Monday, 29 November 2010

Angry scenes at tonight's council meeting

Tonight Lewisham council were discussing and voting on a sixty million pound cuts package in public services. One eye witness took this rather exciting footage of the crowd (estimates of around 400?) as they tried to get into the meeting.

Second video here. Third video here. Thanks 'Hangbitch'!

One report talks of police dogs and horses (here) and the Lewisham twitter feed is going mental. (here). There were a whole host of Goldsmith's students there as well as campaigners for local libraries, against education cuts and to save the nurseries.

The cuts package was approved 36 for, 3 against and 11 abstentions. That's Labour for, Lib Dems all abstained and Greens and Tories voted against.

Darren Johnson explained why he was going to vote against the budget here and I had some some other thoughts about councillors in a time of cuts here. Pic of protesters on council balcony as councillors look up in awe (good shot of the back of Darren's head there) here. BBC report here and pic of loads of horsies and cop cars here more arty one here.

More here;

Blackheath Bugle. Lewisham Right to Work. Dave Hill in the Guardian. Transpontine. Brockley Central. AVPS. Guardian.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Labour Leadership: How did Lewisham Labour vote?

I just noticed that the Labour Party has rather neatly published a breakdown of the recent leadership vote in which Ed Miliband won. I thought it would be interesting to have a look at how Lewisham Labour Party voted in the election.

If you take all three constituencies the breakdown looks like this;

Which looks like this in numbers (you can click to make them clearer);

The obvious headlines are that Labour Party members in Lewisham pretty heavily voted for a candidate that did not win and that in the West there was a surge to Balls and Abbott, in the East to Burnham...

Any explanations for this? It looks on first examination that the East, with it's heavy vote for David Miliband (and Burnham surge) is certainly the most right wing party of the three.

You can also see how the MPs voted here. Lewisham Deptford's Joan Ruddock cast her vote for Ed Miliband and gave none of the other candidates her second preferences (just as well he won I suppose).

Heidi Alexander, from Lewisham East, voted Andy Burnham [1], which may explain the East's Burnham vote or be a product of it. Her second and third preferences were for David and Ed Miliband.

Jim Dowd of Lewisham West took a leaf out of Joan Ruddock's book and only voted for one candidate. However, like many of Lewisham Labour members he choose the losing Miliband brother, David.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Supporting the tube workers

I have a confession to make. I support the tube strike. In fact I've two confessions to make, the second one even more terrible... the strike didn't even inconvenience me, but I'd still have supported it even if it had.

The Evening Standard today reports of a third near tube collision in the space of three months. This underlines the need to maintain and improve safety on the tube, but management are intent on cutting costs, something that could end up costing lives.

The proposal to slash 800 jobs and close ticket offices means yet more inconvenience and hassle to us God-fearing travellers (and there are no atheists in fox holes or rush hour) which we could all do without - but more importantly it puts people in danger.

It was very disappointing to hear that yesterday Conservative Assembly Member walked out of the Assembly in a cynical move to prevent any discussion on tube safety. It's a real problem that the Tories are more interested in party political games than the safety of the travelling public.

That's why the strike is so important, and why we should all support the demands of the rail unions that their jobs and our safety should come first.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Save Crofton Park Library

I wasn't able to attend Monday's meeting on Crofton Park library so I asked fellow Green Charlotte Dingle, who was there, to send me a quick report on this important issue.

Lewisham council recently revealed that it has identified libraries as a prime target for cuts over the next few years, with plans afoot to shut a number of them for good. On the council’s hit-list are the Blackheath Village, Crofton Park, Grove Park, New Cross and Sydenham libraries.

Crofton Park library has been earmarked as the first candidate for closure because the building is in dire need of refurbishment and, after Blackheath library, it is the library currently costing the council the most money. A consultation meeting on its proposed shutdown took place at St Saviours Church in Brockley on Monday 23rd August, with around 100 people in attendance.

The consultation saw various proposals outlined by council officers, including keeping the library open by allowing volunteers to run it. However, they didn’t really outline any particularly well thought-out alternatives, and spent a lot of time skirting around questions, such as where the volunteers would come from. Perhaps they expect the sacked Crofton Park librarians to come back and work for free? Their suggestion that existing staff would be ‘redistributed’ amongst the remaining libraries in Lewisham was nonsense to anyone with a basic grasp of maths, so despite their best efforts, there was little doubt in everyone’s minds as to the inevitable fate of the library’s current staff.

Amongst those speaking from the floor were a foster mother who said her charges had found their lives transformed by the library; a primary school pupil who begged the council not to take away her primary source of research materials for school projects; a disabled woman in her 90s who told us she would be unable to travel to a library further out; and the library’s head librarian, who claimed to have seen the library consistently well-attended for the past 50 years.

The cuts have to be made somewhere (although perhaps not to the draconian degree that Lewisham council seems to believe), but taking away valuable community resources is surely not the answer. The woman who pointed out that various council officers are raking in around £100,000 a year perhaps made one of the most valid points of the evening...

Friday, 13 August 2010

End of an era: Adhesive Specialities Ltd.

This is actually in Ladywell, rather than Crofton Park, but I felt a touch of sadness none the less seeing what was happening to such a lovely old iconic building. I thought the crows seemed particularly ominous in this setting.

There's something I found quite touching about this image of the stopped clock, the useless door that leads off a ledge and the abrupt finality of closing off the entrance.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Steve Bullock disrespects local campaigners

First posted at The Daily (Maybe)

To think I voted for Sir Steve Bullock second preference at this year's Lewisham Mayoral election. Anyway, he's repaid my act of charity by branding protesters against the cuts "fucking idiots" and demanded that they "get real" - all while he was chairing a cabinet meeting. That's multi-tasking for you.

So much for Labour being the anti-cuts party. In Lewisham we're blessed with the fact that those fighting the cuts find themselves opposed to both the Liberal-Tory national coalition and the Labour council who were announcing closures before we even knew who the national government was.

Last night around one hundred protesters lobbied the council over their plans to, among other things, close five local libraries, shut down nurseries and reduce council staff. For an area where unemployment is on the rise the loss of local services and laying off workers seems completely the wrong way to go.

Hangbitch who attended the protest says that "we all know that these immediate economies are false economies. Bullock’s huge list targets people we (literally) can’t afford to target."

Meanwhile what does Sir Steve have to say about his disrespect for those who want decent public services and had hoped that this Labour council would fight to keep every job? “I think I may have left the mic on while I was making an aside.”

I'm assuming "aside" is a euphemism that we'll all be taking up soon in Lewisham. I'm pretty sure they'll be plenty of "asides" made about Sir Steve's attitude in the coming months as the council prepares the redundancy notices.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Keep watching the skies

Apologies for the light blogging of late, this may be a trend that continues for a while! Anyway, the News Shopper has two bird related articles that made me smile this week and I thought I'd pass them on.

First we have the vital news that Swans and chicks (or is it signets?) have been snapped using a zebra crossing. Glad to see they are being road safety conscious and crossing in the correct place.

Can't be too careful where the young ones are concerned.

That probably sounds snarky but I'm all for a bit of froth in my paper as long as it doesn't take over. Very cute pics.

The second piece is on the front page (although don't forget to check out the hilarious pictures in the associated story). Killer crows? Picking off joggers? With what - a sniper rifle?

Click on the pic for a clearer image which will tell you that this menace has a "grudge against blondes"... now I don't mean to cast doubt on the News Shopper's journalistic credentials but I may retain a little bit of healthy scepticism on this one.

The official advice against this "deranged" bird that could end up killing someone? "Wear a hat".

Glorious comedy gold. Thank you News Shopper.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

When was Lewisham Tory?

Just seen on the BBC news that Labour have taken Lewisham council from the Tories. Blimey, I didn't know I was that out of touch!

While we all know that our electoral system is not wholly democratic but I'm not sure that the handful of councillors the Tories had for the last four years, no matter how effective, could actually be deemed to have been in charge of the council.

Thought I'd take a screen shot for posterity.

Currently at this link;

Labour of course has taken the council from 'No overall control' at the expense of the Lib Dems and Greens.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Results in: thanks to everyone

Well, the results are now in for the elections and the Greens have both happy and sad news.

At last we have achieved that historic first with Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavillion with the first Green MP in British history. More people voted for us across the country than had ever voted Green in a general election before and outside of London we are welcoming new Green councillors in areas we've never had them before.

In London though there has been a massive surge to Labour that has managed to sweep all before its path in the council elections. The Guardian's Dave Hill describes well the scale of Labour's resurgence winning back councils and seats that many had long thought were long lost.

For Lewisham this has meant that Labour has won seats from all the other parties on council including the Greens who have gone from six councillors to just one, Darren Johnson in Brockley. If the elections had been on different days we may well have been looking at an increase in councillors not a near wipe out, and more people still voted Green across the borough than have ever voted Green in Lewisham council elections before, but it wasn't enough.

Here in Crofton Park we fought a strong and honest campaign and I'm really proud to have worked with my fellow candidates Hati Gunes and Roger Sedgley as well as our campaign rock Anne Scott without whom we would have been totally lost.

Although more than a thousand people in Crofton Park voted Green at least once we came a disappointing third place. That's life, but it doesn't mean that the Green Party is just going to disappear.

On Monday we're having our first party meeting after the election and over the next few months we'll be reassessing how we move forward from here to fight for a fairer society, against privatisation, low pay and climate change, to build a stronger movement that gives communities a real voice and direct say regardless of who is and is not in the council chamber.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Mayoral election: second preferences

One of the three elections you'll be able to vote in on Thursday is that for Lewisham Mayor. It's not a brilliant way of organising local government because it leads to too much power in one person's hands, less collaborative decision making and far less accountability. If we ever get the chance the Greens would like to see us dispose of the directly elected Mayoralty and return more power to our directly elected council.

We've got a great candidate for Mayor in Dean Walton, who is currently a Brockley councillor and has built up a good reputation of working with others and, as the Green's national treasurer, his head for figures and prioritising budgets is second to none.

I'm enthusiastic for Dean and hope to see him get a great vote.

The way the system works of course is that you get two votes, first and second preference. This allows you to vote with your principles for first choice and then the 'lesser of two evils' for second. It's quite a neat system which, for London Mayor, allowed the Green Party to promote our excellent candidate Sian Berry without harming Ken Livingstone's campaign to keep Boris Johnson out.

Lewisham Greens are not taking a position on who to vote for second preference at this election, but there's no reason why, in the spirit of mature politics that refuses to demonise the opposition we shouldn't have a personal preference on who to vote for in second place.

Personally I'll be voting Dean Walton [1] and Steve Bullock [2], not because I love Labour or think that there is a huge gap between the policies of the three old parties but because there is a question of weight and seriousness.

Steve Bullock, as Labour's Mayor, has shown time and again that he takes difficult decisions seriously and, whilst I definitely do not agree with all of the decisions he's taken, his priorities are about the effects these decisions have on the people of Lewisham not on the size of his vote.

In contrast the Lib Dems have simply never shown an ability to see politics as anything other than a vehicle for their own propaganda and Chris Maines, who seems to be a very nice person, seems extremely thin politically when placed against his Labour rival.

For me I'm glad of the opportunity that I can vote for a radical Green vision that fights against cuts in services and for decent wages for the lowest paid *and* be able to express a preference on who I'd like to see as Mayor of Lewisham if Dean doesn't quite make it. For me that second choice is Steve Bullock, although as I say there's no 'line' on this from the Greens and some will no doubt be voting for other candidates as their second choice.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Women candidates: national and locally

I was pleased to see that the Green Party is leading the way with the number of women candidates at this election. At this General Election 21% of the candidates from all the parties over all are women.

This is up from 20% in 2005 and 19% in 2001, at this rate they'll be 50% of the candidates in a mere 150 years time.

However, 33% of Green general election candidates are women. This compares well with the others parties who stand at;

30% for Labour
24% for the Tories and
21% for the Liberal Democrats (which surprised me)

This means a substantial increase of Tory or Lib Dem MPs at this election would probably mean a reduction in the number of female MPs. link

Locally we have 54 places for councillors in Lewisham.

The Greens are fielding 26 female candidates
The Lib Dems are fielding 23 female candidates.
Labour are fielding 21 female candidates.
The Tories are fielding a shockingly low 14 female candidates.

Interesting stuff.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Sights of Crofton Park

Yesterday the London launch of the Green Party's Parliamentary campaign took place in Crofton Park in front of our green Party billboard. For the first time we're standing a candidate in every London constituency and are hoping for an extremely strong result right here in Lewisham deptford of course!

Monday, 12 April 2010

Darren Johnson on the web

Just saw this YouTube video this morning of our Parliamentary candidate, Darren Johnson. I thought it was excellent, so I'm passing it along.

There is also an article about him and Lewisham Greens at Red Pepper, which is worth a read.

More general stuff about Darren can be found at Darren for Lewisham Deptford.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Don't lose your vote

I've spoken to a couple of people recently who are not on the electoral register (due to recent moves) and have told me that it's too late for them to register to vote. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact if you're not on the electoral roll you have until April 20th to ensure you can vote in the coming election.

April 20th is also the deadline for registering for a postal vote, so if you're going to be away or very busy on the day of the election you can still vote by contacting the council's elections department and registering for a postal vote. You don't need to give a reason you just need to apply.

To register to vote call 020 8314 6086 or check out the council website for details.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

April fools in Lewisham

I decided to be a responsible blogger this year and not write an April Fools post for Green Crofton Park. However, not everyone is the upstanding pillar of society that I am.

For example, the Green Party's Mayoral candidate Cllr Dean Walton has proposed turning Ladywell Pool into an eco-aquarium. Nice.

Brockley Central also choose today to announce they'd be running a Mayoral candidate. I particularly enjoyed their promise to be 'draconian'. Oh it's like Thatcher all over again!

The South London press has announced councils will be using left over tea bags and biscuits to fill in the capital's pot holes. Could be worse.

Haven't spotted any other Lewisham Fools - but if I missed someone, let me know.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Funny what people vote on

When I was canvassing yesterday I spoke to a lovely old fella on the doorstep. He told me he hadn't decided who he was voting for yet but it was probably between the Greens and Labour.

As you do we fell to chatting about politics and the conversation quickly turned to Ancient Rome. After a lengthy discussion on Sulla he looked at me and said "Do you know what, I think I will vote Green this time."

I'm not sure how representative he is, but after giving it some thought I can exclusively reveal that our next newsletter's lead item will be entitled "Scandal as Labour silent on decline of Roman Empire".

I tell you, we can't lose. Tackling the issues that Crofton residents most care about!

Monday, 22 March 2010

YES to housing NO to highrise

I mentioned the controversial Loam Pit Vale development in a previous post but thought I'd highlight the fact that, according to the NewShopper, a group of protesters have been kicking up a fuss with one woman chaining herself to the gates.

She said: “We call on the council to stop patching up unworkable schemes and enter into fair and open discussions with local residents about what they would like to see.

“We hope that all the other political parties will now pledge to call an end to these ill-fated unsuitable schemes to Croydonise Lewisham. Stop throwing good money after bad.”

Not sure about poor old Croydon getting singled out but certainly agree with her point. I'm very pleased to see local residents taking action to make sure their voices get heard.

As I said before "I've never heard a convincing reason from Labour as to why they voted en bloc for a proposal that seems so ill conceived." It doesn't seem local residents have either.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Some other London Green Party blogs

This site is one of a number of Green Party blogs around London and I thought people might be interested in knowing about a few of the others.

Round Lewisham we have, of course, Green Ladywell and Green Telegraph Hill, as well as our Mayoral candidate's blog Dean Walton. There's quite a few others further afield, I may have missed a few off but these are the ones that have come to hand, do tell me if I've accidentally snubbed someone!
Obviously there a number of members who run their own personal blogs (like me) but I thought I'd leave them off this list for now and keep it to more 'official' blogging, if there is such a thing.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Sights of Crofton Park II

I pass this sign most days.

It's probably my odd sense of humour but I always imagine it's a permanent reminder of a historic football score. "Oh yes, that was the time Peckham beat Catford 2-1 in the Crofton Cup" I say to myself.

Yup, just me then, as always.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Blythe Hill Fields

When a 'field' has its own wikipedia page you know it has made it as a field and is regarded by other fields with a mixture of admiration and jealousy. Blythe Hill Fields also has its own festival and friends group of course and it is undergoing some improvements.

Not only has there been recent hedge planting there is a whole overhaul of the play area going on. This set of works is due to be finished around the end of April and I'm curious to see what it looks like in the end.

As you can see it's difficult to tell right now how it's going to turn out as some of it is still a pile of rocks or muddy patches - however, it certainly looks like when the work is finally done (and we have been waiting a while) it could well look very nice.

First I had to sneak past a sign telling me to go no further, ahem.
Spot the dry stone wall.

A pile of stones full of potential,
potential to become more walls anyway.

Lots of machinery and a ship, untouched by the works.
Let's see what it looks like in April.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Sights of Crofton Park

I was staring up at this bit rather splendid creation the other day and trying to work out exactly what it was saying. A skeletal figure sat atop the globe in cool shades and triumphantly waving the Union Jack. It's difficult not to see it as a comment on the British Empire.

If you're keen on the old days of the Raj you might see it as a bit of black humour, the Empire dead and only it's bones to remind you of its past splendors. If, like me, you're critical of Britain's past role around the world you might chose to see it as a comment on how the Empire brought death and exploitation with it across the globe.

Whatever you think it means I love the fact that someone has gone to the trouble to put a fun into their community.

The skeleton is not alone of course. Other items on the roof include a huge gorilla and a rocket, whilst inside lurks a large shark on one of the walls.

My question to you is where did I take this picture? No prizes available but the kudos of being first, but what greater prize could there be?

Monday, 8 March 2010

Peace and Justice

I had a good time yesterday at the Lewisham Peace and Justice event at the Albany. I didn't get to see much of the music although did catch a bit of the wonderful Strawberry Thieves socialist choir, who were great fun. The discussions, films and debates earlier in the day were engaging, interesting and moving by turns.

It was difficult to watch the slide show from Guy Smallman who is a photo journalist who has been reporting from Afghanistan. I've got great admiration for the man who has refused to be an embedded journalist and wonders around Afghanistan without British troops chatting to villagers, Taliban and all sorts. Many of the stories he had to tell and show us were very strong stuff about civilian casualties (I think they used to call them collateral damage, a clinical term for dead children) and the economic destitution that Afghan people live in now.

The film and discussions on Palestine and also on Love Music, Hate Racism were more optimistic and inspirational. There was lively discussion through out and when I presented my short film (for the eco-bit) I only wished we'd had more time for discussion about climate change, capitalism and what on Earth we're going to do.

One thing that a few people asked me was whether they could get hold of the film so I thought it would be useful to post a link to where you can watch it online, or even download it for free.

What I liked about The Story of Stuff is that instead of looking for one particular bad person to blame it looks at how environmental degradation is built into our economic system, and therefore if we're to change what's happening we can't rely on single solutions to act as a magic bullet but we have to assess what we're producing, how, why and who for.

Well worth a look.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

More pot holes

Due to the cold weather there's been quite a few new pot holes opened up around Lewisham, and existing holes appear to have been made much worse. Blog reader Jonathan has brought to my attention the shocking state of the roads up round the Blythe Hill Lane / Montacute Road junction.

I went down and took a few pictures today as the council has already been made aware of the problem but there does not seem to have been any movement as yet.

Mind you the Envirocall number isn't always the easiest experience (I was waiting for over ten minutes today trying to get through for instance). However, this is one of the best ways of reporting problems which you can do at 020 8314 7171 - this is the same number for pest control, discarded mattresses, abandoned vehicles and pot holes.

You can also go online at to report issues - which also allows you to download photos.

There's certainly been a lot of hole filling going on over the last few weeks, so hopefully we'll see some of this dealt with as soon as possible and we'll see if following up on residents' complaints will do any good. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Merry Carrots Mr Lawrence

I mentioned before that some of the local shops are taking part in the 'nine carrots' scheme to help them invest in environmentally friendly improvements in their businesses.

The way it works is that you go in, make your purchase as normal, pay the normal price but you ask for a 'green receipt'. The business then puts a portion of that money towards improvements.

No one loses, but we're helping increase the investment in a low carbon economy. Little steps, but no less important for all that.

One of those local businesses is Mr Lawrence wine bar who've made a commitment to make their business more environmentally friendly, starting with their lighting.

Here I am holding my green receipt, smiling away due to the lovely coffee I'd just had. I should point out that this picture was taken last week and I'd just been snowed on in this picture, I've not been afflicted with a terrible case of dandruff despite how it looks!

Friday, 26 February 2010

Greens on Channel Four

I missed it when it was on the box last night but have just discovered that you can watch the Green Party's Channel Four Political Slot on YouTube. Enjoy.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Local boy on Radio Four

In the haze that is everything before 10am this morning I suddenly realised I was listening to local musician Billy Jenkins on Radio Four. He was rather good I thought, particularly as he was really focused on bigging up the local community. Great stuff.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Crofton Pot Holes

The heavy snow about a month ago had the knock on effect of creating a swathe of pot holes across the country. It was news to me that it could have this effect, but you learn something everyday don't you?

Some parts of Lewisham have been pretty badly hit, a few of the roads I've been on over the last few weeks have been ridiculous. Thankfully, Crofton Park has escaped reasonably unscathed although some of the more residential roads have seen a few holes appear here and there.

Brockley Grove was one of those roads which was badly effected, which simultaneously had quite a serious burst water main - so the last couple of weeks has seen quite a bit of disruption on the road.

This was the scene at the beginning of last week as roadworks tried to sort out the problems.

This was the position today where all the work seems to have been completed (nice job too) and the only thing left to do is lay the white paint.

Do get in touch with us if your road still has problem pot holes though, as the weather has made this problem worse. Just because we've got off lightly round here doesn't mean we want to ignore pot holes when they do appear.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Upcoming: Lewisham Peace and Justice 7th March

On the 7th March there's an excellent event coming up which I thought I'd let people know about.

It's an evening of discussions, short films, food and music with a radical twist. We'll be discussing climate change, combating racism, the situation in Afghanistan and Palestine as well as socialising and having some fun. Do come along!

It's at the Albany from 4 pm and I've popped the flier for the event here (front and back) with the details, click on the images to enlarge and get the full benefit.

The market in public services: expensive, inefficient and unaccountable

Many public services in Lewisham are now being run by private companies. Whether that’s through outsourcing schemes like PFI, straight sell offs or the piece meal farming out of cleaning contracts, catering and maintenance.

This obsession with getting the market to run our public services has resulted in a worse service at a higher price. More than that because the services are now at arm’s length from elected officials they are all too often unaccountable.

Time after time on the doorstep in Crofton Park we hear horror stories about badly run services doing a shoddy job of housing repairs, paying their staff poverty wages or simply not delivering at all. But because these are private companies it is far harder to hold them to account than council run services.

Housing, schools, the health service and not to mention public transport all suffer when they are sold off to private companies. Far from improving these services free market dogma has gutted them so we end up paying more for less.

The Greens want to safeguard public services to provide quality and value for money under democratic control. That means resisting the drive to privatisation, and outsourcing. We believe in publicly owned public services where the focus is on the needs of the community not the bank balances of share holders.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Loampit Vale

The Loampit Vale development isn't in Crofton Park, but if it does go ahead we'll have no problem seeing the twenty four storey development that's been proposed from here.

It's an extraordinary proposal to build a development that will loom over and dominate the surrounding area with something completely out of local character. The pressure of the hundreds or thousands of new people all slap-bang in one place would have a huge impact which really does not seem to be have been properly assessed.

Not surprisingly when the council approved the building a number of residents were less than happy.

These decisions aren't meant to be party political but on this occasion there were very clear party lines with the Greens and Lib Dems voting against and Labour voting for (and then the Labour chair used his casting vote to approve). I've never heard a convincing reason from Labour as to why they voted en bloc for a proposal that seems so ill conceived.

Of course, the planning requests were put together before the financial bubble burst so who knows whether this will really go ahead. If the economic climate gives residents more time to make their voices heard then it's just as well as it will be an uphill struggle ever since Labour got the rubber stamp out for the developers.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Northern Line misery

Have people seen this? I find it difficult to express how dissatisfied I am with the transport system in London. It seems there is a proposal to shut the Northern Line every weekday after 8.30 pm. What a nightmare.

Starting next month! The article says that;
Tube Lines said the schedule for the Northern Line upgrade was still being discussed with TfL. "We have worked very closely with London Underground to find a way of getting access to the track while producing minimum disruption to the service. It is an ongoing discussion between us,"
I'm fairly sure closing the line down early every working day does not count as "minimum disruption".

The private contractors responsible are still making plenty of money for their share holders but refusing to provide anything like the service a city like London needs to function. Oh well, we'll see what happens I suppose.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Mayors for Peace

I mentioned the Mayors for Peace presentation the other day and thought I'd post up a pic of Lewisham CND presenting Mayor Bullock with a very delicate thin clay sculpture.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Crofton Park Ward Assembly this Saturday

Crofton Park Assembly,
Saturday January 30th,
2pm - 4pm

St Saviours Church Hall
Brockley Rise, SE23 1JB

Priorities for Crofton Park are: improving streetscape, youth provision, improving open spaces, access for all in the ward and community cohesion

The meeting will include:

- a presentation and film by the Crofton Park Youth Forum
- information about Crofton Park’s new Town Centre Manager
- community notice board consultation
- updates from your Safer Neighbourhoods Team

Come along and give us your views… refreshments and crèche provided please notify Sarah in advance if you would like to use the crèche For more information call 07525 401245, or email Sarah Cooper.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Web Casting Council Meetings

Back from the last full council meeting of this four year period (only a budget meeting to go) and it was an interesting experience. There's lots of unrelated things going on so, for instance, I took part in a presentation with Lewisham CND to the Mayor for being part of the Mayors for Peace movement where the Mayor graciously thanked Darren Johnson for helping make this happen.

Then you have a whole heap of correspondence some of which seems utterly unintelligible or irrelevant and others of which seems extremely important and are passed over in far too little detail. Then there was a closed session on the Catford Centre where we were all kicked out for half an hour then invited back in.

And so it goes on. But despite the fact that council proceedings are probably rather difficult to follow I still think it's a great thing that the council agreed to begin web-casting their meetings to allow accessibility for those who can't make the meetings, or have issues with disability.

We could also hope that it might improve the way councillors relate to each other, although it should be sad it was all very polite and businesslike tonight. Having councillors on record in this way would help electors and the press hold them to account for their actions at meetings that few of them would have otherwise attended.

The Greens moved the motion, having accepted a sensible amendment from the Lib Dems, and the motion slipped through uncontroversially - which just goes to show the parties can work together when they try.

Appeal for Simon Nundy?

Over the next few months you'll hear a number of people tell you this election is all about the Tories vs Labour. To think you have any other kinds of choices in front of you is just messy thinking (also known as political choices). Just to hammer home this point I thought I'd flag up the campaign for Simon Nundy, Tory candidate for Mayor of Lewisham.

As you can see from this screen shot from MyConservatives he definitely feels he's the man for the job and who am I to disagree? He's got the kind of business brain that will get Lewisham moving it appears if only he'd apply that brain to his campaign which has been taking a bit of time to get off the ground.

He's just three pounds fifty more away from printing a few leaflets. Who knows what he might do if you donate a tenner! Proof read his statement perhaps.

Remember donating "is simple, speedy and secure". Well, it's simple and secure anyway... maybe some of the bigger donations have got backed up in the pipeline.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

School places

As I mentioned yesterday I wanted to say a few words about this post on Brockley Central about school places in Lewisham.

For some time now there has been a real problem with school places in the borough. This goes right through from nursery places, primary and secondary school places.

BC highlights how more than one in four kids are being sent to school outside of the borough and I know from personal acquaintances that getting a nursery school place can be a real nightmare.

Personally I think it's really important for kids to be able to go to a school as near to their home as possible, which ideally means a network of smaller, community schools rather than some of the mega-schools that cater to children from miles around.

I'd add that this needs to be publicly owned and run, without the experiments of private companies 'delivering' maintenance and repairs for instance.

It's difficult, of course, in an area like Lewisham where new buildings are difficult to create when there's a lack of appropriate spaces and developing existing sites can be fraught with difficulties.

However, no matter how difficult or knotty the problem we need to address this because it really is not good enough that hundreds of kids are spending their entire school career travelling large distances going to schools that have little connection with their community.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Fear of crime is a real problem

At the risk of looking as if I'm sucking up there are two really excellent posts on Brockley Central today. I'll talk about schools tomorrow.

The other article is where they point to the reduction in the crime rate in Lewisham. This is something that is well worth highlighting to counteract some sections of the press and political parties who try to whip up fear of crime for their own short term gain (readers or voters respectively).

Lewisham (and Crofton Park specifically) is not a high crime area. There are problems, of course there are, mainly low level anti-social behaviour but more serious crimes too. It's important that we don't try to make political capital out of these events which are thankfully, still, rare.

There's nothing more nauseating than a would be politician excitedly salivating at a local incident, using somebodies personal tragedy to try to paint an unrealistic picture of what society looks like.

Last month I had someone on the doorstep who said to me "Was it the Greens or the Lib Dems who put out that leaflet that really annoyed me?" I knew the answer to that one, looked him straight in the eye, and said "Sir, that was the Liberal Democrats."

It turned out it was (whew!) as they've been pumping out literature that really focuses on crime, making people feel there's a crime wave going on. There isn't, and thankfully many residents can see that.

It's serious because the solution to crime is a strong community that looks after each other. The fear of crime, where people look on each other with suspicion, undermines that leaving everyone more vulnerable. The only long term solution to social problems is a more social society. A sensationalist approach turns every group of lads chatting on the corner into potential muggers when really they are far more likely to be potential neighbours.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Making the Transition

The Transition Town movement hopes to help move us to a low carbon economy. It has gained a lot of strength over the last few years, starting in Totnes it has spread out across the country with people ganging together to take practical steps, no matter how small, to achieving a more sustainable society.

Lewisham is no exception to this movement and I attended my first Transition Brockley meeting tonight which was really excellent. A great hub of different initiatives and ideas that people can get involved with in the area.

One example was the 9 carrot scheme (I stil have no idea why it's called that) where local businesses have made a commitment to spend a portion of their profits on making ecological improvements. Customers go into participating shops/cafes/bars and ask for a green receipt when you pay as normal. The business then invests 10% of that payment making eco-changes.

It's a neat idea where you lose nothing and they spend what you pay on making themselves more energy efficient. Mr Lawrence wine bar, Royal Tandoori and EXP Chinese, all in the same patch of Brockley Road, are participating. Try it out for yourself!

There were other discussions about community orchards, spreading info about grants available for insulation and solar panels, permaculture course and all sorts of other lovely things. Something for everyone in fact whether you're a fully paid up eco-warrior or just want to do a little something.

these kinds of 'hubs' where activists get together and share what they're doing are really inspiring because it reminds you how many people care about their community and are willing to do something to make it better. Sometimes people can feel a bit isolated, like it's only them, and to be reminded that you're part of a movement can be a real boost!

Mail picks up Lewisham 'No Fry Zone' story

Lewisham council has the dubious honour of being mentioned in the Daily Mail today. The Mail says that Green councillor Ute Michel, pictured, is proposing a 'No fry zone' (good pun) around schools to ensure that kids can't get their greasy hands on burgers and chips during the school day.

Some of the comments at the site ask why councillors don't know that primary schools don't let their kids out at lunchtime and other such 'political correctness gone mad' comments. Sadly not many of the comments question whether the story itself is accurate, which is surprising as it appears in the Daily Mail.

If you want an accurate version of the story you can always go direct to Lewisham Green Party's press release here which explains that far from being on the brink of some sort draconian measure shutting down local businesses we are rather more modestly *talking* to the Mayor about whether it would be inappropriate to allow *new* junk food outlets to set up shop next door to schools as a measure against childhood obesity.

I know a 'no fry zone' sounds really exciting, kudos to the person who thought of it, as "writing a special town planning policy" is a bit less funky but when you have commentators screaming that the council wants to 'ban frying' or 'Don't ban food. Ban the nanny state instead.' I wonder how helpful this Mail article has been.

Councils make zoning decisions all the time about what kind of premises is appropriate where, and schools are an important factor in that. It might be nice to have some kind of local diversity rather than a host of new chicken places to cater for the school break rush, however, I'm not quite sure it's the equivalent of banning food though.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Introducing your Crofton Park team

Introducing your Crofton Park team;
Roger Sedley, Hatice Gunes and Jim Jepps.

A former member of the Labour Party, Roger (left) joined the Greens four years ago. Concerned initially with climate change, he soon realised that the Greens offered the policies he wanted to see in a number of areas. These include creating a new industrial base and providing work through investment in renewable energy technology, giving people a fair wage, a living wage and ending child poverty.

He is also passionate about keeping the NHS in the public realm and finding non-violent solutions to conflict situations. Roger has worked as an architect for 30 years and has built buildings he is very proud of. He now wants to spend the next stage of his life putting something back into society, which is why he is putting himself forward as a councillor. He understand the planning system, has good knowledge of the housing situation and the NHS locally.

Hatice (centre) has campaigned strongly to raise awareness on Violence Against Women. She has campaigned for equal rights for Kurdish people all her life. As a Kurdish woman from Turkey, who has lived most of her life and been educated in Britain she is passionate about the environment, women’s issues and social justice.

She has lived in Lewisham for some time now and made the borough her home. She loves its finds it a very dynamic borough with huge potential. For Lewisham to build on its achievements, she believes local government needs to be very careful in establishing and maintaining the balance between development and conservation, as well as maintaining the balance between striving for equality and promoting respect for difference between its residents.

As a councillor she is keen to promote cultural diversity, tolerance and creativity, and to further ensure that Lewisham continues to be a green place where everyone would like to live.

Jim (right) has been an active political campaigner for fifteen years, and was a UNISON shop steward in the NHS for eight years. Jim has campaigned to defend council housing, protect public services, organised against New Labour's wars and the arms trade as well as being heavily involved in opposing the BNP and racism.

Jim joined the Green Party four years ago having been inspired by the example of many Green Party councillors up and down the country who have been able to make a real difference even when in a minority. He hopes to put his wealth of community campaigning to good use inside the council chamber giving a voice to the people of Crofton Park."

Sunday, 17 January 2010

The St Pancras to Crofton Park Ghost Train

When I discovered there was a train straight from Crofton Park to St. Pancras (and back) I cannot express how happy it made me. It seems to be some sort of semi-secret that plenty of people just don't seem to know anything about, probably because it's too useful.

Of course nothing is so simple.

So whilst it is theoretically so, so useful the fact is that it never seems to be running when I actually need it. First it was the weekends. Nothing. Then it was the snow, delay, cancellation and just plain disappearing act. Third, on a snow free weekday, gone again.

I'm not sure whether it's actually worse to have a phantom train or just get it simply removed from the timetable. Certainly transport for London does not seem to be a 100% reliable guide as to whether it's running or not.

A few days ago I was waiting on the platform at St Pancras and the announcement came that the train had been cancelled. I'm now so convinced of the company's incompetence I actually decided to stay where I was. What happens? Yes, it actually turned up, after everyone on the platform had been told to find an alternative route about five minutes before.

This cannot go on. If the train companies cannot run a reliable service where do they get off increasing the fares at a time when inflation is below zero? Time to stop messing about and renationalise the lot. Well, that's my view anyway.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Good odds on Darren

The bookies are taking bets on the various parties chances at the General Election and the News Shopper reports that the Greens are doing well in the Lewisham Deptford constituency.

They state that;

Labour are also the favourites in the Lewisham Deptford constituency with odds of 1/66 followed by the Green Party with 12/1.

Odds of a Lib Dem victory are 33/1 while Conservatives fall behind at 100/1, which is the same odds as Crystal Palace winning the FA cup this year.

That might even be worth a flutter. It's good to see the bookmakers think that Lewisham Greens will come a strong second but I'd like us to do one better if we can.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

In politics timing is everything

Not a reference to the bizarre coup attempt against the Prime Minister this week but Crofton Park Green Party's decision to deliver our January leaflets in the middle of a blizzard.

However, we're hardy folk and although I was concerned we might end the day with broken limbs or bruised bottoms we managed to deliver thousands of newsletters, and drop off bundles for those doing their own streets, without injury.

Natalie here demonstrates the latest Green Party winter fashion where only the minimum of skin is exposed to the elements and her backpack is stuffed with newsletters providing much needed ballast.

The rest of the team were equally well wrapped up. Here I'm modeling a very stylish hood/cap combo (far left) that I fully expect to be taken up the length and breadth of Lewisham by the end of winter.

Jim, Hati, Roger, and Anne: well protected against the elements (pic taken between the worst squalls)

We certainly weren't the only ones outside. It was great to see parents and kids pitching in to sweep up the snow outside their primary school on Brockley Rise. I was also impressed by the number of snow sculptures I saw out and about, although most people were far too sensible to go out in the worst of the weather.

Kudos also has to go to the woman I saw teetering along in her stiletto heels on the very icy pavements - I hope she got home alright!

A few new residents of Crofton Park

Out and about this weekend I spotted a few new residents in the area.

There was also this wonderful sculpture on Riseldine Road, complete with note saying "Please do not touch. It is a university project. Thank you." I wonder what degree they are doing (cue jokes about 'below zero' degrees, etc.)