Hilly Fields Community Singing

Brenda Rattray, the singing coach who inspired the creation of the Brockley Community Choir, will be leading a community singing session at the 2010 Hilly Fields Midsummer Fayre on June 19th.

She says:

Anyone interested can join me for a warm up and a sing at 1pm on the day with a view to sharing the songs we learn with the Hilly Fields community at around 2.30pm. The session on the 19th June is open to all - parents, bring your children.

For anyone interested in having a sing before the event I will be organising a singing workshop on Saturdays 5th and 12th June 11am - 1pm or 1pm - 3pm. Venue and exact time to be confirmed.

Could anyone interested please
e-mail me so that I can get an idea of numbers and book an appropriate venue. There will be a charge for the rehearsals but they will be fun - We will do vocal warm ups, vocal technique, work on expression, singing in unison and harmony.

Free journalism course at Goldsmiths

The team behind Eastlondonlines is offering a group of 16 young people the chance to participate in a journalism summer school at Goldsmiths which will involve teaching from a professional journalist who is also a journalism tutor at the college.

They say:

You’ll learn, not only how to produce quality news stories, but the high paced pressures of getting work done to a deadline, the importance of how to be entrepreneurial, and also a taste of university life. You will see how your story is received by the public sphere as it’s published on the East London Lines website and the course can go on your CV. Additionally you’ll have the chance to work on the website writing news stories for them after the summer school course during July and August and you will be able to participate in further training courses at the Journalism Training Charity – Headliners (http://www.headliners.org/).

The criteria you need to have to take part are:

  • You must be 16-19 years old
  • You need to live and/or study in boroughs of Croydon, Hackney, Lewisham or Tower Hamlets
  • You need to have a passion for writing and an interest in journalism
  • You need to submit your application by Monday 7th June
  • You need to have access to the internet & a computer outside of the sessions at Goldsmiths (at home or in a library)
And you must be able to commit to the full 5 days of study at Goldsmiths. Priority will be given to applications that state they can commit to further involvement over the summer holidays (please state your availability on your application).

The course takes place from 10am-4pm on 22nd, 25th, 29th June, 2nd & 6th July

For further information, please contact:

Ben Gwalchmai on 020 7078 5002 or b.gwalchmail@gold.ac.uk

Fatal shooting on Howson Road [Updated]

Reader Louise reports that police have cordoned off an area, following a fatal incident in Howson Road, at the top of Whitbread Road. One person is reported dead.


It has been confirmed that the incident was a fatal shooting of a 23 year old man at 2am this morning.

The Press Association reports that:

The man was found lying in the road and was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. He has not been formally identified. No arrests have been made.

The shooting is being investigated by officers from Operation Trident, which deals with gun crime in the black community. Anyone with information should contact police on 020 8247 4553.


The victim has now been named as Matthew Clement, according to Eastlondonlines.

Sounds Around ahead of its time in late-adopting Brockley

Sometimes affectionately described by BC readers as being stuck in a time warp, Brockley Road shop Sounds Around has nonetheless proven itself too advanced for Luddite Brockley residents.

We've been hovering like a vulture over our stuttering DVD player for months, waiting for it to pack up so we'd have an excuse to buy a blu-ray player and finally get to watch something HD on our HD telly. Eventually the day came, only for us to be told by Sounds Around that they gave up buying Blu-Ray discs for rental because no one was hiring them.

OK, so HD is one of the most overrated technological advancements since the minidisc, but come on people, sort it out. Embrace the future! Having now seen Avatar in HD, it's intolerable that we have to watch Sherlock Holmes in normal D, because of your collective inertia.

Brockley MAX 2010 - Starts tonight, closing night line-up revealed

With the 2010 Brockley MAX kicking off tonight, the details of the closing night on Hilly Fields have been revealed - with an amazing line up:

- Also starting tonight as part of the festival is the exhibition Books in Limbo at Tank Gallery, Ladywell (May 28th-3oth):

Tank team will construct a huge installation from books salvaged from the book skip to be temporarily resurrected in a new form before being sent for being sent for recycling. People are encouraged to come in and watch and even contribute books to the installation while under construction.

The exhibition will include interactions with many guest artists, performers, poets, actors and actresses. Recordings will be made throughout the exhibition giving further material to experiment with. DJ's, sound artists and producers will uses the raw recordings to create further interactions within the space. The full collection of sounds will make Tanks first ever CD.

- Well done to the News Shopper, The South London Press and The Mercury for previewing the event and to Londonist, who did likewise, cementing their reputation as the best London-wide website for South East London life.

Fayre's fayre

A quick note for everyone's diaries - The Hilly Fields Summer Fayre (NB: PDF link) will take place very soon, on Saturday 19th June, from 12 til 5pm. Anyone who hasn't attended this event before is strongly encouraged to do so, it really does showcase the best of Brockley's community spirit.

Just some of the attractions lined up include food stalls, plant stalls, bric a brac, book stalls, a children's farm, a coconut shy, salsa vida, a karate exhibition, a tug-of-war contest, a dog show, the birds of prey exhibition, a land train, a bouncy castle, children's rides, 'rodeo sheep', and - last but definitely not least - the wonderful tea tent, with delicious home-made cakes.

This year's competitions will include cake decorating (theme: 'bugs & mini-beasts'), vegetable modelling, photography (theme: 'wheels in the park') and art (theme: 'summer sundaes').

The event is organised by the hardworking folk of the Brockley Society, who often need volunteers. There may also be some stall spaces left, if any local entrepreneurs are interested.

Picture taken by Brockley Kate at the 2006 summer fayre.

Wriggle and Rhyme at The Orchard

Ed from The Orchard has been in touch about an event they're hosting as part of the Brockley MAX, which starts tomorrow. It's great to see another venue taking part in this year's event. Here are the details:

Wriggle and Rhyme at The Orchard. Run by Jane Conway, a qualified Speech and Language Therapist with more than 25 years experience of working in the NHS. If you have a toddler aged between 12mths and 2yrs, join her for 40 mins of fun, aimed at enhancing early language skills with your child and get top tips for developing early communication at home.

When: Friday 28 May 2pm - 2.40pm
Where: The Orchard, 5 Harefield Road Brockley SE4 1LW tel: 020 8692 4756
Cost: £5 per child including coffee/tea for the parent

How to book: Pop into the Orchard to confirm you place or call and pay on the day.

Brockley Business

Last I heard, my gym makes money. Yours doesn't. My gym's worth over 4 million dollars. Your gym isn't worth four. I have shareholders. You haven't even got cup holders. I earned this body, and I built this temple with nothing more than some elbow grease and a little can-do attitude... and yes, a large inheritance from my father, Earl Goodman.
- White Goodman, Dodgeball

Enterprise UK has published their report of the recent Enterprise Brockley evening, which is good, because we were too busy talking to take proper notes.

You can read it here, including a summary of the interview with Simon from Geddes.
We were asked to do the interview even though we are not qualified to give any advice to small businesses in Brockley – having spent three years operating in the “pre-profit” stage, so familiar to e-trepreneneurs.

However, we said on the night that even though we can’t monetise the site, if we can help local businesses to flourish, so that we can eat, drink, shop or get our hair cut locally or see free performances by local artists, well then that makes us truly rich. And we half-meant it too, although it wouldn’t kill you lot to click on an ad from time to time.

The report is comprehensive, but for us, there were some points which stood out:


For high street businesses there was a clear desire to improve parking on and near the high streets, by introducing more short-term parking and loading bays.

Links with local academic institutions

A number of businesses expressed a desire to work more closely with Goldsmiths and Lewisham College, particularly with regards to recruitment. They are a talent pool which is not being tapped properly at present and it is difficult to identify the right people to talk to.

Office space

There is a shortage of office space for sole traders and very small businesses. One person chose to locate in Deptford because it was one of the only places nearby that offered live-work space. Another had located in the East End because it had an enterprise hub that allowed her to hot desk in a way that wasn’t possible in Brockley (she had conducted a thorough search). This is particularly pertinent, given that live-work space is what’s being proposed at Martins Yard.

Financial support and advice

Not all sources of financial advice are equal. South East Enterprise was singled out as the most useful local resource. There is no definitive, regularly maintained database of commercial property in the area.

Town Centre Managers

There was a desire to have more regular contact withthe TCMs in Brockley and Ladywell and it was suggested that help with negotiating leases would help new businesses. However, there was a strong feeling that businesses should work together more closely, rather than relying on the Council – that regular networking could and should play an important role in co-ordinating group action on key issues.

Brand Brockley

Despite being an undiscovered jewel(TM), those members of the public who know Brockley love it - or if not love it, then have a peverse affection for it. The Brockley brand is good for business, even if it is hazily defined.

Surrey Canal station will not be part of ELL2 opening

Mark from the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group has been in touch concerning the proposed station at Surrey Canal on the Clapham Junction extension of the East London Line, due to open in 2012.

During yesterday's meeting of the London Assembly Transport Committee, Geoff Hobbs, Head of Strategy of London Rail explained that the project has now gone beyond the point at which Surrey Canal could be completed in time for the line's opening in two years and that they had not had any indication from the DfT that the required £7m would be forthcoming. In response to a question by the LibDems' Caroline Pidgeon, he said:

"We've heard absolutely nothing from them and in the mean time, the project has to push on in terms of its detailed design, with just the passive provision of the station.

"We can always add the station later."

They also discussed the possibility of a station at Brixton, which they said would cost about £40m, making it a poor proposition in terms of value for money, although they acknowledged that it would be a "key traffic generator" (ie: useful and popular).

Brockley MAX 2010: May 28th - June 5th - more details announced

The 2010 Brockley MAX festival starts on Friday night with an open air concert outside the Barge. In addition to the range of events listed in the programme, even more stuff's been added.

Of course, Brockley Central has announced the details of our own music night at the Ladywell Tavern, but these are the other things you can look forward to:

- June 4 Music for Clarinets: Bach and Forth 1930-2030 at St Hilda’s Church

- June 4 Torch Song Blow Out at Jam Circus now includes Shiikane and starts at 2000

- June 5 Brockley Max Bowls from 1400 the Bowling Club on Hilly Fields

- June 5 Brockley Bride 1300-1600 A participatory performance event at the Tea Leaf Gallery.

- 28 May – 5 June exhibition of Botanical Drawings & Watercolours at Oscars cafe in Ladywell.

- The tree sculptures on Hilly Fields by artists Jolyon Dupuy and Marco Maggioni are now on Hilly Fields.

The details of the opening night have also been announced:

Brockley Max 2010 kicks off with the famous music evening by the murals with a host of fabulous performers, musicians, dancers and singers, with the amazing, mellifluous tones of host MC 'Dre, and produced by the fantastic Richard Swan. Line up so far includes: Anita Maj, Ben Travers, Jake Twyford, Matt Dolphin, Monkey Rush and Brand Nu, bands from the Felix School of Rock, Mazaika and the Montage Theatre street Jazz dance group.

There have also been three cancellations:

29 May Remfrey
31 May Sonnets For Shakespeare
2 June Poetry Expression and Remfrey Dedman

And one alteration:

5 June Chris Mayfield Rythmn Rats is now playing on 29 May at The Wickham Arms

Bank of America money for local community projects

Bank of America is offering financial and practical support to London charities under its "Neighbourhood Excellence Initiative", designed to help organisations that are enhancing their local communities. Alexandra, who spotted the news, rightly points out that Brockley has a surfeit of suitable candidates.

Awards range from £3,000 to £110,000 and London is the only non-US city included. The application deadline is June 1st, so there's not much time to get an entry in.

Here's what BoA says:

We have long held the belief that a healthy community is a healthy place to do business. To be successful, we are committed to creating real impact in those places where we live, work, and do business.

That’s why we developed the Neighborhood Excellence Initiative, our signature philanthropic program, which recognizes, nurtures, and rewards community-based organizations, local heroes and student leaders working to improve their communities.
We focus on areas such as:

  • education
  • community development/neighborhood preservation
  • arts and culture
  • health and human services
In order to address critical neighborhood needs, we work with local community leaders to identify economic and social priorities, and the visionaries working to sustain, strengthen and grow our communities. Together, we can create healthy, vibrant neighborhoods where all of us can pursue our dreams.

Aargh! Another mural damaged

The three-panel portrait of Brockley on the back of the MOT garage on Coulgate Street has been damaged and a portion of the central image has been blacked-out.

Last year, the Jimi Hendrix mural was painted-over in similar fashion.

Presumably, the work was defaced in some way and some well-meaning person has painted over the problem with black, but in doing-so, they have made the problem far worse than it would have been. Does anyone know the details?

This is our favourite piece of public art in Brockley and it's a tragedy that it's been damaged.

People's Republic of Brockley

The new coalition in Whitehall is planning to introduce the right for local people to hold referenda on issues of their choice. It's been suggested that the main issues this could cover are council tax, and housing and planning proposals. But what would the voters of Brockley choose to hold a Lewisham-wide referendum on?
Suggestions in the comments please ... you never know, if we can come up with a really good one, BC might petition the council for it, once the new powers are introduced.

ELL points spotlight at Brockley

Our new tube line has attracted the London bloggerati, to sample our good stuff.

Londonist's pub crawl took in Jam Circus and the Orchard resulting in glowing reviews, as well as Try Tapas in Honor Oak and the Amersham Arms in New Cross:

Settling into a comfortable window seat, we could have happily used the place purely as a bar. However, Try Tapas is the name, and who are we to argue? Meatballs and fancy spuds were eminently munchable.

'Brockley is cooler than Shoreditch,' opines the sign beside the bar. Jam Circus is certainly doing its bit to live that assertion... It's a place you'd be proud to call your local, especially with late opening times every night of the week.

With its proximity to the Overground, there's a real possibility that the Orchard could attract regulars from beyond its local core.

To be perfectly honest, we were completely bladdered by this point, so have no clear memory of the Amersham's delights. We vaguely recall a sense of rock and roll swagger about the place, with a thrashy live band playing away in the back room.

Meanwhile, Diamond Geezer has written poetically of his adventures on Hilly Fields:

A grassy bulge, reaching the giddy height of 50 metres above sea level, to which the local population are irresistibly drawn on a sunny day... When Brockley comes out to sizzle, somehow a hump with a view will always have the edge.

Railings removed on Brockley Road

Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains.
Jean Jacques Rousseau

The broken, functionless, potentially dangerous railings on Brockley Road, opposite the Brockley Barge, have been removed.

Credit due to Lewisham Council, they have taken the action promised by former Cllr Heidi Alexander following her Brockley Cross walkabout.

Already, the pavement area looks far better, although we hope that the action will be followed by improvements to the paving stones themselves.

This is one of our key high streets. By hemming in pedestrians, the railings sent a message that Brockley Road belonged to drivers, encouraged speeding and discouraged spending. With work underway on La Lanterna and a planning application to rennovate two more shops on the stretch, this part of Brockley Road could soon be vastly improved.

With the new tube line running, the Brockley Station planting complete, the Brockley MAX banners flying and the railings removed, this part of Brockley is beginning to look lovely.

Although of course, as Lou and Tamsin would be quick to point out, it's easy to look good while the sun is shining, but let's see how Brockley Central feels about it on a freezing wet winter's day, when we've just trodden in dog poo, our wife has left us, we've lost our job and we've just been diagnosed with Becker's Nevus. Perhaps we should just reserve judgement until then.

Brockley Central Presents - The Ladywell Tavern, Thursday 3rd June

The biggest ever Brockley Max festival is less than a week away. Whilst this means some great free music and art events with a healthy dose of community spirit, it also means we have work to do, as the second ever Brockley Central music night is almost upon us!

Our contribution to the festival will take place on Thursday 3rd June, once again at the excellent Ladywell Tavern. Whilst the finer details are still being tweaked, we can promise you a cracking line up:

Tracey's Love

Tracey's Love, yes they are indeed in the middle of a snow covered fieldTracey's Love play upbeat 80s influenced indiepop, and formed from "an unhealthy obsession with Belle & Sebastian" (nothing wrong with that). They're playing the O2 Islington Academy this Friday, so we think we're in good company. For our night, the band are playing a stripped down acoustic set - a bit more fitting for the Tavern's somewhat intimate stage area.


Andrea Mann

Andrea MannAndrea is a Brockley-based jazz performer with a smoky "late night" vocal style, who sings classic jazz, bossa nova, and chilled re-interpretations of pop tracks. Andrea is stopping by to do a low-key solo set on the piano (she has a busy week - you can also see her at the Wickham this Saturday 29th with acclaimed local jazz guitarist Dave Colton, and also solo at The Talbot on Monday 31st).


The Madding Crowd

The Madding CrowdNever knowingly pigeon-holed, south London based The Madding Crowd describe themselves as a mash-up of British blues, rock'n'roll, shoegaze, electro & punk. This hottly tipped unsigned band look set to win the song names competition hands-down, with titles such as 'Oi, Oi I'm Gordon Brown', 'Birds 'n' Booze', and 'Pass me The Butter, Dear'.


So come join us on Thursday 3rd June!

From 7pm until Monty tells us to go home
The Ladywell Tavern, 80 Ladywell Road, SE13 7HS

£6.2 billion Government savings programme hits TfL [UPDATED]

The Government has just revealed how it intends to find £6.2 billion in savings in 2010/11. The cuts package includes £682m from the Department for Transport, which will hit TfL hard.

The implications of these spending cuts are not clear, but it's possible that planned projects, such as improved accessibility at Brockley Station could be affected.

UPDATE: The Birmingham Post reports some more relevant detail:

In 2010-11, there will be a £309 million reduction in specific grants from the DfT to local authorities, while Transport Secretary Philip Hammond is consulting London Mayor Boris Johnson about a £108 million cut in the DfT grant to TfL.

ELL is other people

Anyone worried what will happen to Brockley Central's unique form of local boosterism now the tube's up and running - don't fret.

From today, we can start counting down to the Highbury and Islington extension in 2011 and the 2012 extension to Clapham Junction.

Then of course there's the debate over what to call the trains - check out the new poll coming soon.

And the RMT are determined not to let it lie - they staged a protest against the new line today in Whitechapel.

Finally, we anticipate a slew of East London Line destination reviews in the coming weeks, starting with the Londonist's pub crawl via The Orchard.

Much done. Much still to do.

Surveillance society

Lewisham Council used the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to carry out covert surveillance of local people 42 times in the past two years, according to an investigation by a national pressure group.

As a New York Times report put it, '[Under RIPA], localities and agencies can film people with hidden cameras, trawl through communication traffic data like phone calls and Web site visits and enlist undercover 'agents' to pose, for example, as teenagers who want to buy alcohol'. These are serious powers which are used to spy on people without giving them any notice.

Civil liberties campaign Big Brother Watch has published a complete break-down of RIPA authorisations by councils in the periods 2008-09 and 2009-10. This includes the data on Lewisham, which shows that the council undertook covert surveillance for the following reasons:

2 - Allowing repairs to be carried out on the public highway on a regular basis;
1 - Counterfeiting offences under the Trade Marks Act 1984;
1 - Investigation into the abuse\neglect of a child;
15 - Related to offences investigated by Trading standards including counterfeiting.

1 - Investigation into the abuse\neglect of a child;
1 - Unlawful use of a blue badge;
1 - Counterfeiting offences under the Trade Marks Act 1984;
1 - Fraudulent application for Social Care services;
2 - Cases related to offences investigated by Trading Standards including counterfeiting;
17 - Benefit and housing fraud investigations.

The council did not supply any information about whether any prosecutions had resulted from this surveillance.

To put the figures into context, Newcastle upon Tyne Council used the RIPA powers most often, at 231 incidents over two years.

The new coalition government has promised to 'ban the use of powers in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) by councils, unless they are signed off by a magistrate and required for stopping serious crime'.

Last day of the Brockley Common big dig

As hordes of curious 'out-of-towners' explore Brockley for the first time today, thanks to the launch of the East London Line, the Brockley Cross Action Group is putting the finishing touches to Brockley Common, which is the first thing visitors will see on their arrival.

Today is the last day of the weekend planting sessions which BXAG has been running, to turn a scrap of fag-end-strewn dirt in to a verdant paradise.

From 1-6pm is your last chance to join the lithe, suntanned team so pick up a trowel and have fun. And even if you can't take part, please say hello to those working today.
UPDATE: If you like stuff like this, don't forget to go along to their AGM on Monday 24th 2010.

Living The Dream: Brockley to Dalston in 30 Minutes Or Less

Yes, it's true - BrockleyCentral was among the first lucky people to make the journey to Dalston Junction this morning on the newly-opened London Overground service.

It was a beautifully smooth ride, marred not at all by the fact that the train arrived 8 minutes late. And we greatly enjoyed the tea and cake afterwards at the Broca (which opened early to celebrate).
Here are some pictures from our adventure ...

Celebratory balloon entrance at Brockley Station

We have a service noticeboard, just like everyone else!

The sun shines on the first Overground train to arrive at Brockley

The first northbound train from Brockley Station

"The new Dalston Junction to West Croydon line is now open"

Approx 25 mins after leaving Brockley, we were in Dalston.

The lovely Overground roundel

The retro seat fabric

The East London Line - how was it for you?

We'll be trying out the Brockley service later today. Brockley Kate opted for an early adventure. Please tell us what you thought. Was it worth three years of BC boosterism?

The East London Line effect on house prices

The FT has revisited the question of what effect the East London Line has had on house prices along its route, with Brockley one of six destinations chosen as case studies.

The paper says:

The route runs from Dalston, south-eastwards through the East End, the financial village of Docklands and into the pleasant but unexciting suburbs of Brockley, Forest Hill, South Norwood and Crystal Palace to terminate in gentrifying Croydon.

It compares prices within half a mile of each station with the national average, over 12 months (+4.3%) and 24 months (+10.2%) to see what effect the property price crash had locally.

Brockley gets the following verdict:

Of the places newly linked to the Tube system, Brockley probably had the best existing mainline train links and already had a substantial commuter population who prized the opportunity to live in a decent-sized house but still get to work in less than an hour. Jonathan Keegan from Rocodells estate agency in Brockley says: “There was a lot of hype when work began on the line and property prices increased. Of course things got a lot tougher soon after that but there has been more optimism again recently. Transport is a big factor when people are looking at where to buy so people have been buying in the hope that there’s still potential for growth when the line is fully operational.”

Average price, £278,000; change in one year, +8.3 per cent; change in two years, -6 per cent.

Click here to see how Brockley compares with Crystal Palace, Dalston, South Norwood, Croydon and Peckham.

Welcoming the ELL

To celebrate the arrival of the East London Line / London Overground to Brockley, a handful of early-birds are planning to be on Platform 1 at 7.02am tomorrow morning, when the first northbound train is due to roll in. We'll ride the rails all the way to Dalston and back again, then perhaps call into the Broca for coffee (if it's open at that kind of time).
Anyone who'd like to join us (the trip is being organised by Brockley Kate and ex-councillor Dean Walton) is welcome to meet us on the platform from around 6.50am tomorrow morning. Post a comment here if you're intending to come, so we can keep an eye out for you!

Brockley: The World is Yours [UPDATED]

Lt Aldo Raine: We will be cruel to the Germans, and through our cruelty they will know who we are... And the German will be sickened by us, and the German will talk about us, and the German will fear us. And when the German closes their eyes at night and they're tortured by their subconscious for the evil they have done, it will be with thoughts of us they are tortured with. Sound good?
The Basterds: YES, SIR!
- Inglorious Basterds

At my signal, unleash ELL.

On Sunday, everything changes. Here is your new tube map, courtesy of BC regular Monkeyboy. From now on, London hipsters come to us, to kneel before Zod.
UPDATE: Following an intensive lobbying campaign by the Forest Hill Society, the map has been expanded to show that they too are on the tube map.

For those about to Brock we salute you

So deeply-ingrained is our reputation for being a cosy bunch of well-meaning but dull bunch of greenies, that even Nightstalkers can't dent it.

Brockley Jon has spotted this random reference to Brockley in a Times review of Anglo-Aussie rock band Pendulum's new album:

"Pendulum’s live shows may be riotous bacchanals but, abstracted from that environment, Crush and the new single Watercolour are more the sort of thing that you’d expect to accompany a Blue Peter location piece about a community garden makeover project in Brockley."

Wifi Lewisham

Will Lewisham become one giant wifi hotspot? (Answer: yes, see below)

This week at Google Zeitgeist, Mayor Boris announced that London will become fully wifi-enabled by 2012. It wasn’t entirely clear whether this was a plan or a vision or just something he came up with on the hoof, in order to have something to say to an audience of technophiles. Several news outlets reported that 22 London boroughs are backing the scheme, but enquiries to both the GLA and the Borough of Lewisham have so far drawn a blank as to whether this borough is among them. If you are Mayor Bullock and reading this, please fill us in.

Some parts of Deptford and north Brockley appear to be covered already by a wifi hotspot and we suppose there are others that serve business clusters and many local businesses in Brockley now offer free wifi, so how much of a difference would it make to you?

UPDATE: Lewisham Council press office have sprung in to action to confirm that yes, they are one of the 22 Councils that have pledged to go wifi

BC reader competition - life coaching

Life coach Jason Newton is running workshops in Honor Oak and in Brockley in May and June.

He's offering a prize of one free coaching to session to a BC reader. He explains:

The free session would take place on the phone and would last for 50 minutes. After a brief introduction, I would ask the client a variety of questions focusing on what they would like to achieve, what they already have tohelp them, what’s stopping them and how they would like to go about achieving it. Coaching focuses on solutions and with my help, the client moves forward from where they are to where they want to be.

If you'd like to be in the draw for the session, please email us before May 28th.

The upcoming workshops are:

How To Get The Job You’ve Always Dreamed Of (Free taster session)
Wednesday 26 May from 7-8.30pm
Hop Scotch cafe-bar, 72 Honor Oak Park SE23 1DY

How To Live Your Best Life (£10 per place)
Saturday 12 June from 1-2.30pm
Sunflower Centre, 81 Tressilian Road, Hilly Fields, Brockley SE4 1XZ

To reserve a place for either workshop, contact Jason on 0794 1010 386 or email jason@grovehillcoaching.com

John Shepherd-Barron - a tribute

The inventor of the ATM has sadly passed away, but not before he got to see his lifelong dream of securing not one, but now two (including the one inside Costcutters) free cash machines in the formerly cash-stricken Brockley Cross fulfilled.

Farewell old friend, your work here is done.

Three colours: Orange

After Brockley and Honor Oak, the third part of the Brockley Central triptych for Londonist is Brockley Jon's contribution on Forest Hill.

Jon's already written about Forest Hill for this site, but was a little hurt that it didn't generate more excited discussion about the merits of the area, so please feel free to indulge him here.

La Lanterna: The balcony scene

This is the work-in-progress on La Lanterna (the Brockley Road restaurant undergoing significant redevelopment).

Its Greco-Roman stylings have already got some readers quite exercised but although it’s not necessarily how we would choose to design our own shop front, it seems churlish to criticise when, for the first time in a long time, someone has shown a bit of ambition for this forlorn stretch of Brockley Road. We particularly admire the chutzpah of creating a balcony that overlooks the Brockley Barge.

With a bit of a paint job and the removal of the tatty flag and sign this could yet be a much needed patch of jollity in this dark, lonely world.

Ten years of the Brockley Cross Action Group

Annual Open Meeting
Monday 24th May 7.30 - 9.00pm
St.Peter's Church
Wickham Rd

If you want to know how great Brockley is, the annual open meeting of the Brockley Cross Action group is a good place to start. Nice people with good ideas working hard on our behalf. The BXAG is now ten years old, as Chairman Des Kirkland explains:

A small group of local residents formed the Brockley Cross Action Group in 2000 to combat the steady deterioration of the area. At the first meeting over 90 people turned up and agreed that Brockley needed improving. They had a list of issues they felt the council had not dealt with. Many of those present had similar concerns, pedestrian safety, traffic, the double roundabout at Brockley Cross, litter and graffiti, abandoned vehicles, the high level rail link to Victoria; to name a just a few.

Though the double roundabout remains (apparently it would cost over a quarter of a million pounds to change the junction) the group has made a number of significant improvements to the area during its first 10 years, both physical and cultural. We now have the longest poem in Europe, in four feet high stainless steel lettering -in Shardeloes Rd. Trees planted in a number of major roads in the area. Much improved streetlighting in previous crime hot-spots near the station. The Brockley Common, which used to be an eyesore piece of land in Coulgate Street is being transformed into an attractive space that everyone can enjoy. The annual Christmas market and the Summer Fun Run, the list goes on and on.

Our guest speaker at the meeting is Camilla Goddard. Camilla is a local Bee Keeper and maintains the hives at the side of St.Peter's Church (you can buy the honey they make in The Shop on the Hill in Harefield Rd), she will be talking about the benefits of bees in the urban environment and giving a demonstration of what is involved in maintaining a beehive - using a spare hive, minus bees, just in case you are concerned.

The work of the Brockley Cross Action Group is still ongoing, though much has been done there is still more to achieve. Why not come along and let us know what you think our priorities should be for the next few years.

At the end of the meeting, I will be standing down as Chairman - a role I have had since 2007. As a founder member, I will remain a part of the group and continue to act as a spokesperson for the group in his role as a member of the Brockley Assembly Steering Group. Rupert King who is currently the vice-chair will step up to the plate.

As a small community group the Brockley Cross Action Group has always acted to translate the aspirations of local residents and traders into reality. We can only continue to achieve these ambitions with the support of local people and your active involvement. So come along, get involved and be a part of making Brockley even better.

Our future's orange: Honor Oak

In addition to our contribution to Londonist about why Brockley is so bloody great, BC's Honor Oak correspondent Zoe has written a great article about Honor Oak's many charms.

Some Crofton Park readers will use Honor Oak in preference to Brockley anyway, but click here to see which attractions are worth a special trip.

Brockley's heritage trail

There are many criticisms that can be levelled at Brockley Central, but one of the most warranted is that we are neophile. Partly, that's the institutional bias you'd expect of a "news" service, partly its our belief in progress. So it's good when we're reminded that some of the best things in Brockley have been here a long time.

One example came last week, when we enjoyed the fantastic hospitality of Mr Lawrence (established 1992) and asked ourselves why we didn't go more often. Another was a note we got from Mark, the Brockley scrabble league's chief architect, to say that he'd found an opponent via Brockley Central and had enjoyed some games at Zeki's cafe. If we'd been looking at him, we would have done so blankly. He explained:

Zeki's is on Brockley Road next to the outdoor grocers, opposite the 122 bus stop end of Adelaide Ave. Very nice Turkish couple (now getting on) have been there almost every day - serving Brockley - for 23 years.

I've been living locally since 1994 and my impression is that there may only be 4 businessmen on that stretch who have been going continuously since then (Zeki's Cafe, Sid's the plumbers, the Funeral Directors and the once-Kenyan Asian brothers at Turners the hardware store).

The managers of Amins the Pharmacy have changed n times and the cafe twice, as have, I presume, the corner bookies. Maybe the furnishing store are long-timers too. All the others are new or have changed names (like the supermarket) I think. Oak Estates would have counted if they hadn't have locked up over the recession.

Is this an opportunity for article?!!

Yes. It is. So what long-standing servants of the community would you like to recognise?

Brockley MAX 2010 - coming sooner than you think

The 9th Annual Brockley MAX arts festival starts on Friday, May 28th and runs until Saturday, June 5th.

The festival has, over the years, helped to define Brockley life, giving a platform to the wealth of talented performers and artists living locally and providing local people with hours of free entertainment on their doorstep.

The posters and flyers have begun to appear across the neighbourhood, but organiser Moira Tait says that the biggest-ever MAX may catch some people unawares:

People associate the Brockley MAX with sunny days and warm evenings and we haven't had many of them yet this year, so when I tell people that the MAX is less than two weeks away, it takes them by surprise. The summer finally seems to be with us now - let's hope it lasts throughout the festival, because this is set to be the biggest yet.

There will be more events than ever before, with more venues from across the whole area, including Ladywell and Crofton Park, which has four taking part.

The tentpole events that the MAX is most famous for are returning, including an opening night between the new-look Brockley Station and the Brockley Barge, who are, for the first time ever, providing a green room for the performers! The closing night, up by the stone circle in Hilly Fields will also be back with a programme of events on the open air stage during the day, before the action moves inside the Marquee during the night.

But throughout the eight days of the festival, there's loads of great stuff that I'm personally looking forward to seeing, including the wonderful jazz singer Andrea Mann at the Wickham Arms and a special guided walk of the Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries, which will tell the stories of the artists buried there, both taking place on May 29th.

This year's festival is more varied than last's. On May 31st we have on the one hand sonnets from Shakespeare at the Brockley Barge and on the other hand, a Brazilian dance workshop at the Brockley Jack Theatre. It just goes to show how eclectic the festival is.

Other highlights include the Congolese Masterclass at the Brockley Jack on June 1st and the Torch Song Blow Out at Jam Circus on June 4th. We are also celebrating the return of local film night Brockleywood Nights, who'll be screening some local short films in the stone circle on June 4th, which should be pretty special.

I also want to pay a big thank you to our sponsors, who've made this year's event possible: Jam Circus, the Brockley Barge and the Wickham Arms. And of course, to Gill Fraser, who's become an indispensible part of the festival, helping to organise every part of it.

Brockley Central is hosting a night of live music at the Ladywell Tavern on June 3rd. More details very soon.

Later trains for the East London Line? [UPDATED]

The Forest Hill Society has a great report from a recent meeting with the East London Line's operating company, LOROL.

One bit of good news is that BC reader Monkeyboy's one-man campaign to lobby LOROL to extend the line's operating hours might be a goer. They report:

The current timetable shows that while the last Southern train will now leave London Bridge at 0036 instead of 0026 (Mon-Fri), the last train from Canada Water will be at 0017.

LOROL pointed out that their services would be in addition to the 4tph that Southern currently run. They also stated that they would like to run later services, but would not do so until the Engineering and Maintenance strategy had bedded in. The earliest that they would expect a change was May 2011.

UPDATE: To clear up any confusion, there is an ELL train running after midnight, departing for Brockley at 0017 from Canada Water, but only on Friday nights.

Thanks to The Forest Hill Society for their work.

Our Future's Orange: Brockley

As part of our coverage of the East London Line's arrival, we wrote an article about Brockley, but rather than post it here, which seems a little pointless, we wrote it for Londonist.

Click here if you want to see what we said about it. We hope we did you justice.

The Marquis of Granby, New Cross

Moe: If you like good food, good fun, and a whole lot of crazy crap on the walls, then come on down to Uncle Moe's Family Feedbag.
- The Simpsons, Bart sells his soul

The Marquis of Granby
322 New Cross Road
SE14 6AG

The Marquis of Granby is a spit and sawdust local boozer in the heart of New Cross. If you don't like faux-Irish pubs, then the Marquis of Granby offers you a Tayto-flavoured dose of something more authentic.

Please post your comments and reviews here.

Brockley Central does the World Cup?

The World Cup is nearly with us. BC is very excited already.

The question is - are you? And are you up for us trying to organise a pub night to coincide with England v USA on June 12th?

If you are, what would be your preferred venue? We're thinking the Wickham Arms with the doors flung open on a warm evening.

Please use this thread to let us know if you're interested.

And on a related matter, Michael the Brockley casting agent has been in touch, to see if any readers are interested in taking part in a World Cup advert for Umbro. Details below:

In the commercial a group of 11 people sing along to the national anthem, in the same way that footballers do before the kick off of an international game. It should be a fun commercial, that will capture the mood and excitement of the World Cup. The director is keen for this group to represent everyone in England so there is no specific 'type' that he's looking for, it is open to everyone. Filming is scheduled for next Friday and Saturday 21st / 22nd in London and I will be casting right up until then. Anyone used in in the commercial will be paid £200.

If you would like to get involved then drop me a call or an email and I'll arrange to meet you over the next week.

Many thanks
Michael Cox, Sasha Robertson Casting
Tel: 078 3436 2691

ELL: An invitation from the Forest Hill Society

If you’d like to celebrate the ELL’s first operating day, then do join the Forest Hill Society on Sunday, May 23rd as we ride the rails.

The plan is to meet on Platform One at 14:00 and catch the 14:11 from Forest Hill Station with Sydenham Society, enjoying their theatre performance on the way. They will be going to Dalston and back. But the 23 Club would like to recommend getting off at Hoxton Station at 14:36 for a visit to the fabulous Geffrye Museum. Opening hours on Sundays & Bank Holiday Mondays are 12 - 5pm. Admission to the museum's eleven period rooms, special exhibitions and herb and period gardens is free. The restored historic almshouse, in the south wing of the museum buildings, will not be open.

It would be great to be joined by the people of Brockley at 14:16 and for once we might even move down inside and make some room for you!

Hilly Fields playground opening weekend

The new Hilly Fields playground began its opening weekend with a full house with hundreds of kids trying out the new star attractions including a spinning wheel, a sprawling sand and water pit and a wicked little slide.

It was fitting that the playground opening coincided with FA Cup Final day, since the predictions that the new turf would struggle were proved accurate - in many places the cracks were already beginning to show.

However, that aside, the park is a great success. The landscaping and planting has softened the park's exposed setting and turned it from a playground in to an adventure playground that's as much of an improvement for the accompanying parents as it is for the kids.

The new Ladywell Village?

The Ladywell Village Improvement Group has released a set of proposals to create a more pedestrian-friendly centre.

The proposals would change the junction of Ladywell and Algernon Roads, with two options involving widening the pavement and introducing short stay parking.

They'd like your views as part of a public consultation. Visit the LVIG website or go to Ladywell Fields on Sunday 16 May from 10am-1.30pm, outside the café in the northern field. The designers will be on hand to discuss your ideas and thoughts on the initial proposals.

Introducing short stay parking and improving the pavements are the two most important things that the Council could do to encourage the development of our local high streets, in BC's view. But what do you think of the plans themselves? Option A, Option B or none of the above?

Lewisham Mayor nominates his cabinet

From Lewisham Council:

The Mayor of Lewisham, Sir Steve Bullock, has nominated his new Cabinet. The proposed appointments are due to be confirmed at a special meeting held on 26 May prior to the Council’s Annual General Meeting.

The following Councillors have been nominated:

Alan Smith, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Regeneration
Helen Klier, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People
Crada Onuegbu, Cabinet Member for Community Safety
Chris Best, Cabinet Member for Community Services
Susan Wise, Cabinet Member for Customer Services
Peggy Fitzsimmons, Cabinet Member for Older People
Paul Maslin, Cabinet Member for Resources
Damien Egan, Cabinet Member for Strategy and Communications
Joan Millbank, Cabinet Member for the Third Sector

East London Line update


With the full service only 9 days away, TfL have announced that trains will begin running to Brockley from this weekend. The service will not be the full timetable, which is still not due to come in to effect until May 23rd, but here's the juice:

The service will now operate through the coming weekend (15/16 May) and the following week at these times:
· Saturday 15th May: 07.00 – 20.00
· Sunday 16th May: 08.20 – 20.00
· Monday 17th May to Friday 21st May: 07.00 – 20.00
· Saturday 22nd May: 07.00 – 20.00

On Sunday 23 May, services will extend to West Croydon between 7am until around midnight. A full Metro-style service will then commence from Monday 24 May from 5.40am until approximately 12.15am with customers benefiting from a full turn up and go service of 12 trains per hour through the core section – Dalston Junction to New Cross Gate.

Thanks to b. and Andy for flagging this.

Daredevils - the shops without fear

“Highly trustworthy individuals think others are like them, causing them to assume too much social risk, to be cheated more often and ultimately perform less well than those who happen to have a trustworthiness level close to the mean of the population. On the other hand, the low-trustworthiness types form beliefs that are too conservative and thereby avoid being cheated, but give up profitable opportunities too often and, consequently, underperform.”—Butler, Giuliano & Guiso (2009) [via Niall Ferguson]

Before we get to reporting the detail of the Enterprise Brockley night, here's one more vignette from the evening, which deserves its own thread.

Our first question to Simon Cartlidge of Geddes Salon was 'why Ladywell?'

He told us discovered Ladywell by accident when a train took him to Lewisham and he just started walking. When he got there, he marvelled at the number of commuters and beautiful houses and wondered where all the shops and businesses were, to cater for these people.

Some time later, the opportunity to acquire the salon in Ladywell turned up. When he went to view the property on a Sunday, Ladywell was shut. The shutters were down on every business that had them. The high street was empty. The people who'd flooded out of Ladywell Station were nowhere to be seen.

He decided that the lack of people was the symptom of the lack of local businesses, not the cause and he and Olivia ploughed ahead with the purchase. All the while, other local businesses and even some local people told him he was crazy to try and open an aspirational business in Ladywell. They told him how bad the crime was, that people wouldn't spend their money locally. Having already opened a salon elsewhere in London, he was undaunted by the spectre of crime and he couldn't believe that the people he'd seen walking about the streets of Ladywell - reasonably affluent and community spirited - wouldn't spend locally if given the chance.

Happily he was proved right and today Geddes is a thriving business, embraced by local customers. The moral he drew was that high street businesses in the area should be bold and aim high. Offer good quality, whatever type of customer you're aiming for (and he was quick to stress that every section of the community can and should be catered for on our local high streets).

It was stirring stuff and chimes with our observations from three years of running this blog. Every time someone has proposed something new, there have been those quick to forecast its failure. It couldn't happen here. It's been tried before and failed. Nothing changes. But from Geddes to the Orchard, from Tea Leaf Arts to The Talbot, Browns of Brockley to Degustation, the lesson has been that if you do it right, the customers will come.

On the other hand, while he was talking, we remembered an email we'd had a while ago from BC contributor Zoe, who sounded a cautionary note:

"What people say they want from their local shops and where they actually spend their money are two different things. Local businesses cannot just be appealing set dressing for our property values - they have to have local support to thrive. A woman in HOP Scotch the other day said Honor Oak really needed a bakery, a butchers and a deli. HOP Scotch was previously a deli but went out of business. Bertram Bakery is a stone's throw away and the family butchers on Ewhurst Road is a short walk away. There are lots of businesses already on our doorstep."

To join the Enterprise Brockley Linkedin group, click here.

Gordonbrock: Once more into the breach

The Brockley Society will meet with Lewisham Council on Tuesday to discuss their opposition to the current plans for Gordonbrock School's redevelopment. Given Mayor Bullock's answers in the BC virtual hustings, it seems unlikely that the elections will have changed the Council's position, so how much room remains for compromise from Lewisham's point of view is unclear.

The Brockley Society has published their report from the recent public meeting of their members and other interested parties here and included a Q&A, which sets out their position. Most noteworthy is this answer:

Q. Why did you make the legal challenge, and will you now withdraw your challenge?

A. We made a legal challenge on the lawfulness of December's Planning Consent. No screening decision had been obtained on the requirement to fulfil an Environmental Impact Assessment for the proposals. This was a serious error. Without our challenge, the buildings at Gordonbrock would be undergoing demolition and we would not be in the position to put forward realistic alternatives. Lewisham consented to our legal action; we have agreed to their consent; the action should be signed off in the courts within the next few weeks. Lewisham will then have to make a revised Planning Application. We hope to persuade the council to adopt significant changes to the design for this new application.

Introducing your new Councillors

As reader Now Then has spotted, the Lewisham Council website has been updated with the full list of new Councillors, complete with profile photos. It's searchable by ward. Enjoy.

Starlight Express

Is Brockley in danger of losing some of its fabulousness?

One of the things we learned at last night's networking event is that the Brockley-Honor Oak-Forest Hill area is a traditional hotspot for acting talent, with venues like the Honor Oak, the Brockley Jack, Jam Circus, Mr Lawrence and The Orchard among the area's most popular haunts.

Obviously, the area's affordability has always been an important part of the draw, but so too has the direct connection to Charing Cross, with the midnight trains full to the brim with weary, hairsprayed performers from Wicked, Grease and all of the other delights of the West End.

Does the loss of the direct service threaten our hold over the acting community? We hope not.

Brockley Common - the final push

The Brockley Common project will eventually create a beauitful green space next to Brockley Station on a site which was previously an inaccessible bit of public land, used for little more than flytipping.

With the help of local people, the Brockley Common project, by Brockley Station, is at last making good progress. Rupert King, of the Brockley Cross Action Group, who is leading the project, tells us that Brockley Central readers have got stuck in, committing their time and energy to the project, which is great to hear. Thanks to any readers who've lent their services.

Rupert explains:

Our project partner Lewisham Envirowork have nearly completed their preparatory works on Brockley Common. They have weeded the two main beds on either side of the ramp, added compost & more topsoil to improve the health of the existing soil and rotovated the beds to break up compaction and get some air into the soil. We hope the preparation will make all the difference to the success and healthy growth of the new planting.

Lewisham Envirowork have also erected temporary protective fencing around the two main beds to protect them from trampling and damage while the plants get established. The fencing will eventually be taken down, most likely in Spring 2011 – it is NOT permanent fencing!

We have an exciting planting design to work to, which will link the two beds on either side of the ramp and create a colourful scheme in shades of purple, crimson, red, pink and white flowers that will change in colour as you walk up the ramp between the beds. The design is a collaboration between members of BXAG and two local artists. We hope to make quite an impact, something that will really lift the area outside the station and complete the Brockley Common project, which has looked neglected in recent months.

1500 Plants have been ordered from Palmstead Nurseries in Kent, who have supplied high quality plants for our previous projects. The plants will be delivered in 2 batches, one before each planting weekend. But if you are a gardener with some plants to spare you can contribute to the area to the north of the main planting beds, where we would like to create a riot of colour with e.g. an annual wildflower meadow! If you would like to donate some plants or seeds please check out the BXAG website for further details!

BXAG has now organised two community planting weekends in May to carry out the planting to the two main banks on the Common, between Brockley Station and Coulgate Street. This is a very big project and we need lots of volunteers from the local community to help us complete the works. Please come and join us! Tell your friends and spread the word!

SATURDAY 15TH MAY, 12.00pm – 5.00pm.
SUNDAY 16TH MAY, 1.00pm – 6.00pm.
SATURDAY 22ND MAY, 12.00pm – 5.00pm.
SUNDAY 23RD MAY, 1.00pm – 6.00pm.

Meet outside the Broca Café on Coulgate Street. Please bring stout footwear and warm clothing if needed. BXAG will provide all tools, gloves and refreshments. We will be planting one bed per weekend, starting with the lower bed first.

The Brockley Group

"This is an impressive crowd - the haves and the have-mores. Some people call you the elite, I call you my base."
George W Bush

Last night, we took part in the first (and hopefully not last) Enterprise Brockley networking event for local businesses, organised with the support of Enterprise UK. It was pretty much a full house at the fabulous Mr Lawrence and we'd like to thank everyone who came - in particular, Simon Cartlidge from Geddes, who we interviewed about his experiences of setting up a business in the area.

We'll be reporting the event in due course, but in the mean time, we've created a LinkedIn group for Brockley business, if you'd like to join it. We'll use it to help the businesses who came keep in touch and let other businesses in the area know about future events. You can also use it to talk amongst yourselves. It's a bit like the Bilderberg Group only without the money.

Click here to join.

Jubilee Line closures until October

London Reconnections has sifted through the details of a TfL report on the Jubilee Line upgrade, which will deliver massive capacity increases when complete, but which is already months behind schedule. It finds that:

The indication is - assuming that the date is still valid (as is most likely the case) - therefore, that it is likely not until October that we will likely see the upgrade project finally finished at the earliest.

We can expect the weekend closures and morning overcrowding at London Bridge until then. The former makes the ELL less useful, the latter more useful.

Loampit Vale construction underway [UPDATED]

Work has begun on Loampit Vale, one of the most ambitious regeneration projects in Lewisham.

The project will involve the construction of eight buildings ranging from five to 24 storeys, creating 788 new homes in Lewisham town centre, as well as a new swimming pool and nearly 2,000 square metres of commercial floorspace. Loampit Vale is the smaller and less controversial sibling of the Lewisham Gateway project.

Piling rigs are on site and advertising hoardings for the new homes have appeared by the roadside.
A spokesperson for the project confirmed:

"The necessary finance and planning agreements are in place and work has begun. The first phase to be completed will be the leisure centre, with the goal of opening in 2013. The following phases are currently expected to be completed in 2014 - 15."

The project's future was secured with the help of £20.5m from central government.
UPDATE: For those wondering what the multi-coloured panels are, they are illuminated glass, backed by a smart LED lighting system.

Brockley MAX 2010 programme revealed

The programme for this year's Brockley MAX is now available online and will be making an appearance at local venues very soon.

Taking place between May 28th and June 5th, the line-up is as big as it's ever been and the festival culminates in "The Hacienda on the Hill", with a dedicated stage and marquee in Hilly Fields, running from midday to midnight.

Despite what the programme says, Brockley Central is not quite taking over Ladywell (we did that long ago) but we are taking over the Ladywell Tavern for another night of live music, on June 3rd. Brockley Jon is finalising the line-up now - more details very soon.

Also coming soon: an interview with the festival's organiser, Moira Tait, about the 2010 highlights.

Peckham and Camberwell - The New Brockleys

Bruce Wayne - age 8: Did you build this train, Dad?
Thomas Wayne: Gotham's been good to our family, but the city's been suffering. People less fortunate than us have been enduring very hard times. So we built a new, cheap, public transportation system to unite the city.
- Batman Begins

And so it begins. The paint has barely dried on our funky new East London Line-orange station signs before the hype machine has moved on to Peckham and Camberwell, beneficiaries of line's further extension to Clapham Junction.

Artists? House prices? These changelings are stealing all our best lines.

The New York Times has proved itself a fickle friend. Having done Deptford and New Cross, it's now lauding Peckham and Camberwell as the homes of the hip:

But now as young artists flock to Peckham, attracted by large spaces and low rents, and Camberwell’s residential boom has led to a commercial one, the area is emerging as a go-to cultural destination. And the planned expansion of the East London Line, connecting Peckham and Camberwell to the London Overground system, should help attract a new wave of Londoners.

City AM has also stuck to what it does best - hyping areas of London to City boys in search of a good investment. These lines may sound familiar:

With the opening of a segment of the East London Line extension this week, Hackney, Wapping and Shoreditch just became a lot more desirable.

Yet the best property moves are made well in advance of such obvious bonuses, so if you’re looking to buy now, consider the areas of south-east and south-west London that will be connected to Surrey Quays when the rest of the line is completed in 2012. The line will begin at Clapham Junction and stop along the way at currently unconnected spots such as Peckham Rye, Denmark Hill and Queen’s Road Peckham.

SUS screening at the Albany

The Albany - May 19th, 7pm
Douglas Way, Deptford, SE8 4AG
SUS is the new film from the writer Barrie Keefe of the Long Good Friday. Starring Clint Dyer, Ralph Brown and local boy Rafe Spall:

1979 Election Night, as Thatcher comes into power. SUS takes place on that very night, when Delroy (Clint Dyer: *Unknown White Male* *Sahara*) is being interrogated about his pregnant wife who has been found dead in a pool of blood. With all the evidence stacking up against him, Delroy continually refuses to confess. He suffers a night of callous humiliation at the hands of two racist coppers (Ralph Brown: *The Crying Game* *Withnail & I* *Rafe Spall* *The Calcium Kid* *Hot Fuzz*), both high on the impending Conservative landslide victory, and more concerned with the outcome of the election than establishing the truth.

The Albany will be showing a special screening and staging a panel discussion with the writer Keefe and local politician Duwayne Brooks about the film and its relevance in modern Britain.

Tickets are £8 - more details here: http://www.thealbany.org.uk/whatson

Nunhead Cemetery Open Day, May 15th 2010

The annual Nunhead Cemetery Open Day is this Saturday, from 11am - 5pm.

The cemetery is one of South East London's greatest treasures, the setting for countless filmmakers in search of a gothic backdrop. Guided tours will be available on the day but just to gild the lily, the organisers promise additional attractions, including:

  • Woodcraft demonstrations
  • Market stalls
  • 'Mr Bugman's famous bug hunt'

Admission free.

Blythe spirit returns to the Hill

The children's playground in Blythe Hill Park has re-opened after a lengthy closure, during which it was refurbished with a grant from Play England.

Like the new playground in Hilly Fields, Blythe Hill playground makes use of natural materials to create a softer play landscape.

Photo courtesy of Svea.

Red Dawn - The Lewisham Elections in Review

You think you're tough for eating beans every day? There's half a million scarecrows in Denver who'd give anything for one mouthful of what you got. They've been under siege for about three months. They live on rats and sawdust bread and sometimes... on each other. At night, the pyres for the dead light up the sky. It's medieval.
- The Colonel, Red Dawn

The high turnout for this year's general elections has wiped nearly every party other than Labour off the map in Lewisham. With Grove Park subject to a recount Labour has 38 Councillors, the Liberal Democrats have 12 and Brockley Ward's Darren Johnson stands as the only representative of any other political party in the borough.

So Lewisham politics has become a lot less colourful and diverse. Debates will be less interesting and fewer perspectives on local issues will be represented. Even Labour supporters would concede that that's a loss.

However, whether the shifting balance matters greatly to the Council's decision-making processes is less clear. The Mayor's power and autonomy means that the Councillors can do little to hold him to account.

The Mayor's re-election, therefore, is the most important story and he was returned with a massive margin, giving him a mandate to push through his most ambitious plans, in Lewisham, Deptford and Catford. The size of the victory means that he can probably look forward to a fourth term too - let's hope he doesn't need one to get some of his Grand Projets off the ground and sort out the mess that has been created in terms of both primary and secondary school provision.

But returning to our Councillors, the results still matter, because what is beyond doubt is that we have lost some great public servants, like Dean Walton and Sue Luxton and missed the opportunity to bring committed citizens like Max Calo and Patrick McGinley in to the Council.

In our view, at ward-level, the party you stand for is of secondary importance to who you are. A good Councillor works hard to represent their constituents' views to the Mayor and Council officers, to communicate the work of the Council back to constituents, to chair Ward Assemblies efficiently and to act with fairness on the committees they sit on. In this work, strong ideological beliefs or party political allegiances can be a hinderance.

Above all, Councillors need to be smart and trustworthy. We have lost some Councillors like that as a result of this election. The Green Ladywell website - an invaluable community resource - has already fallen silent. The good news is that we have not lost them to the Community. We hope that everyone who stood at this election will continue to play an active role in local life.

Which brings us to our new Councillors. All change is also opportunity. We don't know a great deal about them yet - we hope they will maintain the open dialogue that their predecessors maintained with Brockley Central readers and we look forward to hearing about their ideas for the area and reporting on their work.

The red dawn may also improve relations between Brockley, Ladywell, Telegraph Hill and Crofton Park wards, which have not been co-operating effectively as they should. Political tribalism clearly played a part in this.

Finally, where many local people believed that Brockley and Ladywell slipped down the Mayor's list of priorities as a result of going Green. This election is an opportunity to put that theory to the test - to see whether our new Labour councillors will be able to exert more influence with the Mayor on our behalf on pressing issues like crime and anti-social behaviour, improving the high street and planning enforcement.

Above all, we hope that the new Councillors will work in a collaborative way with the many passionate and active community groups that do so much for local life in our area - from Brockley MAX to the Ladywell Village Improvement Group - and together seize the opportunity created by the arrival of the East London Line, which will serve our new political landscape.

Thank you to our departing Councillors. Welcome to our new Councillors.

Elections 2010: The morning after the evening after the morning before

Morning, all. While you slept, the Labour Party re-gained control of Lewisham Council in convincing fashion, routing 5 of our 6 Green councillors in the process.
Labour now has an absolute majority on the council.

11.40am update:
The overall make-up of the new council (with 1 ward still to declare, as it requires a re-count) is as follows:
Labour 38
Lib Dem 12
Green 1

Full details for each ward are available here.

Thanks so much to Jo, Sue Luxton and everyone else who contributed with information and comment throughout the (very long!) evening.

BC would like to wish good luck to all the newly-elected councillors, and offer thanks to all those who've lost their seats for their hard work over the years.


11.40 Update
Those remaining ward results for you:
Blackheath ward:
Kevin Bonavia (Lab)
Amanda De Ryk (Lib Dem)
Chris Maines (Lib Dem)

Downham ward -
Duwayne Brooks (Lib Dem)
Jenni Clutten (Lib Dem)
Julia Fletcher (Lib Dem)

Rushey Green ward -
Peggy Fitzsimmons (Labour)
Helen Klier (Labour)
John Muldoon (Labour)

Grove Park ward:
recount necessary

02.30 Update
Total council seat results so far:
Labour 34
Lib Dems 7
Greens 1
14 wards down, 4 to go.
Thanks so much to Jo and Sue Luxton, whose reporting of these results we've shamelessly hijacked. Sleep well, everyone ...

02.22 Update
Telegraph Hill ward: 3 Labour:
Paul Bell - 2861
Joan Millbank - 2735
Dan Whittle - 2235
Incumbent socialists Ian Page got 1362 and Chris Flood 1216.
Catford South ward: 3 Labour:
Skip Amrani - 2703
Alan Smith - 2722
Eva Stamirowski - 1885

02.07 Update
Lee Green ward:
Pauline Beck (Lib Dem)
Sven Griesenbeck (Lib Dem)
Jim Mallory (Lab)
Total council seat results so far:
Labour 28
Lib Dems 7
Greens 1
12 wards down, 6 to go

02.03 Update
A summary of the position so far on the all-new Lewisham Council:
Labour 27
Lib Dems 5
Greens 1
11 wards down, 7 to go (Telegraph Hill is an interesting one - can it hang onto its incumbent socialists?). I think we can all see where this is trending ... Labour are set for a clear majority. I'll keep logging results until I fall asleep, which might not be long now ...

01.50 Update
Lewisham Central ward: 3x Labour. Regular BrockleyCentral contributor Max Calo loses his bid to become a Lib Dem councillor for the ward.

01.46 Update
A summary of the position so far on the all-new Lewisham Council:
Labour 24
Lib Dems 5
Greens 1
10 wards down, 8 to go.

01.42 Update
Perry Vale ward: 3x Labour
Evelyn ward: 3x Labour

01.34 Update
Brockley ward:
Darren Johnson (Green) 2330
Vicky Foxcroft (Lab) 2632
Jimi Adefiranye (Lab) 2449
Things have quietened down a bit. If the flow of results doesn't start up again soon I'm going to nod off, so we may need to finish this off in the morning.

01.13 Update
Crofton Park ward: 2x Lab (Addison and Morrison), 1 Lib Dem (Bowen), according to Sue Luxton. Greens were in third place.

01.08 Update
Bellingham ward: 3x Labour.
Alan Hall (2380), Ami Ibitson (2269) and Ron Stockbridge (1925).
Lib Dems and Conservatives in region of 800-1200; Jenny Stewart of LPBP ahead of Greens on 318.
That's six results down, 12 more to go in the Lewisham Council elections.
BC is beginning to suspect that everyone at the BBC has gone to bed, as their local elections webpage hasn't been updated for ages and is showing incorrect totals. So no developments to bring you on that front.

01.03 Update
3 x Labour in Ladywell, Sue Luxton reports on Twitter.
Darren Johnson holds his seat, but Dean Walton and Romaine Phoenix lose theirs in Brockley ward, she says.

00.57 Update
Forest Hill ward:
Alex Feakes (Lib Dem) 3144
Philip Peake (Lib Dem) 2405
Anne Affiku (Labour) 2154
Other Lib Dem and Labour around 2000 votes each. Conservatives in 900-1200 range. Greens averaging about 500 votes.

00.45 Update
Isn't it annoying that all the TV news channels choose to entirely ignore the fascinating and complex local elections picture in favour of endless moronic talking heads, repeating nonsense phrases like it's going out of fashion. Across the country, counts have been going on today, with thousands of candidates, counters, spectators and voters waiting to find out the results, and yet not a peek of any of it on the main news channels. I do understand that it's terribly important to say nothing over and over again repeatedly in a tone of increasing agitation, but still, you'd think they'd want to come up for air occasionally ...

00.25 Update
New Cross ward: 3 x Labour. Long, Maslin and Padmore 'all on approx 2,500 votes with next candidate down on 947', Jo reports.
Whitefoot ward: Pattison (Lib Dem) 2030, Foreman (Lib Dem) 1925, Daby (Labour) 2375.
'Other Lib Dem and Labour candidates around 1500 votes each. Conservative 800-900 range', Jo reports.
Sydenham ward: Best, Curren and Nisbet (all Labour).

00.00 Update
Tower Hamlets Labour (no change).
Ho hum. Would be interested in an explanation of why nearly every other council in the country has managed to declare by now, yet Lewisham hasn't.

23.25 Update
Along with Lewisham's result, we're now waiting for the following handful: Brent, Hackney, Havering, Kingston, Lambeth, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Westminster.

23.05 Update
Camden Labour gain from no overall control. Ealing Labour gain from Conservatives. Merton no overall control.

22.55 Update
Jo reports from the count: 'Quick update from the count. Lots of glum faces ... except the ones wearing red rosettes. The teams of counters are working their way through the ward councillor votes. Lots of split votes, so suspect results will be later than the estimated 11pm.'
Thanks, Jo, for the updates!

22.28 Update
The overall picture in London so far tonight: the Conservatives have done well at holding councils of which they already had control, but the major gains of the night have been for Labour. London's Parliamentary vote turned out strongly for Labour, and this pattern is being replicated in the local council elections too. The party has really entrenched its control across large parts of the city. To what degree is this a reaction against London Mayor Boris Johnson?

22.15 Update
Hounslow Labour gain from no overall control. Merton no overall control. Labour mayors of Hackney and Newham re-elected. Tories take Richmond from the Lib Dems. Labour takes Waltham Forest from no overall control. Labour holds Newham (winning all 60 seats) and Haringey.

21.20 Update
Some more London council results for you: Barnet is a Conservative hold; Bexley Con hold; Bromley Con hold; Croydon Con hold; Islington is a Labour gain from no overall control.
Councils whose results we're still waiting for:
Lewisham, Brent, Southwark, Camden, Ealing, Hackney, Haringey, Havering, Hounslow, Lambeth, Merton, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Westminster.
Hackney and Newham are also electing mayors; both currently have Labour incumbents who are fighting for a further term of office.

21.10 Update
The detailed position currently at this end of Lewisham:
Telegraph Hill ward: Ian Page (Socialist), Chris Flood (Socialist), Robin Cross (Labour)
Brockley ward: Darren Johnson (Green), Dean Walton (Green), Romaine Phoenix (Green)
Crofton Park ward: Jarman Parmar (Labour), Jackie Addison (Labour), Sylvia Scott (Labour)
Ladywell ward: Mike Keogh (Green), Sue Luxton (Green), Ute Michel (Green)
New Cross ward: Stephen Padmore (Labour), Madeliene Long (Labour), Paul Maslin (Labour)
We're now waiting to see which of these councillors will hold their seat, and which will be out. Gosh, BC feels a bit like Heidi Klum (that's a Project Runway reference, for the boys among you) ....

20.46 Update
And so, the final countdown. Counting for seats on Lewisham Council begins. To summarise the current position:
Labour 26 seats
Lib Dem 17
Green 6
Conservative 3
The Greens are talking down expectations. Labour increased its vote substantially in the Parliamentary elections, and gave Sir Steve Bullock a third term in office: could Labour voters sweep all before them?

20.34 Update
Lewisham Mayoral election result: Labour hold. Sir Steve Bullock has won a third term in office.
Steve Bullock (Labour) 52,531 (with 4670 second prefs)
Chris Maines (Lib Dem) 36,446 (with 10,001 second prefs)
Thanks again to Jo for the info.

19.31 Update
First round votes:
Steve Bullock (Labour) 47,861
Tess Culnane (BNP) 2,904
Graham Dare (English Democrats) 1,559
John Hamilton (LPBP) 5,964
Chris Maines (Lib Dem) 26,445
Simon Nundy (Con) 16,276
Dean Walton (Green) 6,560
Second round count between Steve Bullock and Chris Maines with 33,263 second preference votes to be redistributed.
Thanks to Jo in our comments section for providing the info.

19.15 Update
First round of the mayoral election due, according to Anon in our comments section.
How it works: Unlike the council and Parliamentary elections, the mayoral election uses the supplementary vote system. This means that voters select first-choice and second-choice candidates. In the first round of voting, first-choice votes are counted. If someone has won over 50% of the total, they are declared the winner. If no-one has achieved over 50% of the first-choice votes, all but the leading 2 candidates are rejected. Their second-choice votes are then counted, and added onto the votes already achieved by the two leading candidates. Whichever one has the highest total wins.

18.55 Update
Ladywell Green councillor Sue Luxton has just Tweeted: 'Just woken up having got back from GE count at 10am heading off to locals count soonish. Braced for total/ near total wipeout :( '

18.20 Update
A note on timing: Lewisham Council advises that the Mayoral election result will be announced some time 'after 8pm' this evening, with local council results out 'after 11pm' sometime.

18.00 Update
Greenwich Council remains in Labour hands. Wandsworth remains Tory-controlled.
Nationally, UKIP have so far lost (net) 5 councillors. BNP are down 22 councillors. Greens are down 2. Lib Dems are down 49. Labour are up 239. Conservatives are down 82.

17.45 Update
Let's review some of the London council results. Labour have taken control of Enfield from the Tories. Hammersmith & Fulham, Hillingdon and Kensington & Chelsea all remained in Conservative hands. Sutton remains Lib Dem. Lots of councils still to declare.

17.30 Update
The markets have become more wobbly during the day, as the prospect of coalition talks developed. If there isn't a clear deal by Monday morning, we could be in for a bumpy ride.

17.06 Update
The Barking & Dagenham results are in: Labour take 51 seats, BNP 0. A stunning result, and a total triumph for the Hope Not Hate campaign.

16.58 Update
Let's have a look at General Election turnout in our constituency, Lewisham Deptford. In 2005, it was 51.5%. This year it soared to 61.5%. This is still low compared to the national average, but it's a big increase. The main benefactor was winner Joan Ruddock, who took 22,132 votes in comparison to the 16,902 she polled in 2005. The Lib Dems nearly doubled their vote, and the Conservatives also saw an increase. By contrast the Greens actually lost votes: this doesn't bode well for their local elections performance.

16.30 Update
According to the BBC, a third of council results are in, and the situation is as follows:
Labour gained Hartlepool, Liverpool, Coventry, Doncaster, and Enfield.
The Tories lost control of Lincoln, Brentwood, Solihull, Hyndburn, Mole Valley, Nuneaton & Bedworth, Bury, and North Tyneside.
The Liberal Democrats lost Rochdale and Sheffield.


As national attention remains rivetted on the process of coalition talks, local election counts are starting up around the country.
We kick off with some news which we think BC readers of all political stripes can unite in rejoicing over: the BNP's Richard Barnbrook has reportedly lost his seat on Barking & Dagenham Council. It's looking like a trouceing for the far right.

BC will be covering further developments as they happen, and of course will bring you Lewisham Council and mayoral results as we get them ... (BK is not planning on pulling another all-nighter, though, you'll be glad to hear).