Saturday, June 21, 2008

Hilly Fields Fayre - Today!

Haven't had chance to blog much recently, but will try to catch up over the next few days.

Hilly Fields Fayre is of course today, 12-5pm - we will have a stall - hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Have your say about Ladywell at the ward assembly

The first Ladywell Assembly meeting is going to take place on Thursday, 26 June from 7-9pm at St Andrew’s Centre on the corner of Brockley Road and Wickham Road, SE4 2SA.

The Assembly is open to all who live, work or learn in Ladywell ward or have an interest in the area, and it is your chance to:

· Discuss and share what matters to you
· Work with councillors and others to shape the future of your neighbourhood
· Together raise issues of concern with the Mayor and other public bodies
· Find out what is happening in Ladywell
· Consider how the Locality Fund of £10,000 could be spent in Ladywell

The assembly is going to meet four times a year. The discussions at the first meeting are going to shape the first set of priorities to be addressed, and there will be updates on these and new projects at future meetings. At the end of the first meeting a co-ordinating group will be set up to move things forward between meetings, and there is dedicated officer support in the Council for the assembly. This is a new way of working with local people to influence and shape improvements in their area, and this is happening in all 18 wards in the borough.

Please get in touch with me ( if you would like to get more information or raise issues if you cannot attend the Assembly. Further information is also available on

We, the three ward councillors, look forward to seeing many of you at the meeting and to continuing to work with you on local issues.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Latest Brockley Society Newsletter Available Online

The Brockley Society summer newsletter is now available to download on their website; those living in the conservation area should get one through their door at some time soon before Hilly Fields Fayre. Lots of interesting info in it, including news of a new group for Dads at Ladywell Early Years Centre:

"Dads’ Group opens in Ladywell
Are you a stay at home dad? or Do you work part time and help look after the children? Stuck for ideas and wanting to meet other dads?

A new Dads’ group has opened at the Ladywell Early Childhood Centre. Come along with your child/children for a cuppa and a chat and let the children enjoy a variety of activities.
The idea behind the Dad's Group is to show that men care about more than sports and video games. Men care about their families and want to love, nurture & share the wonderful experience of parenting with the mums. The Dad's role in the family is very important. Children
need to see both mum and dad taking active roles in their lives.

These groups are obviously about being a dad so there is a lot of parent/child play sessions, but some of the sessions will be about men's health etc so there will be a creche available for these. Men have added masculinity when it comes to speaking out, and we would rather deal with any problems or situations on our own and deal with the consequences but parenthood can be made a little easier knowing that other like minded men are going through the same thing. Once a month we can arrange a group outing maybe to a museum, swimming, or even camping!

The Dads’ group is held at the Ladywell Early Childhood Centre, 30 Rushey Mead, Brockley, SE4 1JJ. For more information contact: Mike Acord."

New Adventure Playground for Ladywell Fields

Ladywell Fields Users' Group are meeting at the Civic Suite, Lewisham Town Hall this Wednesday, at 7pm. Among other things on the agenda is a presentation from youth services on plans for a new adventure playground on Ladywell Fields. The Council has successfully bid for lottery money for this and the site they are proposing to put the playground is the area of Ladywell Fields near Malyons Road (by the spiral bridge), incorporating/replacing the disused changing rooms and around there.

There are currently 4 adventure playgrounds in Lewisham which are very popular, and this would be number 5. I think it is a great idea and would provide a much needed facility for young people in the Ladywell, Crofton and Catford area. Not sure if many residents on Malyons Road or Dressington Avenue are aware of the proposals yet, although some people might have seen the plans at the recent Ladywell Fields Open Day. I have suggested putting the plans online and some kind of consultation/leaflet drop in the area so people can have some say prior to any planning application being submitted.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Be a Councillor!

London Councils has launched a new website, 'Be a councillor!' that aims to raise awareness of the role of local councillors, and encourage more people to consider standing in the next borough elections in May 2010. The website is part of a project that will also involve a London-wide poster campaign, newspaper advertising and locally, a stall at Lewisham People's Day.

I'm now halfway through my 4-year term as a councillor and can report that it is a steep learning curve, hardwork, challenging, often very frustrating but rewarding when you manage to get something sorted! If anyone would like to find out more about what being a councillor involves, or might be interested in standing as a Green Party candidate next time round, I'm more than happy to discuss the role further.

Read more about the campaign on London Councils’ website.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

New Statesman New Media Awards 2008

This blog has been nominated for a New Statesman New Media Award, in the 'Democracy in Action' category. It's up against some pretty stiff competition, not least various MPs, Green MEP for the South-East Caroline Lucas and Vote Match, so I won't be rushing to place a bet on our chances at any of our numerous local betting shops ;) , but it's lovely to have been nominated!

Brockley Central, meanwhile, has been nominated by a number of its regular readers, myself included, in the Community Activism category.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Carnival of the Green # 130!

I am delighted to be hosting Carnival of the Green today, a medley of all things green on the blogosphere over the past week. I signed up for this about a year ago, as it gets booked up months in advance, so it's quite exciting that my turn has finally come round! Thank you to Little Green Secrets who hosted last week's Carnival of the Green. Next week's carnival is at Blogfish.

This week is 'Recycle Week' here in the UK, and appropriately, there are a number of posts about recycling, reusing materials, and composting.
Its also World Environment Day on Wednesday, and the Environment Agency have launched a new campaign for people to do their bit (all well and good, but we also need the government to 'do its bit' to make it easier for us to 'do our bit'). Anyway, here goes:

Waste, Recycling and Composting
The Green Path Company has an article on recycling electronic waste. Ecojoe has a quick look at how much food the U.S. wastes, and what some companies are doing about it. On Fake Plastic Fish, following the discovery of a plastic eating microbe by a 16-year old, Beth ponders whether this lets us off the hook as a way of dealing with plastic bags or is simply an excuse to keep wasting resources. Meanwhile on Conserve Plastic Bags, Michelle is finding that her biodegradable dog muck bags are not biodegrading as she would like. Jzulueta on True Living Space writes about SAPSPA , an organisation in the Philppines that makes beautiful baskets etc from old newspapers and magazines. Over on Another Green World, Derek Wall shows how he has learnt to cut waste and improve his gardening by importing compost technics from Cuba which helped the country survive economic hardship and oil shortages in the 1990s.

Gardening and agriculture
Interested in growing your own food? Read about Sadie's unconventional efforts at soil preparation. Find out what she did....on Veggie Revolution this week. Continuing with the gardening theme, Tao of Change looks at the use of lawnmowers and ponders if there could be a better way. Tao discusses and shows photos of alternatives. On a similar theme, Greener Pastures asks 'Does your lawn really need to look like astroturf?' Happy to confirm that mine most certainly does not - elections and council commitments mean that my garden is definitely more wildlife garden than originally intended.

EatDrinkBetter looks at a unique urban agriculture program which helps refugee camp survivors to start their own urban agriculture businesses while bringing a community garden and better nutrition to a project housing area.
Meanwhile the Organic Makeup and Skin Care blog has a feature on biodynamic farming. What it is, who started it, certification it uses and even green brands (of skin care and makeup) who use biodynamic ingredients in their products.

And how about a way of dealing with all those slugs and snails that are thriving with the recent damp weather in London? The excellent Devonshire Road Nature Reserve blog has a suggestion.

Other bits and bobs
Green Building Elements has an article about a simple plumbing device that can help preheat hot water by recovering heat from water going down the drain. 80 to 90 percent of the energy used to heat water for the shower is lost down the drain, but apparently a DWHR unit can save as much as 25-30% of the energy used for water heating, and offers payback periods ranging from 3 to 7 years, depending on use patterns.

Alternative Energy blog asks (and tries to answer) "Why are oil prices so high", while
Money Blue Book argues that One Great Potential Benefit Of Higher Petrol Prices is Less Traffic. Hmm, not sure if the UK hauliers will buy that one . . .

Money Changes Things has an article on SEED, Oberlin's Student Experiment in Ecological Design, which was featured in the New York Times. This post includes comments on recalibrating the needle on consumption and entitlement.

Over on Beansprouts Blog, Melanie Rimmer argues that it's a mistake to think people acting individually can't bring about important change. Busting this myth, and some other misconceptions about people power. No Impact Man has a Climate Change Denial Industry Primer, while on La Marguerite, Marguerite Manteau-Rao uses the power of insight to expand the meaning of climate denial.

For the nostalgic, Natural Patriot has a post about Herbert S Zim, founder of the Golden Guides, pocket-size introductions for children to such subjects as fossils, zoology, microscopy, rocks and minerals, codes and secret writings, trees, wildflowers, dinosaurs, navigation and more. Don't think we had those this side of the pond, but hopefully it will ring a bell for Americans.

Political Animals
OK, being a Green Party councillor, I couldn't do this Carnival without at least a little plug for my colleagues, so here's a mini-roundup of what a few other elected Greens across the UK have been doing this week. York Green Party Councillor Andy D'Agorne writes about the possibility of a Transition Town group getting off the ground in York, as well as the joys and otherwise of Cycling in York. For those of you not in the know on Transition Towns see their wiki. I'm hoping something similar is going to be happening in Lewisham soon too - I know a few people in Sydenham and Brockley are discussing this.

Bristol councillor Charlie Bolton has had some success in getting a train service improved, but is still waiting for the confirmation that the popular Bristol-Bath cycle path is not going to be turned into a rapid transit route. Stroud councillor Philip is concerned about the validity of the feasibility study into the Severn Barrage and busy lobbying British Waterways and the Environment Agency over the state of Stroudwater.

Caroline Lucas, Green MEP for the South-East has recently started a blog about her day to day work, in addition to her Comment is Free blog. It doesn't seem to have a proper RSS feed from it yet, but hopefully will do soon.

Well that's it from Carnival of the Green for this week - it certainly makes a change from my usual posts about controlled parking zones, betting shop licences, uneven footpaths and nappucinos! Don't forget to visit Blogfish next week.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Catching up

Lots to catch up on from the past week or so. It already seems ages since I was in Cornwall over the bank holiday weekend!

Shop Local Bags now on sale
The 'Shop Local in Ladywell' bags are now on sale in lots of the shops in Ladywell. They cost £3.50 and seem to be selling well. Em from the drycleaners (pictured) sold her first 20 within a few days and is now on her second batch. There are only 300, so buy now while stocks last!

Good news for Gordonbrock?
Hopefully a rebuild or refurbishment of the school is now back on the cards, following earlier delays. A paper called "Primary Strategy for Change and Primary Capital Programme" went to Mayor & Cabinet last week and the proposals within in it include a new build (or refurbishment) of Gordonbrock Primary School and to expand it from two and a half form entry to 3-form entry. A rebuild of Brockley Primary School and to expand it from one-form entry to two is also planned. Basically, having got money for the BSF (Building Schools for the Future) programme for secondary schools, the Council is now hoping to get a second tranche of government funding bidding for primary schools.

Ladywell Leisure Centre Closed due to discovery of Legionnella Bacteria
You may have read elsewhere that Ladywell Leisure Centre has been temporarily closed due to the discovery of Legionnella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires disease, being found in the showers. The discovery was made during regular checks and the pool closed as a precautionary measure. Ladywell ward councillors will be watching developments closely and hope that the pool will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so. I would hope that there will be a full investigation into why this has happened and what measures can be taken to prevent it from happening again.

New Playground for Foxborough Gardens?

On Tuesday I met with residents from Foxborough Gardens and representatives from Pinnacle, to discuss building a playground on the estate. Residents have organised a petition and collected 120 signatures calling for a playground. Many of the signatures were collected by the children themselves, and a number of them came along to the meeting. Their request seems perfectly reasonable to me, as there is no playground on the estate at the moment, but a grassy area that could be a suitable location for one. The timing for this may well be fortuitous as Lewisham has recently been awarded £1m to develop play areas. Hopefully a Foxborough Gardens TRA (tenants and residents association) is going to be formed which can then work with Pinnacle to look at ways of taking things forward.

Parking Problems on Marsala Road
On Wednesday I helped residents in Marsala Road collect signatures for a petition calling for a controlled parking zone in the area. There was a consultation on this back in 2005, but at the time there was a very low response rate from the road, and the Council decided not to proceed. The Council's position is that it will only introduce a CPZ where there is a clear demand for it from residents.

Since that time, the parking problems along the street have got progressively worse. Commuters park at one end for Ladywell Station and at the other end for Lewisham Town Centre and station. The introduction of the CPZ on Bertrand, Branscombe and the top part of Algernon Road has increased commuter parking on Marsala and Ellerdale Roads, and as Pinnacle are now cracking now on commuter parking on Viney Road, at residents' request, there is even more competition for spaces on Marsala and Ellerdale Roads. Some residents are putting out cones to reserve a space, which in turn irritates their neighbours.

I've been told a further consultation on CPZs will be carried out in Ladywell in January 2009, but I was also told it would happen last year and it didn't, so the residents' petition may serve as a timely reminder for the Deputy Mayor of the strength of residents' feelings on this issue. The consultation is likely to cover a number of streets, including Chudleigh Road, Malyons Road, Gillian Street as well as Marsala Road and Ellerdale Street. I don't have strong feelings either way about CPZs, and am happy to support whatever the outcome of the consultation is. There appears to be a majority of residents along Marsala Road in favour of a CPZ, but there would also need to be a majority in neighbouring streets in favour in order to proceed.

Ladywell Road to be part of new commercial recycling trial
The recycling team at the Council has successfully applied for funding to set up a pilot commercial recycling scheme using bags instead of bins in Ladywell and Blackheath. They hope to be able to start the scheme in August and will be promoting it in the next couple of weeks. Businesses will still need to pay for collections, but this will be at a rate that is 30% lower than refuse (as with the recycling bin scheme). One of the current barriers to businesses along Ladywell Road recycling, is that not all of them have outside space to store recycling bins. This scheme will enable businesses to use bags rather than bins, and will allows them to pay only for the waste that they produce, as opposed to paying for a standard sized bin each week.

I had a walkabout with officers from the recycling team last year, to discuss recycling with businesses along Ladywell Road. Although businesses were keen to recycle, the cost and bin storage space came up as issues at the time, so I'm delighted that the recycling team are trying to solve this with the pilot scheme. It is also now cheaper for businesses to recycle as one of the Green Group budget amendments from last year was to reduce the cost of commercial recycling (by raising the cost of general waste collection). Hopefully the combination of these two things (bags and lower cost) will enable many more businesses along Ladywell Road to start recycling their cardboard etc.

Ladywell Tavern re-opening soon
I bumped into one of the guys running Ladywell Tavern the other day and he told me that they will be opening very soon, following a few last minute hitches. They are still promising real ales, fine wine and good food, and the chef apparently used to work with Marco Pierre White, so fingers crossed.

New Cafe coming soon on Ladywell Road
Planning permission was granted last week for a new cafe at 48 Ladywell Road (what was the fruit & veg shop). If al goes to plan, the new cafe, which will be called Oscars and will specialise in ice-cream and home-made cakes, will open in about 4 weeks' time. It is being run by a local couple who want their cafe to have a community feel to it.

Ladywell Village Improvement Group AGM
LVIG's AGM is taking place at St Mary's Centre this Thursday (5th June) at 7.30pm. The agenda includes, among other things, the election of officers for the new group, ratification of the constitution, review of the survey results, feedback from Ladywell Fields Fun Day and the formation of working groups. All are welcome.

New Gates for Francis Drake Bowling Club
Brockley Central have beaten me to it on this one, but Francis Drake Bowling Club have got a lovely new gate, which I believe was designed by local artist Heather Burrell, who did the gates at the entrance to Hilly Fields from Eastern Road.

Finally, for those interested, Lewisham Green Drinks is taking place tomorrow (Monday), at Mr Lawrence Wine Bar, 389 Brockley Road, from 7pm onwards.