Mayor Bullock responds to Lewisham anti-cuts protests

Mayor Bullock has released a statement in response to last night's demonstrations:

On 29 November Lewisham Council met to consider a package of savings which had been proposed by the Mayor and agreed by the Labour Group. The measures in this package concentrated on making cuts to "back office" services and increasing efficiency. I firmly believe that if a Labour Government had been returned in May we would have been able to balance the budget with relatively little impact on the service areas we consider to be a priority. The fact that this Tory/Lib Government is forcing us to make half of the 28% cuts this year means that we will forced to continue to make cuts that will generate these kinds of protests.

At the meeting of the Mayor and Cabinet the previous week a minority of members of the public attempted to stop the meeting taking place. During the following days this group made threats via social media to disrupt the council meeting with the intention of stopping the meeting continuing. They encouraged members of the public to bring paint, flour and shoes to throw from the public gallery. Peaceful protest and the right of residents to raise issues they are concerned with must be protected, however it is being undermined by these attempts to prevent meetings taking place

It is clear that there was an organised attempt to prevent a democratic meeting taking place. The Labour Party must always support the democratic process and anyone who believes that direct action to subvert democracy is appropriate has no place in our Party. I have made clear that I will not make decisions on the basis of who shouts the loudest. Those people who will be most affected do not always have the ability to make their voices heard and I have a duty to make sure that their needs are taken fully into account as we make the difficult choices.

The Coalition will announce the funding allocation for London boroughs in the next few days. If this is as bad as feared it will force Labour councils to take even more difficult measures early next year. The Government has the legal power to force councils to balance their books even if the majority of members of that council believe that the funding is inadequate to deliver the services the borough needs. It is easy for other parties to either vote against or abstain from voting on these proposals, but no other party in Lewisham has come up with a fully costed budget alternative detailing how we should make these cuts.

When the Government makes its announcement we will expose the real threat that it contains and look to our parliamentary colleagues to challenge the government by every means at their disposal.

Networked Neighbourhoods: Brockley Central strengthens community

Brockley Central has made our life so much easier. I wish we had one in every area.
- Lewisham Council officer, Networked Neighbourhoods report, Nov 2010 (anon, natch)

Between April and June this year, Brockley Central readers participated in a research project by a group called Networked Neighbourhoods to investigate the impact that hyperlocal sites like this one are having on their communities. The work included a survey and focus groups with readers from Brockley Central, East Dulwich Forum and Harringay Online.

The report is published today and we’ll be examining its conclusions in more detail over the week, but some of the top-line results are very interesting.

Before we go on, it’s worth pointing out a few things:

- Most of the research took place before the May elections, so the results relate to the last generation of local councillors
- Since the study was carried out, the Brockley Central readership has grown by approximately 25% in terms of daily visits
- Since the study was carried out, we’ve added hotlinks to create a permanent home for tradespeople recommendations, flat sharing and so on, in response to reader feedback
- The survey population of 135 readers was self-selecting – they volunteered to take part

So, allowing for all of that, here’s what we learned about BC readers...

46% have lived in the area 1-5 years
16% have lived in the area 6-10 years
15% have lived in the area 11-20 years
14% have lived in the area 20+ years
82% own their property
92% have a degree
66% are in full time employment
92% are white

In terms of insights, the most glaring is that if Lewisham Councillors are keen to avoid smoke-filled protests outside the Town Hall, they should engage with voters via sites like this one.

More than 40% of BC readers said their opinions of Councillors improved as a result of reading their comments on the site (negative reaction was negligible). Even Council Officers, who are rarely heard from on the record on here (although we know they occasionally post anonymously) improved their reputation by over 20% - most likely in large part due to Nigel Tyrell’s contribution.

Across all three sites, more than 70% of the Council officers’ polled about their experiences of contributing had been positive and nearly 90% believe hyperlocal sites are a constructive influence.

This pattern was similar across all three sites, although Harringay Online was the only site which produced a major improvement in attitudes towards the police – the editor points out that his site is almost unique in that the Met engages with it.

Not only do readers like it when the Council engages, they are actively willing to work with the Council. More than 70% of BC readers said that people on the site show willingness to help and get involved.

Of the three sites studied, Brockley Central is rated by its users as the least mutually supportive (although it still scores a healthy 69% in support of the statement that “People show support for one another”) but the most welcoming (a whopping 92% think so).

Where Brockley Central performs relatively poorly is in converting online conversation in to physical engagement. Nearly 30% of BC readers said they had met someone as a result of the website, but more than 60% of East Dulwich Forum readers answered yes to the same question. The argument for a BC Xmas drink has never been presented more starkly.

Neighbours were also less likely to have exchanged things (goods? Services? Bodily fluids?) via the website than on the East Dulwich Forum or Harringay Online. The forum format obviously lends itself more easily to this, but hopefully the hotlinks have provided a short-term fix.

Overall, the message of the study is emphatic. The hyperlocal sites studied produce a strong sense of local identity among readers, provide useful information:

- 92 per cent agree that useful information gets shared efficiently
- 95 per cent say that they feel more informed about their neighbourhood as a consequence of using their site
- 91 per cent agree that the sites help people to find out about shops and venues
- 74 per cent say that their site makes it easy to find local tradespeople who can be trusted
- 92 per cent agree that people are helpful if someone seeks advice on their website

On average, 63% of people surveyed said their hyperlocal website was their main source of local news, compared with 11% who said their local newspaper. As we argue here, hyperlocal sites are the perfect vehicles for community engagement.

Lewisham austerity budget passes as Town Hall stormed by protestors

We're currently 8,000 miles away from the centre of the action, but Sue Luxton reports that Lewisham Town Hall was been beseiged by "very angry locals" protesting the scale of public sector cuts last night as the first tranche of Lewisham Council's package of cuts was approved.

Police horses and dogs were deployed while police in riot gear forcibly ejected a number of protestors from the offices and a smoke grenade was deployed by an excitable demonstrator.


Londonist confirms the final vote as being 36 Labour councillors for, 3 Tories and Green against, 11 Lib Dem abstain.

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery

Website Historypin is all about digging out those old photos and letting them be appreciated by others, while at the same time helping to tell the story of your local area for generations to come. The short video tour on YouTube describes it all perfectly.

The site lets you search by location and/or time period via a timeline, and the site cleverly layers photos on top of Google Street View images, creating the effect of holding up an old photo in front of the view today - a technique recently made cool by the Flickr group 'Looking into the past'. The feature is still in its infancy though, so don't get too critical of the exact placement of some of our images.

By far the most popular use of History Pin so far is capturing major historic events, most notably images of the war. What Brockley Central has attempted, in our modest and eclectic contribution to date, is to not just show Brockley in a bygone era, but also document the more recent history of the area - those small events that may at the time get our attention but are soon forgotten. The loss of the Elephant House, the old public toilets that once stood where the common is. Okay, there is a certain coincidence that these happen to be the photos we had to hand, but a time will come when they tell their own story.

Someone called Rebekkah has been busy in Ladywell, but Brockley Central currently has a monopoly on the SE4 area. We're hoping you can change that - it's a strangely satisfying experience, documenting the date and exact location. Maybe we'll revisit the topic in a few years time to see what has changed.

One of the Brockley pics on the Historypin site
The Comerford Road postcard that turned up on eBay, now preserved for ever on Historypin (hope you don't mind, b.)

U Gosi, Ewhurst Road

Notes of an Idealist reports that the shop next to Sweeney's Cafe on Ewhurst Road has been replaced by a shop specialising in Polish products, called U Gosi.

The shop's run by a Polish woman called Gosia and as NoaI suggests, it may be thinking bigger than just catering for the local Polish and Eastern European community.

Not Brockley Central: Mount Tumbledown

Overlooking Stanley (the Falkland Islands’ capital and the southernmost capital city in the world) Tumbledown rises above a ruggedly beautiful landscape of soft peat, punctured by jagged rock and covered in a blanket of coarse grassy bristles.

One of the Islands’ most famous landmarks, there are no signs to guide you from town or help you identify the right rocky outcrop (the Falkland Islands credit their tourists with a good amount of self-reliance); the road simply runs out and you start walking.

Four of us made the climb, but the wind was so strong that it was a solitary experience, conversation was impossible. So when we reached the top, we’d all enjoyed an hour of introspection, making the war memorial – a pile of stones supporting a cross and decorated with plaques – all the more moving.

We climbed down, returning to our Defender to find horses huddled round it, sheltering from the winds.

John Stainer Winter Fair, December 10th

Catherine, of the John Stainer Community School PTA, writes:

Come and join us on 10th December as we get in the Christmas spirit with carol singing and our own steel pan band as well as Santa’s grotto and Christmas cakes and gifts. John Stainer Community School is a small, friendly school right next to Brockley station. All money raised supports the hard work of our teachers in delivering exceptional creative and educational experiences to our children.

Brockley thriller comes Hither

Max writes:

This coming Sundey 28th November we have the usual Hither Green Cinema, and besides the main film (Harold and Maude) we're showing a short by a local film-maker that's shot entirely at Lewisham locations including a few in Brockley, like Toads Mouth Too.

It's called "South of the River", it's a thriller and the director is Ben Honeybone, who will be present to talk about the film and answer any questions.

Doors open at 5:30, short film at 6 pm. Feature film at 6:30 pm, admisson £3.
Hither Green Cinema is at St Swithun’s Hall, St Swithun’s Road off Hither Green Lane, SE13 6DE.

Crofton Park prepares for Olympic logjam

Stockpile Wenlock and Mandeville-branded waterbottles and emergency flares, Olympic gridlock is coming to Crofton Park... and the rest of Lewisham.

As tweeted by Brockley Kate earlier today, LOCOG has released maps, forecasting how regular journeys may be affected during the Games-time period. Lewisham has been flattered with its own map, which suggests users of Lewisham Station could have an additional 30 minute wait to board busy trains during peak times. Brockley, Crofton Park, Ladywell and St Johns commuters are all warned to brace themselves for 15 minute delays.

As 853 says, this seems like worst-case scenario planning. The Games take place during the summer holiday period, when trains are usually at their least full, and Lewisham isn't a host borough nor likely to be a major tourism hotspot in 2012 (unless Brockley Central seriously raises its game). However, we know it only takes one train to be cancelled for queues to build and it's better to under-promise and over-deliver.

[Full disclosure, LOCOG is a client in our day-job].

Thameslink to go ahead in full

The government has confirmed today that the Thameslink project will be completed in full, although the complexity of the project (once named Thameslink 2000) means that it will not be finished until 2018.

London Bridge station will get its desperately-needed remodelling, but the BBC says:

The refurbishment work at London Bridge station is being restructured, as the original plan was "ambitious".

Work on the new London Bridge bus interchange has just begun, paid for by the developers of the Shard as part of their S106 agreement. The project will be completed in May 2012.

A Thameslink spokesperson said:

The Thameslink Programme is critical to addressing overcrowding on our Thameslink and Great Northern routes.
It has delivered new trains - almost 5,000 seats - and we will have the first 50% longer 12-carriage trains from December next year. A few months later we will open a fantastic new station at Blackfriars and new ticket hall at Farringdon.
The vital third and final stage of the programme will also go ahead, introducing a brand new fleet of replacement trains on the Thameslink route that will allow us to run a comprehensive 12-carriage service.
The reconstruction of London Bridge station and unravelling of the complex track layout in that vicinity will unblock one of our worst bottlenecks on the rail network.

Vote Barriedale!

Kelly's been in touch, because she's nominated her street, Barriedale, on the north Brockley / New Cross border, to be turned in to a Christmassy wonderland, by Sainsbury's.

She's asking for help from BC readers to support her bid. Sainsbury's says:

Like the idea of seeing Barriedale transformed into a Christmassy winter wonderland complete with festive food and drink? Then vote by visiting the competition website.

Voting takes one click, so to help Kelly, click here.

[Full disclosure, in our day job, we do some work for Sainsbury's, though completely unrelated to this initiative]

Brockley and Deptford among London's broadband losers

The dramatically-improved Evening Standard reports that SE4 and SE8 have some of London's slowest download speeds in what they describe as the capital's 'broadband postcode lottery'.

The study by claims we have average speeds of 4.5 to 5 mb/sec compared with the top performing postcode, N18, with more than 21 mb/sec.

The report makes it all the more galling that BT's planned roll out of Infinity to the area, which was supposed to have happened by now, has slipped to September 2012. London's top-performing postcodes correlate to the areas where Infinity has been rolled-out,

Brockley Christmas Market, December 11th

The Brockley Cross Action Group are in overdrive today, providing us with this poster and the following update:

This is Brockley's fourth and quite possibly our biggest annual Christmas Market to date! At the time of writing we expect to have in excess of 36 stalls selling a wide variety of delicious foods, cakes, cards, arts and crafts, all kinds of wonderful things!

Meanwhile, if anyone who runs makes children's gifts or runs activities for kids wants to take a stall at the Ladywell Christmas Market, they should contact the organisers at

BXAG: Mulch for Brockley

It seems like mulching season starts earlier and earlier each year. Rupert of The Brockley Cross Action Group reports:


Network Rail, who are being very supportive of our work, have generously agreed to provide 20m3 of woodchip mulch free of charge so that we can do a final mulching of the beds for the year. This will help protect the herbaceous plants, enrich the soil and help keep the dreaded weeds down next year! But we will need a good turnout to get all this stuff shifted!

BXAG have 2 barrows but if anyone else can bring a barrow let me know! We will also do a good clear out and weeding of our much loved but neglected original community planting bed down by the platform. We have ignored this well established bed for most of the summer, as we have had to focus all our efforts on the new planting.

We need to put that right! As ever tools, gloves and free refreshments will of course be provided - when we're done we can pile into the Broca at 4.00 or earlier for warmth and coffee at 4.00. I believe it might be a classic winter's day on Sunday! (yes that is a euphemism for a cold day!).

Cutty Sark 2012

To celebrate the Cutty Sark's 141st birthday, has released a new image showing how the tea clipper will look when it finally opens after restoration work is completed. The original glass wave concept has been replaced by a large conservatory.

Forest Hill Pool construction to start in January

Lewisham Council has confirmed that a construction contract has been awarded to Willmott Dixon, a move which should allow work to get underway in January 2011, with a view to opening at the end of 2012, potentially ahead of the Loampit Vale centre.

Facilities in the new building will include a 25-metre pool, a 16.7-metre learner pool, fitness gym, two studios, community room and a café. The new development will include facilities and access for those people with disabilities.

Not Brockley Central: Stanley Central

From Friday, Brockley Central will be decamping to the Falkland Islands for a week.

We will try our best to maintain our regular service during this time, but it's a long way from SE4, so bear with us. We will also be doing some blogging from the Falkland Islands, which is somewhat self-indulgent, we know, but we don't get to go there every day.

Ender's Game: Haberdashers Aske's students join education cuts campaign

Transpontine reports that:

School students from Haberdashers Aske's Hatcham Academy in New Cross have pledged to walk out of school next Wednesday 24th November to take part in the national day of action against the education cuts. So far 100 people have signed up to the 'HAHC-Walk out in solidarity with day of action against education cuts' facebook page.

Ladywell improvements

The industrious people at the Ladywell Village Improvement Group will be meeting tonight at the St Mary's Centre, Ladywell Road 7.30pm to discuss this year's Ladywell Christmas Market, update people on the streetscape plans, help organise a tree sponsorship campaign in the high street, meet the local councillors and find out the latest news on the Ladywell Playtower.

They've also reported back from the recent meeting of the Local Assembly, held on November 16th:

The meeting voted to use £12,000 of Localities Fund cash to support five projects. These were: Lewisham Youth Theatre workshops with young people (£2,965); Brockley Max 2011 art in the park (£3,000); Lewisham Community Sports training plans (£2,000); Foxborough Gardens TRA plans for a dog walking area (£3,000); and Teachsport UK’s obesity prevention programme (£2,000 approx).

The next assembly will be February 11 2011.

Babur wins Independent accolade

Babur has scooped a well-deserved 4th place in the Independent's list of the 50 Best Curry Houses in the UK.

The paper says:

It must be the leading restaurant in the UK for its specialist festivals and events, which range from Burns Night and its Nepalese haggis to fantastic regional Indian cuisine events.

For years, Babur has been a centre of curry excellence on our doorstep, showing that quality and innovation will be rewarded, even in the amorphous, concrete desert of Lewisham.

Thanks to Monkeyboy for the spot.

Wearside Road development proposed

Max has pointed out that an application has been made to redevelop the site of the Carpet Corner shop on the corner of Ladywell Road and Wearside Road, next to the Playtower.

The application is for:

The demolition of the existing warehouse at 1 Wearside Road SE13 and the construction of a building of up to four storeys comprising of 5 one bedroom, 6 two bedroom and 3 three bedroom self-contained flats, together with the provision of a bin store and cycle store.

New proposal for Mantle Road

The new application to redevelop the site on Mantle Road once occupied by the Maypole Pub is in. It's not radically different from the previous version, but slightly nicer to look at, promising:

The construction of a single to five storey building at 1 Mantle Road SE4, comprising a commercial unit (Use Class A1) on the ground floor and 3 one bedroom, 4 two bedroom, 1 three bedroom self-contained flats and 1 three bedroom self-contained maisonette on the upper floors incorporating balconies/roof terraces, together with associated landscaping, the provision of bin stores, 14 bicycle spaces and 2 car parking spaces with access onto Reynard Close.

Tory peer says dickish thing about Lewisham

The Telegraph reports that Lord Maples, who was MP for Lewisham West in the 1980s, dismissed the borough of "three miles of concrete" with no sense of identity compared with the Stratford-Upon-Avon constituency he represented in the nineties and noughties.

Showing customary Conservative affinity for city life, he told the House of Lords that in contrast to the immigrants and the poor of Lewisham, the electorate of Stratford were "very articulate". The voters of Lewisham articulated their view of Maples in 1992, when they booted him out. Lewisham West has been a safe Labour seat ever since.

Read the report, including a response from ex-Councillor Sue Luxton, here.

New Second Hand Furniture Shop on Brockley Road

When we forecast that the East London Line would unleash the white heat of private sector dynamism on Brockley Road, this isn't quite what we had in mind...

The landlords secured planning permission to renovate the shop in the summer, but so far, there has been no sign of further progress.

In the mean time, it is functioning as a second-hand furniture shop, which is at least a step forward from homeopathic medicine.

Brockley Flickr Up, November 23rd

The Brockley Flickr Group, responsible for all the photos you see when you click on the Photos tab above, will be holding their next meeting on November 23rd.

Tim says:

We will meet at The Orchard at 8pm for a drink and catch-up, then do a photo walk (route TBC) up to Crofton Park and end in Jam Circus for another drink or two. For people wanting to get involved before then, the current project is 'A Day in the Life' - a self-explanatory documentary project.

All welcome.

Bold Vision: Phase 2 Begins

James R. Lesko: We knew then, that we were being changed... and made part of their world. We didn't know for what purpose... but we knew, we would be told.

This Saturday on Telegraph Hill, Phase 2 of the Bold Vision project that created the Hill Station cafe and community centre on Kitto Road, gets underway. The team write:

We are having a big clear out as the first step in Phase 2 development (the next block of space behind the cafe for toilets and a professional kitchen).

From 11-1 we need willing arms to help us carry stuff out and sort it into the good the bad and the ugly.

Then from 12.30 onwards you can browse the magnificent offerings of furniture, crockery etc that have been donated to the cafe but don't quite fit in. Please don't be offended if you see your things on sale - we really do appreciate all offerings and if they also go to a good home and raise some funds for Bold Vision then we consider that an excellent outcome too.

That is followed at 6.30pm-8.30pm by a party. They say:

The Director of the
Nunhead and District Municipal Museum and Art Gallery invites
you to
the party to celebrate the closing of an exhibition by a local man. Champagne will not be served and the wearing of ball gowns will not be appropriate.

The Duchess of Nunhead and others will be performing on the night.
For your enjoyment, please bring a bottle.

Broca Food Market - we'll meat again

Good news for Brockley's carnivores: the very excellent Broca Food Market is selling fresh meat again after a maternity-based hiatus during the past six months or so.

Broca gets its regular meat from a single farm, Hampshire's Mill Farm Organic, which supplies a good range of beef, lamb and pork. Gloriously, at this time of year you can also pick up some excellent game, in this case supplied from Bank Farm in Kent.

Last night the new meat fridge, complete with Morley-esque branding, was bulging with wild duck, pigeon breasts and pheasants (trussed and barded for the oven). There was also some very tempting thickly-cut strips of pork belly, but Brockley Central can't promise they're still there...

Goldsmiths Tavern to go gastro?

New Cross food blogger Hollowlegs reports on Twitter that New Cross' Goldsmiths Tavern is about to undergo a makeover courtesy of Capital Pubs, owners of The Bishop in East Dulwich. Her intel is usually as reliable as her reviews.

As Transpontine says, based on their track record, it seems likely that Capital Pubs will go down the gastro route.

With the Wickham Arms currently up for sale, this is a particularly interesting move, suggesting that the pub industry has confidence that investment in creating a high-quality offer in this area will pay off.

Hostel fire on Lewisham Way

The BBC reports that twelve people were rescued when fire broke out last night in a hostel on Lewisham Way, near the end of Malpas Road. No one was injured and the cause is currently unknown.

Thanks to Monkeyboy for spotting it.

Crofton Park Challenge

Civilization is sterilization

- Brave New World

Crofton Park: The historical heart of Brockley. Home to the Rivoli, the Brockley Jack, Mr Lawrence and Jam Circus and the most successful high street in the area.

But reviewing our coverage of Crofton Park, it is primarily a monotonous stream of stories about the fate of the library, the rotating occupancy of what is now Krizz Kutz and stuff we missed at the Rivoli, punctuated with the occasional initiative from Jam Circus or the Brockley Jack Theatre.

Crofton Park residents rarely email us with stories and even Google and Twitter draw a blank.

So it that all there is? Are CP residents so comfortable, with their neat streets and low crime rates, that they have nothing to say? What are we missing? Please tell us - fill the void.

The Plastic Crown and Sceptre [UPDATED]

Clothes maketh the man; and the less there is of the man, the more the need of the clothes.

The object, e’en were it achieved,
A thing we e’er had cared to keep;
With heart and soul to hold it cheap,
And then to go and try it again;

BrocSoc's Rob has been in touch again, regarding the Crown and Sceptre pub in St Johns. Last time we heard, the developers had ripped off the tiles. Now, they're being made to put them back, but they've replaced the window frames with uPVC (high-class developers, these guys).

Rob says:

Lewisham's planners, again, have taken a dim view on this, and are in communications with the developer to replace with windows that match the originals.

I thought you might like to see footage of the Crown & Sceptre, taken from the David Cronenburg film Spider, starring Ralph Fiennes.

UPDATE: Friend of BC Danja has also pointed out that in their application letter, dated 12th September 2010, the developers promised to replace window frames in timber in a traditional style.

Emma Watson at the Rivoli

Miami blog Accidental Sexiness claims the filming at the Rivoli Ballroom earlier this month was for a new film starring Emma Watson, called My Week With Marilyn. Directed by Kenneth Brannagh, the film is due out next year.

The South Shall Rise Again: Canada Water and Deptford Libraries

As the Sword of Damocles hangs over five Lewisham Libraries by a single hair from Mayor Bullock's beard, it's worth remembering that there are two major library projects planned for nearby. Like modern leisure centres, they are attempting to create destinations with the scale and flexibility to appeal to a wide range of users and the capacity to generate significant commercial income streams.

In Surrey Quays (top), the Canada Water regeneration scheme is progressing rapidly, and the library is in the advanced stages of construction. When complete in 2011, it will offer large reading areas for adults and children and a messy area for the under-fives. The gallery level will include classrooms and meeting rooms.

In Deptford (bottom), Lewisham Council's plans for the town centre include a new building for Tidemill School, incorporating The Deptford Lounge - "a new living room for the city". Plans were approved in 2009 and Lewisham Council promises that the finished building will offer:
  • A state of the art library including children’s and youth library
  • AccessPoint – one stop shop giving access to Council services
  • Flexible spaces to hire out for events such as weddings, conferences and celebrations
  • Flexible working spaces to hire out to the community voluntary sector and small starter businesses
  • Café
Also in the series:

Brockley Sings

Local singing coach Brenda Rattray is organising a community sing in St Andrew's church that will consist of four rehearsals and a community participatory performance on the 17th December. She says:

It promises to be a really good night with a band, a brass quartet for a little bit of carol singing and some great singers from the community singing solos - there will also be a few surprises.

Rehearsal times at St Andrew's Church Hall

20th November 3 – 4.30pm
27th November 3 – 4.30pm
4th December 3 – 4.30pm
11th December 1pm – 4.30pm

Participatory performance, Friday 17th December 7pm – 9.30pm

Workshops and performance
£24.00 concessions

£5.00 in advance
£6.00 on the door

The Horniman Museum to lose its funding after 2015 [UPDATED]

Principal Skinner: We can buy real periodic tables instead of these promotional ones from Oscar Meyer.
Edna Krabappel: Who can tell me the atomic weight of bolognium?
Martin: Ooh ... delicious?
Edna Krabappel: Correct. I would also accept snacktacular.
- The Simpsons

Artlyst reports that the Horniman Museum and Gardens are among eight national museums that will lose their funding from central government. One of South East London's best-loved treasures will have to raise funding from Lewisham Council or the private sector or face closure. It says:

The DCMS as part of its four-year business plan, has announced, it will no longer fund eight Museums that it currently sponsors. It will scrap national funding of “museums that should be the responsibility of local communities”. This effects eight non-national museums: the Design Museum; the Geffrye Museum; the Horniman Museum and Gardens; the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester; the National Coal Mining Museum for England; the National Football Museum; the People’s History Museum; and Tyne and Wear Museums. These institutions will now be turned over to their local communities for funding. If this is unworkable and private funding unavailable, they will simply shut.

However, the Museums Journal notes that funding is secure until 2015, and the Horniman itself has issued a statement saying that funding has been ringfenced for four years, which is looking on the bright side. Longer-term, the DCMS hopes to encourage more philanthropic support for museums. Raising funds from Lewisham Council, already struggling to sustain local libraries, will be tricky.

With thanks to 'D'.

Community support for "sympathetic" mews development

The Brockley Society has conducted a survey of residents whose properties back on to Brockley's mews, which suggests cautious support for improving the quality of the mews to reduce anti-social behaviour by local business and to encourage new types of use.

Carried out in the summer, BrocSoc says:

"There is most support for using and developing the Mews as a nature reserve or open space and allowing craft activities, residential garages and private communal gardens. Offices are supported but with restrictions.

"There is opposition to mechanics or business garages, residential homes and light industry."

The majority of respondents raised concerns about issues such as fly-tipping, abandoned cars, poor surface conditions and dog fouling. Overall, BrocSoc claims that there was support for "sympathetic development" and more effective enforcement of regulations by the Council and police.

The survey results seem reasonable and sensible enough, but we'll be asking BrocSoc for a more detailed breakdown of the data and for their views on how to move these issues forward.

Arun Ghosh, The Albany

Arun Ghosh's Afrocoustics & Indo-vations, 8pm, 20th November
London Jazz Festival at the Albany
A Night on the Tiles 23 - 27 November

Iconoclastic clarinettist Arun Ghosh presents Afrocoustics & Indo-vations – a visceral, fiery, pan-cultural mix of multiple horns, koras and percussive drive.
'West Bengal meets West Africa' in powerful contemporary musical narratives that traverse the world jazz terrain whilst remaining firmly rooted within the best of eclectic and eccentric British tradition.

Please visit

Reader Offer: Parties at Homemade London

Homemade London is our lovely craft salon near Marble Arch – a place where anyone can learn to make amazing things that they will want to keep or give, from lingerie and super-soft knitwear to natural beauty products and cushions.

As a special offer for Brockley Central readers, anyone booking a place on our upcoming Festive Friday parties will receive a limited edition Homemade London canvas bag made from organic cotton and normally available for £12.

The parties are amazing value, combining two of Homemade London’s most popular classes – perfume making and vintage restyling – accompanied by Prosecco, cakes and nibbles and all for £49 per head. Ideal for individuals and small groups.

The party dates are November 19th and 26th and December 3rd and 10th.

Living Etc asked whether craft has ever been so luxurious, Domestic Sluttery had a great night with us and when Visit London tried it out, they said ‘everyone was having so much fun that friendly passersby kept popping in to see what we were up to.’

To apply for tickets, please email and quote the Brockley Central reader offer to claim your free bag.

Remembrance Remembered

Up The Line was a unique arts event to mark Remembrance Day, held in Brockley and Ladywell Cemetery. We spoke with the organiser, John McKiernan, founder of PLATFORM-7, about the night and his plans for the future:

The event went very well and it was only on the Friday I realised when watching the news how lucky we were with the weather. At 6pm, the skies cleared, the wind dropped and it became relatively mild. There were the usual pre-event problems that always occur but once we started it was very smooth and the performers were exceptional, really stunning experience.

The intention of this event is to have the audience consider the impact of war and consider its consequences not to try and influence them one way or another; it is for the individual to examine their own personal view. Hearing people at the end it seems this was achieved.

We did not have the large crowd at the beginning this year which worried those of us on the gate. Instead people came steadily over the period of the evening. Counting programmes, feedback from artists and others it appears that we had somewhere shy of 450 audience. What I found surprising was that I expected many people from last year to return with friends this year, but few that anyone spoke to had been in 2009, meaning this was a new audience in the main.

Listening to feedback from last year, the space between performers was longer to allow more time for reflection and personal thoughts, this appeared to have worked. The hydrogen cells performed fantastically and not having the sound pollution as well as CO2 pollution of generators allowed the oboe, flute and piano to waft across much broader areas of the cemetery making it very beautiful in the more remote sections of the path.

The Dead Rat Orchestra outside the gate expressing youthful excitement and anticipation captured the expectations felt by many young men in 1914 and Duncan Menzies Bagpipes quickly bought back the reality of what was to follow.

Some poems were repeated from 2009 although most of the performances were new. The different location for the film by Kai Clear with Harry Vendryes reading Albert Blackmore diary made a huge difference and was very powerful.

The amount of work involved in this event means that only with funding can it take place again. Lewisham was very helpful this year but are limited to how much they are able to be involved. In all, with performers, crew and volunteers we are talking almost 100 people working on the event, all unpaid. The amount of time they need to give up is enormous.

There has been a great amount of publicity regarding the poppy and its meaning and whether there is any relevance to Remembrance in the modern day. What most people do not realise is how our life today is so shaped by the events in 1914. It is also worth noting the decades leading up to that period and how many Europeans believed large warfare was a thing of the passed. No one aged 20 would have foreseen in 1913 two World Wars and 25+ million dead before they were 60.

Should funding appear for next year then we would like to expand more on how war damaged families, parents and children of men who died and were injured, also the impact on women, from the million spinsters, the affairs and the changes in the workplace.

Happy Mondays, The Amersham Arms

A year ago, we wrote our one and only comedy review, of Richard Herring's Hitler Moustache at the Amersham Arms.

Tonight, Herring returns for a night MC'd by Holly Walsh and also featuring Stuart Goldsmith and Al Stick.

It's good to see the regular Happy Mondays comedy nights still going strong and firmly established as part of the circuit.

Tickets are £6 or £4 for NUS card holders, so Goldsmiths students can cheer themselves up. Click here to buy a ticket or take your chance on the night.

Misty Moon Craft and Art Fair at Tank Gallery

The Misty Moon Fair has returned for a spooky special at Tank Gallery, Ladywell.

It's on all weekend from midday until late and features work from New York artist Adrienne King, who played Alice Hardy in the original Friday the 13th, once upon a time. A host of local artists are also exhibiting, including:
  • Simon King
  • Cassandra Kyle
  • Michael Thompson
  • Heidi Vikleman
  • Tim Feltham
  • Aisla Garlick
  • Jennifer Morriss
  • Wayne Coleman
  • Norman Hall
  • Sarah McEvoy
  • Cathy Duprey
  • Helena Sivak

Goldsmiths at centre of student protest controversy

Headmaster: It appears that someone has altered your copy of the timetable with red pen.
Cool teacher: That's right, I did it. To teach my class that any system that relies on a timetable is by definition crap. That's right I said 'crap' in front of the headmaster's 'Galen from Planet of the Apes' face. I expect I'll get in quite a lot of trouble for that later on."

Goldsmiths staff drafted the open letter from Academics in support of this week's student protests. Sky News reports:

The lecturers who wrote it, John Wadsworth, the president of Goldsmiths lecturers' union, and Des Freedman, a lecturer in communications studies, have now tried to clarify their points.

They said: "We do not condone the violence but we understand students' anger. We do not want students to be scapegoated.

"The violence in our statement refers to the impact of the cuts in both education and further education. If people read the statement they will understand why we felt it was necessary to support the tens of thousands of people on the demonstration."

Goldsmiths Warden Pat Loughry has moved to disassociate the College from the lecturers' actions, issuing a statement saying:

I would like to make it clear that the statement reported in the press, by local University and College Union members, in no way reflects the views of Goldsmiths, University of London. The College completely disassociates itself from those opinions.

[Thanks to Tressilliana]

Mayor defers Library decisions

The Mayor of Lewisham has deferred a decision on the future of Lewisham's threatened libraries for two months, to allow proposals for alternative uses for the buildings to be properly evaluated. In a statement on his website, Mayor Bullock says:

After studying the results of our consultation on the proposl to close five libraries before attending the Council's Public Accounts Committee earlier this week, I wanted to share with you my thoughts regarding the current library proposals as they stand at the moment, what I said to Public Accounts and what I am minded to do next Wednesday at the Mayor and Cabinet.

I did not seek election as your Mayor in order to close down libraries. However the scale of the challenge and size of the cuts we are faced with due to decisions taken by this Tory/Lib Dem Government means that we are faced with very difficult choices in order to protect the most vulnerable in our community.

I believe in Libraries and the difference they can make which is why over £6.5 million has been spent in the last 4 years in providing 21st Century library facilities across Lewisham. The current proposals do not provide enough detail on the alternative community library proposals and on the transitional costs of moving to these alternatives. I am therefore minded next week to defer a decision on this proposal for up to two months to provide time for those proposals to be firmed up and to allow those who want to be involved to come forward and have further discussions with the council.

Pop-Up Forest Hill

The Forest Hill Society have come up with a neat response to the number of empty shops on their main shopping streets - Pop-Up Forest Hill, an event on December 2nd, 6pm-9pm:

Local businesses including local pubs, cafes, real estate agents, barbers etc and owners of empty shop premises have been contacted to ask if they are interested in providing venues for activities (and running activities), like artist-led DIY Christmas card workshops, dance instruction, creative writing classes or simply hosting community speed-dating sessions or “would like to meet” community link sessions.

People will be provided with maps that they will use to navigate locations and times of activities. We are aiming for 40 activities over the night, spread across a minimum of 12 venues.

We will create a Christmas feel with some street decorations provided by council, window shop displays, local artwork, and by having activities like Christmas card and decoration-making sessions in clear view from the street. It is also hoped to have a Christmas Choir or two moving around and inviting people to sing along.

For more information, visit the event website.

House hunt

Sharon and her family have been in touch:

Our house in St Asaph Road has just gone under offer and we have not yet found another place to live. We are looking for a short term rental in Brockley. We are a family of three, two adults and a ten year old, and are very responsible and clean! Is there anybody out there who might be going off travelling and need someone to look after their house for that time? Thanks.

If you have a property and would like to contact them, please email them here.


To coincide with Remembrance Day, here is a letter from a St Asaph's Road resident following a bombing raid in September 1940. The letter was found by Tressillian James on the BBC 's People's War website:

My dear Win,

Just a line to let you know we are all safe although we have had a terrible time since Friday night.

Brockley had its first bombs Friday night 2 houses in Brockley Rd nearly opposite the water trough, Brakespear Rd Tressillian Rd St Cyripian’s Church etc... I had to walk home and about every hundred yards along OK Rd {Old Kent Road] had been bombed so you can imagine my feeling as what to expect in Brockley, the first signs came when reaching St Katherine’s [St Catherine’s church Hatcham in Pepys Road SE14] our church got 2 bombs and is a reck [sic] Vesta Rd 2 houses and a number of incendiary bombs in Drakefell [Road parallel to St Asaph], St Asaph [our home road] Avignon [a road intersecting with St Asaph] etc. one dropped outside Pattons [next door neighbours] but was a dud what luck.

Read the full letter here. And don't forget the unique Remembrance Day celebration "Up the Line" this evening at Brockley and Ladywell Cemetery, from 7pm.

Convoys Wharf moves forward

Deptford Dame alerted us to the latest planning application submission to Lewisham Council by the developers of Convoys Wharf in Deptford - arguably the borough's most important regeneration project.

The submission is dated October 27th and while the plans haven’t changed much since we last covered this story earlier in the year the process seems to be advancing steadily.

A spokesperson for Hutchison Whampoa, the Hong Kong-based developers who bought the site from News International, confirmed that the original Richard Rogers masterplan had been revised in order to make the construction schedule more practical and the development more commercially viable. As we reported in July, the key changes included the introduction of a hotel and a rebalancing of the mix in favour of residential, with less office space. The wharf area will be smaller too.

In terms of the developers commitment, they confirmed that they are fully committed to developing the scheme themselves, rather than selling the site on again. They claimed that the economics of the 10 year development meant that only a long-term investor of their scale (and they are huge) could afford to finance it - but that their finances are strong enough that they could start building tomorrow if planning permission was secured.

The statutory consultation period is due to finish in December, which means that the site could potentially have outline planning permission by January, although a date of early-to-mid-2011 was more likely.

Detailed design work won’t begin until outline planning permission is received, and the spokesperson confirmed that the design is still very much “up for grabs”, with feedback welcome about the how the development should look and feel.

Lewisham budget cuts - public consultation results

Lynn: Who’s upset you this time?
Alan: Just… people. I just… hate the general public.
- I'm Alan Partrdige

Following Lewisham's big conversation about where and how the Council should find cost savings, it has released a summary of the results. Even this top-line version comes with the caveat that the consultation that involved 1,200 residents was in no-way a poll or referendum, merely a useful guide.

Depressingly, the 1,000 survey respondents said that town centres - one of the few public resources we all use and one of the most important drivers of local prosperity - were considered the area that could most easily have spending reduced. This result is possibly due to the fact that the consultation lumped the word "business" in with "town centres", and everyone knows that businesses are all run by fat cats. Either that or it just goes to show that people don't know what's good for them. Likewise Climate Change and Employment and Training fared poorly. Adult social care (by far the largest single item of Council expenditure considered by this survey, with a budget of £69m) was deemed the area that it is least acceptable to cut, followed by activities for young people.

Roads, sport and libraries were the areas of Council expenditure that respondents said they'd be most willing to pay more for.

In the "Have Your Say" forms provided at local assemblies "cleaning the borough" came out as the clear priority, followed by libraries.

Here's the full presentation and here's what the Council release says:

The following themes came out strongly:

- Protect spending on services to the most vulnerable in the community
- It’s acceptable to reduce spending in some areas, but generally only in those areas where the Council spends relatively small sums
- People are prepared to pay more for some services
- Businesses could do more and the Council could help people to do more
- The Council should continue to find efficiencies and cut its costs.

People generally thought it was right that levels of service should be reviewed in order to find ways to reduce spending and, where possible, to find efficiencies and reduce staff costs. Significant numbers were prepared to pay more, or have people charged more, for some services, rather than see them cut. A significant number of people also said they would do more themselves to reduce the need for Council spending on services, although this was still a minority (around one in ten).

What do you think? And as you write, bear in mind that this thread was lifted almost wholesale for the Local Government Chronicle's "Views of the Week" column (thanks to Ruth for spotting that), so what you say could go right to the top... of the Local Government Chronicle's news editor's in-tray.