Door suppliers

Sue has written with a very specific request, which she hopes BC readers will able to offer advice on, but more broadly, there are lots of door suppliers around and restrictions on the types of doors suitable in the local conservation areas, so please use this thread to discuss door suppliers nearby. Here's what Sue asks:

Please could you ask your readers if they know of any good companies to refurb a 1900 door. I'm looking to get it draught-proofed, the glazing replaced with some nice stained glass (it's currently 3 different types of glass) and possibly some perspex/secondary glazing behind the double glazing to insulated it a bit more. Can any of your readers recommend someone to do this?

Hilly Fields Cricket Centre plans revealed

The approximate site of the new cricket square is marked in bright green

Brockley village already has plenty of warm beer and bicycling nuns (well, Headhunter). Now, we are getting cricket on our green. Following the recent revelation that funding has been secured to create a new cricket pitch in Hilly Fields, we’re happy to be able to give you the story in greater detail.

This a much bigger and more exciting project than simply mowing the grass. The objective is to create a sporting centre of excellence in Hilly Fields with re-built cricket squares, renovated outfields and improved changing facilities for use by local schools and clubs like Catford’s Cyphers and Wanderers. The team have already had expressions of interest from a range of nearby Clubs and there has been some fighting talk from a few Brockley Central readers about putting together a pub team or two. Football will also be able to share the new facilities and better playing surfaces.

The Hilly Fields pitch should be ready to play cricket on by April 2011.

The project is the result of collaboration between Brockley social enterprise Envirowork Lewisham, Lewisham Council and Teachsport, supported by funding from the Big Lottery, The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and The London Marathon Charitable Trust.

£75,000 has been acquired from the London Marathon Trust for the construction of the squares and £243,000 from the Big Lottery Reaching Communities fund to support the development of the project in its first three years. It is intended for the project to become financially sustainable within 4 years. The new facilities are projected to serve approximately 3,500 players per year plus 50 schools, cricket and football clubs and community groups over 3 years across both grounds.

Envirowork Lewisham employs and trains long term unemployed people in groundsmanship skills and has depots at both Mayow Park and Hilly Fields. Project Director, Peter Ranken, approached the ECB to see if it would fund the regeneration of the grounds at both parks which would then be maintained by Envirowork trainees as part of a training programme to develop career opportunities in grounds management.
Led by Mike Gatting, the ECB’s Managing Director of Cricket Partnerships and ex England Captain, who has visited both parks, the ECB has agreed to fund up to 75% of the construction of the squares at both grounds and provide money for equipment for the project which will be called ParkSport Lewisham. The ECB sees the projects at Mayow Park and Hilly Fields as a way of re-invigorating cricket in the local community. The grounds will be multi-use, with football played on them throughout the winter.

When we reported the story there were some legitimate questions asked about whether stray balls could end up damaging nearby cars or houses. As you can see from the image above, the pitch will be located as far away from the roads as possible and that the cover from the London Plane trees at the edge of the park will offer further protection. Cricket has been played on Hilly Fields since 1896 and the game was played regularly here as recently as the 1980s. Local residents were consulted in the project’s early stages.

The project will be in three stages. Stage one beginning in May/June this year will be the construction of squares of 12 to16 pitches to meet ECB minimum standards with the contract being managed by the Council. The outfields will be prepared by Envirowork with the intention of the grounds being ready for use for the 2011 season.

Stage two will be the temporary renovation of the existing buildings at Envirowork’s depot in Hilly Fields. Once operational, the grounds at both Hilly Fields and Mayow Park will be managed and maintained by Envirowork working under contract to the Council. The ParkSport team will be working in partnership with Teachsport who will provide coaching sessions and manage school and district games.

Stage three (subject to successful funding bids) will be the construction of new buildings at Envirowork Lewisham’s depot at Hilly Fields to complement the existing ‘Bothy’ built in 1893. This will allow for an increase in changing facilities to include showers and access for people with disabilities. There will also be an opportunity to include Cafés for public use together with other community facilities.

Prior to any plans being drawn up full consultations will be held with user groups and local residents and it is anticipated that work could begin in late 2011.

Cold reality of Brockley Cross laid out for Lewisham Council

Stuart from the Brockley Cross Action Group has kindly provided this report from this week's tour of Brockley Cross with the Deputy Mayor and a number of Council Officers, an event designed to help the Council decide how the very limited amount of money to improve the area could best be spent:

For nearly three hours Brockley Cross had the undivided attention of key players in Lewisham Council in the form of a walkabout and de-brief in Toads Mouth Too.

The whole patch was carefully walked - from station to our 'High Street' (Brockley Road), down to Brockley Cross where we all took life in hands to navigate the 5 roads in an clockwise direction to return to the stretch of shops between Cranfield and Harefield where we spent some time examining a large puddle, and the old and unnecessary railings and the unhelpful parking restrictions which serve neither passing traffic or commuter traffic between 10.00am and 6.30pm. It was a sobering and cold tour!

Personally, I had a horrible sense of déjà vu, but it was a useful and necessary thing to do. As a community we have to keep reminding Lewisham Council that we have a very poor public realm, significant road safety issues and lots of ideas as to what might be done. Unfortunately, the money Lewisham has applied for from TfL has been spread quite thinly and with regards to Brockley Cross itself, it isn't going to go very far - we won't be getting rid of the hated 1950s double roundabout arrangement which was an experiment that was never removed.

Some interesting facts emerged - Brockley/Brockley Cross, with its 75 shops is only classed as a 'local centre' and competes for resources with Lewisham's more important 'district' centres (e.g. New Cross, Sydenham, Lee Green). Across the borough the backlog of public realm/highways/pavement works needed is about £150m - compared with its annual budget of just under £3m. In other words unless Lewisham can tap extra funds little more than pothole filling and urgent resurfacing is done in any one year. No wonder we have terrible pavements.

Heidi Alexander (cabinet member for regeneration) and Darien Goodwin (Head of Highways) agreed that some things could and should be done as a matter of priority. For example the above mentioned railings, parking time review, upgrading pavement between Cranfield and Harefield, more drop kerbs and raised tables in the road and crucially slowing traffic more effectively before it reaches the Toads Mouth Too junction, where two tragic road deaths has made clear to the council that something further needs to be done here.

The Action Group pushed hard for any improvements or changes to be set within the context of an urban design strategy - and not just done because a bit more money has been found. We also questioned whether more consultation shouldn't be done with local people on priorities for a large 5 year PFI programme for new street lights. We took them to the old concrete lamp post stuck in the middle of the pavement in Brockley Cross which Ian (BXAG committee member) asked to be moved. Ian is blind and has a close working knowledge of this lamp post and the difficulty of navigating Brockley.

On behalf of Charlie Hedges (BXAG Trustee), Rupert King (BXAG Acting Chair), Michelle (TMToo) and myself, I would like to thank the above named plus Darren Johnson (GLA), Julie Sutch (Town Centre manager), and Ian Plowright, (Transport Policy Officer) for coming down and we look forward very much to seeing small and not so small improvements appearing over 2010/11.

Good Times at the Rivoli

We export dancers and musicians and import Justin Lee Collins.

Brockley resident Beren has done his bit for Brockley's balance of payments by helping lure Five's new entertainment show to SE4.

Called Justin Lee Collins: Good Times on Five, it's a 10-part entertainment chat show, starting at the end of March.

The release says:

The hour-long show, will be filmed before a live audience in the opulent and iconic Rivoli Ballroom in Brockley, South London, the location for Tina Turner’s classic ‘Private Dancer’, Elton John’s ‘That’s Why They Call it the Blues’ and Paul McCartney’s ‘Give My Regards to Broad Street’, among many other pop videos and films.

Justin will interview the most interesting and topical guests in town, with a musical act from pop, rock or theatre performing a rousing, crowd-pleasing piece. The 300-strong audience will enjoy a glamorous night out with Justin and his guests, get up close and personal with their idols and experience a glitzy night out full of surprises.

It's hard to believe the Rivoli will have seen such regular use in years and will help to raise the profile of the listed building, which is still not used as much as its splendour merits.

Beren writes:

We’re really excited about it, and I’m personally very pleased to be bringing a bit of showbiz glitz and glamour to SE4. Forget Hollywood – it’s now all about Brockleywood…

I know the Rivoli as a local resident and so suggested it to Justin as a possible venue. He absolutely fell in love with it, and from that point on there was no question of doing the show anywhere else.

The owner has been great, and really supportive of the show. There are some exciting challenges associated with it being a listed building but we love the space and so are working with the owner to get the best out of it and, of course, treating it with the care and respect it deserves.

If Brockley Central readers would like to apply for free tickets to be in the audience (recording starts on the 12th Feb), they can do so by visiting the Standing Room Only website at:

Brockley Bites - Artistic Exports

Two of Brockley's best artists, most recently seen in the local remembrance day celebrations have major events coming up soon.

Julian Jacobson, My Funny Valentine

The celebrated pianist will perform a candle-lit recital at St James', Piccadilly on February 14th. Click here for more details.

MAAIKOR, Part of the Resolution

MAAIKOR is the new dance company, founded by local choreographer Keren'Or Pezard, who produced the dance performance for Up The Line in Brockley Cemetery. She was also involved in the Classical programme of Music and Dance for the Brockley Max Festival last summer.

Part of the Resolution will be a performance on February 16th, 8pm, at the 'The Place' dance theatre that will be a continuation of the ideas explored at the Brockley Max event. Click here for more details.

Brockley business pays it forward

True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.
- Kurt Vonnegut

As we mentioned, there is another aspect of the Choki of Brockley story which is worthy of its own thread.

Choki of Brockley is run by two young entrepreneurs, who were blessed with passion and expertise but little capital. We hope their business will grow to become very successful, creating local jobs and adding to the vitality of daily life in our area. Lewisham Council has for a long time identified attracting more companies to the area as a key challenge for Brockley's development.

So why did they end up being Choki of Brockley, rather than Choki of Penge?

Firstly, the Goldsmiths connection brought them here. Rowan is still a student there and moved to Brockley to be near the college.

Secondly, they told us that Brockley’s collection of great independent businesses helped inspire them to quit their jobs and go it alone.

Thirdly, the “neighbourly” nature of Brockley made them want to root their product and brand in the area.

Fourthly, they were supported by other businesses in the area. Not only was the Shop on the Hill quick to give their products a chance, but Ross from Brown’s of Brockley lets them use his kitchen to make their chocolate. They didn’t know Ross until they knocked on his door to ask a favour. It’s a tribute to his generosity that they’re now in business.

And this isn’t a unique case.

You can trace the threads of co-operation between local enterprises from Jam Circus to Brown’s of Brockley to The Shop on the Hill and Tea Leaf Arts to the Broca. By the end of our interview last night, Ed from The Orchard had had an impromptu meeting with the Choki team about whether he could sell their wares.

What Brockley businesses are demonstrating is that entrepreneurialism is entirely compatible with a strong community ethic and that the best businesses are also the ones most likely to give something back.

Brockley’s community of entrepreneurs is strong and growing, swelled by talent coming from places like Goldsmiths and Lewisham College. We are very lucky to have them. They will have as big an influence on the future of Brockley as the East London Line.

Choki of Brockley

Choki of Brockley is a new specialist chocolate maker based in Brockley. Their beautifully wrapped products have already been selling well in the Shop on the Hill and Goldsmiths and they will have their first stall in Greenwich Market next Wednesday.

We met Gemma and Rowan – the team behind Choki - last night, continuing our proud tradition of investigative journalism.

Choki produce hand-made, hand-wrapped chocolate bars and truffles. Although young, they are both experienced chocolatiers who met when they worked together at Bond Street chocolate shop Charbonelle et Walker. When we met them at The Orchard, they were taking a break between receiving a delivery and producing an order for Oxfam. We asked Rowan about their approach to chocolate:

“We take responsible sourcing very seriously and we always use very high quality ingredients. We use fresh cream, which reduces the shelf life of some of our products, but we consider it a really important part of making great chocolate. Our products are definitely a luxury (a bar costs around £3.95, the truffles cost 50p a piece) but for the quality of the product we make, the prices are very reasonable.

“We do like to experiment with chocolate but we avoid gimmicky flavours. I once tasted a “marmite” chocolate, which really didn’t taste of anything. Our chocolates taste like the ingredients we include."

Brockley Central can vouch for the fact that you can taste all the flavours in the honey, lemon and thyme chocolate and that their Earl Grey has a deliciously subtle flavour.

Rowan continued: “The name Choki of Brockley is a bit tongue in cheek, but we always wanted people to know where the chocolate came from. We’re both fairly new to the area (Rowan moved here as a student and convinced Gemma to join him) but we’re very proud to be a Brockley business and we’re aiming to source locally wherever possible.”

Gemma added: “We loved the name Browns of Brockley and went for something similar. In the long-term, we’d love to have our own shop – ideally here. I had to work hard to persuade Rowan that “Brocklate” and “Chockley” were a bad idea – although you never know, maybe we’ll make a special batch with one of those names?

“We’ll be producing special ranges for occasions like Valentine’s Day and Easter and we hope to be at this year’s Summer Fayre as well as the local Christmas Markets. We’d also be happy to talk to people about special orders for parties and weddings if they want to contact us through our website. We’ve even had orders via Facebook.”

Next week in Greenwich will be a big test for them, but based on what we heard and tasted last night. Brockley could soon be the new Bourneville.

There is another very interesting part of the Choki of Brockley story, which we’ll discuss in a separate thread.

In the interests of transparency we should reveal that, we were given approximately £8 worth of chocolate to review, of which Brockley Kate scoffed at least 50p’s worth. We’re pretty sure Brockley Jon had some too although we didn’t actually catch him in the act.

The Broca creates a children's play room

This is not new news, but the Broca has recently converted the small room at the back of the cafe in to a children's play area, which is a lovely idea and it's cutely executed with soft surfaces, wallcharts (Guardian nature posters, natch) and toys.

The Broca was already the best place in Brockley Cross to take kids during the day and has just got better.

Who do you love? 2010

Who do you love? is Lewisham Council's people's choice award for the best independent high street business in the borough.

In recent years, Brockley businesses have got close, but no cigar. The sheer weight of numbers using this site ought to give Brockley businesses an advantage, although we're also lucky to have so many strong contenders, that perhaps the vote gets split. It would be great if we could celebrate a buoyant last 12 months for Brockley business by helping them achieve some recognition.

So if you think Sounds Around deserves a Lifetime Achievement award, believe that Mr Lawrence deserves best animated short or want Browns of Brockley to scoop best breakthrough act, visit the site to vote.

With thanks to "Ian".

A Bold Vision for Telegraph Hill

Bold Vision Benefit Night
January 29th, 7.30pm onwards
St Catherine's Church

Bold Vision is the name of a project being led by residents in Telegraph Hill to create a new multi-purpose venue underneath the former Cafe Orange.

The group aim to create a new social enterprise, transforming a dark garage space in to a cafe, which will host live performances and other events.

To raise funds and awareness about the project, the group is staging a benefit night, supported by a range of local performers, including Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals and appearances by folk singer/songwriter Kat Drake, blues band Little Devils, accordion and violin duo Mazaika, comic interventions by Phil Nice, readings and drama and much more, including a bar.

Tickets are available from the Telegraph Hill Centre and on the door. The concert is free to under-18s, and tickets for adults have a suggested price of £5+.

Octopus: Power of Brockley Central

When you live in a town that smells of egg, only the taste of Lewisham will do.

Reader Brockley Kiwi is still enjoying his irritatingly long honeymoon and has just sent us this picture from Rotorua, New Zealand, proving just how far BC's tentacles extend.

Perhaps it's in honour of the ever-popular Maggies. or perhaps it was inspired by the Guardian's tribute to the area's growing cafe society. Perhaps we'll never know. Brockley Kiwi confessed that he didn't actually go inside to experience "a touch of Europe."

Loampit Vale road closure programme: Feb 1 - Mar 12

Here's a traffic update courtesy of our eye in the sky, Cllr Walton.

Reconstruction of the A20 Loampit Vale between Thurston Road and Molesworth Street is scheduled to commence on the 1st February and to be completed by the 12th March.

The reconstruction works will include improvements to the drainage in the area as well as the resurfacing of the carriageway. Transport for London expects these improvement works will reduce the need for future long term maintenance of the carriageway and reduce the risk of water pooling on the road surface.

During certain phases of the works there will be diversions to both vehicles and buses. These diversion routes will be clearly signposted and have been routed along main roads to reduce the risk of potential ‘rat running’ through residential areas. In addition to this there will also be some bus stop suspensions during certain phases of the works and bus operators will be using the next available stop, again these will be clearly marked on site.

One phase of the resurfacing works will require the closure of Station Road. To further mitigate disruption during this phase TfL has agreed with Lewisham Council to undertake these works at night between 21:00 – 05:00.This phase is scheduled to begin on the 15th February with completion programmed for the 26th February. For the duration of the works pedestrian access will be maintained at all times.

New cricket pitch for Hilly Fields

Cllr Sue Luxton has the story that Hilly Fields will get a new cricket pitch:

Funding totalling £600,000 has been secured from the Big Lottery, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the London Marathon Charitable Trust to regenerate the pitches both at Hilly Fields and in Mayow Park (Sydenham).

Congratulations are due to Peter Rankin from local social enterprise Envirowork Lewisham, who has played a key role in driving this project forward, together with Teachsport and officers from Lewisham's parks department... The pitch will be on part of the flat bit by Francis Drake Bowling Club, alongside Hilly Fields Crescent. I believe this is where a cricket pitch was originally located in the park, many years back.

About a year ago, we spoke to Peter about this project and he explained that it would happily co-exist with the football that's regularly played in Hilly Fields. It's great to hear that it's finally going ahead - an important step forward in improving the range and quality of local sports facilities.

The Guardian on Brockley: Villagey, Neighbourly, Green, Safe, Well Connected

The Guardian's reached its verdict on Brockley. And it has taken the "greater Brockley" concept to its practical limits, definining South East London as basically Brockley, with a bit of Nunhead and East Dulwich chucked in.

It's an odd piece, that repeats Dyckhoff's cut and shunt approach to South East London geography and defies convention by not mentioning the East London Line. On the other hand, it's exceptionally positive and does at least live up to expectations by opening with the customary description of the area as a lost curio. Nice too, to see a couple of BCers representing in the "From the Streets" section. Good work.

Here's the opening:

Amazing things, driving lessons. They take you to hitherto unexplored parts of this planet. Like Nunhead, Honor Oak Park, Brockley and Ladywell. I knew such lands ­existed – they're always in the property ­sections of the papers, goading twentysomethings to move where the air is fresh, prices reasonable, green space ­plentiful and the streets reasonably safe. And they're right. It's a pocket of niceness with decent boozers, villagey bits, parks everywhere and good neighbour­liness. Plus good schools, ideal for young families. And the magni­ficent Rivoli Ballroom at Crofton Park for Saturday night hops when the baby­sitter's round. Truly a lost land: I thought London had squeezed such places till the pips squeaked.

Lewisham crime drops 6% in 2009

According to the latest figures released by the Metropolitan Police, Lewisham enjoyed a 6.1% decline in recorded crime for the year to December 2009.

However, this figure hides a dramatic increase in the number of burglaries across the borough (10.7%) and in Brockley (44.4%) and Ladywell (35%) wards. Only Catford South and Lee saw higher rises. All other specific categories of crime were down overall, including theft, criminal damage and sexual offences.

Violence against the person fell significantly in Brockley, Ladywell and Telegraph Hill wards, but rose in Crofton Park.

Lewisham is London's 4th biggest exporter of secondary school kids

Lewisham is 4th biggest exporter of pupils after year 7 in the government's ranking of London boroughs.

The stats, which are available via, show an improvement in performance since 2002, but also underline the urgency with which Lewisham Council needs to fix its education strategy to provide more quality places at secondary school level following the collapse of plans for Lewisham Bridge school:

71.4% of resident secondary pupils in Lewisham attended schools maintained by the Local Authority. An increase of 5.7 percentage points since 2002.

Lewisham was a net exporter of pupils. 28.6% of the Local Authority’s resident secondary school population attended schools maintained by other Local Authorities, compared with 34.4% in 2002. The biggest importers of resident pupils from Lewisham in 2009 were neighbouring Greenwich 9.5% and Bromley 8.1%.

The neighbouring authority of Southwark was the biggest exporter of pupils into Lewisham. 7.7% of Lewisham’s school population live in Southwark.

Our Future's Orange: Dalston

My world does not end within these four walls, Slough's a big place. And when I've finished with Slough, there's Reading, Aldershot, Bracknell, you know I've got to-- Didcot, Yateley. You know. My -- Winnersh, Taplow. Because I am my own boss, I can -- Burghfield...
- David Brent

The arrival of the East London Line in Brockley will change everything. Suddenly the delights of West Croydon, Haggerston and Rotherhithe will be only a hard plastic seat ride away.

On a personal level, it will be as momentous as the fall of the Berlin Wall, re-uniting two generations of Brockley Central, divided by miles of tubeless urban sprawl.

In the build-up to the big day we'll be publishing a series of articles called Our Future's Orange, profiling many of the stops along the new route.

To open the series, we roped in Brockley Central Sr to tell us about his home in Dalston. Bear in mind he's even less down with the kids than we are, so we have no idea whether his nightclub recommendations are particularly accurate:

The terminus (for the time being) of the new line is Dalston., postcode E8, aka ‘Dalston Junction’ after the old railway station that finally closed in 1986.

Grimy and down-at-heel, Dalston looks like most people’s vision of the old East End, particularly when you visit its famous market at Ridley Road (just to the north of the new station) where you can buy almost any kind of food, including on some occasions African bush meat. It’s in stark contrast to its fashionable neighbours, Highbury and Islington.

Dalston's not so much a place as a crossroads. For rail, for road (the A10, the old Roman Road that leads north from the City of London is bisected by the east-west route of the Balls Pond Road and Dalston Lane), and for culture too. Here you’ll find every sort of migrant to London struggling to make ends meet. It’s the mix that gives Dalston its lively character.

In recent times the wave of young fashion designers and artists that transformed Shoreditch has moved north into Dalston, and suddenly it’s become the ‘cool’
place to live and work. New clubs, like Dan Beaumont’s Disco Bloodbath, have sprung up everywhere. Dalston’s independent cinema, the Rio, is an indicator of the area’s changing fortunes. Once a popular cinema, it fell on hard times in the sixties and became a seedy cinema club for soft-porn films. Now it’s part of the revived cultural scene that includes the Vortex jazz club and the wonderful Arcola Theatre.

Over the next couple of years this hub area will undergo its most dramatic (and most controversial) makeover in over a century. The new tube station, linked to the revived ‘London Overground’ station, will shortly become a place with space and Hackney Council has been working with developers to make what they hope will be an exciting new open space in London –
Dalston Square. Tall towers have replaced Victorian housing, and there will soon be new shops and a new library. It remains to be seen whether this will achieve the civic transformation that the council hopes for without destroying the character of the area. We’ll have to wait and see, but very soon Brockleyites will be able to check it out for themselves by hopping on their local tube and heading north.

London Transport Museum seeks local artist to celebrate East London Line arrival

From the team at the London Transport Museum:

We are developing an exhibition due to open in June 2010 focusing on the new extension of the London Overground network from Dalston to West Croydon. The exhibition explores the role transport plays in creating local identity and the impact of the new line on its neighbouring communities.

An exciting opportunity has arisen to work with a local community group in Lewisham to explore local identity and create a poster that will be displayed in the exhibition. We are looking for someone who is experienced in community consultation and can deliver a high quality graphic outcome.

The aim of the artwork is to generate continuing interest and public commitment to Transport for London’s vision of London as a world city, and specifically to promote the new London Overground line, with particular focus on the area surrounding the 6 new stations in Lewisham (New Cross, New Cross Gate, Brockley, Honor Oak Park, Forest Hill, Sydenham).

The artist is required, after consultation with project participants, to create a poster artwork. The artist will also work with project participants to develop their own artwork.

To request a copy of the full brief, please email Michelle Brown or Jane Findlay at the London Transport Museum.

Police ask local residents for help with their investigations into stabbing

ThisislocalLondon reports that a 16-year-old boy was stabbed on Brockley Road at 4.48pm yesterday after a fight broke out between a group of male youths.

Brockley residents on Twitter reported that a section of road near the cemetery was cordoned off for a hours last night as police investigated.

Two 19-year-old men were arrested and bailed to return at a later date. The boy is in a serious but stable condition. Anyone with information should call Lewisham CID on 020 8284 8362 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

East London Line 'enters final stage'

The Eastlondonlines blog reports that TfL has taken charge of the East London Line network, marking the final stage in the project's life, before it becomes operational in a few months' time. They quote TfL as saying:

“We have now entered the final stages in the development. Stations along the line require finishing touches”.

Ewhurst Road

Hmm, there it is: Aus-tra-li-a. I'll be damned. Look at this country! U-R-Gay. Heh heh.
- Homer, Bart vs Australia

Whenever there's a discussion of what shops the area could do with, someone always suggests a butcher. That often results in an exasperated response from someone who speaks up for the butcher Brockley already has. In Ewhurst Road. To be fair, it's no wonder most of Brockley is unaware of its existence. Ewhurst Road is tucked away at the south eastern-most end of Brockley, next to Crofton School. Even from the Crofton Park strip, the road layout means that Ewhurst is relatively tricky to get to.

In addition to the butcher, the parade of shops also contains an off license, a chinese takeaway and a newsagent. We want to rid Ewhurst Road of its forgotten status by giving it its own home on Brockley Central. So if you have any reviews or comments about any of the businesses on this street, please post them here.

Tressillian Roadworks

Work to relay Brockley's most pock-marked stretch of road starts today. Tressillian Road's crater-strewn surface at the junction with Hilly Fields Crescent, which for years has acted as a de facto traffic calming measure, is getting fixed.

The traffic re-routing which has been in place for a while now, will continue during the works.

The Brockley Mess cueB

The Brockley Mess cafe has a spiffy new website and has thrown the walls of its gallery space - cueB - open to local artists.

The Open cueB project aims to provide opportunities for amateur and professional artists to show their work.

The exhbition will run from February 3rd - 25th 2010. Head to their site for more information and to download the application form.

With thanks to Moira.

Housekeeping [Updated]

We've made a couple of small tweaks to the website.

Firstly, because of the number articles about borough-wide issues that the site now carries, we've created a "Lewisham Central" tab on the home page, which groups all of the stories together.

Secondly, because a number of people have been in touch over the last six months asking about classified space to promote their events and services, we've created a page for classified ads, if people want to use it.

Thanks to Brockley Jon for the changes - look out for one more clever tweak from him soon.


We've added our first classified ad this morning - from the Try Books group in Honor Oak Park.

Guest column: A social media strategy for Lewisham Council

Chris Maines, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Blackheath on his Mayoral ambitions and his plan to use social media to cut the cost of services in Lewisham.

Lewisham's a great place and with your help I hope to make it better. Next year I hope to become Mayor of Lewisham, and going round talking to people I face the same complaints time and again. One of the recurrent issues raised by residents is how the council feels and acts like a faceless bureaucracy.

I'm determined to fix this. But we'll face is the squeeze on resources that will make grand plans difficult. What we'll need is practical solutions that, bit by bit, make Lewisham better for everyone. Technology has the potential to help councillors to listen to people more effectively and to stay in touch with the community.

Love Lewisham isn't perfect - but it's a good example of how we can simply make Lewisham better. But I've been more inspired by the simple technologies that are already changing our community for the better:

  • Simple problem reporting websites like FixMyStreet and
  • Local community blogs and forums like Brockley Central, and the Telegraph Hill discussion forums
  • PledgeBank - which helps people coordinate getting organised in their communities
  • And of course the hundreds of Facebook groups and websites that form around local societies

This is where you come in. Lewisham has a fantastic array of people with the technology skills to make this happen, and, crucially, to make sure that council money is not wasted the way that it has been in the past.I'd like your ideas for how Lewisham council can become better at listening and better at acting, using the amazing tools we have online. For instance:

  • What existing tools could we use to make the council more responsive?
  • For instance should we force all senior councillors and civil servants to have a blog on which they answer the public's questions regularly?
  • How can we save money on technology? For instance should we only use free or very cheap platforms like Wordpress or Blogger?
  • What is the council doing well already that we should seek to extend? For instance should we extend Love Lewisham to our efforts in cutting crime?

If, as we hope, the Liberal Democrats take control of Lewisham then we could be implementing these plans as early as May - so I urge you to give us your ideas so that we can turn them into action.

Living in Brockley: More leafy than coastal

"Ooh, three points. Both fine answers, but we were looking for leafy, leafy."
- Phoebe, Friends

This is such a shamless bit of PR fluff that we feel dirty even for using it, but has asked all of its Brockley advertisers to tell them what living in Brockley is like using one of a list of 51 words. The most popular answer was leafy. They say:

We offered 51 possible words and phrases to describe Brockley, and the top choices (in order) were as follows:

Up and coming

Bear in mind that there were no bad words to choose from on the original list and that options like 'rustic' and 'coastal' were unlikely ever to figure highly, but it's not a bad ten word description. What would your eleventh word be?

With thanks to Moira for spotting it.


We were tipped off on Twitter about a new shop that's opened at 89 Ladywell Road. Called Engedi (although the sign still says something else), it was described to us as an arts and crafts shop.

However, every time we've been past, it's been closed and a quick peer through the security shutters suggests it more like a gift shop than an arts and craft shop.

If you've used the shop, please tell us what it's like.

London Assembly grills Southeastern on service disruption

The London Assembly has written to Southeastern to ask them why they were so craven in response to the recent snowfall.

Transport Committee Chair Caroline Pidgeon pointed out that between January 6th-8th, while the troopers at Southern kept calm and carried on, commuters using St Johns and Ladywell were faced with a reduced service and no trains after 8pm. This is in spite of the fact that South East London was relatively unaffected and that on the 9th, a normal service was resumed despite no improvement in the weather. Freight trains ran as normal throughout.

Worse, on January 5th, before a flake had fallen, Southeastern took pre-emptive action, stopping all services early.

We await their response with interest.

Thanks to Svea for the link.

If not here, then where?

"Is there any theatre or any culture or any things of any sort?
No, there's nothing like that Stew. It's like being dead. But the quality of life Stew, you can't put a price on it."
- Stewart Lee on life in London vs a horse in a field in the country and massive prawns in Australia

It feels like treachery even asking the question, but we've had a suggestion for a new topic from a reader:

Where would you move to if you left Brockley and why?

Obviously, there are no winners in this scenario, only losers.

Guest Column: Lewisham's Domestic Waste Strategy

Nigel Tyrell, Head of Environment, LB Lewisham on smaller bins, reducing waste, encouraging recycling and a new service for disposing of mattresses:

Brockely Central readers will be aware that the authority has been investing heavily in additional waste management services over the past ten years. Although ‘recycling’ is cited as the key activity in relation to sustainable waste management, Lewisham operates within a broader regulatory framework. The Waste Hierarchy (shown in this diagram) dictates how we should structure our services and focus attention on those activities closest to the top of the pyramid.

Naturally enough, our emphasis should be on reducing the amount of waste produced. That’s why, for example, the authority has allocated funds to replace the current 240 litre wheelie bins with smaller, 180 litre bins. We’ll be using most of these old 240 litre bins as containers for residents’ dry recyclables. So the aim here is to increase the amount of waste recycled, but reduce the overall amount of waste collected. We’ve done pretty well with this, over the past few years, the amount of waste produced per head of the population in Lewisham has reduced from 470 kg in 2005/06 to 430 kg in 2008/09. We’ve been encouraging residents to compost food and garden waste at home. Since 2004 we’ve distributed 7473 home composters. We know that this is one of the best ways of sustainable waste management, but this approach can distort how the borough’s performance is measured.

Despite improvements in our published recycling performance since 2002/3 when our recycling rate was 7.3% (latest reported figures for 2008/9 are 20.55%), you will be aware that Lewisham has been compared unfavourably with some other authorities. Recycling targets lump together garden waste and dry recyclables. Of course, some garden waste is very heavy, so if we decided to collect garden waste from the doorstep, our recycling performance would look a lot better. You will find, that if you were to strip-out the garden waste element from apparently higher performing recycling authorities, Lewisham compares very favourably. We’re also not able to include any of the materials that are recycled after they’ve passed through the SELCHP incineration plant such as ash and metal in the first 6 months of 2009/10 - 21,827 tonnes of ash and 1,249 tonnes of metal were recycled. We’re also not allowed to include any business waste figures in our recycling performance, so however many bottles, or however much cardboard we collect from Lewisham shops, none of it should hit our recycling figures.

Nationally, of course, recycling is given prominence as most authorities landfill a high proportion of their waste, and as landfill sites start to run out, recycling is a good way of diverting waste from landfill. Lewisham landfills less than most other authorities. With a landfill rate at around 7% (2008/9) Lewisham currently has one of the lowest rates in the country (compared to elsewhere in the country where rates reach as high as 83%).

It is claimed that having an incinerator in the borough is the key disincentive to increased recycling, but elsewhere incineration operates alongside high recycling rates. Germany, for example, recycles and incinerates a higher proportion of waste than the UK. Lewisham’s waste helps to generate (via SELCHP) electricity for London. Electricity that otherwise might have been generated using fossil fuel.

Additional recycling services are hugely expensive, and it’s only right that Lewisham evaluates the environmental impact and value for money of proposed service changes. Take garden waste (again) for example. There’s a lot of resident interest in the borough offering doorstep garden waste collections. How would this rate in terms of VFM and environmental benefits? It would cost in the region of £1.5 million to provide extra bins and trucks to collect garden waste on a weekly or fortnightly basis. This waste would need to be separately collected and transferred to an anaerobic digestion facility for example, and turned into fertiliser and bio-fuel, which in turn, could run a generator to produce electricity. So the end result of all this expenditure could be production of the same electricity that the green waste would produce if it were incinerated at SECLHP (only with less trucks, bins and traffic). Now that’s not an invitation to put green waste in your wheelie bin, and there are still some net environmental benefits of sending green waste to an anaerobic digestion facility, but it’s arguably better to keep this stuff out of the waste stream altogether and compost it in your own garden.

Collecting garden waste would really bump-up our recorded recycling performance. It would be very popular with lots of residents. It would have some positive environmental benefits.

The question is, does it represent the best way of using your money to deliver the most positive results? Our Waste Strategy has prioritised waste reduction and the increased use of existing recycling facilities, but also made several improvements in the way we deal with green waste. This year we established a number of sites around the borough where residents could bring their garden waste. This waste was taken and composted. Green waste from our parks and cemeteries is also composted. This year we collected and composted leaves from all of our public housing estates. Next year we intend to collect and compost all the leaves we collect from Lewisham’s streets.

The Waste Hierarchy frames our approach to the thorny issue of collecting bulky household waste, such as sofa’s and armchairs. Should Lewisham charge separately for bulky household waste collections? Has the separate charge for bulky household waste led to increased fly-tipping? Firstly, I think it’s important to refer to the service as ‘separately charged‘ rather than ‘free’. ‘Free’, as we know, is another way of describing a charge that is distributed through the Council Tax.

Charging for bulky household waste was reintroduced in Lewisham around April 2002. Charging had been suspended while the borough was building the new Reuse and Recycling Centre at Landmann Way. We currently charge £15 for 3 items, this charge has remained the same since 2002. During the period where charges were suspended, Lewisham’s household waste increased by 9%! This increase in household waste, in turn, pushed up our use of landfill and dampened our recycling performance. There was no drop in the amount of fly-tipping either. In fact, in the first year charges were re-introduced, fly-tipping actually fell. Colleagues in other authorities have reported similar problems with ‘free’ bulky waste services.

I believe that encouraging residents to think that the impact of waste is ‘free’ either financially or environmentally is wrong and encouraged a huge influx of waste from a variety of sources. There seems to be an infinite ability to generate waste to fit available disposal facilities. Anyone who has ever hired a skip and left it outside their house overnight and woken to find it filled with other people’s waste will know what I mean! Then there’s the attitude of, “Well it’s free anyway, why should I bother to wait for it to be collected, I’ll just dump it on the pavement”. I know that our good performance in removing fly-tipping has facilitated a similar attitude, but still, nowhere near the scale of the problem created back in 2001. Then we had increased fly-tipping AND a huge surge in household waste. It was also very, very expensive. We try to use your money to deliver the most effective waste management results. This approach is, we hope, demonstrated by a new service we introduced this month, which aims to deal with bulky waste, reduce landfill and increase recycling.

I was interested to see the comments on our work with local student, Tom Ashworth, and this service responds to some of the concerns about our bulky lumber service and fly-tipping.

You will be aware of the particular problem we have with mattresses being left on the streets of Lewisham. Over 6,000 mattresses were dumped on the streets between August 2009 and January 2010, which have up until now been sent to landfill. Lewisham Council is to become the first local authority to introduce a mattress recycling service to help Lewisham residents dispose of their mattresses in a convenient and environmentally-friendly way.

The new initiative will divert mattresses away from landfill . A local business, “Matt UK”, will be dealing with the borough’s unwanted mattresses. It decided to set up a mattress recycling plant when it realised it was handling up to 400 mattresses a day. The company recycles up to 97% of the contents of a mattress. First of all it shreds the mattresses and then the fabric material is separated from the metal into piles of foam, felt, cotton and polyester. The metal is sold to European Metal Recycling for reprocessing and the foam can be reused in insulation, while the felt, cotton and polyester can be reused in other textile applications. The material is then washed in an industrial washing machine at 40 degrees to remove any mites from the fabric.

This innovative scheme encourages people to dispose of mattresses responsibly, it diverts away from landfill, and it increases recycling in the borough. I think it’s a win-win for everyone.

To use the service, residents can obtain a special sticker from any local Lewisham library or from Lewisham Council's Access Point in Laurence House, Catford. The sticker is then placed on the mattress.

The mattress will be collected on the same day as scheduled refuse and recycling collections. Residents just need to make sure the mattress, preferably with sticker attached, is placed near their refuse bin the evening before collection day.

Councillor Susan Wise, the Cabinet Member for Customer Services, is please with this new service: “Lewisham's new mattress recycling service is a great idea, very simple to use and it's free. I would encourage anyone who's thinking about throwing away an old mattress to take advantage of this very useful new service."

I really hope that BrockleyCentral readers will recognise this new service as another useful step towards sustainable waste management. Let me know what you think (as if I needed to ask!).

My Blog:

Flesh Lives

Whatever you think of the politics of Lewisham's Transition Town movement, you can't deny their industry. They are involved in all sorts of wonderful and eccentric causes - including two local events addressing meaty topics:

Raw Like Lion, 21st January 2009
Deptford Deli 4 Tanner's Hill Deptford SE8 Start time: 6.15pm Cost: £2.50 includes Coffee / Tea and slice of cake
Numbers are limited due to venue size and entry will be on a first come first served basis.

Introducing the Raw / living Foods lifestyle, there really is more to it than smoothies n salads. Don't believe us why not come and find out! Amy from Raw Like lion will introduce Why Raw? and discuss some of the pifalls of even 'healthy' cooked food with a mini raw food preparation demo. You will be able to sample sweet treats like cake and chocolate as well as something savoury.

The Meat Licence Propopsal
6.45pm, Friday 29th January 2010
The Old Police Station, Amersham Vale, SE14 6LG

Artist John O'Shea introduces 'The Meat Licence Proposal', a project which aims to change UK law so that people who eat meat must ‘be equally comfortable with killing animals’. Under O’Shea’s proposed law, people would need a licence to be carnivorous, attained through slaughtering an animal.

On its trajectory towards becoming 'law' The Meat Licence Proposal' operates as a cultural probe and provocation and this journey is documented and played out as a discussion site online:

'The Meat Licence Proposal' raises important concerns about the apparent gulf between citizens and lawmakers and asks the question what if we had a different kind of law? Can law be considered a 'creative medium'? O'Shea will facilitate a discussion about DIY law making. Can citizens make their own laws? If artists enacted laws rather than lawmakers how would they differ? What is a 'law' anyway?

The session will conclude with a short interactive exercise where individuals will be able to go through a liberating process of developing and enacting their own laws!

The Love Lewisham iPhone App

Rachel: Uh, thank you Phoebe. Umm, well, what struck me most when reading Jane Eyre was uh, how the book was so ahead of its time.
The Teacher: If you're talking about feminism, I think you're right.
Rachel: Yeah, well, feminism yes, but also the robots.

Lewisham Council's Love Lewisham project is occasionally spoken about in hushed tones amongst social media agencies. A pioneering example of how the public sector can use new, mass market technologies to improve delivery of public service delivery, we've seen it crop up more than once as a case study in presentations.

The concept was very clever: Take advantage of the proliferation of digital cameras and camera phones amongst residents to make it easier to report flytipping, tagging and other nastiness that we all see in the course of our daily lives. However, as an idea, it suffered from being a little ahead of its time. While the majority of people probably carry a camera of some form with us during the course of our daily lives, for many people, taking the picture was only half the battle. There still remained the need to download the photo to your computer and upload it to the website. And of course, you had to remember to do this once you got home from your walk.

Launched in 2004, Love Lewisham initially supported a Windows Mobile app that was designed to make it possible to carry out the whole process while you were still out and about. That technology was used for years by Council employees but it's only in the last year or two that apps have gone sufficiently mainstream that the processing power of the general public can be harnessed. Although smart phones are still a niche product, technology has finally caught up with the Love Lewisham promise.

The iPhone app, launched recently, is fantastically simple to use. Downloadable from the iTunes store, with one touch of a button you can launch a service that automatically asigns the photo you take to be sent to the Love Lewisham website. It also identifies the phone's location at the time you took the photo and provides you with a very simple screen, to fill out the other details it needs - select from a scrolling menu what kind of problem you're reporting, type in any other salient details and with one more button-push, you're done. The whole process should take less than a minute.

Sod's law dictates that we haven't actually seen anything that needed reporting since we downloaded it. The icy streets mean that we (and seemingly the flytippers) have been out and about less recently, so we can't yet answer the critically important question of how well the Council deals with the problem once you've reported it.

However, as a tool, which makes it easier for us to help the Council help us, it is absolutely brilliant. Free to download, it should be a must for any local iPhone owner.

Broc Soc Midwinter Warmer, January 30th

Thanks to Moira for the heads-up.

Boulevard Shardeloes

Given that Brockley has embraced cafe society so thoroughly, it was perhaps inevitable that our roads would become boulevards.

Some new street trees have been planted on both Shardeloes Road, creating an effect which one BC poster described as 'boulevardisation'.

So here's Boulevard Shardeloes. As they're immature trees, you might need to click on the photo to see them!

Lewisham: The Royle Borough?

With their Millennium status now fraying around around the edges, the people of Greenwich have wangled themselves another title.

From 2012, Greenwich shall be known as a royal borough, a title which guarantees a Beefeater for every street corner and makes our own crown look pitifully arriviste.

Lewisham's motto is "Salus Populi Suprema Lex", which is actually pretty classy: "The Welfare of the People is the Highest Law". We're also quite fond of the logo. But if you were to confer upon Lewisham borough a special status, to help us keep up with the Joneses to the east, what would it be?

A train of our own

Standing at Brockley Station this morning, staring at the list of cancelled services to London as fast trains from the sticks whistled past without stopping, we came up with reason #471 why we're looking forward to the East London Line:

It will be nice to have a train service, whose only function is to ferry Londoners from one part of the city to another. London's heat bubble generally spares us the worst of the snow drifts, but it doesn't stop services designed for the commuter-belt being buggered by snow elsewhere. And when stuff happens, it's easy to get the impression that Southern's first concern is not for its Zone 2 passengers.

Brockley Cross facelift - Lewisham sets expectations

When we heard that the Council had committed to make improvements to Brockley Cross, we sent Cllr Alexander a few questions, to try to clarify exactly what we can realistically expect from the work. She followed this request up with Malcom Smith, Executive Director for Regeneration.

Now, ahead of the local consultation meeting on January 25th, we've received this response - for which we're very grateful.

The letter makes clear that we should not expect anything radical in the short-term. Although this is hardly a surprise, it's a shame that the scope of work is quite so limited and part of the challenge will be to persuade the Council to commit to a time frame for the more significant changes, which the letter acknowledges are a longer-term objective. It should also allay the fears expressed here that work could have an impact on other nearby roads, including those in Telegraph Hill.

We asked whether the 4 options developed with the Brockley Cross Action Group would be considered and the letter makes clear that these options may be considered in the future, but not now. That will be a familiar story to BXAG members but at least the Council has not thrown those ideas out.

The list of improvements that we can look forward to seems sensible and should address the most pressing concerns, which are safety and the quality of pavements and crossings for pedestrians. We asked specifically whether the Council would look at options to reduce the amount of traffic using Geoffrey Road (and hence Wickham Road) as a rat run, because that has been a long-standing issue for residents and - as you can see from the response - the Council will not take any action on that issue if it has any knock-on consequences.

Here's the response:

The project at Brockley Cross planned for 2011/12 will primarily be an accident reduction scheme where it is also hoped to carry out minor public realm improvements at and within the immediate vicinity of the double roundabout. Unfortunately, it will not be possible to consider the wider Brockley Cross area within the scope of this particular project. However, it is hoped that development of a wider Brockley Cross scheme can commence within the next couple of years, however this will be subject to the identification of suitable funding opportunities.

It is hoped that this project will provide the following; accident reduction (may include traffic calming measures to reduce speeds), improved public (particularly pedestrian) realm, improved crossing facilities and reduced clutter (guardrail). It should be noted that some of these objectives may be constrained by the existing road layout and need to maintain traffic flows and to not increase congestion. Any proposed changes and associated works will need to be carried out within any available funding and physical constraints etc.

A proposal to "stop up" Geoffrey Road to through traffic would probably need to be part of a larger study of general traffic flows through the area and therefore a separate project. The detailed communication plan for any project in this area would need to reflect the scope of the project and its likely effects on the local community. BXAG would certainly be included in this consultation. With regards to the Brockley Cross options developed in 2005, these may be considered, however the scope of the project will need to be commensurate with the level of finance available.

Big Yellow back for more

Having had its planning application to build a storage centre on Lewisham Way turned down, Big Yellow's trying again on appeal. As the News Shopper reports, the company has form, having had 7 similar applications and appeals turned down over in Lee before.

The public enquiry will start on January 26th at 10am, in Lewisham Town Hall and will last for up to three days, although anyone wishing to speak needs to do so on the first day.

BC's view is that the appeal deserves to fail, not because of the quality of the design (which is still an improvement over what's currently there) but because Lewisham Way is - along with Brockley Road - our main high street. A facility like this would attract more cars and cause more congestion and harm the area's long-term prosepcts. Storage centres work best in commercial or industrial estates of the type that South East London is overly blessed with. High streets are for people.

Mayor checks out East London Line

The Mayor of London this morning visited Shoreditch High Street station, to promote the imminent opening of the East London Line, suggesting everything is on course to open on schedule. Mayors tend not to attend photocalls with delayed projects...

From TfL:

The East London Line is scheduled for completion in early summer, before it connects in the north with the rest of the London Overground network at Camden Road in January 2011.

The following year, the East London Line Phase 2 will connect Surrey Quays with Clapham Junction in the south.

When complete, the full line will create London's first orbital rail route, serving 22 of London boroughs.

The line will be served by a brand new fleet of 20 walk-through and air-conditioned Class 378 Electrostar trains with a capacity of 494 each, driver-monitored CCTV, wider doors and gangways and wheelchair spaces. A further 13 trains will join the fleet by 2012.

A total of 300 people will be employed on the line, half of whom will reportedly be hired from the boroughs of Lewisham, Southwark or Tower Hamlets.

New Year's Eve from above

Orchard NYE 2009 from Kai Clear on Vimeo.

Kai has sent us this time-lapse film he made of the Orchard on New Year's Eve. Check out his film of the Getliffe mural near Brockley Station being created too.

Hilly Fields playground - work starts this month

The Friends of Hilly Fields report that work to improve the children's playground will begin later this month:

The council received the tenders back for the playground last week. They will be appointing SSG contractors who are experienced and have a good reputation. They should be starting on site in late January...

We have progressed the project for the gates separately... They are now being forged by the artist blacksmith Heather Burrell in Deptford. Children from Gordonbrock Primary School who have been involved in the design work should have an opportunity to see Heather at work and take part in an art workshop and exhibition in late January.

Read more here.

(Hat tip to Green Ladywell)

Don't let's be beastly to the journos

Reader Oli sent us this News Shopper article, which reveals that the war on terror could have been averted, if only we’d listened to a Lewisham psychic. It’s an article that many of our friends in the hyperlocal blogging community have been frothing about on Twitter, suggesting it’s the death rattle of local newspapers.

Sure, it’s abject but it’s also incumbent upon hyper-local bloggers not to be too pleased with ourselves. Having written Brockley Central for three years, I’ve grown increasingly appreciative of the job done by local reporters and of the problems faced by local newspapers like The Mercury, the South London Press and the News Shopper.

The debate about the future of the newspaper industry is a bit like the ones we used to have at university, when we studied modern British industrial history. We came armed with a set of beliefs, inherited from school and from growing up in a period in which it seemed that the country’s infrastructure had been left to rot by successive Conservative governments: the City was short-sighted, choosing to invest in South American railways rather than our own, the quality of managers was poor, with UK business leaders being outmanoeuvred by Americans and Germans, who invested in newer, more efficient technologies.

Session-by-session our tutor dismantled all of our easy assumptions, showing how each decision was perfectly rational, even in hindsight, and that relative decline was largely inevitable. We were like the soldiers in Catch-22, arguing wit h the old man in Rome.

Likewise, bloggers carping about the myopic nature of newspaper businesses don’t have employees, shareholders or revenue to protect.

Perhaps the most rational course of action for these companies is to manage long-term decline, maximising profitability in the short-term.
Consumption of local news is moving inexorably online, starting with the youngest, wealthiest and best-educated people first. Eventually, everyone will be getting their news via screens, but the rump will take years to migrate – newspapers still reach much bigger audiences than blogs do. Until someone works out how to make money from the hyperlocal scene, blogs don't offer a sustainable and comprehensive alternative to newspapers.

Bloggers and local newspaper journalists must (and sometimes do) work together to make sure the important stuff gets reported, so there are fewer stories about psychics in future. Laughing at the slow death of the newspaper industry won’t help.

Christmas Tree recycling

Lewisham Council is once again arranging free Christmas Tree recycling at drop-off points in local parks.

The service is available until the last week in January. According to Councillor Susan Wise, Cabinet Member for Customer Services, last year over 10,000 Christmas trees were collected, mulched and used for compost in Lewisham’s parks.

The drop off points are:

- Hilly Fields - entrance in Hilly Fields Crescent, SE4
- Deptford Park - entrance in Scawen Road, SE8
- Telegraph Hill - Pepys Road/Kitto Road entrance, SE14

Oyster Pay As You Go - Now at Brockley

We had our first experience of using Oyster Pay-As-You-Go at Brockley Station today (or rather, our companion did, as you can't buy Oyster cards at Brockley Station, only top up at the machines). We felt pathetically grateful, like we had been accepted in to the greater London family, at long last.

Cllr Sue Luxton tweeted to say she'd successfully used it at Ladywell Station today too. Have you tried Oyster locally? Did it give you a warm sense of belonging? More importantly, did it work?

Wee Birdy

1. Find a subject you care about. 2. Do not ramble, though. 3. Keep it simple. 4. Have the guts to cut. 5. Sound like yourself. 6. Say what you mean to say. 7. Pity the readers.

- Kurt Vonnegut

With our singular focus, we don't often mention other blogs we like, but we're happy to have an opportunity to put that right in one case.

Wee Birdy is an excellent design, craft and shopping blog written by the deputy shopping and style editor at Time Out London magazine, who also happens to live in Brockley. Her work has recently been celebrated by the Times, who selected it for its list of the 50 best design blogs in the world. Check it out.

Predictions for 2010

Let us start by looking back at last year's predictions, which look less like guesswork and more like cosmic ordering.

We give ourselves five out of five:

1. "One of Brockley's existing retailers will take the plunge and spread their wings on to Brockley Road." (Magi)

2. "2009 will see the rebirth of The Talbot." (Check)

3. "Coulgate Street will have a full complement of shops and cafes open for business by the end of the year." (Thank you Browns of Brockley)

4. "The East London Line will remain on course for summer 2010 and the government will eventually cough up the funds necessary for the extension to Clapham Junction." (Yes and yes)

5. "We're going to bet that the developers decide to press on with Martin's Yard by the end of 2009." (Just about)

So what's left for 2010? This is the year that everything is supposed to change. That's what every property supplement of the last four years has predicted and we've been arguing for years that the ELL project is driving long-term, fundamental change in Brockley, increasing business confidence and footfall around Brockley Station. However, our predictions for 2010 are fairly modest - we think the trends we've seen in 2009 will continue, but there will be no dramatic change.

Most of the action will take place around Brockley Station, we'll see more young people and families living and playing locally, creating more a lively "town centre" and Brockley Road will very slowly improve, until the north end gradually approaches the standards of the Crofton Park stretch. Lewisham Way will remain largely unchanged, despite the best efforts of the Big Yellow storage company.

The East London Line will change the way in which we feel about our neighbouring areas - although places like Honor Oak, Forest Hill and New Cross Gate won't be any quicker to reach, the ability to turn up at the station and confidently expect that a train will be along at any moment will encourage greater travel along the route - like a monorail between two airport terminals. But in terms of specifics, here our best five guesses:

1. The campaign to secure a station at Surrey Canal along the second phase of the East London Line will be successful. That will be the only positive bit of news about local public transport infrastructure in 2010, although of course the Jubilee upgrade which will benefit both London Bridge and ELL users should be finished early this year and the DLR's expansion to three carriages should be finished by the end of the year.

2. Brockley will attract at least one new business which caters specifically for the young family market - whether that be a new nursery, a shop or something else entirely.

3. The final unit on Harefield Road will be occupied.

4. At least one of the existing businesses along the Brockley Barge stretch of Brockley Road will decide it needs to raise its game in the same way that La Lanterna appears to have. This will mean a refit, a reimagining or selling-up to another business.

5. Through the hard work of local people, the Brockley Common project will at last fulfil its potential, flowers and shrubs will replace fag ends and discarded building materials, greenery will hide unsympathetic concrete walls and people will enjoy the meandering walk up the ramp, rather than endure its unremitting brownness.

What do you think 2010 holds in store for us?