Friday, April 30, 2010

Sydenham Hill Estate

A resident on Sydenham Hill Estate has taken up the invitation to be a guest author on our Leaseholder blog. Click here to read how things are over there.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

More local music this weekend

Saturday 1st May 9pm
The Eskalators
The Birds Nest 
Deptford Church St SE8 
Come down and skank your socks off to South East London's leading ska band!

Sunday 2nd May 3.30-6.30pm
Charles Hayward and friends
McMillan Herb Garden  McMillan Street SE8
Chill out for the afternoon in this fragrant corner, the first outdoor gig of many. Bring your umbrella just in case, the grapevines may not provide cover this early in the year. Pick some herbs for dinner later.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Then and there, here and now

Last chance this weekend to see Peter Anderson's photos at APT Gallery. As part of Deptford Last Fridays this Friday 30th April, there will be a book signing from 6pm onwards with Anderson, Paul Morley, Malcolm Garrett and Jane Pluer. Music from 7pm with Deadly Rhythm Soundsystem.

Deptford Last Fridays is the initiative of Deptford Art Map. More details here. Galleries taking part include APT and Core Gallery (both in Creekside), Arch Gallery, Bearspace, The Agency, The Old Police Station, Utrophia, and Narrative Arts.

Near and Far

Crossfields resident and international musician Charles Hayward will be playing with Monkey Puzzle Trio at the Dog Star in Brixton tomorrow night (April 29th 2010).

MONKEY PUZZLE TRIO explore cracks between songs, soundscape and improvisation - featuring This Heat drummer/lynchpin Charles Hayward, Pinski Zoo/Crackle bassist Nick Doyne-Ditmas. and the words, voice and textures of avant-vocalist Viv Corringham.

+ RED SQUARE +  SNORKEL + DJ Lascelle Lascelles + Slowfoot DJs

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Brockley Central interviews local candidates

This week, local blog Brockley Central will be putting a set of questions to our local parliamentary and mayoral candidates.

Some questions are very Brockleycentric, and local favourites John Hamilton (PeopleBe4Profit mayoral candidate) and Ian Page (Socialist Alternative MP candidate) have been left off the interview list* – as well as Malcolm Martin (Christian Peoples' Alliance) and Graham Dare (English Democrats mayoral candidate). But you may find the interviews helpful if you are still making up your mind.

The list is being added to as the week goes on. `

Candidates for MP Deptford Lewisham Lewisham Deptford:

Tam Langley (Lib-Dem)
Darren Johnson (Green Party)
Joan Ruddock (Lab)

Gemma Townsend (Conservative)

Candidates for Mayor:

Dean Walton (Green Party)
Sir Steve Bullock (Lab)
Simon Nundy (Conservative)

Chris Maines (Lib-Dem)

*apparently, they have not responded to the questionnaire.

Save Greenwich Market

The Greenwich Phantom has posted about Greenwich Hospital Trust's plans to build a hotel over the beloved covered market, and the last opportunities to object to their appeal against Greenwich Council who unanimously rejected their proposals. Only Nick Raynsford MP (Lab) thinks it's a good idea. Deadline for objections is 4th May. Click here to read more from The Phantom and how to object.

East London Line operating...sort of!

Check Transport for London for further details...

Dalston Junction - New Cross and New Cross Gate, 27 April 2010
This section of the line has now opened with a limited preview service running Monday to Fridays between 07:00 and 20:00 only. It will build up towards a full timetable by 23 May 2010.

At the moment trains run every seven to eight minutes, with half the trains going Dalston Junction to New Cross, and half the trains going Dalston Junction to New Cross Gate.

Dalston Junction - New Cross/Crystal Palace and West Croydon
The full line will open on 23 May 2010. Trains will run every 15 minutes on each of the three branches, meaning there are trains every five minutes between Dalston Junction and Surrey Quays and trains every seven to eight minutes between Surrey Quays and Sydenham.

They're all pretty cockahoop over at Brockley Central. They didn't have the 47 stopping outside their door like we have – but that ride is just too long. After much deprivation we now have the choice again about how we cross the river. Hurrah! (Although other parts of South London are just as far away as ever...)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Journey to the end of our road...(2) Marathon

Shortly before the unearthly hour of 9am on a rainy Sunday Morning, the band rehearse under the Duke's awnings .
9:15am: A couple of cyclists, who didn't seem to have any connection with the proceedings, took advantage of a perfectly traffic-free route into London.  This gives me an idea for a rather opportunistic ride next year.

Around 9:35, the élite women passed

Followed by the wheelchair athletes, who, as they swept down off Creek Road Bridge, looked incredibly unworldly.  Here's two near the front as they got closer.
The band, having assured themselves that their wigs were colour-fast enough to risk the (improving) weather, reappeared over the awnings.
While another group of wheelchasers drafted each other as they headed into the westerly wind.  I wondered whether they each took a turn, like cyclists, leading the group to share the load.  I didn't see it happen.
Around 10:20, the first élite men came through.
Then the almost as quick ones...
The chap in black, to the left of the one in green, was the first élite insect to fly past:
And then it started getting busy:
And busier...:
And for a while, there was a constant bobbing mass of bodies coming down the road...
I returned later, at around 13:15 from Greenwich, and by then the road was almost clear.  Apart from the  bottles that is.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Deptford Film Club goes walkabout.

The Deptford Film Club, which usually screens films at the Birds Nest, will now be screening Omkara at the Gallop café, near the north end of Deptford High Street on 28 April.

Here's their email:

CHANGE OF VENUE for the film on WED 28 APRIL 2010

The brilliant Indian film OMKARA will now be shown at GALLOP cafe bar, 198 Deptford High Street, SE8 3PR.

This will be a celebration of GALLOP's first night as a licensed bar. Previously it's been open on Sat/Sun daytimes serving tea, coffee and damn good cakes. On Wednesday expect beer, Campari, whisky, snacks and some superb ice cream.

Where is 198 Deptford High Street?
The northern end of the High Street - near St Paul's Church and opposite Perfecto chip shop (who do massive portions). Map of Deptford High Street

 What time does the film start?
7.30pm as usual. Though we might wait ten minutes to allow lost film club members find their way to GALLOP.

We look forward to seeing you there. Very cool, beautifully shot, emotionally honest Bollywood cinema forever!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Antisocial Behaviour, anyone?

I had the dubious pleasure of being invited to contribute to a Lewisham Homes' Focus Group on Anti Social Behaviour Service this Thursday. 'Input from residents is very important to us because it helps to shape how we develop our services'.

I'm sure they can't be in any doubt by now what I think of the service. I think it is shit and I have told them so many times, and most leaseholders resent paying for it. Tenants do not know they are paying for it. It cannot work. It seems I will have to go to a meeting to say it again...but no, I have apparently responded too late and the Focus Group is full. Get a bigger room, I say.

Before I get on my high horse, please get in touch and let me know if you have had any positive experiences of dealing with the ASB Team, or whether you think the extra charge for it (to leaseholders) is justified. Maybe, just maybe, it has worked for you, whether tenant or leaseholder?

OK, here's what's come up in TRA meetings over the past year: (READ ON if you dare...)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A brush with fame in Deptford.

Granted, many famous names have been connected with Deptford – history books are full of them. But how many people knew that twice-Oscar winning Daniel Day-Lewis, once worked in Deptford?

Way back, in the summer of 1975, before Daniel went off to study drama at Bristol Old Vic, we both started working at a smallish warehouse, whose lorry access was on Creek Road, facing where Glaisher Street now stands.  We started within a week of each other and I got a big shock when I learned that we'd be unloading lorries together. The shock was not because I was working with a famous actor, because he wasn't a famous actor back then. No, the reason I was stunned was because the week before I'd had an embarrassing encounter with his family history.

You have to bear in mind that work was still very easy to get back then – and pay was sufficiently meagre to ensure that there were always vacancies available at very short notice. The previous week, I'd been working for the National Insurance Office, with the glamorous task of weeding out Death Grant files. This wasn't in the building on the south end of Norman Road that's now occupied by New Deal scoundrels, A4E, it was, oddly enough, over the North Pole pub opposite. It was used as a temporary overspill.

After thousands of files with nothing of interest, I eventually came across one with a note saying ''do not destroy.'' I checked with my supervisor, and she explained to me that it was the file of Cecil Day-Lewis, the Poet Laureate, who after his death had been refused a death grant because his contributions, or lack thereof, did not entitle him to one. His late wife, Jill Balcon, had got the matter raised in parliament: how could the State deny funds for the burial of the Poet Laureate?

Anyhow, questions were raised that will still show somewhere in an old copy of Hansard, the government relented and a grant was made. Hence the ''do not destroy'' note.

But here's the embarrassing bit. By the time she'd given me the family NI contributions history, the file had disappeared. I really have no recollection of what happened to it – for me, the most likely explanation was that I'd passed the file to her as she was telling her story. Anyhow, I spent ages looking in every bin and file to hand but to no avail. And when I'd suggested that I might have passed it to her, her huffy response was ''No, impossible!'' There I was, her denying the possibility that it could have been her fault, and thereby denying me the chance to check, and I was left with the blame of having lost it.

So, all in all, I figured that my short spell working in Death Grants was not turning out too well for me. I handed in my notice, took a couple of days off to find a new job, and started in the warehouse the next week.

The very first question that I had to ask myself was whether I should tell Daniel about what had just happened? And I decided not to say a word, while being very perplexed by this odd coincidence.

We set to work in what was a very hot summer. He would have been 18, I was 21 and, faced with an arduous and very dusty job, we chose a rather unusual way or working: we treated it as exercise and tried to do each lorry load as quickly as we were physically capable. And we were fit young men back then. If the place had been unionised, we would have been laid off within days, but it wasn't and the bosses seemed more than happy with us. When we'd finished unloading a lorry and restacking the cartons in the warehouse, we'd lounge around resting in the sunshine.

I don't suppose we were the typical warehousemen – Daniel certainly wasn't. A fair bit posher than me – I still had the remnants of my childhood Yorkshire accent – he didn't really fit the role. But – and I wonder how this relates, if at all, to his method acting – he did throw himself heartily into the challenge. I can say, though, that with the benefit of hindsight, that he had a quality of  other-worldliness about him.

Summer drew to a close. Daniel left first, I think for a break or a holiday before going to drama college, I left shortly afterwards for another warehouse job in Bermondsey.

I still wonder whether I should have told him. I've since seen him mention that there had been something about his father's death, something elusive, that he'd never quite understood. To this day, there's something about his father's death that I still don't understand either.

Deptford-in-Greenwich (3)

Below, dear postman, is a map:

It's off  In pink are the ward boundaries, in red, the Borough Constituencies.  You've just delivered to an address just above the Ward of New Cross Ward (over on the west of the map) three Green fliers.  One for the Green Party, ''Darren for Lewisham Deptford,'' (addressed and correctly delivered).  Another for  the Green Party, ''Vote Andy Hewett to be your Green Party MP for Greenwich and Woolwich.''   The third was for the Chutney Tandoori, on the Greenwich side of Blackheath Road, who do a very interesting Green Murgh Curry.- ''pieces of chicken tikka made with fresh puréed coriander, tamarind, fresh mint, green chilli and other herbs.''

So, dear postman, when you're next on the west side of the border, conveniently marked in Royal Mail red, please do not deliver leaflets for another area.  Yes, I know that, er, interested parties have tried to blur the line but this does not excuse us, the public, having to pay for the wrong post....  

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Marathon, a reminder...

A few days ago I called in at the Duke to ask whether they were doing anything for the Virgin Marathon this weekend.  And yes, they are serving pre-race breakfasts from 8 - 9 am.  So, if you fancy an early Sunday morning breakfast followed by a roadside vantage point of the race, give them a call to book on 0208 649 8260.

Bear in mind, though, that the anticipated closure times for traffic on Creek Road are from 7:00 to 14:00 so transport might be awkward.  Also, though  pedestrians will be able to get across the Road before the runners come past, you will be pretty much confined to the north side of the road for a few hours.  You will of course be able to repair to the hostelry for drinks and refreshments or saunter off for a pleasant riverside stroll*.

(The crossing points, listed as open until 9:15 are situated between Glaisher Street/Gonson Street, at the bottom of Norman Road and at the end of the High Street/Watergate Street.  Further upstream, you can cross Evelyn Street by Abinger Grove/Grove Street until 9:20.)

I also bumped into a friend on the Ha'penny Hatch as she was returning from a training run and she said that there would also be a bunch of locals by the 8-mile marker point - that's by the Surrey Canal bridge/KFC.  And the very best of luck to her!

The expected times for the élite women and men at the 7-mile mark are listed here  

* A wee update: I've read somewhere - and I can't remember where** - that the Greenwich  foot tunnel will be closed for maintenance on Sunday.  This will mean that you will have a hard job getting to see the runners on the Isle of Dogs just before the 17 mile point .  I'll leave you to ponder the wisdom of shutting the tunnel to pedestrians and cyclists at a time when transport will already be disrupted.

**EDIT: I found it: here's the text about the foot tunnel from a leaflet on the road closures:

Due to maintenance work the Greenwich Foot Tunnel will be CLOSED on Sunday 25th April.  A free Thames Clipper Shuttle will take marathon spectators north from Greenwich Pier to Canary Wharf Pier between 10:00am and 12:20pm.  Those wishing to travel north to south (Isle of Dogs to Greenwich) should use DLR services from Island Gardens.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Local democracy in action?

The political hustings hosted by Utrophia yesterday evening was organised by two pressure groups: No2ID and Power 2010 (see links at the foot of this post). All five parliamentary candidates for Lewisham Deptford took part: Joan Ruddock (Lab), Ian Page (Trade Union & Socialist), Tam Langley (Lib Dem), Darren Johnson (Green) and Gemma Townsend (Conservative). Bill Ellson (Deptford Community Forum) chaired and took questions from a full house.

Topics discussed included: homelessness and lack of social housing, the present state of local youth offending facilities, MP's expenses and trustworthiness, immigration, and the peak oil crisis. The peak oil debate sparked a bit of unruly heckling from a crusty conspiracy theorist, followed by an interruption from a young black man (one of the very few there) who wanted answers about poor and overcrowded social housing and lack of jobs (unfortunately it was felt that his contribution was irrelevant to the subject in hand). The event was brought to a close with words from No2ID and Power 2010. Many people stayed behind to talk to the candidates, and Power 2010 managed to get most of the candidates to sign up for electoral reform.

I cannot report without bias: I thought it was all a bit dull with little or no emphasis on local matters (apart for the first question about housing, homelessness and the youth offending service). I didn't get to ask any questions (eg what to do about the proliferation of bookmakers, air pollution around the Deptford incinerator, why Deptford station is still a shithole, or more broadly, what about reinstating the 10p in the £1 taxband for low earners etc)...I was pleased to find Darren Johnson looks much better in the flesh than he does on his election leaflets (scary!) and he came across well. Tam Langley was quietly concise. There was a bit of argy bargy between Ian Page and Joan. Gemma seemed awfully young to be speaking on such weighty matters. It was interesting to note that there were three women to two men, that Joan is against Trident, that Darren would scrap the Right To Buy, and that Ian thinks climate change can only be tackled by abolishing capitalism.

Deptford Visions has written up an entertaining account with some nice photography here.

Power 2010 - Join the movement to change politics

No2ID - Stop the database state


I took notes at the beginning of this event, but I stopped when the answers seem to grow predictable, and too lengthy for a post here, but you can read a more detailed report from another blogger Notes Of An Idealist here.

Cathedral Group plc and Deptford Station

We heard a rumour that the developers of the revamped Deptford station, Cathedral Group plc, were pulling out. (see Snippets and Rumours). The project featuring a Richard Rogers design was supposed have been completed in 2008. Lewisham Council say on their website that work is to begin around now in 2010. Since work has not started, naturally rumours abound.

Although we have not been able to find anything that substantiates this story, a Crosswhatfields reader has drawn our attention to the following report in the News Shopper, which refers to a Cathedral Group project in Sidcup:

SIDCUP: Credit crunch hits Cathedral Group's plans for Athena House 
18 March 2010

THE first of an expected flurry of applications to reduce financial promises made on the back of planning permissions, has been agreed by Bexley Council.

As part of its planning obligations, Cathedral had promised to pay £542,593 towards various items or projects which residents of the development would benefit from.

Cathedral says, having looked at all the costs of the project again, it cannot afford to pay what it offered, if the scheme is to be viable. It has now made a revised offer of £353,394 with payments for items such as community facilities and education, dropped.

Councillors could have rejected the offer and risked a fresh planning application with less on the table, which was likely to go to appeal if refused and cost the council even more. Councillors reluctantly agreed the new offer, with a deferred payment system, so if the financial situation changes, Bexley could ask for more money. 

 News Shopper story on Sidcup here.

It may be that our Deep Throat has got his wires crossed, but the above Sidcup tale does not bode well for the Deptford station development which is worth loads more (£5m). Nor for any other Cathedral Group development around the city and further out (Lambeth etc and Bromley).

Enquiries within architect contacts revealed little, but caused considerable rumbles, upset applecarts and almost lost someone a job.

Since Joan Ruddock claims enormous credentials for creating the partnership between Lewisham Council, a n other developer, and Network Rail that will bring us our new station, I asked her for the latest news when I caught her after the Election Hustings at Utrophia on Saturday evening.

She said she had only recently had a meeting about it and had heard nothing that worried her. The delay has been entirely due to Network Rail's intricate and complicated engineering issues, which were now resolved and building will commence in the Summer.

Not the Spring, then, as promised on the Lewisham's website, I asked. The smile said it all, "Network Rail" were to blame. She was certain she hadn't been lied to by the developers. "Dave wouldn't lie to me, I'm sure." (David Cullingford, Development Director, Cathedral Group plc?). She also suggested there were rumours put about for political gain.

I can't forget the look on Joan's face, which she must have employed several years ago to the same effect, as she said, 'How Could Anybody Be Expected To Use That Station As It Is? Especially If You Were Disabled?'.

So, we'll see, eh,

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Greenwich-in-Deptford (2)

I just had a party campaign leaflet delivered through my door.  Only it's for Spencer Drury, currently a Greenwich Councillor for the Conservative Party who is standing for the Greenwich and Woolwich seat.

''As a Greenwich Councillor, he knows and fights for the issues which bother local people''

As a local person, one of the issues that bothers me is politicians who don't know which constituency Crossfields is in.  Campaigning on someone else's turf is already probably a bit of a no-no, assuming Deptford is in Greenwich is downright arrogant incompetence.

So, if you see this man, be a good Deptford citizen and tell him he's lost.  And then politely direct him back to his own constituency.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Local Election Hustings at Utrophia

There will be a hustings at Utrophia Arts Project THIS SATURDAY 17 APRIL at 5pm. Apparently, ALL the major parliamentary candidates for Lewisham & Deptford have accepted the invite and the event is open to all. So get your questions ready. Let us know if you want us to ask anything on your behalf if you can't be there.

UTROPHIA is up at 136 Tanner's Hill (at the top end after the bridge, on the right, SE8 4QD, here on the Tagworts Map)....For more info go to Utrophia's website here.
Personally I'd be more interested in grilling local councillors, maybe they'll be there too, and my main question might be "Which of youse is going to get rid of the directly elected Mayor?"

If you want to see which councillors are standing in Deptford/New Cross Ward you can download the list from here (Crosswhatfields) or here from the Lewisham council website. It's interesting to note that on the Lewisham site there is not actually a listing for Deptford. We are listed under New Cross. There you go.

The Mayor nominations are here.

Pay rises for town hall executives

Another story nicked from the South London Press:

THE salaries of town hall fat cats on six-figure pay packages across South London have increased by an average of four per cent in the past 12 months, new figures have revealed...

...Lewisham’s biggest hike went to director of children’s social care Alistair Pettigrew, whose earnings went up 6.8 per cent from £102,597 in 2007-08 to £109,538.

His chief executive Barry Quirk earns £192,999, up 2.5 per cent from £188,348

Read here.

Paddy Power at Deptford Arms

Spotted in the South London Press on Monday:

Regarding the Deptford Arms, a spokesman said: “We are currently in amicable dialogue with the conservation officer to come to the best solution.
“The latest decision will slow the process down slightly but we hope to begin the conversion work in around a month’s time.”

See the article here which also talks about The Hope in Rye Lane, also under threat from the same bookmaker.

We're rich!

In a moment of curiosity last week I had a look in the spam box for the public blog email address. Maybe some important snippets of information had been sent to the Google spam dungeon by mistake.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that thousands, nay, millions of pounds were lying unclaimed by us simply because Google had chosen to hide them from us.

This is just a sample of what they didn't want to tell us:

Western Union had arranged a $1 million dollar transfer for us and we simply needed to send details of our name, age, country and occupation.

That funds amounting to $23.2 million dollars, possibly belonging to insurgents, had been discovered in padlocked boxes in Iraq and needed a reliable and trustworthy person to act as an honest broker for the money to be shipped out of the country. For this service we would get 10% of the total sum. (running total: $3.32 million)

That UBS's offshore branch (in London) held $232 million worth of dormant funds. By acting as agent, we are entitled to 40% of the proceeds. (running total: $61.32 million)

We are the heirs to a fortune of £3.6 million. For reasons of security, the writer couldn't give the name of the departed person until we confirm our identity and supply bank details. (running total: $61.32 million, £3.6 million)

There are, I have great pleasure in announcing, many other winnings and inheritances, including money owing from the BBC lottery and the British Canadian lottery. In fact, there are far too many to mention here.

But here I confess to being in a predicament. Due to a long-standing dispute with my landlord, Lewisham Homes plc, Hong Kong, my credit rating has been adversely affected. Even this week they sent me a ''you may lose your home'' letter for an outstanding sum of £16.52.

However, if there is anyone with a healthier credit rating than me who is prepared to act as a trustworthy broker, I will be happy to grant that honourable person a full 50% of the proceeds and I give an undertaking to give them highly advantageous first options for the remaining funds. This first tranche of funds will therefore amount to US$30.66 million and GBP £1.8 million.

A simple reply to, giving your name and bank details, is all that is needed to set the asset transfers in motion.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Snippets and Rumours

Heard or discovered at lunchtime yesterday...

From the horse's mouth:

Kit & Cutter confirm that folk giant Martin Carthy will play the Deptford Arms on 1st May (see previous story here). Only 12 tickets left (3 at concessionary price)! Buy at WeGotTickets here. Oops, now there are only 11. A bit like betting on a horse though, since rumour has it the pub will be shut to make way for the bookies (see Deep Throat rumour below).

The River Bar at Greenwich is for sale at £1.65m with an option to acquire an adjacent undeveloped site with more river frontage for a further £1m (see back story here). What's that adjacent site though? Is it the beach? Or has Capital Quay (next door) suddenly lost value? As long as it's not the playground behind...

From High Street Deep Throat and totally UNSUBSTANTIATED:

- Longhurst to sell Bird's Nest
- Cathedral plc have gone bust, Lewisham looking for new developer for Deptford station
- Like much of the property in the north of the high street, the Swan pub is owned by 'moody' Vietnamese...
- Council cost cutting to include turning off high street lighting at midnight (after the elections),  a mugger's charter to be sure...
- Deptford Arms will close in ten days (er...see above gig planned for 15 days' time)...

Still, one of the above stories must be true.

Journey to the end of our road...

While I was down at the north end of Creekside this afternoon, I thought I might take a look at how ''Greenwich Creekside'' was doing.  As the photo shows, the cladding is going up on the blocks nearest Creek Road bridge, yet the Creekside part of ''Greenwich Creekside'' seems to have ground to a complete halt.  The first floor has been used for site offices but apart from the crane standing overhead, there's no sign of any work at all being done.

It seems to confirm the rumour that nobody wanted to buy at the inflated private property prices and that they'd scaled back on the project.  It's no way to leave it, though.  So, any guesses what they might be doing?  (Informed opinion would be a bonus, of course!)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Thieves of sleep

A resident wrote to say: ''Much as I love birdsong, I am being driven mad by the wrong kind of birdsong. Have you heard it? It sounds like a fire alarm or a stuck record or a feathered version of two-note banging techno and it  is driving me mad, especially since it cannot be reported to the Antisocial Behaviour Team – not that doing that has ever solved anything. If you can hear it too, do you know what bird it is?''

Yes, I have heard it; there's a particularly persistent one that starts very early in the mornings. And has quite remarkable stamina. This particular culprit is a great tit.

Great Tit

There's a sound file here, though the BBC's bird is rather more relaxed. It must be one of the tit's gentler rural cousins. Ours are the racier in-yer-face urban variety, more than capable of competing with car alarms and police sirens. It's a repeated shrill metallic-sounding two-tone call that carries long distances, especially as it tends to get to the top of trees for broadcasting its territorial warning. This is bad news for top floor residents, particularly if they find 4am rather too early for an alarm call. (And as I write, one has just started up again - it's 7pm!) But the good news is that it won't go on for ever. At least I don't think it will – I associate the call with early spring and don't remember noticing it once the trees have regained a bit of foliage. 

Unfortunately I don't think it's possible to take out an Anti Singing Bird Order, so you may need to invest in earplugs if it's stealing your sleep. They're too small – and far too pretty – to consider shooting them....  And they're a sign of spring so it seems a small price to pay.

Shipwright's Palace going for 5 million

A naval treasure for the arty glitterati

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Resident Led Programme (RLP) Survey

I've surveyed a few residents about the 'Capital works survey Jan 2010' (aka the Resident Led Scheme Questionnaire) that dropped onto our doormats last week.

My survey showed that:
- 25% didn't know what Resident Led Scheme the questionnaire was referring to
- 25% had put it straight into their Lewisham Homes folder/recycling/bin
- 50% who realised it referred to the new Ball Court next to Farrer – and duly filled out the questionnaire – found that there was no Freepost envelope – and no return address listed on the questionnaire or the accompanying leaflet (which some didn't get) so they couldn't return it.

Others remembered a previous questionnaire sent out about the basketball/football court that had various options for us to choose from which they had filled out and returned. They discovered later that they had voted for the fenced-in option, but didn't recall seeing any results of the consultation.

- The court is smaller/shorter than anyone ever imagined
- The young adults and children using it reported problems with the positioning of the net and the football goal bars that makes them dangerous to use
- Residents have found that in heavy rain, the path running alongside the court from Farrer to the railway arches is unpassable due to flooding.

Perhaps we need another RLP to remove this new under-water feature...

When a tenant phoned up to complain about the lack of return address, she was asked to give her answers over the phone. She refused to do this since she had recently been asked to do the same thing about a repair that hadn't happened a year after it was reported. She had been sent 24 Satisfaction Slips to fill in but hadn't sent them back because the job hadn't been done. 

This conversation may explain why this week we got another letter apologising for the lack of a return address for the questionnaire (but no Freepost envelope). Perhaps this little bit of cost cutting is just as well since the charge to Leaseholders for Resident Involvement has already gone up 68%...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Creek Walks Spring-Summer 2010

Take a walk up the creek...

For adults and accompanied children 9 years old and over. Walkers need to be reasonably fit as you will be walking on the bed of a wild river. Wear old clothes – we provide waders, waterproof jacket and walking stick.

Sunday 18th April 10.30am
Wednesday 12th May 6pm
Sunday 23rd May 3pm
Sunday 6th June 2pm
Thursday 24th June 6pm
Friday 9th July 6pm
Saturday 17th July 11am

Adult £10, Children & concessions £8.50, 2 Adults + 2 Children £28.
Booking is essential: Email Creekside Education Trust or call on 020 8692 9922.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Iconoclastic images at APT Gallery - Don't miss!

Photo by Peter Anderson

Sunshine? The London Marathon can't be far away!

This year's Virgin London Marathon is on Sunday 25 April, so here's an early warning: Creek Road will be shut from 7am and will not open again to traffic until 2pm.

If you fancy dragging yourself away from your Sunday morning quilt immersion session and giving them a cheer as they pass, here's a tip: remember to leave your windows open overnight for the helicopter alarm clock. And if, like me you've never known who's likely to be passing at what time, here are the estimated passing times for the runners at the 7 mile point on Creek Road

Elite women: 9:31am
Wheelchair athletes: 9:45am
Elite men: 10:13am
Runners anticipating a 3:30 hour race time: 10:41
Runners anticipating a 4:30 hour race time: 10:57
Runners anticipating a 5 hour race time: 11:05
Runners anticipating a 6 hour race time: 11:21
Runners anticipating a 7 hour race time: 11:37

Passing times for other places along the route are to be found here

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Paddy Power refused planning permission

The installation of new shopfronts and a roller shutter to the front and side of Deptford Arms, 52 Deptford High Street SE8, together with alterations to the elevations and the installation of air conditioning units and satellite dishes to the rear.

"The proposed alterations would adversely affect the appearance and character of this prominent building and would be detrimental to the character and appearance of this part of the Deptford High Street Conservation Area, contrary to Policies URB 8 Shopfronts and URB 16 New Development, Changes of Use and Alterations to Buildings in Conservation Areas in the adopted Unitary Development Plan (July 2004)."
See here. Decision Refused 06/04/2010

The display of internally illuminated fascia and projecting signs to the front and side elevations of Deptford Arms, 52 Deptford High Street SE8.

"The proposed signage, by reason of its design, materials and means of illumination, would be insensitive to this prominent building and would be harmful to the character and appearance of the Deptford High Street Conservation Area, contrary to Policies URB 8 Shopfronts and URB 16 New Development, Changes of Use and Alterations to Buildings in Conservation Areas in the adopted Unitary Development Plan (July 2004). "
See here. Decision Refused 06/04/2010

Big thanks to all 45 neighbours who petitioned against this. See here.

No doubt an appeal will be forthcoming soon...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Service Charges 2010/2011 - SAY NO TO DIRECT DEBIT!

It looks as though Crossfields Leaseholders are the recipients of some big reductions this year. Holden's is £192 less, Castell's is around £300 less, Farrer's is £134.48 less. Castell's enormous reduction includes the refund they got for the huge 'mistake' in lighting charges from 2008/2009 (see here). Whatever your charges, if they're less than last year, this is equivalent to saying we were overcharged by those same amounts last year.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Great Green Rebels - Half Term Workshops

McMillan Educational Herb Garden is running halfterm workshops on Thursday & Friday 8th & 9th April, and Tuesday to Friday 13th-16th April, 11.30am-3.30pm.

The Herb Garden is "an urban garden bringing communities together through gardening, art, education and music". Find it down on McMillan Street opposite McMillan Nursery. For more info email and look out for future events this summer.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Life on the stairs

A Castell resident has sent me this pic of the targeted distribution of the April issue of Life magazine she took yesterday morning on her way to work...

On 5th March I took the trouble to write to Lewisham Life since I'd seen a bloke going around the estate with a big bag full of Life magazines in the morning, but when I got home from work there was no March issue on the doormat. Not that I'm eagerly awaiting its arrival, but I'm on the top floor so the bloke was obviously too lazy to come up. It seemed rather a waste of money. They replied that they'd report it to their distributors. Looks like no one took any notice.


This was the mathematical formula devised by 'retail & consumer trends' expert Tim Dennison for Yellow Pages, that won Deptford High Street the accolade "the capital's most diverse and vibrant high street" in 2005. Various organisations (and speculators) both large and small have been capitalising on this ever since – when they aren't exploiting the 'artistic hub' which is presently helping to sell 10,000  new homes in Deptford.

What was particularly noted was the absence of the names that predominate in other high streets: Currys, WH Smith, Boots etc. Old timers can remember Woolworths and even Marks & Spencer, but the only chains we have presently are Iceland and Peacocks, perfect for poor people, and we quite like it that way. The chains will move into the new developments like Capital Quay, but in the meantime, is no one at Lewisham HQ looking after our street?

D (High Street Diversity) = f (m,b,c) where m is a wide mix of businesses best suited to normal spending patterns; b is the availability of everyday goods; and c is the presence of a wide number of businesses selling the same kind of thing.

Mostly no one I know understands this concept, at least how it appears in Deptford. They understand competition, but get beyond three of a kind and the luxury of choice becomes the tyranny of too much choice. However, a friend of mine who has spent many years in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, thinks it is perfectly normal and very Arabic. "You find out who you like and you shop there all the time, and every shopkeeper has his regulars."

One of Crosswhatfields commenters said about the proposed Tescos in Creek Road, "Tescos: dontcha know they feel lonely unless they are within walking distance from each other?" At last count Deptford High Street had around 16 grocers all selling the same thing. We're just about to get a 'Juice Bar' that sells phone cards (when we already have 20 phone card outlets) and offers internet access (anyone counted how many of those we've got?). You will probably be able to order a mini cab here as well, and send money via Western Union (that well-known vehicle for internet fraud).

Now there will be one pub and – with the addition of Paddy Power – seven bookies. One bookie is bookended by two pawnbrokers, and there is an unhealthy cluster of bookmakers at the south end of the street. At least the two bookmakers at the north end are respectfully distanced from each other.

The Deptford Dame has gone to the trouble of photographing all the bookies. As referred to in my previous to last post, see her post here. I was going to do this myself, but instead decided to make a Google Map to illustrate the problem.

In due course, I will be adding to the map the other charming additions to our street that make a mockery of this stupid equation.

View D=f(m,b,c) Deptford High Street in a larger map

Deptford Arms RIP

Here's an extraordinary contrast to the bad news that the Deptford Arms has engendered or promises to in its new incarnation as a bookies. One of the most respected artists of the British and international folk scene is Martin Carthy. He is booked to play the Deptford Arms on 1st May 2010, as part of Kit & Cutter May Day. This could be considered a major coup in any local folk calendar. Kit & Cutter have been running their 'pre-modernist' folk club at the pub for a while now. At the time of posting, they still believe this gig will go ahead. Musicians and artists are always the last to know!

Meanwhile, here is a video of a small part of an evening at the smelly, scuzzy old Deptford Arms before its alleged demise. From last weekend, 27th March 2010, it's the Deptford Folk Club aka Kit & Cutter presenting Alasdair Roberts (with Elle Osborne on fiddle). I wasn't there but a Crossfields reporter was, and sent us this video link. The evening was sold out and was a huge success. Let's hope they can find another venue if the pub is closed before May.

Another bookies on the high street

The Deptford Arms RIP

The Deptford Arms is closing. Some may not mourn its loss. It was a problem for the local residents with late night noise and has been a bit smelly for me since the smoking ban. A favourite among the market traders (being the only pub at this end of the high street) and all too popular with the Ladbrokes clientele – a free drink with a winning betting slip and a three hour Happy Hour – it had also built up a reputation as a venue for music for the indie crowd. Most importantly, it is/was the second to last pub in the high street, the others went long ago.

The story is shrouded in mystery. The owner attempted only a short while ago to obtain a license to run a poker club in the basement. He was turned down. The pub also hit the local headlines recently when the police raided it on a tip off that it was full of underage drinkers. However, it did not lose its license as a result. Perhaps because it was known that the pub's days were numbered since, shock horror, it has been sold to Paddy Power.

Paddy Power

The ignomiously named (by my reckoning) Paddy Power is a betting conglomerate. Although it is quite obvious the high street doesn't need another betting office there's apparently nothing anyone can do about it. The building probably has planning permission A1 (retail), A2 (financial services which can include bookies) A3 (restaurant/cafe). Doesn't it need a gambling license from Lewisham Council you may ask? If they can refuse the previous owner his poker bunker, how can they allow a bookmaker in the same premises?

The problem is the same throughout the country. Diane Abbot is currently petitioning to stop Paddy Power opening the ninth betting shop on Mare Street Hackney. She is hoping to get the 2005 Gambling Act tightened up. "Hackney has high levels of unemployment and poverty, and betting shops are a temptation to make money quick. They also attract crime and anti-social behaviour...without offering any benefit in return."

Dole day must be every day for the bookmaker, as it always was, but we're not talking time-honoured profession here, we're not talking horses and dogs and football. You could be forgiven for wondering how much money a bookmaker can take out of an area that doesn't really have a lot to start with...but it looks to me like a straight route from tax payer to Paddy Power, via the government.

However, Paddy Power's enormous (stock market quoted) profits must now come mostly from online betting – betting on anything and everything. Think of a bet and Paddy Power (or Ladbrokes) will have odds. They gave great odds that Obama wouldn't get in and fuelled already growing fears he'd be shot before he got there.

Reginald Road SE8

I had a quick look at Lewisham's Licensing procedures. Appeals against applications can only be made by those living in close proximity to the premises. The surrounding community doesn't get a look in, which is why it was easy for Jennings (now Coral) to take over Hales Gallery, despite forceful petitions from residents in Reginald Road in particular.

With frequent scenes of public disorder around Ladbrokes, this end of Reginald Road is already Punter's Path – amusing in a Shameless – or even Shakespearian – sort of way, or highly intimidating, depending on the thickness of your skin. Rumours and actual sightings of drug dealing and pimping abound with not a warden or copper in sight (except when some gang tried to rob Ladbrokes with guns last year).

Lots of people like a punt. One of my neighbours is a frequent shopper at Ladbrokes. He often doubles his income with what might be called a shrewd investment. I assume he has it under control and he is lucky to live where he does. Some of us might extend sympathy to those without homes and nowhere else to go to get warm during the day or evening – these bookies stay open very late. There are two charity or church run day centres to my knowledge (correct me if I'm wrong), and bookies provide an alternative in the absence of any other initiative.

There is the possibility of our council changing colour from red to green and yellow in the upcoming elections. Deptford & New Cross might have the first Green MP in the country (if we could be bothered to vote). Darren Johnson, the Green Party candidate for parliament in our ward is a councillor serving on the Licensing Committee. It would be interesting to hear what he has to say, if anything, about Licensing. Lewisham People Before Profit (Mayoral candidate John Hamilton) have at least taken a firm interest in the future of the high street. Early days...

I was hoping to get more confirmation before posting about this, since Deptford Arms staff have either been reticent in giving information or simply don't know, and neither the previous owner nor Paddy Power will talk to the press.

However, great minds think alike, and the Deptford Dame has also been digging in her own inimitable way and has posted today with more information, especially in reference to the high street being a conservation area. Thanks Dame!

Postscript: Green Councillor Mike Keogh wrote to say that "Darren Johnson and all others on the Licensing Committe have their hands tied regarding Betting Shops, since if they refuse, the gambling bosses just appeal, and Lewisham loses lots of money in costs."

He directed me to the Green Ladywell blogspot here, which had links to Brockley Central here, regarding a campaign against a new bookies in 2008 that featured on BBC Breakfast News where the debate centred on the 2005 Gambling Act. Brockley campaigner Glenda Rodgers said then, "Our case has set a precedent for Britain where Councils will be afraid not to grant a licence because they don't have enough money to lose an appeal to their decision in court. Residents should keep an eye out for Change of Use signs for Commercial Premises from A1 to A2. It's good to write in opposing A2 use if you do not wish to have a betting shop on that site. A2 includes banks, real estate agents and bookies amongst a few other things."