Question Time

Marketer: So, you want a realistic, down-to-earth show… that’s completely off-the-wall and swarming with magic robots
Kids: Yay!
Milhouse: And also, you should win things by watching!
Meyers: You kids don’t know what you want! That’s why you’re still kids: cause you’re stupid! Just tell me what’s wrong with the freaking show!
- The Simpsons

The local and general elections are so close, we can smell them. Nationally, it’s being talked about as the first Facebook election. Locally, it’s the first Brockley Central election. We’ll be doing our best to cover the major political developments in Brockley and the wider Lewisham area.

Most excitingly, the candidates for both the Lewisham Mayoral elections and the Lewisham Deptford parliamentary constituency from the Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem and Green parties have agreed to take part in our pre-election coverage.

To help us put our questions for the candidates together, please post your suggestions for the topics that matter most to you. Whether it’s the future of Gordonbrock, PFI housing contracts, Lewisham Gateway or how national government should manage the economy for the benefit of local people. Please let us have the questions that we should be asking our local or national candidates.

Closing date for suggestions is Friday (April 2nd).

Thanks – the next few weeks should be fun.


Paddyom said...

I would like to hear whether any candidate would do anything to encourage property owners and businessfolk to improve the retail facades of suburbs in Lewisham (SE4 in particular). The restoration of gawdy rundown shop-fronts back into something more in-keeping with the often beautiful architecture would improve the general streetscape, encourage people back to their local high streets and reduce petty crime such as litter etc... I believe grants should be made available to existing retailers to make improvements and strict rules brought in for future businesses. Many of our high streets are more akin to some Asian cities (Khao San rd, Bangkok anyone?). The areas of the South London where people want to live and with an attractive retail core thrive in this area such as as Blackheath, Greenwich, Dulwich, Beckenham etc... personally I consider this a very important improvement for SE4 and i would vote for anyone willing to do something about it.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully BC will be carrying out its coverage in an impartial manner as opposed to the usual Green Party bias to things on here.

Brockley Nick said...

Yes we will be impartial.

What bias are you referring to?

Pete said...

Well anon, perhaps if any of the other parties made the effort to engage with Brockley Central in the same way that Sue Luxton and Darren have made then they would maybe get more coverage.

What's more, this isn't the BBC so it doesn't HAVE to be impartial. Although I'm sure Nick does his best.

Paddyom said...

Knew it wouldnt take long for this thread to turn into a whingefest from someone. Well done Anon, it took you 6 minutes.

Brockley Nick said...

I doubt that the candidates would have agreed to it, if they didn't trust us to treat them fairly.

Anyway, questions please.

Anonymous said...

What are their policies on (a) community policing (is it fine as it is, or do changes need to be made?) and (b) the reduction of youth violence?

Monkeyboy said...

Presumably there will be some belt tightening locally. What do the local politicos propose - specifically rather than high level statements

For the MPs, have lots of central government questions. Not sure this is the place for that or we'll be getting the manifesto cut 'n' pasted. What about specific actions they will persue to increase local jobs, or is that too vauge?

barryls said...

Paint the lamp posts!

Fill in the potholes!

Get the Victoria Bellingham service reinstated!

No more Third World Lewisham.

Ladywell Borders said...

Thanks Nick - am glad to hear that local voices will be magnified by Brockley Central.

I'd like to know the following:

1) What is going to be done about the increasing problematic twin issues of littering and fly tipping in Lewisham?

2) What are the candidates planning on doing to encourage new businesses to open in Lewisham High Street - something other than betting shops, cut rate grocers/butchers and money lenders?

3)What are their plans to improve the appearance of Lewisham High Street? Fixing burned out street lights, cleaning the streets properly (particularly the market area), replacing the disgusting blue plastic bins with the more attractive versions in New Cross, making more communal areas attractive, clean and safe?

Matt-Z said...

Do any of the candidates support the immediate return of the Sumo Wrestlers to the roundabout outside Lewisham Library? The place has gone downhill ever since they were removed.

The Cat Man said...

For Local Elections:
- Sort out the contractors - why do I have pot-holes in the pavements and why are nice concrate slabbed paths replaced randomly with bits of cheap tarmac?
- Will there be more trees?
- Will they sort out Brockley Road Shops?
- Will they remove the railings?
- What are the plans for the school site that wil be closed on revelon rd in 2yrs, its a big area - housing? new park?

- What would it take them to stop blubbing about party trash and to gain a conscience, speak up for their own views and do something credible? said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
BC longtimer said...

Nick - I didn't write the ocmment on the bias - but it's there.

Brockley Nick said...

@BC longtimer.

I write most about the Green Party because a) most of our councillors are Greens b) they do an excellent job of keeping people informed about what's going on and Green Ladywell is a vital news resource for the area c) Darren Johnson is our GLA representative and d) I think they are decent people and am happy to say as much. As a long-time reader, you might have read several examples of where I have criticised Green Party policy - from bridges to nappies to Lewisham Gateway. You might also have seen several articles I've written about Cllr Alexander's work in Brockley and the platform I have given to local LibDems, including a byline article from them a few months' ago.

As it happens I am not a Green Party supporter. I can't comment for Kate or Jon.

Crofton Park Ranger said...

As mentioned by another:

There will need to be belt tightening... but exactly which belts will need to be tightened and by how much.

Points awarded for honesty and meaningful numbers (even if it is scary - we can take it).

Points deducted for political slipperyness (you know what we mean).

Bea said...

It already been said but to the local councillors I would like to know what their plans are to:

- improve the pavements in SE4 (the only places with decent pavements are Upper Brockley Road and Manor Avenue and that's because they were totally ripped up by the utilities about 5 years ago). The rest of the place is a constant trip hazard

- improve the local shopping landscape as described by Paddydom


increase places at secondary schools (as well as primary ones)

- sort out Brockley Cross roundabout traffic

- do about making Coulgate Road part pedestrianised

- sort out the state of the paving and railings outside Brockley train station and who will be held accountable for the mess it is in as well as the delay

- ensure CA rules are adhered to

Brockley Nick said...

@Bea - thanks, don't worry about repetition, it's good to get a feel for the weight of opinion on key issues.

Tressillian James said...

Views on PFI and the raw deal that leaseholders currently get?

Plans for/views on Lewisham Way?

Ditto Brockley Cross

Conservation areas - lack of implementation of rules and council agents (PFI) actively not following? This ties in with other comments re the shops on Brockley road tha tare within the conservation area.

Lamposts - Southwark use victorian replicas - why can't we? General comments re street furniture and providing a pleasant environment to live in.

LewishamLovely said...

I'd like raised...

1. Litter! Lewisham's streets are strewn with it, especially in the town centre and around its various train stations. Often I am gobsmacked by the amount blowing around the town centre, which has street cleaners but obviously not enough and not enough is done to discourage people from dropping it.

2. The existing town centre. Lots of talk about the Gateway providing a new town centre, but what plans are there for smartening the existing town centre? The paving in the street market is filthy and the whole area smelly and quite unpleasant. Why do we need the main feature of the town centre to be a huge trash compactor, surrounded dozens and dozens of stinky commercial bins? There must be a better way to manage the (worth keeping) market and the mess it creates.

3. Shops. What can be done to encourage retailers into the shopping areas? Lewisham does not need any more betting shops (though i'm not sure the council can stop those?), money shops or cut price butchers with animal carcasses hanging on hooks on the street.

4. Lewisham Gateway. How many times can the council keep saying it will start "next year"? they have been saying it for many, many years. Why was the deal agreed with the council holding no power to actually get it started? WHat is their opinion on it ever getting stated? What will they do if elected/reelected to get it moving?

5. Steve Bullock - perhaps a clarification from him on why his canvassers are saying the shop demolition taking place now signals the start of the Gateway project, but the council says the opposite.

Tressillian James said...

Interesting point on litter - there used to be (about 3-4 years ago), a guy who swept litter on Breakspears Road everymorning - now I don't see him and there is someone is Tressillian once every other week.
I'm presuming this got cut.

However there is a Dad's Conference (as seen advertised here) and an presumably officer to run it and the 'Bushcraft' and 'Salsa' workshops put on for the Dad's.

I think you know what I'm going to say....

I'd like to know where Lewisham's priorities are - and will they consider a return to essentials and pick up the 'nice-to haves' after the core responsiblities are covered.

Tressillian James said...

apologies for appaling spelling and grammar - but am typing these quickly between tasks at work

mid-towner said...

Agree about the streetscape - I bought a B&W photo from a guy at Greenwich market, showing the little parade of shops in 'mid-town' Brockley, and St Andrew's church, circa 1910. I'm sure some of you will have seen it. The shops have nice little awnings and it looks really quite picturesque. Bit of a contrast with today, unfortunately, and it's the same around Brockley Cross. It could look SOOOOO much nicer. Are any of the would-be MPs interested in making Brockley more attractive?

Anonymous said...

what about asking about introducing a borough-wide ban on plastic shopping bags?
this would also help the borough's litter problem.
the main contributors to this problem seem to be Greggs bakers, 99p Stores and the blue ones the market traders are so eager to hand out to everyone

Tressilliana said...

1. Will you make sure that new housing proposals aren't approved without a cast iron guarantee that there are enough school places for the new families?

2. Where would you put the new secondary school and how soon can you get it up and running?

3. What will you do to tackle the massive problem that Lewisham schools haven't got enough places for all Lewisham children?

4. Litter is awful. Would you support a tax on fast food outlets to cover the cost of clearing up after the customers who just drop the bones and packaging on the street as they walk along?

Monkeyboy said...

From the rather excellent and geeky transport Blog, London Reconections, this summary from the TfL Transport Commissioners report...

"East London Line Extension Phase Two

The contract for the detailed design of the new 1.3 kilometre rail link between the existing South London Line and Surrey Quays has been awarded to Mott Macdonald. The OJEU notice for the main construction contract will be issued at the end of March, with construction work likely to start in the final quarter of 2010.

A commitment from the DfT for an additional £7m funding contribution towards a new station at Surrey Canal Road station has still not yet been received, although a contribution from the London Borough of Lewisham of £3m as part of its LIPs has been agreed. However TfL understands the Minister of State for Transport has concerns that the case for the station is overly reliant on a single planning application, which has not yet been submitted for approval by the Developer to the London Borough of Lewisham. The DfT has also questioned the station’s demand projections. These issues will be further discussed between the DfT, TfL and the London Borough of Lewisham. The timing of DfT’s contribution is now critical to enable more than passive provision."

A question to both local and national candidates, what will you do SPECIFICALLY to get this moving. Don't think Surry Canal Rd affects us but I think that our neighbours in that dead zone deserve and need a station. Note, the connection itself looks safe it's the station that still has to be confirmed. I doubt it will be as inexpensive if they have to build one at a later stage.

Monkeyboy said...

Not nearly enough bile on here, are we all exhasted from the Gordenbrook discussion? OK, allow me.

What is your position on the Gordenbrook school plans?

Anonymous said...

What would the polititians do to address the significant problem of residents who regularly leave their mark on the borough through vandalism.

What actions do they propose to take to prevent yet a another generation deciding to leave their mark in such an unsociable manner.

What encouragement to move away would our leaders provided to those who, by their acts of vandalism, demonstrate they do not wish to live in Lewisham?

Anonymous said...

If elected name one, no two, make that three things you would immediately stop the council spending money on?

Would it be best for democracy in Lewisham to have a Mayor from one party and the majority of councillors from another party?

Anonymous said...

By scrapping the landscaping of land that is to be removed next year to make way for Lewisham Gateway next year would save each household in the borough £2.

What other wasteful council schemes have you identified?

Anonymous said...

If an elected mayor and council of the same party as the government has been unable to provide a new community secondary school, build the new leisure centre by 2010, start Lewisham Gateway, bring forward a proposal for Ladywell Playtower, prevent Catford dog track development stalling and unable to make Lewisham Homes properties decent to live in.....

How would Lewisham fayre with a Mayor or council in opposition to the government of the day?

Anonymous said...

Rather than spending taxpapers money what proposals do you have that would significantly increase the income of the Council?

Anonymous said...

Given the overcrowding which the Borough is obviously experiencing from schooling to transport, when will someone take a "Sorry, we're full" approach to central government demands for even more housing?

drakefell debaser said...

I echo the points about litter and plastic bags but would also like to know what will be done to increase the varieties of plastics that can be recycled within the borough?

Brought up previously but, what proposals are there to reduce the number of plastic bags used in the borough by retailers. On a wider point what is being done to encourage retailers to reduce plastic and non recyclable packaging materials?

What is the time frame for the roads in the borough to be brought up to a decent standard and what measures are being taken to ensure we do not suffer such deterioration in road surface every time we have a harsher winter?

What action is to be taken given that the new stairs at the Brockley Station are already showing signs of deterioration? Has the poor quality of work been brought to the contractor’s attention? Will the contractor be fixing this free of charge?

What lessons have been learnt over the Brockley Common debacle and what remedial action will be taken to ensure residents and council tax payers do not experience future improvements to our area that fall short of expectation & cause unnecessary disruption?

Can residents start to have a say in which contractor is appointed in the first place?

The flowers are smashing but, what is proposed for the renovation of Brockley Station? Can we at least apply some pressure on whoever owns the thing to repaint the bridges, railings and smarten it up a little?

Ditto Brockley Cross roundabout, shop fronts, railings, pavements & disregard for CA regulations.

Brockley Nick said...

Anon 11.27 - Lewisham has the lowest population density of any of the inner London boroughs according to this link

The problem isn't too many people, it's too few schools being built...

Anonymous said...

there's a big problem in the borough in that the many of the retail units/shops on offer are too small and down-at-heel to attract quality retailers of any sort.

what can the council do to encourage owners to improve their buildings? what would you like to see happen to the existing lewisham town centre/market area to make it offer a better mix or retail?

no decent retailer/cafe etc would open up in the market area when a few feet from your door is so many filthy bins, all with their lids open. the area is crying out for some sort of decent cafe (something fishy and the sausage van not withstanding) and the closed off market is perfect for some outdoor tables and chairs, if only you wouldn't be sitting amongst the bins and rubbish.

the shopping centre has seen a big increase in footfall and spend after a smartenign up and attracting some decent shops so surely there is a decent demand amongst lewisham residents.

i agree the sunday market should be better - the stalls really are the lowest quality you could imagine. what would they propose to do to offer a better alternative?

litter - what can the council do to stop people droping their chicken bones and boxes wherever they like? does lewisham actually issue any littering enforcements?

Anonymous said...

Seeing that the ladywell high street road is a pile of rubble with the on off approach by contractors to fix pipes etc, what policy do you plan to implement whilst in office?

Equally important, how do you plan to guage the quality of work and coordination being done on our roads by contractors whilst maintaining good value for our hard tax money.

Seeing how long it took to sort the Lewisham train station roundabout in time terms, and likely in funding too. What would you do differently to get the job done?

How do you intend to support our local businesses?

Turn it down said...

I'd love a candidate to recognise the noise pollution issues that this area seems to suffer particularly badly with. Is there anyone who has a strategy of tougher penalties for noise makers? My street is blighted by young men in boombox cars who park and play all evening. Then there is the issue of conversion of a lot of the old houses into flats in this area - apparently most done in very el cheapo way, with zero sound insulation. This has got to be making thousands and thousands of lives miserable. So I guess my question would be: Can any of the candidates make our lives a bit quieter?

Anonymous said...

As a bit of mischief making, which parts of their party manifesto do they not agree with. I'd like to know how independantly minded they are. Not agaist the party system but we don't want party cyborgs, may be a bit unfair on JR as she's the only one likley to have to deal with it.

John Hamilton said...

Dear Nick and Brockley Central,

I see that you are planning some kind of virtual hustings for the Mayoral candidates in the election. I am a candidate in that election and am standing for Lewisham's newest party - Lewisham People Before Profit. I'm happy to take part and I live in Brockley. I'm a bit surprised you didn't contact me as we have had quite a bit of coverage in the local papers and have an office in the Tea Factory on Endwell Road. We are standing candidates in every ward in Lewisham as well as in Lewisham East for the parliamentary election.

Brockley Nick said...

@John - I did send a message via your site. Never got a reply.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Turn It Down - but in my case it is the police who seem to make most of the noise. we can't get rid of the police station in the town centre, but surely there is some happy medium to the current situation of sirens blaring through lewisham town centre and up and down lewisham way all night. they are a nuisance and just as bad as the boy racers. i do not believe all that noise can be justified.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
emmajem said...

Litter and fly-tipping inparticular. On my street (Tressillian) it drives us mad and fly-tipping appears to be getting worse. The council do not appear to address known offenders. Railtrack does not help either through its laziness in its duty to care for track surroundings and the items and rubbish people freely dump on sites by tracks. We ended up chasing Railtrack ourselves on this after the council failed to pursue them.

Oh yes, and levels of support for Brockley Cross redevelopment

And finally I think the plastic bag and recycling initiatives suggested so far are excellent points!

Anonymous said...

When is this going to be happening?

I know I've missed the deadline but I'd like to ask them who their second choice vote would go to...

Anonymous said...

The more I get involved with the local communities and residents, the more I hear about the same problems and the fact that the Council have not dealt with them in decades. The picture of a Council without skilful people and a Mayor without a vision gets reinforced everyday when walking down the streets.
Lewisham is a beautiful borough, with incredible history, friendly people, beautiful buildings, streets, parks and squares and yet its leadership is has been so hopeless in recognising it and leverage on it.
The beautiful high streets are filled with litter, the streets are kept to a low standard, gun and knife crime is ranking high amongst other London boroughs, the Council is not bothered by the enforcing health and safety, planning and conservation regulations. I hear of horrific stories about health issues in the many takeaway of the area, I hear about garages handling flammable materials without a licence and many other incredible stories, I see development projects for very high density- low standard accommodations that only turn Lewisham into a commuting suburbia of central London, I hear about Council officials that watch powerless while developers scar the conservation areas, I hear the Council saying they cooperate with the Police although I still have to see a Policeman walking in the street, I hear about the lack of schools for our children.
Then I look at adjacent Boroughs that are not under Lewisham Council, and I see that South of London can be a beautiful and organised place to leave in.
So my question to all candidates except Mayor Bullock (his failure so far speaks on his behalf) is what is your Vision for the future of Lewisham and what is your strategy to make Lewisham a virtuous Borough within the next 5 years.

Anonymous said...

Brockleys shopping parades are blighted by the state of the land in front of each shop. This was formerly used as a forecourt on which to display goods. The pictures of old Brockley make this clear.

Today few are in use and the they are often in a state of disrepair. Sometimes used as private car parks by shop keepers.

The shopping parades of Brockley figure greatly in the appearance of the area. They have largely been denuded of regular businesses by the policy of the council to accommodate huge supermarkets in the area that draw much of the trade that would have remained local and require people to have cars.

The result is parking congestion and uneconomic shop spaces on the shopping parades.

Is there anything that can be done to improve this? Is there a plan?

Anonymous said...

Sorting out Brockley cross-enforcing parking restrictions -preventing pavement parking-some strategically placed trees could do this - tightening up on the take aways dumping bags of oozing liquid rubbish by the streetbins-improving the crazy traffic situation and providing safe crossings for pedestrians and generally deal with the lawless atmosphere that has been allowed to develop due to neglect

Anonymous said...

Not exactly rocket science, is it? More like bread and butter council business.

It would be nice to have a bit of transparency. What are the budgets for doing this sort of work? What is the programme? What is the vision, the big picture, the strategy?

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