Thursday, November 01, 2007

Betting Shop Application Rejected - again!

Ute just called me from the town hall to say that the licensing committee turned down the application by Portland Bookmakers to open a betting shop on the corner of Brockley Road/Adelaide Avenue, on the grounds that they couldn't guarantee children and vulnerable people would be protected.

A great victory for local residents and for common sense, in spite of the new legislation which seems designed to encourage gambling and make it more difficult for local authorities to reject applications. This application apparently received more objections than any other Lewisham licensing application that officers could remember.

Well done to all those who worked so hard to oppose this. The applicant still has the right to appeal at the magistrates court, but in the meantime, perhaps the debate can continue here or on Brockley Central about what kind of business you would like to see in that premises.

Brockley to host Lewisham's First Nappucino Morning!

On Tuesday I went along to Bellingham Children's Centre for the offical Lewisham launch of Real Nappies for London. Met a number of mums using real nappies with their children and mums-to-be considering doing the same. I am delighted that the scheme is now off the ground in Lewisham. This was one of the Green Group budget amendments which the Mayor accepted earlier this year.

The voucher scheme is designed to encourage and reward parents and carers who do their bit to reduce waste. Using real nappies saves money and helps protect our environment. As much as 4% of Lewisham's waste stream is made up of disposable nappies (for families with young children, upto 50% of their weekly waste is nappies). Using real nappies in Lewisham diverts waste from incineration. Click here for info on the benefits of using real nappies over disposables.

Along with our other budget amendments such as the pilot green waste collection service, cheaper business recycling, a reusable cotton bag scheme and extra money to promote recycling and energy efficiency, the Real Nappy scheme is an excellent example of how elected Greens in Lewisham are working to make a difference and create a more sustainable borough.

Lewisham has 200 £30 vouchers available on a first come first served basis, which can be redeemed either against the cost of buying nappies or put towards paying for a nappy laundering service. The women I spoke to from Nappy Lady and Bumbletots said that there had already been a number of enquiries from the Brockley area.

Also, excitingly, Lewisham's First 'Nappuccino' is taking place from 10am-midday on Friday 9 November 2007 at the Toads Mouth Too Cafe, 188 Brockley Road, London, SE4 2RL. If you would like to attend please contact Vivienne Thomson, Lewisham's Real Nappy Officer. "Real nappies save money and waste and are easier than you think. Come to a friendly chat over coffee and find out more".

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Brief report back on Ladywell Ward Meeting 25th October

Haven't had a chance to post since the ward meeting last Thursday, but very briefly; there was a reasonable turn-out considering the fairly grotty weather, we discussed the various proposals for spending the £10,000 localities fund and there seemed to be support from those present for spending a considerable part of this year's fund on youth projects. More details to follow when we have finished looking into costings, other potential sources of funding for some of the proposals etc. Some of those present also suggested that when we move to the ward assembly system from next year (replacing the Area Forums), we have at least one meeting per year on a 3-ward basis as before, to look at issues within the wider area.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Reminder: Ladywell Ward Meeting, this Thursday

How should we spend £10,000? Have your say!
The time: Thu 25 October 2007, 7.30pm
The place: St Andrews Centre, Brockley Road, London SE4 2SA

Over the last few weeks Ladywell residents and community groups have been coming up with ideas on how to spend £10,000 of Localities Fund set aside for projects in our neighbourhood. The best ideas will be presented at the meeting, where you are invited to ask questions and have your say on where the money should go. There will also be an opportunity for people to discuss other council-related issues they would like to raise with us.

See here and here for previous posts on the localities fund. It’s not too late to get your ideas to Ute, but she really needs them asap to give her chance to pull everything together before Thursday’s meeting.

The whole 'election that wasn’t' put our planning and advertising for this meeting back slightly as we couldn't advertise it until we were certain that there wasn’t going to be an election (you can’t hold a public meeting using council money to discuss how to spend £10,000 during an election period, for obvious reasons). The Council budget for promoting the localities fund unfortunately didn't stretch to delivering a flyer through every door in the ward, either, but we've got flyers and posters in shops, at the station etc and done our best to publicise the meeting.

Get on Board - Strengthen the Climate Change Bill

Someone working on behalf of WWF contacted me and asked me to give a plug for their campaign to strengthen the UK Climate Change Bill. Asi says "As you know all too well, as it stands, the bill is not strong enough. It's vital that we include carbon emissions from international aviation and shipping, the fastest growing sources of emissions in this target. At the moment, the government plans to exclude these emissions, but this just doesn't make sense. Excluding them is a bit like going on a diet but not counting the calories from chocolate! So we plan to build a massive paper boat and paper plane, put all the names of the people who signed the petition on the boat/plan, and then deliver them to the Houses of Parliament."
Further details about their campaign here.
Also worth mentioning here the big climate change march on December 8th organised by Campaign against Climate Change.

Other bits and bobs

Ladywell Fields
On the way back from the TOTAL protest on Saturday, I cycled through Ladywell Fields and met Nick Harvey (Waterlink Way Ranger) and the volunteers working in the St Mary’s triangle. The Northern Field and the new river channel is starting to take shape and I think it will look great by next summer, when the planting has had time to establish. The next volunteer day is 25th November. 11:00am to 3:00pm, further details here.

Cemeteries Open Day and litter-pick
Brockley & Ladywell Cemeteries are having an Open Day on Tuesday 30 October, from 12.00 – 1.00pm, when you can "visit the Brockley vaults and see how they operate. Members of the public are very welcome to come along, look round and ask questions. At 12.15pm cemetery staff will demonstrate how the Vaults are opened to allow the internment of a new coffin.
The Vaults were installed two years ago by Welters, a specialist Vault makers based in Carlisle. There are 140 chambers in the area. Each chamber can accommodate 2 coffins, or caskets" (from the Council press release).

Members of Friends of Brockley & Ladywell Cemeteries are also organising a litter pick-up in the cemeteries on Remembrance Sunday. Further details on Patrick's FOBLC blog.

Former Catford Dog Stadium Site
Those interested in the plans for the former Catford Dogs Stadium can take a look at a website set up by the developers. In addition to a large number of new homes (590, according to the site, 336 of them either social rented, shared ownership or keyworker housing) there are plans to improve the area around the stations, to build a new plaza (plazas seem to be the big thing at the moment), to renaturalise that section of the Ravensbourne River, a new cycle and pedestrian route into Catford, a new footbridge, and “better linkages with Ladywell Fields”. Apparently a planning application will be submitted fairly soon.

Next Lewisham Green Drinks
Quick reminder that the next Lewisham Green Drinks will take place on 5th November at Mr Lawrence Wine Bar, from 7pm onwards and anyone who lives or works in the borough and has an interest in green issues is welcome. This third get-together is guaranteed to go with, er, a bang (sorry).

Energy Saving Week
This week is Energy Saving Week and Tracy on EcoStreet has an excellent post on ways of doing your bit.

Green Bloggers
Finally, should you feel so inclined, there's still time to vote for me in top twenty Green Bloggers over on The Daily (Maybe) (not that I'm being wildly competitive or anything).

Monday, October 22, 2007

Burma Protest

Saturday's protest outside the TOTAL Petrol station on the corner of Whitefoot lane and Verdant Lane went very well, with about 30 other protestors, mostly from the Burmese community but also including a few local people. It was a loud and lively demo, which attracted considerable interest from passers-by. We handed out lots of flyers about the campaign and local people were generally warmly supportive.

TOTAL is still one of the biggest foreign investors in Burma, and the money the military dictatorship get from their joint venture deal with TOTAL (approximately $480m/year) arguably helps to keep them in power. As I mentioned in my previous post, Lewisham Council’s Pension Fund has nearly £4m in TOTAL Oil. As a member of the Pensions Investment Committee, I will be wanting the fund managers to explain at the next meeting exactly what dialogue they have had with TOTAL’s management about their ongoing involvement in Burma, and whether our continued investment in the company is really in keeping with our socially responsible investment policy. We have a policy of 'engagement' with companies on issues of concern, rather than simply boycotting them, but companies need to know we are serious and will disinvest if their activities are helping to fuel horrendous human rights abuses.

Photographers from both the local papers turned up, so hopefully there will be some coverage of the protest this week. It was also reported on Indymedia and the TOTAL out of Burma blog.

Official Opening of the Ladywell Early Childhood Centre

On Friday I went along to the official launch and opening of Ladywell Early Childhood Centre in Rushey Mead. Since Romayne and I went there a few weeks ago, the staff had put in a huge amount of effort to get everything ready for the grand opening. Wonderful facilities and I would encourage anyone with under-fives to go along and see how they can make use of them. There are also computers with internet access for public use. I was chatting to Heather Watkinson, the Real Nappies officer, whose mind was clearly working overtime when she saw the laundry room and the potential for real nappies there. A ‘stakeholders group’ is being set up soon and one of the things it will look at is how the local community wants to use the facility and how, for example, it could be used at weekends.

New Young Mayor of Lewisham

On Thursday I went along to the reception and announcement of the results for the Young Mayor of Lewisham elections. The turnout, at 45%, was significantly above that of local council elections, with some schools such as Addey & Stanhope achieving a turnout of 85%. It was great to see so much enthusiasm from all those involved.

I sat next to the Mum of one of the candidates, who told me she “would be glad when it was all over“ so her son could “get back to revising for his GCSEs” which he was taking in a month. When her son, Jason, then went on to win (by a significant margin, considering there were 18 candidates), she was of course delighted and very proud!

Congratulations to new Young Mayor Jason Cole, who is a pupil at Crofton School, and Deputy Young Mayor Naz Ramadan, from Sydenham School. Justin ran on a manifesto which promised to make today’s adults and leaders listen to young people’s concerns and commit to dealing with the issues closest to their hearts. Over the next year Jason will work with his team of Young Advisors and has a £25,000 budget to spend on youth-orientated schemes. (and he won’t be put under undue pressure to do stuff when he has his exams coming up!).

Full Council

A busy week and I’m only now catching up with posting a few things here, so bear with me as a post a barrage of things I’ve been meaning to post for a few days.

Wednesday was full council, the first one since July. I asked three questions of cabinet members; one on the plans for the new pool (which is aiming for zero carbon emissions, compared to the approximate 636 tonnes the existing pool emits in its annual energy use), another on pest control (killing squirrels, to be more specific, relating to some casework in the ward where pest control had made repeated visits to a council property to trap or poison squirrels in the loft, but as building services had each time failed to block the holes up the squirrels were coming in through, they kept returning and more and more were killed) and a third on whether the Mayor agreed that we need more community notice boards (no, he doesn't, he thinks the libraries and Lewisham Life are sufficient for advertising events and that notice boards contribute to street clutter - not sure I agree, not everyone plans their local event far enough in advance to meet the copy deadlines for Lewisham Life, and many people don't read Lewisham Life or go to local libraries. Arguably we all should, but a poster on a noticeboard can be a way of reaching out to people who wouldn't otherwise be aware of your event or organisation) . The questions and answers can be found here.

The Green Group was disappointed that the Labour and Tory groups voted to end the meeting at 10pm, before business was finished and before we had got to our motion on Adult Social Care, which a number of members of the public had been patiently waiting in the public gallery for. We immediately resubmitted it and it should be the first motion on next month’s agenda. Next time perhaps we will be a bit pushier and try to get the agenda re-ordered if members of the public are waiting and it looks like we won't get through the whole agenda. Labour proposed an amendment to the motion which we were prepared to accept to get cross-party support. Basically, it was calling on the Mayor to "work with London Councils and
other stakeholders to lobby central government to tackle the national adult social care crisis and commit to more appropriate funding levels". More on full council on Dean’s blog.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Lewisham Council Pension Fund has £12m invested in Burma 'dirty list'

I have just found out that Lewisham Council has nearly £12m of its pension fund invested in companies named on the Burma Campaign's 'dirty list', including Total Oil. That includes £11,697,000 in the pension fund plus £171,000 in procurement activity last year.

Anyone who has seen or read about the brutal oppression that has taken place in Burma will surely be horrified to hear that Lewisham Council has so much money invested in companies who do business with the Burmese military junta. It makes a complete mockery of the council’s so-called socially responsible investment policy.

Burma's democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi has called for a boycott of all foreign investment in the country and business with the military regime as the quickest way of bringing it down, yet companies such as TOTAL Oil continue to fuel the oppression. For that reason, a small number of us, including some Burmese campaigners, will be staging a short protest on Saturday at 11am outside the TOTAL Petrol Station on Whitefoot Lane, Catford, SE6 1TP.

In November, all members of the Lewisham Council Pension Fund will be sent a survey asking for their views on ethical investment issues. The survey will ask how importantly members rate a company’s record on employment conditions, human rights, corporate governance and environment and whether there are any specific sectors, such as tobacco or the arms industry, that they would prefer the pension fund not to invest in. This presents an ideal opportunity for members to send a clear message to the fund managers that investing in companies that prop up dodgy regimes is not acceptable.

Since being appointed to the Pension Fund Committee last year I've been questioning fund managers on how their investment choices meet our socially responsible investment policy (SRI), but it always comes down to the fact that profit is placed before any ethical concern. It's incredibly frustrating. Pension fund trustees have a duty to act in the best financial interest of members, but we should also take into account their moral concerns. If enough council employees return their survey asking us to strengthen our SRI policy, the committee will have a duty to at least consider this.

Even if you put aside the moral arguments, there are sound financial reasons to engage in fair trade, respect human rights and act to prevent climate change.

15th Best Green Blogger

Fellow Green Jim Jay, who blogs on The Daily (Maybe), has compiled a list of the top 20 Green Bloggers. Last year he compiled a list of '100 Best Green Bloggers', in response to the total absence of Green blogs in Tory blogger Iain Dale's list. This year, Jim was invited by Iain Dale to write a chapter on Green bloggers for his Guide to Political Blogging. Since last year, when I reached the elevated position of 53rd best Green blogger ;), a number of new Green blogs have appeared, so I was delighted to be 15th Green blogger this time, probably undeservedly compared to other more dedicated bloggers not in the top 20. There is now a vote on Jim's site for Best Green Blogger "People's Choice Award 2007", so if you find my witterings even vaguely useful/entertaining/informative please massage my ego a little by going and voting for this blog!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Spin of a different kind

Today I took part in a 'cycling benchmarking' exercise in Lewisham. Basically, cycling officers from various other boroughs came to hear about initiatives within Lewisham to improve cycling, then went on a bike ride along some of the borough's best cycle routes (eg LCN route 21 from Deptford to Sydenham). The bit I didn't stay for was the feedback session when everyone says what they think was good/bad/could be improved about cycle provision in the borough, as they didn't want elected members there in case officers held back in what they said. Fair enough, I'm sure I'll get a summary of what was said in time. Interesting day though, and it gave me a few more ideas for the scrutiny review we are currently doing on the Sustainable Development Committee on 'Alternatives to individual car use'.

Lewisham is slightly unusual compared to some other London Boroughs in that 70% of its population travel to work outside the borough, it has a much higher than average percentage of people who use the mainline trains as their main form of transport, and although vehicle ownership has reason in recent years, it is still below the average both for London and nationally.

Since Lewisham has had a dedicated LCN+ officer in position, a number of improvements to local cycle routes have taken place and lots more are planned, but as with anything, there is always more that could be done and only so much that can be done by one person with limited time and budget.

There have certainly been a few improvements to the route (LCN route 21) I take to work in the morning, from Ladywell to Deptford via Brookmill Park. The barriers at the entrance to the park have now been removed, so cyclists no longer have to dismount, markings deliniating cycle and pedestrian paths have been added (though plenty of pedestrians still obliviously walk on the cycle path) and a section of quaint but treachorous cobblestones along Creekside has been replaced with tarmac. The cycling officer commented that what made it all worthwhile for her was when she met a disabled boy on a trike who couldn't previously access the park because of the barriers who was now able to ride his bike through it like everyone else.

While I think Lewisham has made some progress in improving cycling provision over the last couple of years, there is clearly still lots more to be done to make it a more cycle-friendly and less car-dominated place. What would you do to encourage Lewisham residents to get out of their cars and walking/cycling/using public transport instead? Comments please, preferably before Tuesday 24th October, when I have the next Sustainable Development Select Committee, and we are hearing evidence from a number of organisations and representatives including Living Streets and Streetcar.

Mr Benn Spin

A few months ago, I signed up to a petition on the 10 Downing Street website calling on the

Prime Minister to stop the expansion of Heathrow.

Yesterday I received a carefully crafted piece of spin from Hilary Benn in response, which, the summary on the site says "highlights the UK Government's commitment to seeking international agreement on a post-2012 climate change framework, and encourages petitioners, their families, and friends, to use the new CO2 Calculator". Nowhere in the response does he even allude to the government's plans to expand Heathrow airport in their business, regardless of the fact that it would cancel out any potential emissions reductions we might manage, not to mention destroy communities and make life unbearable for many more due to noise levels. No no, the onus is on individuals to use the new CO2 calculator. Oh that should sort it then, we'll just rely on people's good will to reduce their individual carbon footprint, that should do it.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Take action on climate change and tackle obesity at the same time

The health secretary Alan Johnson has today declared that the public health threat posed by obesity in the UK is a "potential crisis on the scale of climate change".

Come off it Alan, try telling that to the people of Bangladesh and other countries likely to be hit hardest by the impact of climate change (or Londoners or those in Norfolk, for that matter). To quote Tony Blair from 2003:

"We face a situation in which 50 million people in Asia could be killed or displaced by floods, further swathes of Africa could be reduced to desert, accompanied by massive deforestation in central and South America, and huge increases in disease, particularly malaria. And it is the poorest countries, particularly in Asia and Africa, which will suffer the most devastating effects of these changes."

It is of course concerning that we are rapidly becoming an obese nation, and we do need to tackle it, but on a par with climate change, even within the UK?!

There are however some interesting correlations between obesity and climate change and some easy steps to tackle both at once:

  • Start walking and cycling more and ditch the car
  • Start buying more fresh, locally-produced food or better still, grow your own (if you can get an allotment)
  • Eat less meat.
  • Turn off the TV/computer/Playstation and do something more active/sociable instead

So perhaps the 'obesity crisis' is in fact a great opportunity to see some belated action to tackle climate change? Interesting report I found: Unfit for purpose: How car use fuels climate change and obesity.

Meanwhile in Lewisham Green Party we are thinking of offering a special 'Green gym weightloss programme', which basically involves delivering lots of our newsletters . . . any takers?!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Do you enjoy . . . . hammering, digging, nailing, building?

I've received the following from Nick Harvey, one of the Waterlink Way officers working on the Quercus Project in Ladywell Fields:

Lewisham’s Quercus Project are working to improve access to the nature area in Ladywell Fields.

They are doing this by creating a natural gravel path and need your help by becoming a volunteer on this project. You don’t have to be skilled in these area’s and all age groups are welcome including children. (Although must be accompanied by an adult)

The work will be commencing on October 20th and November 25th 2007 between 11.00am and 3.00pm and refreshments will be provided for all volunteers.

If you are interested in helping, please confirm your place by contacting Nick Harvey on 0208 314 2172 or email .

Recycling champions needed

Once again the Council is trying to find the best/most improved street for recycling in the borough. Algernon Road in Ladywell won the award last year, thanks to the determined efforts of Geoffrey from Ladywell Society and his neighbours, it would be great if Ladywell could go for a double!

From the Council Press Office "Lewisham Council wants to find the Best Recycling Street in Lewisham. The Council wants to find dedicated recyclers to champion the cause in their nominated street, to encourage their fellow residents to recycle more each week in their street than in any other. You can nominate yourself and your own road (or a section of a road, or another road), for the award. Then you just need to speak to the neighbours and persuade them to recycle that bit more!

Lewisham Council will help by providing information and a toolkit to make sure that all residents know what can be recycled at the kerbside.

Each streets’ participation rate and the types of materials being collected from households for recycling will be measured when all nominations are in, and then measured again 6 weeks later.
The winning street will be the one that sees the biggest improvement in recycling behaviour in terms of the number of people recycling 3 or more materials at the kerbside (from paper, cardboard, glass bottle/jars, food/drinks cans and plastic bottles).

A special street sign will be erected on the winning street, proclaiming it to be the ‘Best Recycling Street in Lewisham’. The winner will receive a ‘Recycling Champion’ plaque recognising their efforts. All participants will receive recognition for their efforts and contribution.

Reasons to nominate a street
Everyone needs to do all they can to reduce, reuse and recycle, for all our futures.
Lewisham Council wants to reward the dedication of those unique people who go the extra mile to encourage more recycling where they live because we know it can inspire others.
So, if you would like to get involved call the Environment and Community Development team now on 020 8314 2245 or e-mail them to request an entry form and return it by Friday 12th October to:

Recycling Champions
Environment and Community Development
Wearside Service Centre
Wearside Road
London SE13 7EZ.
Last year’s Recycling Champion street was Algernon Road in Ladywell, where recycling improved by 17 per cent! "

If you or a neighbours don't have a recycling bin, or need to change a green box for a green bin call Envirocall on 020 8314 7171. Sometimes there is a bit of a wait for a green bin, but let me know if there are any problems and I will chase it up.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Real Nappies For London - Lewisham Launch

Please find below details of the forthcoming Lewisham launch of Real Nappies for London. This has come about as a result of our Green group budget amendments earlier in the year. See also my previous posts on this.

The Real Nappies for London in Lewisham launch event on Tuesday 30 October at The Bellingham Children’s Centre, 109 A Randlesdown Road, Lewisham, SE6 6HB
From 10.00-10.30am – Welcome from Heidi Alexander, Deputy Mayor and Real Nappy Experts from 10.30am-1.00pm – Real Nappy Drop-in
Come along to find out more about the benefits of Real Nappies and our £30 voucher scheme, and to check out the fantastic range of nappies available.
If you would like to attend the first part of the event please contact Vivienne Thomson, Real Nappy Officer, at by October 23 otherwise just drop in at any time between 10.30am-1.00pmFor more information, and to register for a £30 voucher visit

Recycling Lightbulbs

From the excellent Ecostreet blog:
"There’s good news for Londoners wishing to recycle their old light bulbs, both incandescent and energy saving. Ryness Lighting and Electrical have taken it upon themselves to educate London residents about the dangers of not disposing of light bulbs safely.

Currently the majority of used light bulbs go to landfill sites, where glass and metal go to waste. More importantly energy saving light bulbs must be recycled as they contain sodium and mercury, which are hazardous materials. If dumped in household waste and allowed to enter our landfill sites the mercury in particular can seep into out drinking water and the habitat around it.

The mercury from a single fluorescent tube is enough to pollute 30,000 litres of water beyond the safe drinking level in the UK.

As London’s only lighting and electrical company we feel that it is our duty to let our customers know the potential harm that is being done to the environment, and offer a service which will allow you act ethically without added hassle or charge.

Effective immediately, Ryness will recycle any of your old light bulbs for free. Just bring your old light bulbs into any Ryness store and they will ensure that they are all correctly disposed of. If you shop with them online, Ryness will arrange a collection of your used light bulbs from your home. You can find out more about this by emailing

Ryness branches:
37 Goodge Street, 45 Old Compton Street, 103 King Street, Hammersmith, 211 Kensington High Street, 6 Kingsgate Parade Victoria, 67 Camden High Street, 54 Fleet Street, 17 Market Place, 43-45 Westbourne Grove, 413 North End Road, 306 High Holborn."

Well done to Ryness for taking a lead on this.

Monday, October 01, 2007

More than 2500 Lewisham households in temporary accommodation limbo

From Darren Johnson (wearing his London Assembly member hat)

New figures show that London still has almost 60,000 people living in temporary accommodation, despite a Government target set in December 2004 to cut the figure to 30,800, by 2010. The figures, released by Darren Johnson, Green Party London Assembly Member, show that Lewisham still has a high number of households living in temporary housing and also reveal that London as a whole had only 1,895 fewer people living in temporary accommodation in March 2007 than in the baseline month of December 2004.

In March 2007, 2559 households were registered as living in temporary accommodation, compared to 1754 in December 2004 – an increase of 46% which suggests Lewisham is very likely to miss the target to halve temporary housing placements by 2010.

“To be on target, there should be around 14,000 fewer Londoners living in temporary accommodation today than at the end of 2004. Instead, less than 2,000 of the capital’s residents have been taken out of housing limbo. This is totally unacceptable. The wide variation in borough’s performance shows that whilst success is possible, complacency is not an option. Lewisham has one of the highest numbers of households living in temporary housing in the capital and must address this.”

“To have a chance of achieving the national target of halving the number of people in temporary accommodation, London will need significant help from Government. Recent proposals to increase investment in social home building are welcome. However, Government must also heed calls to give councils more freedom to build and manage their own social homes.”

“Within London, the Mayor’s target on affordable housing must be increased from 50% to 60% and a programme to deliver innovative housing models such as Community Land Trusts in every borough should be put in place. London’s housing crisis will not just go away. We must take real steps to providing housing that Londoners can afford.”

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Please sign this petition calling for reconciliation and democracy in Burma - it could send a powerful message to the military junta in Burma, as well as the Russian and Chinese governments (permanent members on the UN Security Council) who are currently insisting that what is going on in Burma is 'purely an internal matter'. 3000 protestors were slaughtered during the last major protests against the military regime in Burma - the world can't turn a blind eye and let this happen again. Also check out the Burma Campaign website, including their Dirty List of those companies that do business with the current regime and are effectively propping them up.

Press release from Jean Lambert, London’s Green MEP (26th September):

MEPs in Strasbourg have condemned the EU for being ‘weak and ineffective’ in its efforts to halt ongoing human rights abuses, ethnic cleansing and violent persecution in Burma. Today, a parliamentary debate on the growing crisis in Burma will be held in Strasbourg as a result of calls from the Green Party group of MEPs. The Green group of Euro MPs is demanding that the UN Security Council condemns the Burmese Government and toughen sanctions against their military regime.

Jean Lambert, London’s Green Party MEP, said:

"I give my full support to the thousands of brave protesters in Burma, whose actions signal that there is deep desire and desperate need for change. The EU must step up the level of sanctions on Burma and put a stop to the lucrative export of gems, fossil fuels and timber to the EU, which is funding the military force."

"For far too long the Burmese people have lived under an appalling regime with no respect for human rights nor human dignity. The companies and countries that are currently trading with Burma, such as China and India, should use this time to exert pressure on the ruling junta to stop the oppression and the inhumane treatment of its citizens."

For more information please contact: Georgina Bloomfield, Media Officer
Tel: 020 7407 6280

Notes to Editors
Jean Lambert: In October 2005 Jean was named MEP 2005 for Justice and Human Rights. Jean was first elected Green Party Member of the European Parliament for London in the 1999 European elections. She was re-elected in 2004. She is one of nine MEPs representing London and one of two UK Green representatives in the European Parliament.

Monday, September 24, 2007

London Freewheel

A packed day today, as straight after the service at St Andrew's this morning, a group of Lewisham Greens went to take part in the London Freewheel, the largest mass public bike ride ever in London. We cycled to Peckham Rye Park which was the south-east 'hub' or meeting place, then cycled on in a group to central London, where approximately 8 miles of roads were closed to traffic for six hours and 30,000 or so cyclists made the most of the opportunity to cycle around London without any cars in the way. A great atmosphere, very enjoyable and I hope it will become an annual event. Personally I'd like to see a slightly longer route closed to motorised traffic next year, and perhaps until 6pm instead of just until 4pm.

London Freewheel was made possible thanks to a London Assembly Green Group budget amendment and Green Assembly member Jenny Jones (the Mayor's green travel advisor) played a key role in making the project happen.

Oh, and it was sponsored by Hovis, who gave riders free sandwiches when they got to the Mall. Apparently Hovis sponsored the last mass London bike and were keen to do so again. The last one was in, er 1916 . . . let's hope this becomes a regular fixture on the London calendar from now on. It's a great way to promote cycling and help less experienced cyclists gain a bit of confidence in cycling around central London.
Publish Post
Lots of great photos on flickr.

UPDATE 27th September: Great video of Freewheel ride by Shasha and Mike from Croydon Greens on YouTube.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

St Andrew's 125th Anniversary Flower Festival

1. the First and Second World Wars 2. the congregation and community now - the influences of the Caribbean and Africa 3. The Abolition of Slavery 4. The nursery and under 5s.

Very impressive display at St Andrew's Flower Festival this weekend, which unfortunately the small photos I have posted don't do justice to. Each arrangement was around a particular theme, either to reflect a group active within the church or a relevant topic from over the past 125 years eg Fairtrade and Christian Aid, the Abolition of Slavery, the Youth Club.
I popped by to take a look at the flowers yesterday and also to hear local resident Gillian Heyward MBE gave a talk on the history of Brockley. There was also a very interesting display of old photographs of Brockley and Ladywell, including a photo of Brockley Jack in 1895 with two bowler-hatted gents with rifles standing at the entrance gate looking for all the world like something out of the wild west, and photos of sheep grazing on Hilly Fields. Apparently Ivy Road dates back to Elizabethan times, when there are maps showing an Ivy Lane in the same spot.
This morning Ute and I attended the packed-out service of celebration and thanksgiving to mark the 125th anniversary of the church. The Mayor of Lewisham also attended and spoke and the sermon was given by the Revd Nigel Uden, the Moderator of the Southern Synod URC (United Reformed Church equivalent of a bishop). It was interesting to hear more about the history of the church and see photos of it before its modernisation. In the 1960s the congregation had dropped to single figures and there was a risk of it closing, now the church has a growing congregation (250+) and provides a vital resource for the local community, with many local groups using its facilities, particularly the youth club and nursery.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Ladywell Children's Centre

Romayne and I had a tour around Ladywell Children's Centre yesterday. This is in Rushey Mead (next to Ladywell Day Centre and between Slagrove Place and Dressington Avenue), on the Ladywell Pre-School site. The pre-school building has been retained and a large extension added, provide a range of extra facilities. The new centre is partially open now, in that the nursery and pre-school are back on site, but it will be officially opened on October 19th.
Facilities will include:
  • pre-school group for under 5s
  • nursery for under 5s (from 3 months old)
  • Rooms for health visitors/social workers/speech therapist etc to meet with children and parents
  • computers with internet access for the use of the local community
  • colour therapy room and extensive facilities for children with special needs
  • large room with sofas for parents and childminders to drop in for a coffee and meet other parents and children
The centre will be consulting local residents and stakeholders soon to find out more about how they would like to use the building, so the exact activities and facilities at the centre, will depend on what people think would be useful (eg toy library visits, midwifery services etc).

I was very impressed by the facilities there, particularly the outside play space and gardens for the children and think it will be a great community asset. Some poor person has a huge amount of flat pack furniture to assemble over the next month before the grand opening though!

Adhesives Specialities Building: Application for Demolition

From the Ladywell Society e-mail list:
Following on from the successful planning appeal by the owner of the Adhesives Specialities Ltd. building at 59 Ladywell Road, there is now an application in for the demolition of all the buildings on the site.
The reference is DC/07/66807. Comments can be made directly to the Council planning office planning@lewisham. by 11th October. The Ladywell Society will be responding to the application, so you can also send comments to Geoffrey Thurley from Ladywell Society. The Ladywell Society will be discussing this at its meeting on 9th October.

( just outside Ladywell ward - it's in Lewisham Central by about 15 metres, but is geographically Ladywell and probably of interest to local residents)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Does the Green Party need a leader?

Doesn't it already have one, you might be wondering? Well actually, no, it has two principal speakers, one male and one female, who are the 'mouthpieces' of the party but don't have any executive powers. Currently, these are Sian Berry, who is also our candidate for Mayor of London, and Derek Wall.

However, following a motion passed at Spring Conference, there is soon to be a members' referendum on whether or not to change the party's structures so that there can be either co-leaders or a leader and deputy leader. These leaders would have a vote on the party executive (which incredibly the current principal speakers don't), would have to be re-elected every two years and could also be subject to a recall vote at any time if 20% of local parties requested it.

There is an ongoing debate on the issue within the party, with very strongly-held views on both sides (including in Lewisham). A number of Green bloggers have already posted on the subject (including Leila, Caroline, Peter, Derek, Jon, Jim, and Paul), there have been several articles in the Guardian, the BBC, the Independent (Jenny and Caroline), and the New Statesman on the subject and other greens in the wider environmental movement have also waded into the debate, including Tony Juniper Director of Friends of the Earth.

Those in favour of a leader or leaders argue that we are missing opportunities to get our policies across in the media because journalists struggle with the term 'principal speaker' and either ignore us or spend most of the time asking what the title means rather than focussing on our policies. They argue that an elected leader is more accountable than an unofficial, unelected leader, which is what we might end up with if we get an MP in Westminster who is not the party's elected leader. They say that voters need a clear, recognisable public face of the Green Party and if the Green Party doesn't trust one of its own to lead without forming a dictatorship, how can we expect others to vote for us.

Those on the no leader camp (or Green Empowerment as they would prefer to be called) argue that the Green Party's strength is that it is different to other parties and that we shouldn't be trying to be more like other parties at a time when the electorate are crying out for an alternative. They say that the Green Party needs to empower more of its members, from the grassroots up to be leaders and that we shouldn't be concentrating too much power in the hands of a few because an elected leader will be less accountable than our current structure.

One thing that both those for and against a leader are in agreement on is that we don't want a leader with such strong powers and lack of accountability to the membership that s/he could, for example, support a war against the wishes of the majority of party members. The referendum takes place in November and the proposals need a two-thirds majority of the membership to change the existing rules. It's going to be close and whatever the result, a good chunk of the party will be annoyed with the outcome. However, I'm hopeful that most members will accept the decision, whatever it is.

As to who the leader of the Green Party might be, if the motion is passed, I think the clear favourite is Caroline Lucas, MEP for the South-East and Green Party candidate for Brighton Pavilion, with Lewisham councillor and London Assembly member Darren Johnson a possible contender for co-leader or deputy leader. Then again, Jean Lambert MEP or Jenny Jones AM would also be strong candidates.

I'm in the Yes Camp, because I think we don't have time to faff around explaining what principal speaker means and why we don't have a leader, we need to focus on getting our message across and getting more people elected. We are already a far smaller party than the main three, with limited money and resources; why hold ourselves back even further by refusing to acknowledge that personalities do play a part in politics and many people identify firstly with individuals and then with parties and policies? Having a leader won't result in a huge shift in our fortunes overnight, but it may well help.

Anyway, I'd be keen to hear local residents' views. Does it matter to you whether a party you vote for has an elected leader or not? Would it affect whether you voted for the Green Party at a local or national level? Is the call for a leader or leaders a sensible, pragmatic step or a sell-out?

Oh, and in case you think we spent the whole conference navel-gazing, check out Sian's keynote speech to conference.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Viney Road hole - getting bigger all the time . . .

A resident first contacted me about this big hole in Viney Road on 31st July, although the hole had been there for some time before that and he had contacted Lewisham Council on a number of occasions about it himself.

There was a pole sticking out of it from where the speed hump was broken (this has since been removed). The resident was also concerned that the yellow lines on the road had faded away and cars were parking in front of the flats, preventing emergency vehicle access to the buildings. This is a particular concern given that there was a serious fire in a block at Viney Road a few years back and one of the recommendations the Fire Brigade made afterwards was that access must be kept clear in front of the flats (they couldn't get close to the building on the day of the fire). The resident was also concerned at the level of commuter parking on Viney Road.

I logged all these concerns with the Council's housing casework team back in July (apparently this comes under housing, not highways). 44 days, 5 follow-up e-mails and several phone calls later I am still waiting for a response, let alone any action to repair the road. Each time I have been promised a response is forthcoming but still nothing as yet.

B3, who have recently taken over responsibility for most of the council housing stock in Ladywell are quite clear that Viney Road is the Council's responsibility. In fact, they were so concerned at the state of Viney Road prior to signing the contract that I understand their lawyers had a special meeting with the Council's legal team to clarify who would be responsible for the road. So Lewisham's Housing Department has been aware of the state of the road and its responsibility for it for some time yet hasn't done anything about it.

I don't normally go for the 'name and shame' approach on this blog, but the length of time it is currently taking to get a response, let alone action as a result of councillor casework enquiries, is ridiculous and incredibly frustrating for both councillors and residents bearing the brunt of Council inaction. Grr!

Update: The hole was finally sorted on 27th September and B3 are working on an action plan for the other issues around parking.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Here we go again, another betting shop application . . .

Barely have we had time to celebrate Friday's decision at Bromley Magistrates Court and I have received the following from the council's licensing department today:

Please be advised that the following premise has applied for a NEW / VARIATION Premises licence under the Gambling Act 2005.
Premises name and address
Portland Bookmakers
329-331 Brockley Road
London SE4 2QZ
Applied for a new Premises Licence for the following purposes – Betting Office
Representations should relate to one of the following licensing objectives
1. To prevent gambling from being a source of Crime & Disorder
2. To ensure that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way
3. To protect children & other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling

Any representations should reach licensing by 10th October 2007. Licensing team, Laurence House, 2nd Floor Laurence House, 1 Catford Road, Catford SE6 4RU. E-mail:

The previous application was heard by Bromley Magistrates Court, but since then regulations have changed and it will now be heard by the Council's licensing committee. Please note that grounds for objection are slightly different now too, so any letters you may have been planning to recycle will need to be modified accordingly.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

New Saturday Football on Hilly Fields for 11-19 year-olds

A new football club for 11-19 years olds is starting on Hilly Fields this coming Saturday (15th September). It's taken a little while to get going, but this is one of the schemes that we managed to get a bit of extra funding for from the Council's Extended Services.
When the Ladywell Safer Neighbourhood PCSOs did their survey of young people and what extra activities they would like to see in their area, the answer was generally football, football and more football (oh, and nailart), so this is in response to what they asked for.
It's being run by local resident Ron Bell and others from Brockley County Football Club, and is in addition to their popular morning club for under 12s, which will continue as normal. A number of older children wanted to be able to play football in a slightly more organised and structured way than just them and a couple of mates. There may also be an opportunity for some of the older members towork towards various FA qualifications such as coaching.


  • New Football Club for 11-19 year-olds
  • Every Saturday, 1-4pm (starting 15th September)
  • Hilly Fields, Brockley, SE4
  • Cost: £1.99 per session
  • For any young person who wants to improve their skills (boys and girls)
  • Opportunity for older members to get football qualifications (coaching etc).
  • All coaches are CRB checked and FA qualified

Brockley County under 11s football continuing as normal Saturday mornings 10-12pm
For further details call Ron Bell on 07946 409536 or 020 7252 9248.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Betting Shop Application - refused!

Just found out that the application by Portland Bookmakers to open a betting shop in the former Homeview Video premises on the corner of Adelaide Avenue and Brockley Road was turned down yesterday by magistrates. Hurray! The applicant may well apply again, but this time to the council as the licensing procedures have recently changed. Watch this space. Meanwhile, local residents and shopkeepers can breathe a huge sigh of relief and give themselves a pat on the back for all the hard work they put into opposing this application.

Update (Sunday am): Just seen on Nick's blog that Glenda, one of the residents most active in opposing the application, has posted an account on a new blog.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Ladywell Safer Neighbourhood Panel

Tonight I attended a Ladywell Safer Neighbourhood Panel meeting. This is a group of local residents from various parts of the ward, plus the ward sergeant and other members of the police team. The panel meets about once every two months to set the priorities of the Safer Neighbourhood Team for the next couple of months. We agreed to keep the top priority this time as tackling burglary, as there has been a slight increase in burglaries in the ward over the summer (no particular area, unlike previously when Chudleigh Road was particularly badly affected, the incidences have been spread throughout the ward).

Other lower priority areas that the team will continue to work on include tackling graffiti and fly-tipping, and working in partnership with the council and other bodies on youth provision. A new priority we asked the team to start looking at was dealing with irresponsible dog owners who fail to control their dogs properly. There was a particularly nasty incident on Algernon Road recently in which a group of men encouraged their dogs to attack a cat, which consequently had to be put down.

We have a new(ish) sergeant in Ladywell ward, Sgt Jim Hart, as our previous sergeant got promoted. The names of all the team can be found here. Hopefully you have met some of them out and about in the ward.

I asked about a recent spate of muggings in Ladywell Fields, which you may have read about in the local papers and was pleased to hear that a suspect has been arrested.

We also received a presentation from Peter MacDonald, who is the borough co-ordinator of Neighbourhood Watch. Within six months, Lewisham has gone from having only two Neighbourhood Watch schemes to around 60, and Safer Neighbourhood Teams are working with local residents on setting up more. As far as I am aware, there aren't currently any Neighbourhood Watch schemes in Ladywell ward, but Peter and the Ladywell SNT would both be happy to advise and offer support to any residents interested in setting up a scheme. Peter volunteers at Brockley Police Station (4 Howson Road) every Thursday morning and is happy for residents to pop in and speak to him or to e-mail him.

Lewisham Gateway Planning Decision - postponed

The strategic planning committee meeting that was scheduled for this evening to consider the Lewisham Gateway outline planning application was postponed at the last meeting due to outstanding issues the Environment Agency still had with some of the plans for the rivers. The application may be heard in October, but it's not yet clear.

Montage Theatre Arts

I've been asked to give a quick plug for Montage Theatre, based in Brockley Primary School, and am happy to do so:
Montage Theatre Arts run acting, dancing and singing courses for children and adults.
What - Acting, Dancing and Singing classes for kids, young people and adults. Courses include Musical Theatre Performance, Drama, Breakdancing, Ballet, Tap dance, Street Dance, Dancercise and all new Digital Arts Courses.
Where - Brockley Primary School, Brockley Road, SE4 2BT
When - Tuesday evenings - Drama and Dance, Friday evenings - Drama, Digital arts and Dance, Saturdays - Breakdancing and early starters in dance and drama. All courses start from 18th September
Who is it for - Courses are tailored to meet the needs of 3 - 60+
How much - Courses start from £18 - £70
Contact details - web , email , tel - 020 8692 7007

Free Showing of 'An Inconvenient Truth'

From the council's press office:
Lewisham Council is sponsoring a free showing of Al Gore's critically acclaimed, award winning documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, for Lewisham borough residents.

The aim of the screening is to increase awareness and understanding of climate change, and, hopefully, to motivate each of us to do our bit to reduce our own carbon footprint.

There will be a number of stalls on hand in the foyer from 7pm giving information, practical advice and giveaways about recycling, energy and transport.

The free showing is at the Broadway Theatre in Catford, on Thursday 20 September at 8pm. Places are limited, so book early to avoid disappointment by calling the theatre on 020 8690 0002.

Well worth seeing if you haven't already done so.

Greens on Facebook

Facebook still seems to be the current big thing, with millions of people joining it and increasingly political parties are on there too. Not wishing to be left out (and not able to afford the online advertising campaign the Tories are going for) the Green Party also has a growing presence on Facebook. Among many others, there is a national Green Party group, a Lewisham Green Party group, a Sian for Mayor group and even a recently formed Darren Johnson for Lewisham Deptford group. You need to register with Facebook to join them, but then the groups are open to any members or supporters of the Green Party. And there is even a group for Lewisham bloggers. Green bloggers Jim and Sian (our London Mayoral candidate) have both been blogging about the pros and cons of Facebook this week. My verdict: definitely worth being on there, but dangerously time-consuming and addictive if you're not careful.

First Lewisham Green Drinks - success!

We had the first Lewisham Green Drinks on Monday and it was a success, I think, with more than 20 people and various organisations represented, including Friends of the Earth, Christian Aid, cyclists, allotment holders, a few council officers, Goldsmiths College students and of course one or two Green Party people! Not inconsiderable quantities of organic and fairtrade wine and beer were consumed. Next Lewisham Green Drinks will be on Monday 1st October, 7pm onwards, Mr Lawrence Wine Bar, 389 Brockley Road, Crofton Park, SE4 2PH. Anyone with an interest in green issues welcome, bring your friends.

Same principle as London Green Drinks. To get monthly reminders, join our e-mail list or our Facebook group.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

£10,000 for Ladywell ward - how should it be spent?

Once again, every ward in Lewisham – including Ladywell – has been allocated £10,000 to spend on community projects that benefit the local neighbourhood, make a visible difference and have a long-lasting, positive effect. We want to hear suggestions from as many residents and local groups as possible. So please contact us using the details below to tell us your ideas.
The £10,000 can pay for one project or several smaller ones. Examples of possible projects might be:
  • Hanging baskets / street planters / street trees
  • Youth project
  • Park benches
  • A community art project
  • A local event (eg a football tournament or an outing)
  • Equipment for community use / solar panel for a local school
Last year’s Fund paid for street planters along Loampit Hill and on Algernon Road, playground equipment at Gordonbrock Primary School, a pool table for groups at Crofton Park Baptist Church, a contribution to Brockley Max Festival, bird/bat boxes for Hilly Fields and for this year’s Christmas tree and additional Christmas lights in Ladywell village.
If you have an idea for an activity or project you would like to receive funding for, please answer the questions below and send them in writing, by email or by phone to Cllr Ute Michel by Monday, 1 October 2007.
We plan to present and discuss the proposals at a public ward meeting on Thursday,
25 October 2007, 7.30-9.30pm at St Andrew’s Centre at the corner of Brockley Rd/Wickham Rd before a decision is made.
Suggestions Form:
  1. Please describe the activity or project you would like the £10,000 or part of this amount to be spent on:
  2. How do you think this would benefit the local community?
  3. Where would this project or activity take place? When would this project or activity take place?
  4. If you know how much money this would cost, please tell us here:
  5. And now please tell us any other information about why your idea should be funded:
  6. Please provide us with your contact details: NAME ADDRESS EMAIL TELEPHONE
Send your suggestions back to us either by email to, by phone: call Councillor Ute Michel on 020 8691 5212 or by posting it to:
Ladywell ward councillors
c/o Councillor Ute Michel
Lewisham Town Hall
We look forward to hearing from you.

Real Nappies for London Update

The Real Nappies for London scheme (RNfL) which was officially launched in June is now getting off the ground in Lewisham. A part-time officer to promote and administer the Real Nappies scheme has been appointed and it should be launched locally soon. In the meantime, parents in the borough with children in cloth nappies can claim their £30 voucher. Details here (the site also has lots of useful information on real nappies, including nappy exchanges etc).

Lewisham joined the scheme as a result of a Green budget amendment. Previous posts on nappies here.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Green Man Fayre 27th August, One Tree Hill Allotments

Just found out about another event happening this Monday that sounds great:
Green Man Fayre at One Tree Hill allotments, Honor Oak Park, 12-6pm. £2 per person, under 8s free.
This is part of the South London Permaculture Project which is based at One Tree Hill allotments. Sounds like there is lots going on, including Green Crafts, Metal Forging, bread baking & outdoor cooking, wood turning, yurts, face-painting and story-telling, tours and talks, apple pressing (bring your own apples for juice), cob building (wear old clothes, it will be messy!) bee keeping and lots of permaculture stuff.
For more info contact Merlyn on 0845 458 1734.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Slagrove Summer Scheme - A triumph!

Yesterday I went to the Slagrove Summer Scheme BBQ & Fun Day 2007, which was to mark the end of the 4-week Slagrove Summer Scheme. There was a showcase performance to demonstrate some of the skills the young people had acquired over the month, which included a steel drum band ('the Slagrovers'), a samba band, drama and singing.

Over 120 young people from the local area have taken part in the programme of events, which included, dance, drama and music workshops, day trips, football and art projects, amongst many other things. I particularly like the big 'Slagrove SE13' mosaic they had made, which I hope will be displayed somewhere prominently in Slagrove Place soon. All the young people and parents I spoke to were full of praise for the scheme and hoping that the scheme would be repeated next year.

The scheme was organised by the recently formed Slagrove Partnership, which involves L&Q, Family Mosaic & Elevate (part of Pinnacle Housing) who all own or manage properties within the local area. Further support was provided by Lewisham Council ASB/Community Safety Team, Youth Service, Extended Services and the Safer Neighbourhood Team.

From what I understand, the housing associations provided most of the funding, while the council supported the scheme by providing youth workers. The PCSOs from the Safer Neighbourhood team were also involved and said that they thought Slagrove Place had been a noticeably calmer, happier area this summer as a result of the scheme. I thought it was a great example of partnership working and a wonderfully positive (indirect) outcome of our Ladywell Ward Forum and subsequent meetings on Youth Provision last December, which representatives of some of the housing associations attended.

Well done to all concerned, but particularly to the hard work put in by Gill Wills and team from Extended Services, Thomas Joseph in Youth Service, Sonia Meggie and her team from L&Q, Ken Drysdale from Family Mosaic and Rebecca Potter from Elevate for making this happen.

There will be another meeting with Slagrove Partnership and residents in the next week or so to discuss what the next step should be. There seems to be some interest in restarting a residents' association in Slagrove Place, which would be good and there are also ongoing discussions about whether the two portakabins provided for the summer scheme could be used more permanently for year-round youth work, after-school clubs etc.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Lewisham Country Fayre

Another event on 23rd September that sounds good, details below from the council's press office:

Lewisham Country Fayre
Cornmill Gardens is Lewisham’s newest open space. Situated just off Loampit Vale, it provides access to the River Ravensbourne, which has been released from its concrete walls. To celebrate the opening, Lewisham will be holding it’s first Country Fayre on Sunday 23 September 2007 from 12-6pm The park will be filled with international music, a vintage fair, a trash art installation, arts and crafts available to make and buy, and a market of local traders. Children will enjoy the animal area where they will see a range of different animals from Polly’s Pets Farm and Berkeley Owls.

There will also be horticulture and craft competitions for all green fingered and artistic members of the Lewisham community. The non-specialist, light hearted categories to enter are:

  • Best drawing with a Harvest theme
  • Best hand knitted item
  • Best flower arrangement
  • Best photograph of rural Lewisham
  • Funniest shaped vegetable
  • Best cake
  • Best jam

In addition to the fun and games that can be enjoyed at this glittering weekend, there will also be bags of information about council services including housing, adult and community services, community safety, and the regeneration of Lewisham Town Centre.For more information or to enter an exhibit please contact Deborah Efemini, Lewisham Town Centre manager on 020 8297 5635 or at

St Andrew's Church 125th Anniversary Flower Festival

Just received an e-mail from Rev Barry Carter at St Andrew's Church on Brockley Road about their forthcoming flower festival to celebrate the church's 125th anniversary:
This year St Andrew's is celebrating its 125th Anniversary with a Flower Festival. The theme of the Festival is 'Then and Now' and will run from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd September with a Service of Celebration on Sunday morning at 11 am. Alongside the Flower Festival, we hope to mount an exhibition of the history of the Church and its surrounding community and visitors will also be able to tour St Andrew's Community Centre and see examples of its work, especially with children and young people.

The Flower Festival and exhibitions will be open at the following times:
Friday 21st September 11am - 7 pm
Saturday 22nd September 11 am - 5 pm
Sunday 23rd September 10 am - 2 pm
Service of Celebration Sunday 23rd September at 11 am

London Assembly Campaign Launch

Today was the official launch of my campaign as Green Party candidate for Greenwich & Lewisham London Assembly constituency. The weather wasn't exactly on our side (someone joked that there was a good reason us Greens these days talk about climate change rather than global warming!), but nevertheless we did our launch on Ha'Penny Hatch Bridge, on the border between Greenwich & Lewisham. I was the Green Party candidate last time round and very much relish the opportunity to do it again, with a little more experience under my belt than last time round. With me in the photo above are Darren Johnson (Brockley councillor and London Assembly member) and Sian Berry, who is the Green Party candidate for Mayor of London.

Recycling Bin at Ladywell Station

I noticed en route back from the Climate Camp the other day that the recycling bin at Ladywell Station was jammed with paper and other rubbish, and that there was no general rubbish bin nearby. A blue rubbish bin has now been placed next to the recycling bin (thanks Sam for acting speedily on that) and officers are going to monitor the situation to see if a second paper bin is required, or if this will solve the problem.

(another possible contender for not exactly the most exciting blog post in the world, but there you go.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Ladywell Planning Applications

There have been a number of planning applications submitted recently in Ladywell ward. These can all be viewed by going to the planning website and selecting 'Ladywell' in the drop-down menu for 'ward'. Amongst others, the following have been submitted:

DC/07/66231/FT: 105 Ladywell Road, London, SE13 7JA, The change of use of 105 Ladywell Road SE13 to Use Class A3 (Hot Food Take Away), together with the installation of an extract duct.

DC/07/66345/FT and DC/07/66080/FT : changes to the shopfront and signage at the chemist at 285-287 Brockley Road.

DC/07/65834/X The construction of a three storey, 2 bedroom ecohouse at Garage adjacent to, 10 Malyons Road SE13.

Any comments should be sent to planning, quoting the application number you are writing in connection with.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Armed only with Peer-reviewed Science

I went to the Camp for Climate Action yesterday and was pretty impressed. I took part in a march through the village of Sipson, one of the villages that would be flattened to make way for the proposed third runway at Heathrow and there was clear support for the protest from local residents, many of whom took part in the march.

In a photoshoot designed to take a swipe at all those suggesting the protestors were a bunch of ill-informed hippies hell-bent on violence, we stood behind a banner stating "we are armed . . . only with peer-reviewed science" and holding up copies of the Tyndall report on climate change.

I didn't take part in any of the non-violent direct action (NVDA), it all looked a bit scary to me with far too many mounted police and riot shields, and I had a wedding party to get back to in the evening, but I have admiration for those who did.

Interesting for me as a Lewisham councillor, was the number of Lewisham Council black wheelie bins in evidence around the site. They were being used very effectively to seperate reyclables from compost, whereas normally anything in the black wheelie bins is incinerated at SELCHP. Some of the bins were being used in the compost toilets.

A badly-researched article in The Times last week suggested that Lewisham Council had donated the wheelie bins to the camp. The council hastily denied this and there is apparently an internal investigation going on as to where the bins might have come from.

I like to think that Lewisham is a hot-bed of enviromental activism and these wheelie bins were simply 'borrowed' for a few days from the homes of climate campers who will be returning them clean and empty in a few days time. Time will tell. Maybe a bit of waste has even been diverted from the incinerator in the meantime?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Why I'll be taking part in the protests against airport expansion tomorrow

I'm getting up unusually early for me on a Sunday tomorrow, as I'm making my way up to Heathrow to the Climate Camp protests. Yes, I know, I'm doing climate camp lite, and haven't done the whole week camping in the field thing, but I couldn't get the week off work and I'm still cleaning the mud off from the Big Green Gathering (and that wasn't very muddy, I'm just slow to clean my things). Anyway, why I'm going to the protest:
  1. I'm angry at the ridiculous, hysterical coverage the camp has received in certain sectors of the press.
  2. It needs to be big, otherwise the aforementioned press will deem the protest a 'failure'.
  3. Aviation is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases.
  4. We need to reduce our carbon emissions to 90% by 2030 to prevent the worst of climate change.
  5. More runways equals more planes equals more pollution and carbon emissions, which is incompatible with the above.
  6. Airport expansion will increase the noise pollution and air pollution in London, not to mention destroying villages to build the runway, car parks, departure lounges etc.
  7. Far too much of this country is already concreted over for cars - we don't need to concrete over even more for runways.
  8. Our government talks green but seems to think we can carry on with business as usual with just a little bit of tinkering rounds the edges (eg we can just keep producing and consuming more but as long as we recycle we'll be ok).
  9. A sizeable chunk of the population also seems to think the above and a worrying number of people still question the scientific consensus about climate change (perhaps because it is easier to pretend nothing needs to change?).
  10. Because I am sick of people saying "there's no point in us doing anything if China and India don't do anything" (d'oh! never heard of contraction and convergence? why should we consume vastly more carbon per capita than the Chinese?).
  11. Reducing your carbon footprint isn't some lifestyle choice that you can adopt for a few months until the next fad comes along.
  12. I want to show some solidarity with the protestors.
  13. Lots of my friends and fellow Greens will be there and it will be nice to see them.
  14. I'm curious, it should be inspiring and empowering.
  15. We have a democratic right to protest and I intend to use it, however intimidating the policing may be.
  16. Should some opportunist read this and decide to write to the local paper and say that I was swanning off protesting in north London and neglecting the people of Ladywell, it will give me a great opportunity to write a response summarising the above. ;)
  17. Lots of other reasons that don't spring to mind right now.
PS: Good article in today's Independent by Johann Hari.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bring bike-hire revolution to London

I mentioned in a previous post back in April about a new bike hire scheme called Bicing that is being rolled out in Barcelona. I was delighted to learn that the Mayor of London is considering a similar scheme, possibly integrated with the Oyster card. Rumour has it that when Greens first started to push this one a year or so ago he was only lukewarm, but when it was quietly suggested that he might want to get it into his manifesto 'before Boris did' he was more receptive to the idea ;).

While I'm in a swiping mood, isn't the Tory London Assembly member Brian Coleman missing the point slightly in having a go at Blue Peter's Connie Huq for taking part in the launch of London Freewheel? No doubt Ken Livingstone did get political mileage out of the press launch, but surely this bike ride is something that should be attracting cross-party support, or is Brian Coleman scared it may make it more difficult to get around by taxi on that day?!

Anyway, enough sniping from me, press release from Green London Assembly member Jenny Jones below.

Bring bike-hire revolution to London

Welcoming the Mayor of London’s announcement that he is considering a plan to introduce a London version of the bike-hire scheme that is revolutionising public transport in Europe’s major cities, Jenny Jones, Green Party London Assembly Member, has called for the scheme to be in place as soon as possible.

“I have been working to get support for a London wide bike hire system for the last 12 months, and am delighted that the Mayor is now considering such a scheme. A London scheme could be self-financing, or even profitable. But to make sure it gets off the ground within the next year I will make it part of my budget negotiations with the Mayor. Cities like Paris, Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, Vienna and Oslo have all recent! ly introduced bike hire schemes, and have had huge success, with millions of hire trips being made in the first few months.”

“Because bikes are often the quickest and most sustainable way to travel in cities, it makes perfect sense to provide them as a new form of public transport, integrated with the Oyster car system, especially when the bikes can be used as part of a longer journey by bus, tube or train. The more people that we can encourage to cycle this way, the more pressure there will be to provide better cycling facilities and infrastructure, paving the way towards truly making London a cycling city.”


  • Jenny is the Mayor’s Green Transport Advisor
  • In Paris, the Velib scheme started last month, and already offers 700 bike stations with 10,000 bikes. When the scheme is fully rolled out, it will offer a total of 1,451 bike stations (compared to 298 tube stations in Paris), with 20,000 bikes. Bikes are free for the first 30 minutes, then prices rise afterwards.
  • In Barcelona, the Bicing scheme was launched in March, and offers 100 bike stations (with 1,500) bikes across the centre of the city. In 6 months, the cycles have already been used 1,000,000 times.
  • In Berlin, cycles are activated with an Oyster-card equivalent, then may be left on any street corner within the city centre.
  • Schemes (often linked to outdoor advertising) are also running in Lyon, Rennes, Seville, Cordoba, ! Giron, Brussels, Vienna and Oslo, soon to be joined by Marseilles, Mulhouse and Besançon.
  • London already has one small scheme – the Oybike scheme – but this is small scale and the only bike stations are in Hammersmith and Fulham. A London-wide scheme, with TfL backing, would be more effective.