rather leafy street in Brockley was in fact the headquarters for the four horsemen of the apocalypse."

With that opening, the journalist strides in to a conservation area pile that Hugh has probably been circling for some time, but which seems to serve as the base of operations for a campaign led by Professor Chris Knight of the Radical Anthropology Group, who has been a fairly regular fixture on the news in recent days, as the "Capitalism isn't working" campaigners threaten to disrupt the build-up to the G20 summit in London (well, Watford).

We were pleased to note that the house did not appear to have a satellite dish or any uPVC window frames.

South London Press promotes the Coulgate Street petition


Not that we have given Cllr Walton guest-editorship of Brockley Central today, but here's another bit of news courtesy of his blog.

The Coulgate Street petition features in this week's edition, with Erin from BXAG and Dean presenting the case for pedestrianisation.

We have nicked this scan of the article from Dean's blog.

The number of signatures has now reached 151, only 49 short of the target of 200 which the BXAG are hoping for. Please sign-up now.

The Hobgoblin - New Cross Councillors call for license review

Cllr Dean Walton has blogged about New Cross pub The Hobgoblin:

Following complaints of noise nuisance in the Telegraph Hill area, the three Ward Councillors for the area, Cllrs Page, Flood & Cross, have called for a review of the for the Hobgoblin, a sports & music bar opposite New Cross Gate Station.

The complaints have been documented over a large period, but are understood to have started when the current licensee took over the premises - and probably coincide with the smoking ban.

Read the rest here.

Lewisham Litter Picks

Recently, the Campaign to Protect Rural England called for the revival of Saturday litter picks, to combat a 500% growth in litter on Britain's streets since the 1960s.

We asked Lewisham whether they facilitate this kind of work and the dutiful Cllr Walton passed on a reply from the Council's Strategic Waste & Environment Manager who said that they can and do:

My team can facilitate community litter picks (we do a health & safety talk too), as well as provide equipment - brushes, litter picks, bags, shovels etc. Colin Sandiford in my team looks after this side of things, but if he's not around then I'd be happy to assist too.

If anyone wants to organise one, please email BC and we will pass on your details to the Council. We may even join in.

The Bicycle Thief

Aaron writes:

"I found an abandoned bicycle child seat in telegraph hill park at the weekend and from the condition (pannier rack cut through with bolt cutters) it seems likely it was dumped after someone stole the bike to which it was attached.

I was wondering if you could put a notice on the blog to see if anyone wanted to claim it as i know they are quite expensive.

If someone emails me with an accurate description of the seat they can come and collect it, otherwise I guess I'll use it myself."

The Crystal Palace Children's Book Festival, 24th-26th April

The Crystal Palace Children's Book Festival is organised by children's author and illustrator Alex Milway, writer of the Mousehunter books, which apparently all the kids are in to these days.
He's blogging about it here, but the event promises book signings, exhibitions and workshops hosted at the Upper Norwood Library, Smash Bang Wallop art gallery and independent bookshop the Bookseller Crow.
Thanks to Rosemary for letting us know.

Franklins, East Dulwich

157 Lordship Lane London, SE22 8HX
020 8299 9598

We tried this restaurant for Mother's Day. However patriotic we may be about Brockley, there is nowhere local that really fits the bill.

Parisien brasserie-meets-farm shop decor and hearty menu. The waiters were helpful and efficient despite the fact that every table was full and the bar area was heaving.

We had the roast beef and the sweet potato and courgette bake, followed by chocolate nemesis and the rhubarb pavlova. All were yummy, although the Yorkshire pudding was a little crispy for our taste. They could do with some form of children's menu too.

Epilogue:

The arrival of spring has prompted us to visit the East Dulwich garden centre several times in the last few weeks. Lovely though it is, every pound we spend there is a pound we wish we could spend in Brockley - a place with so many keen gardeners and without a major garden centre anywhere nearby.

Flow Family Learning Open Weekend, New Cross, 28-29 March

With thanks to Luke.

Spanglishtown, East Dulwich

Spanglishtown - English / Spanish exchange
The Magnolia, 211 Lordship Lane, SE22 8HA
Wednesday, 25th March, 7pm-9pm / MiĆ©rcoles 25 marzo 19.00 – 21.00

English classes – intermediate and advanced 7 - 8pm (£1-2)

Clase de espaƱol – nivel intermedio 8pm – 9pm (£4, mas o menos)

Francesca, the organiser of these classes has been in touch:

You very kindly posted some details for Language Lounge before and we found our two fantastic French teachers that way, so thank you very much.

I would be very grateful if you would be so kind as to post these details of a new Spanish/English exchange sessions we're starting in East Dulwich. The English class starts first from 7pm-8pm and then the Spanish class runs from 8pm-9pm.


I know it's not in Brockley but it's the nearest one and we have several members from Brockley, and even as far afield as Hither Green.

Readers can check out the Language Lounge website for details of how to join us.

Bomb damage Brockley

Olly wrote to us recently with a great find for BC's many local history enthusiasts:

I was doing some random internet searches and I came across these maps, outlining the WW2 London bomb damage, which I thought Brockley Central readers might be interested in. The ones below cover most of SE4:

Brockley, Ladywell, Hilly Fields, Nunhead

New Cross, Deptford, Nunhead, Brockley, Telegraph Hill

I found it fascinating to look up my street and see the carnage that was caused and get some insight into the cause of new builds sandwiched between Victorian housing stock.

This site outlines the details of the V1 and V2 bombs incidents that the SE4 residents had to endure (including a couple of strikes on my street: Endwell Road).

Thanks to Olly for the email.

Coulgate Street campaign goes mainstream

Sorry to bang on about the Coulgate Street petition but tomorrow The Mercury is sending a photographer to do a piece about the campaign, so the more signatories we can get before the journalist writes the story, the better.

Cllr Dean Walton has arranged a photoshoot with the petition, so please sign it by clicking here.

At the time of writing, we have 117 signatures, the target is 200.

Thanks again.

Lewisham frees the streets

Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.

For some time, Brockley Central has argued that the Council should review whether the pedestrian railings on Brockley Road can be removed. More widely, we believe that clutter is a curse on our city and our lives. We've written about the experiments in Hackney and Kensington & Chelsea, which have yielded positive results and asked why Lewisham can't follow their lead. Well now we're going to.

When Cllr Alexander undertook her walkabout with BC readers and representatives of the Brockley Cross Action Group and Broc Soc, we discussed the issue and she later vowed to pursue it, to see whether any action could be taken.

Yesterday, Cllr Alexander told us:

"I asked officers to look at the work that had taken place in Hackney and to give me some idea of whether we could take this forward in Lewisham. The result is a report which will be going to Mayor and Cabinet next Wednesday.

"I guess you might find it somewhat disappointing that we haven't as yet identified resources to do the work in Brockley, but I think the report does give a clear statement of intent about the fact that we recognise that some stretches of railing are probably redundant and once a safety assessment is completed, we would like to remove appropriate sections. We will be piloting such a scheme in Ladywell in the next year and I will keep pressing officers about finding the resources do something similar in Brockley."

The report nicely sums up what we've been rambling on about for some time - namely the pointless, counter-productive nature of many railings scattered about London:

"When used appropriately, guard railing can reduce the risks for vulnerable road users. Unfortunately, following many successful applications, there has been a tendency to over-use guard railing in the wrong places.

"Too much separation of pedestrians and vehicles can lead to higher speeds. Some research has shown that in these circumstances some drivers think that there is less risk of conflict with pedestrians, and hence feel more secure.

"Poorly located guard railing may result in pedestrians being trapped on the carriageway or deter them from crossing the road altogether. The siting of some guard railing necessarily increases the distance people have to walk and some will choose to go around the barriers instead.

"Guard railing can be extremely unsightly, as well as cluttering the streetscape. Improving pedestrian accessibility and the public realm is essential to help maintain the vitality and viability of our town centres and other important areas.

"Some highway authorities have already started initiatives to get rid of surplus guard railing. The London Borough of Hackney has commissioned environmental consultants “Urban Initiatives” to set out a methodology for its removal. Transport for London has developed a safety engineering-led procedure for possible guard railing removal and has implemented a number of schemes on major arterial roads such as dual carriageways. In contrast, the Hackney approach attempts to design out guard railing by using alternative measures. This may, of course add cost to the exercise. Such approaches may need to be used in more complex situations and would bedependent on sources of funding being identified."

The report concludes that Lewisham should avoid using railings except in rare cases where there is a clear, demonstrable need:

"There will be a general presumption against the use of pedestrian guard railing on Lewisham’s roads. Only where it is necessary to avoid trip hazards or there is no reasonable alternative safety solution should it be considered. In those cases, the length of guard railing used should be the minimum necessary.

"As part of the process of de-cluttering the streets, existing lengths of guard railing will be reviewed as opportunities arise. Some guard railing does have a part to play in improving the safety of our road network and a blanket removal of it could be counter-productive. However, it is clear that significant reduction of guard railing can be possible, without impacting on safety."

It also recommends the removal of railings in Ladywell and Brockley, subject to appropriate safety reviews. Conducting a saftety review in every case is obviously extremely important. Brockley Central has no wish to increase the prospects of us, our family or anyone else getting hurt or killed:

"The use of guard railing is discretionary, not compulsory. In the Ladywell area a safety audit/assessment completed by TMS Consultancy, a safety engineering organization that is associated with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), has been used to find how useful the existing guard railing is, and the scope for removing some sections without compromising user safety.

"Working with this report LB Lewisham engineers will carry out further inspections in the Ladywell area to identify the lengths of guard railing that could be removed as part of maintenance activity.

"TMS also undertook a further study in the Brockley area of the Borough and the results of this will be considered by officers, together with observations from monitoring the proposed guard railing removal in the Ladywell area, and will be fed into any future scheme development in the Brockley area. Such a scheme would require specific funding and is likely to involve further comprehensive assessment method. Such a process has been developed by both TfL and LB
Hackney and it is intended to draw on both of these sources."

"Although there are plans to remove surplus guard rail in Ladywell as part of general highways maintenance, and as part of a controlled trial, there is no current budget provision for work in other areas . Removal of pedestrian guard rail in other locations would only be implemented as and when resources could be identified, both for the assessment and for the physical removal."

"The removal of some pedestrian guard railing at Ladywell will be carried out as part of the 2009/10 maintenance programme and will be funded from the footpaths maintenance budget. Any further significant removal of guardrails will require funds to be identified."

And not only does removing railings have the potential to improve safety and the appearance of our streets, it could also lead to cost significant cost savings in the longer term:

"Removal of guard rails may reduce expenditure on the replacement of damaged sections in the localities where the removal has taken place. In 2007/08 the Council spent an estimated £30,000 across the whole Borough in reinstating guard rails damaged in consequence of vandalism and road traffic collisions. It is not known how much of this expenditure took place in the study areas."

So while it would have been nice to see action being taken in Brockley immediately, it's great that Ladywell is first on the list and that Brockley is close behind. It's great also that there is now a clear policy from the Council that they will consider the negative impact on the public realm whenever railings are considered and that they have a clear preference for railing-free streets. It's a small but important step toward making Lewisham a more civilised, people-friendly part of London.

Thanks to Cllr Alexander for taking up this cause and for keeping us posted on progress.

Now, about those dog-poo stencils...

Please sign the Coulgate Street petition



The Brockley Cross Action Group (BXAG) is campaigning to have Coulgate Street part-pedestrianised. The issue's discussed on this thread, but already 93 people have signed the petition and Councillor Dean Walton has offered to present it formally to Council.

Although the images above are not connected to the proposal (they're a figment of a BC reader's lovely imagination) they do show how the street could be transformed with a simple part-pedestrianisation.

The BXAG is hoping to reach 200 signatories, so please show your support.

Thanks.

Reason #945 why Brockley Cross needs ripping up and starting again

Posted anonymously on this site, here is the UK cycle accident map, which shows Brockley Cross recorded two incidents (as did the area around the junction of Adelaide Avenue and Brockley Road and Crofton Park Station).

Brockley Mews: Black Holes and Revelations

We keep meaning to write up our experiences at the Brockley Assembly, which will have you all on the edge of your seats. However, one particular issue was raised during the meeting, which deserves special attention.

We were part of a group which discussed how to improve the physical fabric of Brockley. One person raised the issue of the various mews in the area.

Whenever we do take a detour down one of them, we're always struck by how other-worldly they are - hidden little parallel universes of workshops, back gardens, fill-in housing and smouldering piles of embers. Despite being privately owned, they feel lawless and anarchic, which is all very thrilling for mews-tourists like us, but less fun for those who live there.

Residents of many of the area's mews have been faced with a long-running struggle to protect their streets from fly-tipping, illegal fires and other forms of anti-social behaviour. In some cases, they've tried putting gates up to reduce rubbish being dumped, but the gates are often left propped open by resident businesses, which are also believed to be the source of many of the fires.

When residents have turned to the Council for help, they've been told that as the mews are private land, there is relatively little that can be done - that the best course of action is for local residents to form local action groups, record incidences of anti-social behaviour and address their concerns directly to the owners of the offending businesses.

But the gentleman on our table gave a very convincing account of why the neighbourly approach doesn't work. Essentially, the problem is that some of the businesses don't see that they have a responsbility to maintain the mews. Industrial areas and residential areas generally operate to different standards and for the business owners, the mews are a place of work, not homes. Residents who complain are dismissed as cranky locals - it needs official intervention.

It cannot be right that the Council should turn a blind-eye to illegal refuse fires simply because the mews are private - businesses still have to conform to environmental standards and the issue is more accute precisely because of the mixed character of the mews.

The group's conclusion, recommended at the Assembly to Councillors Johnson and Walton was that the Council should write to all businesses operating in Brockley's mews to remind them of their responsibilities and warn them that they have received repeated complaints from multiple residents. From now on, there will be a zero-tolerance approach to enforcement of environmental regulations. Businesses that cannot respect or adhere to the rules risk having their license to operate withdrawn.

We hope that this is one recommendation that is treated seriously by Council officers.

Bone Marrow Donors Needed

The Anthony Nolan Trust and Crossways Academy are launching an appeal to encourage residents from Brockley and the surrounding area to register as potential bone marrow donors in a bid to help save the life of one of the thousands of patients currently looking for a match.

Every 21 minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with a potentially life threatening disorder, like Leukaemia or aplastic anaemia where often the only chance of a full cure is to have a bone marrow transplant. Fewer than 30% of these patients will find a family member with compatible blood stem cells to donate. For the rest, an unrelated donor is the only chance.

If you are aged 18-40 and in good health please come along to:

Crossways Academy, Sprules Road, Brockley, SE4 2NL
On Wednesday 18th March 3.30-7pm

To learn more about what's involved with donation, click here.

To read about people who've been donors, click here.

BEEP

As Magi white gives way to Broca green on Coulgate Street, Broca-owner Erin has been in touch to explain what's happening.

As we wrote a while back, Magi's move to Brockley Road cleared the way for the expansion of the cafe, which often has more customers than it can comfortably accommodate.

But this is no run-of-the-mill extension, as Erin explains:

We were able to sort all the issues involved with moving in to Magi's old premises and are going to open in 3a Coulgate Street as a Not for Profit called BEEP (Broca's Everyone's Enterprising Project). It will be used as a social enterprise hub for local residents.

We'll bring you more details soon.

The Ladywell Village Improvement Group - March 18th, 2009

The Ladywell Village Improvement Group is an organisation dedicated to improving the streets and main public areas. Partly-inspired by the success of the Brockley Cross Action Group, it based on a simple but effective model in which a long-term vision for a small but strategically important part of the area is complemented by smaller goals which can be achieved quickly and without major capital investment.

LVIG has already organised a successful Christmas market and is now looking for volunteers with energy and ideas to join them at their next meeting:

The St Mary’s Centre
Ladywell Road
Wednesday 18 March, 7.30pm

Everyone is welcome - bring a friend and see how you can get involved in building a better future for Ladywell.

Or come along to the second LVIG benefit evening at Ladywell Tavern on 21 March.

Brockley: Food of the Reality TV Gods

Our two greatest passions are Brockley and reality television. With The Apprentice due to return shortly, Wednesday nights will become a dead zone in terms of BC updates. BC Twitter, on the other hand, will go in to meltdown.

But what if this conflict could be resolved by somehow merging these two things - if someone could make a reality show starring SE4. Wouldn't that be the best thing ever? Yes, it would.

Well, according to the brilliant Fabhat, this perfect storm is heading our way soon. She writes:

Thought you might like to know that the 1.65 mill house on Wickham Road hasn't been bought (by Hugh), but is being used for a BBC reality TV show.

For the last few weeks streams of trendy student types have been in and out of there filming each others every move. We though it must just be some wealthy Goldsmiths student degree film, except for the legions of Toyota Prius taxis waiting outside for hours - too many even for a rich student's budget.

Anyway today we had a BBC researcher knock on the door and ask if we minded if one of these kids knocked on the door and offered to do some cleaning for us, as they're all on a budget and need to earn some cash. Sadly, we had to turn down the offer from "Seano" the domestic cleaner to come and help out.

Will keep you updated - what I really want to see is a Brockley Come Dine With Me - mung beans and fried chicken surely?

So it seems we can look forward to "Seano" joining the likes of Richard Newman, Lee Mead and that guy who bought a Brockley flat and moved to the east coast on Location, Location, Location in the Pantheon of Brockley's reality TV gods.

Ladywell Ward Assembly

A quick reminder, courtesy of Cllr Ute Michel that the Ladywell Ward Assembly takes place tomorrow. She writes:

The next meeting of the Ladywell Assembly does not have a formal agenda but it is a social event which provides an opportunity to find out what’s happening in Ladywell ward, get information about local services and meet other residents. Local groups and services will present themselves at stalls and will be available to answer questions and provide further information about their activities.


It is going to take place this coming Saturday, 14 March – please pop in at any time between 11:00 and 13:00 in the new science block of Prendergast School on Adelaide Avenue (not in the main school building in Hilly Fields) for a chat and a cup of tea.


We hope to get around to our write-up of the Brockley Ward Assembly shortly.


Brockley restaurant renovations

La Lanterna, the often-overlooked Brockley Road restaurant is currently "closed for refurbishment". The decor is absolutely fine and was only refreshed less than two years ago, so we hope the refurbishment focuses on the kitchen.

Brocklies Nick and Kate have had contrasting experiences there, but the general consensus seems to be that it could do better. Let's hope this move means they're planning to raise their game.

Meanwhile, Long Time Cafe is being remodelled, so that the table seating is removed and greater emphasis is placed on takeaway customers. Their cooking is badly missed at BCHQ, so we're counting the days until it reopens.

Where d'you like them apples?

The Council would like Brockley Central readers to help it identify possible sites for a new community orchard in Brockley.

Here's the note of explanation from Cllr Dean Walton, who's also blogged about the issue.

One of the proposals for the Localities Fund was to establish/look at a Community Orchard. There were some big questions we had to answer before we knew whether it could be viable and as a result I proposed that we undertake a 'feasibility study' to set out answers to these questions and perhaps propose something that could ultimately be used as the basis for a bid within the mayor's fund supported by the Brockley Assembly.

We've got to the stage that within money available for the study £500 it will not be possible for 'site identification' survey to be included. However there would be enough money to review a named site or two in detail...here comes the Brockley Central Blog.


Do you think your readers would be interested in suggesting sites for a community orchard? I will probably cover the same issue on my blog at some point soon - and we can co-ordinate. I will also see if I can do some limited publicity around the parks/noticeboards if necessary.

The idea for an orchard found a lot of support during last year's Localities Fund debate and it would be a welcome addition to Brockley's growing list of green assets. We like the idea of a Brockley apple juice stall at future Summer Fayres, produced and sold by local school children.

We've asked Dean to tell us how big a site we need, but the example he references in his blog is home to 200 trees and 30 fruit bushes. We imagine Brockley's would need to be considerably smaller.

Are there any sites in need? At the recent Brockley Assembly, the old tennis court site on Lucas Street was mentioned as a semi-derelict area in need of conversion. That would be our suggestion.

Sapporo Ichiban, Catford

13 Catford Broadway, Catford, SE6 4SP
Tel: 020 8690 8487

BC review to follow, please post your comments and reviews here.

Broca and Shop on the Hill celebrated

It was the BC wot won it! At least, we hope readers' votes helped the Broca and the Shop on the Hill scoop 4th and 5th places for Brockley in the annual Lewisham "Who do you love?" awards.

The winners are chosen by the public in recognition of the fond places they occupy on our high streets.

First place was taken by the excellent Lewisham Sausage Man, second place went to Sapporo Japanese restaurant in Catford and third place went to Barbados Hair Salon in Honor Oak.

Congratulations to both Brockley businesses and to the other winners.

With thanks and best wishes to the wonderful Armpit Vale, who spotted the story.

The Telegraph Hill Festival 2009

The Telegraph Hill Festival, March 13th - 29th 2009

Highlights of this year's Festival include a community production of the Threepenny Opera and a 'promenade performance' called Making a Killing but the programme includes everything from a cake sale to a comedy night.

Most of the action takes place at venues like St Catherine's Church, Hatcham Oak Children's Centre and Narthex (part of the Telegraph Hill Centre). For the weekend of March 21st / 22nd local artists will stage an Open Studios event.

This year, Brockley venues have joined in, with Tea Leaf Arts opening the Brockley Cross Gallery for an evening show (March 20th, 6pm-8pm) and Crossways Academy staging an eclectic evening of Thai Boxing followed by poetry and music (March 20th, 7.15pm-11pm) as well as a young talent showcase (March 16th, 7.00pm-9.30pm).

Download the full programme here.

New Cross Co-Op Housing

As anyone who watches films will tell you, Co-Ed housing is about non-stop keg and toga parties and getting one over on the crusty old campus Dean.

We don't know if that's also true of the Co-Operative housing movement, but we like to think so.

With that in mind, here's an email we got recently:

We are a small housing co-op in SE London that is soon to have a vacancy in a 4 bedroomed family house.

We are looking for interested families who want to live in a co-op and believe in its aims and will be willing to be involved in its running who would like to apply for the vacancy.

We are advertising this vacancy to other co-ops that may have people wishing to relocate as we feel this will be a good way to ensure the people applying have a good understanding of and willingness to be involved in co-operative living.

We are also looking for places to advertise the vacancy that will link us with people in the local area that are looking for co-operative housing and wondered if it would be possible to put something on your site? If people want to get in touch, they can email me here.

Thanks,

Jo Ryan - Secretary, Dennetts Housing Co-op, New Cross, London

Cobblers

They're turnin' kids into slaves just to make cheaper sneakers,
But what’s the real cost, ‘cause the sneakers don’t seem that much cheaper.
Why are we still paying so much for sneakers when you've got them made by little slave kids!?
What are your overheads!?
- Flight of the Conchords


Does anyone know if you can get shoes re-soled in Brockley please?

Summer Fayre - Help Needed

The co-ordinator of the Hilly Fields Summer Fayre has stepped down, following the success of last year's event, meaning that Broc Soc need to find another volunteer in order for this year's Fayre to go ahead. The event is undoubtedly one of the highlights of Brockley's year and helps to raise funds to support the work of the group.

Here's the request from BrocSoc:

Hilly Fields Midsummer Fayre

Saturday 20 June 2009 – 12 noon to 5pm
This is Brockley's central event - and enormous fun. Join the team to make it another successful day! We still need an overall coordinator for the large number of people who run the Fayre each year.If you would like to take on this role, or if you just wish to help, please contact Clare on 020 8692 3829

For all stall enquiries, see www.brockley.com/brocsoc/

Tickleme down with a feather

It's open! By God it's open. The Brigadoon of Brockley Cross is serving jerk bagels. In case we have to wait another hundred years before it opens, we have composd a haiku to describe what we saw this day:

A counter with food.
A breakfast-bar arrangement.
Customers buying.

Stuff happening soon

There are a few things happening in the next few days to tell you about:

1. Frendsbury Community Garden Workshop, March 7th 2009. 11am-2pm. Learn how to plant garlic, sunflowers, onions and other nice things. From there, head over to...

2. Brockley Ward Assembly, St Andrew's Church, 2pm-4pm, March 7th

3. Brockley Ukes play the Amersham Arms Sunday night, March 8th

4. Brockley Max, Aquarium, Harefield Road, 8pm, March 12th

Transition Towns - Brockley

"What about this dang environment? Back in Texas, we got rid of it, and made everyone a lot happier."
- Tex, The Simpsons

The Transition Towns movement is coming to Brockley, securing the coveted keynote address at both of Brockley's premier forums, which for some reason, happen to be on the same night. At 8pm on March 17th at the Brockley Social Club, Fran Edwards will address the Broc Soc meeting to explain what becoming a Transition Town would mean for SE4. At exactly the same time, Alona Sheridan from 'Transition Lewisham' will be electrifying the Brockley Cross Action Group's AGM at St Andrew's Church.

"Transition Towns" is a grassroots political movement, which believes that resource scarcity and climate change mean that localisation of economic activity is both essential and inevitable.

Now, it would be easy to poke fun at an organisation which takes five paragraphs to explain why its organisational structure is like a cell and which quotes Victoria Safford as if she were some kind of authority on something or other (what do you mean you don't know who Victoria Safford is? She's the minister of the White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church, in Mahtomedi, Minnesota and the author of "Walking Toward Morning." That's who.). But just because an organisation carries woolly, new age baggage doesn't mean that it's not capable of coming up with some interesting ideas. In fact, it would be quite possible to strip away all the ideology and be left a laundry list of good projects to spend money from the Localities Fund on.

We asked Fran Rogers to give us some examples of the kinds of things that Brockley's Transition Town movement could result in. Here's what she said:

"The main one that comes to my mind would be matching up unused garden spaces of all types with gardeners keen to grow veggies etc. Plenty of scope there. Also, implementing practical and achievable ways to cut down our carbon footprint, and looking for appropriate alternative energy sources for the area. The idea is also that it should be a shared and fun experience.

"I've also heard from Sue Luxton that there is a proposal for a community orchard in Brockley which sounds like a great local initiative.

"Food and energy are probably the main areas, but being at such an early stage of the Transition process I'm a bit reluctant to make statements. The ideas come from people themselves and it's very much a grassroots movement."

If you want to learn more, head along to one of the meetings or click here for the Transition Lewisham website.

Late night Brockley

The new management of the Aquarium - widely regarded as having improved the place since they took over - have applied for a late night alcohol license.

This doesn't come as a huge surprise as Aquarium seems to be pitching itself as more of a bar that does food than a restaurant that you can get a drink at. The front room has largely been cleared of tables and the other night we passed by as one of the salsa classes they have recently introduced was going on. The management is clearly working hard to make the place (which struggled as Ecosium) a success.

This part of Brockley desperately needs a good alternative to the Barge and we don't forsee a license extension causing an epidemic of anti-social actitivity, so BC would be in favour.

Applied for sale of alcohol on the premises Monday – Sunday 10:00 – 03:00, Provision of Regulated Entertainment and Provision of Entertainment Facilities Monday – Sunday 09.30 – 03.30.

Current Licence

Alcohol – Monday – Sunday 10.00 – 23.00
Regulated Entertainment – Monday – Sunday 09.30 – 23.30


What do you think?

Pavement

Sue Luxton's written that Tressillian Road is due to be repaved and has compiled a list of the area's other paving issues which she's keeping an eye on.

Brockley Road, Greatfield Close, Brockley Grove / Huxbear Road and Ladywell Road are among those on her list of offending roads.

We've already had one twitterer lobbying for Geoffrey Road to be resurfaced, so which roads are the most in need? In addition to endorsing the Geoffrey Road nomination, we'd like to suggest that the pavement outside the Tea Factory is an absolute disgrace, particularly as there ought to have been an obligation for the developer to finish the pavement properly as part of the building works.

London Borough Council Tax Changes

What do Kensington & Chelsea, The City of London and Tower Hamelets (home of Canary Wharf) and Lewisham have in common? They are the only inner London boroughs to have approved significant Council Tax increases for 2009 / 10.

Brockley Kate has rustled up a spreadsheet, which lists all of the London Borough's Band D Council Tax rates and 2009/10 increases.

Lewisham passed a 2 percent rise, but not to fund the Green New Deal. Green Ladywell will be blogging about what the money will get spent on instead shortly.

That 2% increase is significantly higher than the London average of 1.23% and way above the inner London average of only 0.34%.

It also secures Lewisham's position as the most expensive billing authority for Band D rate payers in inner London. The average Band D rate for inner London is £1,115, Lewisham's is £1,352, higher than the London-wide average of £1,308.

Given this, it ought not to be too much to hope for that we could find some investment for Coulgate Street.

The full list of billing authorities looks like this:

Local Authority / Band D increase / Band D average £

[Inner London]

City of London / 2.11% / 942.79
Camden / 0.00% / 1,331.58
Greenwich / 0.00% / 1,290.85
Hackney / 0.00% / 1,308.27
Hammersmith & Fulham / -2.21% / 1,146.71
Islington / 0.00% / 1,248.23
Kensington & Chelsea / 2.28% / 1,092.27
Lambeth / 0.00% / 1,235.11
Lewisham / 1.92% / 1,351.93
Southwark / 0.00% /1,221.96
Tower Hamlets / 1.69% / 1,195.34
Wandsworth / 0.00% / 687.07
Westminster / 0.01% / 687.84

[Outer London]

Barking & Dagenham / 0.00% / 1,326.22
Barnet / 2.19% / 1,423.02
Bexley /1.98% / 1,427.00
Brent / 1.92% /1,368.76
Bromley / 2.04% / 1,288.98
Croydon / 2.99% / 1,447.71
Ealing / 0.00% / 1,369.75
Enfield / 1.93% / 1,410.16
Haringey / 1.54% / 1,494.14
Harrow / 2.32% / 1,496.37
Havering / 1.89% /1,511.00
Hillingdon / 0.00% / 1,422.75
Hounslow / 0.00% / 1,400.47
Kingston-upon-Thames / 3.21% / 1,630.78
Merton / 1.95% / 1,432.16
Newham / 0.00% / 1,255.45
Redbridge / 2.12% / 1,405.35
Richmond-upon-Thames / 3.46% / 1,597.21
Sutton / 2.26% / 1,450.71
Waltham Forest / 1.49% / 1,462.03

Please sign the Coulgate Street Petition

In the last few days, we've had confirmation that Brockley Station will be refurbished, Brockley Common will be completed and Dandelion Blue is reopening shortly. By the time Brockley joins the tube network in little over a year, the area will be transformed.

But there remains one missing piece in the jigsaw. Coulgate Street itself. As the centre of Brockley's emerging commercial hub and the gateway for most visitors to the area, Coulgate Street is of vital importance to the area. But at present, it's jammed with cars, squeezing pedestrians on to cramped pavements and limiting the street's potential as a focal point for the community.

With a few quick, easy and cheap improvements, these problems could be solved. The Brockley Cross Action Group would like to create a pedestrian-friendly street by building a shared surface, lined with new street trees and new restrictions on parking. These restrictions could be introduced without having to bring in a Controlled Parking Zone for the wider area.

As part of this campaign, they have asked Brockley Central to create an online petition, so readers can register their support for the plan. Here is the petition - please sign it.

When Cllr Alexander visited the street with us last year, she and her team of officers immediately ackknowledged the challenge and agreed that action should be taken. This petition will be presented to Lewisham Council by the Brockley Cross Action Group in order to help turn sentiment in to action.

Thank you for showing your support.

And while we're talking about registering for things, please join the Brockley Central twitter at http://twitter.com/brockleycentral

Taking stock at Dandelion Blue

"A guy works all day, he don't want to look at his plate and ask, "What the fuck is this?" He wants to look at his plate, see a steak, and say "I like steak!""
-Pascal, Big Night

Even since it closed three months ago, Dandelion Blue remains considerably cheerier than many of the shops in Brockley that claim to be open for business.

Its unshuttered, untroubled windows expose as a fallacy the idea that shops need heavy steel shutters to protect them from vandals and thieves. Its stacks of jars and bottles still look tempting whenever we walk past and its powder blue, zinc and wood stylings are what we wish our kitchen looked like.

If it were never to reopen, we should preserve it as the museum of gentrification and a monument to the optimism of 2007. However, the signs are that it's about to spring back to life, which is further good news for Coulgate Street, following the recent confirmation that both the common and the station will be drastically improved in the coming months.

A number of readers have seen stock taking going on and Tyrwhitt Ali writes here that:

The staff were doing a stock take today and the "for sale" sign has gone. A judicious bit of earwigging tells me that the new owner intends to "run it pretty much as before".
We hope we'll hear from the new owners soon.

Brockley Station - Wish List for TfL

As we reported here, the Brockley Cross Action Group has been asked to submit its wish list of improvements that it would like to see at Brockley Station once TfL takes control of the site in September 2009.

Here's the list they've submitted - Stuart from the group has explained that if there are any good ideas that BC readers would like to suggest, it may be possible to submit a supplementary letter:

Key Improvements - General

  1. Safe and welcoming access from Mantle Road as well as Coulgate Street (Brockley has 2 sides!)
  2. Provision of a paper recycling bin on Mantle road side of the footbridge (for those who exit station via the ticket hall and then go across bridge to Mantle Road).
  3. Making safe earth slips at either end of platform 1. At northern end of platform one the platform width is dangerously reduced by a slip.
  4. New and/or additional seats, particularly at London end of platforms 1 and 2 and in the ticket hall.
  5. Refurbished waiting shelters that shelter, i.e. have windows and a door
  6. Large new station signs at both ends of Coulgate Street with Brockley Road
  7. Indicator board that informs passengers how long the train will be and clearer signage as to where different length trains actually stop (on platform surface).
  8. Removal of bin by bike shelter in front of platform 2 exit as it always overflows.
  9. Regular cleaning of drain near bike-shelter (which often blocks up)
  10. More CCTV if we have to.

Access Issues

  1. Option to use level entry and exit to platform 2 from street at all times, not just when station is un-manned.
  2. Easy access to platform 1 from local footbridge and Mantle Road side of Brockley i.e without going up 1 flight of stairs and down an other flight of stairs (lots of people travel to and from Brockley with suitcases, pushchairs, and wheelchairs).
  3. Removal of rickety Victorian passenger footbridge and use of a double width pedestrian bridge for all train passenger and pedestrian movements.

Maximise Synergy with Brockley Common Development

  1. Urgent re-positioning of main door to ticket hall to the East Elevation to make use of new level access and to avoid the current passenger congestion and conflicts in front of the current door.
  2. External cladding in a sustainable wood on East and North facing elevations of ticket hall (as previously discussed with Southern Rail and Brockley Common Partnership).
  3. Removal of hording that disconnects passenger on platforms 1 and 2 from viewing and enjoying new Brockley Common planting.
  4. Agreement of new signage positioning with LBL/Brockley Common Partnership
  5. Bulb planting in grass embankments along platform 1 and 2(after deep clean) in association with Brockley Commoners.

Brockley Ward Assembly, March 7th

Ward co-ordinator Sarah has been in touch to tell us the plan for the next Brockley Ward Assembly, Saturday 7 March, 2pm – 4pm, at St Andrew’s Church Hall, the corner of Wickham and Brockley Road, SE4 2SA.

She writes:

What is happening at the meeting on 7 March?

1. Taking forward our priorities

At our third meeting in March we will look at our priorities in more detail and begin to develop solutions and project ideas, some of which might be projects suitable for the Mayor’s Fund. The Brockley ward has £50,000 of Mayor’s funding to spend by March 2010 on its ward’s priorities. Projects are to be developed and decided through the assembly.

2. Planting new trees in Brockley

Discuss where you would like to see new trees planted in Brockley, funded by the 2008/09 Locality Fund

3. Find out what’s happening in the Brockley ward

There will also be a Community update item, which is an opportunity for anyone at the assembly to let people know about events, news, or activities happening in the ward. If you have anything to update the community on please let us know at the meeting.

4. Establishing an annual Brockley Assembly Coordinating Group

The Assembly will in future have responsibility for deciding how the newly-swollen localities fund is allocated, so they will have a budget of £50,000 to play around with.

Lewisham Greens propose "Green New Deal" for the Borough [Updated]

Lewisham's Green Party Councillors are currently promoting their ideas for the upcoming budget. They write:

"On 2nd March, Lewisham Council meets to consider its budget for the next municipal year. Labour is proposing a business mostly as usual budget, with a number of cuts to services, and a 2.5% council tax increase... Greens have proposed a detailed amendment to the budget, reversing a swathe of the most damaging cuts to services, while proposing a package of investment to to fight recession and climate change together, while creating skilled local jobs. For further details, see here."

The big idea is helping thousands of people across the borough insulate their homes and finding an energy company partner prepared to provide match-funding as part of the work they are required to do under the government's Carbon Emissions Reduction Target rules.

They add:

"The plan would pay for free loft, cavity wall or boiler insulation in 25,700 private homes across Lewisham. That means all private homes in Lewisham which need insulation - but which do not qualify for free help under schemes for the elderly and those on benefits - would get it free of charge."

As a flagship policy, it seems pretty smart. There's a whole host of other ideas here, most of which involve preventing or reversing cuts - we hope one of our regular Green contributors will explain what will have to be sacrificed in order to do all this and balance the budget.

The term new deal suggests this budget would provide some kind of localised economic stimulus to "fight recession", which is a bit of a grandiose statement for a balanced budget from a local Council. The Greens also claim that Council Tax is regressive, which it isn't. It's a progressive tax on wealth, rather than income. Both wealth and income contribute to a person's standard of living and income is already taxed. Someone living alone in a massive house is also likely to generate a much larger CO2 per capita footprint than a family of four living in a small house, so you'd think Greens would be happy for some of the burden to fall on wealth, rather than people's salaries.

Still, these quibbles aside, it's interesting to read some specific proposals and the Greens go to far greater lengths than any other party in Lewisham to communicate their ideas. Even if you don't agree with them, they deserve credit for taking local politics so seriously.

[Updated] The Lib Dems alternative is to freeze Council Tax at current levels. Their rather brief rationale is:

"Times are tough for people in Lewisham at the moment, and the Council needs to play its part in making life easier for residents in the Borough. The Lib Dems are proposing a 0% council tax freeze in Lewisham this year, as opposed to Labour's 2.5% hike."

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