BrocSoc calls community meeting to discuss Ashby Mews developments

Brockley Society Public Meeting - Ashby Mews – Gates and Resurfacing
Thursday 19 July 7.30pm
Myatt Garden School, Rokeby Road, SE4 1DF

Feelings have been running high about developments in Ashby Mews. BrocSoc has called a public meeting to discuss the issue. They say:

Locked gates recently installed at the Ashby Road end of Ashby Mews, SE4, followed by
resurfacing a stretch of the mews in tarmac have caused a significant number of residents
to contact Brockley Society to complain. We are holding a meeting to gauge local opinion,
explain the legal and planning ramifications and consider the next steps.

Everyone is welcome, whether you oppose or support the changes, simply walk through
the mews, or are just interested in the Brockley Conservation Area. Those responsible for
the gates and tarmac and those whose properties are affected are also welcome.

Brockley Society’s position is as follows:

1. Resurfacing the Mews in tarmac

Brockley’s mews are an integral part of the character of the Conservation Area. We view
black tarmac as inappropriate and believe it damages the character of the mews and may
also cause flooding or water seepage as no drainage is provided. Lewisham Planning
department is currently looking at enforcement. Planning and ownership in the mews is
very complex but we believe several solutions are worth exploring, including for this
section to remain resurfaced with a more sympathetic and sustainable topping material.

2. The Gates

The gates are inappropriate for the location: they are far too tall for gates on a public road
and contravene other guidelines in the Brockley Conservation Area. We believe they
should be reduced in height or removed entirely and replaced by a better “gallows” gate,
like those which exist in all Brockley’s other mews. The one currently in Ashby Mews,
behind the new gates, could have been modified.

3. The Right of Way

Ashby Mews is a private road. However, it is also a public right of way – and has been for
at least 120 years. This means the public have an established legal right to use the mews
as a footpath. Locked gates block the right of way. We believe that unimpeded pedestrian
and emergency vehicle access must be restored to the mews as soon as possible.

Brockley’s vibrant and open community has developed over many decades through the
work of Brockley Society, Brockley Open Studios, Brockley Cross Action Group and many
other community activities, campaigns and projects. Closing off a right of way and creating
a gated community is totally at odds with this.

The Mantle Road Summer Street Party, July 8

The waterintobeer party organisers say:

Brockley's West Side will be hosting a summer party this Sunday, with beer/homebrew shop waterintobeer and newly revamped restaurant Norbert joining forces for the first time.

The Mantle Road bash will include a barbecue, live music… and of course, beer! Owners Tim and Helen (wib) and Luca (Norbert) look forwarding to welcoming everyone to enjoy the sun with their neighbours from 12-7pm.

45 Lewisham parks in 12 seconds

Brockley street trees battling drought conditions

The ongoing hot, dry weather is killing Brockley's young street trees. Volunteers are needed to keep them alive. If you want to be responsible for watering a local tree, please email local group Street Trees for Living here.

To find out more about what's involved, click here.

The FlixBus fightback begins


The FlixBus fightback has begun. Years after the van hire companies using our pavements as a storage facility were driven away, Brockley residents are kicking off about the FlixBus coaches that are regularly and illegally parked on our streets, blocking pedestrian ramps and poking round junctions.

German coach company FlixBus keeps its operating costs low by loading some of those costs on to our streets.

The problem also highlights the hollowness of the argument that CPZs will deal with dodgy parking in the area. There are already enough laws to punish bad parking, they are simply not enforced.

FlixBus' social media team have promised to look into the problem of rogue parking, but Lewisham Council, which has promised action on clean air, needs to do the same.

Ladywell Baths: The Movie


The Lewisham Buildings Preservation Trust write:

Ladywell Baths comes back to life in this short film by local filmmaker, David Stock, in collaboration with Lewisham Buildings Preservation Trust.

Historic, grade II listed building, Ladywell Baths, and the recollections of people who have passed through its doors over the past century, will be commemorated in a new, short film, “Memories of Ladywell Baths”, to be shown at Curzon Goldsmiths on 8th July 2018.

Local film-maker, David Stock, in collaboration with charity, Lewisham Building Preservation Trust, has produced a short film which uncovers and documents the stories of people who have lived, worked and played in this iconic building, now known as Ladywell Playtower.

Built in 1884, Ladywell Baths became one of the first public swimming pools in the country. It attracted thousands of local people, including athlete Eric Liddell, whose gold medal win in the 400m at the 1924 Olympic Games inspired the film Chariots of Fire. In 2004 Ladywell Playtower was closed, and following a serious fire in 2006, the Victorian building fell into disrepair.

In 2017, after many years of campaigning by local residents and Lewisham Building Preservation Trust to bring the derelict building back into use, Lewisham Council put proposals for its restoration out to tender. In November 2017, the Council made the decision to award the redevelopment of the building to Curzon Cinema in conjunction with developers Guildmore.

From dance parties to boxing rings, midnight swims and floods, not to mention a few ghostly tales. Hear stories of this iconic building from those who were there.

The film will be followed by a Q&A with the director, David Stock, and some of the film participants.

Sun 8 Jul 2018, 2:00PM

Tickets £5.00 + booking fee of 8.5%

https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/event/FIEIJG

Curzon Goldsmiths
Richard Hoggart Building,
Lewisham Way
London
SE14 6NW

Lewisham-led schools: Primary good, Secondary bad

Lewisham Council-run primaries have squeaked into the top 20 best-performing schools in England at Key Stage Two, in a new research produced by the Education Policy Institute.

The independent research group found that Lewisham's schools were among the country's best once factors including prior attainment of pupils and levels of disadvantage were taken into account. The top 20 is dominated by London schools. Lewisham is ranked 20th.

That's the good news, but Lewisham's biggest challenge is of course its secondary school provision, and at that level, the performance is poor, with our Council-run schools ranked 177th out of 218 providers. The Harris Federation, which runs a number of local schools was ranked second in the country at Key Stage Two and fifth at Key Stage Four.

For the full report click here. Thanks to Ian Duffy for the tip off.

Brockley Streets

Let's Push Things Forward: The Streets exists to fight this kind of abuse
Brockley Streets is a new community campaign group dedicated to improving local roads for pedestrians and cyclists.

By encouraging better road design and re-routing traffic, The Streets want to stop cars prangin' out or squeezing down roads that don't fit but they know it. They say:

We want to create positive change for the benefit of all residents and visitors to Brockley by
increasing road safety for everybody inside and around the Brockley Conservation Area.

We want to give priority to cyclists, pedestrians and public transport, reduce pollution from traffic going through the area and prevent the use of our streets as rat-runs by non-local traffic.

We are not about the CPZ and we do not represent any particular view for or against (people have asked us this question in the past).

There is a London-wide initiative by TFL and the Mayor of London called 'Healthy Streets' designed to help communities improve local traffic issues and we would like to help shape these developments in Brockley.

To find out more, visit their website and to get actively involved, email them here.

Coulgate Pop

Browns of Brockley has a spiffy new Peter Max-style pop-art makeover, painted over tts black canvas.

BrocSoc slams Ashby Mews changes

The tarmac-covered north end
Following the installation of a gate across the north end of Ashby Mews, some residents have now decided to tarmac the surface, changing its historic character to something which more closely resembles a business park.
The southern end of Ashby Mews is untouched
The gates, which we were initially promised would be left open for pedestrians, are now permanently locked to anyone but residents. As a result of this action, the Brockley Society, which exists to protect the heritage of the Brockley Conservation Area, has issued the following statement:

Brockley Society is aware of the installation of gates at the northern end of Ashby Mews and has advised initiating mews residents (frontagers) that:

  • a retrospective planning application is needed
  • otherwise LB Lewisham will start enforcement action as the gate is too high
  • even though the Mews is privately owned, all mews frontagers along the whole length should have been consulted and a management strategy should have been agreed to ensure free access is maintained for pedestrians as well as delivery and emergency vehicles

Despite this advice being given to the organising mews residents it seems to have fallen on deaf ears as they have now had the mews access lane resurfaced early this week with black tarmacadam at the northern end.

As this destroys the rural character that is such a unique characteristic of the Conservation Area (CA), the Society has escalated its concern via Ward Councillors so as to extend the request to LB Lewisham:

  • for enforcement to be investigated or
  • to require that planning consent be obtained to stop this 'suburbanisation' threat

On this Brockley Society considers that:

  • the resurfacing work fundamentally affects the status of this part of the CA such that it could be withdrawn
  • other more suitable traditional solutions should have been considered via the Society to avoid this possibility
  • as the work is defined as 'a hard surface' within the curtilage frontage of each property bordering the affected area then the Article 4 Direction protecting the CA should fully apply and the planning applications already granted/in consideration for bordering properties should be reappraised in view of this ill-considered change
In contrast to original reassurances, the pedestrian gate is now locked

Lewishanimals

Lewisham is London's second-most pet-friendly borough.

An analysis of home-rental data on Zoopla by Fasthomes.org found that Lewisham had a higher proportion of pet-friendly ads than any borough except Kensington & Chelsea.

As rental rates increase across London, pet-friendliness becomes a more important issue.

With thanks to BCer Chris Wheal, who is friendly to pets.

The Brockley Street Art Festival 2018

Artist Orbit works on a cosmic piece in Honor Oak
The Brockley Street Art Festival is taking place in parallel to the Brockley Max, creating new works of art across the Greater Brockley area. Now in its fourth year, the Festival is spreading its wings. Organiser Ian explains:

We’re moving the 2018 centrepiece works north of the station this year and and our theme is community spaces.

Aspire is doing a huge work at Luxmore Gardens near Lewisham Way. At nearby Friendly Gardens, Enos is doing an extended mural working with the designs of students at Prendergast Vale.

Lionel Stanhope is refreshing his iconic SE4 work near the station and two artists, Orbit and Owain will be repainting the Honor Oak ‘love them, tell them’ corner fence.

We may also have a new piece by Artmongers, though that may be created next year - it’s big.

Festiball, July 15

Crofton Park Ryan writes:

"I’m hosting a family fun day and a dads football tournament down at St Dunstan’s in Catford called Festiball. It’s an urban fete with stalls of kids clothes, toys, books and local crafts.

"Then there’ll be a bakeoff competition judged by a local VIP. We’ll have big family picnic while the dads play football with a BBQ and a local craft beer tent.

"We’re putting on entertainment for the kids, face painters, magicians, balloon blowers and a penalty shoot-out competition.

"The Football Tournament is World Cup competition, with up to 20 teams involved, all getting a national team from the real World Cup to play for.

The reason we’re doing this is to raise money and awareness for mens cancer. We’re supporting Prostate UK and a smaller local charity called Ballboys that educates younger boys about the perils of Tesicular cancer.

We want teams to sign up for the football tournament and families to come to the event to enjoy. It’s on the 15th July and we’d love it if you could help us out in any way possible.

www.festiball.net

Crofton Park Trains All Messed Up. Bibbidi bobbidi boo.

"Well, serves you right, spoiling people’s best dreams."
- Cinderella

Until now, the Cinderella Line group, which campaigns for a better Crofton Park service, has operated in a parallel universe, where people just ask for things and public transport organisations deliver them promptly and efficiently.

Now, thanks to massive disruption on the Thameslink line, they have rejoined the rest of us in the real world. They write regarding the ongoing problems passengers are experiencing:

The message we have been feeding back to Thameslink, based on our experience is that this is simply unacceptable and cannot continue.

As always, it's the pressure from all our supporters that allow us to keep holding Thameslink to task so please continue to stand with us so we can do this. Our MP Vicky Foxcroft has already been in touch with Thameslink.

Why do services keep getting cancelled?

The national timetable planning process across the entire national rail network has been significantly delayed. Railway timetables are normally published 12 weeks in advance, however, rewriting the timetable from scratch across such a huge network is a massive undertaking and was not completed until a few weeks ago.

In addition to running passenger services, the timetable changes define the scope of engineering work to the track. This, in turn, affects the deployment of trains and train crew and the access they have to train maintenance depots. Less time than usual has been available to re-plan the driver allocations as well as the train stabling and maintenance requirements.

On top of all of this, there simply arent enough drivers trained to drive all of the new routes. Train drivers can’t simply turn up and drive any train – they need to understand and be cleared for, the routes that they drive.

We anticipate that it will get better as time goes on, however right now, Thameslink have been unwilling or unable to confirm how long this disruption might last so check before travelling and have a plan B.

Why are some of our services back to 4 carriages after being told they would always be 8 carriages?

Due to the implementation of the new timetables, SouthEastern have been drafted in by Thameslink to run some of our services on a temporary basis.

SouthEastern use older trains that can be split in two, and as they have a shortage of trains on their own network it means that some of our services may run short.

Why aren't there any more fast services from Catford? Our journey times have now increased for some services?

On the Cinderella Line, there is limited capacity for our Thameslink passenger services to run. The only way for us to have more services overall is for all our trains to stop at all stations, so they move in unison – exactly like they do on the tube.

Since Thameslink either can't or won't be clear about how long we might have to endure the current issues, thinking up alternative routes and checking before you travel are about the only things we can do.

For the full horror, click here.

Hilly Fields CPZ proposed

Lewisham's neverendum on CPZ's continues. This time, the Council has proposed a zone that covers the back streets of Ladywell and a patch of the Brockley Conservation Area that runs from Hilly Fields to Lewisham Way down Tressillian Road.

Mike writes:

"Lewisham Council are consulting yet again for a Ladywell CPZ extension, calling it the 'Ladywell Study Area'. It seems extensive too. We are one road outside one of the 2 areas and knew nothing of it until we saw a sign on a lamp post today."

Another BCer Jane adds:

"I'd be interested to hear what other people think. I think it’s crazy. Once we have that one it will spread across the whole area."

The arguments for and against CPZs are well rehearsed. They promise to make it easier for locals to park, but cost money and faff for local residents. They risk harming local small businesses, but also could reduce local traffic as fewer chancers from outside the area look for inner London parking spots.

Brockley Central proposes five tests for parking zone membership:

1. Does it solve a significant problem?

No one has the divine right to park outside their house. Even people with young kids or heavy bags (I have had both in my life). Most of the time, most people can park within a stone's throw of their front door. For those with disabilities, disabled bays are an option. Do we really need to inconvenience an entire area just because a few people have to walk a few yards sometimes? Are the Brockley roads covered by this scheme really that bad?

2. Could it have negative consequences for those outside the zone?

Time and again, CPZ's create problems on their borders for people just outside the zone. The Council's attitude seems to be that this is an appropriate punishment for those who have the impudence to vote against one in their area and the solution offered is more CPZ, and so the inexorable expansion continues. If we're going to have these things, why not go the whole hog and make the whole of SE4 a CPZ? That is the unspoken question in the consultation.

3. Would it be properly enforced?

The galling thing is that we already have plenty of parking restrictions that are ignored by rogue traders and the anti-social because the Council doesn't enforce existing rules. We have a French coach company regularly parking across public rights of way, with impunity. Without proper enforcement, this is just a tax on the law abiding.

4. Is the cost and hassle worth it?

Taking all this into account, does the cost-benefit analysis work for residents? It's not just the money, it's also one more bit of admin to deal with, compounded when friends come to visit.

5. Are there bigger priorities?

EV charge points and car club bays are in short supply. What is being done to encourage greener forms of car-use? Do we need more short-stay bays to support local businesses? Will residential bays diminish the opportunity to address these challenges.

Click here for the online consultation.

Wild swimming comes to Lewisham

Our new Lewisham Mayor has pulled a rabbit out of the hat in first weeks in post.

Beckenham Place Park will receive £440,000 of funding from the Mayor of London to create a wild swimming pool, as part of a major development project, which will be overseen by Brockley Councillor Sophie McGeevor. Lewisham Council explains:

The award is part of the mayor of London’s push to make London the world’s first National Park City. Beckenham Place Park was one of six winning projects to get a share of the £2m funding pot from the mayor’s Greener City Fund.

We will use the funding to:
  • plant thousands of new trees
  • support the restoration of the park’s Georgian lake, which will create a new wildlife habitat and be used for open water swimming
It's great to see such an ambitious and imaginative project in the borough. More please.

Budgie, regard!

Labour chooses Daby to fight Lewisham East election

Lewisham East has dodged a Momentum bullet. Janet Daby - the sensible, moderate, serious candidate on the Labour shortlist for the upcoming by-election - has been selected as their prospective MP.

Daby likes talking about housing, health and education rather than lurking in chatrooms muttering about Zionists. Her analysis of political problems extends beyond personal anecdote and posture. She cares about Lewisham more than she does about re-writing Venezuelan history. Needless to say, she was a local choice rather than a national plant.

Given Labour is a shoo-in in this election, this is an important outcome and a signal that Labour's Lewisham grassroots are resilient.

Full list of candidates coming up.

New timetable and more trains for Crofton Park

New trains come into service soon
A completely new timetable will apply to Crofton Park trains from Sunday, May 20th.

And since there is nothing harder and more confusing than trying to write about train timetables for a service you don't use, the Cinderella Line campaign for better rail services through Crofton Park has summarised it instead. They say:

Thanks to everyone, from 21st May we will be enjoying our well-deserved 4 trains an hour on the Cinderella Line, doubling current capacity and giving us vital new services across London.

Here are the key changes:

Our core service

4 trains an hour all day every day Monday – Saturday. Sunday will initially have 2 trains an hour increasing to 4 once Network Rail have completed some engineering works that will allow Thameslink to run the full service on Sundays too.

You can read more about the engineering works here.

Two of our services will terminate at Blackfriars and two will go beyond to Kentish Town, linking us up to Farringdon for Crossrail and Kings Cross St Pancras.

Weekday mornings into London

On weekday mornings we will have 4 trains an hour and Crofton Park and Bellingham will also have some direct services to London Victoria:

The 4 Thameslink services will be spaced at 10 and 20 minute gaps. This is to pave the way for eventually increasing our service to 6 trains an hour and we're going to be pushing for this to happen.

Just imagine: a train every 10 minutes!

But there is a catch if you want to go to Victoria

From Crofton Park there are currently three direct services to London Victoria on weekday mornings departing at 7:36, 8:23 and 8:43. In the new timetable from May, these times have been amended to depart at 7:46, 8:15 and 9:21, so our third service will be more than 30 minutes after it currently is.

We have raised this with Southeastern Railway and the reason for this is that under the new timetable with all of our core services through Blackfriars, it is not currently possible to have a train that stops at Crofton Park at around 8:45 to Victoria as this could cause a knock-on delay to other services.

And the new services won't be fully operational straight away

From 11th June the initial phasing will be complete and our services will run as planned. During the phasing in period, some of our services will either start from Blackfriars or Terminate there, but after 11th June they will run the full length of the route.

For the full rundown of changes, click here.

Waiting in the wings for the show to begin

Labour, as expected, has chosen an all-female, all-BAME shortlist for the Lewisham East by-election. They are: Janet Daby, Brenda Dacres, Sakina Sheikh and Claudia Webbe.

Daby and Dacres have years of local service with the Council under their belts. The Labour leadership and Lewisham Momentum prefer Webbe and Sheikh.

Islington Councillor, friend of Jez and NEC member Claudia Webbe has attracted criticism for her previous defence of Ken Livingstone's antisemitism and her appearances on Iranian and Russian state TV. On the other hand, she is related to Simon Webbe, singer of No Worries, one of the most perfect pop songs of all time.

Worth noting that there are nominally other contenders from other parties involved in this election. More on them soon.

Brockley Max 2018 - June 1-9

Not long now until the Brockey Max festival. The full programme is now available to download. Organiser Moira writes:

Brockley Max 2018 features an amazing mix of art, music, comedy, film and photography events alongside the hugely popular Opening Night, Brockleywood Nights and Art In The Park.

We also have our very own radio station. Brockley Max FM will be broadcasting live from The Fox & Firkin during festival week. And once again we’re delighted that the Brockley Street Art Festival is happening alongside us.

Highlights this year include:

- Eyeball Pleasers - an eccentric collection of work at the Lewisham ArtHouse
- Jerk n Jam - Jerk cooking and good music at Jam Circus
- Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes - performed by local theatre group Join the Dots
- Whisky & Wax Featuring Beatnik - hip hop and electronica at Brickfields
- Kumo and Sweet Machine - like Jean Michelle Jarre playing a theramin inside The Honor Oak pub

The traditional opening night party is on June 1, on Foxberry Road.

"Bookies' favourite" won't run for Lewisham East seat

Phyll Opuku-Gyimah, the candidate widely touted to win the Labour nomination for the Lewisham East by-election, has issued a statement on Twitter saying that she will not stand. She will thus become the only person in London not running in this race.

The UK Black Pride organiser had been flirting heavily with the idea on Twitter and in interviews, and was tipped as the one that Corbynistas would anoint, but she has pulled out at the last minute, citing personal reasons. The list of candidates currently in the running can be found here.

- Lewisham Momentum is hosting a meeting with candidates tonight at the Rivoli tonight, but has no-platformed Joe Dromey on account of his genitalia.

- Labour's National Executive Committee is reported to have delayed the selection meeting until next Saturday, in response to complaints from local party members that the process was being railroaded by the national leadership.

Patchwork Royal Wedding

Windsor’s local homeless charity, SHOC, has partnered with Brockley-based Patchworkit to create an alternative wedding gift list for people who want to mark the Royal Wedding by supporting those in need.

You can donate a toaster, towels or a range of other gifts by clicking here.

Lewisham East - Labour's runners and riders in a very short race

Who are the many and who are the few? That question is set to be put to the test in the forthcoming Lewisham East byelection, which has been triggered by Heidi Alexander's resignation. The Guardian reports:

"Labour party members in... Lewisham East are protesting furiously that the byelection caused by the resignation of the MP Heidi Alexander is likely to be held in just five weeks’ time.

"They accuse the party’s national executive of rushing through the process to prevent the local party having a voice, with the candidate to be shortlisted and selected in just six days.

"The Lewisham East CLP chair, Ian McKenzie, emailed members calling on them to protest against the speed of the process.

"The national executive committee (NEC) always selects byelection candidates, but Lewisham East is a plum seat with a solid 21,000 majority.

"Several people have already let it be known they are interested, but there are indications that Labour HQ would like to see an all-female shortlist and is likely to favour at least a majority of BAME candidates in a constituency where nearly half the voters are minority ethnic."

So are the many the local party members who represent the grassroots of the party, or does the Labour leadership, with a huge national mandate represent the interests of the many against a few local refuseniks who can't get with the glorious programme? Reducing complicated issues down to trite oppositional catchphrases is harder than it looks.

Anyway, let's have a look at the candidates who somebody somewhere will choose from to install in power in a borough where 70% of the residents voted Remain:

Kevin Bonavia - Blackheath Councillor and Spurs fan? Uh oh. Running on a strongly pro-immigration platform following his work with refugees in Lewisham. Pledges to work to mitigate the worst effects of Brexit, which is to say he supports the Labour Party's pro-Brexit stance.

Brenda Dacres - the New Cross Councillor is a familiar face in local politics. Her candidacy declaration included a personal connection to every wicked Tory injustice meted out since 2010. Follows the Corbynista line on Brexit, which is to say she is pro.

Joe Dromey - A job with the Moral Maze's favourite think-tank the IPPR, a solid track record as a Councillor and a tendency to say sensible things in a moderate tone on Twitter give him impeccable centrist dad credentials. Good luck with that... 'Passionately pro-European' (hint hint), but nominally supports Labour's pro-Brexit stance.

Sakina Sheikh - Inspired by Corbyn to join the party two years ago and only elected as a Lewisham Councillor a few days ago.  Together with our new Lewisham Mayor and Telegraph Hill Councillor Paul Bell, she recently shared a platform with a local Islamist imam Shakeel Begg, who in 2016 was found by a high court judge to “clearly promote and encourage violence in support of Islam and espouse a series of extremist Islamic positions.” Her statement does not mention the EU at all and she has ducked repeated questions put to her about Brexit on Twitter. Reportedly the Corbynista candidate of choice.

Claudia Webbe - Former Chair of the Met Police's anti-gang crime initiative Operation Trident, her statement is admirably detailed and definitively socialist. Says she is proud to call Corbyn a personal friend. Pro-Brexit.

So there you have it. Five candidates so-far, all toeing the pro-Brexit party line. A reminder of two things: Firstly, if you want to be the next MP for Lewisham East you'd better tailor your manifesto for the ears of the national leadership rather than the local electorate. And secondly, the Labour Party is a pro-Brexit party.

The Huffington Post reports that Labour is contemplating selecting candidates based on an all-women, all-BAME shortlist, which would have the fortuitous consequence of weeding out the centrist candidates.

Phyll Opuku-Gyimah, the co-founder of UK Black Pride, is also expected formally to enter the race shortly.

UPDATE

Whitefoot Councillor and Lewisham Deputy Mayor Janet Daby has declared her candidacy.

The former social worker's platform is the most locally-relevant, including references to the Bakerloo Line and problems with gang violence. A good and considered local politician. She makes no reference to Brexit or related issues at all.

UPDATE

Another one to add to the list. Rachel Onikosi is a former Lewisham Councillor who ducks any reference to Brexit in her declaration. Instead, her florid note majors on things like mental health, mean tweets and 'the stigma' of maternity leave.

From this plethora of options, will any pro-Remain candidate emerge?

UPDATE

Down goes Lady Phyll, who's dropped out amid media reports of anti-semitic social media posts.

UPDATE

Tom Willetts has entered the race. He is a governor of Trinity Lewisham school and a Catford resident. His declaration majors on issues affecting young black people in the borough. Describes himself as a socialist who wants radical change. Opposes 'hard Brexit', which is to say will support the party line in favour of Brexit.

Climb St Peter's on June 2nd

On Saturday, June 2nd, you will have a rare chance to climb St Peter's Church tower. The Wickham Road temple is hosting an open day as part of the Brockley Max Festival. They write:

Have you ever wondered what’s behind the big red doors of St Peter’s? Come join our Open Day to explore this beautiful church and learn more about its place in local history.

St Peter’s Open Day is on Saturday 2nd June from 12-5pm as part of the Brockley Max Festival.

We welcome everyone to come and enjoy its stained glass windows and mosaics and take a tour, including climbing to the top of the clock tower for spectacular views of Brockley and the city.

Guided tours of church will be taking place at 12:15, 13:30, 14:45 and 16:00. Each tour is limited to fifteen people. If you’d like to book your place on a tour, you can register your interest here.

Fortress Ashby Mews

The gates go in
Recently, a metal gate appeared without warning across the northern entrance to Ashby Mews.

This entrance to the mews has been cursed by constant fly-tipping over the years and the gates are a defense measure installed by residents.

I bow to no-one in my hatred for rubbish and fly-tipping and I can imagine how infuriating it must be to live with it year-after-year. Just walking past it regularly made me angry. I have also been on the receiving end of residents' exasperation - despite living nearby, I was once challenged while on a walk to state my business by one neighbour who suspected me of being a fly-tipper (though where about my person he thought I was stashing my load was unclear).

But Brockley's mews are a community asset and this was done without public consultation, nor reference to the Brockley Society, who are guardians of the conservation area. Some residents with rear-garden access to the mews say they were unaware of the plans. Rumours abound about when and how often pedestrian access will be available.

Restricting pedestrian access is a draconian measure to combat rubbish usually dumped by the van-load. It runs contrary to the communitarian spirit of Brockley or the stated intentions of the developers who have built homes in the mews. The gates are divisive in more ways than one: From the moment they were thrown up, I received emails from concerned locals who wished not to be named for fear of being dragged into a spat.

The Council and the police should have acted long ago to deal seriously with fly-tipping at this spot. There should have been a plan of action that dealt with the problem and stopped residents feeling the need to take matters into their own hands. But the plan should have been developed with the community. It’s a shame to have shut them out.

Heidi Alexander quits MP role to be London Deputy Mayor

Heidi Alexander is standing down as a Lewisham MP in order to replace Val Shawcross as Mayor Khan's Deputy Mayor, responsible for transport across the capital.

I have lost enough Twitter followers by dwelling on the internal Labour party politics that contributed to this decision and there will be plenty of time to revisit that topic as the race to replace her begins in earnest, so let us focus on the positives.

Heidi Alexander is a capable politician who cares about our borough. Her appointment ought to ensure that the Bakerloo line extension to New Cross and Lewisham goes ahead without any hiccups. She might also encourage TfL to give greater consideration to cyclists in Lewisham, extending the bike hire docks to our borough.

Anyone in City Hall with an affinity for South East London's challenges and potential is good news.

The Dengest Lunch

One needn't be a clean-eating obsessive to worry about local fast-food outlets targeting our kids so flagrantly.

One minute to midnight

Who watches the Watchmen?
The results of the Lewisham Council elections are in. The only non-Labour candidate, Brockley's Green Councillor Coughlin, is gone.

Voters of Lewisham: What is the point of this?

Bye Bullock, Enter Egan

The people of Lewisham have chosen Damien Egan as their new Mayor.

Our first ever directly elected Mayor, Steve Bullock, stood down after 16 years of sterling service to make way for a new candidate. Voters duly installed the next Labour candidate. The full results are as follows:

Councillor Damien Egan - Labour Party - 39951 votes (54%)
Ross Kenneth Archer - The Conservative Party - 9790 votes (13%)
Councillor John Leo Coughlin - Green Party - 7649 votes (10%)
Chris Maines - Liberal Democrats - 6065 (8%)
Duwayne Brooks - Independent - 5480 (7%)
John Nicholas Hamilton - People Before Profit - 4193 (6%)
Will Donnelly - Democrats and Veterans - 445 (1%)

The election produced a surprisingly high turnout (37%), given that the result was a certainty, with the Council chamber a sea of red.

The enduring appeal of People Before Profit is interesting, given that many of their supporters were thought to have been hoovered up by Corbyn-era Labour. Perhaps it shows the power of leafleting at local train stations. And the LibDems still cannot catch a break, despite having once been the main source of local opposition.

Brockley's Green Councillor Leo Coughlin gained a creditable third place finish.

Congratulations to Egan. And good luck.

Murder at the Movies, May 16

Harriet writes:

Calling all armchair detectives – an immersive murder mystery cinema event is coming to New Cross in May! Learn from literature’s master of mystery at this film screening with a twist where the audience will have their own murder mystery to solve.

On 16th May, the Amersham Arms in New Cross will be transformed into a 1930s cinema. The audience will step back in time to the closing night of the ‘Amersham Picture House’ which is soon to be bulldozed to make way for luxury flats. The owner of the cinema has invited a host of colourful characters for one last ‘hurrah!’ before the cinema shuts its doors for good, but there’s more to this party than meets the eye…

The audience will watch the Christie Classic, Murder on the Orient Express (1974), play games and solve puzzles to uncover the clues to a murder mystery that unfolds as the night goes on. 1930’s outfits are highly encouraged and there will be a prop-box on the night to help you get into character!

Organiser Harriet from Child.org said “This will be a great chance for people who saw the recent Murder on the Orient Express film to experience the original in a wholly different setting. I hope the audience will really step into the story – I can’t wait to see everyone’s fancy dress!”

Popcorn and drinks from the bar will also be available. This is an over-18s only event and tickets are only available in advance online at: http://bit.ly/murderatthemovies

There’s a limited number of early bird tickets, so get them before they’re gone! All proceeds from the event will go to Child.org

Model Market 2018 - Returns Friday

O happy day: Summer is here, Model Market has returned.

The Lewisham food and booze experience re-opens tomorrow night, and this year's line-up includes What the Fattoush (vegan), Pocho (sliders and tacos) and Mama's Jerk (barbecue).

Opens 5pm Friday and runs every weekend throughout the summer. Go.

Reports: Heidi Alexander City Hall move could trigger Lewisham by-election

Lewisham East MP Heidi Alexander is reported to be considering a move to City Hall, which would trigger a local by-election. Guido Fawkes summarises:

"Last night the Guardian reported that Labour MP Heidi Alexander is “seriously considering” quitting the Commons for a job at City Hall. This morning the Corbynista site Skwawkbox (health warnings apply) say she is to step down. Labour’s press office say they aren’t commenting and that Guido should speak to Heidi. Calls to her mobile, Westminster and constituency office phones are going unanswered. By-election?"

The Guardian's original report noted:

Since quitting the shadow cabinet in protest at Corbyn’s leadership in July 2016, Alexander has come under pressure from pro-Corbyn campaign group Momentum, including some local activists who are also members of the far left Alliance for Workers’ Liberty. 

 The influx of new members has sometimes represented a direct challenge, with local members vocally objecting to her decision to quit the shadow cabinet. 

Momentum’s position is stronger in the neighbouring constituency of Lewisham Deptford; however, the campaign group last week launched a Lewisham East left caucus, to “help comrades build a strong left in the remaining stronghold of the Labour right in Lewisham”.

Strong and stable: A cartoon review of the year with Martin Rowson

On April 30th at the Fox & Firkin pub, the Brockley Max arts festival (taking place June 1-9) will be throwing a fundraiser with support from Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson. Organiser Moira writes:

Martin Rowson, longstanding Ladywell resident & multiple award-winning cartoonist for The Guardian, will be looking back over the last turbulent twelve months in politics and much else in another fully illustrated, ranty & sweary fundraiser for the Brockley Max festival.

In a year where it feels the world has turned upside down, Martin will give his take on the continuing saga of Brexit and the incompetence of our political parties through his cartoons. Be prepared to be shocked, enlightened and thoroughly entertained!

Join us for this rare opportunity for an informal and intimate discussion, followed by a Q&A, with one of the UK’s most distinct political commentators.

There will be opportunity to purchase copies Martin’s new books, including his graphic novel adaption of The Communist Manifesto, and his collection of “silent” [wordless] comics, “The Pen Is Mightier Than The Word”.

Tickets are £10 + booking fee from here:  All ticket sales to go towards funding this year’s festival. Over 18 years only.

Click here for more

Lewisham still seeking home for £6m housing budget

The local elections are coming soon and despite Labour's looming clean-sweep of Lewisham, candidates are dutifully going through the motions, with housing top of the agenda. Mayoral favourite, Damien Egan, made social housing central to his bid to win the party nomination.

So the first order of business for the new administration to consider ought to be the borough's £6m cash pile from developers, which is meant to be spent on providing affordable housing, but which has not yet been committed. The Huffington Post reports:

Councils across the UK are hoarding hundreds of millions of pounds set aside for affordable homes, HuffPost UK can reveal.

Data obtained by this website shows more than £375 million is sitting in councils’ bank accounts instead of being used to tackle the housing crisis. Two-thirds of that cash - £235 million - is being held by just 14 councils.

One housing campaigning group labeled the findings as “staggering”, while the National Housing Federation called it “deeply concerning”.

The money comes from a piece of planning law called Section 106 Agreements, which allows councils to get money from developers in exchange for granting planning permission for projects.

The cash has to be used for specific tasks, such as affordable housing, highways repairs and even public art.

Reacting to the discovery, Housing Secretary Sajid Javid MP said: “Section 106 payments help deliver the vital infrastructure required for councils to build the homes that this country needs.

“We expect councils to use funding from developers in line with the priorities agreed in their local plans.”

HuffPost UK asked every council in England and Wales to reveal how much they had received in Section 106 monies since 2013/14, how much they had spent and how much was unallocated.

Lewisham is among the top 14 councils hoarding money for affordable housing, with £16.3 million unspent, of which £6 million is uncommitted.

For the full article, click here. Thank you to Jenny for the spot.

Ladywell Fields river clean-up this weekend

Rob writes:

As it’s going to be a wonderful weekend you might want to publicise the Ladywell Fields river clean-up on Sunday, 22 April.

I have been to probably 20 of these over the years and I can honestly say they are great fun - an opportunity to do some useful volunteer work whilst enjoying a different view of the world wading along the River Ravensbourne and enjoying Ladywell Fields in all its Springtime beauty.

Lewisham house prices defy London downturn

For more than a decade, Lewisham house prices have been rising faster than the London average as inner city living has become more fashionable and improved transport links have attracted people priced-out elsewhere. The result is that, from a low base, Lewisham has moved up the league table of London boroughs in terms of average prices.

So one might of assumed that Lewisham would be among the fastest-fallers as London prices have started to fall in the last year. But new data from the ONS shows that in 2017, Lewisham house prices continued to rise at one of the fastest rates in the capital as the most expensive boroughs dipped.

The ONS found that between February 2017 and February 2018 the price of the average Lewisham home rose 2.7% to £414,516.

Speculative hotspots like Westminster (-2.4%), Hammersmith & Fulham (-5%) and Tower Hamlets (-7.9%) have taken a hammering, while more affordable outer boroughs such as Barking & Dagenham (4.4%) and Redbridge (8.9%) have shot up. Lewisham remains in the top ten fastest risers.

Thanks to Monkeyboy for sharing the data.

Brockley Open Studios, June 30th - July 2nd

Printmaker Maria Munroe is one of this year's participating artists
The organisers of the Brockley Open Studios festival have announced the 2018 line-up of participating artists - 36 in total. They say:

A great variety of artists has signed up and you can expect to see artworks including paintings, prints wood work, textiles, ceramics, fire etching and many more.

This year, we are also offering workshops and activities provided by Caravan Arts and Aurora Options for you and your family to get involved.

For the full roster, click here.

Lewisham Place: Like Lewisham Shopping Centre, only slightly more lime green

The future of Lewisham Shopping Centre has been the subject of feverish speculation over the years: Would it be completely rebuilt? Submerged below ground? Turned into a gastrodome? Appended with a cinema?

The answer is none of these things. Instead, they're adding some green signs. Fromthemurkydepths reports:

Lewisham Shopping Centre owners Landsec have just gained approval from Lewisham Council for a series of upgrades.

The focus is mainly on improving the six entrances to the site, which itself appears to be renamed as “Lewisham Place”. The centre first opened in 1977 and has undergone internal refurbishment in recent years.

The planning application states: 

"The design for the six entrances is in line with the principles intended for the rest of the Shopping Centre which include the use if timber, natural stone and stainless steel as materials and shades of green and grey for the colour palette and graphics with the intention to brighten up and refresh the space."

The entrance closest to Lewisham station and new builds at Lewisham Gateway is to be upgraded. A new green wall is apparent above the canopy.

For the full, uninspiring story, click here. Thanks to Miles for the heads-up.

Knock-back for block plot on Lewisham High Street

BCer Ed writes:

A few weeks ago I was shocked and appalled to find my favourite go-to spot for giant pots of honey, enormous tubs of humus and unlimited plates of baklava was no more. The Turkish Supermarket on Lewisham High Street simply closed overnight.

This site has actually been targeted for major redevelopment, with the latest proposal recently knocked-back by Lewisham Council.

A couple of years ago planning permission was originally granted for a 4/5 storey block of 22 flats and 195 sq m of street-level commercial space at 223-225 Lewisham High Street – that’s where the hole in the street is now. But planning permission for a much bigger development, stretching from 223-229 Lewisham High Street has now been knocked back.

A planning application was submitted in July last year for 691 sq m of commercial space and 51 flats over 5-8 floors – but it was refused at the end of October 2017. These pictures show what they were hoping to build.
In her refusal letter, Emma Talbot, head of planning, gave three reasons why Lewisham Council had refused planning permission:

1. The size of the development would fail to provide a high quality design.

2. The proposed flats would provide “A poor standard of accommodation that would fail to provide long term sustainable housing”.

3. The development as a whole was over-development, with an unsatisfactory “compromised internal layout”.

In short – loads of poky flats.

Since that decision was made the site at 223-225 Lewisham High Street has been cleared, although no building work is taking place there yet. The TFC supermarket at 226-229 Lewisham High Street is still standing, for now.

I have not been able to find another re-submitted planning application for the whole site, so - big leap - I presume it is going through the usual scaling-down hoops before being resubmitted. (I am an amateur when it comes to planning applications - perhaps someone else can tell us more?)

It is worth noting that barely 30m away, on the other side of the street, there is a development of 40-odd flats with a now-empty ground floor. It used to be a Tesco, but it’s been sitting empty for at least a year, if not more.

A block further south is the highly regarded and award-winning Place Ladywell – a well thought-out scheme of social-housing flats, as anyone who lives there, or has walked around them on Open House Weekend, will know. The cafe is nice too and has become something of a community hub – as was the planning intention.

It is clear that getting the planning mix right is crucial for Lewisham, especially in the town centre. What’s more, the success of Place Ladywell proves that planning actually works. When done well it can and does revitalise areas that need it.

Well done to Lewisham Planning for knocking this development back – lets hope, and lobby for, something better and more appropriate for this corner of Lewisham High Street.

Comedy Into Brockley

Comedy Into Brockley is a new local comedy night produced by home brewing kings Water Into Beer and hosted by Kiwi comic Jez Brown.

The performances kick-off on April 21st and each is recorded as a podcast.

Homes proposed between Algernon and Embleton Roads

The proposed new homes and walkway
BCer Joe is unhappy with Lewisham Homes' plans for new homes across the back gardens between Algernon and Embleton roads in Ladywell. He writes:

"The plans build over the social housing garden contrary to the local plan [there is a strip of garden between the garages which will now be built on], they also provide less social housing than would be provided by building larger houses along the roads.

"The plans will block out the view of the sky in the back gardens they are building across and create a narrow alleyway between the roads in an area Regenter (who manage the existing flats) say is already bad for antisocial behaviour.

"The connection is no benefit to the community given that Ellerdale street already joins the roads a few meters away. Currently, the plans are set to be decided by officials rather than the planning committee despite having such an impact on neighbouring flats and houses.

You can view the application here.

Buro, Brockley Cross

Buro is a new co-working desk and studio space has opened in SE4.

The workspace is managed by the owners of the property, who themselves are self-employed South London professionals. Phil Fisk is an award-winning photographer who studied at Goldsmiths and never left the area, and his partner Sarah Greene an Events Director who made the move south of the river 15 years ago. They say:

“Our businesses needed a flexible office space for desks, a studio & meeting room with excellent local amenities and first-rate transport links: Dragonfly Place in Brockley fitted the bill perfectly. We are overwhelmed by the enthusiastic reception our new business has received locally”.

"Buro’s interior has been completely refitted and designed bespoke as a desk-sharing space for the contemporary working environment. Re-cycled materials have been used as much as possible: made to measure desks have been re-purposed from school chemistry lab desks, upcycled lamps come from Bambino in Crystal Palace. Buro caters to individuals, as well as small groups and the facilities will develop with the requirements of the users due to the adaptability of the working space."

Buro desks cost £250 inclusive of VAT, per month (£208.33 + VAT) which includes all utilities and Fibre Optic BT Infinity. Buro users benefit from discounts from other businesses operating in Dragonfly Place and Brockley.

For more details, click here.

Classic motorbikes in Greenwich, May 3

St Johns resident Will is organising this motorbike event. He says:

"I am running this event at Greenwich Market with my company, Urban Rider. My business is a specialist retailer of the world's finest motorcycle gear and we have partnered with Italian helmet manufacturer AGV in taking over Greenwich Market for an evening to celebrate motorcycle racing icons of the 1960s and 70s.

"It should be quite a spectacle and we would love local residents to attend, it is a unique opportunity to see some original race bikes and modern custom motorcycles. Even the Norton from the latest James Bond film, machine guns and all!"

The New Cross + Deptford Free Film Festival 2018

The New Cross + Deptford Free Film Festival (NXDfff) returns for its seventh year this spring with 33 free film events, 3 bike powered screenings, 9 new venues, Q&A sessions, DJs and docs. Something for every member of the community.

Launch night is at Peckham's Brick Brewery with Get Out, a late license bar, street food and music.

This year the festival features three outdoor bike powered screenings, including Sing at Pepys Park, Nacho Libre at Telegraph Hill Upper Park and Pirates of the Carribean at Folkestone Gardens.

NXDFF also has a pre-release screening of locally shot film, SINK, followed by a Q&A with writer/director Mark Gillis. Shot in New Cross, Deptford and Brockley, the film has attracted Mark Rylance as an Associate Producer.

The festival closes at Buster Mantis with a music themed documentary called Beats of the Antanov. The film depicts the Sudanese conflict in the Blue Nile and Nuba Mountain regions, focusing in particular on the role of music in helping the affected communities to sustain themselves culturally and spiritually. Buster Mantis will host our last event and local DJ collective Bombotropics will provide global beats and melodies.

NXDfff is completely run by volunteers made up of local residents, students and community groups. NXDfff has a DIY ethos that encourages creative freedom: this year more than 30 people are curating film events with help and guidance from a core festival team.

For full details click here.

The Murder List


Brockley resident and NHS psychologist Chris Merritt has just published a crime novel called The Murder List, set partly in SE4. He explains:

"The main detective lives on Tressillian Road and there are a couple of scenes in Hilly Fields too. Other elements of the story are set around Crofton Park, Honor Oak and Deptford.

"It’s also been optioned for TV so we could be seeing some filming nearby in the future... Here is the book."

Parts and Labour Cycles

Rad Bikes has renamed itself Parts and Labour Cycles due to a trademark dispute.

You can now find the Lewisham Way bike maintenance shop online here.

The Crystal Palace Festival 2018, June 11-17

The Crystal Palace Festival returns in 2018 with headliners Stereo MCs and Polarbear.

One of the biggest free cultural events in south London, the arts and culture festival will take place across the Crystal Palace area from 11–17 June 2018 with the Crystal Palace park event taking place on 16 June 2018.

There were nearly 30,000 visitors to the 2017 event and organisers are expecting even bigger crowds on 16 June 2018 thanks to a line-up of music, spoken word, theatre, visual arts, family and community activities.

The week long festival includes mainly free events organised by local traders, pubs, community groups, schools and churches across 11–17 June 2018.

The festival’s outreach and participatory arts work has been made possible by funding from Arts Council England, Croydon Council and Bromley Council. Projects include an intergenerational dance piece that will culminate in a promenade performance in the park, and concerts by the London Mozart Players in local care homes, the park children’s farm and Crystal Palace railway station.

Full programme here.

Lewisham wins The World Cup of London Boroughs

"'With a mere ninety break-horse-power available, progress is too leisurely to be called fast, but on the motorway in fifth gear the Megane’s slow pace really becomes a pain. Uphill runs become power-sappingly mundane, while overtaking National Express coaches can become a long, drawn-out affair.' Not my words, Carol. The words of Top Gear magazine."
- I'm Alan Partridge

The wisdom of the crowd has been harnessed. The cow has been weighed. Lewisham has been deemed the best of all possible London neighbourhoods.

Tonight, Lewisham won the World Cup of London Boroughs in a grueling encounter with the overdogs of Lambeth. Lewisham won 56% of the nearly-12,000 votes cast.


This was the Twitter poll equivalent of England winning the World Cup by knocking out France (our neighbours Southwark in the first round), Argentina (the pampas of Camden), Germany (hipsters' favourite Hackney) Brazil (beloved by the chattering classes of Islington) and Italy (like Lambeth, littered with international icons) in the Final. An extraordinary achievement.
Of course, this was never really about which borough boasts the best nightlife, parks or attractions. But it was about which part of London could muster the most passion and enthusiasm from its residents. Lewisham owes its victory to the fact that its people simply wanted it more. And that's the best reason of all to win.

The greatest place to live in London is the place where the greatest number of people give a damn about their home.

Please be magnanimous in victory. They are hurting in Lambeth this evening.

Deptford Bites - New Saturday Market Launches April 7

Deptford Market Yard's food market has been a long-time coming but the team has finally announced a new regular Saturday event. They gush:

Deptford Market Yard is excited to announce a new weekly Saturday market ‘Deptford Bites’. Curated by London food event and market organisers Eat Me Drink Me, the weekly market will bring together the best produce and street food traders London has to offer, as well as a selection of craft stalls with a focus on South East London makers & designers.

The market will showcase street food sensations such as the flavour-punching Northern Thai food by KraPow LDN to the sophisticated Oyster Boys who will be serving freshly shucked oysters and made to order Bloody Mary’s from their retro food cart, guaranteed to get you back on your feet after one too many on a Friday night. After spending much of her childhood in Deptford, Zoe Adjonyoh from Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen will also return with her out of this world Ghanaian creations. And finally, for your sweet fix, the market will welcome plant based, dairy free, Black Mylk Ice cream. Its ice cream is handcrafted using a blend of homemade cashew nut milk and coconut milk, with colours and flavours selected from seasonal ingredients – from Honeycomb and Pine nut and Miso Caramel & Pecan to Ceylon Cinnamon & Walnut, you will be spoiled for choice.

‘Deptford Bites’ will feature a mixture of permanent Saturday traders and a rotation of guest vendors. It will be a place to browse and buy artisanal fresh ingredients with everything from bread and cheese to olives and farm produce. And there’ll be a craft and design area where you can pick up unusual gifts, with a focus on makers and designers in the South East London area. The launch day market includes popups from perfumier Maya Njie, prints from Catford Creative and Deptford’s very own Stray East with their gorgeous homewares.

To mark the launch and celebrate the thriving local community, Grace Dent will be curating a series of talks covering subjects such as the changing face of Deptford and the rise of Veganism. Starring household names such as Jay Brave, Zoe Adjonyoh and Grace Dent herself as well as local London voices from the Deptford area including resident Adrian Luckie from Mama’s Jerk and Deptford Esquire’s Saima Arshad.

There will be live music every week and of course an opportunity to re-visit the excellent permanent Deptford Market Yard tenants; it’s the perfect place to grab some food and drink, stock up for the week and browse the craft stores on a sunny Saturday.

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