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.


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.


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.


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?


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


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.