Sunday, May 29, 2011

Stop Press! Benefit for UK Uncut at The Duke with Skint Video - today!

Comedy musical duo Skint Video will be reuniting this afternoon at 2pm to perform a tuneful and topical satirical set (in aid of UK Uncut Fortnum 145) at their old stomping ground The Duke.

Older residents will have fond memories of Steve Gribbin and Brian Mulligan playing The Duke and The Albany and other venues in the comedy boom of the eighties. This afternoon is billed to go on till 5pm and children are welcome...apologies for the late notice...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Friday 27th May SLAM (South London Art Map) Last Fridays

Art galleries in Deptford, Peckham and Bankside are open late this Friday. For more details go to the SLAM website.

In Creekside, check out Core Gallery, Hatch Space and Art Hub. At APT Gallery, a Crossfields resident is part of Creekside Open 2011 (selected by 2010 Turner Prize nominee Dexter Dalwood).


BBC2's The Culture Show came down to film SLAM events and shows at the Old Police Station, APT and other local art venues – so look out for Deptford on the telly in the near future...

Saturday 28th May at Creekside Centre

Crossfields' very own Magic Book Puppet Theatre are back with their 35 minute musical children's show The Waddleplops (suitable for ages 3+) at 11am and 2pm.
"Atmospheric and magical! The children were totally engaged" Pound Park Nursery School
To book call 07739 570403.

For adults and children aged 8-16 there's also a Creekside Low-Tide Walk at 3.30pm. Expeditions up the creek last about two and a half hours. Adults £10, children & concessions £5 (2 adults + 2 children £25). Booking is essential: 020 8692 9922 or email

Faircharm redevelopment - how does it affect Crossfields?

Workspace, the owners of Faircharm Trading Estate, are about to begin a dramatic redevelopment of their site on Creekside very soon, and the architects of the project have contacted Crossfields TRA to introduce themselves and their designs with the intention of getting our views.

Karakusevic Carson Architects will be bringing "some early sketches and models to illustrate the research and design progress so far" to the TRA Meeting THIS THURSDAY 26th MARCH at 7.30pm at the Pink Palace.

Paul Karakusevic told us "we are looking at how we can increase public access to the Creek and maximise useable employment floorspace for a range of small/medium employers, and provide good quality spaces for studios etc....One of the key aspects of the scheme is how the buildings achieve an active frontage which feels secure at night..."

Needless to say, there's going to be some luxury housing by the Creek in the mix to pay for it all.

Many apologies for the short notice (too busy to blog). If you can't make it Thursday but are eager to see the proposals, an event is being planned for June (possibly the weekend of the 18th/19th) for which there should be plenty of notice.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Amendment to Localism Bill voted down by Coalition

In the previous post about Betfred we reported that David Lammy MP would be tabling an amendment to the controversial Localism Bill in the Commons this week. The vote took place yesterday.

David Lammy has written to us to let us know that "despite the fact that 221 MPs from Labour, the Greens, SDLP, DUP and Plaid Cymru supported my amendment, it was defeated by 315 Liberal Democrat and Conservative MPs."

"Yesterday, I tabled an amendment to the Localism Bill in order to give communities the power they needed to manage the number and location of bookmakers. The amendment sought to change the planning category of betting shops so that they are no longer classed alongside banks and building socieities and are placed in a class of their own, just like Casinos and Gaming Arcades.

"Currently, bookmakers can open up in the same premises as a bank, estate agent, pub, takeaway or restaurant without the need for any planning permission - that's 45% of shopfronts in Haringey. Changing the planning category would force any new betting shop to require planning permission first, giving councils and residents the statutory support they need for greater local control on this issue.

"For too long we have seen great local amenities and iconic buildings being replaced by endless numbers of bookmakers. There are streets in London that look more and more like Las Vegas without any of the glitz or glamour. This amendment would have represented a significant step forward for those people that want more local control over their high streets and don’t want to see their high streets turn into cloned ghost towns."

Mr Lammy was particularly disappointed by his local MP Lib Dem Lynne Featherstone, who had previously expressed support for the campaign, but voted with the government against it.

Lammy pledged to keep fighting however. "I will continue to keep up the pressure on government ministers on this issue. The next step will be to pressure the Department for Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee to hold a review of the 2005 Gambling Act. I will be in touch in the near future on how we can all pressure an inquiry together."

We look forward to that.

Meanwhile, we found this on "Planning Blog" which explains the Tory point of view that the LibDems helped promote...Michael Donnelly writes:

"The amendment was rejected in a vote but this is a strong argument and it’s hard not to feel that ‘something needs to be done’ about this, via the planning system.

That said, a point raised by Philip Davies MP (Conservative) is also valid: “Betting shops go where there is a demand for them”, he said.

“If there was no demand for them on the high streets in Lewisham and Tottenham, presumably some of them would close down because there would not be enough demand. The fact that these betting shops have not closed down indicates that their constituents want to use them, which makes them viable.”

This is of course correct. It’s basic supply and demand. The question is whether this supply is in turn driving demand and getting people, often poor, often vulnerable, addicted to gambling and in turn increasing social problems in areas that already have their fair share.

The proliferation of betting shops will presumably form a part of retail guru Mary Portas’ independent review to look ways to develop “more prosperous and diverse high streets”, which was announced with great excitement yesterday.... "

Planning Blog provided a link to the relevant government webpage...where you can see this video of Mary Portas...

Oh dear...hope flies out the window...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Betfred appeal against Lewisham Planning decision

On 30 March 2011, Lewisham refused Betfred's planning application (see our post here). It was inevitable that Betfred would appeal against this decision to the government's Planning Inspectorate and now they have.

Those who objected to Betfred opening a new betting shop at 93-95 Deptford High Street are now being given the opportunity again to make their views known to the Planning Inspectorate.

The objections already made at application stage have been forwarded on to the Planning Inspectorate for consideration, but any further observations you may wish to make should be sent directly to:

Mrs Ruth Howell
The Planning Inspectorate
3/14 Eagle Wing
Temple Quay House
2 The Square
Temple Quay
Bristol BS1 6PN

by THURSDAY 9 JUNE 2011.
Comments must be sent in triplicate quoting reference APP/C5690/A/11/2151228/NWF.

Or you can email

Any comments you write on this appeal will be copied by the Planning Inspectorate and forwarded to all parties to the appeal including the appellant.
Those who own a property nearby should make sure they tell the Planning Inspectorate if they want the Inspector to view their objections from their property. He may make a site visit to determine the relevant facts and features.

Anyone is welcome to send in their objections – not just those who have already objected. So please get writing! 

In their appeal, Betfred state:

"...the use of the unit as a licensed betting office rather than a bank/buiding society would not adversely affect the diversity of uses or the vitality and viability of the area. The proposed use will create a level of footfall similar to that of an A1 retail unit."

Except most retail units are not open in the evening encouraging drinking and begging outside on the pavement.

"...there is nothing to suggest the use of the premises as a betting shop would cause harm in terms of anti-social behaviour, crime or disturbance to neighbouring residents and other users of the town centre. This reason for refusal is based on a subjective view of the type of people that use betting shops. There is no evidence that customers visiting betting shops are any more likely to cause harm in terms of anti­social behaviour, crime or disturbance than any other use present along Deptford High Street."

Funny, then, that street drinking is only taking place outside betting shops and not other retail outlets...

The Blackheath Bugle has posted the letter from planning here, and suggests his/her readers use the Bugle's comments section to gather case studies, examples and evidence that illustrate why yet another betting shop in Deptford High Street is a bad idea. Feel free to do that on this blog too.

And the bigger picture...

We have been contacted by Joan Ruddock's office to let us know that David Lammy MP is tabling an Amendment to the Localism Bill as it relates to Planning Consent for Betting Offices, and this bill in back in the Commons on Tuesday/Wednesday this coming week and could be called anytime.

The idea of the amendment is to give more powers to local authorities to refuse planning permission to betting shops (as one way of combating the loopholes in the present Gambling Act). There is absolutely no guarantee that the amendment will be called for debate, but if it is, Ms Ruddock would like to speak about the experience on Deptford High Street.

So if you're able to find time to write an objection this week, please copy it to Joan Ruddock's assistant, Jessica.

The petition again...

Meanwhile, the online petition No to Betfred in Deptford High Street is still available for you to add your signature to, if you haven't already. It was addressed to Lewisham Planning, but after 181 signatures we may readdress it to the Planning Inspectorate. People have left some extremely pertinent comments on the petition which makes it worthwhile to continue. Any further signatures and comments may be submitted to the Inspectorate.

Some of these comments were incorporated into my March Planning Objection. This was a pretty long objection but contains a lot of information from surveys and reports about gambling and its effects on vulnerable people and poor communities. Download it here.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Lewisham Homes "Rubbish Removal" fuck up

Most tenants and residents got a letter through their door dated 15-04-2011. I've got one, but I can't honestly say that's when I got it. Anyway, it was about "Items left being stored on the communal walkway and landings and disposal of rubbish".

It was a rubbish letter about rubbish. It wasn't bullet-pointed so even half-educated folk like me couldn't read it properly. On further analysis the first two paragraphs are about not leaving 'washing machines, chest of draws bikes etc' on the balcony (fire risk) and paragraphs 3-5 are all about putting your rubbish in the chutes or bin chamber and not leaving it outside your door or in communal areas. All good reminders to some mindless folk, but who the hell's gonna read this?

The letter then quoted the rules n' regulations of our Tenancy Agreement, a note about not smoking in communal areas, and a number to call to dispose of 'washing machines ovens and fridges' (Environcall on 020 314 7171). Those seven paragraphs could've gone at the end after the sign off as Extra Important Info...

And then there was the threat:  "If residents do not remove the items stored in the communal areas in 14 days (underlined in bold) from the date of this letter or continue to dispose of their rubbish in the correct manner Tenancy Enforcement action may be taking [sic] against you" Yours sincerely Caretaking Services.

Well two weeks passed a week ago. Did they mean '14 working days excluding bank holidays'?...

We got news earlier that Frankham House were "Gestapoed" yesterday. We await a full report, but we heard Frankham residents had their balconies completely cleared, including plants and beloved items that the postman usually navigates successfully...

The last so called "Agent Orange clearance"  was a polite affair and stuff wasn't removed without resident's approval. They did it over three pre-announced lunch periods over three days, eg, Finch/Congers/Frankham may be next, possibly Monday, and Holden/Wilshaw/Browne/Castell/Cremer the next day. The notable thing about their last 'sweep' was that they had no idea how many flats were included in their last 'block' and didn't get round to half of them. Mainly they did it when people were out so approval was unavailable. There seems to be an assumption that council house residents are in all day.

However, this is 'Caretaking Services' so expect some inconsistencies and historically, you can expect complete ineptitude (no reflection on the shop floor). The letter had no signature, no contact name and no reference number. 

Let us know if you didn't get the letter of 15th April 2011. And meanwhile do a spring clean of your balcony, but don't get rid of stuff you want there like plants or a bike you have to store (where else are you going to put it?). If the postman can reach your neighbour without tripping up, how can it be a health and safety hazard? If you're creating an eyesore for your neighbours though, clear it up, for Pete's sake.


We've heard that a few people didn't receive the letter referred to above. But Leaseholders should've received a letter "Re: Fire Safety" in April that came with Home magazine and posted directly to their address. The letter was signed by the Head of Leasehold Services. Among other things the letter states:

To minimise fire risk in your property please ensure that you:

Do not store anything on balconies that could easily catch fire
Do not overload electrical sockets
Install smoke detectors and test them regularly

To minimise fire risk in the communal areas of the building please ensure that you:

Keep communal areas clear
Do not wedge open fire doors in corridors
Never leave refuse sacks, bicycles, children's buggies, plant pots, washing or other obstructions in communal corridors or walkways
Keep all exits from your home clear so people can get out easily if there is a fire.

However, these rules appear to be directed towards blocks where communal corridors and walkways are internal. Ours are not.

Lewisham Homes "Get Involved" fuck ups...

"Get Involved" Fuck Up #1 - Window Boxes

We posted back on April 25th that there would be two days (13 & 14 May) when Crossfields residents could avail themselves of a Window Box Kit – one of the winning ideas in last year's round of the Lewisham Homes' Community Improvement Competitive Fund.

The first two days advertised were already postponed, and now it seems so are the latest dates (today and yesterday) seems someone forgot to book the venue. We hoped to hear from those concerned that an alternative venue had been found, but alas no answer...we may be wrong, but it looks like the people being paid to help out in the deal were the ones to fuck up, not those volunteer residents whose idea it was in the first place.

A few communication problems, but hopefully there'll be good notice to all when the days are finally fixed.

"Get Involved" Fuck Up #2 - Litter Bins

Meanwhile, another 'winner' of the Lewisham Homes' Community Improvement Competitive Fund contacted this blog in April to have a moan about how his idea had not reached fruition. His idea was to increase the number of litter bins in the north of the estate – around the Nature Park area. He had written to Sue Asquith (Community Liasison) to find out what was happening. Sue wrote back to say that LH were concerned that the initial quote for the extra litter bins "was of a concern as they may not be durable enough for potential use and concerns over vandalism". LH had therefore "contacted the main LBL supplier of litter bins for a quotation."

That quotation has finally come in and it's a bit of a shock to the Crossfields resident whose idea it was...JP says "I don't know what you think but I feel that these prices are ridiculous. At a time when libraries are closing and cuts are hurting, I feel that I've initiated a time and money wasting project; what do you think ? N.B. You may remember that I spent a couple of hours with Will Sharp [community officer who has now left] siting these bins and now it looks like it will have to be done again."

Without so much as a by your leave, JP has been told the bins have been ordered and what price they will be. Originally, JP had been informed the bins could be furnished at £50 per unit. But now the job has gone to Glendales at a quote of £454 per unit and with 5 units, it's a total cost of £2270. Versus JP's winning bid idea that he was told was going to cost £500.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

'Slices' Cafe Pizzeria opens tomorrow

A welcome new addition to the south end of the high street and situated next to Codfathers, Slices is a new 'cafe pizzeria aiming to offer freshly prepared food at reasonable prices'. It will be quietly opening tomorrow from 8am to serve coffee and tea. We're told pizza won't be on offer till later in the day.

We peaked a look through the door windows yesterday and spied the chefs working on getting things ready. They are also looking for barista/waiting staff – if you have previous experience see here.

We wish them good luck.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Deptford Church Street accident zone

Marmoset reported on 28 April about a van running off the southbound carriageway, damaging the pedestrian railings and the wall in front of Castell. Since then Castell House residents have witnessed two more accidents, one again on the southbound road involving a car and motorcyclist, the other on Saturday being a collision of two cars on the northbound road that ended up with one car stuck in the middle of the two carriageways.

It appears that none of these accidents have been caused by what one might consider to be the main hazard presenting drivers at the present time, which is the closure of Giffin Street. Drivers coming from Deptford High Street heading for Lewisham would normally drive down Giffin Street and turn right at Church Street. Now they are forced to turn into Frankham Street, whereupon they must turn left into Church Street. They are then doing a U-turn at the T-junction to get into the southbound lane. If it is not causing accidents, it is certainly causing hold-ups.

The following pix show two vehicles doing U-turns, the first of which doesn't quite make the turn and holds up southbound traffic while he backs up, straightens up and speeds off. The white van makes a tighter turn. Northbound traffic behind them in the farside lane would normally have to watch out for the nearside lane drivers who, if not turning left into Giffin Street will often try to undercut them to avoid the bus lane ahead of them. Now the farside lane are pulling out to undertake the U-turners.

What a flippin' mess. And all in aid of that nasty nickle-plated cheap-looking blinging blot on the landscape, the monstrous Deptford Lounge...(see Deptford Dame's latest post on that horrible building here).


We recently saw Lewisham's plans for the area in an architect's model on display at the Deptford station public consultation exhibition. It showed Giffin Square paved over across the high street end of Giffin Street, traffic presumably re-directed via Frankham Street, but change to the junction arrangements at Deptford Church Street...

Paving stretches across the entrance to Giffin Street.

In this plan, the square closes off the road.

In this one, the central reservation of Deptford Church Street has been altered 
so that the junction is now at Frankham Street. 

It would appear then, that the newly paved Frankham Street is to become a busy main access route to Deptford High Street, not a quiet parking zone. (Note in the above plan the route of the bike path (green line), coming down Giffin Street and diverting north along Church Street and then east via Bronze Street – not then, running down through Crossfields, as has been proposed).

These plans have all come from the "Deptford Town Centre" page on Lewisham's website, where you can download the displays from their February 2010 exhibition. If anyone knows what's going to happen that actually makes any sense, please do tell.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A new tree...a new gas pipeline...vandals and dogs...

Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush...

A Black Mulberry tree (Morus Nigra) suddenly appeared on the grass in front of Holden and Browne House this week. The Glendales representative found near the tree this morning told us it is part of the Estate Greening Project and was initiated by Davey from Greenwich Co-operative Development Agency. It's a fruit tree which produces a plump black juicy and edible fruit similar to an elongated blackberry.

It has been planted very close to where we understood there was going to be a cycle path, but we assume these people know what's going on even if we don't.

Hole in the ground...

Lots of digging has been taking place in the back (or is it front?) garden of Browne House, as British Gas replace the old degrading metal pipes with new plastic piping. The friendly labouring team told us that the pipeline is going to take a right angled turn into the driveway parallel to the railway in front of Holden House, so it's going to be horribly noisy next week if they begin digging up the tarmac...

Wilshaw House vandals

Residents in Browne and Wilshaw have a different kind of nuisance to deal with: some out of control children from Wilshaw have been vandalising anything they can get their hands on...If you've been affected by their antics, make sure you report it to the Antisocial Behaviour Team (details here). The caretakers have reported the problem and will thank you for strengthening their case.

Bag That Poo...

Lewisham Homes wish to draw your attention to their campaign against dog fouling. If you would like to make a stand against dog fouling, you are asked to report offenders on 020 834 7171, providing as much of the following information as possible:

- the times the offences are being committed
- the locations
- description of the dog
- description of owner and address (if known)
- car registration if relevant

Dog owners should clean up after their dogs. They must pick up and bag their pet's faeces and dispose of it in any litter bin.