Monday, May 25, 2009

Anyone for a Big Lunch?

Have you heard of the Big Lunch? Basically, it's a party in your street, in everyone's street. On 19th July the organisers asking the people of Britain to stop what they're doing and sit down to lunch together. Sounds like fun to me.

Residents on Arthurdon Road are hoping to hold an event (they've had street parties there in the past) and have asked me to see if the Council will formally support the event, as many other local authorities around the country are doing. They are hoping to have a bit of food, some music played by children, and to play a few games such as the three legged race and egg and spoon. It sounds like a lovely, harmless way to spend a few hours and to get to know your neighbours. I'm going to write to the Mayor and see if he will support the day, as residents' approaches to officers thus far haven't received much support.

Looking at the website, it looks like Wickham Road are planning something too. Anyone else?

Events coming up this week

Loads of stuff happening in and around Ladywell and Brockley over the next couple of weeks, including the guided walk in the cemeteries tomorrow, the public meeting on the Fuel Poverty Bill on Thursday, the opening night of Brockley Max Festival this Friday and various events at Ladywell's newest (and only?) art gallery: Tank Art Gallery. Read on for further details!

Tuesday 26th May:
Guided walk with Nick Bertrand in Brockley & Ladywell Cemeteries

Meet at the Ladywell Road gate at 6.50pm.

Nick Bertrand compiled an ecological survey and management plan of the two cemeteries in 1995. The Friends group is seeking to build on this for their own management plan and are pleased that Nick has agreed to lead this walk. He will talk about the flora, fauna and ecological management of the Cemeteries.

A donation from participants is requested, to go to the Creekside Trust, of a minimum of £3 for members, and £5 for non-members of FoBLC. The walk is expected to last for 2 hours.

As this is an “after hours” activity, the cemetery gate will be locked at 7pm, so latecomers can not be admitted. This replaces the scheduled May meeting for Friends of Brockley & Ladywell Cemeteries.

Thursday 28th May:
PUBLIC MEETING: How to End the National Scandal of Cold Homes
Date, time: Thursday 28th May 2009, 7pm to 9pm
Venue: St Andrew's United Reformed Church, corner of Brockley Road and Wickham Road, Lewisham, London SE4 2SA

Invited: Joan Ruddock MP - Labour Member of Parliament for Lewisham Deptford and Climate Change Minister
Chair: Ron Bailey - End Fuel Poverty Coalition
Mervyn Kohler - Age Concern and Help the Aged Special Advisor
Ruth Bond - National Federation of Women’s Institutes Chair of Public Affairs
Dave Timms - Friends of the Earth Senior Parliamentary Campaigner
Gemma Townsend - Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Lewisham Deptford
Cllr Chris Maines - Liberal Democrat Group Leader at Lewisham Council
Cllr Darren Johnson AM - Green Parliamentary Candidate for Lewisham Deptford

Please come to this meeting to show Joan Ruddock you want her to back the Fuel Poverty Bill!
This is a public meeting - it is free and no booking is required.

If made law, the Fuel Poverty Bill, currently going through Parliament, would enact measures to end the scandal of cold homes, cut costs to the health service and generate tens of thousands of jobs. The Bill has strong cross party support including from former Labour Ministers. But not yet from local Lewisham Deptford MP, Joan Ruddock.

▪ In Lewisham alone nearly 3,000 older people have to choose between eating and heating.
▪ In Lewisham there will probably be 800 ‘excess winter deaths’ in the next decade.
▪ Fuel poverty costs the health service £1.9 billion every year: averaged out that’s nearly £9 million wasted in Lewisham.
▪ The public meeting is organised by the End Fuel Poverty Coalition (members’ logos are opposite).
▪ For more information on the Fuel Poverty Bill go to or call 020 7359 8000.

Brockley Max Festival
Brockley Max Festival kicks off this Friday (29th May) with the now traditional opening night gig outside Brockley Barge on Coulgate Street. You can see the full programme of events on their website. The closing event will be on Hilly Fields on Sunday 7th June. Not to be missed!

Tank Gallery at the Ladywell Tavern
I've been a bit remiss in not plugging the fact that Ladywell now has an art gallery round the back of Ladywell Tavern, although Brockley Central did a write up a week or two back. They have a number of events coming up in the next couple of weeks:

29 May: A Stitch In Time & The One I Love 1600 onwards free
Tank Gallery presents the solo exhibition A Stitch In Time by South London based artist Aoife van Linden Tol. Working primarily with explosives Aoife van Linden Tol detonates small bombs to make imprints on paper, wood and metals. This collection of work uses the force and evidence of the explosions to explore perspectives of time. Aoife van Linden Tol invites you to bring a photograph of the one you love or someone you love on the 29th May. She will explode a tiny heart or tiny kisses onto the photograph using gun powder. These will be displayed in the gallery in the evening. They will be kept for a few days for cataloguing and then returned to you. All you need to do is bring a photo with you to Tank Gallery and fill in a form. You can bring the photo on the day but it is advised to bring the photo in before 4pm on the 29th if possible.

Wed 3rd June: Film Box – Film Screenings 1900 free

'Bigfoot of Suburbia' (2006). Written and Directed by Fred Rowson. Starring Richard Proctor

'King of Deptford Creek' (2009). Written and Directed by Fred Rowson. Starring: Simon Pearsall, Director of Photography: Jaime Feliu Torres

Tank Gallery presents two films by local Filmmaker Fred Rowson. We will first introduce a taster of Bigfoot of Suburbia whose main character, Peter Kingsley, is a jobless loner, lost in the heat of a South London summer. However, when a brief local news story catches his attention, his life his given a purpose: even if it costs him his reputation and his home, he knows that he must track down the mysterious beast that is hiding in his local park, Hilly Fields...

We will then screen a full preview of King of Deptford Creek, due to make the round on the festival circuit this summer. This is the story of a South London-based Private Investigator, Eliot, whose journey to find the missing Philip obsesses him to the point that he drops out of society. He becomes so caught up in the search that he too disappears - thanks in equal parts to a failing marriage and a missing diary. The story is set around a Thames tributary, The Ravensbourne, and its tidal reach, known as Deptford Creek, an eerie environment that slowly swallows Eliot's identity.

The audience are then invited to join us in an informal discussion with a small panel including Fred Rowson and Richard Proctor. The audience will get the chance to see a full screening of Bigfoot of Suburbia either after the discussion or on a later date.

5,6,7 June: Against The Wall (No. I) Live painting all day free

Against The Wall is a live painting performance, which will feature regularly in the Tank Gallery programme. Artists will be invited to create work directly onto the walls of the gallery space over the period of a few days where the public will be allowed to enter the gallery space and watch the work being created. Once complete the work will remain on show for the exhibition period. The wall will then be documented and white washed ready for the next show.

For the first of this series we have invited a local South London graffiti crew to transform the gallery during the last weekend of the Brockley Max festival. The public are welcome to watch on the 5th 6th ad 7th of June. This group of four artists who prefer not to be named have been prolific in the South East of London for the past 10 years. Their works can be seen in various locations around the city. They have created works in the urban environment independently and in collaboration with the council as well as being involved in running youth orientated projects. Feel free to come and watch them in action where they will be happy to answer any questions you might have. We hope to run a youth project in Tank Gallery with this group later in the year. Any artist can apply to take part in future Against The Wall exhibitions. Simply contact us or pop into the gallery for an application form and show us what you want to do.

Monday 1st June: Lewisham Green Drinks
7pm onwards, Mr Lawrence Wine Bar, Brockley Road, 7pm onwards. For anyone with an interest in green issues (not party political, lower case green).

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Green TV (kind of)

I've been busy over the last few days delivering election leaflets, speaking to voters on the doorstep, plus a bit of gardening in the lovely weather, so haven't posted much on this blog. We've been getting a very encouraging response on the doorstep, with lots of people looking for alternatives to the big 3 parties in the wake of the expenses scandal.

In the absence of energy to write anything else today, I thought I'd just put a few links to some videos. First up are two from Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London about her work in the European Parliament and why she entered politics.

We've been showing well in opinion polls, at between 9-16% of the vote, depending on the poll, and a YouGov poll commissioned by the Green Party which showed 34% would consider voting Green which is encouraging. I'm told we need about 18% across London to get Ute, who is number two on our London list elected - something of a long shot and at the upper end of our expectations, but you never know, and a council by-election in the summer would certainly keep us on our toes! 10% would see Greens elected in many more regions across the UK.

Finally, this video from Greens in the North West region which explains quite nicely how the D'Hondt system used to count the votes for the European Elections works. Up in the North West the battle is on to get the progressive vote out and to stop the BNP leader Nick Griffin from becoming an MEP. The threat of them getting an MEP in London is somewhat less I think (I hope), but the explanation of how the votes are counted, and the importance of voting rather than staying at home is equally valid.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dog Awareness Day in Ladywell Ward

Mike, Ute and I popped along to see the animal welfare team, Battersea Dogs home staff and Ladywell Safer Neighbourhood Team in action today, at the free dog microchipping day on Hilly Fields Crescent. When we got there, only about a dozen dogs had been chipped so far, which is somewhat less than the 30-5o dogs they normally expect on these afternoons, but more arrived, including two chihauhaus who looked very warily at the officers, as it they knew what was coming next. One owner brought along her dog who was chipped in Spain - they checked his chip and gave her the code so she could get the address changed on Petlog (so if he does get lost, he won't get sent back to Spain!).

As well as the microchipping, there was information about the work of the animal welfare team, advice available on dealing with animal behaviour problems as well as free name tags and dog poo bags. Lewisham has the second highest level of abandoned or lost dogs in London, with about 6 dogs a week abandoned and sent to Battersea Dogs' Home. These days are undoubtedly a useful way of raising awareness, but as with many things, to a large extent it is the responsible owners who bring their dogs along, and perhaps it doesn't reach those who need a bit of guidance most.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Ladywell Community Planting Day

Well done to LVIG and thank you to Envirowork Lewisham and all the local residents who came along and made today's planting day in Ladywell Village such a success. Contrary to the weather forecasts, it stayed dry and about twenty of us helped to replant the existing planters and bed up another four.

Three generations from one family took part - grandmother, mother and 14-month-old baby, who brought her own bucket and spade with her!

The plants will take a few weeks to get established, but Ladywell Road and the corner of Algernon Road are already looking more cheerful.

The highways works that we were assured would happen before the event didn't happened, but I've been told they will happen soon. The consultants have been and looked again at the guardrails, and those with white paint marks either side are the ones they plan to remove. They is some kind of question mark over new government regulations on what consultation needs to take place, which hopefully will be sorted soon to allow the works to go ahead. Six sites where it is possible to plant trees on Ladywell Road and the end of Algernon Road have been identified, and hopefully these will be planted in the Autumn. The options are fairly limited due to lots of underground cables, but six trees will still be a lot better than nothing.

It's possible that the planters that were formally on Loampit Vale may be moved to Ladywell Road as well, but that's all still to be confirmed. Apparently TfL (who are responsible for Loampit Vale) said they had to be moved, but we would like to use them elsewhere as our localities fund paid for them. I think we will need to look and see what can be done to improve things along Loampit Vale - I'd like to see some street trees, but we would need to get TfL's permission for these.

Brockley Road - watch this space, hopefully we will have news of a mini-makeover for a section of that soon as well.

The obligatory posed politician's action photo, suitable for use in ward newsletters etc etc. This one is genuine - I was planting stuff, but as the SLP photographer arrived after we had finished the planting we had to do some pretend gardening for him!

You can see more photos from the day on Flickr, tagged under ladywellcommunityplantingday.

Hilly Fields Users' Group Meetings

Hilly Fields Users Group have a meeting this coming Wednesday (21st) at 8pm in the Old Bothy (near the bowling green on Hilly Fields). Their AGM will be held in the same place at 8pm on Wednesday 10th June. If you wish anything to be discussed about the park, but can't make meeting, please forward comments to the chair. Take a look also at their great new website.

Free Dog Microchipping this Monday, near Hilly Fields

Lewisham Council, in conjunction with the south east London branch of the RSPCA, Battersea Cats & Dogs Home and Lewisham’s Safer Neighbourhood Teams will be holding a free microchipping event for dogs owned by Lewisham residents.

The microchipping session will be on Monday 18 May, from 12 midday to 4pm, Hilly Fields Crescent, on board the Safer Lewisham Partnership Bus.

Microchipping can help to reunite owners with their dogs should they become lost or stolen.

Residents should bring:
Proof of ownership, such as a vet card or bill, photograph, or pedigree papers
Proof that they live in the borough e.g. Council Tax statement or utility bill.

Residents can call the Animal Welfare team on 020 8314 2098 for further information or turn up on the day.

Deadline to register to vote: 19th May!

This Tuesday, 19th May, is the deadline to register to vote in the European Elections on 4th June. Find out how to register and more about the elections on the About my vote website. Citizens from other EU countries living in the UK are entitled to vote here, rather than in their own country, but you need to fill in a form (again by 19th May) to enable you to do this.

Not sure who to vote for on 4th June?
The EU Profiler, the first European-wide application providing advice on this year's European Parliament Elections has been launched. The Profiler offers all European citizens the possibility to analyse in a few minutes which political parties are closest to their political preferences, based on answers to a number of questsion on policies. Out of all the political parties in Europe, mine came out closest to the Swedish Pirate Party (!), but fortunately, out of the UK ones, closest to the Green Party (albeit the more pro-European end of it). Interesting to note also that this profiler places the Labour Party slightly to the right of the Conservative Party!

Hello, we're the Green Party

Clearly I'm biaised, but I liked our European election broadcast, which was shown earlier in the week. Take a look either here or on YouTube. Members of the BLF (beard liberation front) should note that they may find some scenes mildly offensive!

Jean's latest e-news
You can read the latest e-news from Jean Lambert MEP here.

Downloadable 'Vote Green' poster
If you're a Green Party voter and would like to show your support, there's a poster on our website that you can download and print off. Alternatively, get in touch and we'll drop one off to you. And if you have any spare time and are willing to help with our campaign, or perhaps can offer to deliver our newsletters to your street, please do get in touch; we always welcome new volunteers!

Brockley Councillor Darren Johnson is new chair of London Assembly

Slightly old news now, but in case you missed it, Green London Assembly member and Brockley ward councillor is chair of the London Assembly for the next year. See the press release here.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Green MEP speaks at Sivan Kovil temple on Sri Lanka crisis

Following the petition we organised with Tamil residents to highlight the desperate situation of those trapped in the ongoing conflict in Sri Lanka, today we had a meeting at the Sivan Kovil temple.

Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London was there to listen to residents' concerns and talk about her role as a member of the European Parliament's Human Rights Sub-Committee and Delegation to South Asia (SAARC). From my point of view it was particularly useful to listen to the presentation from the British Tamil Forum on the background to the long-running conflict, as my knowledge of the historical context was at best sketchy.

The meeting was packed with over a hundred Tamil residents present, including a number from Ladywell. There was considerable discussion over what the British government could/should be doing to resolve the crisis, as well as whether the decision by the European Parliament a few years ago to add the Tamil Tigers to the list of banned terrorist organisations was the right thing to do, or whether it was in fact an obstacle to negotiating a peaceful solution. There was also some debate over whether EU economic sanctions against Sri Lanka would help, or whether Sri Lanka could simply turn to other markets with similarly poor human rights records, such as China, Libya and Iraq.

Comparisons were made with the recent bombings in Gaza and the lack of media coverage of the Sri Lankan conflict in contrast, although many more have died in Sri Lanka. The point was made that there has been next to no media coverage of the recent visit to Sri Lanka by the Foreign Secretary David Milliband, where his calls for a ceasfire were resoundingly rebuffed by the Sri Lankan government. Likewise, very few column inches were devoted to covering the huge central London demonstration, while page after page was written about Susan Boyle.

People spoke of their concern at what they called the 'scorched earth' policy of the Sri Lankan government, the alleged use of chemical weapons, the indiscriminate aerial bombardment that has led to so many civilian deaths and the destruction of many civilian buildings such as hospitals and orphanages. They were also concerned about the internment camps that those fleeing the conflict zone are being forced to go to and the lack of access to the region both for aid agencies and international media. If the Sri Lankan government has nothing to hide, they said, why don't they let the world's media in so they can see exactly what is going on? Any victory of the Sri Lankan government over the Tamil Tigers will be a pretty hollow one if it comes at the cost of human rights.

Jean also talked about the number of journalists (both Tamil and Sinhalese) who have been killed for reporting the conflict, an issue she highlighted in a New Statesman article this week to mark World Press Freedom Day.

Perhaps the phrase that stays with me from today's talk was the woman who said that so many of us have become 'emotionally blunted' to the ongoing violence and horror; that we are so used to hearing stories of people being slaughtered that we no longer feel compelled to react or protest.

Tamil residents in the UK have behaved with enormous dignity over the last few months as horrors continue to unfold in their own country and the recent demo in London with over 100,000 participants was moving and impressive. The government owes it to the 300, 000 Tamil residents in the UK, as well as those still trapped in the confict region, to do all it can to stop the violence and secure a lasting ceasefire. It should also cancel any export licences for arms sales to Sri Lanka and impose a ban on any future sales until human rights are respected.