Campaigners launch petition against Ladywell camp site

Residents of Church Grove in Ladywell have launched a petition against the Council's plans to develop a camp site at the end of their road. They say:

This is absolutely not about prejudice towards travellers. It is about access, safety and common sense. The proposal is simply absurd. Travellers' caravans are typically 2.55 m wide. Access on our road is 2.5 m. The site is on a flood plain, in a conservation area and can only accommodate five pitches. It does not meet the needs of travellers. 

http://www.savechurchgrove.com/

75 comments:

Anonymous said...

What is the traveller population of Lewisham?

Is there a site already?

ladywell dweller said...

Surely, when there was a school at the end of the road there were vehicles needing access throughout the day?

The travellers presumably won't be trundling their caravans up and down the road as it's a fixed site?

So is there evidence that a site there will bring an increase in traffic compared to when there was a school there?

I live in Ladywell by the way, and shop at Els Kitchen, so you may draw conclusions from that if you wish.

Anonymous said...

Are there alternative sites available?

How many 'travellers' does Lewisham have?

Could they live in regular council housing?

D said...

Sorry, but "This is absolutely not about prejudice towards travellers" is just not true - if it were a community of nuns who wanted to use the site then you can guarantee there wouldn't be a campaign group trying to stop it.

Anonymous said...

If nuns had a reputation (deserved or not) for noise, mess and criminality then you'd have a point but as it is...

Anonymous said...

How many 'travellers' are thee in Lewisham?

Is there provision already? What is wrong with the current provision?

What is wrong with being housed in council housing?

lucky heather said...

When they say "This is absolutely not about prejudice towards travellers", then, in a way they are correct, I don't agree with what they've said, because it is about nothing *but* prejudice towards travellers, however, this isn't a valid point that the Council can use not to put travellers there, so, the question remains, why mention it at all? And again, because this is the only *real* point that the objectors are objecting to.

Hugh said...

When did gypsies become travellers? Lots of people travel these days but don't go around pitching tents in other people's front gardens.

Anonymous said...

"if it were a community of nuns who wanted to use the site then you can guarantee there wouldn't be a campaign group trying to stop it." - there would if I lived there

D said...

anon 15:40 - er, penalising a group of people based on 'a reputation' sounds like prejudice to me. They may have a point, but pretending that's not what its about doesn't really help anyone.

Lets Have Democracy said...

I am a resident of Church Grove and just for the record in reply to Ladywell Dweller, there were huge problems of access (See pictures on website) for buses when it was Watergate School, leading to strained relations with residents. This was one of the main reasons for the school relocating. I also refute D and Lucky Heather's claims, the issues we raise are about planning and how we have been treated by the council.

Here is an extract of a letter I have sent to the local press explaining why we are so angry:-

"After four years of torment and stress regarding the previous attempt to put the Traveller site here, we were told in writing from Malcolm Smith (Head of Regeneration, Lewisham Council) that when the previous planning permission lapsed in April this year it would not be considered again. At the time of this decision we were actually very advanced in plans with other departments in Lewisham Council to use the site as a Community Garden with written interest shown by a local nursery,primary and secondary school and other local groups.

The decision to reconsider the site was taken at the Mayor and Cabinet meeting on Wednesday 5th October. No one from the Council or any of the local Labour councillors, one of whom definitely had prior knowledge, bothered to inform any of the local residents and neighbours of the site. We only found out when a local reporter visited the street to interview residents. Even with less than two days to prepare local residents mounted a robust argument against these plans at the meeting. i.e narrow access, health and safety and conservation planning rules etc. However it was nodded through by the Mayor, no debate, no vote, no democracy. The report prepared for the Mayor by officers was riddled with misrepresentation, meaningless statistics and untruths to favour the Watergate site, with no other sites considered.

The level of anger in the local community is higher than at any point over the the whole period of the last attempt and this time people are refusing to be bullied, lied to and marginalised by Lewisham Council and the Mayor."

Our MP Joan Ruddock supports us because it is an unsuitable site due to access. This is only back on the agenda because Steve Bullock and the council are embarrased to be the only London Borough without a site and see us as a "soft" target.

its a shame said...

Pretending that a certain group of people come with issues doesn't help anyone either.
I live a couple of doors away for a hostel for ex dependency homeless in the C-area. We regualrly (and I repeat regularly) have noise issues, street fights, scremaing matches on doorsteps, broken windows etc etc. Moreover a recent spat of car window smashing and damage resulted in one of the hostel members ending up in court.

I'm not sayingthere does not need to be provision made; but let's not pretend these places don't broing issues

Anonymous said...

I think it's a shame that they have to say "This is absolutely not about prejudice towards travellers". I see nothing wrong with saying it absolutely IS about "travellers". Why can't we have a sensible debate about the lifestyles of travellers and the impact that it can have on settled communities?

Anonymous said...

Hey D, if you like them so much, why not let them live in your garden.

Anonymous said...

so it's decided. D's garden will be the new site. Very well volunteered.

capacious passage said...

the simple answer to the Church Grove problem would be to disallow any kind of parking over its entire length - presumably the present limited parking arrangements can be a cause of friction amongst residents so with this solution we have a win-win-win situation - no more arguing over parking spaces, plenty of width down the entire street for any kind of service, and room to allow the travellers to come and go with their wide loads to their hearts content.

so be careful with your limited arguments protestors, there is a simple solution and one that the Council could pull out of the hat at a moments notice

Anonymous said...

I'm also a resident of Church Grove. Just because the claim is that this issue is not about travellers, doesn't mean it 'absolutely IS'. Sometimes, it's felt this has to be stated, simply because if it isn't, the automatic assumption is that the street must be acting from prejudice.

And yes, a sensible debate is what we'd like. But that's what we tried to have with the Council last time. It failed to happen and it wasn't until too late that we learned the real reason, which is that the Council is not actually interested in helping the gypsy/traveller community in Lewisham. It has obligations to, which is different. It is also currently embarrassed at being the only London Borough without a travellers' site. It's further embarrassed at having spent a lot of money previously on plans, reports, etc, for this site, all of which failed to spot the most basic of flaws: that the only access is too narrow to take a typical-sized traveller caravan and truck. It's also demonstrated double standards towards travellers in a) not including them in its original plans for regenerating the centre of Lewisham, and b) in ignoring its own consultants' advice that the best site was the lorry park in Catford, which just happens to be overlooked by the town hall. It's now tried to manufacture a 'need' for a site which, even a cursory glance at its surveys will show, doesn't exist.

As Let's Have Democracy points out, we've had plenty of problems with large vehicles down the street. My neighbour's garden wall was heavily damaged by a goods lorry recently. Another resident had his car dented by a lorry. The pavement was nearly destroyed by council lorries clearing the old school from the site, along with cracks appearing all over our houses from the heavy traffic. And none of these vehicles was as wide or as long as a typical traveller caravan and truck.

As for nuns occupying the site . . . I wasn't aware that nuns like to drive around in huge caravans but if say the Pope pimped his Popemobile into a big truck and trailer and wanted to visit, then we'd be protesting against that too.

Lets Have Democracy said...

In reply to Capacious Passage, no the council can't. They need a period of notification and consultation. How would it go down in the media if we lost our long standing parking to allow another community to be able to park. Not well I suggest. It would also have to be part of a planning process, in which we would have a strong case for loss of amenity to our street.

Anonymous said...

There a number of places in North Deptford that could be alternative sites. Also some places elsewhere in the Borough.


But why can't they be housed in council housing or a housing association?

Anonymous said...

I frequently encounter self-identified members of the Traveller community through my work and (in my experience) most of them don't want to live in council housing - so whatever we might surmise from that, it isn't necessarily a question that's going to gain much ground. It's a bit like asking why the (hypothetical) nuns that've been mentioned can't all just live in caravans... I doubt we would expect them too for our own convenience. Oversimplified analogy, I know... But there's definitely a whiff of prejudice floating through this thread.

Anonymous said...

So the travellers don't want to live in houses. That's fine. But then why should they live in Lewisham?

I would like to live on Hampstead Heights. They don't have any houses, or even housing plots, I could afford, so I don't.

Why are do Councils feel that they should provide special sites for the travellers, but not for me?

Anonymous said...

what is wrong with going to work and buying your own piece of land where to keep your motorhome?

Why do we have to assume that is either free land or a council flat?

Anonymous said...

Anon said: "What is wrong with going to work and buying your own piece of land where to keep your motorhome?"

Nothing provided you are buying it AND you get planning permission for the piece of land to be used to store a motorhome and you also get planning permission to live in it. Equally there is nothing wrong with existing residents objecting to the grant of planning permission as they can for other cases of change of use of any land.

Is this what is happening here? Are the travellers buying the land and seeking planning permission?
I didn't think they were.

Anonymous said...

hi Brockley Central, the residents of church grove don't have a racist/prejudiced bone in their bodies - They are nice people who just want to be treated fairly by their elected councillors and Mayor, who have only been sneaky and outright mean in their treatment of these hard-working tax payers. There will be many more meetings coming up, and they are turning to other friendly neighbours like yourself for support in fair treatment, maybe it'd be great to meet Church Grove residents for a beer or coffee, and hear their story/4-year battle first hand?

Anonymous said...

The issues about travellers' rights is very interesting and worthy of debate. I live in Church Grove too and feel that what needs to be also debated is Lewisham Council's irresponsible planning - as this is what we are so very angry about. We feel that the Council have not considered the Travellers' needs right from the start. Surely they could have included a new purpose-built Travellers site in the new Gateway development, which would have really shown that they care. The residents of Church Grove and the surrounding area have a long story to tell, which is unfolding on the web site www.savechurchgrove.com. The site at the end of Church Grove contravenes the Government guidance on the development of new Travellers' sites. Presumably that guidance exists in order to safeguard Travellers and the local community against health and safety risks. I urge you to visit the web site, which is having information added to it daily and to sign the petition so that the Council have to listen to what we have to say. I would suggest that the Council have not had the Traveller's interests at heart from the very start of this process.

Anonymous said...

I've visited your website and I think you're digging a bigger hole for yourselves. And, in agreement with an earlier message about the width of the road and parking provision I took the trouble to walk over the end of church grove on my way back from Lewisham.

The road is approximately 4 metres wide, and width 1 metre (approx) pavements on either side this gives a total of 6 metres (approx) - ample width for whatever access is needed.

Residents have no right to expect to be able to park outside their houses and I think the Council would be well within their rights to enforce a no parking zone within church grove, thereby solving all the problems at a stroke with the exception of the intolerance of the residents towards travellers.

If one was to accept that the width restriction is the prime reason for the objections from residents and if this is ruled out by this simple piece of road management then what remains to protest against is the inability of the Council to act clearly and legally (you can bet they've got their legal teams crawling all over it) and just not wanting travellers at the end of the road.

We all know this is the real reason, and any pussy-footing around it is a mass denial by the residents involved.

And I say this because I had the misfortune of travelling back from charing cross on the ladywell train within earshot of a person who I know is a resident of church grove. What he was saying and the tone of his language left me in no doubt whatsoever that, for him, the travellers are the real issue and certainly he was expecting any available measures to be used to reach the aim of keeping them out.

Jeremy Broome said...

In response to the previous anonymous. We the residents of Church Grove have to pay to park. To lose our parking is a serious loss of amenity, which is a serious planning issue. With parking, the road is only 2.5m wide (a Fact) (not wide enough according to Government planning guidelines)_ another perfectly legitimate planning issue. As for the last paragraph; hiding behind anononymity with your slander is a cheap shot. Have the courage to come and meet the residents of Church Grove to voice your opinions, rather than posting tittle tattle and hearsay.

Anonymous said...

I'm a resident of Church Grove. Unlike Anonymous who says there is ample space for vehicles, we KNOW that one of the pavements is of an illegal width and we KNOW the exact width of the road. This narrow pavement is mounted by lorries, including the former Watergate School coaches because of the narrowness of the road. We KNOW that we do not have the right to park in Church Grove, nor expect to. Church Grove comes within CPZ B and is used by non-Church Grove residents and illegal parkers. If parking was banned there would be more pressure on the surrounding CPZ B. Perhaps those with that bright idea will think that over especially if they come within Zone B. Bear in mind also that travellers are entitled to a dedicated parking space alongside that for a mobile caravan.

Anonymous said...

Actually, 6 metres is not 'ample' width; not for the 14ft clearance required for transporting a mobile home on to the site. As for using the pavements - you're ignoring the fact that telegraph and other poles stand on them - which effectively reduce thes road width to your 4 metres, or around 12 ft - two feet narrower than required.

Residents may have no right to parking, but I don't see how the Council will be acting within current government guidelines, to ensure that the needs of both communities are met, and that they're able to work together, if it removes them. Harmony won't be helped, either, with the travellers given parking spaces (as the first set of plans provided). So I'm not sure how this is 'solving all the problems at a stroke'; rather, it's creating more.

Whatever you believe, the fact is Church Grove residents have concerns around health and safety, conservation and access. At the very least, the Council has to identify a need for a travellers' site if it's to defy these concerns. But their own recent drop-in meetings and surveys only showed that in fact there is no need. Only 9 travellers attended the first meeting; none came to the second; one to the third. Out of a traveller population of 490 only 11 survey papers were returned. 7 of those 11 said they were happy in social housing; the other three did not say they wanted to live on a pitched site. How is that the basis for need; to spend a lot of public money in building a site large enough for only 5 families, when there aren't even any travellers who want to live there anyway?

Mary Sledge said...

Thanks to Capacious Passage for your advice on access(?!?) You're right they should all give up their cars and travel on the train with anonymous eavesdroppers. Anonymous Eavesdropper - are you Steve Bullock by the way? 'Cause I think you have a little agenda. Come on Church Grove - WALK your children to the local Children's Centre (oops the council closed it down).

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said: "Surely they could have included a new purpose-built Travellers site in the new Gateway development, which would have really shown that they care."

Why should the Council use my money to provide purpose-built sites for travellers? Why don't the travellers buy their own sites, get planning permission for it and then use it?

Brockley Nick said...

"Surely they could have included a new purpose-built Travellers site in the new Gateway development, which would have really shown that they care."

The Council are trying to regenerate the centre of Lewisham via the Gateway and they are struggling to find a developer that can raise funds to build it. I doubt introducing a site for travellers into the masterplan would further that cause.

hardlianotion said...

Nick, are you suggesting the travellers have an image problem?

Brockley Nick said...

I'm suggesting that when you are trying to make the numbers work for an ambitious (in some ways) redevelopment of a dying town centre, there are lots of things you wouldn't use up valuable land on. A camp site for travellers is one of those things. Seems like a pretty obvious point...

NAT said...

I would imagine that if the report suggested that the most suitable site was the one in Catford (overlooked by the Council offices) and this, far less suitable one, was that proposed by the council, that there were grounds for judicial review. Any of the legal eagles who post on here care to give their opinion?

Bored and tired said...

To be perfectly frank, I wouldn't want a traveller site at the end of my road either. The real reason would be that they're an eyesore and I'd be worried about the mess, the noise and the effect on my house price. I, too, would try to find more 'legitimate' reasons to complain about it and fight the council over it.
But am I missing something? Surely they would only need full access along the road once, when they first move into the site, and once when they leave for good, which could be several years later? They're not going to take their 5m-wide mobile home out every time they go on the school run or nip to JD Sport for a new tracksuit. So it wouldn't be THAT much of a hardship for residents to move their cars on those 2 days. And I bet they still think it's OK to get their anchovies delivered on great big Ocado lorries.
I think some of their other arguments are much stronger - i.e. the travellers don't even seem to want the site; it's a huge amount of expense for the council to go to for only 5 families; etc.

Morning all said...

"...And I bet they still think it's OK to get their anchovies delivered on great big Ocado lorries..." is that one of them straw men arguments?

4m wide road (excluding pavements) said...

"the travellers don't even seem to want the site"

yes, they have been given a warm and inclusive welcome up until now . . .

Bored and tired said...

Well, travellers aren't exactly renowned for being warm and inclusive towards the more conventional community either.

Bored and tired said...

@Morning All, I guess I'm just trying to make the point that when it suits the residents, it's OK for large vehicles to come down the street. As I also said, I don't blame them at all for trying to find arguments against the proposition, but they need to stack up. I may of course be doing them an injustice - they may have an agreement that nobody indulges in online shopping so as to avoid inessential traffic.

Danja said...

I would imagine that if the report suggested that the most suitable site was the one in Catford (overlooked by the Council offices) and this, far less suitable one, was that proposed by the council, that there were grounds for judicial review.

Not necessarily so at all. JR is generally about the decision making process rather than the merits of the decision itself.

The council couldn't ignore the report and what's in it (as that would be a stupid way of going about the decision making process) but the council is entitled not to follow the report's recommendations if it reaches different conclusions.

That has to be so, a democratic institution (like it or loath it) can't have all its power and authority handed over to the report writer every time it commissions a report.

Mindthegap said...

To answer a couple of points:

"But am I missing something? Surely they would only need full access along the road once, when they first move into the site, and once when they leave for good, which could be several years later? They're not going to take their 5m-wide mobile home out every time they go on the school run or nip to JD Sport for a new tracksuit. So it wouldn't be THAT much of a hardship for residents to move their cars on those 2 days. And I bet they still think it's OK to get their anchovies delivered on great big Ocado lorries."

When the Council first proposed a site at the end of Church Grove, it argued along these lines, because, it said, we're relocating Lewisham traveller families who have been in Lewisham for many years. These are travellers, they said, who don't travel (they really did say this). However, what they failed to take into account is that even travellers on fixed sites like to occasionally travel with caravans and receive guests with similar. Also, there was no reason to expect that new families wouldn't want to move on to the site permanently at any time.

Now, the situation is very different anyway. Lewisham's own needs survey found that there is a 'high degree of mobility' amongst the borough's travellers, i.e. people who like to move homes regularly. This means that the site on Church Grove will not need to be accessed just twice - once when all the families come in and once when they all leave. Travellers, we've learned, like to rent mobile homes when they move onto a site, which means our road will have to be cleared of traffic every time a new family moves in.

On us picking and choosing the large vehicles that we want to see in Church Grove . . .

Actually, it never suits us to have a large vehicle come down the street. The Council dustcart is a worry every Friday, in that it always has to squeeze through the tight gap (as photos on our website show). The Council's own demolition waste lorries did a lot of damage to the street (having to run along the narrow pavement every time). It's a little silly to suggest that if we have shopping delivered we're being hypocritical. Apart from the fact that supermarket vans are smaller than a caravan/truck, we have disabled and elderly people in the street, as well as mothers with young kids, who sometimes need to have goods delivered.

Mindthegap said...

"The council couldn't ignore the report and what's in it (as that would be a stupid way of going about the decision making process) but the council is entitled not to follow the report's recommendations if it reaches different conclusions.

That has to be so, a democratic institution (like it or loath it) can't have all its power and authority handed over to the report writer every time it commissions a report."

I work for the government and sometimes have to sponsor research reports to inform our decisions. If we paid public money for consultants to produce a report then ignored its findings, we'd be rightly stamped on. What is the point in paying good money for expert opinion, then deciding you know best anyway? And, sorry, but the Council did behave in 'a stupid way' because it did ignore the chief finding of its report: that the Lorry Park in Catford was the best option for a travellers' site.

Democratic institution? What's democratic about ignoring your own expert's advice, ignoring the legitimate concerns of the citizens you (sorry, the Council; sure you have nothing to do with them) are supposed to represent, ignoring the your own needs assessment and making the decision you always wanted to make in the first place? It's also ludicrous to say that an authority is handing over its power to the report writer. No one is suggesting that (apart from you); what's being said is that the Council ignored expert advice because it didn't hear what it wanted to hear from said experts.

Mindthegap said...

Oh, and by the way . . .

The Council is already behaving improperly, by cherry-picking bits of its old reports on suitable traveller sites in support of what is actually a new planning application. For example, the main reason it gave for ignoring its consultants' recommendation of the Catford lorry park was that the Thurston Road travellers felt that site was too far from their current amenities like schools, doctors, etc. Apart from the somewhat questionable nature of that as a valid reason, it does not apply in the new circumstance anyway, since the Council has no idea where travellers will relocate from to Church Grove - if it can find any who want to go there, of course.

We're angry that the Council is about to make a decision based on old criteria that was itself based on faulty research.

Danja said...

If we paid public money for consultants to produce a report then ignored its findings, we'd be rightly stamped on.

Maybe in the press/minds of the public, but not in the courts - subject to reasonably careful caveats I have outlined.

What is the point in paying good money for expert opinion, then deciding you know best anyway?

A fair question, but "expert opinion" is something which should inform, not determine, public decisions.

Generally, there is no reason to take such a hostile tone.
Someone asked a lawyer to comment on whether the decision was prone to JR simply because there is a report in existence which recommends another site.

The answer is no, unless you can show that the council did not take the content of the report into account in reaching their (different) conclusions.

If they did, the court will not interfere with the decision of a democratic institution (I repeat, like it or loath it) simply because some expert reached different conclusions - to do so you would have to get over the irrationality hurdle which is most unlikely to succeed.

It doesn't mean you have no grounds for a JR, it just means that you will need more than just the fact of an expert's report recommending another site to get one off the ground.

Sorry if that all makes you angry. It isn't intended to.

Danja said...

Oh, and by the way . . .

These were not mentioned in the question which I was answering.

Those are the sorts of argument which would fall under the penultimate paragraph of my last post.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone else has mentioned this - probably for fear of being labelled prejudiced by the PC brigade - but I fear for the River, which runs along the back of this site. All available evidence (incl. from the previous Lewisham traveller site, which I observed on a weekly basis from Platform 1 of Lewisham station over the years) is that dumping is a common feature of such sites. The Ravensbourne is clean now, but for how long?

Mindthegap said...

Thanks for replying in detail. I apologise if my tone comes across as hostile. I'm not angry; just exasperated.

"It doesn't mean you have no grounds for a JR, it just means that you will need more than just the fact of an expert's report recommending another site to get one off the ground."

But we believe we do. Yes, guidance is just guidance but we get frustrated that the sheer amount of common sense and guidelines ignored by Lewisham Council doesn't seem to have any cumulative value.

For example, their original plans ignored over a dozen recommendations in the government's guidance for gypsy/traveller site plans (same guidance still stands today). To take just two examples . . .

Traveller sites should have two points of access. At first Lewisham proposed building an extra access point via a bridge over the river, through the Wearside Road depot. In essence, the depot said no way would they have traveller traffic coming through their space. So then the Council proposed buying and demolishing two houses in Wearside Road, and making a second access point that way. This didn't pan out so they simply said, Well it's just government guidance, so we'll just have the one access. This point accumulates, of course, in light of the fact that the one point of access is not wide enough.

Second, government guidance, quite sensibly, recommends that traveller sites should have easy access for emergency vehicles. We pointed out (and there is photo evidence on our website) that there have been times when fire engines cannot get down the road and have to run hoses from the end of it. The Council said the local fire officer was content this would not present a problem (not sure what travellers would think) and, hey, it's only guidance anyway. Let's just hope there isn't a fire on the weekend, when the hydrants in Ladywell Road are almost certain to be covered by cars parked by people attending events in the Community Centre.

Similarly, with the Council's own rules for conservation areas: that nothing should be built next to one that isn't in keeping with it. They argued before that their expensive eco-hut designs for the travellers would blend in with the surroundings (although they never did say how caravans would manage to do this). This argument is further weakened of course by the question of whether they even have the funds this time for eco-huts and, if they do, the validity of splashing out at a time of cuts and shortages.

". . . but "expert opinion" is something which should inform, not determine, public decisions."

Yes, but our argument is that a) it didn't inform the decision last time, at least not in key areas, and b) they need new expert opinion this time, since the circumstances of the site options have changed; also the needs of the site occupants has changed (in essence, from some to none - but also in the details).

NAT said...

@Danja, the phrase about an authority taking into account that which it shouldn't, or failing to take into account that which it should, in judicial review, stuck in the mind from a nightclass I took many years ago. (and little else)

I thought that it might fit the Church Grove situation.

Thanks for the clarification.

Bakerloo said...

"What's democratic about ignoring your own expert's advice, ignoring the legitimate concerns of the citizens you (sorry, the Council; sure you have nothing to do with them"

Because we vote for our representatrives, we enpower them to make the decisions - democracy. We don't vote for the 'experts' nor do we hand over power to the expert who had the cheapest bid for the study.

By the way, is the PC Brigade the ones who wear Courdroy in Lou's tiny mind? Or are they an imaginary construct to rage against for those who can't be bothered to look at a case based on it's merits?

Mindthegap said...

"Because we vote for our representatrives, we enpower them to make the decisions - democracy. We don't vote for the 'experts' nor do we hand over power to the expert who had the cheapest bid for the study."

You seem to be arguing that once someone is elected or given a position of authority, they are no longer accountable. No one's talking about handing over power to experts. What we're saying is that a local authority's decision is questionable when it is based on it having ignored expert advice, government guidelines and its own guidelines in several specific areas. In short, we don't empower them to make wrong, misguided or possibly self-serving decisions.

Anonymous said...

@Mindthegap, it seems to me that you have a pretty good case. I'd be amazed if the council kept on pursuing it. Is it still very likely that they're going to press on with such a flawed approach?

Headhunter said...

Wow, the council REALLY wants to push this through at whatever cost it seems! They were willing to buy up 2 houses, demolish them and create a 2nd access point? How much would that have cost? Gotta be at least £250k each for the houses and then the extra expense of creating the access road - so getting on to £1m? And they wanted to build eco huts"... How much does an "eco hut" cost...? I wonder why the council is quite so keen on this!

Bakerloo said...

Yes, they are accountable. To us. Who are the 'experts' accountable to? To whoever let the contract, not to the electorate. The MP's and Councilors excercise authority on our behalf. Otherwise where wouyld we be? I'm sure I could commision an expert with a different opinion.

As Churchill kind of said, "democracy is the worst system ever divised, except for all the others ever tried"

NAT said...

@Bakerloo, they make decisions on our behalf within limitations, guidelines, whatever. You ignore that fact.

Mindthegap said...

"Wow, the council REALLY wants to push this through at whatever cost it seems! They were willing to buy up 2 houses, demolish them and create a 2nd access point? How much would that have cost? Gotta be at least £250k each for the houses and then the extra expense of creating the access road - so getting on to £1m? And they wanted to build eco huts"... How much does an "eco hut" cost...? I wonder why the council is quite so keen on this!"


Well, I think costs play a big part in why they're so keen now. We weren't able to get figures out of them before because they argued it would prejudice the tender process for building contractors. We've put in a FOI request now, since that project was abandoned. But there's no doubt they spent a lot of money on architects' plans, demolishing the school on the site, and much more. In their minds, we believe, much of the money spent so far will not be wasted if they stick with Church Grove. Similarly, they'd get criticised if they go somewhere else, for having already wasted money on another site. Which of course is a long way from the recommended 'need' they're supposed to demonstrate.

Bakerloo said...

Yes, obviously. I thing Danja made the point that they don't have to follow the conclusion of any report, you are free to not vote for them next time. The Government ignored the reclasification of drug report, they have and will ignore reports from all sorts of people whether or not they commisioned the report. If your objection is only that then you have no case.

Councilors are elected to lead not to read*

(*ref, The Simpsons)

NAT said...

@Bakerloo, I wouldn't be in the least surprised if I didn't have a case, as I wasn't trying to make one.

You didn't seem to be aware that the council had to act within restrictions even though it has a mandate from the electorate.

I'm pleased that this is obvious to you. It is largely these restrictions that might come up for discussion I would hazard.

Lets Have Democracy said...

In reply to Bakerloo, if you think Lewisham councillors lead, this not the view of the residents involved in this case. If they lead why didn't they have the courtesy to inform the residents that this plan had been resurrected as they promised they would. We found out from the Newshopper not our 'Civic minded' leaders. The whole reason they want to put the site here is because they gave into demands from the developers of Lewisham Gateway not have the site there. We have heard they also gave into threats of violence on the Dressington site and intimidation on the consultation for the Catford site. Lewisham council wants to put the site here because it is a "soft" target.

Anonymous said...

To be honest I wouldn't put information provided by The Newshopper high on the credibility list.

Tired, Frustrated and Stressed said...

In response to some of the points in the many comments here, I feel that perhaps the residents of Church Grove are being unfairly prejudged by others. This is small street - 20 houses and is a friendly mixed community with all ages and various nationalities. There is some social housing in the street as well as private rents.We are not very far from Ladywell Road, one of the busiest roads around, with the regular sound of sirens from the nearby hospital, police station and fire station. St. Mary's centre opposite us holds regualr events and cars associated with the events park all around, often on the pavement and frequently blocking residents cars in. We have the old Play Tower opposite too which at some point will become a building site and also very nearby a large vacant site that is soon to have flats built on it. To add a travellers site at the end of the road will add to the congestion problems we already have. It is hard to convey the very real stress this has put on local residents - travellers are not the only people who get depressed and ill.

Lets Have Democracy said...

"To be honest I wouldn't put information provided by The Newshopper high on the credibility list"

In response, not sure what you refer to exactly, but the News Shopper were very accurate in informing us in the street of the this whole thing starting up again and the Mayor and Cabinet meeting to be held 2 days later. As regards the other information we have been part to, this was not provided from the News shopper.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what a traveller is? If I got a caravan could I live there?
I have traveled extensively...

Anonymous said...

Travellers are bad enough but I'm not having nuns in the neighbourhood...

Brockley Nick said...

Travelling Nuns = nuns on the run?

Anonymous said...

nuns on the run?
travelers who don't travel?
whatever next?

val said...

No one seems to know there was a travellers site in Lewisham until recently, near where the new station staircase is on Thurston Road. There were built units, and services laid on. I don't know why the Council decided to transfer it elsewhere - are they going to let their rich benefactors build expensive apartments there?

The inhabitants were not "gypsies", but what is generally known as Irish tinker families. It wasn't unusual to see skinny dogs wandering about, in danger of getting run over. Those who remember the family of travellers thrown off a flight to Florida for rowdy behaviour some years ago may not know that the mater familias of this Lewisham clan was the blonde woman who was one of this group and was their spokesperson on TV.

Some travellers settle in houses, often young ones with children, but many do not, or not for long. Councils have a legal duty to provide sites. Where have the travellers been since the old site was closed? Where are they now? Why wasn't a new site up and unning before the old site was closed? The Council can't just impose an old, unsuitable idea as an afterthought.

Of course, if voters weren't so gullible as to vote Bullock in time and again to do what he wants rather than the residents, we might hae a very different Lewisham.

Trust me, if you and your locality haven't been upset by something he's done against locals' wishes yet, you will be at some point. He can't help himself. He's always right, and we poor little people can't see that.

Anonymous said...

Well said Val. We need democracy to return to Lewisham. Elected Mayor's are a disaster for local politics.Weak supine councillors and council officers feeding from the crumbs off the mayoral table.

uncle tom cobley said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

"and if there's one minority that shouldn't be allowed on 'planes"

Yes, ban a group from planes based on the fact that others in that arbitary group have casued trouble in the past. like, stag groups, super models, drunk bussiness men, muslims with beards and dodgy footwear/underpants.

If your're going to object at least do it on a basis that isn't bigotted.

kolp said...

We should give this travelling community a good deal of credit for vacating Thurston Road to enable the development to go ahead. Compared to the what's going on in Esssex, with Dale Farm, we have got off lightly.

Also it would be useful to hear the traveller's recent views on this situation and the concerns from their potential neighbours on Church Grove, re coming and going & dumping in the river.

Mindthegap said...

"Also it would be useful to hear the traveller's recent views on this situation and the concerns from their potential neighbours on Church Grove."

This is a key point. Current government guidance is very strong on councils ensuring there is proper mixing of different communities, so they can listen and respond to their views. Which means it has to get Church Grove together with the travelling community at some point. But it has two problems to face there. First, the travelling community has historically not been very interested in meeting us. During the previous Church Grove proposal, we wanted to meet them but they didn't want to meet us. Then we agreed it would be easier if representatives met; so we appointed one but again the travellers didn't want to meet her. (I'm not saying they didn't have valid reasons, by the way; just that we didn't know what they were.) Second, as already said, the council's own needs assessment of the Lewisham travellers' community shows clearly that travellers are not interested in moving to a fixed pitch site at Church Grove, i.e. there is no traveller community for us to meet where this proposal is concerned. It will be very interesting to see what the council does in order to fabricate one.

Anonymous said...

Why is it called "savechurchgrove" and not "findspacefortravellers"?

It clearly needs to be saved as something from something. So what is that something? Were the local residents campaigning against the school that was previously there? Do they object to having their rubbish collected by refuse trucks. Not clear what the issue is. I would want to has some big trees to hide the caravans, in case they look ugly.

Difficult if this is about travellers themselves because the Council is legally required to not be prejudiced. If the Thurston Road travellers were notorious I think this would have been mentioned already.

Anonymous said...

I really don't believe what I'm reading here.
Gypsies/ travelers call them what you wish ARE bad news for ANY area.
Ask yourself...
How many of you reading or writing about this subject have seen, witnessed or been involves in the criminal acts their involved with ?
Iv lived in 3 separate locations. ( moved through choice and payed for I may had) and have seen the terror these people bring to communities.
I now live UN Beckenham.
A safe, quiet residential area you may say !
But within a spat of 6 months these people who certain individuals on here are defending, are reaping havoc to the area.
How do I know this?
My local police force have told me so.
My youngest as invested nearly £3,000 in a scooter.
Had it only 6 weeks... Stolen
Bought another... Stolen within 4 weeks later.
His insurance is now sky high.
Police know, I know as well as local residents know who's to blame.
Local Gardner had £2,000 worth of tools stolen by the same 'gang'
When living in Churchfields road Beckenham.
Another site reaped havoc in the area.
From stealing a pensioners dog... Proven.
Stole a neighbours caravan at gun point... Proven. No charges given out.
Breaking unto Churchfields primary school... Proven
Breaking hundreds of bottles on playing fields and costing tax payers a possible £140,000 to try and clear football pitches. Council eventually said no due to the cost factor. Stopping youngsters doing what they enjoy.
On each occasion
No prosecutions took place.
So
Anyone as someone said, who wants to suck up to them. Are more that welcome to let them pitch in their front garden, FREE of charge
As said
Iv had the displeasure of witnessing this in

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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