Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How to start a choir: free workshop at Laban

If you love singing you might be interested in a day of free workshops and demonstrations by the BBC Singers and Trinity Laban musicians on Saturday 19 February, 10am-4pm at the Laban on Creekside.
You'll also be able to register to become part of the biggest mass singing event ever held in Lewisham, as part of the Cultural Olympiad. To book a place call 020 8305 3883 or email or go to

Where are they now? #1

JP from Holden House wrote to Crosswhatfields about ex-Finch House resident Jeff Balcombe:

Although Jeff moved from Crossfields more than 10 years ago many still remember him and ask about him. He has been living in Cliftonville, Margate for the last seven years. The bad news last year was that his wife, Trish, died  from lung cancer after a short illness. This left him, aged 65, with a 13 year old daughter and three foster children. The good news is that Ruby is a talented guitarist singer and has started writing her own material. I'm biased but I think she will make it, sooner rather than later. 

Ruby was born while they were living in Finch House. This video was filmed a year ago; since then she has been taking singing lessons and also guitar lessons from Dave Ralph, also ex-Finch House, who many will also remember. It's worth a look.

Taylor Swift Love story~COVER~

Ruby Balcombe | Myspace Music Videos

Monday, January 24, 2011

Crossfields on the telly

We've unearthed the pilot episode of a sitcom called Turn The World Down set and filmed on Crossfields. Produced by Tiger Aspect, the series was shelved after a managerial change at Channel 4. It was originally aired in 2001, but was later broadcast in April 2010 on Channel 4 as part of Comedy Lab and can still be watched on 4OD.

It has a few well-known faces in it such as comedians Sean Hughes and Brendon Burns, Diane Parish (Denise from EastEnders), Rosie Cavaliero (Jam & Jerusalem) and local actor Jim Conway...(let us know if you recognise any of the other actors or know what young Aaron Lewis or baby Ethan Field are up to now)...

Much of the action takes place away from the estate, but you'll recognise Finch House in the first and last few minutes!

You can watch the entire pilot episode on 4OD here.

Jim Conway, Aaron Lewis and Brendon Burns in Turn The World Down

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Deptford on BBC news - the £10 austerity wedding dress

Deptford featured big at 6am yesterday morning as journalist and milliner Mary Jane Baxter set herself the challenge of designing a stylish wedding dress for no more than ten pounds for BBC News...

Option 1: the second hand market on Douglas Way...See Peter shouting in the background whilst Mary Jane rummages in Carey's Collections and finds a dress.
Option 2: Sew your own – at Peter & Joan's!
Option 3: Sense charity shop...

See it here on i-Player (while stocks last)

Thursday, January 20, 2011


At around 5:20pm this evening (i.e. a few minutes ago) a man was assaulted on the Ha'penny Hatch just on the Deptford side of the bridge.  I presume it was a mugging.  Two black men, dark clothing, hoodies, were seen cycling off over the bridge towards Greenwich.  No lights.

If anybody was in the vicinity and saw these two men on bikes, or saw anything suspicious, please contact the Police and give them whatever information you have.

There's a saying that lightning never strikes twice but, true or not, please be careful, keep your eyes and ears open and be aware.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New e-Petition to lobby Parliament re Betting Shops

A petition against Betfred getting a license to operate at 93-95 Deptford High Street (ex-Halifax) has gone to Lewisham's Licensing Team, along with an objection. It had 55 signatures, 47 of which were from businesses and their staff operating directly in the vicinity (37 different high street addresses in all), the remaining being market traders and residents.

This petition was one of two circulating. The other had well over 100 signatures. However, some of those signatures will not count since the objectors do not 'reside' in the vicinity and the petition was attached to an objection based on the grounds that there are already too many betting shops, and therefore, by law, cannot be accepted. Nevertheless it is an indication of how everyone feels. Unfortunately, too, a petition only counts as 'one' objection. The hearing before the Licensing Committee at which objections may be heard will possibly be held in early February.

We could keep the petition (based on the grounds that gambling attracts and is associated with crime and disorder) going beyond the Licensing Objection deadline (Wednesday), and this can be accepted nearer the date of the hearing in February if it is supplementary to an already existing objection. *

But because of the stated position of Lewisham council (see previous post) and, indeed, of other London boroughs and councils across the country, it is unlikely to make any difference to the outcome. It appears that even if someone got knifed in Paddy Power tomorrow, or loads of people got shot dead in an armed robbery at Coral, it would make no difference to the fact that Lewisham won't turn down the licence because Betfred would appeal and appeal until they get their way. The council say they cannot afford to fight them.

A change in the law is required. 

Therefore we have started a NEW e-Petition to lobby Parliament to amend the 2005 Gambling Act to give local authorities greater powers to refuse permission to the betting chains. We need this to go viral across the country, so if you have any friends and relations in other parts of the UK, please tell them about it.

Stop Betting Shops Taking Over Our High Streets
Sign the petition now at

This is intended to be a cross-party campaign, but was inspired by the reply Diane Abbot MP got from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport who told her that they were unconvinced the law needed changing. Ken Livingstone will also hopefully become more vocal about the problem once he gets his campaign for Mayor underway (his campaign manager is David Lammy MP, who like Abbott, has been lobbying on this problem for some time).

We hope our own council and MP will speak out in due course.

*More news on this shortly...OH! Here it is!

No to Betfred in Deptford High Street
Sign the petition now at


Saturday, January 15, 2011

When Academies don't add up

Though the most recent press release doesn't yet show up on the webpage, it appears that Tidemill Primary School may have had some difficulty with the numeracy section of the Academies entrance exam:...

Expect the governors to quietly (i.e with even less genuine consultation) take a resit on this one

Here's the text of the press release:

Press Release:Save Tidemill Primary School Campaign 

Friday 14th January 2011 

Country’s highest paid Superhead Mark Elms 
gets maths wrong in academy bid 

The governors at Tidemill Primary School in Deptford
are about to withdraw their application to become an academy. 
Though the school governors previously voted 8 to 5 on the 
2nd of December 2010 to take the school into academy status, 
it has recently come to light that the financial breakdown 
presented by Mark Elms was in fact seriously flawed. 
Solicitors Leigh Day & Co acting on behalf of Leila Galloway, 
a parent of two children at the school, have received strong 
indications that the school is minded to withdraw its application
before being drawn into an application where they would be 
subjected to a Judicial Review. 

Although campaigners maintain that there were many flaws in 
the school's proposal and consultation process it appears 
that the main reason for the school withdrawing its 
application rests on a set of seriously flawed figures. 
There is more than one miscalculation. One glaring example 
is where the school estimated that it would cost them £60,000 
to pay for additional services normally provided by the LEA 
when in fact the DOE’s estimate is £78,000 and the LEA estimates
the figure to be in excess of £229,000, see: Lewisham Council
response to consultation. 

All schools that apply for academy status are also mandated to 
undertake an Equality Impact Assessment. It would appear 
the school has not done this. Leila Galloway and local campaigners 
maintain that this is a victory for parents and local residents. 
Many people feel that the whole process has been rushed and important 
decisions made without fully exploring the implications of such a 
profound and irreversible change. 

For further information please contact: 

Leila: 07766710638 or 02086928939 


Website: www.academies 

Dog and Bell wins Pub of the Year Award again

Deptford's favourite pub the Dog and Bell has won the Greater London Pub of the Year 2011 from the Society of Preservation of Beers from the Wood...for the fourth time. Charlie and Eileen will get their award on January 24th, but they got a mention in this week's South London Press, along with some customer recommendations that drew attention to the number of Deptford boozers that have been lost to betting shops.

Congratulations to "Mr & Mrs Gallagher" and cheers to the Beer Preservation Society!

No more betting shops - update

We wrote to the Mayor and councillors about the latest license application from Betfred and got the following replies:

On behalf of the Mayor & Cabinet Office, Andy Williams wrote:

"Steve has asked me to let you know that In July 2009, Lewisham put forward 3 requests, under the Sustainable Communities Act, to amend the Gambling Act to give local authorities more freedom to limit the number of betting shops in an area. However, currently the Council's Licensing Authority has no power under legislation to refuse an application on the grounds that an area is becoming over congested with betting shops.

Each application is assessed on its own merits and can only be refused if objections by local people or organisations highlight a direct contravention of licensing objectives of the Gambling Act.

That said, objections have been received in relation to this application and it will be determined by the Council's licensing committee soon, possibly in February."

We suggested in response that the Mayor might like to make his position more clearly visible in a public statement, since many people mistakenly seem to think the Licensing Committee must be taking backhanders. They also believe the council has abandoned the Deptford community (and Catford, where there are 10 bookies around the high street), despite the large-scale civil amenities being built (which has led to limited and expensive parking). We are pleased to hear that the Mayor made representations in 2009, but what did he do in 2010?

Our original email to him wasn't just about numbers of betting shops either. We had to point out again that there were more than enough grounds under the Licensing Objectives relating to how gambling is linked to crime for an application from Betfred to be turned down.

But an email response from a member of the Licensing Team, Cllr Stella Jeffreys (Lab, Lewisham Central) clarified their position (without addressing crime):

"Thank you for your email.  I do appreciate your concern and as a member of the Licensing Committee I am aware of the public feeling on the proliferation of betting shops in particular areas.

As you note the law does not allow us to take the number of betting premises in an area into account, unlike alcohol licences in a designated cumulative impact area, and the logic of the Act is presumably that new premises will only open if there is a commercial benefit to the operators.  

In the past Lewisham has tried to stand up to prevent the opening of new betting shops but has incurred high costs when the companies have appealed.  At this time of massive budget reductions for Lewisham Council it would not be prudent for us to repeat that.

The only way forward is for Parliament to change the law.  I am sure that you have already lobbied Joan Ruddock the MP for Deptford on this matter, but as the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are now in power, can I suggest that you also contact the relevant minister, John Penrose MP, Minister for Tourism and Heritage in the Department of Culture, Media and Sport."

We are grateful to Stella for her response. She manages to say that the borough cannot afford to turn down applications where the applicant can afford to appeal.

UPDATE: To be fair, it appears Lewisham Council was the lead authority on a proposal shortlisted by the Local Government Association and submitted to central government as a suggested amendment to the Sustainable Communities Act. It proposed that councils should have the power to cap the number of bookmakers in a certain area...see the Deptford Dame's post from March 2010.

Unfortunately, the implications of that are that if an armed robbery took place inside and outside Coral tomorrow it wouldn't make a blind bit of difference to Licensing's response to Betfred's application to open up across the road. They won't turn them down since they know they'd appeal and Lewisham can't or don't want to afford to fight the appeal.

And that Minister for Tourism & Heritage Stella mentioned would be the same John Penrose MP who would like to see the 2005 Gambling Act weakened even further to allow ordinary (adult only) slot machines take higher minimum stakes (from £1 to £2) so that amusement arcades in his constituency of Weston-super-Mare can do better business. Those B3 one-armed-bandits are just not as exciting as the FOBs (Fixed Odd Betting machines) that are only allowed to be installed in betting shops where you can touch the screen every 20 seconds in the vain hope of winning £500. Says Penrose "I would like to ensure these businesses remain competitive in these tough economic times." (Hansard) 

The 2005 Gambling Act debate

Apart from Penrose's initial preferences, in Parliament, the main issues being debated around the Act concern the Horseracing Betting Levy (which has helped fund British horse racing since the 1960s) and The Tote (the state-owned legal betting service founded in 1928 which also helps fund British horse racing, now a state-run casino as it keeps abreast of bookmaking trends, although it remains independent). Areas of debate on the Levy include Offshore Online Betting Businesses that are outside the Levy (Hills and Ladbrokes for instance), Overseas Racing (no Levy), Gross Profits Thresholds (percentage of total profits that can be paid by bookmakers, presently only 10%), Betting Exchanges (that operate outside bookmakers and is unlevied) and Media Rights (which bookmakers resent paying)...

The racing community claims that a series of loopholes exploited by bookmakers have resulted in the size of the levy on bookmakers' profits falling by more than a third in the past two years (£75m instead of £130m-£150m). Bookmakers argue that racing is no longer their main concern, though if you ever glance inside one, you'll know that it's the main event on all the screens. Obviously the shop isn't the only medium for betting and racing isn't the only thing we can bet on, but it can be argued that the demand for racing hasn't decreased (in fact attendance at race meetings has grown), just the opportunity for betting on everything else has increased. See Racing United for more on the Levy.

The Tote is a national asset that the government has been thinking of selling off to the highest bidder for some time (like Waterways and Woodlands), particularly since Gordon Brown as chancellor announced the intention in 2001. It has 517 high street betting shops and the monopoly to run "pool betting" (oh god, don't ask) online and at 60 racecourses in the UK. Allegedly, in the year to April 2010 it made profits of £13.3m on revenues of £2.8bn, and contributed £11.3m to the horse racing industry.

The Jockey Club (which regulates horse racing, owns and operates 13 racecourse etc) opposes the sale of the Tote, whilst Betfred was prepared to pay up to £250m in December 2010 (it was worth £400m in 2007), up against Paddy Power, Sportech (headed by Ian Penrose, shurely no relation) etc. Coral and Ladbrokes already have partnerships with the Tote. They are ruled out of bidding on "competition grounds". (Meanwhile, like they give a shit, Paddy Power was reported in December 2010 as buying Australian company Sportsbet for £86.2m).

I reckon the Tote is worth more than £250m because of its 'pool betting' monopoly but don't ask me why. Obviously I'm of a type that is averse to sell-offs anyway (such as waterways and woodlands, not to mention those already sold off), especially when some bastard gets it cheap. Then again, I've only seen toffs with plenty of money who own racehorses, why should they be subsidised for their jockeys, vets, trainers and prize money?

Both the Levy and the Tote are long-running sagas for the government. Penrose has been reported as considering various options other than a direct sell of the Tote, but is excluded from the Levy debate because his wife is a member of the Jockey Club. Guess who's in charge? Jeremy Hunt, who would probably, like the bookmakers, prefer the levy scrapped, and has possibly already lined up a mate to buy the Tote, if his recent reputation is anything to go by.

If, like me, you have never followed racing or the betting industry, you'll be confused. Anyone who knows and wants to make the above clearer, please do. But with all these vested interests going on and arguments (some moral) centred around tradition & heritage versus 'a modern gambling experience', and state ownership and subsidy versus pure market forces, it is hardly surprising the Labour government made such an enormous cock-up of the 2005 Gambling Act...

During that time, you probably couldn't move in Westminster for betting industry lobbyists. No doubt it is similar now, only more competitive...A box at the races for you and your banking mates, free booze and direct line to tax free exchange betting, anyone?
Whatever, it's beyond ironic that New Labour's complete and utter fumbling of the 2005 Gambling Act has led to New Labour's flagship boroughs suffering the most.

Down on the street

North of the river, in Hackney alone there are nearly 70 betting shops, three times the national average. There were 2,095 gambling licenses in operation in 33 boroughs in 2009, up from 1,721 in 2003 (Gambling Commission and Home Office).

Hackney Mayor Jules Pipe describes betting shops as "sucking the money out of people's pockets".

In September 2010 he joined Ken Livingstone and Tottenham MP David Lammy in a press call at a new Paddy Power in Mare Street, where there are already 9 bookies. Livingstone said:

"We are calling on the government to give local communities a greater say over their high streets...there should be a separate planning class for betting shops to give councils and residents the power to determine their location and overall numbers."

Lammy said, "It is surely wrong that (councils) cannot deny an application for a betting shop on the basis of the number already open in the area."

The Hackney News reported that the Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) has said it would be co-operating with a review announced by Haringey council into the proliferation of high-street betting shops, but denied that new legislation was needed, since under the current Act, local councils can refuse licenses where they can show 'good and sustainable reasons'.

Local campaigners in Deptford (apolitical local residents horrified by the developments on their doorsteps) who went to the trouble of objecting for "good and sustainable reasons" (including planning objections under conservation rules that seem to hold even less weight), to Paddy Power taking over both the Deptford Arms and the John Evelyn pubs within a 4 month period know this is simply not true.

The Local Government Association argues that lax licensing of gambling premises in deprived areas simply increases poverty. "We are a bit concerned...they're taking advantage of people's desperations and concerns at such a difficult time." (Hackney News) Also see the LGA website.

Hackney's MP Diane Abbott has long been campaigning about the clustering of betting shops. She has talked about it on the telly, and before she got drawn into the Labour leadership campaign, as a back bencher she was putting in EDMs (Early Day Motions) to Parliament in an attempt to change the 2005 Gambling Act. 

Time for Lewisham to Speak Out

In a response to our email to Diane Abbott about what is happening in Deptford, her office furnished us with the response she received from John Penrose in October 2010. In the letter, Penrose says there are powers which local authorities can implement to make it harder for certain shops to open under Town & Country Planning legislation. "There are wider issues at play that should be dealt with through the Local Development Framework and Town Centre Management strategies, rather than being addressed by gambling specific legislation."

Unless there is something mysteriously masonic in John Penrose's words that councillors and bureaucrats in boroughs all over the country have missed to the detriment of their communities (that'll be Tory wards that aren't blighted), it needs to be pointed out to John Penrose MP that when a local authority turns down licensing or planning applications to ambitious new betting chains it is inevitable that said betting chains, Paddy Power, Betfred etc, WON'T BE HAPPY until they have BANKRUPTED every local authority in the UK...
in order to maintain and achieve even greater hold over their competitors in our high streets, whilst all along singing merrily that they have only provided us with what we wanted all along. 

Penrose went on to tell Diane Abbott that he's not convinced the law needs changing because he hasn't heard similar complaints from around the country – whilst his government cuts local authority funding to ribbons. Whatever your opinions on how your council makes its cuts, you will probably agree you'd rather keep a library open than fund a hopeless legal case against a wealthy offshore betting chain.

Penrose probably doesn't know either that bookmakers are the second most likely target for armed robbery (after shops and before post offices and banks), and doesn't have to walk down a street where punters hang outside betting shops all day drinking, drug dealing, stealing from the adjacent shops and shoppers, and begging. 

John Penrose's response to Diane Abbott is a WAKE UP call to our powers-that-be in Lewisham (including the Borough Chief of Police) to speak up in support of Deptford shopkeepers, street traders and residents, and join our friends north of the river in a nationwide campaign to change the law.


At the time of writing, we have had no response to our emails to Joan Ruddock. We visited her surgery at The Albany yesterday afternoon and picked up ticket number 26. There were already 15 people waiting, and ticket number 16 was called at 5.45pm, 15 minutes before her session was to close. We sincerely hope she is able to help those people, some of whom had been waiting since 3pm....

However, we hope Deptford can count on her support in the future. She's always been a jolly good Chair.

Read how to object here. (Objections now closed)

Further update: Some background reading on the local situation...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Remembering the New Cross Fire

Stop Press! Tickets still available for tonight's event at The Albany, which is an evening to mark the 30th Anniversary of the New Cross Fire. More info here or call the Box Office 020 8692 4446.

Details of the Memoral Service (16 Jan) and plaque unveiling (18 Jan) on Brockley Central.
Historical account on Transpontine.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Lewisham favours betting shops over pizza

Whilst the betting chains take over our high street as Lewisham Licensing seem somehow powerless to stop them getting Gambling Licenses, another part of the Licensing Team is applying the planning and licensing rules in a different way – again, to the high street's detriment.

A well-established and respectable business on the high street, Sight Centre, was hoping to branch out and open a new pizza restaurant next to Cod Father's. Not too many pizza restaurants in Deptford High Street, you'll note, and a welcome addition to a small area of the street that is fast becoming a mini Las Vegas, full of betting shops and money lenders. But Lewisham planners say no. We already have our full quota of eateries apparently.

If you'd like to support the introduction of a new pizza restaurant, pop into the Sight Centre and sign their petition. Or see Danny on the market (the men's clothing stall situated in front of the old Halifax) who is fielding it on market days.

Whilst you're there, sign the other petition against the new Bet Fred planned for the Halifax site.

It is still worth lodging a complaint however by signing the petition, writing to the press and Joan Ruddock MP, and if you have the time, an objection to the Licensing Team. Objections to Bet Fred's application for a betting license must be in by Wednesday January 19th.

You must include your full name and address, and your objection might be to point out the worrying levels of antisocial behaviour and crime as a result of the already existing betting shops. It is not enough to simply complain about how many betting shops there already are. For further reading see this in-depth letter of objection here.


Puppet Theatre at Creekside Centre - Saturday 15 January

Magic Book Puppet Theatre will be performing The Lucky Gingerbread Man puppet show this Saturday 15 January at 11am and 2pm at the Creekside Centre, 14 Creekside SE8 4SA.
Wooden spoons and rolling pins come alive in this funny and clever version of the original tale. 
Suitable for ages 3+. Tickets £4. (includes tea and homemade Gingerbread men).

Magic Book Theatre will be at the Creekside Centre until March. Other shows to come are:

Saturday 22 January, 11am and 2pm
The Three Little Pigs
Live music, shadow puppets and lots of huffing and puffing in this exciting show with a twist in its tale!
Suitable for ages 4+. Tickets £4.

Saturday 29th January, 11am and 2pm
Jungle Ginger in The Great Escape
Forty glorious minutes of circus tricks and monkey business!
Ages 5+. Tickets £4.

Saturday 5th February, 11am and 2pm
The Fairy Clock
A dandelion's flight through the seasons. World premiere at Creekside!
Ages 3+. Tickets £4.

Saturday 19th February, 11am and 2pm
Stories on a Shoestring
Drew Colby's inventive storytelling using everyday objects is an absolute delight!
Ages 3+. Tickets £4.

Saturday 5th March, 11am and 2pm
The Waddleplops
Hidden by water lillies and bullrushes, there's a family of little green people who eat tadpoles. But who eats the Waddleplops?
"A wonderful visual experience with fantastic music. The children were spellbound." Pound Park Nursery School, Charlton.

To book your seats at these shows call Michele at Magic Book Theatre on 07739 570403.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Clean up your estate project

Oops! I nearly forgot...Weather permitting, tomorrow is the day "Community Payback" and "Agent Orange" are coming to Crossfields to MAKE US TIDY OURSELVES UP.

Quite who either of these entities are was not explained in the letter we all received before Christmas...but anyway, it was made clear that if we've got any of our belongings outside our front doors and on our landings (note, they don't say 'balconies') we are supposed to use this opportunity to dispose of them.

The Tenancy Agreement says we must keep the communal areas around our homes clean, free from obstruction and tidy at all times, and Agent Orange is coming to enforce this. I'm still wondering if it is a typing error since I thought Agent Orange was a chemical weapon used in the Vietnam War by the US Military, which led to 400,000 people being killed or maimed and 500,000 children born with birth defects.

Day One, Wednesday 12th January: 10am-12noon at Frankham House
Day One, Wednesday 12th January: 12-2pm at Finch House
Day Two, Thursday 13th January: 10am-2pm at Browne House

Some people round here are really untidy, so this may be a good thing...Trouble is, the 'belongings' I have outside my front door are mostly things I'd like to keep. Plants, pots, gardening stuff, a bicycle...y'know, the sort of stuff you don't want indoors? I'm wondering if I'll be made to move them, or whether Agent Orange is just going to spray them so that they disappear in a cloud of toxic dioxins. I may have a fight on my hands...

Oh dear, I'm sure Lewisham Homes means well, but honestly...Agent Orange?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A couple of Creekside questions


We got this email in the crosswhatfields inbox a day or so ago:

I have just come across the Crossfield blogs  -  I am not sure whether you can help but….

I lived at 13 Crossfield Street a 2 up 2 down with my Mother, Father, Granddad & Grandmother + chummy my dog from 1946 (my birth) to 1950/51. My surname is Farrer which is not particularly common although the Queens Solicitors are Farrer & Co!

Therefore, does anybody know why FARRER HOUSE built during 1949 in Church Street got its name?

Also my Mother was born at 13 Crossfield Street (and was married in St Pauls) as were at least one of her siblings and other members of the family living at the Rectory Buildings which were also in Crossfield Street.


Graham Farrer

Now, I don't have any idea who the eponymous Farrer was.  I'd like to think that Graham's next door neighbour was Finch the fishmonger, renowned for his Congers, but this seems rather unlikely.  

So, is there anybody who can answer Graham's question?  Surely of all the people living in Farrer there must be a couple who know how it got its name.

When I returned from a sunny Sunday constitutional early this afternoon, there was some filming going on in Creekside.  It involved a female athlete in Team Britain colours being filmed on a ''training run'' from outside Cockpit Arts along to Faircharm.
 Here she is a bit closer up:
And here's another of her sitting on the back of the truck, on the edge of the new Creekside duckpond,  trying to keep those muscles warm:

Now, I know very little about athletics and didn't get to ask the crew what was going on.  So, does anybody recognise her or know anything about the filming?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Malcolm Hardee Annual Remembrance Night at The Lord Hood

 Sunday 9th January, 7pm-1am, Free
The Lord Hood, 300 Creek Road

The Lord Hood, standing as it does bang next door to Up The Creek, was much frequented by Up The Creek's founder, comedian Malcolm Hardee. Every year the pub has a get together to remember him. This year Jody VandenBurg will be showing his award winning documentary on the Tunnel Club. Jody is also working on a documentary about Malcolm so attendees are requested to bring along their memories to tell Jody so he can add it to his collection of Malcolm's time here on this planet. Also Steve Bowditch and his band The Provocateers and the best new double act The Office Girls will be providing the usual off the wall entertainment.

The evening clashes with Shedload of Love at The Duke, but if you're nimble you can get to both!

Live music at The Duke - Sunday 9th January

Some of the folk attending the wake at The Duke of the pub's ex-landlord Erich Höfer in November 2010 were keen to impress on the new landlord what a great music venue the refurbished pub would make, as they reminisced about the old days...(see previous post)

This has led directly to the pub's new owners giving the idea a spin. Their website now has a page devoted to the pub's musical history, and this Sunday sees the first live music gig. The evening has been arranged by friends of Ron Chisholm in celebration of his 76th birthday. Ron is of one of the oldest movers and shakers in the music business who is still working – managing bands, programming gigs at The Amersham Arms and the 100 Club among others, and ferrying musicians and equipment to and from gigs. Crossfields Festival could not happen without Ron's invaluable contribution.

One of his favourite bands is Shedload of Love, which grew out of the original bands who played the Duke in the 1980s, so who better to get the Duke's foray into live music going at the start of the new year...and Happy Birthday, Ron!

Shedload of Love, Sunday 9th January, 8pm. Admission free. All welcome.
The Duke, 25 Creek Road SE8

Friday, January 7, 2011

Talking to the bookmakers

Tottenham MP David Lammy is campaigning for a change in the 2005 Gambling Act that would give local authorities more power to overturn applications from bookmakers.

Lammy says: "As the Bill went through Parliament, attention was focused on super-casinos and internet gambling. What no one spotted were the loopholes making it easier for betting shops to saturate high streets and town centres.

"The response of the industry will be that this is all about personal choice. But I don't want to ban betting or betting shops. We all enjoy a flutter on the Grand National or a bet on football. What is in question is whether communities can take ownership of their own high streets. People should be able to make collective choices about how their areas look and feel.

"So first, gambling establishments should no longer be allowed to apply for space under the same pretences as any other financial service. Secondly, local authorities must be able to control the number and influence their location. Councils can already decide that there are too many bars and pubs in a particular area: why shouldn't the same be true of betting shops?"

(Extract from Evening Standard article, February 2010 – more here)

Lammy called a Westminster debate in November 2010, and is also campaigning from his own website.

William Hill contacted Lammy in February 2010, disputing many of the claims of his campaign ("the facts do not support the perception") and asking to be regulated "on the basis of fact; not erroneous perception"...Lammy responded to their arguments as follows:

William Hill: "Far from undermining sustainable communities there is clear evidence that betting shops add to the vibrancy of an area and increase footfall for other retailers...Betting shops also provide flexible local employment and career development for local people and the idea that the availability of betting shops drains the incomes of poor families is scotched by the data from the ONS Food & Expenditure Survey which shows that in London, only 0.4% of income is spent on gambling (per cent of total spend) of any kind."

David Lammy: "...this general figure demonstrates absolutely nothing about what those in the poorest areas spend on gambling...the industry deliberately targets areas of poverty and deprivation – how else do you explain why deprived Newham has over three times as many gambling establishments as wealthy Richmond?...Demand for gambling in a William Hill is satisfied both in affluent Muswell Hill and less affluent Archway, yet the former has just one of your shops, whilst the other has four. Do you believe that the people of Archway would somehow be unable to find William Hill if there were only one or two of your establishments?"

William Hill: "Betting shops are over 18 only establishments and it is generally at the insistence of the police and licensing officers that shop frontages are being opened to public view. William Hill and other major operators have made great strides in ensuring that betting shop staff operate a 'think 21' policy. Therefore we do not believe that betting premises present a major risk to children or young persons. Merely having to walk past a betting shop does not mean that a child is in close proximity to gambling."

David Lammy: "Given that last year a gambling commission investigation uncovered that 98% of bookmakers, including your own outlets, allowed under-age gambling, I have serious reservations when you say you have made 'great strides' in operating a 'think 21' policy....I would also contend that 'merely having to walk past a betting shop does not mean a child is in close proximity to gambling'. All advertisements, including those emblazoned on the windows of your outlets, are intended to have an effect on the public...When those signs tell £10 of my money can become £450...I have no doubt that it plays on the minds of vulnerable people that are desperate to break free from the shackles of poverty."

William Hill: "...there are processes in place such as self exclusion and customer interaction to protect the vulnerable. William Hill has just in fact received an award...for its significant financial contribution to the research, education and treatment of problem gambling."

David Lammy: "...pardon me if I choose not to offer my congratulations when your betting shops clearly make a net contribution to the problem by saturating certain neighbourhoods."

In his campaign Lammy posits that "The concentration of so much gambling in one area can change the character of a neighbourhood and send all the wrong messages to young people.

"In Haringey alone, in the past two years, there have been almost 750 public-order offences related to gambling premises — more than one a day. It cannot be right, either, that police time is wasted on such avoidable, petty crime."

William Hill: "We were disappointed to see that you had described betting shops as a 'haven' for anti-social behaviour.  Betting shops operate in a highly regulated environment. One cannot drink alcohol or smoke in a betting shop and our staff enforce these regulations rigorously...we rely on the police or community safety teams to help our staff uphold the law...(regarding groups smoking and drinking outside betting premises) we do see this as a matter for local police who are empowered to move on those who are causing a public nuisance...This really is the law of unintended consequences."

David Lammy: "Yes, police officers and community safety teams are there to aid your staff, but only as a last resort. When your clients exhibit anti-social behaviour as a consequence of the service that you offer...then you, as the owner of the commercial premise, ought to take responsibility for that and employ your own security staff..."

William Hill: "We are aware of the existence of illegal gambling your constituency. Licensed and regulated premises are also much more preferable to the proliferation of illegal gambling...Reducing betting shop coverage increases the risk of illegal gambling in pubs, clubs and other establishments..."

David Lammy: " were to close your William Hill at 440 High Road Tottenham, its clientele would have no trouble walking 200m down the road to the next William Hill at 375 High Road....The current coverage of betting shops is so dense, and the choice on offer so vast, that it would have no noticeable impact at all on people's access to legal and licensed gambling."

Lammy ends: "I do not oppose the presence of gambling establishments on our high streets. As you helpfully acknowledge, this is not a 'moralist crusade' – it is not about the rights and wrongs of gambling. This is about a balanced and vibrant high street, and residents having the power to achieve that."

(You can download the full correspondence at David's site – but be ready to switch off the loud video that comes on when the site loads).

Anyone with any ideas on how to further the aims of the Tottenham campaign and make it national, please get in touch!

Oh, and this is Tottenham's Betting Map:

View Gambling in Tottenham in a larger map

Deptford Betting Map

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

We've updated the Deptford Betting Map since a comment to the Deptford Dame revealed there are in fact already TEN betting offices in the vicinity of Deptford High Street (we thought it was nine). The new Betfred coming to the ex-Halifax will bring the local total to ELEVEN. If you include the rest of Evelyn Street (still in Deptford) it becomes 13. The map shows that Betfred will be the SIXTH within a 150metre area in the south of the high street.

If you want to object to Betfred's application for a betting licence see our post here.

Meanwhile, this is a charming poster presently gracing one of the windows of the old Deptford Arms – at childrens' eye level. It seems to suggest that if you are an overweight woman you can become a man with an enormous knob...certainly not what anyone would call the 'usual prospects'...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Secret Streets of Deptford

A month or so ago, Jaime Taylor of Century/Halcyon Heart Films wrote to us about a BBC documentary series that she was working on about the last 120 years of history focusing on 6 London streets.  One episode of this series will be looking at our very own Deptford High Street - the only High Street in the series.  The idea  (see here for their introduction) is to pick up on London's social history from the point where Charles Booth  left off with his poverty map.  

This is where you, readers,  come in.  Jaime is eager to hear of any bits of history you have about the high street, be it old family stories, historical records, memories, whatever...  Below, we've copied her letter, but before reading that think about this: if you have a tale to tell and you send it directly to Jaime there's a risk that it won't get to be used and that little bit of local history will disappear again from view.  However, wouldn't it be better if you post up your stories here (or send them to and we'll post them up)?  That way, local readers will get to see it and so will Jaime. 

So this blog (and the Deptford Dame's very shortly) welcomes reading any tales you may have  to tell, ideally via our email address , failing that as simple comments (it's harder to get further information without contact details) or directly to Jaime.

Here's what Jaime Taylor has written to us...


Century and Halcyon Heart Films are an independent production company who are currently making a major new documentary series for BBC2 which will chart the history of six London streets.

One of the programmes will focus on the history of Deptford High Street. We are currently collaborating with several businesses on the street to build up a picture of the past 120 years. Having been a shopping street for almost two centuries we're sure every shop and building will have a fascinating story, so we're keen to speak to people who have lived or worked in the area about their memories.

The questions we want to ask are quite straightforward: How long have / did you live in Deptford? Do you know anything about the history of the high street? What are your memories of the pubs and shops there? And if you lived close to the street, or knew the residential streets nearby, do you remember them before they were demolished in the 1960s and 1970s? Even if you no longer live in Deptford, if you used to know it well we'd really like to hear from you.

At this stage, it’s purely for our research and there’s no obligation to appear on television. However, in the coming months we would like to interview people for the documentary. We think it’s going to be a fascinating project – and even if you don’t think you’re going to be interested in appearing on television, it would be great to have a chat with you.

If you can contact us at your earliest convenience, we’ll be sure to get back to you. It goes without saying that everything we talk about will be treated in the strictest confidence, and will not be passed on to anyone outside our team.

We so hope that you’ll consider taking part in what is going to be a very exciting project. You can email me at
historystreet [at] or give us a call on 020 7378 6106. We'd love to have a chat and answer any questions you might have. For more information you can also see our website …

Best Regards,

Jaime Taylor
Century Films/ Halcyons Heart Films

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Merry Easter and a Happy 1981

Oppose the tenth betting shop...(Part 2)

A letter to the the Licensing Committee, copied to the Mayor....the first four paragraphs sum it up.

Dear Sir /Madam,

I wish to formally object in the strongest possible terms to the granting of yet another betting shop licence in Deptford High St. This would bring the total to ten which is absurd and a threat to the fabric of the local population.

Even on days of inclement weather local "punters" gather in numbers outside the existing establishments drinking and often haranguing passing shoppers and families or pawning what little they have in the "conveniently located" pawnbrokers.

A child in Deptford already perceives gambling as the norm and an extra shop will simply reinforce this. This is surely contrary to legislation.

Deptford already has the highest unemployment in south London and it is surely unfair to place such temptation in the form of vacuous get rich quickly promises in front of people who are already struggling with little chance of relief in the form of employment.

Deptford High St was once the most vibrant and diverse street in London with a market to match. It still is pretty special. Its survival up to now has been due to the preservation of shops' individual freeholds. Thanks to the lacklustre and callous treatment by Lewisham town "planners" this is all changing.

The few remaining employment sites are being snapped up by residential developers boosting unemployment further and they justify this by saying they have to fulfill City Hall and Government targets.

It's about time L.B. Lewisham stopped "dumping on Deptford" and showed a bit of pride and care for the most historically important part of their borough.

Yours Faithfully,

Julian Kingston

Oppose the tenth betting shop...(Part 1)

There are no easy systems in place to block an application for a betting license, especially if the premises was already a bank, where there are no changes in use (financial)....

So we have the:
"Done Brothers" of Warrington WA3 7PQ trading as Betfred
applying for a betting premises license under section 159 of the Gambling Act 2005 
for 93-95 Deptford High Street.

Unfortunately, the 'Gambling License' applied for above does not require that it is posted online and, unlike 'Planning Permission' there is no facility for objecting online either. In fact the only way you would know that the Halifax is about to become Betfred is by reading the notice currently stuck to the window of 93-95 Deptford High Street.

We wrote to the Licensing Team and got this message:

Your objection can be via letter or email but must include a name and address as objectors must reside in the vicinity of the premises.

The grounds for such objections under the above legislation, must specifically relate to one or more of the Licensing Objectives which are
  • Preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder, or being used to support crime.
  • Ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way
  • Protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploiting by gambling.
  •  Under this legislation the number of betting shops in an area is not a relevant ground for objection.
I would also advise that a copy of your representation has to be sent to the applicant,  and should the application be determined by the licensing committee of the council at a public meeting your letter would form part of agenda papers for the meeting. You will have the opportunity to address the committee on this matter. These documents are available to the press and the public.

Well, we do know some people living in the vicinity, so we will be encouraging them to making representations (not that they need much nudging).

Those of us living down the road (ie not in the immediate vicinity) but nevertheless concerned if not distressed by this might want to write a letter of objection to the licensing committee and should copy that letter to local councillors, MP and press.

The address to email your objections to:

The Licensing Team did not tell us the email address of the applicant however, so we cannot copy to them until we are informed of it, although we do have an address from the notice in the window as follows: Spectrum, 56-58 Benson Road, Birchwood, Warrington, WA3 7PQ

In the meantime copy your email to:
Betfred / Done Brothers (awaiting address from Licensing since no contact email has been provided)*

Then there are the councillors on the Gambling Licensing committee...but that's built on shifting sands and it's difficult for the public to find out who the three members of the Licensing Team may actually be....:
Councillors Addison, Affiku, Britton, Bonavia, Daby, Griesenbeck, Jeffrey, Morrison, Peake and Stamirowski (chair).


Licensing has since written to us to say they will send on a copy to the applicant any objections sent to them.