Saturday, June 29, 2013

Save Lewisham Hospital: The People's Commission today

Save Lewisham Hospital is holding an event today at the Broadway Theatre. They're calling it a The People's Commission and it starts at 9.30am and runs all day till 5.30pm.

The day is chaired by Michael Mansfield QC. There will be other speakers during the day, or rather, witnesses (including GPs, clinicians, patients, nurses, and other local representatives) whose evidence will be heard by a team of barristers and the public. (See this page and scroll down). The aim of the day is to weigh up the evidence that was ignored during the government's sham consultation.

Mansfield is acting on behalf of Save Lewisham Hospital in their Judicial Review in the High Court (2-4 July), which has been funded by donations by Lewisham residents. This is a great coup for the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign – Mansfield's participated in and won many radical court cases against the powers-that-be, in the cause of Human Rights and Civil Liberties. Notably, he's defended the families of Stephen Lawrence and Jean Charles de Menezes, the Orgreave miners, those wrongly convicted in the IRA pub bombings in Guildford and Birmingham, Bloody Sunday, as well as the Al-Fayed investigation into the death of Dodi and Diana. His statement for the Lewisham Hospital campaign says:

“I together with the other panel judges are honoured to perform a much needed role for the people of Lewisham and all those beyond who depend upon the services of the NHS. Government policy over the last two decades has contributed to a major crisis in which viable and successful health resources are threatened with closure. The voice of the people has been marginalised in this process."

The event today starts the week in which the campaign goes to the High Court, a week now renamed as Justice for Lewisham Week 29 June–5 July. The Lewisham People's Commission will "examine the decision of the Secretary of State for Health to downgrade Lewisham Hospital and the context for this: the fundamental changes being made to the NHS over the last 40 years".

A particular question arising from this is the degree to which the recent moves to open the NHS to external market forces has been in any way openly debated (they haven't, nor were they part of a manifesto that was voted for).

The organisers have encouraged people to book a place at the event today (so they can get an idea of numbers to cater for), but it's obviously too late for that. It only costs 50p to get in, so it's probably not too late if you're in the area and want to put in your pennyworth and have your say. Otherwise you can follow on Twitter (@SaveLewishamAE and #Justice4Lewisham or Facebook. A live connection is promised also.

But if you can't make it today, be ready to check and support the real deal when the High Court case starts on Tuesday.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

MITIE progress: bring your complaints to the TRA meeting today

7.30pm, Thursday 27th June
Tenants & Residents Association (TRA), Pink Palace, Frankham House
(corner of Deptford Church St & Frankham St)

We have been posting about the things that can go wrong with the Decent Homes programme run by the contractors MITIE. Many tenants seem to be relatively happy with the disruption to their homes, having balanced their grievances against their gains.

However, as outlined in a previous post, there are some outcomes that need some serious review. Not everything is great in MITIE land. You are encouraged to take up any complaint with the Liaison Officers stationed in the MITIE compound. But this has not always proved successful. In fact if you're a bit pissed off, you may find yourself forcibly escorted from the compound by a site manager, as recently happened to one resident.

If you have any complaints that have not been happily resolved by visiting the MITIE Site Office in Holden House carpark, or by ringing the MITIE phone number given on the stairwell posters, please come to the Tenants & Residents' meeting (TRA) at the Pink Palace at Frankham House (corner of Deptford Church Street and Frankham St) this evening at 7.30pm, where the MITIE team will be present to answer any questions.

Meanwhile, here's a story from a resident who actually refused the works, written on May 22nd. Our apologies to JP for not posting immediately, but we really thought, at the time, that matters could be sorted out amicably:
"I was told by the team who came to 'measure up' a few weeks ago that they never work on adjacent flats at the same time as the disruption becomes impossible and the workers get in each others' way. However, yesterday I received a letter saying they would be starting on my flat on June 7th and work would take about four weeks. My next door neighbour had a letter in the same post that said her works would start on June 6th! This could be seen as going back on one's word before work has even started but my conversation with Hayley Miller (who signed the letter informing me of the starting date) suggested another possibility, i.e. that the left hand doesn't know what the right hand's doing. Ms Miller didn't know of the promise about adjacent flats.

Further, the letter mentioned 'rads/rewire'. This was the first that I had heard of this and I still don't know exactly what it entails. I do know that the rewire will probably mean plastic conduits along walls and a finish that will require the added expense (to me) of boxing in or hiding the result and maybe decorating where the work has occurred.

Meanwhile, we would like to hear other tenants' comments on what has happened/is happening in their flats. With this in mind could you post this letter or what you feel are the relevant parts. Thanks JP"
More from JP on June 7th:
"My kitchen renewal is cancelled. The 'foreman' said that he did not like my attitude and I certainly did not like his, so I cancelled. They went back on their word (or to use my vernacular 'talked bollocks') and I decided it wasn't worth it. May I ask again, what is the general feeling about these works ? I do think it calls for an item on your blog."
One of the more general issues now is Parking, reported by residential car owners, with the spaces taken up mainly now by MITIE workers (as well as the usual Faircharm and Lewisham College workers). One resident has commented on how nails and screws are discarded around the car park causing a potential hazard to car owners. Another problem that all estates must endure where MITIE works are taking place is 'trade waste' left onsite over weekends – and mess on the stairs and other communal areas, all through the week, that everyone is having to tread into their flats, whether they're having the work done or not. One or more people are a bit cross that they had to sign a disclaimer in order to allow MITIE workers to ruin the tiled floors that they wished to preserve. And there is still no explanation for why new toilets are located 4 inches from the outside wall leaving nowhere to put your knees if you're taller than 5'5".

Both MITIE and Lewisham Homes are keen to sort out any problems as soon as possible to avoid further discomfort to all residents. Indeed, this blog has been contacted by Simon Taylor at MITIE who would like to sort out any grievances before the TRA meeting. Unfortunately, Simon underestimates the time available to the (unpaid) writers of this blog to do his (paid) job for him.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Deptford High Street : two bookies robbed in two days...

Word on the street today: Ladbrokes was robbed yesterday. In the attack, a female member of staff was beaten about the head and is in hospital. The premises is now closed.

Around the corner in Evelyn Street, Coral's was also robbed, this morning. Meanwhile Monday began in the high street with an immigration raid, and police took several men away.

Update 27 June:
It seems the most important thing that happened on 24th June 2013 was the death of cyclist, Paul Hutcheson, on Loampit Vale. We are pretty sure there were other ways, Paul, you had in mind for bringing South East London to a standstill. RIP.

The furore over Paul's untimely death can be followed on many cycling forums, but check 853 blog for a perspective on proposed Cycle Super Highways. NewShopper on the scene here. East London Lines later and more considered here.

Meanwhile, we've still to check in with Brenda from Kim's newsagents on her Monday news feed about the Ladbrokes female staff member getting bashed about the head on Sunday. We know for sure there was an incident (Ladbrokes was closed, see above), but there is no 'official news' on it. Perhaps Bren heard the story that was going around on Monday morning about the Coral's robbery and got confused over what happened at Ladbrokes? A story appeared on Tuesday from NewShopper regarding the robbery at Corals on Evelyn Street on Monday morning. This sounded similar, in that a member of staff was assaulted, but it features a man, and not the young woman Brenda described (who she knew and was concerned for).

This is the NewShopper report of Monday morning's robbery at Coral's on Evelyn Street:
POLICE are investigating a Deptford bookmaker robbery which left a member of staff in hospital. Officers were called out to the Evelyn Street bookie on June 24 at around 9.33am. The victim, an employee, was followed into shop by one man when he was opening up and forced  to hand over large sums of money before the suspect fled

Police say the victim, who received an injury to his face, was taken to hospital initially but his injuries were not life threatening.

The Flying Squad are investigating but no arrests have been made so far.
Update 29 June:
The story is that a plank of wood was taken to a certain shop doorway and the young lady who works in Ladbrokes was hospitalised by that action. Maybe nothing was stolen and that is why it didn't make the news headlines, even though there were two people hospitalised in two days as a result of their jobs. Just Google Ladbrokes Robbery or Corals Robbery to get an idea of how betting shops play a part in the community nationwide. Some people are beaten to death.

Unfortunately, the news media is organised so that you only hear local news and have no idea what's happening in the rest of the country. Much of the time you don't even hear the local news either.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Convoys Wharf update: is Hong Kong the model for Deptford New Town?

This is Hong Kong. It's where Convoys Wharf site owner, Hutchison Whampoa Ltd (HWL) are headquartered. The owner's plans for Deptford are not dissimilar to this view of China's major capitalist service economy (which is one of the most densely populated areas in the world).

With the proposal for three towers in north Deptford, one at 48 storeys (158m) and two at 38 (156m), Hutchisons intend to compete with Canary Wharf and the City of London for the tallest buildings in London, despite Deptford not being in any way a financial district. Though not quite as tall as Canary Wharf's three central buildings (One Canada Square, HSBC and Citigroup), the proposed Deptford waterfront building will be taller than Barclays' world headquarters (156m).

As a residential-only building it could be the third tallest in the UK after the soon-to-be-finished St George's Wharf Tower at Vauxhall (49 storeys, 181m) and the 75-storey residential tower planned for the Isle of Dogs (presently on hold).


Hutchison Whampoa Ltd (HWL) are an investment holding company whose main shareholder is Cheung Kong Holdings. The chairman of both is Li Ka Shing. His son Victor Li is Managing Director and Deputy Chairman and the set up has been compared to Rupert and James Murdoch, from whose empire our little bit of Deptford was bought. News International retains a profit share in the sale of the luxury homes proposed.

This month, Li Ka Shing is 21st on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index (Murdoch is 77th), and his biggest company, Hutchison Whampoa Ltd, posted revenue last year of over US$50 billion. Europe has become the main source of income for HWL, with its revenue in the region reaching US$21 billion, 42% of its total.

Both billionaires are in and out of bed with each other investment-wise. One example is the story of London teenager Nick D'Aloisio, whose app 'TrimIt' made Apple's 'App of the Week' and attracted $300,000 in investment from Li Ka Shing's venture capital firm, Horizon Ventures, after a tip off from Murdoch's soon-to-be-ex-wife Wendi Deng. With further investment from News International (as well as Stephen Fry and Yoko Ono), D'Aloisio went on to sell the app as the more refined 'Summly' to Yahoo for $30m.

That's the sort of good news story that the developer should be promoting, as part of their marketing for Convoys Wharf as a future centre for Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT), and their aim to expand the City across the water into Deptford, promoting both the hi-tech businesses that they are so good at investing in, and filling their expensive apartments with the people that work in that industry.

Obviously, if that was the stated intention, we'd immediately clock on to the fact that they were creating a New Town Bubble. Such honesty might be welcomed, but instead this agenda has had to be disguised as something that pertains to Deptford, so that the bubble can be seen to integrate into the area, and not be percieved as the gated community (or compound of gated communities) it is ultimately designed to be.

To expand the mythology, they have managed to include the Telecommunications Industry under the umbrella of 'Creative Industries' so that they can link their aims to what is already here, so that Regeneration can be seen to take place.

In the Cultural Strategy document of Hutchison's planning application (which reads like an estate agent's brochure) it says: "In providing temporary space for seeding new enterprise (and) by locating creative and TMT enterprise and R&D at the heart of the scheme's vision from the outset...Convoys Wharf clearly has the potential to create an environment that can successfully support the kind of creative industries businesses that would in turn attract the TMT residents that are envisaged as the engine of the development, as well as TMT companies more broadly."

Deptford's reputation for contemporary art and design practice is undoubtedly part of the Goldsmiths and YBAs-of-yore myth. Goldsmiths now attracts much of its income from international (mostly Japanese) students who pay £18K+ a year in fees, based on the YBA rep. Laban is so grateful to exist it is happy to be overshadowed by any residential towers that come its way (more are promised at Creekside Village, and Laban has already voted to be completely overshadowed, just so it can get another theatre).

But for heaven's sake, every London borough and UK town has a 'thriving arts community', some more than others, because artists (and theatre companies, and film-makers and designers) will exist where rents are cheap. Although some web-based design companies are now designing apps for mobile phones, surely the activities of Deptford's arts and performance practitioners and cottage industries are strange bedfellows for telecommunications and mobile phone technology.

The lead architect of Hutchison's new planning application, Sir Terry Farrell, said "I think this is the equivalent of Hoxton or a Shoreditch of the South". Perhaps the old man was confusing his latest development in Shoreditch (another tower) for this one. What happened in Shoreditch was a disaster for the local community, where rents soared in a vision initiated by an estate agent and backed by the Council (and the London Plan) in the name of Regeneration.

Convoys Wharf is only a little bit different. There is a big empty space to fill with a bubble culture of TMT that will bear no relation to its surroundings, and before that, a load of property to sell off-plan to investors who don't give a toss about cultural strategies. The only way Deptford's present Creative Industries will be involved is in the potential use of temporary cheap space whilst the new culture is being built. As long as rents stay low outside the bubble, we could happily continue as we are, and doing whatever we like, daring the suits to come downtown to get dirty. But estate agents and greedy private landlords will make sure rents rise until Lewisham Council has fulfilled its dream of Deptford as a dormitory town for City workers, whilst the ageing population living close to the site will end their remaining years accompanied by the endless sounds of banging scaffolding and the noisy engines of construction lorries and cement mixers.

Reflecting on the past, one might see a parallel with the Naval dockyard facilities that grew up around the site in the 16th-19th centuries and the Navy's own little bubble. Except that all the toffs were in Greenwich. The workers and artisans and skilled workers and medium ranking officers had Deptford. That's why you won't find their history in Greenwich. Ask also why the history of slavery and the heritage of Black and Asian peoples right here in Deptford, is not recorded in Greenwich and has been wiped out of Deptford's history by successive embarrassed left wing councils.

Ultimately our new Chinese masters know they will be repeating history by rebuilding a Deptford New Town, to be serviced by Deptford Old Town, but that's about as near as Hutchison Whampoa want to get to the history of this site.  

So, ANYWAY, what experience do Hutchisons have of integrating into and regenerating communities?
Their property division has only ever dealt in luxury residential property and hotels (see below), so the chances are low to nothing.

Here are the core areas of their business: 

Ports and related services: Hutchison Port Holdings operates across Europe, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East and Africa and is the largest port operator in the world. In the UK it owns London Thamesport on the Isle of Grain, Harwich International Port, and the Port of Felixstowe. Their subsiduary Myanmar International Terminals Thilawa (MITT) is involved in trade with the military junta in Burma. Presently, ongoing striking dockers at Hongkong International Terminals (HIT) are paid less now than they were in 1995 and work in appalling conditions.

Property and hotels: Hutchison Whampoa Properties Ltd develops and invests in real estate, with office buildings in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai, luxury residential properties in the UK, and with Cheung Kong Holdings as Habour Plaza Hotel Management (International) Ltd operates and manages hotels in China and the Bahamas.

Telecommunications: HWL owns the "3" brand, plus mobile, fixed-line, broadband and international connectivity services in eleven countries around the world. A subsidiary, INQ, manufacture mobile phones. HWL is presently looking for majority control in a merger with Telecom Italia, Italy's biggest wireless carrier, and reportedly plans to buy have bought O2 Ireland (whilst Murdoch's Sky has just bought O2 UK).

Retail: As A.S.Watson & Co (ASW) HWL's retail arm operates in Asia and Europe, as the world's largest health and beauty retailer. Most notably in the UK, it owns Superdrug and The Perfume Shop. Retail interests also include supermarkets, consumer electronics and airport retailing.

Energy: Cheung Kong Infrastructure (CKI) has its finger in transportation, energy, infrastructure materials and water. The Energy division includes a 34% interest in Husky Energy Inc, one of Canada's largest energy-related companies, with a focus on oil and gas exploration and extraction, pipelines, storage and processing, plus retail outlets all over Canada. Husky works with Gasfrac and  is involved in the potentially harmful and controversial process of "fracking" for shale gas (banned in France, Bulgaria and the Canadian state of Vermont, since it generates massive volumes of toxic water and huge piles of debris, and has been blamed for triggering two tiny earthquakes in northwest England).

With an interest in Hong Kong Holdings, CKI is the sole electricity supplier to Hong Kong Island, as well as an investor in the UK, China, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. In the UK, CKI already owns UK Power Networks (the electricity transmission network in London and the South East), gas distributor Northern Gas Networks, and a 50% stake in Seabank Power. Last year, CKI bought British gas distribution company Wales & West Utilities and New Zealand's waste management firm Environ.

Water: Hutchison Water are involved in desalination, water treatment, waste water treatment, water reuse and water technologies. New to the market, they intend to be the leading company in the production and treatment of water. They have a 49% holding in the Sorek desalination plant in Israel, the largest of its kind in the world, and own Kinrot Ventures, investors in water and Cleantech technologies. In 2011, CKI bought Northumbrian Water (which includes Essex & Suffolk Water). In the process, CKI sold Cambridge Water to HSBC to avoid competition issues. It still has a 4.75% stake in Southern Water.

On the evidence...

Anyone who understands the world of investment will be unsurprised and possibly uncritical. Conglomerates and billionaires own the planet, and where would we be without someone to invest in us, as Camoron is probably wont to say?

Thames Water is owned by an Australian-based consortium Kemble Water. When they were owned by German company RWE nothing got repaired. Private equity took over and look at us now, overdue repairs of Victorian pipelines causing massive inconvenience to all over London, done, thank you, suburban gardens no longer flooded with tampons, thank you, all done on massive borrowing and no tax to be paid amid much scandal and staff layoffs and director pay-outs, and now with £4bn borrowing to build the Tideway Tunnel, totally underwritten by the taxpayer. The Chinese Investment Corporation, among others, have a snack in it. Hutchisons aren't the only foreign investors in town. Of course.

Meanwhile, one can only hope that Hutchison's proposed new buildings at Convoys Wharf will surely be highly energy efficient, to make up for the damage Li Ka Shing's investments and businesses are doing elsewhere.


When a company this size puts in a planning application that purports to bring prosperity to a deprived community, and claims that it has 'talked to', 'consulted with' and 'listened to' that community 'via its grass roots organisations', you should know it has not done any such thing.

Only now are they talking about temporary uses for the site, whilst for the past ten years the entire space has been off-limits and thoroughly secured. Community use could have been managed during this time but there was no inclination to engage from the developer.

They have refused to step down from the massive density and to create more affordable housing, lest they lose their profit margins. Talks with the planners have resulted in high-to-medium height buildings being reduced, by increasing the heights of the taller buildings. Buildings marked on the application as "feature buildings" are simply those tall buildings which have been advised by Farrells to have rounded corners, since the site would otherwise be a total wind tunnel.

Most of all, the developer has steadfastly refused to listen to any arguments about preserving the heritage of the site in any meaningful way.

Through interpreters and consultants, they have arrived at a premature but palatable version for the Planners that pretends to talk about about regeneration, but nothing can disguise their real intention to make as much money as possible, with absolutely no regard for anyone in Deptford.

Further notes:

Meanwhile, Lewisham appears to be reneging on its Core Strategy policy once again, as it did recently with Faircharm Trading Estate. In Appendix 1 of the Convoys' Wharf Delivery Strategy (CW012, p.33), we noted the following:

Core Strategy Policy Strategic Site Allocation 1 (Requirements for strategic site alllocations)
2. The Masterplan will need to be submitted as part of an initial outline or full planning application. If the applicant submits an outline planning application then this should be accompanied by a full planning application for Phase 1 of the strategic site.

The application DC/13/83358 is for Outline Planning 'with all matters reserved'.  What does that mean? Against Lewisham's Core Strategy, there is no full planning application for Phase 1. That's why we have no idea what the buildings will look like. (Because they will be sold off to other developers asap).

Yet Deputy Mayor ("look into my eyes, my eyes, my eyes, not around my eyes") Alan Smith has been going round telling local campaigners that Lewisham will pass it.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Greenwich + Docklands International Festival is back!

We're liking yesterday's publicity stunt by GDIF. Twitter was a-burst with reports of a 17m sperm whale beached close to Cutty Sark Gardens, and we are sorry to have missed it, as we like a walk by the river of an afternoon when we can, although just one look at this riverscape and we can see how Convoys Wharf is going to spoil it.

(Press Release reads) "This super-real, art installation is the work of the Belgian arts collective Captain Boomer, created in collaboration with Zephyr Wildlife Reconstruction. The sculpture will now move to the Old Royal Naval College from Friday 21 June where GDIF audiences will be able to see it as part of our Greenwich Fair programme."

It's all happening in Cutty Sark Gardens today from 5.45pm. See here.

For full festival events click here.

Decent Homes: MITIE in progress

No, not bullet holes left by gunshots. Just a MITIE worker drilling through a 12inch wall to the flat next door.

When fellow blogger Marmoset recently posted grumpily about the shenanigans going on in his flat at the hands of the team who had come to bless him with a new kitchen, bathroom and toilet – and unbeknownst to him, a new boiler, radiators and a total rewiring of his electrics – no one took much notice except one commenter who persisistently called him ungrateful.

Given that the whole estate is undergoing renovations of tenants' flats, and everyone is affected by the noise, dust and dirt, whether they are having the work done or not, it seemed appropriate to post again, and to move away, very slightly, from Marmoset's personal viewpoint, however relevant.

We had warnings from those on other estates where MITIE has already been working, but in appreciation of the seemingly long term benefit on offer to tenants, we didn't want to rock the boat too soon by blogging about their mistakes, which were almost immediate, but nothing worth shouting about and easily solved. The complaints we heard from other estates were pretty general, but it was interesting to note that nothing seemed to improve, as MITIE moved from one estate to another:

• MITIE left trade waste all over the place and never cleaned up after themselves properly
• MITIE workers took residents' parking spaces
• MITIE workers themselves left rubbish all over the place
• MITIE never came back to make good things that weren't properly completed

On Crossfields, nothing really prepared any of us for what might happen here on a personal level. For starters, no leaseholders were informed of the impending works, that's only 50% of the estate, but fuck 'em, eh. The estate is a building site and no one is immune. Endless noise all day, and shitloads of dust trampled up and down the stairs and into everyone's homes (of course the stairs aren't washed daily), trade waste left all over the place and workers littering the place.

With the exception of Marmoset, it appears completely traumatised tenants are behaving like grateful prizewinners (it's all free!) and refusing to complain. "Get Lucky" must be their theme tune for our non-summer.

Even though:  

• the new loos, even though they flush better, are placed three inches nearer the radiator, so that it's actually difficult for anyone over 5'8" to sit on the loo
• you have to sign a disclaimer to say MITIE can damage anything you want to keep (such as a personally tiled floor)
• MITIE workers can drill all the way through the flat next door into your flat (see above)
• MITIE workers can borrow your extension leads, mess about with your electric appliances, turn off your phone, fridge, cooker etc without telling you
• MITIE workers can disconnect anything they like and not reconnect it at the end of the day
• MITIE can give you a new boiler but not tell you how to work it
• MITIE can use your personal mail as a means to inform other workers of your address and leave the mail out on the balcony in the wind
• British MITIE workers grumble all the time about the foreign workers but bunk off the job never to be seen again
• MITIE workers finish work in your flat at the end of the day, leaving the front door open

Given the travesties afoot, one wonders what security measures are built into the contract.

If you'd like to add to this litany, please do – by commenting below, or emailing us – crosswhatfields(at)gmail(dot)com. We hoped this wouldn't be the case, but it is. The other estates that have had work done do not have the privilege of a blog, which maybe why similar complaints have not been aired previously.

Please do not comment on how council tenants are privileged to have this work done, since this lets bad work off the hook, and stops Lewisham Homes from penalising the contractors, if indeed, any contract penalties are in place.

And anyway, this is merely an upgrading of stock at the tax-payers' expense before the whole bloody thing is privatised.

Meanwhile and even after privatisation, tenants now have the Right To Buy at discounts up to £100,000 – as the Department for Communities and Local Government have persistently reminded all residents over the past two weeks with their duplicate drop-mails through our letterboxes.

Such is the Tory government's policy to deal with the housing crisis.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Convoys Wharf update: the planning application

Back at the end of May, Crossfields residents and others living locally were sent a letter by Lewisham's Planning Service. This was a "Consultation letter about plans to develop the Convoys Wharf site in Prince Street".

Whilst the need to regenerate this long disused waterfront site is not in question, anyone who cares about the future of Deptford may want to take a closer look at the plans, if they haven't already.

The plans are viewable online or on a table near reception in the Deptford Lounge. You will recognise them by their distinctive branding. It all looks lovely and green and flat. This is just one of the many deceptions in this application. Most of the green areas will be private areas (in black in our illustration).

The application number is DC/13/83358. To view online, click here to go to the list of documents. Worth downloading are Design & access section 2a through to Design & access 4 (8 documents). Further down the list, Environment statement volume 2c has some views you may find interesting.

Local campaign group Deptford Is... have begun to highlight their concerns and hope to expand on these (transport links, heritage, environment, massing and density etc) soon. The official deadline for submitting comments to the Planning Department is 1st July 2013. Responses received after this date will still be considered if received before the application is reported to Committee.

If you are housebound, have any queries you want answered, or want to find out who else has been consulted, please e-mail or phone Emma Talbot on 020 8314 9051.

Please send your comments on the proposal to Emma Talbot, by letter to Planning Service, 5th Floor Laurence House, 1 Catford Road, Catford, London SE6 4SW, or e-mail  Please print your name, do not sign it. 

You may also contact or send your comments to local organisations or your Ward Councillors as well as sending them to Planning. There is also a Convoys Wharf Resident Group made up of concerned locals (mainly from Pepys estate) which is facilitated by the Evelyn Ward Assembly co-ordinator – email to join their mailing list.

This blog will also be making some comments shortly that you may (or may not) find helpful. In the meantime, here are some notes...

The main issues are:

Three towers, one at 48 storeys, the other two at 38. These are competing with towers in London's two financial districts to be among the tallest buildings in London. Why? So that as much profit can be made out of the site as possible.

• The intention is to build 3,500 homes, so apart from the towers, all the buildings surrounding the towers are between 8 and 18 storeys (with some between 3 and 10 storeys on the borders of the site).

• As is happening elsewhere in London, 75% of the units will be sold before they have been built (off-plan) to foreign investors (see this BBC report and this local blogpost).

Only 14% of the 3,500 units will be "affordable". Although this amounts to 500 homes, many will be part-buy part-rent and become increasingly unaffordable through rent increases and high service charges. None will be social housing, and although some will be set at 80% of market rents, this is no way to solve London's housing crisis.

The project is being sold as a "regeneration" package. It's all about 'connections', apparently:

"Cultural and economic links connect the plan with the flourishing cultural and creative industries for which Deptford is already recognised."
Selling the site as "the new Shoreditch" on the back of Deptford's creative industries (which are not flourishing but struggling to survive) is a strategy which has proven to be a disaster elsewhere, driving up rents and driving out locals. How are other "cultures", apart from "the arts", to be catered for?

"Physical connections are made, most notably, through the extension of the High Street directly into the site to link with the new waterfront."
It is not 'notable' to make a physical connection with the High Street. THAT IS WHERE THE STATION IS.

"Connections are made with the site's history."
Celebrated in place names only. Once the site is built, the connections to the site's heritage as a naval dockyard will be forgotten, thanks to a developer-led (and paid for) archaeology that denies the existence of many extant features which will be built over.

The developers state they will offer the following benefits to Deptford:

"The creation of approximately 2,150 new jobs..."
The first phase (a third of the site) is not due to be completed until 2019 – that's six years before any jobs in any sort of service industry will appear. The third phase will not be completed until 2023 (at least), so most of these jobs won't be available for some ten years or more. Around 700-1200 construction jobs will be created over the total construction period. But as locals well know, these jobs are usually taken by East Europeans, despite what assurances are put in place. Even the Council's own contractors MITIE presently employ a great many East Europeans.

The developer envisages the site will be attractive to those working in the Telecommunications, Media and Technology industries – highly skilled and highly paid workers. Some of these sort of jobs may be onsite in the new office spaces – opportunities the developer does not envisage being taken up by locals. The developer also has no intention of using the wharf area to the north of the site – which is protected by the Port of London Authority (PLA) for useage by river business – for anything that might bring in non-McJobs for locals.

"The refurbishment of the Olympia Building to accommodate a range of cultural/leisure and commercial uses."
This building is listed by English Heritage, otherwise the developer would demolish it. They intend for every use made of this building to be profitable to them, with no free attractions or museums for locals. It will become a temple to consumerism and have no connection to its past at all.

"The provision of a spine road running through the site to accommodate a new bus route." There would have to be a new road here anyway to service the waterfront luxury homes and the 1840 parking spaces, so what's the big deal?

"The opening up of the Thames Path and provide a super cycle highway."
They have to do this anyway. And creating a "park" on the present jetty means they can build as close to the river as possible.

"The provision of a river bus service."
The main use for this would be to take the luxury home dwellers to their place of work at Canary Wharf, so that they don't have to go into Deptford to use the train station. "Landmark prestigious art installations" are planned for the public areas, aimed at bringing visitors to spend money in the retail outlets. The inclusion by the developer for the (locally initiated) John Evelyn Study Centre may bring visitors, but will they spend any money here?

A site is marked out for a "new museum" which could be a Deptford Dockyard Museum, but there is no funding for this coming from the developer, and the site in question will have to serve numerous other community needs. The other locally initiated project Build the Lenox, which might also bring visitors and prestige to the site and link it to the World Heritage Centre at Greenwich, is not included in the developer's vision.

"Improvements to highway junctions."
This is not a benefit but a sheer necessity. How else are the 1800+ cars who will have parking spaces on the development going to fit onto Creek Road?

"Community facilities including a new primary school and health clinic."
Do we need the primary school? Charlotte Turner Gardens, owned by Greenwich Council, lies vacant close by.

That's enough for now.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Crossfields' Big Planting Day – this Sunday!


The Crossfields Outdoor Ping Pong table is being delivered this week, and will hopefully fit into the space marked out for it here, near the ballcourt. Get yourself some bats and balls and be ready for some fun on Sunday (if not before) when there'll be some gardening activities going on in and around the Sue Godfrey Community Garden next to the Farrer House bikesheds.

By then, a new tap for the Wonky Prong Food Growing Project should have been connected (no thanks to Thames Water who charged a fortune and took an age to install the pipework!). Plants are arriving at the end of the week, ready to be planted on Sunday. If you want to join in the gardening, come along on Sunday 23rd at midday from 2pm. Afterwards there'll be a BBQ...

Whoops, earlier we posted that there would be graffiti workshops and a bug safari for kids, but unfortunately they're cancelled due to illness...sorry!

Update 20th June 2013: The table has arrived!!! Thanks to Tim for organising.


Ha'Penny Hatch arches (unofficial) make-over

A rather large new job for Lewisham's graffiti team...

Update 20th June 2013: There are six portraits in all. This image, placed opposite the murals, is most likely the signature of the artist.

Krom Balgesky is a Bulgarian artist working from a studio in Art Hub on Creekside (opposite APT Gallery). You can see more of his work on his blog.

They're keeping an eye on us

Monday, June 10, 2013

Wave goodbye to the Deptford train cafe

When building work finally commences in a couple of months' time on the delayed Cathedral/United House development next to Deptford station (see pic below), one of Deptford's most recent and best loved landmarks, the café known to locals as "the train", will have to move.

The café has been given notice to be off the site by 31st August, but a decision over where it will go must be made within the next week. Whilst Cathedral have offered to help with some of the relocation costs, another option is that they buy the train business and move it to Brighton, where they are 'delivering' an "Innovation Quarter". Meanwhile, the café staff have been given notice, as have the creative business tenants in the arches, who have been offered space in Canning Town.

The train café was originally planned to be moved to sit alongside the new station – the perfect place for it. It appears on this model which was viewed during the 'consultation' (though was missing from the application drawings).

There is certainly plenty of room for it here. There is also room here for a nice big anchor.

But Network Rail own the land in front of the station and they have said the train café would compromise the franchises they want to put in their arches, eg their corporate partners Costa Coffee. Surely the developers must have known this might be the case when they submitted their plans?

Might the train go here instead, under the Mr & Mrs mural?

No, Lewisham Council says the train is too heavy. The anchor was also considered to be too heavy to go here. Watch out the pavement doesn't cave in next time you walk on it!

Could it perhaps go here, in Douglas Square? Or are there other vested interests vying for this space? If it can't go here, then it's goodbye to the train cafe.

Update 20th June 2013: Still no news on the train's new home, or if it can stay. Some of the displaced artists and creative businesses may relocate to Tidemill, but nothing is confirmed.

Update 29th June: ditto above.


The marketing pitch of all developers is that Deptford is a thriving creative community, yet these days a great many of Deptford's creatives are actually homeless. Businesses are being chucked out of Faircharm to make way for luxury apartments, Utrophia's temporary time on the high street is up just as soon as Antic get their planning sorted, and the artists in St Paul's House must also move out at the same time as those in the Deptford Project yard.

Lewisham Council, which enjoys the vast amounts of Section 106 money that comes from these developments to spend in other parts of the borough, also trades on Deptford's creative reputation whilst failing to ensure there is adequate accommodation for the people that created the reputation. The Council have just re-signed the contract for Newbould Guardians to stay at the old Tidemill school – a property that could accommodate a hundred creatives yet only houses about ten, at enormous expense to Lewisham's taxpayers whilst making a tidy profit for a private security firm.

Cathedral plc say on their website: "In summer 2008 we installed a 1960s commuter train carriage into a site next to Deptford High Street train station in south east London. We put it there to kickstart a £42m mixed-use PPP regeneration scheme with the London Borough of Lewisham in partnership with United House...The Deptford Project Café has become a popular place with Deptford locals. Lovingly restored by neighbourhood craftsmen and run by a local group, the café acts as a creative hub for the community and as the focal point for The Deptford Project. It has been featured in media all over the world and was hailed as London’s grooviest new café. Vogue magazine included The Deptford Project Café in their top 50 favourite things in London....We continued our placemaking by opening up the abandoned arches under the carriage ramp and letting them on a temporary basis to local craftspeople. They have built a vibrant community there..."

But now we're chucking them all out!

United House, who call the site Deptford Rise, say "it is a £60m PPP project to include 138 private homes, new public space, live/work units and office space for small, creative organisations. The Deptford Project is already established as a thriving and quirky community initiative where features include a cafe in a disused train carriage, pop-up markets and an outdoor cinema in summer."

So the people who have built the vibrant community, who have helped to create Deptford's reputation as a creative hub, must fuck off so that new creative spaces (which no one will be able to afford) can be built. The creative scene in Deptford is down to two main factors: Goldsmiths College and cheap space. The latter is now only available as a result of temporary spaces created by developers while they thrash out the details of their luxury home developments with Lewisham Planning. The only creatives who can survive the onslaught of the developers in relative security are those who can afford to own their buildings.

There could be a smoother transition from temporary to permanent in these situations, but there is not. What makes an area unique in the first place is disregarded and unsupported when it's time to sell the luxury flats to overseas investors (see Alternative SE4's latest post). The Deptford X visual arts festival only gets support from developers when they are sucking up to Lewisham Planning in the initial stages. Never mind, eh, creative people are a sturdy bunch used to living on the edge in total insecurity, and those who find themselves having to leave are soon replaced by the next batch of plucky graduates, a factor that the developers are relying on. There is no "now", there is only "the future". In the future, all creatives are envisaged as operating solely in the digital world, where space is virtual.

The buzzword for developers and planners is Placemaking. This is originally defined (since the 70s) as capitalising on a local community's assets, inspiration and potential "to create good public spaces that promote health, happiness and well being". There is indeed now much capitalising on the community's assets – in this case, 'Creative Deptford' – in order to drive up the value of new luxury apartments and increase the profits of the developer.

The main driver for the massive Convoys Wharf development is Deptford's "creative" reputation. The fact that the site has enormous historical significance is more or less disregarded since preserving and celebrating that aspect would get in the way of building 3,500 flats (3000 of which are likely to be marketed to foreign investors). Heritage is mainly to be acknowledged in place naming only. In its "Cultural Strategy" the developer states that their plans will make Deptford "the new Shoreditch" whilst conveniently forgetting that that part of the East End is located right next to the wealthy City of London, and hundreds of creatives had to move out before all the new trendy people could move in.

Still, in the time it takes for the Convoys site to be built (some twenty years or more), there may be opportunities for cheapish temporary spaces, but not for some time to come, so this will be little comfort for those caught in the present developer-led transition. Such is the poisoned chalice of regeneration.

Cockpit Arts, Enclave, Deptford Film Club and APT

A weekend of arty events coming up in Deptford...

Cockpit Arts Open Studios
Deptford's craftspeople and designers open their studios.
Friday 14th June 6-9pm
Saturday 15th & Sunday 16th 11am–6pm
Free entry. Download the event guide.
18-22 Creekside SE8 3DZ

Block Party at Enclave
Enclave are celebrating their first birthday with an open weekend of art, performance, live music and exhibitions, featuring an art flea market with a host of artists, and a fundraising Art Raffle with the chance to win an artwork by five prestigious artists. 
Friday 14th June 7-11pm: DJ sets and performances
Saturday 15th June 1-10pm: Cash&Carry Market till 6pm, performances, exhibitions
Sunday 16th June 1-4pm: Cash&Carry Market, BBQ, Bloody Marys, Art Raffle
Check the website for full details www.Enclave
Enclave, Resolution Way SE8 4NT

Deptford Film Club at St Nicholas' Church
Saturday 15th June 1pm and 3pm Free entry
As part of St Nick's annual community festival Deptford Film Club will be showing short films by Russian animator, Yuri Nostein, in the crypt.
Check the Deptford Film Club website for details.
St Nicholas Church, Deptford Green SE8 3DQ

Creekside Open 2013 at APT Gallery
Work from artists all over the UK selected by Ceri Hand
Thursday to Sunday 12noon- 5pm Free entry
Exhibition runs till 30 June.
APT Gallery, 6 Creekside SE8 4SA

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Wanna See My New Kitchen? Unrecognisable!

I suppose that with the almost complete lack of communication from the Council, the forthcoming works were always likely to take me a little by surprise.  What happened on the first days, though, left me absolutely dumbfounded.  I'd been told by Mitie that I'd need to clear out all my personal stuff from the kitchen and bathroom.  What they'd meant was that I'd need to clear out the toilet as well.  With all my belongings in whatever spare corner I could find, this is how things looked at the end of the first day:

And then on the second day the remaining fittings were ripped out:

In the lower photo, there's the beginnings of a leak (not that I could take a leak) coming from the old white vertical pipe.  This pipe was supposed to be redundant yet still had water in it.  Later on in day 2, the downstairs neighbour complained about the water running down into their flat.  The plumber was called back and he inspected his work.  It appears that the leak was not started by the plumber - his work was ok - but the pipe was either already rusted through or removing bits of the floor had damaged it.  This leak continued for the next 2 days until Mitie got up into the loft and capped the redundant pipe.  Apparently it's now stopped.  How my neighbour sorts out compensation is another matter...

At least, when the plumber had finished there was a WC, bath and wash basin, and a rickety trestle table with a plumbed-in kitchen sink.

On day 3 I was told the radiators would be removed....oh, no, the electrician would be coming to rewire...oh, no.  The rewiring and radiator replacement were postponed until next week.  This is the stage I'm dreading.  Already, stuff that normally sits in draws and cupboards has been piled up wherever it could go.  Now I'll have to move the entire contents of the flat away from the walls and radiators so the workers can get access.  My big question is where to....

There'll be additions to this post as the work continues so that other tenants can get an idea of the noise, dust and disruption.  If you have any questions about the work (I'm in for the full works - kitchen, bathroom, toilet, radiators, rewiring) and how it's likely to progress, please comment below or email the blog.

All I can say is the amount of chaos and the feeling of being squeezed into the smallest remaining space is far beyond anything I'd imagined.  You have been warned...

Week 2:

A plumber turned up to put new radiators in today but he had the wrong size radiator for the bedroom.  And he couldn't touch the boiler because the flue housing was asbestos so the asbestos team would have to be flown in.  Of course, it isn't asbestos but that's the way it goes - they're not going to touch it.  So, one radiator down, one boiler down, one flue and flue casing to be replaced.  Tomorrow for the asbestos team, Wednesday for the right radiator.  And when they signed off, there was no heating or hot water.  I had to go down and back up the 67 stairs to find someone in the Mitie office to send the plumber back.  Who arrived and found the airlock that was stopping it from working.  Curious, really.  You'd think they'd check the heating and water before leaving for the day, wouldn't you?  Wouldn't you check whether it worked?

Coming up for week 3

Almost finished?  Not quite. The walls have been plastered and that's about it, really. The electrician, who disappeared at some point on his first day, has not been seen since.  The radiator guy got another electrician to set the rheostat, which doesn't work.  I've had to switch the heating off entirely because even set to the lowest temperature the boiler pumps hot water around the flat non-stop.  The missing radiator has not been installed.


Oh, that reassurance they will reconnect the oven at the end of the day.  They do, they do, they do, and then they don't.  By which time they've all disappeared.  Total lack of respect.

Lewisham's expanding leisure facilities courtesy of Con-Fusion

Lewisham's main "leisure contractors" Fusion Lifetyles took over from Parkwood Leisure in around October 2011.

For users of Wavelengths, this has resulted in cockroaches in the sauna, a dirty pool, dirty changing rooms and filthy showers. The gym took over a year to deliver. Much of what was promised still has to be delivered. In the new sauna, there are no cold showers, only warm ones. The cold showers have been replaced by an 'ice room'. This is basically a large bucket of ice which users are supposed to drench themselves in, but is in fact being used to chill soft drinks, with some users drinking the ice that other users have just doused their sweat in. Music plays in the warm showers with no guidance on how to turn it off or down.

The centre's User Guide advises sauna users to use the cold shower or plunge pool afterwards but these are not available. It used to cost £6.25 to combine a swim and sauna. It now costs £3 extra to swim since there is no longer any connection between the two facilities – users must dry off and dress to cross from one to the other.

Meanwhile, it's announced that a "£20 million leisure centre opens in the heart of Lewisham on Monday". When a disgruntled Wavelengths user complained about Fusion's facilities last week, he was told to go to Glass Mill instead. "Con-Fusion" is how he describes the present regime at Wavelengths.

Here's the Press Release for the Glass Mill Leisure Centre. More PUFF than a steam engine enthusiasts' convention...
On  Monday 10 June, Glass Mill – Lewisham’s flagship new leisure centre – will open to the public.

The £20m centre, located on Loampit Vale, has been designed by leisure specialists LA Architects and will be operated by registered charity Fusion Lifestyle on behalf of Lewisham Council. The contractor for Glass Mill is Pellikaan, with additional works by Barratt Homes who are developing the adjacent ‘Renaissance’ scheme.

Glass Mill has superb environmental credentials and will offer a range of the most up-to-date facilities and equipment. As well as a regional competition standard 8-lane swimming pool with seating for 300 spectators, there will be a 20m training pool, a 100-station gym, a climbing wall, a creche and two studios offering a programme of classes. Users of the leisure centre will also be able to pamper themselves in a health suite with treatment rooms and sauna, steam and ‘ice’ rooms.

Great thought has gone into changing areas with separate male and female changing as well as specific areas for families and people with disabilities. The centre is fully accessible and includes moveable floors in both pools, changing cubicles with wheelchair access and signage suitable for the visually impaired. 

A key feature of the building is the stunning display of over 1,800 coloured tiles, designed by artist Phil Coy, that form the façade and carry through into a rainbow of light in the various parts of the centre. Glass Mill’s exterior also includes a lighting display that changes in line with the surrounding soundscape. 

A full menu of delicious food and refreshing drinks will be on offer throughout the day at the Rhubarb and Custard Café. Items served up by Rhubarb and Custard’s resident chef and dedicated staff will include gourmet burgers, healthy salads, coffee and homemade cakes, and a children’s menu. This local firm – a former recipient of a Mayor Of Lewisham Business Award – already has a committed following in its local neighbourhood of Lee and also operates the café at Wavelengths Leisure Centre in Deptford. 

Mayor of Lewisham, Sir Steve Bullock, took a dip in the new swimming pool and said: “I am delighted to mark the open of this outstanding new leisure centre. Glass Mill is the culmination of over a decade of leisure investment in the borough.
“There is now a real opportunity for local people to take part in affordable leisure in all areas around the borough. That is what we have always been aiming for. ” 

Fusion Lifestyle Chief Executive, Pete Kay said of the opening: "We are extremely impressed with the high standard of facilities now on offer at Glass Mill Leisure Centre and are proud and excited to begin the management of this fantastic centre.

“We believe that the opening of Glass Mill will make a real difference to the local community by providing first-rate sport, swimming and fitness facilities at an affordable price, and Fusion Lifestyle are committed to continuous development of our programmes and activities in order to offer new opportunities for everyone in Lewisham.” 

Alastair Baird, Managing Director of Barratt London said: “We have great pleasure in delivering a landmark building for Lewisham as part of the wider Renaissance development.”

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Man charged with Josie's murder

Rumours have abounded on the high street: "It started in the basement of the Vietnamese restaurant",  "It was really intended for the Vietnamese restaurant - turf wars!", and "Police caught the bloke on CCTV filling up a petrol can at the garage"...

Meanwhile, London 24 carried this story yesterday...
A Vietnamese man has been charged with murder following the death of an elderly woman in a fire in Deptford.

Tuan Anh Le, 22, a Vietnamese national of no fixed abode, been charged with the murder of Giuseppina Fazzani. Ms Fazzani died in the early hours of Wednesday after the blaze at the property in Deptford High Street.
Anh Le has also been charged with two counts of arson with intent to endanger life and two counts of arson reckless as to whether life endangered. He is due to appear in custody at Bromley Magistrates’ Court today.
Four other people, two men and two women, who were arrested on Saturday as part of the investigation, have been bailed pending further inquiries to a date in mid-July.
East London Lines also reports that police are looking for a vehicle in connection with the arson attack – a red Peugeot 406, reg number KP51 GKC.

See previous posts:
Remembering Josie and Lou's Cafe
Police launch murder investigation and meanwhile bust the bookies

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Creekside Ahoy! Thursday–Sunday 6-9 June

Arthub Gallery in Creekside invites you to a SILENT AUCTION of artists' postcards in which you are invited to bid on postcard-sized artworks for a very good cause – the Ahoy Centre in Borthwick Street, Deptford.

The exhibition includes small works by local artists, both internationally renowned and unknown. The Silent Auction will take place throughout the exhibition, and the identity of the artists will only be revealed when the work is bought. Bidders can post their bid in one of the boxes in the gallery and at the end of the show the highest bidder wins. Minimum bid is £20.


The Ahoy Centre is a registered charity which works in the community to enhance people's lives through sailing and rowing. They believe that outdoor activities inspire learning and help to build life skills essential for future life and employment. They run courses for schools, disabled groups and youth groups and for groups of 4 adults or more.

A Pathway to Employment course for 16-24 year olds not in education or employment offers the opportunity for young people to increase their personal skills for a future in water sports, boat building and maintenance or the leisure industry. Participants also get to apply for two apprenticeship schemes run by the centre in Activity Leadership and Boat building/Marine engineering. Their Show Me Why programme works with youth at risk of offending or who have already offended to channel them into further education, apprenticeships and employment.

Water sports activities include sailing, powerboating and rowing and the Ahoy is a rocognised Royal Yachting Association training centre. A small staff are aided by freelance instructors and a wealth of volunteers. Totally Oarsome! is the centre's fundraising campaign where participants get to learn to row and then to compete in rowing challenges to raise sponsorship, including the Great River Race (London's water marathon), and the Cross Channel Row Challenge (rowing from Dover to Calais!).

Twinkle Park Summer Festival, Sunday 9th June

Twinkle Park, down near the river on Borthwick Street, is a little park with a large pond, wild-life gardens, gazebo, and a mosaic floor compass made by Greenwich Mural Workshop, designed with local residents. It has been re-awarded the Green Pennant award 2012-13 after first winning it in 2008-09 – for being a high quality green space managed by a community group. The Twinkle Park Trust also manages Charlotte Turner Gardens.

On Sunday June 9th (1-6pm), it's their annual Summer Festival which will feature reggae vibes from DJ Stormy, steel pan band the Heart of Steel Orchestra, children's mask making with Arty Party, Extra Bones' "Draw and be Drawn" portrait club, refreshments from Horse Powered and Pimms O'Clock, and finishing with Paul Zec Jazz Quintet. Bring a picnic and a rug...

...and if you haven't visited this part of Deptford for a while, you may be shocked to see the almost complete Paynes & Borthwick development which now looms over the area.

Twinkle Park is just one of the Greenwich parks taking part in Parksfest2013

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Remembering 1977...

Some of our community have grown up never trusting the police. When police descended en masse on Deptford High Street on Wednesday to raid the bookies, boys on roller skates glided in circles in front of the police line at Coral's and taunted them, like wannabe extras for The Wire, muttering "Smell the bacon". Thankfully the cops paid the youngsters no heed, and the lads moved on when they got bored.

So much work has gone on behind the scenes since the battles of 1977 when the National Front marched from New Cross to Lewisham with full police escort. It is perhaps because of this ancient battle in which the police appeared to be protecting the fascists and arresting the anti-fascists, that the Met have chosen to ban the BNP from marching from Woolwich to Lewisham today. In football crowd terms, the opposing team would be up for it. (See Transpontine who is the expert on this subject).

This author was so young and scared at the time, we stood at the top of Deptford High Street ready to run for our lives. When the Brixton riots of 1981 spread down New Cross Road like a River of Fire, we did the same thing, but by then we knew which pub to run to. There were a lot of photographers living in Deptford, but very few wanted to be out on the street with their precious cameras under these circumstances. By the time of the poll tax riots in 1990, we were photographing the police (and brutality) without flinching, as horses galloped down the narrow streets of Covent Garden.

So much has changed since then. There was no internet in 1977. Cameras have got smaller and are linked to the internet immediately. The climate of fear that Londoners lived with in the 70s and 80s was as much from the Government (and the police as their agents) as from the IRA. Fortunately the Greater London Council was Labour for some of the time (Ken Livingstone 1981-86), supporting human rights and equality, and inhibiting Thatcher – possibly through embarrassment alone – from doing what the present government is doing now and lying through their teeth while they do it.

Meanwhile, in the light of 1977, perhaps it's not so strange how two borough Councils who can't agree about anything (Greenwich and Lewisham), are sharing Stephen Lawrence. Steve lived in Plumstead and was killed in Eltham. When our young people tell us the fight is not won we must listen. We might say 'look how far we have come, we fought for this over 30 years ago and made a difference, and things are so much better now'... But the fact that one of Stephen Lawrence's murderers was still trying to appeal their sentence only a week ago, 20 years after they murdered him, means we haven't moved on very much. After the psychopathic Woolwich murder in which the BNP draw silent sympathy from those who favour UKIP, it seems we haven't moved anywhere since 1977.

The Met's choice to gather several protests in central London today says a lot about their lack of resources. But it's definitely best it happens in town and not on our streets. Any protesting fascist you see in Lewisham today is breaking the law...get your camera out.  

Thanks to Lewisham '77 for resources, and Syd Shelton for iconic photo.