Happiness in Lewisham

The Guardian has the list of Britain's local authorities, ranked by indicators of happiness, based on data provided by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

We can discount the opinions of the rest of the country because their sense of well-being is artificially inflated by projecting all their resentments on to London. But how does Lewisham compare to the 33 other London boroughs?

The data comes from a survey which we vaguely recall taking part in and - being an optimistic sort of website - we may have skewed Lewisham's results. But even so, Lewisham performs fairly poorly. Although it ranks 12th best for community cohesion it only comes 29th for a sense of belonging, 28th for volunteering, 15th for effective policing, 19th for courteous public services.

As a place to live, Lewisham ranks 18th out of 33 London boroughs.

However, in terms of the negative indicators on the list, Lewisham is better than the London average: 20th for anti-social behaviour, 22nd for drug abuse and 28th for drunk and rowdy behaviour (presumably helped by the dearth of nightlife in the area).

The one glaring black spot in Lewisham's performance is in response to the question about whether other people in the area treated the area with respect. Lewisham was the 8th worst borough and we strongly believe that that is a reflection of the general lack of attention paid to the public realm. Radio 4's Analysis this week looked at herd behaviour in people, and featured studies of littering. They showed that when there was graffiti present, the rate of littering increased hugely [one caused the other]. In other words, they proved what we all know - that if the Council maintains the public realm properly, people will respond positively - anti-social behaviour will decline.

This is the big challenge for Lewisham and for Brockley: restore pride to our streets by embracing good quality design and enforcing the basic rules - to create a virtuous circle of improved behaviour and reducing the amount of money spent on cleaning up people's mess. Some positive steps have been taken in Brockley, but the terrible state of Brockley Cross is just one example of how much there is still to be done.