Booting an elephant

Gently Elephant is the name for the new children's shoes and accessories shop on the great, grey-green greasy Brockley Road. To satisfy your 'satiable curiousity, there is also a website to look at although it doesn't yet answer ever-so-many questions.

Parkrun 5k events to come to Hilly Fields

On the Brockley forum Sally points out that Parkrun is coming to Hilly Fields. The grassroots group offers free timed 5k runs to all ages and abilities and has delivered more than 9,000 events across the country, including similar runs in Crystal Palace and Greenwich.

Sally says:

They're looking for volunteers to help with the events. This could be setting out course markers, marshalling on the course to make sure people are going the right way or handing out tokens at the end, for people's times. If you think you could help then get in touch with Lynne Atkinson: 

Details of the first event are to be confirmed.

Meze Mangal to expand this summer

Friend of BC, Nick, reports that Turkish restaurant Meze Mangal is due to expand this summer. The team are set to move in to the empty space next door to their hugely popular restaurant on Lewisham Way.

The windows for that part of the property are currently obscured by a large sea container (which houses charcoal for their oven), so we assume that the metal box will finally be going, making this doubly-good news.

At one point, they planned to open a patisserie in that space, but this plan was shelved a few years ago.

The London Mayoral Elections - the other three

David Ershon: Gentlemen, you have two choices: Mamma Mia or Jersey Boys.
- The Other Guys

Following our article about the two main contenders for the Mayoral election, here is our take on the other three candidates, who won't win, but anyway...

Unforgivably dull on I’m a Celebrity a few years ago, Brian Paddick is back for another go in the Mayoral race, but without the excuse that he’s a previous winner. Big on law and order issues, he promises “New York-style crime reductions” (homicides in NYC approx. 500 per year, homicides in London approx. 125 per year).


His proposal for an independent police commissioner probably the right forward for the Met.

His plans to make cycling safer and improve air quality are not the most ambitious, but they are probably the most that’s achievable.

‘Part-timer’ Oyster card rates is the right solution for increasingly flexible working patterns and the one hour bus ticket is nice.


Beyond policing, his manifesto is a little light on detail, with lots of talk about “encouraging” and “promoting” things that are happening anyway.

He proposes a London version of the national plan for a “Green Investment Bank” and while it might make sense to have one for the country, one specific to London (one of the biggest capital markets in the world) is probably not the right way forward.  

One of his policies is actually called “Paddick Patrols”.

In her time on Southwark Council and with the GLA, Jenny has proven herself to be a committed and effective politician, considerably smarter and more worldly than Caroline Lucas.


Prepared to use Congestion Charge to help keep fares down and discourage more polluting vehicles.

Wants to give a greater voice to small and micro businesses on the London Local Enterprise Partnership and provide better help for them to win procurement contracts.

As you might expect, she has some nice ideas for investment in green technology, including LED lighting and smart waste management centres to cut landfill.


Tough talk on reducing income inequality undercut by the lame policies intended to achieve this grand goal.  Lots of talk about income, little about wealth, possibly because they know their core voters.

Perhaps surprisingly, her ideas for green spaces in London are the least inspiring of any of the major candidates.

One of her priorities is to change the planning system to guarantee we all have access to a nearby newsagent, which is the most unnecessary policy ever proposed.

The first thing Benita wants you to know is that she’s an outsider, independent of the party system. The second thing she wants you to know is that she’s worked as an insider in central government for years. Once you get past the irritating plucky outsider (not really) stuff, she’s a credible, personable candidate, who has  seduced many a commentator and who would be a good ambassador for London.


Admirable commitment to state education in London and reforming access to secondary school places.

She grudgingly supports a third runway at Heathrow, which, unless the UK unilaterally signs-up to a policy that limits air travel, is the only honest position to take.

Free travel for job seekers is a good idea if it can be made to work.


A bureaucrat’s fondness for reviews (independent one on policing, Councils must survey residents’ “top five issues”) and imposing red tape of dubious benefit (‘private property MOTs’).

A civil servanty tendency to propose an audit and / or a commissioner in response to any issue. Do we really need an urban fox audit to assess the scale of the problem?

Her home – New Malden – barely counts as London in our book.


The name for the new restaurant and bar replacing Toads Mouth Too will be revealed  today as part of the Brockley Design Project local treasure hunt. But they're not making it easy: it's going to appear in anagram form in their window, so you'll have to unscramble it yourselves.

We had a quick look behind the scenes yesterday evening and although it's very much a building site, they had already succeeded in making it feel more spacious. The upstairs bar area in particular was a surprise: we imagined space for a few people lined up on stools along a bar, functioning as a holding area for the restaurant below, but they've found a way to create a (small) lounge space upstairs that, on summer nights when the front terrace will come in to play, will accommodate a decent number of drinkers.

There are still a few places on the treasure hunt for any last minute takers if they drop an email to and the restaurant team will be answering questions for anyone who wants to knock on their door between around 1-3pm.

UPDATE: It's now confirmed that The Gantry is the restaurant and bar's new name, replacing the Druidic and ungrammatical Toads Mouth Too at 188 Brockley Road. More details about the new place, coming soon.

Uke newcomers needed

Hello! We are the Brockley Ukulele Group, and we are looking for new female vocalists – we’ve had a bit of a baby boom recently, which has taken its toll on our regular line-up.

We are basically looking for someone who has a decent singing voice, and either plays the ukulele or is willing to learn, and who is interested in playing gigs with us, potentially including doing lead vocals on a handful of songs.

Just to give you a bit more info about what to expect if you’re considering getting involved: we are an easygoing bunch, with eclectic music tastes. We practice every Sunday 5-7pm, usually in Brockley, sometimes at the Amersham Arms in New Cross. We play at the Amersham Arms on the second Sunday of every month: the format for those gigs is that we hand out copies of our “Uke Box” to the audience – a list of about 60 songs – and they shout out the numbers of the songs they want us to play.

We also usually play several local festivals during the summer. We’ve had lots of requests to play at weddings, parties, festivals outside London, and even a few TV shows, but so far we’ve turned almost all of them down. We are thinking we might say yes to a few more things in the future, though. We basically choose our gigs based on how much fun we think they’ll be to play! Recently we’ve had some very interesting offers for high profile events, and that is why we really want one or two new female vocalists on board as soon as possible. 

We’ve been asked to play at the Thames Festival (which is part of the Cultural Olympiad) in early September, and ideally we’d want our new member(s) to play at that, so we have a four month countdown starting about now… If you are interested, please email us at and please pass this on to anyone else you know who might be interested – thanks!

The Abruptly-Ending Story

Sunday, 29th April
Jam Circus
7pm – 9.30pm
£5 on the door (from 6.30pm)

This Sunday is the last in the current season of Story Jam events at Jam Circus. Alys writes:

LIP THUMB & TOE  tie up their first Season with tales of surprising guinea pigs, upside down old ladies, mutant aunts and gullible royalty.

SEEING US OUT IN STYLE... CAT GERRARD,  ALYS TORRANCE and ALICE FERNBANK of LIP THUMB & TOE Storytelling Crew will be doing their damndest to make you laugh, gasp, cheer and riot.

JOINED BY...The musical beauty and wit of LEWIS BARFOOT

AND NOT FORGETTING...THE FIVE MINUTE CHALLENGE. MIRANDA ROSZKOWSKI ambitiously attempts to tell a whole story in 5 minutes flat

WHILST YOU settle in with an excellent pint or two of beer (or a glass of wine if you're from North London).

Brockley designer wins UK's top design prize for Olympic torch

Brockley designer Jay Osgerby has won UK design's most prestigious prize - Design of the Year - for his work to create the London 2012 Olympic Torch.

Osgerby and partner Edward Barber's design was unveiled by Olympic organisers LOCOG last year and the team were presented with the award by the Design Museum earlier this week. The Design Awards said:

On 24 April at the awards ceremony, British studio Barber Osgerby were awarded the overall Design of the Year for their stunning design of the London 2012 Olympic Torch. The aluminium made torch will be carried over 8,000 miles and is perforated with 8,000 circular holes, each representing a bearer who will run with it in the London 2012 Olympic Torch relay in July.

The Olympic torch begins its tour of the country on May 19th and will pass through the borough on July 23rd.

17-day Blackheath Big Screen festival details announced

Lewisham Council writes:

Programme details for The Lewisham Big Screen have now been announced. The 17-day festival on Blackheath will start with the Olympic Opening Ceremony on Friday 27 July and finish with the Closing Ceremony on Sunday 12 August. Alongside live BBC coverage of the Games on a giant outdoor screen will be a daily programme of entertainment, music and activities for the whole family.

A magnificent, decorated Spiegeltent will be the centrepiece for live music and entertainment alongside the big screen. Highlights in the tent will include:

- Live music, song and dance from, amongst others, members of the BBC Singers, Lewisham Live musicians, Orchestra from the Age of Enlightenment and the Icarus Club.
- Speakeasy – a day of spoken word from performance poets, storytellers, rap artists and local creative talent
- Chances to find out about lots of different sports from judo to cricket, athletics to rugby. Discover your own inner athlete and find out how easy it is to get active!

August 4 is Super Saturday when lots of medals will be won and lost, and Blackheath will host a huge number of community groups and voluntary organisations as they set out their stalls. In the Spiegeltent, local people will perform throughout the day, showcasing the best of Lewisham talent.

Different days will mean different opportunities. It might be visual arts from Deptford X, street theatre that amazes and astounds, farmers’ markets and so much more.

Throughout the Games, Blackheath will have food and drink outlets, a big wheel, carousel, have-a-go sporting activities and daily entertainment; not forgetting the great shopping, eating and refreshment areas in Blackheath Village itself – so close to the heath and part of the last mile to Greenwich Park, the Olympic venue for the modern pentathlon and the equestrian events.

Sir Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham, said: "Super Saturday will be a particularly special day as we see community groups and voluntary organisations making such good use of the whole of The Lewisham Big Screen on Blackheath.”

Broc Soc proposes Mantle Road alternative

Brockley Society have objected to the proposed planning application for 6 Mantle Road and launched a petition against the current scheme. BrocSoc's Robert writes:

We have also taken the liberty of suggesting an alternative strategy for the site. Included here is an ‘artists impression’ of our sketch proposals. It is not a design, as such, just an alternative vision – using a montage of other existing London buildings as an example of the sort of scheme that we feel might work for 6 Mantle Road. 

 In short – we are hoping that the current application is rejected, and the developer, in consultation with local people, opts for a scheme that includes the following changes: 

- Further reduction in scale towards south of site, where development meets St Norberts Road - Potential for Pedestrian access to west platform of Brockley Station. 
- Higher quality design 
- More considered approach to public realm 
- Better mix of retail provision (small / medium rather than one large) 
- Mixed use – levels 1 and 2 of northern building could be for offices. For those that might not be aware – this site has always been used for business use – in fact the original use for the site was for a station building to the west of the railway line – which was demolished c.1970. 

We feel an element of office use would still be appropriate here – we are keen to see central Brockley develop thriving small business enterprises – such as the architectural practices that have already set up and are doing well. There is no reason why other small businesses should not chose to base themselves in Brockley – though this will be hard if every possible site has been used for housing. 

To these ends – we hope that readers might help my signing our online petition – which we will submit to Lewisham Planning in support of our case for objection.

BC certainly prefers the aesthetic BrocSoc have gone for here, although we think a bridge of some sort (as the current scheme proposes) could work nicely and would maximise land use. The call for more space for small businesses is reasonable, although they have not mentioned that there is already a major development nearing completion at Martin's Yard, which meets this objective. The developers might reasonably argue that demand for this type of space is as-yet unproven.

Van wild - third-party liaison

Carol is hoping to be united with a woman called Eli who witnessed a dinking. She says:

One evening last month someone crashed into our car with a tow bar while it was parked on Cranfield road, and left the scene quickly. The damage amounted to quite a few hundreds of pounds. 

A good Samaritan (testifying how nice people are in Brockley) left us a note through our door on Cranfield Road saying that she saw the crash, and wrote down the number plate of the fleeing silver van – she signed the note as Eli but she didn’t leave her number. 

The silver van owner was later identified by our insurance but unfortunately he denies having caused the damage although admits driving the van. He is not a resident, but a regular commuter into Brockley and his silver van is regularly parked around the station. 

Our insurance company would like to speak to the nice lady who left the message. Unfortunately the note was not sufficient to convince the other party insurance to accept responsibility. After all, they cunningly claim that, without a witness one cannot be sure. 

If any of your readers named Eli remembers seeing the accident on the evening of the 22nd February 2012 at about 8.15pm and leaving us a note, could you please get in contact? All we require is that you speak briefly to our insurance on the phone to tell them what they saw.

If Eli reads this and wants to help, please email BC and we'll connect you with Carol.

Under Milk Wook, The London Theatre, New Cross

Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas
Until Sun 29th April, 8pm (Sun 4pm) 
Extra show Sat Matinee at 3pm (Sat 28th) 
Box office 0208 694 1888

The London Theatre in New Cross is in the middle of a run of performances of Under Milk Wood. See the New Cross Forum for more upcoming events.

They've also used the forum to publish interesting data from their local economic impact study - measuring the benefits of their own existence to the wider local economy. They reckon that in a seven day period, they produced £3,000 worth of spin-off benefits to businesses within 2 miles, through spending on business services and by their customers and staff.

Drugs in London

Jeremy: Oh relax. "Oh I'm Mark, I'm in the eighties, I'm dying of heroin in a puddle in the corner in an advert." Drugs are fine, Mark, everyone agrees now. Drugs are what happen to people and that's fine, so shut up. 
- Peep Show

Given how much the "drugs" issue has exercised some BC readers on threads like these, we thought you might be interested in this little bit of context, courtesy of the Economist (client).

The article challenges a few of the prejudices so-far expressed by BCers and points out that London is the most sober part of the country:

Surveys by the National Health Service show that Londoners aged between 11 and 15 are less likely to smoke than are youngsters in every other English region. They drink alcohol much more rarely and are no more likely to take illicit drugs. Another large-scale survey for the DfES rolls drink and drug use among young people into a single measure. Again, London stands out for its sobriety...

[One] explanation is that the capital contains a lot of immigrants from places where youthful drinking and smoking are rare—particularly the Indian subcontinent.... London’s odd social make-up may help to explain the pattern. In addition to an immigrant-heavy working class, the capital has a lot of affluent professionals, who may be unusually keen to steer their children away from mind-altering chemicals...

There is a more startling possibility: London represents the future. Alex Stevens, a criminologist at the University of Kent, points out that the capital generally leads drug trends. Heroin emerged in London and a few other large cities in the 1980s, then spread. So did cocaine... Having declined in London and risen everywhere else, the drug is now as popular in the far north of England as it is in the capital.

Britons have been hooked on drink and drugs for so long that it is hard to imagine them dropping the habit. But if the country were to become less intoxicated, the earliest signs of change would probably appear in the city.

Performances in New Cross

Via the Brockley Central Facebook page, Patricio says: "A mini stage is being erected today outside Goldsmiths Library as part of a move to integrate the College to New Cross. Come and enjoy with us the first Performances."

Nat's Bake and Juices raided by police

On Friday, March 23rd, police raided the premises of Nat's Bake and Juices in Brockley Cross, making two arrests. The police say:

Intelligence was received suggesting drug dealing was taking place at the premises, with up to 30 people an hour arriving to buy drugs. 

20 people were present at the location and two arrests were made, one for possession with intent to supply money laundering, another for possession with intent to supply, extracting electricity and allowing his premises to be used for drug dealing. The men arrested have been bailed pending further enquiries. 

Officers from Brockley Safer Neighbourhoods Team assisted in securing the premises and the Brockley Ward Panel chair was present acting as a civilian observer. 

PS Jim Abbott, Licensing said: “These raids on Friday send a clear message to licence owners that you need to comply with the law, anyone using these premises to sell drugs or engage in any criminal activity will be severely dealt with. These premises are a crime generator in the borough.

The site of police vans in Brockley Cross is pretty common and Nat's Bake and Juices has been raided in the past and reopened for business shortly afterwards. However, this time, the premises has remained closed for weeks and, combined with the the building work taking place, means that the area is dramatically more quiet.

Local residents were sent a letter around the time of the raid, to reassure them that the action was not terrorist related. This move and the recent raids in Upper Brockley Road, seem to represent a dramatically tougher approach to policing in Brockley.

Coincidentally, Brockley Cross has been the scene of several serious gang-related violent crimes in recent years.

Give us the night

A long-time ago, we interviewed Liam Hickey from Greater London Enterprise about the best ways to create a thriving high street economy in Brockley.  

GLE was appointed by Lewisham and Southwark to provide advice to businesses in the boroughs, to help encourage more local employment. He talked about a range of issues, from loyalty schemes to winning procurement contracts, which we plan to cover in more detail one of these days, but he also made an interesting point about the importance of late night business to successful high streets.

He compared Peckham with Brixton and argued that the real difference between them was that Brixton had been very successful in developing a thriving night time economy of bars, clubs and restaurants, whereas Peckham hadn’t (obviously tube links make a big difference). He suggested that Brixton’s night time economy had a major trickle-down benefit for the rest of the businesses operating locally – from pubs and cafes that cater for early arrivals to shops and suppliers that cater for those businesses. Late nights extend the money-making window for local high streets and bring in new customers to the area.

Without a late night offer, he suggested, areas like Peckham, Lewisham or even Brockley are fighting with one hand tied behind their backs as the UK's night economy has grown at 30% over the last decade.

Brockley only has a few night-time venues: a handful of restaurants, a theatre, a ballroom and a scattering of pubs and bars. Crofton Park has about the right balance, but as we’ve mentioned before, when The Orchard’s full and you’ve had your fill of the Barge, it’s a long walk from Brockley Station to find somewhere to hang out, unless you fancy a quiet night in the Essence of India. 

With the arrival of a new restaurant next month and the potential to create space for a bar at 180 Brockley Road, we could be on the verge of building a decent little night time economy in Brockley for the first time, with businesses like Gulen getting in on the action too.

Late night Brockley won't just make the area more fun, but also more successful.

The Brockley Design Hunt, April 28th

This Saturday, local group 'the Brockley Design Project' are organising an SE4 treasure hunt to help people discover the architectural gems hidden locally. They've laid a trail of clues around the area and are inviting groups of 2-6 people to take part.

Organiser Charlie says:

We have organised access to some great local venues on the way around and the old TM2 cafe are using the event to reveal their new name, you can't set more SE4 exclusive than that! Plus there's plenty of places for people to get refreshed and wee on the way round and the sun might even shine!

The route will take 2-3 hours at a leisurely pace and if you want to take part, just contact Charlie via Twitter or email who'll tell you how it all works.

House fire on Chudleigh Road

The London Fire Brigade reports:

Nine residents evacuated from a house fire on Chudleigh Road in Brockley after their smoke alarm woke them up [this morning].

Four fire engines and around 20 firefighters attended the house which was converted into bedsits in the early hours of this morning. The fire is believed to have started in the kitchen and damaged a small amount of the ground floor.

Watch Manager Nicholas Rogers said: “Nine people left the property before we arrived. Thankfully no one was injured but this incident could have been a lot worse if the smoke alarms had not woken them up. I urge everyone to have at least one smoke alarm as they give you a vital early warning if you have a fire.”

The Brigade was called at 0544 and the fire was under control by 0609. Fire crews from Forest Hill, New Cross and Lewisham fire stations attended the scene. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Hilly Fields cricket starts in May

Rachel from the Friends of Hilly Fields reports that cricket will start on the new Hilly Fields cricket square next month. She says:

On May 13th there will be a match between the Mayor’s Eleven and Millfield and they are hoping for a celebrity umpire. Millfield have 10 matches planned on the pitch in 2012. The plans for the new changing rooms (on the Bothy site) are progressing too. 

The Cutty Sark Restoration

Over on the Greenwich forum, Gema is rounding up reaction to the Cutty Sark restoration, including this fantastic blog by Lara Ruffle, which features some stunning photos. She says:

Wonderfully, the concrete sides from the previous dry dock haven’t been covered up and you can see the differences between the 1950s refurbishment and now. This practice has been maintained throughout as the new metalwork added to the ship, to make it structurally sound, has been painted grey and the original metalwork has been painted white.

We have a few reservation of the external view with the glass canopy, but overall this project looks like a belated triumph.

See also: Former ship's illustrator Sarah McIntyre's post.

Brockley Expats

Last week, Brockley Central was on holiday in a remote corner of Portugal, with only a small patch of wifi emanating from the ping pong room to connect us to the motherland.

We were being our usual antisocial selves, making only cursory nods towards getting to know the other hotel guests - what need have we for new friends, when Anonymous BCers provide all the warmth, kindness and intelligent comment we could ever want? However, our kids made friends with someone else's kids, so there was nothing for it but to make conversation.

Five years of doing this means we struggle to talk about anything other than SE4, but it turned out that despite living in Amsterdam, they were from Brockley (and therefore lovely) and kept up to date with the home country via this site.

Having been away for a couple of years, the thing they were really interested in was Brockley Market and they were looking forward to coming back to check it out. For them it seemed to symbolise a wider change and the promise that there would be a bit more fun to be had locally to help them transition back from Amsterdam.

We know we have a few other expats who still use the site from time to time - BCers now based in Australia, San Francisco, Singapore and Brazil - all ruing their decisions to leave every day, we're sure. So our question to them - and other Brockley expats is: What is the biggest change you've seen happen to Brockley since you left, most likely to tempt you back for nose around?

Poor benighted Leegate

Initial plans to redevelop the Leegate Centre in Lee Green have been released by owners St Modwen. The 1960s-built shopping centre is largely deserted and something drastic needs to happen to it.

St Modwen's solution is to bulldoze it and replace it with a large Asda, with rooftop car parking.

Any retail-led development would be a mistake. With Blackheath up the hill for the chichi stuff, Lewisham just down the road for chains, Lee High Road for independent retail and a large Sainsbury's right next door (plus a Lidl 500 yards away), there is no niche left for it to occupy. Transport links are relatively poor and parking space is at a premium (hence the roof parking plan).

St Modwen claim that a supermarket is needed to create the footfall that will make the rest of the retail offer (25,000 sq ft of new shops and restaurants along Burnt Ash Road) work. They must know this is hogwash. If one large supermarket has done nothing for the site (arguably, it accelerated the decline), how would another help? Lee Green has been a dysfunctional town centre for decades and something much more imaginative would be needed to reverse its decline. This proposal plans to keep the ugliest bits (including Leegate tower, which is a strong candidate for the borough's worst building) and allow the site to be dominated by a supermarket shed, none of which is likely to turn this in to a leisure destination.

This looks like a cynical ploy to get permission to develop another large supermarket in the borough, rather than a considered attempt to regenerate Lee. None of the other projects featured on the developer's website give any kind of reassurance that they know how to handle a site like this.

If the problem is that the Council is insistent on restoring Lee's function as a bustling town centre, then the Council should stop and have a rethink. There's no need to retain Leegate as a shopping precinct, they should allow it to be developed as a residential area, with a high quality public realm and some leisure facilities (like a gym) that would really attract customers who might then be persuaded to try the local pubs or restaurants in the  area.

With new homes next door, maybe the New Tiger's Head could finally reopen.

[Full disclosure: the company I work for, Edelman, does a little CSR reporting work for Sainsbury's, so you can dismiss the above as a Machiavellian ruse to protect a client from competition if you like, but it really isn't - it's just the most depressing proposal we've seen in a long while]

More raids on Upper Brockley Road

Last night, Lewisham police conducted more raids on properties on the corner of Upper Brockley Road and Lewisham Way.

On the Brockley forum, Headhunter reports that he saw:

3 police riot vans and many armed/riot police. Lots of bystanders watching. I saw a guy who looked like a chef with an apron on being led into 1 of the vans with handcuffs on.

On Twitter, Lewisham police explained:

The Brockley Safer Neighbourhood Team and Territorial Support Group officers have just raided three premises at Upper Brockley Rd. We hit the addresses this evening following numerous complaints. A number of arrests made and drugs seized. 

This is the latest in a series of actions by the authorities in this location in recent months, which are aimed at addressing problems with crime and anti-social behvaiour which have dogged residents for more than a decade.

The Times on New Cross: "Upwardly mobile but still boho"

More buzz around New Cross, this time in The Times property section, which uses John Lanchester's fictional Pepys Road to look at life around another Pepys Road in New Cross. It says:

With Canary Wharf just across the river, New Cross might be home to one or two bankers, but it is a far cry from the “City ghetto” that Clapham has become. Residents are more likely to be those who can’t afford Blackheath and come in the form of doctors, lawyers, teachers and media types. The families who have lived in New Cross for generations remain and there are plenty of arty types from nearby Goldsmiths to keep things lively.

Brockley roads Vesta and Wallbutton get a name check among the "best streets" too.

Thanks to Gill from the Allotment who alerted us (and is chuffed to have been mentioned in both articles this week).

Brockley Max Closing Night at Hilly Fields to return - UPDATED

Brockley MAX festival organiser Moira writes:

Brockley Max's Closing Night in 2010 went down a storm. The sun shone, the bands played, the beer flowed and Brockley rocked out all night long. Lots of people have asked whether this year's Brockley Max Festival will include a closing night event. The answer is: maybe.

We'd love Brockley Max to go out with a bang, but we need more volunteers and a bit of help paying for the marquee. If we can get commitments of help by Sunday afternoon, we'll be able to give a resounding 'yes!' to this year's Brockley Max Closing Night and ensure everyone gets to enjoy one hell of a party up on Hilly Fields.

We've got some excellent music and entertainment in the form of Felix's School of Rock and Mariana Pinho's Maracatudo Mafua band and others. In fact, we've a whole host of music and performers to keep everything humming from midday to well after sundown.

As you know, Brockley Max is a community affair & we couldn't put it on without local people's input. To ensure the closing night can go ahead, we need 30 volunteers and/or £600. For every 10 volunteers or £200 pledge we can go an hour later from 6pm.

We're not asking you for £200, of course, but anything you can contribute to help Brockley Max go ahead in the best possible form would be gratefully received.

Our Pleasefundus page is here:

Brockley Max Closing Night is on Saturday 9th June (the second weekend of the Whitsun half term).

If you can volunteer to steward or help litter-pick on the day and ensure Brockley gets to party, please sign up to volunteer by emailing stating what hours you do (2hr, 4hr or 6hr slots from 5.30). 

Remember, we need to reach our sponsorship or volunteer target by Sunday. Many thanks and here's to an eventful Brockley Max 2012!


Moira adds:

We reached the £200 target and a number of volunteers (thank you!)so the Closing Night will go on to 7pm. The full programme will be revealed on our website on 29th April.

Lewisham scores below average for primary school places

This week, 75.36% of Lewisham children were offered a place at their first-choice primary school in the borough, below the London borough average of 78.72%.

The figures were collated by the Pan London Admissions Board.

The Evening Standard on Deptford and New Cross

The Evening Standard's Homes & Properties has managed to write about Deptford and New Cross without banging on about the A2. It's a good write-up with an interesting brief history of the area. Among the highlights is this passage about local shops:

The shops in New Cross are clustered on New Cross Road close to Goldsmiths College. Cafe Crema is a popular vegetarian café; New Cross House is a gastropub specialising in pizzas, and the London Particular is the best local restaurant. Prangsta sells recycled vintage, the Allotment is a fairly new fruit and veg shop with a deli counter, and Dig This Nursery is the retail outlet of a nursery in Welling. The Hill Station is a community-run café at the top of the hill between the two Telegraph Hill parks.

Check it out.

Goodbye to all tat

The Brockley Cross car lay-by is going, to be replaced by a wide pavement, planted with trees and indented with a proper parking bay. The area has been fenced off and the road is being dug up.

The large scoop of grot - which has variously served as a parking bay for vans and hearses but rarely as the short-term parking facility it was intended to be - had the effect of turning Brockley Cross in to a six lane car pile up, wrecking the location's prospects as a sustainable business location, leading to many empty or zombie units.

Its replacement is the biggest single improvement outlined by the master plan. So far, to our untrained eye, the quality of work on the new paving seems to be high.

We'd argue this little patch has been Brockley's biggest eyesore for many years. Which is the new champ?

The Walpole, New Cross

407 New Cross Road 
020 8692 1965

The new manager of The Walpole has introduced himself on the New Cross forum, which seems as good an opportunity as any to create a thread dedicated to this resuscitated boozer, that was once threatened with being converted in to a hotel.

He writes:

As well as the changes on the outside (horrendous painting and yellow signage gone- sorry to anyone who had a different opinion on then) we have made quite a few changes inside as well. We now stock a great range of draught lagers and ciders including Sagres, Heineken and Symonds. At present we only have bottled ales if thats your thing but cask ale will be here as soon as I've had some more work done on the cellar. We also stock a selection of Meantime Beers in bottles as I'm all for supporting local business. 

We now have a different DJ every Friday and Saturday with music ranging through from the 60's right through to the present so there should be something for everyone. We also have an open mic on a Sunday night and are now programming various events on Wednesday nights. 

Please head on over to the forum or post your comments and reviews here.

Crystal Palace light show tonight

The Huffington Post reports that Crystal Palace tower will be lit up in a ceremony to mark the end of analogue transmissions from the historic structure:

The full song and dance will take place at 9:15pm on 18 April, once the signal has been switched off, when Sir David Attenborough and Brian Cox will switch on the illuminations that will shower the 219-metre tall tower in light. 

It should be pretty spectacular from Hilly Fields, Telegraph Hill Blythe Hill so worth craning your necks for. You can see what it looked like in rehearsals last night in this video from Arqiva, the telecoms company that owns the tower. Skip to the end.

Thanks to Michael on the South East London forum for this one.

Reduced DLR service in April to test Olympic service

TfL is celebrating 100 days to go to the Olympics by offering DLR users a taste of what's to come. It says:

From Friday 20 April until Tuesday 24 April, DLR services will be modified in order to test some of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic timetables.

On Friday 20 April, Monday 23 April and Tuesday 24 April there will be reduced frequencies during peak periods between:

Stratford and Canary Wharf
Lewisham and Canary Wharf
Tower Gateway/Bank
Woolwich Arsenal/Beckton

This will allow for increased frequencies on the Stratford International and Beckton routes to be operated for the test period, as they will be during the Games.

The New Cross Dining Co

The New Cross Dining Co is the latest pop-up restaurant to emerge in the area, which now has more supper clubs than actual restaurants.

These guys say their club was "born out of a desire not to have to go East for innovative dining experiences" and will be taking over The London Particular for dinner in May.

Dates: Thurs 10th May - Sat 12th May Thurs 17th May - Sat 19th May
Starts: 7.30pm on Thursdays and 8pm on Friday and Saturdays.
Address: The London Particular, 399 New Cross Road

Reservations are available via their website.

Rivoli charity quiz night

Lewisham Council's staging this event on Friday, May 11th, 7.30pm.

Pit your wits against others in this fun event at the beautiful Rivoli Ballroom, 350 Brockley Road.

Bring a team of up to six people or contact us so we can help you form one. The £10 entry fee per person includes a hot buffet, and there's a separate pay bar.

Prizes will be awarded to the best-named team and the winning team.

To book your team place contact Derek Johnson on 020 8314 8636. More information:

All proceeds will be donated to the Lavender Trust at Breast Cancer Care.

CAST in call for Brockley guests

Goldsmiths has decided it's a fine time to launch their new centre for Creative and Social Technologies and they'd like interested Brockley Central readers to come along to their party. Co-Director Chris Brauer writes:

I'd like to invite interested readers to the launch of CAST at Goldsmiths - in the evening on 26 April.

CAST is an interdisicplinary centre based in our Computing department but working with various departments around the college in teaching and research around innovation.

Our launch event is in Pecha Kucha format and features a number of academics who live locally include sociologist Les Back, computing scientist Mark d'Inverno and a rare talk from author Blake Morrison [also due to speak is friend of BC, Andrew Shoben of Greyworld, an arts company that grew up in Deptford].

We have a limited number of free tickets available but really wanted to engage some people in the local community. If you'd like to come, please register here.

Mayor Bullock's four questions for Lewisham

BCer Mike has spotted a blog by Mayor Bullock, which articulates his vision for the role of Labour in local government. Bullock writes:

Last year, I asked four questions locally which dominate our discussions about future years: 

How will we provide care for the growing number of elderly residents? 
How will we provide the jobs for our young people? 
How will we build enough homes for our growing population? 
How will we halt and reverse Environmental damage locally? 

But these questions are not just relevant to Lewisham, or even confined to London. I believe that these are four fundamental questions that need to be addressed up and down the country.

So the question is, are these the right four fundamental questions (and by questions, he means priorities)?

It's very strange not to see education mentioned at all. It's not really in the Council's gift to provide jobs for the boroughs' young people (although it can use the planning system, among other things, to encourage business to invest locally) and it doesn't make sense for an inner London borough to consider the job market in isolation. Surely the best thing it can do is to give Lewisham's young people the best possible chance of finding a job, by offering them good quality education and training.

It's also a little surprising that crime and anti-social behaviour go unmentioned, given that many residents would list them as a top priority. But if we have to restrict ourselves to four questions, it would probably just miss our list too, on the basis that the Council's powers are limited in this area.

We'd also re-frame the housing point (to include public spaces) and the environmental point (to emphasise that it's not only the local environment we need to consider, but the borough's broader environmental impact, through waste management and energy efficiency).

So, our four would be:

How will we provide for a growing number of elderly residents?
How will we provide high-quality education for our young people?
How will we build enough homes and public spaces for our growing population?
How will we improve the quality of the local environment while minimising residents' environmental impact?

What about yours?

Diabetes and Lewisham schools

Pete writes:

A friend of ours has a six year old child with Type 1 diabetes which is perfectly manageable with the proper care. They're really struggling to get the school to be flexible to his needs (as he is only six he needs help with checking his blood sugar levels etc) and I was wondering if there were any other families who read your blog that may have diabetic children in schools in the borough who might have some advice?

This family really could do with some help and advice as at the moment their son is out of school and that's not something that they want to prolong, but they don't want to risk him becoming seriously ill whilst he is at the school.

Brockley Dawn Chorus

An expert guided tour of Brockley birdlife in Hilly Fields and Brockley and Ladywell Cemetery.

Thursday 26th April, 2012 at 5am...that’s dawn. Meet outside the Bothy (along from the bowling green) Organised with Lewisham Rivers and People project: or 07850 713 974

169 Brockley Road - what's in store?

The shop on the corner of Brockley Road and Cranfield Road, formerly an ill-fated therapy centre and junk shop (not at the same time), is shortly to reopen in a new guise as a children's shoe shop.

If you don't want kids shoes with flashing lights in the soles, your options in this part of London are severely limited, so this is a really interesting venture, which, by offering a specialist service, could draw customers from a wide catchment area.

We spoke to Helen, one of the new owners about their venture, which, like the rebirth of Toads Mouth, shows new levels of ambition for this stretch of Brockley's high street:

What will the shop be like?

Fitted shoes will be our main focus but we'll also be selling accessories from hats to hair clips, as well as a selection of toys and other children's things. Our aim is to create a space where children want to come as well as their parents and to make the whole shoe buying process a little easier for everyone. We'll be selling a full range of shoes from first walkers to school shoes and from a range of brands.

We may not get it right at first but our aim is to help everyone that comes in through the door to get the right pair of shoes if they need them, even if that means helping them to source from elsewhere.

We’ll be offering a loyalty scheme, an additional ‘by appointment’ service and most importantly, we’ll be making sure children enjoy the experience because let’s face it, if they like coming, life is happier for us all.

When do you hope to be ready open?

We're aiming for mid-May opening.

Why this location?

My business partner Alex and I both live in Brockley and have, like Brockley Central, seen the influx of young families into the area. We are one of those families ourselves. We’ve always thought there was a need for a children’s shop and when 169 Brockley Road came up, we knew it was almost too good to be true. It’s the perfect spot and is a building that was in dire need of a little TLC.

Is this your first business? 

This is our first venture together and will hopefully draw well on our backgrounds in advertising and design.  Most importantly, we’re parents ourselves and understand the nightmare that is the shoe shopping expedition. Our aim is to take the pain out of the process and we have a few tricks up our sleeves.

What changes are you making to the shop's layout? 

We love this shop. It is an amazing space with the most incredible windows. We’re on the ground floor and are really just giving it a new lease of life rather than changing much at all. The main area was divided into two spaces before which we have opened back up. Happily there is plenty of room for our stock and a giant wooden tepee, which we hope will keep the kids amused! There are some nostalgic touches for the parents too.

What types and brands of shoes will you stock?

We’re stocking first walking shoes to school shoes and everything in-between. Brands include Start-rite, Ricosta, Geox, Victoria Plimsoll, Crocs, Petasil, Bobux, Bo-bell, Biomechanics, Agatha, Garvalin and hopefully the list will keep growing.

Are there any other shops you consider an inspiration?

There are lots of amazing shops that get the shoe bit right in terms of range and professional fit. This should be a given of any independent shoe shop. But, in our experience as customers and in our research for our own shop, not many people do some of the other bits that well.

We have been hugely inspired by all of Brockley's entrepreneurs who have had the spirit and gumption to make things happen. It was Toby and the birth of Brockley Market that gave us the final nudge to take the leap.

What will your opening hours be?

Initially we’ll be open 10am until 5pm every day except Wednesdays and Sundays. We are open on those days for appointments though so if people call ahead then we are happy to open just for them. We hope this is useful particularly for those with large families who want the shop all to themselves. We’ll also be holding story time and sing-a-long sessions which we’ll publish times for once we are up and running.

Cash for gold

We've now had a chance to try the electronics shop Cash Tech, in Brockley Cross, and are happy to confirm that it's a very handy source of Nintendo parts. We've bought a DS charger and a Wii nun-chuck there in recent days, the former new, the latter second hand. Both were very good value and work very well. We've not tried selling anything to them, but as a shop, it's recommended.

The return of the Wickham Arms Quiz Night

Tuesday, 17th April, 8pm
The Wickham Arms, Upper Brockley Road

Broc Soc's Rob is bidding to restore what was once a wonderful Brockley institution: The Wickham Arms Quiz Night. He explains:

It's been a while since there has been a Pub Quiz night at the Wickham. I had a chat with Alan, the new landlord, who is keen to get things organised again in this respect.

We offered to run a quiz night as a one-off to get the ball rolling. If it's a success, it might give him the incentive to make it a regular night again.

The quiz will be of the usual fare - with a gentle tint of questions loosely based on Brockley. It is free to enter, and there will be prizes! And of course, sandwiches will be provided, as tradition dictates.

I can also report, having drank at the Wickham recently, that the cellar is now in a pretty good state, and that the pub smells like a pub should smell, without interference from the drains. So come back to the Wickham on Tuesday night, and judge for yourself.

Nandi Nandi, Honor Oak

3 Honor Oak Park
Mon-Sat, 9-5pm, excluding public holidays

Nandi Nandi is a new party and cake shop in Honor Oak, selling accessories (including helium balloons, although buying them is worse than foie gras) and baking cakes and cupcakes on site to order or to take away. The shop doubles as a cafe with free wifi and a baby changing station.

Crossrail levy for Lewisham developments

From April 1st, developers in Lewisham have to pay £35 per square metre of new build in a levy for TfL to raise money for Crossrail. Exemptions include domestic extensions and social housing projects. As a zone two borough, Lewisham is in the mid-price bracket for developers, with zone one developments having to cough up £50 per square metre.

Thanks to Monkeyboy for the heads up.

Olympic public art in Lewisham

Lewisham Council writes:

The Lewisham Council-backed public art project for London 2012 has taken a step closer to completion this week with the destinations of the podia revealed.

The idea for the project was to take the winner’s podium out of the stadium and into an urban setting. With this in mind, five creative organisations, commissioned by Lewisham Council, chose artists to create temporary projects using a sporting champions’ podium and the theme of ‘everyone’s a winner’.

Work started at the beginning of the year and the locations, which to now have been a secret, have finally been revealed. The five locations are Goldsmiths, Deptford High Street with an exhibit by the Deptford Project, Horniman’s Gardens, Forest Hill with Beep Studio, the 1st Bowl on Belmont Hill by Deptford X and the roof of A.P.T in Creekside, Deptford (photo).

The artists whose work will be displayed are: Cash Aspeek and Chris Marshall for APT (Redstart Arts Project),  Peter Ayres and Ingrid Hu for Beep Studio Bound for Glory for the Deptford Project, Deb Astell and Trevor Horsewood for Deptford X, Hannah Catherine Jones for Goldsmiths, University of London.

The project successfully gained a London 2012 Inspire mark, the badge of the London 2012 Inspire programme which recognises exceptional and innovative projects inspired by the 2012 Games. The installations by A.P.T., the Deptford Project and Deptford X have been completed and will be in situ by the end of this week. Goldsmiths is due to be revealed at the end of April and Horniman’s at the end of June. Work in progress can be tracked at with more information about the project and the artists involved.

Microbrewery plan for Harcourt Road

A planning application has been submitted to convert a shed on Harcourt Road in to a community-run micro brewery, which would produce up to 40 barrels of beer per week.
This sounds fantastic, albeit it will take us further down the road to Portlandia. It will be a working brewer, not a bar, although we'd imagine local pubs and bars would not be able to shift the stuff quickly enough, if they start serving it. 

Thanks to Sally for bringing it to our attention.

Brockley, not East Dulwich

The Evening Standard's Homes and Property section today quotes Brockley KFH's Simon Smith, as this week's 'Property Insider'. He says:

“In the past six months there has been a baby-boom in Brockley with plenty of couples starting families and having second babies, so the demand for houses is the highest I have seen it. People are following friends that have already moved to the area and there are prams and buggies everywhere. Brockley could potentially be the next East Dulwich.”

As the regular rows about babies in local cafes attest, there is a baby-boom going on in the area, as we've been pointing out for at least two years, but the insofar as the "new East Dulwich" line means anything at all, we think it's misguided. Brockley and East Dulwich are fundamentally different for the following reasons:

1. East Dulwich is next to Dulwich. Brockley is next to New Cross and Deptford.

2. East Dulwich has relatively rubbish public transport connections. Brockley is well blessed.

3. East Dulwich has a long, reasonably cohesive high street, with lots of room for all kinds of shops and businesses. Brockley Road is fragmented, with relatively few units until you get to Crofton Park. Even this stretch is comparatively compact.

The combination of the extensive high street and poor links means that East Dulwich is more likely to attract people who want to potter with pushchairs, Brockley more likely to attract the unencumbered.

4. Most importantly, the housing stock is very different. East Dulwich is full of small terraced houses, perfect for  (high priced) starter homes for young families. Brockley has some of those houses, mostly on the west side and in Crofton Park, but has lots more large houses which have become sub-divided. There's loads of stuff to buy in East Dulwich, relatively little in Brockley. Many young families looking for a starter home in Brockley give up and look elsewhere.

As a result, of these differences, we expect Brockley's population to remain more diverse and less child-laden and its high street less of a destination.

The Lost Hour, Greenwich

The Lost Hour
217-219 Greenwich High Road

We were recently invited by Fabhat to the pre-launch of a hyperlocal app for Greenwich and since we don't get invited to many things of any sort, decided to go along. The app's not ready yet, but we'll write about it when it is, as it will be an interesting experiment.

While we were there, we got chatting to the manager of what used to be The Auctioneer pub (on the approach to Greenwich from the station) and what is now (since April 5th) 'The Lost Hour'.

Owned by Stonegate, the pubco that operates Yates's, The Slug and Lettuce and The Scream, as The Auctioneer, it was aimed squarely at the student and tourist market but it has now been reinvented to cater more to Greenwich locals (whilst not turning its back on its traditional clientele).

We've not had a chance to visit since it reopened, but if the move indicates a small shift in Greenwich away from being a tourist trap and towards a more balanced local offer, that can only be a good thing. There are pockets of Greenwich (like the pubs on Royal Hill and the Plume of Feathers on Park Vista) which don't feel  like they're designed to capture punters disembarking from the pier, but they have been a dying breed over the last decade.

Wickham Estate Community Garden Day

The Brockley Cross Action Group write:

On Sunday, April 15th, 2-6pm, please come and join the BXAG and Wickham Estate residents to get the gardens ready for summer.

The two planting beds between Peartree House and Conifer House were replanted by BXAG volunteers and residents from the Estate over one weekend in November 2007. The works were funded by a £1400 grant from Lewisham Council and £700 from Pinnacle PSG. BXAG will provide all gardening tools, gloves and some refreshments. Please wear warm clothing and stout footwear.

Lots of new people came to our recent Brockley Common gardening day via BC, so it would be great to see more new faces this time.

Celebrity chef to cook lunch at The Phoenix

Lewisham College's Flynn writes:

Brian Turner CBE, one of Britain’s most renowned chefs, is visiting Lewisham College to cook with Hospitality and Catering students for lunch for the public at The Phoenix restaurant on 25 April.

Brian, one of Britain’s most successful and well-known chefs, won a Michelin star with Richard Shepherd at The Capital Hotel and has been a successful restaurateur for many years. But he is also well-known for his dedication to training new chefs, especially his Schools Future Chef Competition, and Brian has won an Honorary Apprenticeship Award for his contribution to the development of Apprenticeships.

Brian will be meeting with Hospitality and Catering students from Lewisham College before and after the lunch to give advice and offer his unparalleled knowledge as a successful chef to students looking to pursue gastronomy as a career.

"I'm pleased Brian Turner CBE is coming to Lewisham College. Brian is one of Britain's very finest chefs and our young chefs are excited to meet and learn from him. I am looking forward to Brian working with our students to create a wonderful dining experience at The Phoenix restaurant," said Hospitality and Catering Head Michael Neal.

You can book at The Phoenix restaurant by calling 020 8694 3294 or 3071. You can also e-mail the restaurant at

Brockley Jack's Cultural Olympiad - free tickets for 16-25s

The Brockley Jack Theatre's Darren Batten writes:

The Brockley Jack Studio are pleased to announce that they are offering a limited amount of free tickets to young people aged 16-25 who live/work or study in the borough of Lewisham.

The initiative is part of their new writing festival Write Now 3, made possible with the help of Lewisham Council (part of the Council's Cultural Olympiad offer) and young people are invited to see three new plays over the next three weeks.

The plays are:

Emoticon by Melissa Bubnic (April 10-14 at 7.45pm, April 14 also at 4pm) The story of how four very unique teenagers communicate in their search for love.

Skinhead by Jessica Brown (April 17-21 at 7.45pm, April 21 also at 4pm) A moving family drama with a shocking twist.

Borderland by Carol Vine (April 24-28 at 7.45pm, April 28 also at 4pm) A compelling drama of a future society in chaos. (please note this play is only suitable for over 18's)

All we ask is that after each performance you tell us briefly what you thought about the play, you can choose to do this via Twitter or Facebook Tickets are subject to availability, and will operate on a first come first served basis.

Please email Darren: with your name, age and which play(s) you would like to see on which date. Tickets will be confirmed by email and collected on the night at the theatre. If you are under 18 you will need to be accompanied by someone over 18. More info on the plays can be found at

The 2012 London Mayoral Election

Leela: This may be their only chance to skate in their whole lives. Who are we to say they can't use this ice rink? 
Chaz: The mayor's aide, and his badge! Beat it kids! Come back when you got connections. 
Vogel: Alright kids. Back to the Orphanarium. You can slide around the gym in your socks.
- Futurama

Ken Livingstone was a good and bold Mayor during his time in office. After effectively delivering the Congestion Charge to help London cope with the demands of a growing city, he demonstrated vision and focus which saw London landmarks like Trafalgar Square and Exhibition Road transformed and East London make steady progress from backwater to the focal point of the Olympics.

His ideas were so good that the current Mayor is still enjoying the fruits of his labours, from the success of the London Overground network to the development of major clusters at key transport hubs like London Bridge, Kings Cross and Victoria (as envisaged in Livingstone’s London Plan) and, of course, the Boris Bikes.

This legacy aside, Boris has delivered virtually nothing during his time in office, doing exactly as he promised during his effective, but vacuous campaign of 2008.

Boris ballsed up the Olympic Stadium legacy, dawdled over the Emissions Charge, scrapped a range of river crossings and killed off projects like the pedestrianisation of Parliament Square, which has instead remained a dogs-breakfast at the heart of a World Heritage Site, fenced off from the public for much of the last four years.

He wasted enormous amounts of effort fighting an imagined conspiracy against ‘the motorist’ (as if they were a separate constituency from the people who walk, cycle and navigate the city via public transport), promising to re-phase lights and remove crossings, whose sole purpose, he suggested, were to inconvenience drivers. Four years on, it turns out virtually every crossing has a very good reason to be there and there is enormous community resistance to their removal. We’ve yet to meet a taxi driver who tells us that driving around the capital has become easier.

The cycle superhighways – a rare example of an eye-catching pledge from his 2008 campaign – were value engineered to the point of irrelevance and the abolition of the bendy bus happened a lot quicker than the arrival of its replacement.

The new Routemaster is an idea we’d love to be successful, so we’re prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt that the public will take it to their hearts when it finally arrives, but the capacity problems that were foreseen as a result of scrapping bendies are now being felt and have not been properly mitigated.

The 1,000 ‘extra bobbies on the beat’ turn out to be the 1,000 extra bobbies on the beat that were agreed before he came to power. With the exception of a cable car across the Thames at Greenwich, the pipeline of big civic projects has dried up: Thameslink had nothing to do with Boris and his role in securing Crossrail was probably minimal.

Meanwhile the savings he promised London taxpayers have only been delivered if you accept his counterfactual, which argues that had Ken remained in power, his tax take would have continued to rise (this is probably a reasonable assertion). We’d rather have paid a little more and had a better place to live.

So if this was a re-run of the 2008 election, we’d back Ken like a shot. But despite the fact that the same names are in the hat again, it’s a very different election. Ken appears to have learned all the wrong lessons from the last four years, returning with an election strategy that is part Boris 2008, part George Galloway.

In 2008, Boris ran a campaign that was in tone and content, a national campaign by-proxy. He focused on sleaze and promised to cut Labour’s profligacy – two themes that would dominate at the General Election. It was depressing to see Londoners reward such a policy vacuum.

Instead of using his time in the wilderness to reflect on whether his poisonous identity politics was turning voters off, Ken has doubled down on the rhetoric, exposed himself to charges of rank hypocrisy over tax avoidance and delivered a set of pledges that are beyond the scope of the Mayor’s power to deliver and have very little to say about London’s particular challenges and opportunities. The Ken of 2000 used to court big business (he believed that if he could persuade enough BRIC companies to list in London, the future of the capital as an international centre for commerce would be secure). Now, his campaign site has nothing to say about business (and the jobs that come with it) at all.

The promise to reinstate EMA for London pupils is reliant on a huge array of different bodies all agreeing to fund Ken’s plan. His ‘fully funded’ plan to cut fares by drawing on a wad of cash that TfL is supposedly just sitting on because Boris is ‘out of touch’ (hard to believe that any Mayor could be so out of touch as to ignore an enormous pot of free money just before an election) is dismantled thoroughly by Channel 4’s Fact Check. Fares could be cut, but that would mean less money available for investment in transport infrastructure (or for contingencies like the Hammersmith flyover threatening to fall down). There is no free money.

Like Boris in 2008, Ken has delivered a plan designed to exploit public dissatisfaction with national government. It was a lamentable strategy four years ago, it is risible now, made worse by the contrast with the Ken of 2000. Livingstone is like Howard Kendall returning to Everton for a third time, or worse, Keegan giving it another go at Newcastle.

Read through his transport manifesto and there is a smattering of nice ideas, including a smart parking system and proper investment in the cycle super highways to improve safety. But the big stuff doesn’t come until the final page. There is a vague commitment to invest in a range of well-known projects (including the South London Line link to Victoria, but nothing about a Bakerloo Line extension), but nothing new or convincing.

SE London blogger Adam Bienkov is right, this race has become dominated by personality, but when there is so little policy to discuss, what else is there to talk about?

Boris is promising more of the same, which is to say not much. He has begun to show signs that he realises there’s more to the gig than he first thought, but it’s still small beer. He’s woken up to the need for new river crossings in East London (albeit he’s come up with a worse plan than the one he scrapped), his support for local high street communities (like Deptford) is welcome and he’s shown a bit of imagination with ideas like submerging Park Lane traffic to create a new approach to Hyde Park.

London deserves better than either candidate (there are others of course, but no-one with a hope of winning). The Mayoral election should not be about national politics, it should speak directly to our daily lives. But Boris is the incumbent. What’s Labour’s excuse?

If you've heard any exciting policies from a candidate, we'd love to hear about them.

Crofton Park Library not sure if best of times or worst of times

To coincide with the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens' birth, Lewisham Libraries have organised a special quiz about the man, his work and the time he lived in. Designed for children aged 7 to 14, there are prizes for winning entrants. Crofton Park library is among those taking part. The library has been closed for the Easter weekend, but reopens tomorrow.

Ladywell Easter Chicks

The Ladywell Village Improvement Group reports that two more chicken shops are due to open in Ladywell shortly, bringing the total number of Ladywell takeaways serving fried chicken to seven:

"The Village Chicken Hut will replace the old off licence at 222 Algernon Rd and is expected to open in about two weeks time. Soon after – or even at the same time – a finger lickin’ fried chicken outlet is expected to open in the Chinese takeway which is currently being refurbished."

LVIG is concerned about the "proliferation" of takeaways in Ladywell, although it's a net gain of only one. The bigger issue is the lack of variety in the area - is Ladywell big enough to support so many of the same takeaway offerings?

Paellaria @ The New Cross Inn - April 8th

More evidence of the area's burgeoning food scene - Ally writes:

We are a locally based (Amersham Road, SE14) catering company who specialise in paella and other Spanish food at summer music festivals (such as Bestival, Secret Garden Party, Beautiful Days to name a few). We have been asked by Simon at the New Cross Inn to host a one off Easter lunch this Sunday

The team includes Mike, who was owner/manager of Cigala in Bloomsbury for ten years; Giles, who was the bar and cellar manager for 8 of those; I ran the office and Ellie was a bartender at Moro. We started the Paellaria 4 years ago and are now regulars on the festival circuit.

This Sunday we will be taking over the New Cross Inn and transforming it into the Paellaria! We are firing up our big pans and serving some really delicious tapas. We will be mixing classic Spanish sangria and our famous Bloody Marias, our very own Spanish take on a Bloody Mary made with fresh gazpacho!

We are keeping our prices ‘festival friendly’ for this event, so a serving of paella will be around £5-6, and tapas from £1.50. Food served 12-5pm.

The Parliament of Trees

BXAG have provided some more detail - perhaps more detail than you dreamed possible - about the tree planting that has taken place along Brockley Road over the last couple of weeks:

Last year the Council widened the pavements outside the shops as part of a road safety project funded by TfL, but had no funds for any pavement enhancements. So BXAG teamed up with Transition Town Brockley, who submitted a successful bid to the Brockley Assembly for £4600 to cover the cost of new tree pits & trees along Brockley Road.

Following a series of meetings with Council officers we agreed a scheme to plant six trees, three on each of the pavement extensions. We would have liked to plant trees elsewhere on Brockley Road but there are underground services in most locations making the excavation of the tree pits impossible. In a change from the usual single tree in a pit approach three trees are planted in a rectangular tree pits at 2 metre spacings. This will make a much greater impact and will create more of an “urban forest” effect.

The bigger pits, with over 800mm depth of new topsoil, will provide more room for root growth and rainfall catchment so should give the trees a better chance of survival. These pits can also be colonised by the community at a later date, for example by planting spring flowering bulbs. The tree species we have chosen is a lovely native tree Whitebeam (Sorbus aria), which has greyish green foliage, white flowers in early summer and red berries (much loved by birds) in autumn. They have an attractive shape and won’t grow too big, so there should be no worries about shade. They will be planted as large standard specimens up to 4 metres tall and will be protected against damage with ornamental tree guards.

We hope the Whitebeam tree will in time become Brockley’s main signature tree, planted around Brockley Cross and along Coulgate Street. This will help strengthen Brockley Cross’s identity. The council have assured us the trees will be watered regularly as part of a contract. Watering may be something the community could also get involved in, to ensure our trees survive the inevitable droughts that will come our way.

The Hilly Fields Summer Fayre 2012

The Hilly Fields Midsummer Fayre will take place on 23 June 2012, 12noon-3pm.

The application form for stalls at the fayre are now on Brockley Society's website

London Bridge to Charing X and Cannon Street links scrapped during Thameslink works

We're grateful to Michael on South East Central, who points out that Network Rail are planning to prevent trains to and from Charing Cross, Waterloo East and Cannon Street from stopping at London Bridge during the final years of the Thameslink construction programme.

The Network Rail timetable from here on in looks like this:

  • Summer 2012 - New station concourse (part of The Shard development) and new bus station complete.
  • Summer 2013 - Complete redevelopment of London Bridge station begins 
  • Spring 2014 - First new platform opens 
  • 2015/6 Charing Cross services will not stop at London Bridge 
  • 2016/7 Cannon Street services will not stop at London Bridge
  • Summer 2018 - Station complete, full Thameslink services running
When the work is completed, the services will come back on line, but we're still looking at as much as three years of disruption, when London Bridge effectively becomes a terminus, forcing everyone travelling to the West End in to a tube station that is already a severe pinch point to complete their journey or persuading even more people to use the East London Line, which is already nearing maximum capacity.

The mitigation measures have not yet been agreed, but one priority should be to increase the capacity of the ELL as soon as possible - something that's already been identified as a "must do" as a result of the still-growing demand along the route.

The Catford Tapes

The Moonbow events team, who organised Up the Line in Brockley and Ladywell Cemetery. On the Catford Forum, they say they are "taking over the now empty Blockbuster Video Store in Catford to explore the politics surrounding the videocassette."

"Using art installations, soundscapes, spoken word, discussions, talks, screenings, dance, games and more, the intervention questions the impact video has made on all our lives, how it affected our behaviour and the huge environmental cost of our short lived innovations.

"We will be holding a 'Video Amnesty' allowing Lewisham residents to bring in old video cassettes[1] and players to be returned to the shelves for one last time before heading off to be completely recycled and re-emerge as something new.

There's a Teaser night April 10th from 6pm then we're open at the following times: April 12-15th, 12noon - 11pm; April 17th, 12noon - 11pm; April 19-22nd, 12noon - 11pm."

The event features a range of Brockley talent, including pianist Julian Jacobson and filmmaker Hugh Stoddart.

The Old Milk Float

In the third in our unplanned series of articles about the eccentric machines parked on our pavements, we can now reveal the purpose of the milk float that has been exciting BC readers on Upper Brockley Road. And before anyone pipes up to suggest that this is some sort of device for delivering milk to people's homes, it isn't. That would be too easy.

John Burtt explains:

I'm an events organiser, who's hoping to return milk floats to the streets of London via a series of events and festivals. So far, my company The Old Milk Float has put on a Diamond Heist ( in Islington, created a food fight in an art gallery, and last week we threw a 'kid's rave' in Ruskin Park for 'Trees For Cities'.

This year, the float will be at everything from Lovebox to the Olympics, so keep an eye out for the float on your travels around the area.