Lewisham's local priorities

What would you like Lewisham Council to prioritise, and do other people agree with you?

The Department for Communities & Local Government has just released the results of a national process to draw up priorities for each local authority for the next three years. These 'Local Area Agreements' are negotiated between the council, public sector organisations such as the NHS and the police, and central government. The idea is that councils will now use these priorities to guide their allocation of funding and focus their efforts.

The outcome for every council in the country can be viewed at the DCLG website; here are Lewisham's target priorities* ...

* = Many of these are couched as percentages; the idea is that over time the percentage changes, reflecting an improvement/deterioration.

% of people who believe people from different backgrounds get on well together in their local area

% of people who feel they can influence decisions in their locality

Environment for a thriving third sector

Adult participation in sport and active recreation

Serious violent crime rate

Serious acquisitive crime rate

Rate of proven re-offending by young offenders

Dealing with local concerns about anti-social behaviour and crime by the local council and police

Repeat incidents of domestic violence

Number of drug users recorded as being in effective treatment

Ethnic composition of offenders on Youth Justice System disposals

Services for disabled children

Obesity in primary school age children in Reception

Stability of placements of looked after children: length of placement

Achievement gap between pupils eligible for free school meals and their peers achieving the expected level at Key Stages 2 and 4

First time entrants to the Youth Justice System aged 10-17

Under 18 conception rate

Substance misuse by young people

16 to 18 year olds who are not in education training or employment (NEET)

All-age all cause mortality rate

Stopping smoking

Achieving independence for older people through rehabilitation / intermediate care

Carers receiving needs assessment or review and a specific carer's service or advice and information

Percentage of vulnerable people achieving independent living

Adults with learning disabilities in employment

Overall Employment rate (working-age)

Working age people claiming out of work benefits in the worst performing neighbourhoods

Number of affordable homes delivered (gross)

Number of households living in temporary accommodation

% non-decent council homes

Number of Level 1 qualifications in literacy (including ESOL) achieved

Percentage of small businesses in an area showing employment growth

Per capita reduction in CO2 emissions in the LA area

Residual household waste per household

Improved street and environmental cleanliness (levels of litter detritus graffiti and fly-posting)

The picture this paints probably isn't too far from the truth: an urban population with relatively low average incomes, lacking recreation opportunities, worrisome yoof, and high concern about crime. However it could be argued that the council has missed a trick here in focussing on the symptoms rather than the cause. There's only one employer-related priority here, and that focusses on small businesses. Where are the job creation measures which would help Lewisham's population to improve its lot? Who are the borough's major employers and what do they make of these priorities? What can we do to attract more sizeable firms?

Taking our Telegraph-reading hat off and putting our Brockley Central hat on, we note there's nothing in these priorities about transport. This is bad news for those who believe the Brockley Cross roundabout desperately needs to be re-worked. But what else does this mean for Brockley - what do BC readers think?


The Cat Man said...

Job creation does not necessarily reflect the prosperity of an area.

Relatively speaking, I doubt there is a significant concentration of businesses in Hampstead yet it is one of the more richer areas of London.

The real measure, in my opinion, is how the assets bestowed on an area is used and to what effect. The demographics of an area and the willingness of the local populous to not only participate in the local community but also protect and look after its public assets.

Tressilliana said...

Yes, the omission of employment-related targets is interesting. I'd guess that the two biggest employers in the borough are Lewisham Hospital and the council, followed by Goldsmith's, the civil service (Job Centres and social security offices), Lewisham College and the police.

I suppose it will always be the case in London that most people living in Inner London boroughs commute into the centre to work. This does, as you say, Kate, mean that transport is a big priority for Lewisham residents.

However, I suspect that if you went out onto the streets of our borough and asked, you'd find that most people are concerned about crime, health and education. The users of this blog are mostly youngish and either childless or don't have school-age children, as far as I can see, but those of us who do can testify that education can become a major preoccupation, especially as the children approach secondary school age. I think it's the council's single biggest expenditure, so it's right that improving educational standards should be a priority. There's still a long way to go.

Anonymous said...

the council won't have the slightest interest in doing anything about the Brockley Cross roundabout, and it will continue not to do anything about it, because worrying about it keeps residents occupied on parochial matters.

Why does the council do this?

So it can perpetrate the 'regeneration' of central areas without too many pesky residents getting involved and seeing it for the ghastly sham that it is, and handing over Council land to developers in return for 60s style blocks of flats.

Thats why the council *likes* you too occupy your time with local roundabouts and shopfronts...

Anonymous said...

Given the demographics, local industry/commerce is going to be much more important to Lewisham than to Hampstead.

It's interesting that the only obvious mention of jobs/employment on the LBC website is in the context of recruitment. Thinking that was probably the way councils are, I had a look at Southwark.

Not much on recruitment, but this page was interesting in a compare and contract (with the complete absence of anything similar on the LBC website) - http://www.southwark.gov.uk/YourServices/RegenerationSection/

Southwark is light years ahead of Lewisham at this type of thing - you can see the results all over their borough. I guess they have more money to splash around from the London Bridge area. Still, you get a sense of dynamism which (rightly or wrongly) I don't get from Lewisham.

Anyway, I'm dragging this off track, sorry.

Anonymous said...

Interesting point Danja - from a quick look at Southwark's LAA priorities, they've got measures on access to maternity services, biodiversity and proportion of the population reaching a certain level of skills, none of which are in Lewisham's list.
Nowt about local employers though.

Anonymous said...

And Greenwich has 'overall satisfaction with local area' which seems a fairly obvious one to pick, so it'd be interesting to know why Lewisham didn't go for it too.
Greenwich has also prioritised use of local libraries, service users being treated with dignity, and alcohol-related hospital admissions. I'd be interested to see figures on all those measures for Lewisham!

(Oh and Greenwich also has 'protection against terrorist attack' - ?!)

The Cat Man said...

presumably the greewich observatory and the GMT is an important world heritage site....

Anonymous said...

Thames Barrier or the Royal Artillery Barracks seem a little more likely.

Blowing up GMT would be quite an achievement, though - right, Andy?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Greenwich what do people think of that observation wheel that's sprung up?

Back on thread track, jobs are uber important. They give an area identity. Identity is the crucial thing that is missing from Lewisham.
Do a word association with Lewisham as the subject how many positive things that spring to mind?

We need a niche. Hampstead has it's intellectuals, we are just a tad more urban than the likes of Hampstead, so we need to make a virtue of what we have.

I think I read something on this blog about strategy for the area, I think this a good idea. Council led initiatives are patchy.

The Cat Man said...

True. We do need to create a name for ourselves. Unfortunately, look at the councils big ticket planning initiatives, I mean, lewisham central - big office block! Great, just what we need. Where was the iconic focal point? i.e. the lewisham gherkin or something.

Brockley has its semi-artisitc feel to it. But as pointed out on a different thread, it will never get a name to be 'dynamic' as people nowadays are reluctant to make any big bold decisions. (you could actually draw a parellel between the local artistic flare and lewishams regeneration 'vision' - both middle roaded and safe).

Anonymous said...

Doodah - the Greenwich Phantom has some info on the wheel:


Despite going for a run in Greenwich Park over the weekend, I managed to miss seeing the wheel, so I can't comment unfortunately! Must have been concentrating on my feet too much ...

Anonymous said...

There used to be quite a lot of light industry around - the cocoa-cola bottling plant on Lewisham Way, Peak Freanes with the wonderful smell of cooking biscuits as you were approaching New Cross from London Bridge, and Pearce Signs (site now taken over by the spread of Goldsmiths) was the last to go.

There is an attempt for local work with the business units in the development behind Drakefell Road, but much more pro-active positive encouragement is needed from the Council. And the earlier posting is right - LBL is, I believe, now the largest employer in the Borough...

Anonymous said...

I used to work in Greenwich at Alcatel (formally STC) A big riverside site thas has been their for over 100 years making sub sea cable and laterly optical repeaters for global cable networks (trust me, you will have used the equipment without realising it). Lots of skilled, well paid jobs but predictably being sold off for housing. I think Greenwich did try to sell it on as some kind of manufacturing site but failed. Would you place a manufacturing concern bang in the middle of Greenwich/Lewisham?

(seen the wheel, looks like fun. It's only temporary so not as if we have to live with it forever)

The Cat Man said...

Monkeyboy, isn't that the company that was responsible for laying the first transatlantic cable re. telephony etc..

I heard about that. Very impressive local history. Who would of thought, first transatlantic communication established locally from greenwich. They were certainly pioneering in those times.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link Brockley Kate. You can see part of the wheel from the top of Friendly street.

I think Greenwich Tourist Board (or the relevant organisation) had to bring something in, to keep the punters happy since the mishap at the Cutty Sark.

The loss of Citibank to Docklands was a blow, its presence was good for Lewisham, to have an international bank based here.

So Lewisham council is the largest employer in the area. I don't think that's a healthy situation...

Andrew Brown said...

If you want to read Lewisham's LAA in full, with the Local Strategic Partnership's arguments for why they've chosen the indicators they have, then it's here (http://tiny.cc/mtCpc).

Tressilliana said...

Schools, bins, social services, housing, parks, cemeteries, libraries, old people's homes. All pretty labour intensive, so not surprising that there are a lot of people working for Lewisham.

The big problem with Lewisham is that there aren't enough people in jobs. What an uphill struggle it must be for teachers trying to widen the horizons and up the expectations of pupils who don't have any adults in their families in paid employment.

patrick1971 said...

Hate to sound like a Mail reader, but the reason a lot of people in Lewisham don't have jobs is that they won't travel for them. A friend of mine used to work in the Job Centre at Lewisham and said that the vast majority of service users would refuse to go to interviews that involved any travel at all; London Bridge was regularly dismissed as "too far".

As such, provision of jobs in Lewisham itself shouldn't, IMHO, be a huge priority for the council.

I'll now remove my Daily Mail hat and get back to work :-)

Anonymous said...

Local businesses aren't only important for tackling unemployment, though, are they Patrick. It's about bringing people from outside the area to spend money here, it's about raising revenue through local business taxes, it's about creating a vibrant and diverse area with a whole load of things going for it. I like to know that the area I live in has a bunch of local companies, even though I work outside the area. It adds to the feeling that stuff is happening here.

patrick1971 said...

All good points, Kate. I think we're talking about slightly different things. I agree that support for small businesses is a good thing; we should be encouraging local entrepreneurship precisely because it contributes to our area in the ways you describe.

The point I was making, though, was that in a city of virtually full employment like London, job creation per se in one particular borough shouldn't be a high priority. This is slightly different from supporting the borough's businesses in the way you outline.

max said...

That's always been the Town Hall argument, sometimes spelt more bluntly as "Lewisham is a dormitory borough".
I think that in this argument there are considerations for the role of regenerations largely based on new housing for new sets of residents that basically are content with a pad in commute distance from work.
Good for the London economy but limited impact on the neighbourhood if that is not accompanied by inititives that improve on other aspects like services, local employment etc..
What do you think of Convoy's Wharf for example? Should it be lots of housing with the token shop and service or should it be developed with employment in mind?
It's on the river and I think that London lacks a passengers' approach and that this would create a pack of jobs for the local economy and would also give back to Deptford its personality as a place that faces the river rather than Evelyn Road (or the nearest train station).

Anonymous said...

This is related to the kind of thing I was on about a few posts back now - it's disappointing when councils roll out their vision for an area as being based on new residential development with the invariable accompanying trinity of "cafes", "restaurants" and "galleries" (all very much on the service end of things, in other words). It's effectively admitting that the area can be nothing more than a dormitory for other more economically diverse areas. So yeah, I'd like to see a lot more at Convoys Wharf than just flats with the occasional retail space.

Having said that, stimulating any kind of sustainable business development is very tough - it's much easier to go down the residential path.

Anonymous said...

Ah Max, just the person I was looking for - I've got an answer for you on that story about Hyde Group & Lewisham Council. Is it ok if I drop you an email?

max said...

Is it that exciting?!
Send me an email sure, do you have the address?

Anonymous said...

It's not exciting enough for me to blog it here, let's put it that way! ;-)

I've got the email addy on your Blogger profile, is that the right one?

max said...

That's the one.

Anonymous said...

Have to say that as a single, white male living in Lewisham Borough, working in central London there is very little that I can relate to there. It all appears to be targetting low income family housing needs, single parent families, drug users and other vulnerable groups.

Whilst I recognise that there are a lot of people from this sector in Lewisham, Gotta say that the list makes me feel pretty much ignored.

I can relate to sports facilities, but again the councils list seems to target sports facilities for the disadvataged rather than anyone else. Of course I welcome anything to reduce crime, and there is brief mention of CO2 emmissions but there's nothing about transport and road surface improvements (Lewisham and tbh London in general has awful road surfaces for cycling), nothing about preservation of areas of interest in the borough/preservation of character (conservation areas etc), nothing about libraries, nothing about recycling, nothing about regeneration and business....

Anonymous said...

You're just there to pay the council tax, Headhunter ... ;-)

Max - email sent!

The Cat Man said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Cat Man said...

Thats a good point HH. I actually don't mind being somewhat ignored if it means children are being given life opportunities that I never had.

I have to give the council credit though. Their compliants procedure is very good. Just had a call back and Conways are coming out to look at my pavement issue.

Andrew Brown said...

Just to point out that these aren't just the council's priorities. They're agreed by the Local Strategic Partnership, which includes the local NHS, the police, business and community sector voices and others.

Anonymous said...

Much as I appreciate that the children of the Borough need opportunities etc, I do feel that anyone who is not needy is completely ignored by this. Anyone who is able to get about and work still pays a huge amount of council tax but I for one do not feel I get much value. Everyone has needs not just children, disabled people and those who need housing.

It's no wonder really, as Andrew Brown points out, these targets are set by 2 big groups who are involved in crime and vulnerable groups with health issues ( the police and NHS). How much input does business actually have? Who are these mystery "community sector voices"? If these voices are representing me, I have never been consulted and do not feel represented.

Issues that interest me, like my local surroundings, transport in general and around places like Brockley Cross, and regeneration of local shopping streets etc, as has been pointed out, seem largely shunted to the sidelines

As Kate says, I am just there to pay the bills and work like a dawg.

The Cat Man said...

I agree with you to a degree HH. I pay a ton of taxes and I even voluntarily pay more (I remained 'contracted in' for NI pension purposes - knowing full well that I will not be receiving any sort of state support - my way of helping the needy if you like).

But this is Lewisham. As I am increasingly finding out, the majority rules.

If you want to vent your frustations join me in a bit of guerrilla gardening - that will cheer you up.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm guerilla gardening... Think I'd prefer some decent road surfaces, cycling lock up facilities, enforcement of conservation area rules, replacement street trees, proper planned policy for streets such as Brockley Rd to encourage diverse local business as well as better recycling (the recycling truck sometimes comes along Manor Ave weekly, sometimes every other week and I still don't know what I can and can't recycle - despite requesting info from the council, no info available)....

Anonymous said...

...Oh and a council that actually responds to email and communication via their internet site other than at times they think you owe them council tax...

Anonymous said...

Hmm bugger. I wrote a long reply to you then and it didn't get posted (internet issues).

Ok, in brief.

Top tips:

1. Ring them up, enforce your legal rights (request to not be put on hold, and request to speak to a manager).
2. Take a step back. Everything lewisham does via the net is also down manually. A Call handler will write down your question/complaint whilst you are on the phone.

Lewisham is pretty good to be honest. Sometimes it pays to be less-efficient in order to get things done! Good luck!

The Brockley Telegraph/The Cat Man

Anonymous said...

HH I've always relied on this guidance to decide what can and can't go in the green wheelie.

Doesn't help when passing workman and members of the public chuck in containers contaminated with food though....


I hate to think what would happen if the charge for waste.

The Cat Man said...

Another interesting dynamic:

Brockley isn't labour or lib dem. The politicians will play to win votes, which sadly isn't brockley.
It isn't really Telegraph Hill either tbh (1 lab, 2 socialist).

Lack of a Brockley strategy/focus really shouldn't be too much of a surprise.

Anonymous said...

That should read of course if they ie the council start charging for waste....

Chips in the wheelies that sort of thing.

Anonymous said...

I'm not suprised there is nothing in there about Brockley cross - I think I'd rather have the roundabouts and the traffic if Lewisham's focus on crime or poverty actually gets results. However, I'm a little cynical about these exercises...and I think there will be little tangible effect to either

(now if they would enforce the conservation area rules I'd happily pay double my council taxes)

Anonymous said...

@ HH - You don't have to be a single white male to feel excluded from this list. I'm a married mother of two children who has never been overly impressed with Lewisham council's services.

Some of these targets are derisory.

services for disabled children from a council which has made a policy of systematically closing special schools, and has one of the worst records on statementing children with special needs in the country.

adult participation in sport and active recreation. Er where exactly - Ladywell baths??

vulnerable people living independently and disabled adults working - that's politico speak for closing residential homes and cutting benefits.

anything to do with household waste will entail less frequent rubbish collection.

And the final point about cleaner streets - if your heart lifts, my advice is 'contain yourself', there is a council notice in the window of the costcutter opposite the brockley barge asking for volunteers to help clean up the station.

We pay council tax - substantial house = substantial council tax. I don't make a lot of use of council services - mainly because when I go looking for them most have shut down, closed, or aren't available to me.

This list doesn't make my heart sing.

Andrew Brown said...

The LSP's website is being re-designed at the moment so telling you who's a member is a bit tricky, but according to the council's website the membership includes:

"senior representatives from public and private sector organisations such as the Police, the Hospital and the Chamber of Commerce, as well as elected community representatives and key individuals from the borough’s voluntary and community sector."

I have to say that I quite like the set of indicators that have been chosen.

I'd also point out that each and every one of them have clear expectations from central government about what will be achieved. And there's also transparency about what will be measured and how. More on that here.

Andrew Brown said...

Taking up Brockley Mutha's point about some of the specific targets.

Disabled children - the determining factor for being able to judge whether services are better will be parental opinion against what the government consider to be some of the core services:

• good provision of information;
• transparency in how the available levels of support are determined;
• integrated assessment;
• participation of disabled children and their families in local services, and;
• accessible feedback and complaints procedures.

Adult participation in sport - of course if you look a little bit further than Ladywell you'd see all sorts of oportunities for "active recreation, at moderate intensity, for at least 30 minutes on at least 12 days out of the last 4 weeks (equivalent to 30 minutes on 3 or more days a week)." Whether that's at the new Wavelengths pool, or the green gym, or taking part in the annual walking festival.

Vulnerable people living independently - is more likely to be about raising the numbers of people with disabilities who are in charge of their own budgets; choosing their own services rather than having them chosen for them by the local commissioners.

Brockley Nick said...

Thanks andrew, useful stuff. But the "walking festival" is hardly providing new opportunities for exercise ;)

Anonymous said...

@ andrew brown - you're either a mole or naive.

feedback and complaints - toothless ombudsman and appeals procedures. Surveys which mean v little - I've been in PR (no aspersions Nick).

vulnerable people living independently - in charge of their own budgets - Direct payments - wonderful idea, unless of course you choose to use a Lewisham appointed organisation to handle your PAYE - which goes bust, leaving the vulnerable indivdual in debt to the tax man.

the green gym - two birds with one bullet - local community does the council's work, under the guise of getting fit.

Andrew Brown said...

@ Nick - new, where'd new come into it?

@ brockley mutha - if you do a little research you'll probably conclude I'm both.

Anonymous said...

or I'm being punk'd

Andrew Brown said...

Well, yes there's always that possibility.

Brockley Nick said...

Andrew, ok, never mind new, it's not providing opportunity, it's providing a bit of encouragement (like the hilly fields fun run) but if we're serious about sport, we need the facilities. Take brockley as an example. Sports hall? No Gym? No Five-a-side football? One pitch at telegraph hill (don't think it's floodlit). Squash court? No. Skateboard park? No. Running track? No. Etc.

Plans to do anything about this? None that I'm aware of.

Community sport should be a much more important priority.

Anonymous said...

still chuckling about the walking festival.

Anonymous said...

I lived in Deptford when i was in my 20s - New Cross Baths (couple of cockroaches never hurt anyone), Wavelengths (ditto), Ladywell - was good, great aerobics, gym etc. What is there now.

I've got a 10 year old son - I go to Dulwich - cricket, football, swimming all the rest. we've got a couple of tennis courts and a tiny bit of hillyfields on which to play football.

Although now i've done a little research on you - i see there is cricket in lewisham for kids - perhaps you could direct me on where to get more info for next season.

The Cat Man said...

Nick, I think it would be pretty much impossible to have all those facilities for an area the size of Brockley. Can you imagine the increase in council tax if that was replicated across all areas?

Councillors operate based on what voters want. Given the choice between extra money for schools or public sports, most people would put public sports a lower priority. I don't agree with this, but like I keep saying it takes a 'bold decision' from a dedicated politician to change it. Sadly, this is in short supply in todays political/economic climate.

Andrew Brown said...

Fair enough, I wouldn't disagree that facilities will help. But I'd still see encouragement as being critical, and being able to offer a range of activity (some of which should appeal to people who react badly to organised sport or gyms).

Again looking a little further than Brockley there is a golf course at Beckenham, the Ladywell track seems to be reasonably well used, there's a few lovely cricket grounds hidden away, and as we're all too aware a few big ticket items have either just come to fruition or are about to (largely renewing the swimming offer available across the borough).

Enough? I don't know but the PSA will help focus minds across the public services as they think about the investment decisions they're making.

Anonymous said...

Err andy, no-one's suggesting we need all of that. One of those things would be a start.

Andrew Brown said...

@ brockley mutha - the cricket coaching is excellent and is organised TeachSport (http://teachsport.org).

Brockley Nick said...

Sorry andrew, but facilities are key. Not golf courses in beckenham (that really is clutching at straws) but stuff within walking distance for adults and children.

You are quite right about organised sport (I worked in sport for eight years) - many people will simply never participate. Note that most of the list I mentioned was not for team sport. A game of badminton, a well-lit jog, a cheap gym session (greenwich is outstanding in this respect) - these are the opportunities we need and are denied in brockley.

Mass participation events are just icing on the cake.

The Cat Man said...

Ok. Fair point.

I think the main priority should be to publicise the local sporting facilities, promote the use of existing resources first.

It feels to me there isn't much around Brockley, but in reality I'm sure there is just that I need to be aware where to find them.

There is a related issue about public funding of existing sport facilities. Alot of the public baths I have been to in London are dreadful, something out of the 1970's (communial changing rooms etc.. still in use). These need to be modernised.

And i'm particular pe'ed off about Lewishams contribution to the general trend of closing public toilets. I understand from my friends with kids, that it requires some planning for something simple like taking your kids to the park.

The Cat Man said...

Theres a good gym at goldsmiths uni apparently. Not exactly far away.

J said...

For community sport (and other activities) I think we need to see around the problem, and get locals offering free collaborative activities in public spaces, or their own private spaces if they feel comfortable doing so.

Free running / Parkour (structured training)
Several martial arts, including capoira, jui jitsu, boxing and gung fu

I think we need to get away from the mindset that facilites are a barrier to activity, lack of them just makes things more difficult.

There's no reason this cannot extend to non sporting activities too and not just for children.

How about a baby sitting cooperative comprised of local parents only?

Andrew Brown said...

@ Nick - I guess locally you may well be right. Brockley isn't particularly well served.

I certainly agree that mass participation stuff isn't where I'd start for trying to achieve the targets.

@ Brockley Telegraph - I used to have responsibility for public toilets, for my sins, when I was a councillor. The thing that I found increadible was the £100,000 a year price tag that came with anything other than one of those chemical tardis type things (and even they came in at c£25k a year). Happily I was able to see a new toilets come into being as part of the investment that was being made in parks, but be under no illusion that they're an easy thing for the council to deliver.

Andrew Brown said...

Or should the summer hold there's the open gym - http://www.opengym.co.uk/ - which I picked up via the Hillaballoo blog.

The Cat Man said...

@Andrew. Thanks for that.

I have a more general question. Why can't we bring back dedicated park attendants? I.e. Someone who actually has pleasure in maintaining flowerbeds/recretional areas?

Alot of councils used to employ older people as park attendants to supplement their pensions (give them use of a house on a park ground for nominal wages). Alot of older people actually would welcome putting something back into the community. Since everything is contracted out nowadays, we have lost that community link and people are quite happy to mis-use them more.

Tressilliana said...

Sports facilities in Brockley or very near: Community Education Lewisham run quite a lot of classes of one kind or another, at locations right round the borough. Prendergast Sports Hall is available for hire, I think. Crofton School has/had a community sports hall - don't know how this has been affected by the PFI rebuild. I don't know if Aske's has community access, but it would surprise me if they didn't. Most schools are keen to make a bit of extra money by letting out their facilities out of school hours.

St Dunstan's in Catford definitely has some community access (incl swimming lessons), and Colfe's in Lee probably do too. Football coaching on Hilly Fields every week, and organised sports coaching there for children every school holiday.

It could all be a lot worse. I do agree that the swimming provision in Lewisham is not great, though.

Brockley Nick said...

You could have read it here first andrew.

It's a private, fee-paying service.

Councils need to stop seeing sport as a problem and start seeing it as a revenue generating opportunity. Mix profitable facilities, with unprofitable ones. Create mixed use centres which can be used to deliver other council services (why not stick safer neighbourhood offices in a new gym?). Link up with schools to ensure centres are well used. Hire it out for private classes (the sunflower centre makes money), etc.

Anonymous said...

@ andrew - renewing the swimming offer. Is there currently a working swimming pool in Lewisham?

I find remarkable the politician's inability to link childhood obesity with the closure/lack of exercise facilities.

Brockley Nick said...

Tresilliana, these are either quite far away or quite hard to use. If we are serious about encouraging more people to do sport then we need easily accessible, good quality local facilities. Otherwise, we will continue to have low levels of participation (and associated problems)

The Cat Man said...

I agree with Nick on this one. But its a funding issue. Within a council budget they have A = B. For greater investment we need A = B + C. That means the council will be in deficit without any guaranteed benefits within the budget year. There may well be larger benefits in the long run, but it doesn't work like that.

It simply won't work unless there is a dedicated principled politician who focuses on the 'bigger picture' and not the next election.

Sorry to sound so gloomy.

Brockley Nick said...

Andrew, don't spend 100k on some overpriced toilets that will rapidly deteriorate, put the money towards a sports centre that includes toilets. Unlike public loos, these have a decent chance of being maintained.

Tressilliana said...

I'm not well placed to comment on how easy these facilities are to use, but Prendergast, opposite Hilly Fields, far away? Aske's, which is right opposite Telegraph Hill? Crofton, which is five minutes' walk from Crofton Park station? It may need a bit of work with the schools and the council to get them open to people at the right times and prices and offering the kind of things that people want to do, I quite agree, but surely for people based in SE4 these are extremely well placed.

CEL uses a centre at Brockley Rise and another one at Granville Park, just down from the big Tesco in Lewisham.

Andrew Brown said...

Nick, actually looking back I think I saw it on Sue's blog first.

On toilets, the best advice I had was from Darren Johnson - who (lucky man) had spent some time looking at this in a London wide context. He suggested trying to get businesses who already provide toilets to their customers to see opening this up to the wider public as being a service they could provide (call it CSR). Apparently they do this in Richmond.

On working pools. Well Max says he enjoyed the new Downham pool the other day and unless he's a jinx I'd guess that's still open. And I've not heard anything about the Bridge. But I'd admit there aren't as many open just now as the council would probably like.

The council has tried running sports centres in various locations. There was once one in Lewisham shopping centre I think. Crofton school was once a council - rather than the schools - leisure centre. But they've gone off running these things directly. However, any newly built (and remember almost all secondary schools in the borough are about to be rebuilt) school has to include community access to the facilities.

Brockley Nick said...

Re: open gym - bugger :)

Re: toilets, yes, it's a much better way of doing things, but it relies on there being some businesses nearby - not the solution if we are talking about hilly fields.

Re; schools. I am not convinced this works well - access is one thing in theory, another in practice. Sports provision needs to fit around people's lives if we want to get more people doing it. Schools aren't the right facilities for turn-up and go sports and they don't have good facilities for adults. Plus, you can't use them during the day (which is the time when people who need them most are most willing / able to go). When are all lewisham's schools being rebuilt and what precisely will be the sports provision?

Out of interest, why can't lewisham do what greenwich does? The council doesn't have to manage the centres themselves, just have a stake in their control.

Where I lived in charlton, there was a gym at cfc, a running track and loads of full sized pitches in charlton park, woolwich lesiure centre within easy reach, a five-a-side football (floodlit) centre next to charlton park, a rugby and squash club up the road and tennis courts around the corner. It's unusually blessed, but it shows how deprived our area is.

Andrew Brown said...

Hilly Fields, of course has it's own toilet. Though having used it a few times with a desparate child I'd say that it could do with a lightbulb! The serious point being that the council have quite ambitious targets around getting Green Flag status for a number of parks. To do that they need to provide toilets. They are also introducing park keepers (to answer an earlier point); though not in trad parky uniforms I'm sorry to say.

I'm not sure about schools as the solution to the facitities issue either, but they could be part of it. The rebuilding programme has started already - two new accademies in new buildings, and every other secondary (with the possible exception of Hatcham College) getting some sort of refurb or rebuild. More here.

The council did look at doing what Greenwich does with liesure centres, but came to a different conclusion, for reasons I'm afraid I can't remember.

As for Charlton, if you lived on the Catford/Ladywell boarders you'd have many of the same things. Floodlit football at Crofton School, the Ladywell running track, Ladywell pool (if/when it reopens) and gym, and the tennis courts and skateboard area in Ladywell park. I'm not trying to argue that Lewisham's overprovided (or even adequately provided) for sporting facilities, but that where we live isn't a desert either.

Tressilliana said...

Andrew, does that mean that Prendergast is getting a refurb/new build on the lower site? I am a Prendergast parent and local resident, but I haven't heard anything about this at all, and had wondered how the govt could make good its BSF pledge for Prendergast, given the limitations of the site.

max said...

I surely agree with Andrew that from the Ladywell Catford borders (aka Rushey Green) there's a good range of facilities in easy reach.

Anyway, yesterday I was at Council and there was commitment to reopen Ladywell Pool as soon as the plumbing issues are resolved and there was a hint at some improvement in the changing rooms, I asked a question about the changing rooms and the reply to my supplementary was "point taken" and a reassurance that the changing rooms will be looked after better than before the closure.

Anonymous said...

Yes boys, but we're not talking about catford are we? We're talking about what's round here.

Anonymous said...

Ah Max - now I know what you look like - I was also at council with the Brockely Leaseholder's association - as an aside, would like to know if that question session gets any real results

Anonymous said...

Going back to what I said before, it seems that these targets are largely set with 2 big bodies in mind - the police and the NHS, so no wonder they are skewed to health for vulnerable people and crime. Of course these are 2 big concerns, however there appears to be very little else on the list.

Andrew Brown responds that "public and private sector organisations such as the Police, the Hospital and the Chamber of Commerce, as well as elected community representatives and key individuals from the borough’s voluntary and community sector."

Outside hospitals and the police, there appears to be nothing tangible there. No one I feel who has consulted me or to whom I could turn to express my views "community representatives", "key individuals", "public and private sector organisations".... Eh??

As for Andy's response to my post about lack of response from the council to email and website communication (despite their promise of a response in 48 hours), as a worker bee (working hard to pay council tax to provide social housing and drug rehab it seems), I don't have time to "ring them up, enforce your legal rights", I just want them to do what they say they will.

I am not always contacting them with a complaint - just on a quest for info, ie about recycling (thanks TJ for the link - how easy was that?!)

You say Lewisham is actually pretty good.... I found Islington good, they answered the phones within 2 rings when you called, always responded to mail, when I had a mouse in my flat they sent someone round within the day to lay traps, and the MP, Emily Thornberry actually used to send me personally written letters about green issues in the area, and I even got Christmas cards from her! That's what you call service! Lewisham - take note.

max said...

Hi James, I also know what you look like now, when I read that you were representing the leasholders I thought "mhm, what name does he have at Brockley Central?".

Anyway the straight answer to your question is no, in my experience questions are very important but on their own they do not make things work.
What one should do is to take the answers that you received and use that in any imaginative way you can think of. There's a bit of an art in formulating questions, the assumption is that they will try not to answer, so the trick is to ask multiple short and snappy questions that don't leave room to evade and eventually come back the following meeting with more of them.
You would then understand exactly where the Council stands on a issue and you'd be in a much better position to ask for a change.

As for the verbal supplementaries as you saw they are more fun then else but I like to show up even just to thank them for taking the time to answer me really although I then engage with a bit of knockabout. No harm was ever done with a bit of that but again, keep short and snappy or they'll get away with answering you by speaking of something else.

Anonymous said...

Swimming Pools

Just been on a search for one.

Deptford Wavelengths - closed
Ladywell - closed
Forest Hill - closed
Crystal Palace - closed

There seem to be major building programmes at these or on new sites.

Rumour has it that Eltham is quite good, though a long trek.

Greenwich Arches and East Dulwich baths are Victorian and constrained by their design - open plan changing rooms, patched up repairs, that sort of thing.

Anonymous said...

@ Max - ahh but I was sitting down.

Thanks for the response - it was a bit disheartening when we received such a blunt and useless answer from Lewisham - but we also realised that we need to get cleverer and play the game.

Tressilliana said...

Isn't there a pool at Downham?

Jolly poor show, otherwise.

The Cat Man said...

Hh, surely you can spend 5mins on the phone during the day? When I'm busy I work 60-ish hrs a wk but I still have time to vent my frustation at the council. What were you complaining about anyway?

Anonymous said...

Anon 11.42 - Greenwich Arches isn't Victorian, it's 1920s or 30s I think. that's where I go to the gym at the weekend, it's pretty good and modern. Never used the pool though. It's Greenwich though, not Lewisham.

The Dulwich one on Goose Green has a small, basic gyme but I've never used the pool there either, but that is definitely Victorian.

Andy - yes I could spend 5 mins on the phone, but in my experience no call to the council takes 5 mins. You have to call several times as you sometimes get no answer, and if it's something that the council is hoping to evade it takes more than 1 call to get anything done, and even then. My neighbours have called about disregard for planning rules in the conservation area, and their calls are usually evaded or brushed aside.

My downstairs neighbour asked if he could put up a satellite dish as there are already so many. they said no. He said well there are already so many along Manor Ave, some houses have up to 4 on one! They said they would do something about it and asked him to walk down the street noting number of dishes and where they were - I think it came to 40 or 50. He sent the info in and then.... Nothing...

As I said, my contact so far has not been to complain, I wanted info on recycling and another time I wanted to know if they could help get rid of a rat that had climbed in through a window

The Cat Man said...

my advice to you would be to get a cat. I personally would also put up the satilite dish as if there is 40 or 50 on your street they will never insist that you take yours down. You've actually made the situation worse by asking them for permission.(assuming of course your object is to have one up rather than making a statement about lack of enforcement). You may even have a case to pursue a civil claim against the council for lack of enforcement, have you considered that? Even a class claim for conservation area residents if you get a GRP together. Sounds scary, but doesn't need to be.

Either that or make your 'query' into a 'complaint' you will get better results if you tell them you have a complaint.

max said...

I too heard that Eltham Pool is quite good and that for this reason it has become very crowded with serious problems of accomodating all users in their schedule.
I would recommend giving a go at Downham pool, it seems to me that it hasn't yet reached full capacity at lane swim times so you can still found a free lane (and I'm saying this against my own interest).

Moira said...

There's also the Seven Islands swimming pool near Surrey Quays station. Haven't been there for a few years but it was about 30m length and had lots of light.

Anonymous said...

As I said Andy, I haven't got time to pursue all this. I don't want a satellite dish on the building - I think they spoil the look of the building completely. This was my neighbour...

Anonymous said...

I just had a call back regarding my 'complaint' about the digging up of pavement slabs on my street and replacing it with tarmac.

Conways argued:

1. They have the right to remove paving slabs if the 'gap' breached 2/3 of an inch.

2. They will replace with Tarmac near trees, as they assume trees will displace paving slabs in the future.

My arguement:

1. The gap was certainly less than 1cm.
2. The nearby tree is mature, and will not displace much in the future.

...and importantly, I took photos before they started work.

What transpired is that Conways admitted that the cost of 'installing' and 'maintaining' paving slabs is higher than Tarmac. In addition, ALL Paving slabs removed are kept by conways, who BREAK THEM UP and sell them for 'crazy' paving. - Yes, Very Crazy.

Anyway, they have AGREED to replace the Paving slabs back to its former glory.!!! One up for the Brockley Revolution!!!

I will post a full article on my site when i have new pictures to prove it.

The Brockely Telegraph/The Cat Man

max said...

I have never been to Seven Islands actually, must make an effort to check it out although higher on my list is to have a swim at a lido, earlier I tried to know if Charlton Lido was open but no matter how many phone calls I made I could not get any joy which means that it's probably closed then, and this means that I'll cycle to Tooting one of these days.

Anonymous said...

Surely Brockwell's nearer?

max said...

It is but Tooting is 100m long and that's very appealing to me.

Transpontine said...

A small point in these discussions, but it seems that Local Area Agreements are on the way out, or at least that Ofsted will in future be inspecting Councils on a wider range of national performance indicators as part of a new Comprehensive Area Assessment, rather than just on a narrow shortlist of local priorities. For me the wider point here is that of course the big issues like child poverty should be more important than local gripes like roundabouts and betting shops - we are talking about a ten year difference in life expectancy between better off and poorer local residents. On the other hand, can Councils make much impact on this, when poverty is the result of national and indeed global inequalities of wealth and power over which local authorities can have little influence?

Andrew Brown said...

@ Transpontine -I don't think that's quite right, the national indicators are the same for everyone; central government, local government, NHS, police, etc. How they're inspected and packaged up may be changing but the indicators are built on the bedrock of the Comprehensive Spending Review. Of course a change of government will probably change all that, but lets not go there for the moment.

As for your wider point about poverty and inequality, councils would struggle to make a difference on their own, and with the powers they've currently got. But again the targets aren't just for councils to apply themselves to. For me the question is whether the strategies to address these big ticket issues are the right ones, and whether other circumstances will allow them to come to fruition.

Anonymous said...

Some coverage of the national picture here:


'Violent assaults and serious antisocial behaviour are lower priorities for councils than stopping people smoking, town hall targets showed yesterday.'

Anonymous said...

Is it just middle class moaning to feel fed up with the way the country is run?

I find the government, local and national to be so unprincipled.

Our leaders from central to local government are so uninspiring... There's no big ideas to make society better it's just technocratic tinkering and they can't even get that right.

Anonymous said...

It's not just middle-class moaning, it's just that one hears a lot more of it when the aforementioned middle classes have a hard time meeting their mortgage payments.

There was the odd bit of whingeing during the Blair years whenever he did something especially outrageous (e.g. invading another country) but for the most part people seemed to put up with it (and its technocratic, as you put it, 'policies') as long as the buy-to-let portfolio was bulging and the 4x4 was cheap enough to run.

Anonymous said...

I expect they'll deliver us into the hands of Cameron and his egregious bunch of asset-strippers in a couple of years anyway.

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