Happy Halloween!

Ensconced at home in the warm this evening, recovering from a bad cold, BC has been extremely impressed at the quality of the neighbourhood's youth on display door-to-door while trick-or-treating this evening. Scary, no. But a better mannered, more pleasant bunch of kids you could not hope to meet. And the costumes were pretty good too.

We do feel rather guilty, though, that the best we had to offer was Bendick's Bittermints and a bag of tangerines. Sorry, kids - we promise to do better next year!

What's been your experience of Spooky Brockley?

£10,000 for Brockley Ward - How should it be spent?

Cllr Dean Walton has been in touch to promote this year's Localities Fund consultation for Brockley Ward. Once the ideas have been submitted, we'll be asking people for feedback on the suggestions, to help feed in to the decision-making process. But just as last year, we need to make it absolutely clear that Brockley Central's moderators and readers will not have the final say on who gets the money - it's just a good way to consult a wider audience.

You might also like to have a look at the Ladywell Village Improvement Group's discussion about that ward's fund. Let us hope that our conversation remains as civil.

Here's the letter from our Councillors:

Brockley Ward has been awarded £10,000 to spend on projects and activities that can improve the local area. Last year the Brockley Councillors allocated under a similar scheme to provide solar panels at Lucas Vale primary school, financial support for the Brockley Max Festival and the Brockley Fun Run and improved gardens on the Wickham Road estate and tree planting in Brockley Ward.

Earlier this year the new Brockley Assembly agreed to adopt four local priorities and so we are now looking for good ideas along the themes of:

- improving our streets, parks & open spaces
- better relations within our communities
- tackling crime & anti-social behaviour
- cleaning up the streets

However we will be more than happy to consider other good projects that will be of direct benefit to local residents. You may also be able to use money from the fund as a contribution to a larger project by putting it together with grants from charities, donations from other community groups or perhaps sponsorship from local people or businesses.

For instance £10,000 for solar panels last year was turned into £60,000 worth of panels on the schools by combining it with funding from other sources. We already have a number of ideas provided by local residents who have participated in the Brockley Assembly and also ideas from previous years.

If you have an idea for an activity or project you would like to receive funding for, please answer the questions on the next page and send them to:

Cllr Dean Walton by Friday 7 November 2008.

E-mail: cllr_dean.walton@lewisham.gov.uk

Write to: Cllr Dean Walton, Lewisham Town Hall, Catford, SE6 4RU

London: Land of the Rising Sun (Part 2)

One of our friends works at a major commercial art gallery in London. Like half of his colleagues, his long term ambition is to open his own gallery. A Lewisham native, we asked him whether he'd consider South East London. We weren't naive enough to think Brockley would be a goer, but Dulwich? Greenwich? Blackheath? Deptford?

"Nope. No-one will come to South East London. I could open a place in the grottiest part of Hackney or Tower Hamlets and have a chance of building a successful business. But the art-buying community won't go east of Bermondsey, south of the river. It's too cut off."

For the art world, you could substitute pretty much any other sector or industry. The nature of Brockley Central's job means that we work with virtually every type of organisation you could think of. Big companies, small ones, charities, government departments, quangoes, consultancies. Last week our diary took us to a design company in Camden, a hotel in Mayfair, a client in Chiswick and a media briefing in Kings Cross. In three and a half years of doing this job we have never been anywhere further south east than "More London Bridge" for work.

A city is the sum of its connections - the daily interactions of millions of people. Those interactions are the reason that businesses and communities cluster in certain locations. In our view, the low level of economic activity in South East London is in direct proportion to its limited connections. In part one, we wrote about the East London's economic ascendancy. But without better links, jobs and investment will remain north of the river.

The reopened East London Line and the DLR tunnel at Woolwich will undoubtedly help matters, but there are four other river crossings that are currently on the table: a pedestrian and cycle bridge to Canary Wharf from Rotherhithe, a crossing to Silvertown at Blackwall, the Thames Gateway bridge and a cable car at the Dome. All are needed. Except the cable car, but that would just be cool.

Traffic management experts make the point that if you build new capacity, it just fills up, creating more traffic. That's a key part of the argument against letting the needs of cars shape our city and one that we generally endorse. But South East London needs more cross-river journeys. It needs more business people jumping in taxis to get across the Thames. It needs more tourists strolling or catching a bus across the river from the north bank. It needs to be part of the same city as north east London. The fact that one of the key crossings is a ferry only strengthens the feeling that the two places are foreign countries to one another.

Our Green councillors oppose the Gateway Bridge but we think they're wrong. They wouldn't knock down any of the 31 London bridges west of Tower Bridge, so why do they think that one in Dartford is enough on the east side?

A few days ago, Mayor Boris announced that 50 infrastructure projects would be central to London's economic recovery plan. The details of the plan are due to be published before Christmas. He's already effectively mothballed the cross-river tram scheme that would have served Southwark but we hope that, when the list is unveiled, it includes a few more threads to stitch north and south together.

It's time to build bridges with our friends in the north.

Yong Xiang Chinese Takeaway, Mantle Road

BC review to follow. Please post your comments and reviews here.

Pavement fouling

Our one, vivid recollection of school French classes is the text books. They used "Deirdre's Photo Casebook"-style comic strips to tell stories. Only instead of "Le singe est dans l'arbre", they would be stories about young people going shopping. And instead of turning this material in to well-loved stand-up routines, kids in our school would mine comedy from them by drawing little poos coming out of every orifice in the photos. And often, penises going in to every orifice.

We found it quite nauseating. Which is perhaps why we had so few friends at secondary school.

Walking home from St John's station one night recently, we had a traumatic flashback to those French lessons. It was caused by this picture on the pavement (sorry about the quality):

We then realised that when the Council offered to run a "responsible dog day" in Brockley Cross, this is what they had in mind. Spray painting pictures of dogs taking a dump on our pavements.

Like the artists who defaced our old text books, the person who created this stencil clearly did so with some relish. The steam rising from the turd is a particularly delightful touch. Just in case the message was too subtle without them.

Well at the risk of seeming to you as twee and po-faced as we did to our former classmates, we'd like to say: please don't try and solve a problem by creating another one. Please don't debase the public realm to tackle a small minority of anti-social people who will ignore your signs anyway. Just prosecute those people who let their dogs crap in the street.

This is another attack of the BIG YELLOW SIGNS, with added stink lines.

Rivoli negotiations update

The impressively organised team hoping to organise a Rivoli Ballroom revival have provided another update on their progress:

"On Tuesday, a small core group met up to discuss the Rivoli and work out how best to proceed. We will be having a meeting with Bill, the owner next week to see if he is willing to cut a deal. We aim to see if he is willing to accept some sort of equity deal/ fundraising donation/ lease, to make the deal possible. We shall report back from this meeting, which will probably decide whether there is a project at all."

Critical issues include the condition of the building and its roof, the terms of its alcohol license, accessibility, potential partnership structures and fund raising.

While there are huge - possibly insurmountable - hurdles to be overcome, the detailed and lucid way in which the campaigners have set out their ideas and begun investigating options, is extremely encouraging.

We hope to bring you more on their progress in the coming weeks.

With thanks to Moira.

Brockley al dente

Official confirmation that the economy is shrinking seems as good a cue as any to grant Hugh his wish and create a thread for those who wish to discuss their fortunes in public.

So are you being forced to readjust or are you an artist now able to go on trolley dashes in Dandelion Blue thanks to the wave of money flowing in to fine art as a store of wealth for billionnaires?

Lewisham: The Bigger Picture

You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.
- Morpheus

Chided by one of our regular contributers for failing to understand the "bigger picture" in Lewisham, we have ventured down the rabit hole of Lewisham planning to check on the status of the Loampit Vale development, which is adjacent to the not-yet-underway Lewisham Gateway scheme.

There is a public consultation coming up, which we will try to cover and which of course we will gladly take your contributions about.

But in the mean time, here's what Cllr Alexander had to say about this one:

"On the recent planning application that has come in for the new leisure centre and housing on Loampit Vale, we believe this to be one of only a small number of schemes to be given approval by the Barratt's board - good news for Lewisham.

"The planning application is out to public consultation however Barratt's did do some earlier consultation work which showed a considerable amount of support for the scheme. The initial drawings I have seen are fantastic. The leisure centre will be incredible and I am very pleased with the way in which the design of the residential element has progressed. I have always been keen to incorporate some larger, affordable homes in this scheme and believe the architects have come up with some innovative solutions, especially around the provision of good quality outside space.

"I have also been keen to keep the carbon footprint of the new leisure centre and housing to a minimum and the scheme includes a Combined Heat and Power Plant which will provide both electricity and heat. The location of the scheme next to the train station and DLR is also important and enables us to keep car parking levels low - although there will clearly be an appropriate amount for both the leisure centre and housing."

Lewisham Gateway: Getting built. Probably.

A quick follow up on recent speculation that Lewisham Gateway would be / has been scrapped.

The line from Cllr Alexander, who's responsible for regeneration in Lewisham is that:

"I know that council officers have been in regular contact with the Gateway developers, Muse and Taylor Wimpey. We have been reassured that they are fully committed to the scheme."

Since the property market downturn, a common tactic by developers has been to continue with their plans but adopt go-slow construction schedules, rather than pull them altogether and risk their development pipelines. It seems reasonable to assume that this is what will happen to the Gateway.

Brockley Central's to-do list

1. Find out what the news was about Brockley Common that the guys from Brockley Cross Action Group left hanging like Fermat's Last Theorem.

2. Write the exciting conclusion to this article that none of Brockley's been waiting for.

3. Sort out a new poll for the site.

4. Arrange Brockley Central drinks, which are now planned to be an early Christmas affair, rather than a late summer knees-up.

5. Write about ideas for Brockley Road.

6. Restore the free-for-all posting settings for the time being, with the eternally optimistic request that people use it wisely. The site cannot and will not allow people to make anonymous and unsubstantiated claims about other people.

One out of six, so far.

The Comeback

Yeah, well the jerk store called, they're running out of you!
- George Costanza

A combination of work and life means that we've not really been able to moderate over the last few days. This means that we've had to restrict comments to registered users. Apologies to those that prefer not to register, but it also acts as a good filter for those people who, in the same moment, feel so strongly about something that they will throw around all manner of silly accusations while making their point, but so indifferent about it that they can't be bothered to spend two seconds signing up.

Anyway, normal service will be resumed shortly.

Lewisham increases localities fund to £25,000 per ward

We'll write about this in more detail when we have the time, but we just received this news from Lewisham Council:

Mayor of Lewisham, Sir Steve Bullock, will be awarding £50k over the next two years to every ward in the borough to help deliver substantial improvements to local neighbourhoods.

Sir Steve Bullock, said: "More than anything, I want to create a fair and flexible fund with the potential to benefit all communities in all areas. I encourage everyone in Lewisham to make a difference by getting involved in their local assembly and help decide how this money can be spent."

The Mayor’s Fund, is in addition to the £10k each ward currently receives through the Localities Fund. It will be available to local assemblies over two years with £25k being made available in 2008/9 and a further £25k being made available in 2009/10. Should assemblies choose, these funds may be pooled to create a larger pot of money for delivery of a single or multiple projects.

Suggestions on how to spend the money can come from residents, local community groups or community organisations. However, all suggestions need to be presented through the relevant local assembly and must help deliver priorities they have helped to identify.Information about local assemblies and how to get involved can be found on the Council’s website:


Dead wood

We received this plea for help from reader Nicola, who would like some advice from other readers:

"I live in Wickham Gardens, we share half of the square with a very well kept estate including buildings Elm Tree House, Lime Tree House and Holly Tree House. To the back of our property have been a number of very mature and wild Sycamore trees that provide both the estate and ourselves a welcome bit of green when looking through our windows.

"However, the contractors managing the estate, Pinnacle have decided that mature trees on the estate aren't a good idea and have (and are currently in the process) of felling 10 + of these mature trees. So, we have lost the green and gained more noise from Brockley road and a view into each others kitchens and bedrooms, joy!

"I have spoken to Lewisham planning dept who tell us that there is no requirement for planning permission to fell trees outside of the conservation area. I just find this outrageous that the Council can happily fell mature trees (yes Sycamores but trees none the less, we also lost 2 willows in the process as they were in the same area being cleared).

"I would be interested in posting this story to your blog to highlight the ease in which our environment in SE4 can be altered and not always for the best. I have spoken to Darren Johnson our Brockley Ward Councillor and he is very supportive of our outcry, however they trees are now gone and even replanting will not replace them sufficiently.

"So, rant over. I really just want to publicise what's happened and find out if anyone else has had a similar experience in SE4, are they able to provide info on our rights etc."

Green shoots

The Brockley Cross Action Group is asking for volunteer help on Sunday "to help weed and finally mulch the two new flower beds on the Wickham Road Estate. The gang will be working between 11am and 5pm and would welcome any help offered.

Finishing the beds will allow them to concentrate on creating lovely new flowerbeds elsewhere in the area.

They will provide tools and refreshments and they are also holding out the prospect that you will be the first to hear some very exciting news about the Brockley Common project. They won't tell Brockley Central until afterwards!

Meet between Connifer and Pear Tree Houses, Brockley Road. Gloves and wellies recommended.

Christmas Market Stalls Available

Brockley Cross Action Group are looking for people to run stalls at this year's Christmas Market, on Coulgate Street, next to Brockley Station.

The market will take place on December 13th and follows a successful pilot last year.

At present, 16 stalls are still available. Each stall costs £40 and need to be paid for in advance.

If you're interested, please contact eaessex@hotmail.com

The Rivoli Ballroom: A cunning plan

Members of the 'Save the Rivoli Ballroom' Facebook group recently received an email from one of the members, James MacDonald, outlining what can only be described as an ambitious plan.

It's no secret that the Rivoli Ballroom has been advertised for sale - albeit to the right buyer. The current owner, Bill, is ready to retire after 15 years running the Ballroom, but wants to leave the building in safe hands.

The recent listing of the building means that it's no longer at threat from being bulldozed by developers, but there is still a risk that the venue could be bought and turned into something less sympathetic to its history, or given the current climate could fail to attract the right buyer and fall into disrepair.

In his email, James proposes that all those who take an interest in the ballroom join forces to... buy the Rivoli. The price? Well, that would start with a cool £1m down-payment. From there - who knows?

We've since managed to contact James, and he's allowed us to share the next email in the saga, which will be winging its way to Facebook group members soon:

"Thanks to those that got back to me with useful feedback; it seems that the two biggest concerns are:

- Bill, the owner, who seems to have some rather unrealistic ideas what his venue is worth and can pull in, and this may get in the way of meaningful negotiations

- The venue itself is in a rather poor state, has some issues around it and may need some work/ investment to make it the venue what it could be (which is to be expected).

Thanks to those that have offered their help and expertise. Great to see quite a number of people, with all sorts of experience, are committed to making this happen. Instead of having one big meeting, I think the best way to move forward, will be to break the process into a few stages, each stage using the relevant experience of the participants.

Stage 1: PLAN DEVELOPMENT: This will be a smallish meeting with people who have had experience of community-led enterprise and other business-type experience. A small group will save time and be able to get in-depth with the nitty-gritty. We will need to hammer out how to incorporate the enterprise that best protects the community’s interest, crunch the numbers for projecting revenue streams, etc. With this we can approach Bill, the owner, with a proposal. If he accepts, we can move onto Stage 2.

Stage 2: FUNDRAISING: This will be a brainstorming session on how to raise a downpayment and other investment. Hopefully, we will be able to use the Rivoli Ballrooms for some fundraising events. This stage will be relevant to those who have fundraising and event experience, and anyone else who would like to help out, but is unsure what they can contribute. From this, we will be able to create an Action Plan, and start organising.

Stage 3: BUY-OUT: If all goes to plan, this will be the moment, where we sign some sort of agreement with the owner and some transfer of ownership/ rights to an overarching “organising committee” will take place, when the committee will take on the responsibility of running and managing the Ballroom. From then on, it’ll be open to put events on, throw ideas at, and all the good stuff.

Everyone’s contribution will be essential to make this happen, whether in time, effort or money. So thanks again for your interest. The first stage will be the hardest; that is to get Bill to accept a reasonable offer that is affordable for us. We will keep you informed as to the progress through the stages, and look forward to getting together soon."

Now, this masterplan is of course still in the early stages, and no doubt the accountants and lawyers amongst you will have fun finding flaws, but we have to admire James for sticking his neck out and trying to make this dream a reality. What do you think - pie in the sky, or power to the people?

Brockley Road: Rail against the machine

As we have written many times before, Brockley Central believes decluttering our streets is a key part of restoring their charm and character. And as we wrote here we believe there is a strong argument that Brockley Road's railings should be removed entirely - following the successful lead shown by boroughs like Hackney and Kensington & Chelsea.

We followed up on this issue with Cllr Alexander, who - together with BrocSoc and Brockley Cross Action Group - we dragged around Brockley Cross in the summer.

Here's what she said:

On the railings on Brockley Road, I've asked Highways Officers to draw up a list of barriers where we may be able to remove them without negative safety implications.

I was talking about pedestrian guard railings again today (for the third time this week in fact). I am becoming more and more determined to get rid of some of the unnecessary "stuff" that clutters up our street (especially the stuff where its purpose and function is less than clear!).

I met someone today that did a lot of the work in Hackney (a guy called John Dale from Urban Initiatives). He's promised to send me some information about the Mare Street initiative which might help me in my future discussions with officers on the subject. He says that there have been some really impressive results.

I'll also find out where we have got to on the Coulgate St parking issues and the possibility of removing that odd parking space near Brockley Cross.

We appreciate that not everyone who responded to our original article was convinced that removing the railings was a good idea, but if the evidence supports their removal, then we hope that will reassure people.


A belated thank you to everyone who voted for Brockley Central in the New Statesman New Media Awards.

We didn't get to the Final, not least because the Awards are primarily interested in sites doing something more innovative than writing about what's going on.

But the kind words written by so many of you in support of our nomination mean more than any multi-million pound buy-out that would have inevitably followed victory ever could. And hey, doesn't that mean that we're all the real winners?

Not quite a pub

These days, Brockley seems to have more places to hang pictures than it does to order a pint, so for those waiting for The Talbot's gastromorphosis, this may come as scant consolation.

Here's a note from Jamie from The Talbot, which we received a couple of days ago:

"No real developments in terms of the refurbishment. However this Thursday Rob Osbourne (the old manager) is turning The Talbot into a gallery for a couple of days - the show is called Nicotine Memories."

The show includes site-specific installations, prints, illustration and painting.

The show started yesterday [which explains why some people thought it had reopened] and continues today until 4pm and tomorrow from midday until 4pm.

New fresh food shop planned for West Brockley

For some time, we've been hoping to bring you full details of the new fresh food store, opening in West Brockley. It's a been a bit of an open secret that the owners of the Broca are planning a new shop on Mantle Road and we've been hoping to get a short interview with Erin about her plans.

They're not ready to talk yet, but since the shop is already being widely discussed here we've decided to create a thread.

The Broca was the business that kick started the rejuvenation of Brockley central. While there were already a number of good, well-established businesses in Brockley, the Broca led a wave of new entrepreneurs who raised the bar for what we could expect from our local neighbourhood. Good food and drink, great atmosphere, attention to detail and a passion for the local community - the Broca has hosted everything from writing clubs to art exhibitions and they got the Hilly Fields Fun Run off the ground earlier this year.

That's why it's so exciting that they are expanding. Never mind the macroeconomic meltdown, the Broca team know the area and their customers and are confident enough to take the plunge. They know the market and it's our understanding that they will be offering a range of fresh fruit and vegetables, which are in tragically short supply locally - the cynics who ask "why do we need another food shop" obviously don't know the difference between a baguette and a banana.

It's also great news for West Brockley, which missed out on the last wave of activity and which still has too many empty retail units.

We hope that the Broca team will soon tell us about their plans in full, but for the meantime, Erin has sent us some details of something else she's involved with - the Christmas market. We'll be writing about that shortly.

Global banking system injects liquidity in to Brockley

Just in time for the end of the world's financial system come the words we thought we would never read. The missing Link in Brockley's commercial eco-system may be on its way.

From reader Colin:

"I live on Brockley road and yesterday had a letter through from Lewisham planning advising us that planning permission had been sought for a cash machine outside Brockley post office. Certainly won't be any objections from me, it's about time we had had our own cash point, let's just hope they aren't going to charge for withdrawals like the one in costcutter."

What this means when we all have to rely on barter is anyone's guess.

The Suburb of Dr Moreau

Brockley is being overrun by cutesy anthropomorphic animals. First came Brockzilla, then came Badger - now Bear.

Bear is a globetrotting teddy whose travels are documented on a charity website and whose visit to London never got further than Moonbow Jakes.

Dog Day Afternoon

We were recently contacted by the Council, asking us to spread the word to Brockley locals that the Lewisham Animal Welfare Service is holding a free microchipping day on Saturday, in partnership with the RSPCA, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and Lewisham Safer Neighbourhood Teams to celebrate the launch of the BARK project.

BARK aims to reduce antisocial behaviour and the mistreatment of dogs. Dog owners will also get a free tag engraved with their details. Dog owners are asked to ring 020 8314 2098 to make an appointment. They will need to bring proof of ownership of their dog and proof of their address, this is open to all Lewisham residents and people can bring as many dogs as they like. The event is being held at the Wearside Service centre from 10.00am -3.00pm.

We're not a dog owner, but we do have to swerve to avoid their mess as we walk down our street. So our first reaction when we got the notice was to ask the BARK team what the Council can do to address irresponsible owners.

This is what they told us:

"We have also held two responsible dog ownership days, one in Crofton Park, the other in Downham.

"On these days our enforcement team, SNT, the graffiti team and ourselves promoted responsible dog ownership, leafleted target streets with information on dog fouling, sprayed stencils in target areas and spoke to dog owners.

"If this is something that your residents would like to happen in their area please let us know, we are hoping to hold one in the Honor Oak Estate area towards the end of November."

If you've seen one of these teams in action in Crofton Park, please let us know how effective you think they were. And if you'd like one to visit your part of Brockley, please post a message here or email us and we'll pass it on.

Brockley in the eye of the storm [Updated]

Tomorrow morning, BBC Breakfast News will tear itself away from the unfolding global economic drama to concentrate on the fate of Brockley Road.

While researching the rapid proliferation of betting shops in the UK, they came across this blog's coverage of the Homeview controversy and got in touch. The next day, they were being shown around Brockley Road by leading local campaigner Glenda Rodgers and Cllr Sue Luxton, who were both interviewed for the piece.

Needless to say, it's too late to make a difference to this particular case, but if our example helps to make a difference to other communities, then perhaps that some consolation for those who opposed Portland Bookmakers.

Glenda says:

"Our case has set a precedent for Britain where Councils will be afraid not to grant a licence because they don't have enough money to lose an appeal to their decision in court. Residents should keep an eye out for Change of Use signs for Commercial Premises from A1 to A2. It's good to write in opposing A2 use if you do not wish to have a betting shop on that site. A2 includes banks, real estate agents and bookies amongst a few other things."

And if Lewisham Council is watching, perhaps they will concur that our High Street could do with a makeover.

Update: Cllr Luxton writes - "It should be going out on the hour on BBC1 Breakfast news bulletins tomorrow morning. Cllr Ute Michel and Glenda are hopefully doing a live studio discussion too."

Train overcrowding consultation

Thanks to Barry, who draws our collective attention to the fact that the London Assembly Transport Committee have announced a public consultation on overcrowding on overground rail services.

See http://www.london.gov.uk/view_press_rele...seid=18837 and http://www.london.gov.uk/assembly/scruti...owding.jsp for more details.

They say:

The Committee is keen to hear from people who use overground rail to commute. Please send us your experiences - particularly around being unable to board full trains at certain London stations, and how much space is available on the trains you travel on.

Please send your overcrowding experiences to overcrowding@london.gov.uk or write to them at: London Assembly Transport CommitteePP10 / 6th Floor City Hall, The Queen's Walk, London, SE1 2AA

Healthy Brockley workshops

The chirpy team at Healthy Brockley (run by Brockley Community Church) are running a range of workshops this Sunday (5th October), and are keen for BC readers to come along.

The event will take place at Brockley Primary School, Brockley Rd from 12 til 3.30pm.

Among the treats on offer are:

- 'The How of Happiness' with mental health worker Sherry Clark & Brockley Community Church's Andy Parnham

- A local history walk led by Des Kirkland of BXAG

- 'How to Drug-Proof your Kids' by Mickey Bailey of Christian drug education charity Hope UK

- 'Laugh your Way to Happiness' with Cathy Collymore, a 'laughter coach'.

The church is also offering free massage sessions and smoothies all afternoon, along with stalls and other activities.

New image of London Bridge Station revealed

This is a brand new image of the redeveloped bus interchange at London Bridge, due for completion in 2011.

The old PwC building at London Bridge station is currently being demolished, to make way for the UK's tallest building - the Shard. And economic woes be damned, because this project's got Middle East money behind it and pre-let agreements for the hotel floors and much of the office space. So it is happening.

Part of the works involve tearing down the entrance hall and bus station at London Bridge and replacing it with this shiny new one. Admittedly, it's quite hard to tell what the new designs will look like (they were subject to a bit of revision by the government's design advisers CABE) but it is guaranteed to be a hundred times better than the grubby brown wind tunnel that currently does the job.

This project is separate to the redevelopment of the rest of the station, which is taking place as part of the Thameslink project.

PowerPramming in Hilly Fields

PowerPramming has recently launched in Hilly Fields. If you don't know what PowerPramming is, it's likely that you don't need to know, but it's basically jogging and with babies. The classes also include post-natal exercises, so you get a good, all-round workout.

Still in its first month, the Thursday morning class has doubled in size as word of mouth has spread.

One mum we spoke to about it said:

"If you're looking for a simple way to get out of the house and back in to exercise, then I'd recommend it, particularly as it's such a lovely setting. But a word of caution, it's not easy with two kids!"

Classes cost £5 and you can find more details here.

Brockley flashback: 1998

The other day, when we published a short interview with a German living in Brockley, Hugh retorted that the same interview could have been written in 1998. Brockley was ever thus and always would be.

So, as a relative newcomer to Brockley, we'd like to ask those of you who were in Brockley in 1998 whether Hugh is right? What has changed in Brockley, for better or worse?

To help jog your memory, Dr Doolittle, Armageddon and Godzilla were all in the UK box office top five, while Cher, Celine Dion, Boyzone and B*Witched slogged it out for pop chart dominance. Surely life has got better since then?