Joan Ruddock from CND to DBE

Brockley Central has already been flooded by forelock-tugging proles, offering their congratulations to Joan Ruddock, MP for Lewisham Deptford, who has been made a Dame in the New Year's Honours List.

The former CND activist is now, formally, Dame Joan Ruddock, DBE, MP.

Also honoured were Lewisham's Raymond Warburton (OBE), Senior Team Leader for the NHS Equality Team and Jean Gross (OBE), England's Communication Champion for Children, whose office was shut down today. Catford's Pauline Nandoo received an MBE for her work for the Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers.

Predictions for 2012

Before we get to what will happen in 2012, here's what we said would happen in 2011:

1. Construction work on a permanent cafe for Hilly Fields will get underway. The logic is compelling, there's an interested bidder and it will cost the Council nothing. 

The designs for the cafe, which will replace the toilet block at the top of Hilly Fields, were revealed at the recent winter fair and the building should be open in Spring 2012.

2. A new restaurant will open in Brockley. Or at least, a new place you can pay to sit and eat. 

More than one in fact. Mo Pho was not a surprise, Brockley's Rock was. Both are excellent and have enjoyed successful first years, suggesting there will be more to come in 2012.

3. A new local supermarket will open in the area, near Brockley Station, joining the likes of Tesco, Budgens, Costcutter and Co-Op. The world will continue to revolve on its axis. 

Nisa opened right next to Brockley Station and as if to prove the point that supermarkets are not necessarily business killers, both units opposite were taken up by London Print Shop shortly afterwards.

4. Martin's Yard construction will start. 

Construction began earlier in the year and is proceeding at a blistering pace, with work due to finish in the by the middle of next year.

5. Double or quits: Both empty units on Harefield Road will be full by the end of the year.

Phew! In the dying days of the year, an estate agent grabbed the last unit, moving next door to the architecture practice that arrived in the summer.

So five out of five. Again. The child-centric business we predicted for 2010 also arrived a year late, in the form of Tea Dance for Little People. In retrospect, however, our predictions were a little cautious, given the storming year Brockley had in 2011, and we completely failed to anticipate the most exciting story of the year - Brockley Market.

Now, here are our predictions for 2012, all based on the same fundamental driver we saw in 2011, which is the influx of new people, talent and energy in to the area:
  1. The Wickham Arms will finally find an owner with the resources and nous to make a success of this magnificent pub. Away from the area's main thoroughfares, it will have to find a unique recipe to become a destination in its own right.
  2. A developer will come forward with a plan for a significant piece of Brockley's centre. It will be as controversial at it is bold.
  3. Brockley Market will expand. It's already a fantastic local market that attracts people from nearby neighbourhoods but the the word of mouth it will continue to generate, married with an influx of new residents to Lewisham, will mean that it develops in to a destination for savvy south east Londoners.
  4. Two predictions in one: the obvious opportunities in the area will be seized. Masons will reopen under new owners while someone will do something with the corner unit on Cranfield Road.
  5. Aside from Masons' successor, the Hilly Fields Cafe and the Toads Mouth replacement, Brockley will get another place to eat. It will be the brainchild of one of the area's many foodie entrepreneurs, perhaps one who's cut their teeth at Brockley Market. It will be closer to #Meateasy than a formal restaurant.
So there we go. It sounds optimistic, given that the UK is teetering on the verge of recession, but we thought we going out on a limb for 2011 and proved to have underestimated Brockley's animal spirits.

What do you think?

New Year's Eve Party at The Orchard

The Orchard's Ed writes:

We still have New Years Eve tickets available for you lovely people of Brockley. The party starts at 8pm and rolls on until 2am. It's £12 per ticket or £10 if you buy 4 or more. 

The ticket price includes a free cocktail and there is a fantastic DJ playing classic tunes to get you on the dance floor. If you have previously been to one of our NYE parties you will know that a good time is had by all, so if you're still deciding what to do, come join us and have the pleasure of being able to walk (or stumble) home. 

We hope to see some of you there on the night- Happy 2012!

BCOD - Our 2011 Catch Up Service

Colter Stevens: It's the same train, but it's different. 
- Source Code 

We ended our review of 2010 by saying that in 2011, we would be reliant on private enterprise for our good news, as public sector cutbacks kicked in. In fact, this year saw an explosion of local creativity and enterprise.

From a record number of entries in our Newcomer of the Year Award to fantastic new places in Nunhead (Bambuni), New Cross (New Cross House), Deptford (Deli-X) and Honor Oak (Hills & Parkes), there was an unprecedented number of high street start-ups in Brockley and our surrounding areas. But the new ideas came in many forms: #Meateasy became a speakeasy phenomenon in New Cross and was followed by Big Red pizza buses and Estate Agents-cum-revolutionary cafes. Ladywell got a huge new nursery, Brown's of Brockley opened late and construction work began on an entire street designed for micro-businesses that wanted to operate in Brockley.

Change is disruption, so we also had to say goodbye to some local businesses. In most cases, the destruction was of the Schumpeterian variety.

The Amersham Arms was soldGeorge hung up his scissors. Mason's closed. Sweeney's was reborn as Hungry HoraceToads Mouth went on the market. Clarkey's came and went. Tea Leaf Arts went to clear space for Tea Dance. Misty Moon took over from Tank. The Old Bank was closed but fought off Domino's. The Deptford Deli got fed up with flooding and left town. Everyone else got fed up with Supercuts and they were stripped of their licence to serve alcohol. No one was sure whether the junk shop that occupied the new shop on Brockley Road was meant to be permanent, until the bailiffs cleared the matter up for us.

In many cases, the public sector played an enabling role for local innovation: A music festival on the East London Line, supported by TfL? A market in Lewisham College car park backed by the Council? A cafe in Hilly Fields, selected by Lewisham? A new Lewisham Literary Festival supported by Lewisham? Community gardens in Arica Road, Sandbourne Road and St Johns? Ice skating (for kids) on the tennis courts? Done. Where the Council had to intervene to rescue a Loampit Vale shop from collapse, it did (finally).

Lewisham Council at last focused on creating an environment that would encourage private enterprise. Brockley Road was widened, plans for Brockley Cross were improved and approved and Ladywell got significant funding for its town centre improvement programme. Now it has to sort out the area's many parking issues and we will have made real progress.

Lewisham worked with Southwark to provide an improved enterprise support service and allowed businesses to promote special offers via Lewisham Life for free. It also relied on social enterprise to plug the gap as it withdrew from five of the borough's libraries. It is an idea for which the case is yet to be proved.

But the main reason for the frenetic pace of 2011 is the people that now live here.

In 2009, we wrote that the prospect of the East London Line was attracting an influx of young people that would be the fundamental driver of change in Brockley. In 2010 before the ELL opened, we said the coming tsunami of people was something to be embraced:

The best bits of London have lots of people in them, the worst bits are empty. Some of that is effect, much of it is cause. We're looking forward to more people discovering Brockley when the East London Line comes.

Now they are here. There has been a huge swell of new people brought in on the East London Line, which celebrated its first full year in service with heaps of awards, an extension to Highbury and Islington and a warning that by 2016 overcrowding would be a major problem unless urgent action to increase capacity is taken. Once, the area relied on a handful of entrepreneurs serving a tiny pool of potential customers. Supply and demand have each grown exponentially over the last two or three years.

What has happened this year can only be understood in this context. For all the moaning about infill and exploitative development (some of which is justified) the new residents fuel, people bring dynamism. Interactions between people are what cities are for. And this area is more interactive than most.

From a transport perspective, the East London Line was not the only show in town. Woolwich got Crossrail, Greenwich got a cable car, the Jubilee Line got upgraded, Blackfriars got a nice new bridge, Surrey Canal got funding for a station, Deptford's new station made a start, the DLR got extended to Stratford, our Crossrail interchange at Whitechapel got going and we all got quieter 484s. Brockley Station's platform lengthening and gate installation began, but a step free west side remains a distant prospect. Ladywell got a lot of station improvements, but lost a Christmas market as a result.

As the area became easier to reach, so there became more reason to bother. Building work on the skate park in Telegraph Hill began as work on Ladywell Fields ended. Goldsmiths planned a new art gallery and Deptford let a thousand flowers bloom while two major masterplans progressed, two other grands projets (the library and the Seager Distillery) reached completion and a hotel sprang up. Nearby, the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich opened a major new wing and Blackheath organisers got a go-ahead for a new music festival next year.

If you missed all of this, you can be forgiven, because 2011 was also a year of high profile crimeprotest and occupation.

Goldsmiths students did their thing again, Brockley's radical anthropologist Chris Knight did his thing again and was arrested to prevent him gatecrashing the Royal Wedding. In the mean time, New Cross protesters campaigned against a shop opening in a retail unit that had been empty for years, because they were convinced that big brands and little ones could not co-exist. Shortly afterwards, independent retailer The Allotment launched nearby and big chain TK Maxx opened, not with a protest, but with a stampede.

The site of the former Deptford Job Centre was occupied in protest against the problem of high unemployment in the borough, preventing a job-creating cafe from opening in the process. But, the occupiers reasoned, Deptford doesn't really need another cafe. Now, the protestors have moved on and the site has opened as a gallery.

The first of several "serious incidents" took place in April, closing part of Brockley Road near the Esso garage. It would soon be followed by a machete-wielding maniac, who absolutely could not be stopped, other than by wheelie bins.

For three long nights in August, Brockley braced for riots, which never quite came to SE4 - a virtue of our lack of shops, rather than our lack of rioters. We live-blogged for three nights as New Cross, Deptford, Lewisham, Peckham and Catford burned around us.

Looking back, not just on this year's events but on our articles since 2007, it is clear that 2011 has been the most extraordinary year Brockley Central has ever had the pleasure of reporting. And we live in London because we like to live in interesting times.

Will 2012 be any less interesting? We doubt it. But our predictions for the next year are for another day. What did you make of 2011?

Best newcomer 2011 - Brockley Market [UPDATED]

Congratulations to Brockley Market, the runaway winner of Brockley Central's Best Newcomer 2011 Award. Against the strongest field we've ever had, Brockley Market won 42% of the 503 votes recorded.
Since it launched in September, the Market has been a phenomenon, drawing in around 1,500 shoppers every week by offering a blend of high quality produce, options to suit a range of budgets, hot food and drink stalls, seating and even entertainment, to make it worth a visit, even if you've done your weekly shopping already. The result is a fantastic atmosphere and a market that draws admiring glances (and punters) from across South East London. The attention to detail and the energy the owner puts in to reinventing the market each week means that its success should be sustainable long in to the future.

UPDATE: Toby, founder of Brockley Market, says:

"It is great to have been voted best newcomer of the year by Brockley Central followers and congratulations also to the 9 other nominees who set up a new business in 2011.

"Thanks to everyone who has visited and supported the market producers and traders since we started on September 24th. We will be closed for one week this Saturday (31st) and then back weekly from January 7th. We hope you continue to support local business in 2012."

Honorable mentions too to Mo Pho (second) and Slater & King (third), either of whose voting tallies would have been enough to win the 2010 Award, but the record number of votes cast meant that they were left for dust by the Market.

Five car ELL trains now a "must do" for TfL

Last month, we reported that passenger numbers on the East London Line were forecast to rise significantly by 2016. At the time, we argued that:

The great squash means that measures to boost capacity become more necessary and thus, we hope, more likely, more quickly.

Now, transport news site London Reconnections now reports that these figures mean that:

The process of expanding the 378s [ELL trains] to include a fifth car seems now to be accepted as a “must do,” with Howard Smith indicating in Modern Railways that this may happen sometime around 2013/2014. This will no doubt come as good news to the Bombardier works at Derby, were such work would have to take place. It will mean, however, selective door opening at a number of stations. 

While the interchange at Whitechapel would be among the platforms lengthened to accommodate the extra carriage, Canada Water would not. This will make life at that interchange interesting during rush hour, though it remains to be seen how much the arrival of Crossrail at Whitechapel, providing an alternative route in to the West End, will change commuting patterns.

The report also states that an extra four trains will run on the core section (from Surrey Quays to Dalston) during morning rush hour to alleviate congestion for the next year, before the arrival of the ELL to Clapham Junction, at which point, these trains will become part of that service. Finally, the report shows that the section south of New Cross Gate is capable of squeezing on an additional 2 trains per hour, meaning that Brockley could enjoy 18 tph in total during peak times.

Happy Christmas from Brockley Central

Be excellent to each other.

Ladywell wins makeover funding

A budget of £450,000 has been secured to improve Ladywell town centre, based on designs commissioned by the Ladywell Village Improvement Group. 


LVIG reports: "The Council plans to hold a public consultation on this early in 2012. Construction will commence in early 2013 and is expected to be finished by late Summer. The Scheme will include widened footways, conversion of the existing pelican crossing to a toucan crossing (pedestrians and cyclists), short-stay free parking on Ladywell Road and a new zebra crossing by Slagrove Place. Street lighting adjacent to the shops will be renewed and there will be new street furniture and tree planting." 

The redevelopment should make shopping locally in Ladywell a far more pleasant experience, encouraging the further development of the high street, which has made great progress in recent years, thanks to the arrival of Geddes, El's Kitchen, Oscar's, En Gedi and Slater & King and the rejuvenation of the Ladywell Tavern.

Leaf Lettings completes Harefield Road

Yesterday, we were able to report that Mantle Road's shops are fully let. Today, we can say the same about Harefield Road.

Leaf Lettings is a South East London lettings agency, which has taken the final unit, next to the Orchard and Gruff. They say of themselves:

"Leaf Lettings has been created to provide a forward thinking, proffessional [sic] way to let property..."

With The Orchard and Fishy Business driving such great footfall to the area, it was perplexing that the unit stayed empty for so long. For years, we were told that an estate agent was sniffing around the site, which makes sense for such a tiny space. The arrival of leaf shows some sort of confidence in the local property market.

London Print Shop opens on West Side

London Print Shop has opened on Mantle Road, taking both the units next to Bohemia Hair, opposite the brand new Nisa. The shop provides printing services and sells stationery. The number of small businesses, artists and designers operating in the area, combined with the community groups who distribute flyers locally nearly every day, should provide a steady stream of customers.

The move means this stretch of Brockley's town centre is now full up, which is in dramatic contrast to the start of the year, when Bohemia looked a very lonely place.

Micro funding for Lewisham projects

When our lovely colleague left for a glorious new career at the Mayor's office during the Olympic year, punting out stories about micro-funding in Lewisham may not have been what she dreamed of. However, we did challenge her to find some evidence of Mayoral interest in our borough and she has come up trumps within a few days in the job. She reports:

Special micro grants have been awarded to two community initiatives in Lewisham following successful bids to The Mayor’s Team London funding scheme.

The grants are being awarded to smaller community projects across the capital which aren’t usually eligible for funding of this kind. This new cash injection, which totals almost £80,000, follows an earlier round of funding of almost £600,000 of Team London small grants delivered to over 60 community groups across London in October 2011.

The local initiatives to benefit from the new round of funding, receiving up to £1000, are:

- Friends of Beckenham Place Park - The money will help to restore a disused compositing area within the ancient woodland of Beckenham Place Park
- Farmstead Road Community Garden – The funding will help enlist volunteers to take part in a community garden project

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “These micro grants are ensuring that smaller community projects right across the capital are receiving the support they deserve. Often, it only takes small chunks of cash to provide a much needed boost."

Through the Mayor’s Team London programme volunteers can get involved with organisations working in three priority areas - cutting crime, increasing youth opportunities and improving quality of life. For more info visit www.london.gov.uk/teamlondon

Brockley's drug rehab centre: Cllr Johnson says "bring it on"

Cllr Johnson writes:

I’ve been proud to represent Brockley residents this past decade. I would never knowingly support any project that would worsen the quality of life for Brockley residents. So when some residents started to raise concerns about the siting of a proposed Drug & Alcohol Treatment Centre in Brockley Cross I felt I had a duty to find out more before coming to a conclusion. 

Certainly, I don’t want to see anything that adds to anti-social behaviour problems in the ward. That’s why I worked with the local police and council officers to get a problem off-licence banned from serving alcohol, after many years of being a nightmare for local residents. That’s also why I worked successfully with residents to get the licensing conditions changed for the old Rosemary Branch/Gourmet Bar on Lewisham Way. It’s now a lovely well-run pub.

However, the more I have found out about the Drug & Alcohol Treatment Centre proposed for Shardeloes Road, the more convinced I am that such a facility is desperately needed and that Brockley has nothing whatsoever to fear from it. Bearing in mind the concerns of some residents, I arranged to visit a similar centre, run by the same charitable organisation in Woolwich. Like Woolwich, the Brockley Centre would only deal with scheduled appointments. It’s not a drop-in centre and it won’t be dispensing drugs on the premises. Any substitute drugs will continue to be dispensed from local pharmacies as they have been for many, many years. When I visited the Woolwich centre I found a professional, friendly and well-run service. People don’t hang around outside and it’s not a magnet for drug dealers or anti-social behaviour. The centre is limited to 15-30 appointments per day as the Brockley one would be. The facility is a good neighbour to the residents and local businesses in Woolwich and a similar facility can be a good neighbour to us here in Brockley, too.

I know that some residents have questioned why such a service should be in Brockley. The arguments have come in two forms. Some have argued that drugs are not really a problem in Brockley and such a service would be better located in New Cross or Deptford. On the other hand, others have argued that drugs are already a problem in Brockley and that this treatment centre would make things even worse. Those contradictory arguments cannot both be right – but in fact neither conveys an accurate picture. We do already have Brockley residents seeking treatment who would use this facility. It’s not the sort of place people want to trek half way across the borough to - most service users tend to walk or catch the bus to centres like this. Furthermore, all the evidence is that far from attracting drug dealers into the area such a service is likely to repel them. If you are a drug dealer, drug rehabilitation centres are not a good place for business and you tend to avoid them.

If, like me, you hate the damage that drug and alcohol misuse can do to individuals and to society, then surely we need more facilities like this. I know some people are concerned Brockley Cross is a residential area. But in a densely populated city like London, I doubt there is a single street that’s not close to at least some homes and businesses. My visit to Woolwich showed that a facility like this can be a good neighbour. And surely, we need to commend people who want to turn their lives around and end their addictions rather than demonising them and being frightened of them. I am convinced that this is an excellent service that’s desperately needed locally and I am also convinced that Brockley Cross is a suitable location for it.

Cllr Darren Johnson
Green Party Councillor for Brockley Ward

The London Theatre : Production and casting news

The London Theatre in New Cross has announced its new season of productions for the start of 2012:

  • Thurs 26th Jan - NEW CROSS COMEDY CLUB
  • Sat 28th - DOUBLE DYNAMICS - two dance performances by ex Laban students
  • Thurs 2nd - Sun 5th Feb - THE BEAR & THE PROPOSAL by Anton Checkov
  • Thurs 9th - Sun 12th Feb THE BRIDGE a comedy play about a motorway bridge
  • Tues 14th - Sun 19th Feb SHAKESPEARE UNBOUND anaward winning play about the keeper of the ist editions of the Bards works
  • 1st - 4th March CLUB CLASS the hit aviation comedy set on a charter flight to Portugal
They are also holding castings for three of their productions in January, including:
  • The Bear & The Proposal - male 30 /50 good understanding of classical text 
  • The Bridge - Male 30 /50 to play anoraky nerdy type
  • Club Class - Male 20 - 25 Cabin crew member (must be able to sing and dance)
They say:

These are pro casting roles (Equity). You don't have to be a Equity member to apply but the castings will have pro actors auditioning but it is who ever is best on the day, gets the role. So any Am Dramer want a chance, here it is!

If interested - email us at admin@thelondontheatre.com These jobs will count towards Equity and spotlight membership. So any local actors, come and audition.

For more details about the theatre, visit: www.thelondontheatre.com

Scales tip in Brockley's favour

There are 275,000 professional accountants in the UK, making it one of the country's biggest industries. Lewisham Council wants to attract more small professional services firms to the borough, as a way to create more local private sector employment. So what more positive indicator could there be for Brockley than the lights being turned on in Libra Associates Accountants and Tax Consultants in Brockley Cross?


The business has been dormant since before Brockley Central was born and we thought it permanently abandoned, one of many limbo shops in the area. Not sure if it's actually open for business, but the fact that there was life in there is so extraordinary that BC reader Nick was moved to send us this photo of the great event:

The shock of the Lou - Lewisham plans free ebook service

Rachel: Maybe Joey's right. Maybe all good deeds are selfish. 
Phoebe: I will find a selfless good deed. 'Cause I just gave birth to three children and I will not let them be raised in a world where Joey is right.
- Friends

The recent news that book lending rates had fallen in Lewisham's community-run libraries prompted an interesting discussion about some of the possible underlying causes, but also an intervention by BC regular, Lou Baker, who suggested that most of the borough's libraries could be done without, if we equipped residents with eReaders:

"£4.6m would buy more than 50,000 Kindles. 20% of the borough's residents could be given one - and they could access tens of thousands of e-books without additional charges.


"The libraries could then mostly be shut down - save for one big central library - saving further cash next year, enabling more residents to benefit from an ebook reader. Would ultimately be cheaper, more convenient and better."

You can read the debate here.

Another BC regular, Monkeyboy, forwarded us a recent tweet by Cllr Mike Harris, who reveals that Lou had stumbled dangerously close to a good idea. Cllr Harris says:


"Wow: Lewisham Council to launch e-book app with access on your phone to books / plays such as the entire works of Shakespeare."

So the libraries will stay open, but eBooks will become more easily available. The devil's in the the detail, but as long as this is a low-cost idea, we can see only upside.


Happily for our sanity, the plan is closer to what we suggested in the debate as a way to broaden access:


"How about the government negotiating a reading list for the people each year - paying copyright owners a fixed sum for UK residents to be able to download certain books each year for free. A bit Reithian, but nothing wrong with that."


Normal service is resumed.

By the by, in our day job, BC has been doing some work with The Economist to analyse what the impact of tablets and eReaders will be on print. You can read the presentation below, but in the near future, handheld digital devices will replace print as the dominant way to read (for those with access to the devices). So one way or another, Lou is right that libraries will need to adapt. Fast.

More on the Lewisham plan soon.

Boxing Day Lunch Sharing in Telegraph Hill

Telegraph Hill action group Bold Vision are organising a lunch share on Boxing Day at the Hill Station. They say:

Feeling a bit lonely this Christmas? Or just fancy a change of scene and a bit of friendly conversation. At last year’s sharing lunch we had people from at least 5 countries… who knows who will show up this time? 


Bring anything to eat or drink that you are happy to share. Leftovers very welcome! Please pass the word on to any neighbours you think might enjoy a bit of company. 12-4pm in the Hill Station, Kitto Road SE14

Thank you from the Brockley Cross Action Group

Ahead of the Brockley Christmas Market, Brockley Central readers had a virtual whip round and very generously contributed approximately £70 to pay for the Brockley Christmas tree that BXAG had forked out for when Council cut backs meant that they could not pay for one. It was a fantastic response, with the target hit within 24 hours.

The Brockley tree, located next to the ramp at Brockley Station, is a little like Spinal Tap's Stonehenge, but it's cute nonetheless. Rupert from the BXAG writes:

"On behalf of the Brockley Cross Action Group I would like to thank Brockley Central and all of the Brockley residents who very generously made donations towards the cost of Brockley's Christmas tree!

"As you will know by now the Christmas tree that is traditionally supplied by Lewisham Council each year was the victim of local government cutbacks, which meant we also lost the Council fairy lights that go with the tree. BXAG felt that the tradition must be maintained so we stepped in and sourced a 12 foot free from a supplier in Sussex at a cost of £70, including transport. This was erected by BXAG volunteers up on Brockley Common in the week before the Brockley Xmas Market, at which the "Winter Fairy" officially turned on the lights for everyone to enjoy!

"Sadly we don't have a permanent electric supply so BXAG also bought some solar powered lights which are now providing a modest but decent lighting display during the festive period. We hope the tree is bringing some festive cheer to everyone who passes by!"

"Thank you again for your kind contributions - this year we really do have a community Christmas tree - Happy Christmas!"

Brockley Central Zeitgeist 2011

It's time for the Brockley Zeitgeist 2011. While Google tells us that the rest of the world searched for Rebecca Black and Fukushima, in the Brockley bubble Brockley Market topped the charts (as it's currently topping the best newcomer vote), beating even the Lewisham riots, which dominated traffic in the late summer.

Students of social media will be interested to note that this year, for the first time, Facebook and Twitter have driven more traffic to us than search engines have (see 2010, 2009 and 2008).

This year's list of most popular search terms features far fewer random surprises than previous years, although bringing up the rear were searches for Mersh, which is the name of a local garage, but more pertinently, the act of dipping one's genitals in chili. All stats are from Jan 1 2011 - Dec 20 2011 and provided by Google Analytics.

Vital statistics

1,178,412 Pageviews (up 41% on 2010)
573,221 Visits (up 44% on 2010)
165,578 Unique Visitors (up 43% on 2010)
00:03:26 Avg. Time on Site (down 3% on 2010)

Top 10 most popular pages (excluding homepage)

/2011/08/lewisham-braces-for-rioting.html
/2011/08/south-east-london-updates.html
/2007/12/putting-brockley-on-map.html
/2010/01/south-east-london-tradespeople.html
/search/label/classifieds
/search/label/Lewisham
/search/label/Review
/2007/09/brockley-on-flickr.html
/2010/06/brockley-flatshare.html
/2010/08/recommended-places.html

Top 10 traffic sources

facebook.com
twitter.com
google.co.uk
deptforddame.blogspot.com
southeastcentral.co.uk
crossfields.blogspot.com
transpont.blogspot.com
853blog.wordpress.com
thehill.org.uk
Guardian.co.uk

Top 30 search terms (excludes "Brockley", "Brockley Central" and variants)

brockley market
lewisham riots
mo pho brockley
deptford market
brockleys rock
ravensbourne arms
aladdin's cave lewisham
besson street garden
meateasy
browns of brockley
brockley open studios 2011
le querce honor oak
brockley christmas trees
bohemia hair brockley
crofton park library
mark stevenson telegraph pub
ladywell tavern
surrey canal
living in brockley
slater and king ladywell
hilly fields fayre
the orchard
brockley ace van hire
new cross house
the hill station, telegraph hill
tk maxx new cross
mo pho
excalibur estate
mersh
Old Haberdasher New Cross

Holy Joy in New Cross, December 22nd

According to Transpontine (who should know about these things) Band of Holy Joy are "surely one of the greatest bands ever to have been associated with New Cross," and as "massive" as a late-80s / early 90s Brechtian-influenced indie band had any right to expect. So their second coming at the Montague Arms on Thursday is something to be thankful for.

Brockley Logs On

FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper: Can I ask her about her log? 
Sheriff Harry S. Truman: Many have.
- Twin Peaks

Brockley has its own log supplier: Brockley Logs, which delivers locally or has a stall at Brockley Market. There is not that much more to be said about this, but we thought it was worth noting. They are sourced in Kent and they are "tight-grain" if that's what you are into.

Vote for the Best Newcomer 2011 [UPDATED]

Which local business will join The Orchard and El's Kitchen in Brockley Central's pantheon of great local newcomers? It's time for you to vote for the Best Local Newcomer 2011.

This is the strongest and most eclectic field we've ever had to choose from, a sign of the confidence and creativity that the area now cultivates. UPDATE: So strong is the list that we forgot Mo Pho. As a result, we have added them and restarted the vote (which had reached 30). Sorry everyone, but it's a glaring oversight.

Pat-a-cakes

The Crofton Park cake-maker has had sweet-toothed locals purring ever since it opened in November.

Tea Dance for Little People

A cheerfully eccentric children's play centre and party venue which staged a pumpkin parade through the streets of Brockley.

Shaun's

Operating in the shadow of Tesco on Lewisham Way, grocery shop Shaun's competes by selling stuff that the supermarket giant doesn't.

Brockley's Rock

An excellent fish and chip shop that proves quality doesn't have to be fussy.

Brockley Market

Lewisham College car park is now the centre of Brockley life on Saturday mornings, thanks to a food market that combines quality, range and regular reinvention.

The Old Haberdasher

A pub that once exuded menace under previous management is now transformed in to a handsome gastropub in search of its niche.

Slater & King

The Ladywell art, stationary and vintage shop has transformed a derelict site in the heart of Ladywell.

The Ravensbourne Arms

Customers have taken a while to discover it, but those who have, love it. Live events are helping to spread the word.

Nisa "Haynes Park"

The West Side convenience store owners might be confused about the location of their own shop, but it has brightened up a dark stretch of Mantle Road.

Mo Pho

Swapped Long Time's Asian fusion menu for a specialist Vietnamese one, reinstated dining and hey presto, a fantastic new restaurant.

You can vote in the poll on the right hand side of the page. The winner will be announced on December 27th.

And don't forget to vote for South East London's best pub, restaurant and shop in the South East Central Awards 2011 too.

Brockley tends towards Infinity

Infinity is BT's new high speed broadband service, which is being rolled out nationwide. It is also the limit to the number of articles we will write about it, trying to work out when we're all getting it. The local due date has been moved backwards and forwards and we were last told that we'd have to wait until winter 2012 to get it. But now Brockley residents have started receiving emails telling them they can get it now. Monkeyboy forwarded us his email and an Anon posted this last night:

WOO-HOO! BT Infinity seems to be now available in Brockley (Upper Brockley Road anyway). I've had an e-mail from BT and checked my line on the site: it comes up as ready even though Deptford is not listed on the BT map as enabled. 37mb download and 10mb upload estimated. I have to wait until the New Year to set up. I'd be really interested to hear from anyone who gets it sooner. 

Brockley Central HQ is pretty near Upper Brockley Road, so we tried to apply this morning and were told to be patient, because it's not ready yet. So has anyone actually successfully applied for the thing yet? If so, roughly where do you live please? Is there a clear digital divide between different parts of the local area?

Christmas studio sale this weekend

Afraid to knock on the door last time, because there was no sign outside? Well Barbara Wiggins is repeating her home studio sale this weekend, so you have another chance. She says:

Due to popular demand we are doing a repeat Christmas Studio sale this Sunday 18th 10am-6pm and Monday 19th 10am -2pm. Some of the money will go to my favourite charities.

It will be at my home address- Peartree studios, 53 Breakspears Road, SE4 1XR

Lots more lovely stationery, accessories, 2012 Diaries and bags. Hope to see you there.

Brockley Primary tops English league table

Figures released by the Department for Education yesterday revealed that Brockley Primary School "added the most value to its pupils education" of all 15,000 state primaries in England.

Brockley Primary is currently undergoing a major refurbisment and shares an excellent headmistress, Glenys Ingham, with Myatt Garden Primary, also in Brockley. This result is a fantastic endorsement of the progress it's made since 2004/05, when it achieved a "satisfactory" Ofsted rating and finished bottom of some local league tables.

Muppetry of the penis [UPDATED]

Following incidents in Brockley and Ladywell, Telegraph Hill residents are now being warned of a flasher operating in the area. This comes via Tamsin:

The Friends of the Park committee has been notified by Telegraph Hill's Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) that a series of criminal offences have taken place recently in the Lower and Upper parks, as well as on Kitto Rd & Jerningham Rd, with a man exposing himself to both young and older women. 

The SNT has asked local residents to notify the Police immediately, with a full description of the perpetrator if possible, if you witness a flasher. Secondly, we have been requested to caution people generally to take all due care while out and about on the Hill. Please try not to walk through the park alone in the dark and remain alert and aware by avoiding the use of a iPod, etc. Do pass this information on to anyone you know who lives locally.

UPDATE:

According to one report (March 15th, 2012), "A 46-year-old man has been charged with three separate counts of indecent exposure in a residential area of New Cross. The Metropolitan Police have named the man as Senol Dervis Bayram, who lives in the Catford area. According to the police, all three incidents happened on Jerningham Road, with the first on December 3, 2011, and the other two in February and March of this year."

The Sonic Senders at The Chandos, December 23rd

The Chandos pub, Brockley Rise, is hosting its first live music for four years when the Sonic Senders, a four piece rhythm and blues band, play on December 23rd.

Takeaway robberies


The News Shopper reports local takeaway businesses are being targeted by robbers, who place fake deliveries:

The last offence took place on December 11 when an Indian restaurant in Brockley Road was asked to deliver food to Wickham Road. When their driver arrived he was told he had the wrong address and, as he left, was assaulted by a man who stole his money.


It is just one of a number of similar incidents in the Brockley and Catford areas taking place between 8pm and 11pm over recent weeks.


Police have descriptions of two suspects – both white men aged from 19 to 25, with stocky builds and wearing dark clothing. Restaurants are being advised to send two delivery employees, not to carry large amounts of cash and to make sure they get the name, address and phone number of callers.


If you have any information call Lewisham’s Robbery Squad on 020 8284 8411 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Come on Brockley!

London's leading Bollardier, "Bollards of London" has given Time Out his list of the top five short vertical posts in the capital and this effort on Geoffrey Road comes in at number two. East Dulwich was robbed.

Thanks to everyone on Twitter who pointed it out.

Brockley: First Class

It’s already established that Brockley is a centre for dance, theatre, animation, comedy and music. But Brockley is also home to the greatest of all the art forms: comics.

Brockley has produced its answer to Maus (Badger), half of our Twitter followers describe themselves as illustrators and now, Kieron Gillen has moved to SE4. Gillen is currently writing a critically acclaimed run Uncanny X-Men for Marvel and has just told the story of a young Loki, also for the House of Ideas. You can listen to his iFanboy interview about the project here.

Awkwardly crow barring comic book references in to Brockley Central all these years has finally paid off. 

The BC Universe: Identity Crisis

Back in June we celebrated our 2,000th Twitter follower. Today we are celebrating our 1,000th Facebook follower, having passed our 3,000th Twitter follower a couple of months back.

Together with the forum, which recently recruited its 1,000th registered member, our social network pages help to expand our daily reach, to more than 7,000 people (with plenty of crossover between the communities). Back in June, this figure was less than 5,000. Here is the cumulative audience for the BC universe:

Here's how these figures compared in the summer. And since Facebook loves to invade your privacy, here's what it can tell us about BC's readership:


Significantly more women than men, with the highest number from the 25-34 age bracket. More Americans than any other foreign nationality.

Portas heads in the right direction

Mary Portas' report for BIS on how to revive UK high streets was released today and sets out a clear plan to help high streets compete in a retail landscape that has been completely transformed by the growth of supermarkets, super malls and the internet.

Her overriding recommendation is that we need to do everything we can to increase footfall to our high streets. Businesses will inevitably follow customers. She compared high streets to shopping centres, which begin by courting the anchor tenants, such as John Lewis or Marks & Spencer with a track record of attracting shoppers. Get them in and other retailers will flock. For small centres like Brockley Road or Lewisham Way, this obviously isn't an option, but what we can do is focus on other types of enterprise that draw people out of their homes. In particular, she emphasised the power of street markets, gyms and creches as businesses that the internet and out of town sites can't compete with.

To do that, she says Councils need to relax use class rules to make it easier for units to swap between retail and other uses.  However, she also argues that too many businesses of one type can have a damaging effect on a high street's attractiveness, which is something that many BC readers (and BC) have been arguing for years - a couple of betting shops are fine, dozens are detrimental to a high street's viability. It's interesting to note that she mentions chicken shops specifically and argues that a special use class should be created for bookies, to make it easier to control numbers:

One of the biggest unnecessary restrictions on business seems to be the use class system, which makes it difficult for buildings to have different uses and to change uses. For example it should be straightforward to convert to or from the D2 (leisure) class; and use Local Development Orders to remove these and other requirements. This would have a big impact on the number of empty properties and encourage more creative use of second, as well as first, loor spaces on our high streets.

There is currently a 13 week target for processing planning applications but to drive this we could 
publish the average length of time it takes to get a change of use by local authority. This would send a real signal to business about how easy it is to do business in different areas.

I do think there need to be limits, though. What I really want to see is diversity on our high streets. 

When a high street has too much of one thing it tips the balance of the location and inevitably puts off potential retailers and investors. Too many charity shops on one high street are an obvious example of this. Funnily enough, too many fried chicken shops have the same effect.

Useless landlords (which this part of South East London suffers from) are another target, with recommendations including further disincentives to landlords to leave shops empty, a public register of high street landlords (which would certainly help Brockley entrepreneurs work out who owns some of the dormant shops around the area) and more use of compulsory purchase orders.

Freeing up parking through free CPZs on high streets (which has worked well in Honor Oak) is another recommendation, while she urges Councils to put more effort in to making high streets "accessible, attractive and safe."

In sum, it reads like the BC manifesto and even if it is not adopted by national government, we hope that it will be an inspiration for Lewisham Council. Please let us know what you think. Read the report here.

Cummin Up for Christmas

Cummin Up is a local chain of Caribbean takeaways, with places in Catford, Forest Hill and New Cross. Owner Richard writes:

Once again  Cummin Up Caribbean Takeaway at 389 Lewisham High  Street (opposite Lewisham  Hospital) throws its doors open to all whom would like to share the Love of Jesus this Christmas Day. 

Please let those on the streets know,  those in centres and Hostels, those whom you think may otherwise be alone - in fact anyone lets spread the joy and the good news!

With thanks to Tabitha.

Skate park stalls in light of new objections

A Telegraph Hill group called Friends of the Park has succeeded in halting construction work in Telegraph Hill's Lower Park, where a skate park is due to be built. On December 1st, the group called for the Council to halt proceedings and work stopped shortly after.

There will be a Friends of the Park meeting tonight at 7.30pm at the Hill Station to discuss the plans and objections.

The group's chief objection is that the scale of the skate park planned is bigger than originally agreed. They  say:

The scheme now being presented and which was granted a Lawful Development Certificate (“CLD”) is a much deeper incursion, with a yet to be ascertained visual impact of a larger-than-anticipated retaining wall and the potential to damage mature trees.  The various council bodies are fundamentally mistaken if they acted in the belief that proposals of this extent were either approved by the Local Assembly or endorsed by the Friends of Telegraph Hill Park. 


The Council said in response that it views the changes as "minor" and believes that it will fall within the permitted development allowance. It plans to allow construction work to continue.

Skate park project supporter Imogen says:


It has taken over two years of campaigning, fundraising and local consultation and consensus-building to reach this point. The Council has addressed all the points the objectors have raised.


This project prompted a long-running and acrimonious debate, which eventually led to a large majority of local people voting in favour of the skate park at the Telegraph Hill Assembly. The project should enhance the park as a recreation centre and encourage local children to lead more active lives. With the site already fenced off and the builders poised to start work, this seems like a wasteful exercise in bloody mindedness by the objectors.

The Old Haberdasher - a quiet drink

The Old Haberdasher is the latest incarnation of the pub on 44 Lewisham Way, at the top of the hill leading down in to New Cross.

Previously known as the Rosemary Branch and the Black Flag, it reopened this summer , having been given a significant makeover. The result is a fine, if slightly characterless pub - like the Talbot, without the regulars to give it a sense of community. The bulk of reviews it has received elsewhere on the site deliver a consistent message: booze fine, food decent, music annoying. Most reviewers also say that while they had a good time, there were few other customers.



Our experience, drinking there for half an hour on Saturday afternoon, was that we were the only customers in that time. The staff looked understandably bored, but were reasonably friendly.

The Old Haberdasher is a little far from the main drag to catch passing trade and without a point of difference to persuade many to make a detour and too expensive to compete with the Hobgoblin for student trade.

With several good pub options nearby in New Cross town centre it faces stiff competition but the marketing and the event programme has been minimal. Given the notoriety of its predecessors, it seems a mistake not to make more people aware of how it has changed. This pub could be a great addition to the local area, but it has its work cut out.

New cash machine for the west side

A BC reader reports that the new Nisa on the West Side of Brockley Station has a free cash machine inside.

Relative newcomers to Brockley will be unaware that it was once a financial desert, with only one free cash machine in the area - the Barclays in Crofton Park. Other than that, if you wanted some money, you were welcome to head to the petrol station and pay for the privilege. The situation was not only annoying, it hamstrung local shops. 

Today, however, we have six, including one on Lewisham Way, one in Ladywell, two next to each other opposite the Brockley Barge.

The Brockley Central Christmas Tree Appeal [UPDATED]

Lewisham Council's cutbacks mean that it could not afford to pay for a Christmas tree for Brockley this year. So the Brockley Cross Action Group stepped in and forked out the £65 it costs to buy one. They were putting it up on Brockley Common, by the station, when we walked past them this evening.

The tree has put a festive dent in their finances, so we said we'd put a button on Brockley Central, so that readers who wanted to make a contribution towards the tree can do so. Here it is [UPDATE: Button removed, since we've hit the target].

It would be great if we could raise the money to pay for the tree. If you can make a small donation, they would really appreciate it. Brockley Central will transfer all the money raised to them. We'll take it down when and if we hit the target. The tree will be lit during tomorrow's Christmas Market on Coulgate Street.

So if you appreciate the work of the BXAG or a nice Christmas tree, please give generously! If you hate Christmas, don't worry about it.

UPDATE: Thanks to some very generous BC readers we have less than a tenner to find to pay for the Christmas tree. Please give generously, it would be excellent to hit the target before the tree is lit tonight. Click on the PayPal button above.


UPDATE: You did it! Thanks, we hit the target. We won't reveal the names of the kind donors, who don't like to talk about their charity work, but when we see you in the street, we will give you an awestruck nod.

Honor Oak to Brockley carol marathon

On the Honor Oak forum, Cherry writes:

Summer All Year Long are attempting a bit of a Marathon Carol Singing on Saturday 17th December.

Starting at Crofton Park Library at 3pm, we will sing for half and hour, then move on to Hills & Parkes at 49 Honor Oak Park for 4pm, then finally the Broca in Coulgate Street at 5pmAll in aid of Crisis, we will be shaking our collecting tins with enthusiasm whilst singing folk influenced carols.


Please drop in at any of the venues and donate generously. Hills & Parkes will be selling mincepies and mulled wine the proceeds of these will go straigh in the Crisis tins, so come and get festive with Summer All Year Long.

Blackfriars tube reopens February 26th

As a result of the Thameslink project, Blackfriars Station now spans the width of the Thames. A brand new entrance on the South Bank opened earlier this week and Crofton Park commuters will get their Blackfriars tube interchange back on February 26th, as part of a phased reopening of the station. Network Rail says:

The new station entrance on the north bank will open on 12 December, with the first ever 12-car trains on the Thameslink route calling at Blackfriars on the same date. A new look London Underground station will open in February 2012, followed by a further two new national rail platforms in May. 

Blackfriars Underground station, currently being completely rebuilt to provide space for more passengers and better access between Tube and rail services, had been scheduled to open at the end of December this year. Owing to complexities encountered by Network Rail during the construction and fit out of the new station, the reopening will now take place on Sunday 26 February 2012. 

The overall Blackfriars project remains on track to be delivered in summer 2012, and work has been scheduled so that passengers begin to benefit from new facilities this December while work continues behind the scenes.

Santa's grotto in Brockley

The Brockley Christmas Market


With the Ladywell Christmas Market cancelled this year, the good news is that this year's Brockley Christmas Market on Coulgate Street will be the biggest ever. The BXAG's Rupert says:

I can confirm we have over 40 stalls this year, our biggest yet, with lots of lovely arts and crafts stalls, and live music all afternoon from 7 different performers/bands (including the John Stainer School Choir)! So come along for this great annual community market, find the gifts you are looking for, enjoy the atmosphere and the live music, check out Santa and come and see us at the BXAG stall where we will be serving mulled wine and mince pies all day long!

Google recognises the eXistenZ of St Johns and Honor Oak Park

Brian O'Blivion: The television screen is the retina of the mind's eye. Therefore, the television screen is part of the physical structure of the brain. Therefore, whatever appears on the television screen emerges as raw experience for those who watch it. Therefore, television is reality, and reality is less than television.
- Videodrome

With over 90% share of the UK search market, Google dominates the way in which people learn about you. So it has irked many that Google Maps has for years been telling everyone that Honor Oak Park was where St Johns should be.


Well the team behind Brockley Market weren't going to stand for it any more and employed some dark arts (they asked Google nicely) to have that wrong, righted. Here's the new map. We're going to ask them if they'll consider throwing a border around Greater Brockley.

Tyrwhitt Road corner site redeveloped [UPDATED]

As a number of readers have pointed out, 63 Loampit Hill, the shop on the corner of Tyrwhitt Road, is finally being redeveloped. Michael (not Tyrwhitt Michael) kindly sent us this photo of the work.

The shop had been derelict for a long time and the Council eventually intervened, repairing the roof and seeking costs from the owners. That prompted speculation in January that the property could be put up for auction. We're not sure what happened after that - if you know, please tell us.

UPDATE: TM has pointed us to the planning application, which was for:

The demolition of the existing extension and construction of a single storey extension to the rear of 63 Loampit Hill SE13, together with an extension to the rear roof slope, installation of roof lights to the front and side roof slopes, elevational alterations to the rear and new shop front to facilitate conversion of the property to provide a shop (Use Class A1) and 1 one bedroom self-contained flat on the ground floor, 1 one bedroom self-contained flat on the first floor and a self-contained studio flat on the second floor.

As TM says, this means the retail floor space has been significantly reduced, which will limit the shop's versatility when the unit is finished.

Christmas at the Brockley Jack Theatre

Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
Adapted by Brute Farce, Directed by Kate Bannister

Join us for our Christmas production! This brand new re-telling of Jules Verne's classic tale whisks the audience from rainy station platforms in nineteenth century London to a technicolour, Bollywood vision of the tropics and the frozen wastes of North America.

With trade-mark physical invention the Jack's Christmas show brings Phileas Fogg, his faithful servant and various pursuing police officers, princesses and Wild West bullies garishly to life. Will Phileas win his wager and be the first to navigate the globe in only 80 days?

Produced by the same in-house team behind The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, A Christmas Carol, Jane Eyre and The Hound of the Baskervilles. Friday 9 December - Saturday 7 January at 7.45pm
Book tickets at http://www.brockleyjack.co.uk/

What's happening at Brockley Station?

Reader Dawn contacted us this morning to ask what was happening to the plants outside Brockley Station's lower-level entrance, which are being dug-up as part of the work to remodel the station. This work includes installing ticket barriers to the southbound platform and extending the platforms so that they can take 10-carriage trains to and from London Bridge.

We asked Rupert from the BXAG what he knew about this plans and this is what he told us:

They are not removing all of the plants, just a small number where they need to create the widened access for the new ticket barriers. 


To be fair to London Overground they have liaised with us (BXAG) closely from the outset about the proposed works. The vast majority of the main planting will be untouched as agreed at previous meetings - though when I went to see them just now I emphasised the planting needs protecting! 


I would also point out that BXAG volunteers were down there a few weeks back taking out some of the affected plants and replanting them elsewhere. But some of the shrubs are difficult to take up and replant and we don't have the space elsewhere to replant them anyway. Even so only a very small number were lost. 


As for community benefits arising from the works, we have negotiated £500 towards new (replacement) planting, the grass area will be taken up and topsoiled ready for new planting, a new litter bin by the seat and a new community managed notice board. 


We are also in discussions with LOL about getting them to part fund the steps at the north end of Brockley Common and have them built by the contractor currently on site. We already have £7K from the Brockley Assembly but need another £5-6K to get the works done. I am hopeful. 


The one big negative is I have just learned that the bike shelter is going. I had understood it would be retained. 


BXAG will put pressure on LOL for an immediate replacement. They are well aware of the increased demand for bike parking at Brockley Station. 


I am sure there will be people who are unhappy with the new ticket barriers but it's not something anyone can challenge. We have tried to get the best out of this development for the benefit of the community while ensuring most of the planting is saved - a lot more was due to go before we intervened!

The Leegate Arts Project

Kate writes:

A once empty shop in the desolate Leegate Shopping Centre has been transformed into a creative art studio to offer free print workshops to local people. The shop will then become a temporary gallery for one week at the end of the project in February 2012, exhibiting all the work produced in the workshops.

From early December 2011 to late February 2012, Leegate Arts Project wants to work with local people to develop a creative project and produce a community art exhibition. Residents aged 40/50+ and young people 13-19 are invited to take part in the project.

Through a series of workshops and creative sessions, participants can explore printmaking, photography, drawing and creative writing.

The project is run by a relaxed group of local artists, photographers, designers and writers who will lead creative and fun workshops.  There is also a brilliant team of volunteers made up of a mixture of 6th form arts students, local residents, youth workers and people who just love art!  As a group we will help you to find your creative side and learn new skills.  All we need you to do is turn up!

Drop in Workshop – Saturday 10th December 2011: 10am-4pm
Workshop Sessions (from 12/12/11) – Mondays: 5.30pm–7.30pm & Saturdays: 10am–1pm
5 Leegate Shopping Centre, Lee Green, London, SE12 8SS

If you would like to sign up and take part in the project or for further information please contact: Hannah Westwood or Thulani Shuku, email: leegatearts@gmail.com or call Hannah on: 07711219030

"Catastrophic" drop in Lewisham library lending

Publishing industry title The Bookseller reports a "catastrophic" drop in the number of books being lent by Lewisham's free libraries, including Crofton Park. The report, based on figures obtained by Cllr Christine Best, says:

Borrowing figures for October 2011 show Grove Park community library making just 722 loans during that month this year compared to 3,764 in October 2010, a mere 16% of its previous year's total. New Cross library saw just 458 issues this October compared with 2,770 in October last year; Sydenham library totalled 1,326 loans this October compared with 4,035 in the same month last year. Crofton Park library saw the best result, lending 2,836 times this October, 44% of its total of 6,036 in October 2010. Blackheath Village library saw the worst result, lending just 572 books in October this year, a mere 12% of the previous October's total of 5,044.

These figures could be the result of early teething problems experienced by the libraries in terms of back-end systems and access to books, the publicity around their possible closure may also have led to a short-term drop in users and the figures do not reflect the other valuable activities which the libraries have been supporting, but nonetheless it is a worrying result, given that it is the libraries' core function.

Cllr Best commented:

"There have been some initial difficulties with data collection from the community libraries, and the service overall has had a difficult year, completing a major staff reorganisation and the introduction of new technologies. The implementation of such major change has had a negative impact on performance, but the service is confident that both issues and visits will now begin to increase."

The Bookseller runs a campaign called Fight For Libraries.

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