Crofton Park Ward

As passionate advocates of the Greater Brockley theory of local diplomacy, we consider it our mission to break down the artificial boundaries, imposed on us by “the man" to keep us down. SE4 is a small green planet drifting in the cold, uncaring universe of Greater London. We must stick together.

So when we read a discussion between readers about the Crofton Park assembly rejecting a funding application for the Brockley MAX on the basis that it was a Brockley event, rather than a Crofton Park event, we realised we’d ignored Crofton Park politics for too long. Happily, local Councillor Jackie Addison (Lab) agreed to an interview about the ward. For the record, it should be noted that this interview took place some time before the election was called. It's only our own sloppiness that's caused the delay.

What is the biggest challenge facing the ward?

Social cohesion. We lack a sense of identity as a ward. We cover a few different areas and straddle both SE4 and SE23. The local Assembly has been a great way to build a collective identity, not just through the debates, but as a way to link local groups that didn’t talk before. Here’s an example: there’s now a youth club that will rotate between local venues, including St Hilda’s and The Pen, starting in the autumn and running every fortnight. That kind of co-operation didn’t happen before.

And what’s the best thing about Crofton Park?

There are lots of homes with gardens and no large estates, which has helped to create a good racial and class mix. It’s also the safest ward in Lewisham and there were no burglaries at all this January. We have a very active Safer Neighbourhoods team, who’ve played an important part in that story.

Crofton Park Ward has arguably the two most successful high streets in the borough in the shape of the Crofton Park and Honor Oak Park parades. What’s their secret?

Honor Oak Park has not always been so successful. There is a new landlord, London and District Housing that is more progressive. The Forest Hill Centre manager has been working hard to improve things too. The changes to parking rules (more short-term parking) have certainly been important and we’re going to extend the zone to include the stretch by the Chandos.

In both parades, the flower baskets and planters have proved very popular and we’re improving recycling to cut the amount of rubbish left out on the street. I’ve been campaigning to stop the Co-Op leaving its trolleys out on the street, which has now finally happened.

Going forward, I hope that we will be able to raise more sponsorship of the planting schemes by local businesses, who recognise the advantages it brings them. I also want to encourage more businesses to become fully accessible.

What ideas do you have for improving local transport?

Of course, I would like to see more trains to Crofton Park. I supported the increase that the Catford Loop would have brought, but unfortunately we were never given a firm commitment to that service.

One of my priorities is local accessibility and I want to see disabled access at Crofton Park Station and lift access at Honor Oak Station.

I’ve set up a bus and train user group which meets regularly and allows me to feed back to the Council based on the experiences of daily users – as I work locally.

Some people have suggested Crofton Park should create a conservation area, like Brockley and now Ladywell. What do you think?

Generally, I think conservation areas are good things. When I lived in Perry Hill, some of the houses had been ruined and I joined a local residents group to protect the housing stock. If someone came to the Crofton Park Ward Assembly with a proposal, we’d look at it. The ‘ladder roads’ – as I call them – between the Brockley Jack and Honor Oak Park might be appropriate.

Do you think the Crofton Park Assembly should support the Brockley MAX festival?

This year, the Councillors’ concern was that too few of the Brockley MAX venues were in the ward and too many were licensed premises. We opted to support the Blythe Hill Festival and a range of other worthy projects. However, I will go this year and I’m sure we’ll consider it for funding in future.

What else should local people know about their ward?

The work of the Crofton Park Safer Neighbourhood Ward Panel is very important and we have a new, award-winning police sergeant, Mark Deacon, who I think will make a big difference. I’d urge people to get in touch with me if they want to be involved in that project.