Hunt's verdict on Lewisham A&E: Liveblog

Jeremy Hunt is due to address Parliament in a few minutes, announcing his decision regarding the fate of Lewisham Hospital and the South London Healthcare Trust. We'll report the result as soon as it's in.

Brockley Councillor Darren Johnson tweeted this morning:

Jeremy Hunt's letter to Council talks about "difficult decisions". Politician's never use that phrase unless something bad is due to happen.

11:34 - Hunt's statement begins...

11:35 - Uh oh, he's reminding us that health care costs money.

11:35 - He says the SLHT has the worst financial problems of any in the country.

11:36 - He's thanking Kershaw and says he supports his analysis.

11:38 - So far he's accepted all the recommendations other than the reconfiguration that would effect Lewisham

11:39 - He's talking about the public campaign - says he respects their feelings, but that Lewisham needs the other hospitals to work well too

11:41 - Says there has been sufficient clinical input in the recommendations and that no one will be put at increased risk of Lewisham A&E closure.

11:42 - He reckons (and this is patent bollocks) that the extra journey time as a result of closures will only be another minute, on average.

11:45 - It looks like A&E will stay in reduced form. The rest of the recommendations to be adopted.

11:48 - It's not clear yet what a 'smaller A&E' actually means. The hospital was always due to keep some emergency care facilities.

11:50 - The Guardian reports that "Up to three quarters of those curently attending Lewisham A&E could attend the new service at the hospital, he says. Patients with more serious conditions could be taken to other hospitals. This will require careful planning. The NHS medical director believes that, with these caveats, care could improve. The new system could save up to 100 lives a year, he says."

11:52 - The Twitterspehere is still trying to grapple with what this all means. It looks as though all but the most serious A&E cases will be able to get admitted at Lewisham. That could make sense, since those cases will be handled by ambulances.

11:55 - Here's the Department of Health statement:

With regard to the proposed service changes within the new merged Lewisham-Greenwich provider, the Secretary of State asked Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director of the NHS, to consider if they would improve patient care.

On the basis of Sir Bruce’s advice, the Secretary of State has accepted the recommendation to centralise very specialist emergency care at four sites in South East London because this will significantly improve the quality of care and save the lives of up to 100 patients a year.

The Secretary of State understood the financial rationale for downgrading Lewisham A&E, but in the interests of local patients has imposed some additional clinical safeguards proposed by Sir Bruce. Lewisham Hospital will retain its ability to admit patients with less serious conditions, and will continue to have 24/7 senior medical emergency cover, allowing it to remain open as a working A&E department treating up to 75% of the patients who currently use it.

Patients with much more serious conditions or higher risk pregnancies will be taken to Kings, Queen Elizabeth, Bromley or St Thomas’ because they are more likely to have a better result. To get to this higher standard of care, patients across South East London will only spend on average 2 more minutes in an ambulance to access specialist emergency services and on average 2-3 minutes in a private car or public transport to access consultant led maternity services.

With these additional safeguards in place, the Secretary of State has agreed that the Trust Special Administrator should proceed to implementation, with South London Healthcare NHS Trust expected to be dissolved between June and October 2013.

12:02 - Hunt says patients with heart attacks and strokes already go elsewhere for more specialist care and argues the principle is no different.

12:05 - Heidi Alexander says she remains concerned about maternity services. Hunt says there are sound medical reasons for women with high-risk pregnancies to travel a little further.

12:06 - Simon Hughes says he doesn't understand why maternity can't stay if there's still to be an A&E department.

12:12 - The details will be picked apart in the coming days. It is not clear at this stage how much this is simply a rebranding of the original plans or whether the A&E will continue to be a useful asset to the people of Lewisham. What is certain is that - as the BBC reports - Lewisham A&E and maternity services have been downgraded due to the mismanagement of other hospitals in the area.

Boris: "Powerful argument" to shut Lewisham A&E

Ahead of tomorrow's expected verdict on the fate of Lewisham A&E, which faces closure under a plan to rescue less-well-run hospitals, Mayor Johnson has declined to speak out in favour of protecting Lewisham services. The News Shopper reports:

When asked about the issue at City Hall, he replied that the administrators had made a "powerful argument" to shut the A&E. He said: "It would be inappropriate for me, wrong for me, to do what you want me to do in respect of Lewisham A&E."

The Standard's City Hall editor Pippa Crerar said: "So Boris not coming out to bat for Lewisham then?"

Perhaps it might have been unrealistic to expect Boris, who owes his mayoralty to voters in the outer boroughs, to back Lewisham's case when an alternative plan might require cuts in Tory-stronghold Bromley, but he could have at least have acknowledged the (much more) powerful argument in favour of saving Lewisham A&E.

Made in Goldsmiths

Made in Goldsmiths is a new series of talks by leading academics, hosted by the University.

It begins this week with talk tomorrow evening by David Graeber (Goldsmiths' Department of Anthropology), the author of Debt: The First 5,000 Years, a book which explores the role debt has played in driving political and social change.

Patrick Loughrey, Warden, says:

We are proud to announce Made in Goldsmiths, created to showcase our excellent scholars and find out more about their work. Every day at Goldsmiths, our staff are researching, discovering and creating. 

‘Made in Goldsmiths’ provides an opportunity for our campus community to find out more about this work, whether it’s a book, research, a film or an exhibition. "The Made in Goldsmiths series is designed with our staff and students in mind, and offers the chance to not only find out more about the work that goes on here, but to meet each other in an informal setting.

If you'd like to attend the event, please email l.hutchinson@gold.ac.uk

Family gardening day in Deptford

Sunday 3rd February, 12pm to 4pm
Old Tidemill community garden
Frankham street
SE8 4RN
http://assembly-se8.tumblr.com/

The Assembly writes:

We are hosting a mums and kids-friendly volunteering day on Sun 3rd February to bring life to the Old Tidemill community garden in Deptford. Located in Frankham street, just off the Deptford library, counts a recently built tree house, a circular pond and theatre space.

Local families in Lewisham are invited to join cleaning, digging and planting seeds for the spring season. The Assembly aims to create a community space where kids can play and learn about plants, animals and design. Please wear suitable clothing for being outside and potentially getting a bit muddy.

More flashing

The reports of local flashing, which we started getting last year, continue. A BC reader who has asked not to be named reports:

I'd like other women to be warned: Last night, I encountered a flasher on Albyn Road (about 8.30pm). A young black man who first cycled up and undid his trousers - while still cycling - to flash me and then when he didn't get a reaction after cycling past a few times and shouting something I couldn't understand. He stopped in front of me and started waving his penis at me asking me if I liked it. I have reported it to the police.

The Great Brockley Bake Off

Crofton Park cafe Pat-a-Cakes is organising the first Great Brockley Bake Off. Owner Stacie writes:

The Great Brockley Bake Off will take place on Saturday, February 9th. There are so many great bakers in the area and this is an opportunity to show off  Brockley's baking skills. Everyone loves a bake-off, don't they?!

Cakes will need to be dropped in to the shop on the 8th so they're all ready to go on sale for for 9th. They'll be on sale on the 9th and people will purchase and vote for the best cakes throughout the day. Each cake will have its own sign, like 'Mrs Crofton's carrot cake'. The winner will be the baker with the most votes.

Entries can be anything baked, sweet or savoury - something that can go on our counter, so we can't have anything that needs to be refrigerated. 

The winner (most votes) will get £20 to spend in our shop and 20% of the proceeds will go to the charity Diabetes UK. To sign up people can either come into the shop, tweet me or email me at stace@patacakeslondon.com with their names and what they'll be baking (so we don't have too many cakes that clash). I'd love as many local people and businesses to take part. 

Is anybody here an arboreal biologist?

Tree down! Mike reports:

A tree has blown over at the Lewisham way end of tressillian road blocking the street completely. Being a photographer, this should be better quality, but being a cyclist, I was cold and wet and just wanted to get inside.

The Faircharm Creative Quarter

The Faircharm Creative Quarter is the planned redevelopment of Faircharm Estate in Deptford Creek by specialist business premises developers Workspace. The application is for:

The remodelling, repair, restoration and conversion of two existing buildings (A and C) to provide new commercial uses (4031 sqm of Use Class B1) with associated plant, servicing and storage. Demolition of Building B and the construction of four new buildings ranging from 6 to 12 storeys to provide 148 residential units (62 x one-bed, 69 x two bed and 17 x 3 bed), and new commercial uses (703 sqm of Use Class B1) together with new open space, landscaping, car and cycle parking at Faircharm Trading Estate, Creekside, SE8 3DX.

Workspace submitted their plans in December and the Council is due to reach its verdict in March. If it goes ahead, the commercial properties will be reclassified to B1 (offices), preventing the site from being used by some of the industrial businesses currently working on site. Employment on-site would more than double from 139 to 339, but only if the development is a success.


The authors of the Crossfields blog are highly critical of the proposal, publishing a long list of objections here.

While BC broadly disagrees with their points about the form and aesthetics, their criticism of the plan on the basis that it will force out many of the existing businesses on site is valid. They argue:

[Who will occupy the Creative Quarter?] Not artists, not crafts people, not the much heralded Based Upon (who work in bronze), not Shultz & Wiramu (who dye fabrics for theatre and film), not the sculptors, not the recording studio, not the artists collectives, the printers and publishers, not the fabricators of film props, not the businesses who need more than an office space.

They worry too that the site will fail to attract the businesses its supposed to appeal to, while driving out the incumbents. And although Workspace has a track record of developing for and attracting small businesses (unlike Galliard, which clearly has little interest in the commercial potential of Seager Distillery), it's a pity that more can't be done to accommodate some of these businesses.

The issue can't really be (as suggested) that home buyers won't want to buy next to workshop space because of the noise that they produce. Deptford is a wonderful place, but the sort of person who'd consider buying there is not in search of peace and quiet. Deptford Creek isn't competing with Barnes. More likely, the reason to change the use class is that Workspace can make more money from office space than from letting out large amounts of floorspace for workshop uses. There's a reason the incumbent businesses chose Deptford in the first place - because space was cheap. Any regeneration inevitably means space becomes more valuable. So while BC welcomes this scheme, we'd like to know whether more space could be preserved for (low cost) workshops, even if this comes at the expense of - for example - affordable housing, in order to make the scheme commercially viable.

If Faircharm goes ahead, it will undoubtedly change the character of this little part of Deptford. It would be a shame if what works about the existing site is lost in an attempt to attract more employment to the borough.

Art Auction Fundraiser at The Hill Station


Arlo & Moe's sexy toast

Mark: Brown for first course, white for pudding. Brown's savoury, white's the treat. Course, I'm the one who's laughing because I actually love brown toast.
- Peep Show

BCer Richard Elliot has reviewed Arlo & Moe's food options - finding their toast sexy and their dahl bold. As he says, the fact that it serves more than tea and cake is easily missed.

Read the review here.

BBC: At least 15,000 march against Lewisham Hospital cuts plan

The campaign to save Lewisham A&E from closure has succeeded in attracting a huge turnout at this afternoon's march, to protest against a plan which critics say could set a dangerous precedent for hospitals across the country. The BBC reports that:

"BBC London reporter Matt Morris said at least 15,000 attended Saturday's event. The Save Lewisham Hospital group claims up to 25,000 took part."

Please share your stories from the march here.

The Honeypot and Goldcrest Plumbers reopen

Brockley Safer Neighbourhood Team attended the reopening of Honey Pot and Goldcrest plumbers on Upper Brockley Road yesterday. They say:

"We will be working with the businesses, our partners & local residents to ensure there is not a reoccurrence of anti-social behaviour."

The businesses were closed after a decade of crime and anti-social behaviour at that location forced the police and the Council to take a range of measures, including ordering the businesses' temporary closure.

Supercuts remains closed.

Little Nan's Bar - Coming Soon

Jack: I like you. You have the boldness of a much younger woman. 
- 30 Rock

Little Nan's Bar is about to take over 46 Deptford Broadway, AKA The Bunker Club.

The bar opens on February 15th and the teasers on its Facebook page suggest cocktails (served in china cups) will be Nan's specialty. Nan says

Hello My little Roses! I have a new cocktail for you... It has Campari, loads of Fresh Lime, Tonic - Topped up with Prosecco. I am naming it The Lady Diana. Hope you love it. xx 

Or if you would like to be Merry then try my Queen Victoria cocktail (Earl Grey infused Gin topped up with slimline Tonic and loads of Fresh Lemon Juice) Love you xx 

Hello my little Pea pods! My Hot Mulled Sweet Apple Juice will be served everyday that I am open! Have it Merry (with Rum) or Sober (Without) Yum! Love Little Nan xx

Walk in Space youth club reopens

The Walk in Space youth club in Crofton Park reopens on Friday 25 January 2013, from 4.45pm. Lewisham Council writes:

Last September, the monthly club moved from St Hilda’s Church into a new venue at St Saviours, where it’s now run on a weekly basis. Its reopening was made possible due to funding from the Crofton Park local assembly.

Over the past two years, a group of local people and a youth forum, have discussed what young people needed in the area and how best the money should be spent. The result is a new and improved youth club run by the local community.

The newly developed club aims to encourage and mentor young people to become future leaders and volunteer workers of the future by supporting them with CV advice and providing them with work experience. Activities on offer to members will include: sports, music, arts and crafts, games, table tennis, pool and cooking. Members of the club will also be able to use the nearby multi-sport Dalmain PEN on club nights.

The Walk in Space youth club is at St Saviours Church Hall, Brockley Rise SE23 1JN.

Walpole demolition 'imminent'


BC reader Bashredford reports that the Walpole pub in New Cross is due to be demolished shortly, to make way for a new hotel (above).

The pub closed last year and Fashsmash had been interested in re-opening it as a location for a pop-up restaurant, to follow the success of his Shoreditch roof-top pizzeria, Forza Win. Unfortunately, he reports:

I walked past The Walpole earlier and spoke to a guy working there. It has been closed as unsafe, with twenty years of damp and will begin to be demolished in the fortnight, with a 60 room hotel being built there as soon as possible. In the interim, nobody allowed in!

The news also means that he's still looking for a venue in the area for his restaurant. So if you can help him find somewhere, we'll get a pizzeria. BC tried to sell him The Tea Factory, but he needs a more temporary space.

Jam Circus and The Royal Albert up for sale

Accountancy Age has interviewed the administrators of Antic Ltd, the offshoot of Antic London, that went into administration earlier this month, threatening the future of local pubs including Jam Circus and The Royal Albert.

Critically, administrator Richard Toone, of Chantrey Vellacott says that the pubs have a viable future and that they should be sold as going concerns:

"We are welcoming offers on each of the individual leaseholds, and the company's business and assets as a whole," said Toone.

"The main factor behind the business going into administration is due to a HMRC bill it has struggled to resolve. The pubs are very popular and the business should be profitable and the substantial interest and offers which have been made reflect this." 

Pubs run by Antic Ltd's parent company Antic are not affected by the administration.

With thanks to Tom.

The 2013 Lewisham Crime Suvery

The Safer Lewisham Partnership wants to hear your views and your experiences of crime and anti-social behaviour in Lewisham.

The results of the Lewisham Crime Survey will be used by the partnership, which includes Lewisham Council, the police, probation and fire services, health, and voluntary groups, to set its annual priorities.

The survey is open from until 5pm on 25 February and will only take a few minutes to complete. Please go to http://lewisham-consult.objective.co.uk/portal/community_services/crsp/lewishamcrimesurvey2013 to have your say.

Free open weekend at Lewisham leisure centres

Fusion Lifestyle, the charity that runs many of Lewisham's leisure centres, writes:

Lewisham residents are being invited to make-good on their New Year fitness resolutions and join in a fun-filled open weekend at their local leisure centres.

Open to both members and non-members, the Open Weekend will take place on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 January at centres in Forest Hill, Ladywell, Sydenham and the recently refurbished Wavelengths Leisure Centre in Deptford.

With a fantastic range of facilities and activities on offer across the borough there will be something for everyone to enjoy, most of which will be FREE. Activities include: fitness classes such as Bollywood Fusion and Kung Fu Jam as well as Fun and Floats sessions for families. There will also be free health checks, fitness consultations and a variety of prizes to be won.

A full schedule can be found here.

Reliable Honor Oak in The Evening Standard

It's been WEEKS since the Evening Standard Homes & Property pages explained that the East London Line has boosted demand for property along its route. So here goes:

According to the latest data from Network Rail, the London Overground offers the most punctual service in the Britain. An impressive 88.4 per cent of its trains ran on time in the 12 months to December 8, 2012. Other rail companies, the worst offenders being CrossCountry and Virgin Trains, ran only about half of their trains on time in the same period. 

That's all the hook this story needs and they're off:

The Overground links up-and-coming leafy suburbs and semi-rural neighbourhoods with a country feel to key central London postcodes — in short, something for everyone...

London has many “nappy valley” suburbs that act as magnets for middle-class young families, and Honor Oak Park is rapidly joining the list. The area has affordable family homes which are drawing in flat-owners from central London attracted by the 1930s houses on the Kersey Estate — a three-bedroom terrace costs £425,000 to £450,000 — or the area’s well-preserved Victorian homes. A two-bedroom cottage would cost from £350,000, or you could opt for a four-bedroom period house from £500,000.

Families also love the area because of its open space — One Tree Hill is a pretty wooded park, and it is also an easy walk to the Horniman Museum and Gardens... The high street is small but rather lovely, with a selection of delis, cafés and independent shops. Indian restaurant Babur is award-winning, and there is an excellent tapas bar...

Broca Two

Like neighbouring Browns, the Broca has rejigged its layout to devote more space to coffee. The extension, which used to feel like a bit of an afterthought (although a useful venue for small groups), is an now integral part of the cafe.

Booze and Birds on Hilly Fields

Two events on Hilly Fields this weekend:



January Ward Assemblies

Here are the details for the latest local ward assemblies:

Brockley Ward Assembly, January 24th

7 - 9pm
Myatt Garden School
Rokeby Road, SE4 1DF

The agenda covers:

- Hear about the latest developments regarding the proposed closure of Lewisham Hospital A&E and other
cuts to services.
- Receive feedback from projects funded by the Assembly Fund.
- Receive an update on the recently launched Brockley Youth Forum.
- News from your local Safer Neighbourhood Team

As well as what else is going on in your area. We would also like to use this meeting to showcase local projects, initiatives and groups, so if you are interested in participating, then please do get in touch.

Crofton Park Assembly, January 26th

10am – 11.45am
Crofton Park Community Library
375 Brockley Road, SE4 2AG

The meeting will finish early to enable those taking part in the Lewisham A& E march to get to Lewisham. The agenda for this meeting will be as follows:

Crofton Park Neighbourhood Forum Launch and discussions of:

- improving the local environment, traffic and planning, including the trees in Crofton Park project
- supporting young people and older people
- building a Businesses Forum for the Crofton Park ward
- creating Residents and Tenants Associations
- community events, activities and communication within the community
- Crofton Park youth assembly update
- Street lighting replacement in the Crofton Park ward an update by Skanska with Q and A
- Crofton Park Neighbourhood Watch, Crofton Park Safer Neighbourhood team and community updates form the floor

Save Lewisham Hospital - One More March [UPDATED]


If he knew about it, Big Bird would almost certainly join Tutu's call for Lewisham A&E to be saved

Campaign group "Save Lewisham Hospital" is organising one more march this Saturday, against the recommended closure of Lewisham's A&E department and other facilities. They say:

The decision on the future of Lewisham A&E is due at the start of February. We must keep up the pressure.

JOIN THE DEMO on SATURDAY 26th JANUARY to show Jeremy Hunt what we think of the proposals to close Lewisham Hospital A&E, Intensive Care and some children and maternity services!

ASSEMBLE Lewisham Roundabout (by the station) at 12 noon on Saturday 26th January. March past our hospital to Mountsfield Park for rally, music and giant petition.

The campaign has attracted national attention, most dramatically on BBC One's Question Time. Rather randomly, they've also managed to get Desmond Tutu to condemn the plans, but since he also turned out for the legendarily bizarre Qualcomm keynote address, we're not sure how much weight his views on South East London healthcare provision carry in Whitehall.

More promisingly, Labour's Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham is arguing that:

Lewisham Hospital is outside the purview of the TSA terms of reference and I am clear that the powers associated with the Failure Regime policy were not intended to be used to encompass service changes in other hospitals and allow back-door reconfigurations of services without proper public consultation... and [the plan for Lewisham Hospital] should be stopped.

The last march drew thousands despite the cold and rain - this weekend, perhaps the Brockley snowmen will swell the ranks.

UPDATE: BCers have pointed out a very good article about the issue by Lewisham Hospital-born Rowenna Davis in The New Statesman. Amongst a lot of very well-made points, she argues:

If this move made economic sense, perhaps he would have a point. But the Guardian has reported that Kershaw’s proposals would cost £195m to implement, and only deliver £19.5m savings a year. At a time when Lewisham has just invested millions in services that are doing well, this seems wasteful. If you have to close a hospital, why close the one that is doing best?

Cannon Wharf

Barratts (client of Edelman, BC's employers), the house builders, have acquired Cannon Wharf in Deptford, on the border with Surrey Quays. They say:

The site at Cannon Wharf will comprise 679 units, of which 562 will be private, and 70,913 sq ft of commercial/retail floor space. The site currently accommodates an existing business centre and a number of open sided warehouse units together with a large car parking area.

Barratt are currently building major developments in Canada Water and Lewisham (Loampit Vale). The purchase by a major developer means this project should get underway soon.

Lewisham Library makeover

Lewisham Council writes:

Lewisham Library is to undergo some refurbishment to its ground floor.

From Wednesday 23 January, the library will close for one week to allow the installation of a more environmentally friendly entrance. The two existing doors will be replaced with sliding doors leading into the lobby area. This change will reduce the heat that is currently lost when the two existing doors open outwards or inwards independently.

While this work is being undertaken, library staff will complete the installation of self-service terminals and rearrange the lay-out of the ground floor with more seating and books.

The library will reopen on Thursday 31 January at 9am. Regular users of Lewisham Library can return their books, DVDs, CDs or games to any of the other Lewisham libraries.

Nursery bid for Ashby Road

Zoom, the company which applied to convert 60 Manor Avenue in to a nursery, is back after the failure of that project, with another application, just down the road. This time, it's lodged an application for:

The alteration and change of use of 1-3 Ashby Road SE4, from Offices (Use Class B1) to Nursery (Use Class D1) together with the construction of two skylights on the single storey roof, alterations to the north and west elevations, installation of boundary fence and gates to the front, associated landscaping and provision of bicycle stores and four car park spaces.

The building would create 77 places for 3 months-5 years-old kids. Zoom also plan to jazz up the exterior of the building, which they describe fairly as "rather dull and lacking any architectural merit."

Zoom's last attempt to build a nursery here was highly controversial. This should prove to be less-so, as the location is more sensitive and other mooted uses for this site have included a mental health facility.

Brockley Central said during the Manor Avenue saga that a nursery was clearly needed in the area, due to the fact that Brockley was attracting increasing numbers of young families. That was visibly true in 2009 - it's even more the case now.

With thanks to JPM for the tip-off.

Snow falling on readers

BC readers have sent in photos from their snow days this weekend. Firstly, Gema, moderator of the Deptford Forum, sends these shots of Deptford and Greenwich in the snow:
Joe discovered gnomes in Crofton Park:
And Fifi took this in SE8:

Thank you Dave

Sounds Around, the Brockley Road shop, is currently closed due to the death of Dave, who ran the store with his family for decades. It's terribly sad news - Dave was one of the loveliest people we've ever met. Kind, patient and friendly at all times, he helped make Sounds Around (which began as a Harefield Road record store in the 1960s, founded by Dave's father) one of Brockley's greatest treasures.

Brockley Central readers have already posted their condolences elsewhere on the site and we've been inundated with messages about him. If anyone deserves a dedicated place on Brockley Central, it's Dave.

The photo of Dave is from Julia Keil's Brockley collection and there is a lovely vignette about the effect Dave had on his customers here.

Gently job

Another local business is hiring. Gently Elephant's Helen writes:

We think that working at Gently Elephant is a bit special. For us it’s about offering a service people will remember (for all the right reasons), a naturally sunny disposition (nobody likes a misery guts) and a lot of passion and excitement about the things we sell (all of which we recommend without hesitation). If you think you’d fit in at Gently then drop us a line and tell us why. We’re not fussy about what you’ve done before, we just want you to want to work with us now. The only thing we ask is that you have some availability to work at weekends and, it goes without saying, that you must like our youngest customers although having your own isn’t essential.

We’re recruiting for some special people. One who will ultimately manage our store and others who are looking for a little part time work. Please attach a CV with your letter and either post to the shop or email to hello@gentlyelephant.mygbiz.com We very much look forward to hearing from you.

180 Brockley Road decision deferred

Cllr Mike Harris reports that Lewisham Council's planning committee agreed with the developers to defer any decision on 180 Brockley Road for a further six weeks, to allow more work to be done on how to accommodate more social housing as part of the scheme.

He says that the developers were happy to consider this challenge and that the plans could involve building social housing in another location.

Night flight

Noise pollution campaigner Elise has been back in touch with an update about the problem of Heathrow night flights passing over Brockley as a result of a policy being trialed at the moment, which involves aircraft avoiding areas to the north and south of Brockley in the early morning (the issue is discussed in some detail here). She writes:

I have been speaking with BAA again today. They tell me that they “have received an increase in complaints from the Brockley area”. Thank you to those of you who have taken them time – please continue to do so. It is not too late yet! 

BAA also said “the changeover day occured last Sunday night/Monday morning, however this week aircraft have been using the Northern Runway (27R/09L), which means Brockley should be quieter in the early morning this week and next. It would be helpful if you could let me know if you notice a difference.” 

We can continue to log complaints by calling this number: 0800 344844 or at noise_complaints@baa.com and including your name, address and postcode for the complaint to be valid.

Also, Cllr Darren Johnson has tabled a formal question to the Mayor of London, so the issue is getting more exposure:

"I have had numerous complaints from residents of SE4 about a significant increase in aircraft noise and early morning flights since Heathrow/BAA began a trial scheme of changed flight paths. Are you monitoring the impact of this trial and will you be making representations to BAA and the relevant bodies?"

Brockley resident JPM has also been speaking to the press office at BAA, the parent company of Heathrow, which comments:

The trial currently taking place has been developed with HACAN – which is dedicated to campaigning on behalf of those who live under aircraft flight paths - in response to feedback from communities. 

We are keen to listen to communities, including residents of Brockley, to hear what impact the trial is having which is why we welcome feedback. All feedback is logged and recorded.

If you want to know which flights are passing over your house, click here for a tracking service. If you type in your street name, and a specific date and time, it will show an animated view of which flights were arriving/ departing at that time. If you hover the cursor over each flight, it will give you the flight number, the origin, and the height at which it was flying.

New gym and cafe opens at Wavelengths

Fusion Lifestyle writes:

The first stage of a major redevelopment project at Wavelengths Leisure Centre in Deptford will be open to the public on Saturday 19 January. A state of the art 80 station gym, a new group exercise studio, an indoor cycle studio and brand new café will all open for business.

These extensive site renovations represent a significant investment by Lewisham Council in partnership with sport and leisure management charity, Fusion Lifestyle, which manages Wavelengths Leisure Centre.

Still to come are improvements to the leisure pool and changing facilities, an additional group exercise studio, brand new health suite with sauna and steam room as well as a soft play zone for children.

Local residents and existing members and users are being invited to try all of the new facilities for themselves during an open weekend at Wavelengths Leisure Centre, which will be held on 26 and 27 January.

Antic Ltd enters administration

On Twitter, news breaks that Antic Ltd, an offshoot of pub company Antic, has entered administration, meaning an uncertain future of a number of local leasehold pubs, including Jam Circus and The Royal Albert.

Beer and pub writer John Brown reports:

To clarify there's Antic, which is OK, and Antic Ltd, an offshoot, reportedly in administration.

Liberty Beer adds:

The Administrator says they will continue as going concerns for now.

Antic Ltd's pubs include Jam Circus (which has been closed due to fire since December) and The Royal Albert (which was put up for sale recently). Both are very popular and either would be a huge loss to the area if it were to close. Hopefully a good buyer can be found soon.

Antic London's roster of pubs includes the Catford Bridge Tavern, The Sylvan Post in Forest Hill and the soon-to-open Deptford Job Centre.

You can see the full list of Antic Ltd pubs here.

Parliamentary debate about Lewisham A&E's fate

Labour MP for Lewisham East, Heidi Alexander, tweets:

Just found out I have secured a 90 min debate in Parliament next Tues on future of A&E & maternity services in South London. The debate will take place from 9.30am-11am. A Minister will have to respond but it won't be Jeremy Hunt.

With thanks to Richard for the tip off.

Dare you enter the cueB?

The cueB team at the Brockley Mess write:

Open cueB 2013 is an opportunity for artists to have their artwork displayed at cueB gallery.

After a very successful 2012, cueB gallery is delighted to announce that for the 4th year running OPENCUEB will be returning this February.

cueB Gallery, the dedicated exhibition space within The Brockley Mess café is inviting artists to participate in Open cueB 2013, a group exhibition which aims to provide a platform showcasing the talent and vibrancy of the South London art scene, giving both amateur and professional artists a chance to show their work.

Each year the standard of Open cueB has risen with the diversity of the applicants and huge variety of work. cueB gallery is proud to have been able to offer past applicants solo shows in the gallery, something we are keen to continue with this year’s show.

Art works in any 2D medium can be submitted but must not exceed 30”x30” (76x76 cm) in any direction. A selection panel will decide which artists and pieces make it on to the gallery walls. Artists who want to submit a piece for consideration should complete the application process which can be found on our website: www.cuebgallery.com

The closing date for online submissions is the 10th February 2013.

The Brockley Consortium Case Study

Pinnacle PSG, one of the key partners in the Regenter PFI, which manages 1,800 homes in Brockley on behalf of Lewisham Council, has taken an ad out in the Guardian, to celebrate its many achievements.

In particular, Pinnacle emphasises its work to deliver high-quality customer care (for residents) and its consultative approach to working with the local community - highligting projects such as a new Butterfly Garden, a playground and an orchard.

This rosy picture jars with early accounts of the PFI scheme's performance. The Brockley PFI Leaseholders Association campaigned against what it argued were unfair charges and poor quality maintenance work for tenants.  Lewisham Council was also criticised by the National Audit Office for the cost of the scheme.

There's no opportunity for residents to comment on the Guardian site, so we'd be interested in people's views on how the well the PFI is performing now.

The Brockley Brewing Company - Coming Soon

The Brockley microbrewery on Harcourt Road now has a Facebook page. They've also given a little more detail about their plans. They say:

The Microbewery will be a five barrel plant, initially with two fermenting vessels producing 20 nine gallon casks of tasty hand crafted beer per week.

We’re very excited that it’s only a matter of weeks before we start brewing and share our first brew with you at a planned open day in the spring, (date yet to be fixed). The wooden boards cover up folding metal entrance doors which will be painted the gorgeous shade of green we propose to use in our branding, more details to be shared soon.

The Thurston Road Redevelopment

Occasional BC visitor Rational Plan has found these images for the planned Thurston Road development:

The building, opposite the Loampit Vale development "Lewisham Renaissance", has planning permission for a B&Q with 280 flats above it. These other images give a sense of the scale of development, which will represent another major step change for the town centre. 

Demolition work to clear the site began late last year

Clapham ELL carrying 1m a month

Monkeyboy sends us this update about our beneficent orange overlord:

The Clapham Junction to Surrey Quays link carried its one millionth passenger on Thursday 10 January - just one month after the new London Overground link opened. Chief Operating Officer, Howard Smith, said: 

"The popularity of the new service across South London is as we expected given that it connects the major interchange of Clapham Junction in the west with the developing area of East London. "Demand has been growing steadily since it opened as the new service offers a faster and more comfortable journey option to increasing numbers of Londoners." 

According to new Network Rail punctuality tables, London Overground as a whole was the most punctual UK rail operator during 2012, with 88.4 per cent of trains arriving within 59 seconds of schedule. Almost 120 million people use the London Overground network annually and based on the first month's figure the new Clapham Junction to Surrey Quays link is expected to add around 13 to 14 million passengers per annum.

Which seems like a good excuse to ask BCers whether the problems that they were braced for when the new line opened have materialised.

The first week of operation brought with it lots of confused Claphamites and managed to lure a few drunken Monkeyboys into accidental journeys west, but otherwise, we've not noticed any extra problems with crushing at Canada Water or extra crowding on trains from Surrey Quays. What do you make of it?

180 Brockley Road plans reviewed this week

This week (Thursday), Lewisham Council's Planning Committee will consider the application to redevelop 180 Brockley Road. The report prepared for the meeting recommends that the development be approved, subject to some further points of negotiation and clarification.

We've picked out what we think are the most salient points:

On parking issues...

The works listed in the Transport Assessment can only be viewed as suggested works. These include:

• Coulgate Street to become one-way northbound from Foxberry Road to Brockley Road
• Widening of the footway on the eastern side of Coulgate Street
• Pedestrian refuge, drop kerbs and tactile paving on Coulgate Street at the junction with Brockley Road
• Rationalisation of the on-street parking on Coulgate Street
• Closure of the existing crossovers on Foxberry Road and Brockley Road and the re-instatement of the footway

These suggested works would result in a rationalisation of the existing parking spaces on Coulgate Street and would re-provide 13 of the existing parking spaces in the form of 6 short stay parking spaces; 1 loading bay; 2 drop off spaces adjacent to Brockley Station; 3 taxi spaces and 1 disabled space. Two further disabled spaces and a loading bay/3 short stay parking bay would be provided on Foxberry Road... The report concludes that there will be no adverse impact on parking as a result of the suggested works.

On the pedestrianisation of Coulgate Street...

It is very important to make clear that the Council’s Highways Team has confirmed that the works to Coulgate Street have received LIP funding and are scheduled for the 2013/14 financial year. The improvement works to Coulgate Street will go ahead whether or not this planning application is granted. The £90,000 S106 contribution set out in the draft heads of terms and earmarked to go towards these improvements will not be sufficient to cover the cost of the works on their own, but will serve to improve the scale and quality of the changes that the Council will be able to deliver.

On the commercial space...

Concern has been raised that the ground floor commercial space should be let to small businesses to add to the diversity and unique character of the area and create a thriving hub and shopping/leisure destination. As such, a condition is recommended requiring the maximum size of a single A1 unit to be 190sqm. This would ensure that the large commercial space fronting Foxberry Road is divided into at least two units to add to the diversity provided by the centre, promote small businesses and retain the unique character of the area.

The principle of high quality scheme which proposes a mix of ground floor commercial uses (that includes a retail element) and residential uses above and will make a contribution towards the much desired improvements to Coulgate Street will be acceptable in principle.

On the fate of the MOT centre...

The business will be looking to relocate locally to retain its existing customer base. Although this is likely to be on a smaller scale as the current site is too large. The tenant has confirmed that there seems to be some suitable sites available but it is too early to sign up to one of these.

In conclusion...

On balance, the development would deliver regeneration benefits and improvements to the townscape on a key site in the conservation area which is situated in a highly sustainable location. This application has been considered in the light of policies set out in the development plan and other material considerations including policies in the Core Strategy. Officers consider that the with the necessary conditions and obligations in place, the proposal would result in a high quality development that would support the regeneration Brockley Cross and the proposal is therefore considered acceptable.

Meze less messy

The sea container has gone. The rusting box outside Meze Mangal on Lewisham Way, which was once the area's biggest eyesore, has been removed.

For a place that inspires such strong passions in those who live here, Brockley can sometimes look as though no-one gives a toss. With the clean-up of Brockley Cross and now this, all of the horrors we documented in 2008 have now gone.

The hulk was a relic from a period when local businesses thought there was no point in adopting airs and graces and Council planners actively encouraged them not to get ideas above the station. Those attitudes are changing and the Meze Mangal team have been nursing ambitions to expand their hugely popular restaurant for some time. For that to happen, the container, which was used to store wood for the oven, had to go.

Parenting Course in Crofton Park

Pippa writes:

Calling parents of children up to 7 - a Family Caring Trust parenting course with group, paired and individual activities.

Starting on Wednesday 23 January, for 7 weeks and held at Crofton Park Community Library, 9.30-11.30am. Crèche provided for pre-school children (with CRB checked volunteers).

Cost £1 per adult/session For more information contact Pippa on brockleyparenting@gmail.com or sign up at the Library.

Two Lewisham fire stations face closure

The BBC reports that New Cross and Downham Fire Stations are threatened with closure in a review of the London service, which is due to go before the fire authority for a vote on 21 January. The BBC says:

Plans to close 12 fire stations in London, with the loss of 520 jobs, have been unveiled. The proposals, announced by London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson, are part of plans to save £45m over the next two years.

Brockley Councillor Darren Johnson is quoted in the report:

London Assembly Green Party Member Darren Johnson said the public were "desperately worried" about the proposed closures. Rather than cutting council tax the mayor should be providing the funding to keep these fire stations open," he said.

With thanks to Lep Recorn for the heads-up.

Farewell, Joan

Dame Joan Ruddock, the long-standing Labour MP for Lewisham Deptford, is to stand down at the next election, South London Paper Kate reports.

Perhaps exhausted by her fight to protect Lewisham A&E from closure, she's calling it a day. Given that we can be 100% assured of a Labour MP at the next election, the question becomes: who will Labour choose? Hopefully someone with some energy and passion for local issues.

Won't somebody think of the children? The Livesey to become a Treasure House

Back in 2008, we reported the news that the Livesey Museum for Children on the Old Kent Road was to close. The good news is that Southwark Council voted in November to lease the building to Treasure House – a community interest company which says of their aims:

“Our aim is to re-engage young people who have fallen behind in mainstream education. We provide a flexible, creative curriculum which is tailored to the needs of the individual student."

With thanks to Tamsin for the news.

How to get a conehead in advertising

You want to run an outdoor display advertising company. You have two main options available.

You could negotiate with a Council or a land owner for the rights to sell ad space on their property, sharing the proceeds of the advertising you sell and operating in a regulated manner, so that ads are not too obtrusive. Or you could buy an old car, paint it with the logos of some rubbish company that is silly enough to advertise with you and park that car on the street by a station, taking up a useful space and not making any contribution to stretched public coffers.

If you choose the latter option, then you need to be prepared for people to come and put cones on your car, to highlight what an antisocial person you are and to expose the fact that the car is nothing but a billboard. These cones have been here for some time...

Lewisham A&E - hush hush on the QT

Hundreds of people gathered outside the recording of BBC One's Question Time at Goldsmiths tonight in protest against the threatened closure of Lewisham Hospital's A&E department. Let's see if it's had the desired effect and influenced the debate this evening. The show starts at 10.35pm.

22:31 - BBC London has reported the protest ahead of the broadcast.

22:36 - It's started. Not sure Dorries and Prescott are who we'd have wished for to give this issue the spotlight we need, but the Goldsmiths crowd will have to cut their cloth accordingly.

22:40 - Dorries did at least acknowledge the issue on Twitter, saying that locals are worried about traffic problems. That's not the point in BC's view - it's the fact that a population of 250,000 and counting will have no A&E ward and we're being told to use a relatively poor service in Woolwich instead.

22:43 - In the comments, Sue reports that the audience were told the issue was too local to debate. So here's hoping someone managed something like "Do the panel agree with the disastrous decision to close vital services at Lewisham Hospital in light of the delightful news that Kanye West and Kim Kardashian are expecting a baby?"

22:48 - "Hospitals" just got a mention. That might be all we get...

22:50 - Prescott: "something, something, tax avoidance, something, something, Tories." Incoherent ramble nonetheless manages to draw a rousing round of applause. Unlikely to endear Jeremy Hunt to Lewisham.

22:56 - Dorries quoting accurate employment stats and being frowned at by man in audience for suggesting that the private sector is doing a good job at creating jobs.

23:02 - It's a shame QT felt the need to go back to the well about whether Dorries should have gone on IACGMOOH. No, of course not. Move on. It is not an interesting question. There are hospitals to be saved. Still, good bit of sarcasm from the guy in the crowd who expressed sympathy for her crowded summer schedule.

23:12 - Still talking about Dorries. Prescott reminds us of his flirtation with celebrity. I've said it before and I'll say it again: democracy simply doesn't work.

23:13 - "David Cameron claimed the NHS was safe in his hands. Given the cuts and closures, is this still the case?" Well done that woman. Dimbleby explains the accompanying cheers were about Lewisham A&E.

23:14 - Ed Davey - one of the best ministers around - spells out the issue nicely and says he's alarmed. Notes he fought similar issues in his constituency.

23:15 - Davey says he's opposed to it but won't pre-judge the Health Sec's decision. Fair enough.

23:17 - Woman in audience says views of local people have been ignored. "Brand new facilities will be sold off under this plan."

23:19 - to his great discredit, Dimbleby doing his best to move the debate on to the general question about the NHS. So instead of a real issue that can be dissected to show what health care policy looks like in practice, we can have more vapid soundbites. Even Dorries is happy to move it back to Lewisham - blaming Labour PFI. Dorries says Lewisham is a good hospital.

23:21 - Dimbleby asks how it can be fair that Lewisham can be sacrificed to save worse hospitals. Dorries (attempting to have a go at Labour) says it isn't fair. Says she's opposed to it and will relay the messages of the protesters to Hunt.

23:22 - Ed Davey says local Lib Dems are campaigning against the proposal.

23:23 - Canny man in the audience presents this issue as a test of whether the NHS is safe in the hands of this government. That's got to be the approach. Make this a litmus test.

23:24 - Camilla Cavendish says she's been speaking to Lewisham doctors. Says that we risk rewarding bad management. Solvent, good care at risk. She says that Hunt should give Lewisham management wider responsibilities rather than shutting it down.

23:26 - This is great. John Bird raises the question of whether Lewisham is being hit because it's a left-leaning place. Says it may be a scurrilous accusation, but one he's happy to raise on national TV.

23.32 - The combined efforts of protesters, doctors and the audience ensured that the Lewisham Hospital issue was dealt with properly tonight. All sides came out in favour of saving the hospital and the political stakes have just been raised for Hunt.

Smiles Thai Cafe closed?

Smiles Thai Cafe, the Foxberry Road restaurant, has been closed for several months. Until its closure, it was incredibly popular and a mainstay of Brockley Central's diet.

On the Brockley Forum, another person has asked whether its closure is permanent - we'd like to know too. If anyone has any information about its status, please let us know.

UPDATE: Trusted Brockley expert Robert explains (below) that Smiles is most-likely undergoing a refurbishment. Our world just got a little brighter.

The new Browns

Browns of Brockley, the Coulgate Street coffee shop, has undergone a mini-transformation. With a devoted fanbase and a tiny floorplate, they've rejigged the layout so that they have more space for coffee-making, yet somehow just as much seating. BC can confirm that the coffee is still as good as ever.

Amersham Arms Doozer

You could argue that the Brockley Ukulele Group are overexposed, popping up at almost every Brockley event that BC has ever been to, but just when you think there is nothing left to be said about them, they pull a Fraggle Rock poster out of their box of tricks to show that Uncle Travelling Matt was right when he said "the magic is always there, as long as we keep looking for it."

They're playing a 5th Anniversary gig at the Amersham Arms this weekend.

Sound Tracks 2013 - Bigger and Oranger

Sound Tracks - the East London Line music festival returns for 2013. The team say:

Sound Tracks rolls back into town this May and is sure to provide 2013's most unique festival experience.

2011's event was a huge success, with over thirty acts performing in Dalston, Shoreditch and New Cross, as well as on the actual trains running between each venue. There'd never been an event quite like it in London before, and we couldn't wait to do it all again.

Unfortunately we had to give last year a miss because of some big international Sports Day that proved rather popular, and clogged up East London for a long period. However, we're back for 2013 and, thanks to the expansion of the East London Line into Peckham and beyond, we're going to be even bigger and better this time around. More details will be announced very soon, but the date for your diaries is Saturday 11 May 2013.

"Close Lewisham A&E" plan sent to Health Secretary - UPDATE: QT protest planned

The recommendation to close Lewisham A&E was submitted to the Health Secretary today. The Evening Standard reports:

A London hospital has moved closer to losing its highly-praised accident and emergency department despite an outcry from clinicians and patients and a 15,000-strong protest march.

NHS administrator Matthew Kershaw today refused to withdraw a proposal to axe Lewisham hospital’s casualty unit.

It will now be up to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to decide next month whether to accept his recommendations to shake-up the care provided by a number of hospitals in south-east London over the next three years.

This government says believes that market forces can help to bring greater discipline to public services, so let's see if Jeremy Hunt is willing to let a well-run hospital lose out because of the failings of a poorly-run trust. Closing Lewisham Hospital A&E would be a moral hazard in more than one sense.

UPDATE: On Twitter, Tessa Jowell MP (pressing for reassurances that Kings College A&E will be safeguarded) says of the Lewisham plan: "Jeremy Hunt is seeking further legal advice. @andyburnhammp has asked for this to be published. I support @andyburnhammp broader position that Lewisham Hospital is outside the remit of TSA terms of reference."

UPDATE: There will be a protest about the threatened closure at the recording of BBC One's Question Time tomorrow, which is taking place at Goldsmiths tomorrow. Meet at the Richard Hoggart Building from 17:30.

Tea at the Opera

Lead Soprano and organiser of the event Annalisa Piazza writes:

We aim to help small charities raise funds through the medium of Opera, to also introduce Opera to the community through accessible shows, free entrance to children and support to Family Action and Building Bridges, by donating free adult tickets to these charities, to allowe poor families to enjoy an event together. Fof more information on this and other events, you may find us on www.facebook.com/projectopera

Dimblebies Double Down on New Cross

Transpontine reports:

On Thursday 10th January, David Dimbleby chairs the first Question Time of 2013 at Goldsmiths in New  Cross.

The very next day, 11th January 2013, Jonathan Dimbleby will be presenting Any Questions from St Catherine's Church in New Cross (Kitto Road, SE14) with Deputy Leader of the Labour Party Harriet Harman MP, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats Simon Hughes MP, John Cooper QC and Sir Malcolm Rifkind.

More here.

River crossing strategy consultation this week

Tomorrow, the London Assembly will hold a public consultation about planned new river crossings in London, all of which are in East London. The biggest project on the table is a proposed new road tunnel between Greenwich Peninsula and Silvertown, which would cost an estimated £600m. Other projects include:

- A new ferry at Woolwich to replace the existing service
- A new vehicle ferry at Gallions Reach running between Thamesmead and Beckton by 2017
- A new bridge or tunnel at Gallions Reach by around 2031 if a ferry does not address needs
- A new bridge or tunnel at Gallions Reach, not before 2021, instead of a ferry
- A toll for any new crossings and the Blackwall Tunnel to pay for the proposals and help to manage traffic

The case for more and better river crossings is based on the economic development that would be stimulated in South East London by improving transport links with major centres in East London, like UCL's planned Stratford research campus.

The Mayor is backing the Silvertown tunnel solution, having killed the Thames Gateway Bridge project, which would have connected Thamesmead and Beckton (an idea which is now back on the table, but which would not be delivered until 2021 at the earliest). So too is Greenwich Council, which has launched a campaign to secure the Silvertown solution.

Campaigners against the tunnel have launched a petition, claiming that:

Encouraging more traffic to use the A102 and A2 will be counter-productive and will, in the long term, do nothing to reduce congestion in south-east London. The area has long suffered from poor air quality, which led to 150 deaths across Greenwich borough in 2008, and any road-building will only make this worse.

Even the mayor's office admits pollution is high along the A102 and A2, particularly at the Woolwich Road flyover, Kidbrooke interchange and at Eltham station. The Woolwich Road flyover is already one of the most polluted spots in London.  This can only get worse, along with the congestion, as the new tunnel gets busier. Furthermore, it will also make bottlenecks at Kidbrooke and Eltham - where the A102 and A2 have only two lanes in each direction - worse.

Alternative proposals could include a new bridge at Thamesmead, dropping tolls at the Dartford Crossing or heavy investment in public transport - or maybe a mix of all three.

If the Gallions Reach bridge were built straight first, then a Silvertown tunnel would be a great solution, providing an alternative route across the river when the Blackwall Tunnel is struggling and cutting travel times on the north bank (reducing congestion in both cases). But without an alternative crossing down-river until Dartford, the protesters are surely right that more traffic will be routed through infrastructure that will struggle to cope. Cars and lorries that wouldn't otherwise need to come so far in to London will have no practical alternative (especially since the Woolwich ferry is not fit for purpose).

None of the options being discussed this week is terribly exciting from a public transport user's perspective. If the Mayor really wants to unlock economic development in this part of the city, he should get on with extending the Bakerloo Line down the Old Kent Road.

More details on the Greenwich Forum.

Spiral of incline

The Christmas tree sculpture returns! Oskar Proctor writes:

Last night we (Robin von Einsiedel, Jeremy Waterfield and I) constructed a large crop circle esque spiral out of discarded christmas trees in Hilly Fields. More images on my blog, oskarproctor.tumblr.com

Nordic Walking in Ladywell

Laura writes:

I will be teaching a free four-week Nordic Walking course at Ladywell Fields starting next Saturday 12th January 10:15 - 11:15.

This course is funded by the Lewisham NHS Trust and is aimed at Lewisham residents wishing to become more physically active.

I thought that perhaps some Brockley Central readers may be interested in this. There will be another free course starting on Saturday 2nd March.

Jam pact

A quick update from the Jam Circus team, hit by fire just before Christmas. They say:

Unfortunately we still can’t say when we will be back up and running but we will be back! Anyone having trouble getting hold of us for a refund on New Year’s Eve tickets our email is jamcircus@antic-ltd.com. Thanks.

Chinwag, New Cross

Chinwag 
21 Lewisham Way

Ellie and Eren are the team behind a new bar / kitchen opposite Goldsmiths on Lewisham Way called Chinwag, which opened in late December. We interrupted their Christmas to ask them about it:

What's on the menu?

Our menu is bistro/cafe style, good homemade wholesome foods and our speciality is our burgers, made to order on a flame grill. Eren is the chef, he has been in the profession as long as he can remember as he grew up in his fathers restaurant in turkey.

What have you done to the place?

The building used to be home to Southern Fried Chicken and we had a lot of work to do. Initially, to save money, we both broke our backs digging up the concrete floors, ripping off generations of kitchen tiles and pulling down the ceiling whilst forming a grateful relationship with DIY YouTube videos. We also cheekily roped in all the local builders to point us in the right direction, including the new Sainsbury's Local, four doors down - the building site manager was a gem.


What's it like inside now?

The decor is arty but homely, most points of interest have been made by me and my partner like our wall mounted lights that are second hand bathroom/kitchen/outside taps that have lights placed into them to look like glowing water drops. There are a few hints of a London theme, including a front door made into a telephone box door and a toilet made to look like the outside of No. 10 Downing Street. We've used loads of wood and open brick work.

Why did you choose New Cross?

Eren has lived here since he moved to the UK 8 years ago and we live above the shops in this parade so it was ideal. I'm still a full-time student, studying law at Kings College London - so doing this was a bit of a curve ball for me, but why not eh?!

What are your opening times?

We're open from 9am-9pm. We are currently applying for our alcohol licence so hopefully when that comes it will be worth opening for longer.

What kind of crowd do you attract?

Obviously, being opposite Goldsmiths means we would be stupid to ignore the student market, so we made it arty specifically for them to enjoy - but we love having the locals/young professionals and OAPs as well! We hope it will appeal to anyone who enjoys some really good coffee or something great to eat in nice surroundings.

Liquor isn't working - a new bar for Deptford High Street

The Deptford Dame reports that Antic, owners of local pubs including Jam Circus, The Ravensbourne Arms and The Royal Albert, is planning another new pub in the area. The company has applied to convert the former Deptford Job Centre into a pub, which their website suggests will be called the Deptford Job Centre.

The move could be the tipping point for the high street, which has lost several pubs to bookies in recent years and struggled to attract much nightlife beyond the drinkers who gather around the anchor.

The High Street, which has a new public square at its heart, is due to receive a modest makeover, which should remove some of the clutter that conceals a handsome streets with enormous potential. With the new homes at the Deptford Project due to inject some more spending power in to the local economy by 2014, this looks like a smart move by Antic.

Recently, the Job Centre has served the home for itinerant arts group Utrophia who will move on to a new location soon.

With thanks to the Deptford Forum's Gema for the heads-up.

Big Red Cinema returns


Kevin Smith explains how movies get made

The Big Red team write:

Bring your kids to the Big Red Pizza on weekend mornings at 11am and we'll treat you to a free pre-lunch big-screen film in the theatre truck, with homemade popcorn and activity sheets.

For licensing reasons we can only tell you the names of the films when you visit the Big Red Pizza. But rest assured, these are the very best family films from Disney, Studio Ghibli, Pixar and Spielberg. Expect brave heroines, martial arts pandas, extra-terrestrials and singing chipmunks.

Come and pick up a flyer or look at our poster next time you're passing.

Venue: The Big Red Pizza, 30 Deptford Church Street SE8 4RZ  | www.bigredpizza.co.uk | 020 3490 8346
Time: 11.00am Saturdays and Sundays from February 2013
Tickets: Free - no need to book, just turn up

Mr Lawrence wine shop plans conversion to slake our thirst

Eli: Oskar... Do you like me? 
Oskar: Yeah, a lot. 
Eli: If I wasn't a girl... would you like me anyway? 
Oskar: I suppose so.
- Let the Right One In

Mr Lawrence, the Crofton Park bar, is applying to convert its old off licence space, which closed a few days ago, in to bar space. The plans propose a straightforward conversion, turning the old counter in to a new bar.

We hope the Council will be sympathetic to these plans - a new bar makes sense and the existing bar is  popular and responsibly-run. It will also help to strengthen Brockley's night time economy and respond to the changing dynamics of the high-street, which needs more space for leisure and less for retail.

As we said in our predictions for 2013 (in which we forecast that 2013 would bring a new place to drink booze in Brockley), Brockley people have a thirst that is not yet quenched.

The applicants say:

The intention of this application is to seek approval for a material change of use from A1 (offlicense) to A4 (drinking establishment). Internally some alterations are proposed to facilitate the provision of customer toilets and service areas.

We believe the proposed change of use will ensure the long-term commercial viability of the property and will do so without any loss of amenity to neighbouring properties. The application sites lies within an established commercial street well suited to this type of use.

With thanks to Richard for the details.

Game of Drones

They may be the biggest threat to security and civil liberty ever devised, but drones are cool, as Alex Hewson's inaugural drone flight over Hilly Fields shows.

Brock Pilgrims vs The World

Envy Adams: Short answer: Vegans are just better than everyone else.
- Scott Pilgrim vs The World

Brockley is going up against other bits of London tonight on Location, Location, Location. Time was when this would have been appointment to view TV - they did, after all, invent Brockley in the early noughties.

These days, however, Brockley's star is so ascendant that Kirsty and Phil need us more than we need them and the place is crawling with C4 researchers. Still, let's see which area wins...

20:25 - Brockley is a broad church, but it is probably safe to say that the floppy haired man in red trousers is not about to be shown around SE4 by Kirsty.

20:31 - Browns of Brockley, The Broca, Crofton Park and Upper Brockley Road are what P&K are using too woo them. Woman says she's nervous about trying Brockley vs Limehouse apartment lifestyle. Phil says "cool vibe" here could swing it.

20:33 - the apartment is in the old pub on UBR. Brockley might lose out due to lack of space for a large table FFS.

20:35 - Damning with faint praise - woman says Brockley option probably the sensible bet because it's time to leave London life behind and focus on kids (uh oh).

20:36 - Traitorous cow Kirsty keeps on referring to Brockley as "suburbia" - it wasn't too long ago she was calling this place the buzzy alternative to suburban Hither Green. It's almost as though they have a narrative to crowbar in.

20:36 - Yikes - massive lovely place in Forest Hill is the next option.

20:37 - Bloody fireplaces. People are obsessed with them. Fireplace = character. Never quite understood that. Anyway, the Forest Hill flat looks like the leading bet as an alternative to docklands. Brockley let down by soulless pub conversion (not for the first time!).

20:47 - girlieman says that Forest Hill would be too much of a lifestyle change for him - the fast pace of life in an anodyne housing development in Docklands is a lot to give up, clearly. Phil says go South East. That is why Phil is a highly-paid celebrity expert.

20:50 - Meanwhile, in Pimlico, the other couple are still reeling from the discovery that you get more for your money in an ex-Council property.

20:52 - Forest Hill wins! In your face, north London. Brockley wins by extension. If we'd served up better fireplaces, that could have been our win.

20:56 - Is this a first for LLL? A couple actually buy the house they choose? The happy couple move to Forest Hill.

Heathrow night flights a trial for Brockley residents

Brockley resident Elise Parkin writes:

Over the last several months I, and some of my neighbours, have noticed a dramatic increase is aircraft noise, especially through the night – often waking us at 4.30am.  We have contacted our local councillors and MP but have been told there is nothing they can do.

I have however, discovered that there is currently an “arrivals pilot scheme” (pardon the pun!) being run by Heathrow at the moment.  The effect of this is that Brockley is under one of the “Boxes” of areas which is now experiencing more aircraft passing by, starting from as early as 4.30am.  This trial period started on 5 November 2012 which fits in exactly with the disturbances I , and some neighbours have experienced, which seem to be getting worse.  It is due to compete in March 2013 although if it is considered a “success” it may become permanent.

We need as many people as possible who live in the area and are experiencing this disruption (or who simply want to support their neighbours) to log their complaints by calling this number: 0800 344844 or at noise_complaints@baa.com

All logged complaints will be considered when a decision is taken as to whether or not to make Brockley under the flight path permanent.

Coopers to expand

Cooper's Bakehouse, the Brockley bakers, are planning new premises in the area in 2013. Currently offering a home delivery service and supplying some local shops, the Bakehouse revealed on Twitter that they hope to expand shortly, giving them the capacity to offer bakery courses.

More details soon.

Take part in the 2013 Telegraph Hill Festival

On the New Cross Forum, Tamsin writes:

This year's festival takes place between Friday 8th March and Sunday 24th March. It starts with the Open Studios weekend and a week of "fringe" events in venues other than the Telegraph Hill Centre - then there's a full-on Festival week culminating in the Craft Fair and Cake Competition Saturday (23rd March) and a day of events in the parks.

If you feel you can contribute to the Community Show, note the registration weekend coming up - 5th / 6th January. If you have an idea about something you would like to put on, the Festival organisation can help you make that a reality. There's an "Event Information Form" to complete and return by 9th January (the programming meeting is Wednesday 16th Jan.). For a Word version go to the website and click on the image of the Form in the box on the home page.

The Festival also needs volunteers - for anything from programme delivery mid-February, via front-of-house personnel, bar staff or stewards at various events, to the mundane but crucial jobs of moving chairs and litter picking.

January fare increases

The Labour Party in the London Assembly are highlighting the January fare increases coming into effect on public transport today. They say:

Today Mayor Boris Johnson’s latest round of inflation-busting fare rises come into effect. This will be the fifth consecutive year that Boris has raised fares above inflation, with this year the average increase being 5.2%. Len Duvalll AM today renewed his call for the Mayor to limit his fare rise to RPI or less. This would help Londoners at a time when their living standards are being squeezed.

Since 2008 bus fares have increased by 56% from 90p to £1.40, a weekly zone 1-6 off-peak travelcard has gone up by 21% to £8.50 and a monthly Zone 1-3 has gone up by 25% to £136.70.

New comments system. Discuss.

We're experimenting with a new comments system called Disqus, which is used on many other websites you may be familiar with.

There are a few potential advantages to it, including the ability to vote up your favourite comments and to view comments in order of oldest, newest or most popular. For very long threads, like "Recommended Tradespeople", this is particularly useful, because you can see the newest suggestions first.

"Anonymous" posts are no-longer possible, but you can still post without giving away any personal details, if you are determined to live off-grid. Logging in with Facebook, Twitter or Google+ is a doddle.

If it's popular, we'll keep it. If it's rubbish, we'll drop it. Please let us know what you think?

The Broca applies for alcohol licence

The Broca cafe on Coulgate Street is hoping to go boozy. It's submitted an application to serve alcohol between 7am and midnight.

Neighbouring cafe, Brown's of Brockley, secured a licence in 2011, putting it to good effect with evening events while the instant popularity of The Gantry's bar has underlined the local demand for more places to drink.

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