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.