Saturday, October 31, 2009

New Council Guide to Community Gardens

I spent a pleasant morning today down at Beckenham Place Park in the mansion house for the annual Parks and Open Spaces Conference, and the launch of the Council's new community gardens guide. (If you haven't ever been to Beckenham Place Park, it is well worth a visit, and a pleasant 25 minute cycle ride along the Waterlink Way).

The event was well attended by members of parks users groups and residents already involved in community garden schemes, such as Ruth from St Saviours in Crofton Park (as featured in this month's Lewisham Life!).

The Mayor in his speech to launch the guide recognised the value of community gardens for health and community cohesions, not to mention the potential to grow your own food. Then Seb from Capital Growth, the London-wide scheme to have 2012 new places to grow food in London by 2012 talked about some of the projects being set up across London, and the theoretical potential for London to grow up to 25% of its own food.

He also told a great story about a young boy at a community gardening event last Wednesday, who asked if the potato he planted would be ready for when he came back on Saturday. Seb said that the 'delayed reward' aspect to gardening was something many people weren't used to in these days of expecting everything to be instant. Personally, I don't mind waiting for things to grown in my garden, so long as ultimately I manage to pick them before the birds/squirrels/foxes or slugs and snails get to them!

He also flagged up that the next round of funding from Capital Growth kicks off next month, so if you are interested in setting up a project locally, take a look at their website as well as the Council's Community Gardens guide for further information.

On my travels around the ward, there are a number of patches of land that I often think would make great growing spaces, particularly on a couple of estates in the ward, and I've been following up with Council officers and Regenter B3 about a couple of plots, but I would welcome residents getting in touch with ideas for a project you'd like to take forward.


Couldn't resist posting this rather impressive pumpkin lantern with Green Party logo carved into it, from the blog of Brighton Green Cllr Amy Kennedy.

Ute and I spent a couple of hours speaking to residents on Braxfield Road today, which was fine when it was light, but as it got towards dusk we called it a day to avoid being mistaken for trick or treaters!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Council Committee recommends free insulation across Lewisham

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed a slight preoccupation with insulation over the past year or so. On a personal level, I've been getting my draughty ground floor Victorian flat insulated, while on a political level, the Green Group on the Council has been pushing for a borough-wide free insulation scheme to be introduced.

Back in April, I mentioned that the Sustainable Development Committee, which I chair, was carrying out a review into home insulation in the borough. Over the last few months we've gathered evidence and heard from a number of witnesses, including housing associations, energy companies, other local authorities and the Energy Saving Trust. I spent many hours in September, together with officers, working on the final report, which is now available on the Council's website.

The key recommendations of the committee's report include:
A free insulation scheme for homes across Lewisham. The Committee's report describes a possible three-year programme that would insulate around 25,000 homes and calls on the Mayor to set a target date by which every eligible householder has been offered free cavity wall insulation. The scheme would run in partnership with an energy supplier, who would meet half of the costs, as part of their obligations under the national Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT). The remainder would potentially come from prudential borrowing.

A pilot scheme to start insulating 'hard to treat' properties: The Committee wants to see harder-to-insulate solid-wall homes tackled too, as these older houses make up around 40 per cent of Lewisham's stock. The Committee suggested that building up expertise by insulating the 200 Council-owned solid-wall homes that become vacant each year could make Lewisham a national leader in solid-wall insulation work.

Creating new jobs locally: The Committee wants local people to benefit from the jobs and training that could result from the home insulation programme, and has recommended that the Mayor asks Council officers to look at potential training schemes.

Homes have the biggest potential source of energy savings in the borough
An unusually high percentage of Lewisham's CO2 emissions come from its homes - 44 per cent compared to 27 per cent nationally. This isn't because Lewisham's housing stock is less efficient than elsewhere, but more due to the lack of employment and industry in the borough, which means that housing makes up a much greater proportion of total emissions.

The Committee found that while a range of useful initiatives have been introduced to increase energy efficiency, a more systematic, street-by-street approach to insulation is now required in order to save residents money on their fuel bills and to meet the carbon reduction targets in the borough's Carbon Reduction and Climate Change Strategy.

Other recommendations in the report include:
  • Creating a register of insulation installers to make it easier for householders to get work done
  • The Mayor to consider a demonstration eco-home in the borough for local people to visit
  • A new planning rule which says home extensions can be built only if the whole property's energy efficiency is improved
  • Investigating how to incentivise private landlords to insulate their homes and help vulnerable tenants
I'll be presenting the Committee's recommendations to the Mayor and Cabinet next week. Since the report was finalised, there have been several more national reports published calling for free home insulation schemes ('Lofty Ambitions' from the Audit Commission and this from the independent Committee on Climate Change) and it seems that barely a week goes by without another body echoing their calls.

I no longer think it's a question of if we get a free home insulation scheme, but more when, and who leads on it. I'd very much like to see Lewisham in the vanguard on this, rather than 'lagging behind' (excuse the pun from yet another report calling for free home insulation, this time from the London Assembly).

A copy of the full report 'Local Warming: Increasing Home Insulation in Lewisham: a scrutiny review' can be viewed here.

NB: Really observant regular readers of this blog may notice some similarity between the key recommendations of this review and the Green Group budget amendment from earlier this year. Personally, I think it's great that our proposals now have cross-party support.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ladywell Parking Consultation Results

Over the summer, a large number of households in Ladywell ward were consulted on whether residents wanted a controlled parking zone. Parking zones are something of a Marmite issue - residents either love them or hate them. The issue has been hotly debated both in the comments on this blog, and on the Ladywell Society e-mail group.

The results have now been collated and analysed by the Council's Highways team and I've just been sent a copy. As predicted, the results showed high levels of support from the areas closest to Lewisham Station, Ladywell Station and Lewisham Hospital, but support for the proposal was less in the roads further away. Highways hope to send a letter round to residents within the next week or so summarising the results and they propose going ahead with a CPZ (subject to the results of the Statutory Consultation) just in the area that had a high level of support.

The response rate was pretty good compared to other CPZ surveys in the borough, with 620 respondents. In the area where support for a CPZ was high, 298 questionnaires were returned, which represents a 27% response rate. Out of these 298 respondents 199 (67%) were in favour and 99 (33%) were against the proposed CPZ.

In a nutshell, Algernon Road, Marsala Road, Malyons Road, Gillian Street and Ellerdale Street were clearly in favour, while Embleton, Ermine, Algiers, Veda, Brookbank and all the siblings off Ladywell Road (Francemary, Arthurdon, Phoebeth) were clearly against. More marginal areas included Vicar's Hill, Chudleigh Road and Adelaide Avenue.

Two tables follow - the first shows the results overall by street, the second shows the results in the area now proposed to be included in a CPZ, statutory consultation pending. Apologies if these aren't very easy to read - I've tried and failed to work out how to paste tables in to this blog. A clearer map of the proposed zone will be on the back of the letter circulated to residents next week.

Ladywell area CPZ

Road Yes No % for % against
Adelaide Avenue 9, 10, 47.4% 52.6%
Algernon Road 49, 33, 59.8% 40.2%
Algiers Road 8, 27, 22.9% 77.1%
Arthurdon Road 3, 23, 11.5% 88.5%
Brookbank Road 6, 11, 35.3% 64.7%
Chudleigh Road 12, 31, 27.9% 72.1%
Eastern Road 1, 6, 14.3% 85.7%
Ellerdale Street 17, 12, 58.6% 41.4%
Embleton Road 15, 39, 27.8% 72.2%
Ermine road 4, 42, 8.7% 91.3%
Francemary Road 1, 26, 3.7% 96.3%
Gillian Street 9, 1, 90.0% 10.0%
Ladywell Road 7, 21, 25.0% 75.0%
Malyons Court* 1, 0, 100.0% 0.0%
Malyons Road 56, 15, 78.9% 21.1%
Malyons Terrace 1, 1, 50.0% 50.0%
Marsala Road 43, 11, 79.6% 20.4%
Peppermead Square 1, 3, 25.0% 75.0%
Phoebeth Road 1, 10, 9.1% 90.9%
Railway Terrace 1, 1, 50.0% 50.0%
Slagrove Road 3, 6, 33.3% 66.7%
Veda Road 3, 21, 12.5% 87.5%
Vicars Hill 9, 10, 47.4% 52.6%
Total 260, 360, 41.9% 58.1%
*I'm assuming this means Keswick Court.

Breakdown of results in area of proposed CPZ
Road Yes No % for % against
Algernon Road 49, 33, 59.8% 40.2%
Chudleigh Road 11, 10, 52.4% 47.6%
Ellerdale Street 13, 1, 92.9% 7.1%
Gillian Street 9, 1, 90.0% 10.0%
Ladywell Road 2, 7, 22.2% 77.8%
Malyons Court 1, 0, 100.0% 0.0%
Malyons Road 56, 15, 78.9% 21.1%
Malyons Terrace 1, 1, 50.0% 50.0%
Marsala Road 43, 11, 79.6% 20.4%
Peppermead Square 1, 3, 25.0% 75.0%
Railway Terrace 1, 1, 50.0% 50.0%
Slagrove Road 3, 6, 33.3% 66.7%
Vicars Hill 9, 10, 47.4% 52.6%
Total 199, 99, 66.8% 33.2%

So on the whole, the streets in the newly-proposed zones are in favour, with the clear exceptions being Ladywell Road, Slagrove Place and Peppermead Square. With Ladywell Road, the proposals is just to include the section from the station to Adelaide Avenue. Most of those opposed in this area were shopkeepers who are understandably reluctant to pay for the business parking permits. However, if Ladywell Road isn't included in the CPZ but all the surrounding streets are, businesses effectively won't have anywhere to park, as they won't be entitled to buy a permit and as at the moment they won't be able to park on Ladywell Road. Officers therefore feel that they need to include this section of the road in the scheme. The upside for businesses is that there will be more short stay (30 minutes) and pay & display parking for customers.

As far as Slagrove Place and Peppermead Square are concerned, highways have agreed to write to residents and explain the situation and ask them again if they would like to be in or out of the zone. Officers' concern is that if they are not in the zone, they will bear the brunt of the commuter parking from the hospital, which Malyons currently suffers from.

Chudleigh Road and Vicar's Hill - with both of these roads, TfL have been pushing strongly for double yellow lines in places, including outside some houses to allow buses to get passed. Although the majority in Chudleigh Road were against the CPZ, there was support at the end nearest Ladywell Road. Therefore the proposal is to make that part of the CPZ in the hope that it will also ease the situation for buses, without the need for yellow lines. The same is proposed for Vicar's Hill, which was marginally against the CPZ.

I asked about the car club bay, and there is likely to be one, but I'm waiting for confirmation of where.

I hope this helps to clarify any confusion

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Utilities Companies to need permit to dig up Lewisham's roads

I've recently received the following briefing note from Lewisham Highways department, which might be of interest, and sounds like good news:

"Lewisham has been successful in its application to run a street works permitting scheme.

Lewisham along with Transport for London, The City of London and 17 other boroughs submitted a common application called The London Permit Scheme to the Department of Transport in August. This application has now been approved with an expected start date of 11th January, although this date has yet to be confirmed.

The scheme requires a permit to be granted before works can be undertaken on the public highway. Permitting will enable Lewisham to better plan and coordinate road works throughout the borough offering benefits such as opportunities for utility companies to work together at sites. This will aid the smooth flow of traffic and reduce disruption for road users.
For further information please follow link to the TfL media page."

Friday, October 23, 2009

Green MEP Jean Lambert calls on Sri Lanka government to return camp detainees

I thought this might be of interest in particular to the many members of Lewisham's Tamil community who marched in London last weekend calling for an end to the detention in camps of many thousands of civilians in Sri Lanka.

The European Parliament yesterday passed a resolution calling for the rapid return of the 250,000 detainees still held in camps in northern Sri Lanka following the defeat of the LTTE by the government earlier this year. MEPs also called on the Sri Lankan government to urgently deliver humanitarian assistance to the Tamil civilians held in the camps, where there are serious concerns over living conditions, including overcrowding and inadequate access to clean water, sanitation and medical facilities.

Humanitarian and human rights organisations also claim that the Government has denied adequate access to the camps, where citizens are being screened before resettlement.

Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London and Chair of the South Asia Delegation in the European Parliament, commented:

“It is deeply worrying that so many people are still being held in these camps. The Sri Lankan government must now take every necessary step to return home those detained as quickly as possible and ensure that humanitarian agencies are able to deliver assistance.

“Press freedom has severely suffered during the years of conflict and it is now imperative that the media is able to operate without the fear of violent repercussions and intimidation.

“The people of Sri Lanka deserve lasting peace and freedom, now that this 25 year battle has finally come to an end. The European Parliament therefore calls on all sides to work towards a lasting, peaceful settlement based on democracy and respect for human rights.”

Click here to view the full text of the resolution.

For previous posts on Sri Lanka see here and here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ladywell Village Improvement Group gets 'certificate of excellence' at Lewisham in Bloom awards

Congratulations to Ladywell Village Improvement Group, who were awarded a 'Certificate of Excellence' at last week's Lewisham in Bloom awards.

The picture above shows LVIG volunteers getting their hands dirty planting bulbs, cyclamen etc in the troughs along Ladywell Road and Algernon Road last weekend.

LVIG writes:
"LVIG had no time to formally enter the competition as the first planters were installed just before the deadline. However, the judging panel stopped to look at what the local community had achieved in Ladywell while on their tour of the borough, and were suitably impressed by the effort we had made.

Lewisham has gone on to pick up a Silver Gilt Award in this year’s prestigious London in Bloom awards - and we are equally proud to have contributed to that success.

A huge thank you to all who have contributed to our community planting, whether it be helping fill the planters and baskets with colourful displays, keeping them watered and free of litter, or supporting fundraising events, such as our benefits gigs at the Ladywell Tavern. All these activities have changed Ladywell for the better through the addition of greenery and colour into the streetscape environment.

We have made a fantastic start and hope to build on this with re-stocked planters and eventually new trees - let's continue to work together towards winning first prize next year!"

Thanks are also due to Envirowork Lewisham and the Council's Green Scene Team for their support.

LVIG have also confirmed that the Christmas Market will again take place outside Ladywell train station this year on 12th December. Organisers write:

"This year (as well as hoping for a little less rain!) we hope to include a vibrant mix of arts and crafts, local produce and hot and cold food, all supplied by craftspeople and businesses from the local community.

A number of us are busily working away on the finer details of making the market happen, however we still need a little help. If you know a generous local electrician who would be willing to help set up generators and lighting on the day then please get in touch.

We also still have some availability for stalls, so if you or anyone you know is a budding crafter, or who bakes a mean mince pie, then please email us to find out more about how to get involved."

The benefit gig in Ladywell Tavern the week before last was well attended, which should hopefully help to boost the coffers for the Christmas Market slightly.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day: Climate Change, 10:10 and all that.

OK, so October 15th is blog action day and the theme this year, appropriately, is climate change. I say appropriately, because this December is the UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen and it really is make or break time for the planet on this - either we take the action needed, and reduce our emissions in a sensible and equitable way (ie those countries already emitting far more per capita have to take the biggest hit), or we let our governments faff around with carbon offsetting etc and just pretend they're taking the action needed.

Anyway, a few climate change related bits and bobs I've been meaning to post.

1) 10:10 Campaign
Lewisham Council (and a number of individual councillors, including me, gulp) have signed up to the 10:10 campaign. Hurrah! This is a campaign calling for individuals, businesses and organisations to pledge to cut carbon emissions by 10% in 2010.

Scientists say world emissions must peak and begin to fall within the next few years. That means we need deep cuts in the developed world as quickly as possible. The longer we leave it, the smaller our chance of avoiding disastrous warming.

Anyway, I asked the question below to the Mayor for September's Full Council meeting, and as you can see got a positive reply. In addition, a Lib Dem motion also calling for the council to sign up to 10:10 was passed unanimously.

Me: "Many Lewisham residents will be signing up to the recently launched 10:10 campaign, pledging to reduce their carbon emissions by 10% next year. The borough's stated target in our Carbon Reduction and Climate Change Strategy is to reduce emissions from council operations by 10% by 2008-2010. Are we on track to meet or exceed this target by the end of next year? Will you sign Lewisham Council up to the 10:10 campaign, and better still, can you persuade our partners in the Local Strategic Partnership to do the same?"

The Mayor: "Lewisham Council is on target to deliver our Climate Change Strategy target of a 10% reduction in carbon emissions from Council operations. The Council has already gone further than this and set a new target of a 50% reduction in carbon emissions from Council operations by 2015/16 compared to 2007/08. This target was developed in partnership with the Carbon Trust and is backed with a detailed carbon management programme identifying actions across the Council.

I support the 10:10 campaign and have signed up. I have also written to all our partners on the Local Strategic Partnership to encourage them to join 10:10 and commit to cutting their emissions."

So that's the easy bit done - now we've got to crack on and make sure that it happens! You can sign up to join the 10:10 campaign here, and there are also lots of easy tips on ways to save 10% of your emissions. If you're currently leading a bit of a jet-setting, gas-guzzling lifestyle, saving your 10% should be as easy as cutting out a couple of long-haul flights, if like most UK residents you don't regularly fly and you're already making steps to do your bit, it may require a bit more thought, but for most people, this first 10% is relatively easy.

2) Operation Insulation Part 2!
I still need to sit down and work out exactly what my carbon footprint is and how to reduce it by 10%, but I have made a bit more progress on 'Operation Insulation' this week. Back in January, I had my draughty floorboards insulated and sealed,which was part 1 of my plan to make my flat more energy. This week, I had my long-awaited, FSC-certified double glazing installed, which is part two.

Next week, hopefully, Dhanya, the local builder who did my floors, is coming back to put some insulation on the 'external' walls in my rooms. I will lose a little bit of space in my rooms (it will be about 7cm thick, once the wood fibre insulation board and the plaster rendering are in situ), but not too much as I live in a terrace so I only need the front and back walls done. Anyway, a picture of my new windows, of which I'm inordinately proud, waiting for the rest of the insulation to be fitted around them.

The flat already feels warmer, and much quieter, particularly in the front room, where acoustic glass has really deadened the noise of the traffic, the squeaky brakes of the 122 bus etc.

3) Take part in the Wave - 5th December

On Saturday 5 December 2009, ahead of the crucial UN climate summit in Copenhagen, tens of thousands of people from all walks of life will flow through the streets of London to demonstrate their support for a safe climate future for all. The Wave is organised by the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition. I will be there, along with lots of other Greens - join us in the UK’s biggest ever demonstration in support of action on climate change.

4) Countdown to Copenhagen - tell Joan what you think
Lewisham Deptford MP and minister for energy and climate change, Joan Ruddock, is holding a public meeting at the Laban Centre this Saturday. She has invited 3000 households in the constituency to a discussion about climate change and Copenhagen.

The details of the meeting are: Saturday October 17, 10:30 - 12:00, Laban, Creekside, SE8 3DZ.

I won't be going, as I'll be out and about campaigning in Ladywell to elect Darren as the next MP for Lewisham Deptford, but the demands of the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition seem a good place to start when discussing what we might want out of the Copenhagen talks:

Quit Dirty Coal

Protect the Poorest

Act Fair & Fast

Plus a nation-wide free home insulation programme to be rolled out, pronto, please!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Transition Brockley club night launch - Saturday 14th November

Transition Brockley are launching their first local club night on Saturday 14th November, from 7pm-1am, at Brockley Social Club. It looks like it will be a thoroughly entertaining evening, with a live band, DJs and even a spot of ‘swishing’ - whereby a ‘resident magician’ will 'transform' your old clothes so that you can go home with something entirely different to wear!

The aim of the night is to have a whole bunch of fun at the same time as teaching people about the ideas behind transition towns and ways in which they can get involved. I'm definitely going to go along, so with any luck I'll see you there - although I hope for your sake you don't end up with any of my old clothes!

If you'd like further information on the Transition Towns movement, visit or

Friday, October 09, 2009

'Up the Line': Evening Remembrance Performance in Brockley & Ladywell Cemeteries, 11th November

This is a guest post from John McKiernan (ex of Moonbow Jakes) about 'Up the Line' an event he is organising in Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries for Armistice. The event will take place on 11.11.09 from 7.30 until 8.41 (1 hour 11 minutes).

"War is ultimately about death and destruction, avoiding war is by remembering the pain and suffering associated with it rather than victory or defeat. There is probably no more a war in history that teaches us this than the Great War.

With the passing of the last witnesses to WWI there appears a need to entrench the memory of this war, more than any other, on people of today. On all sides a whole generation was lost and to avoid repeating a mistake often means a strong reminding once in a while.

Brockley Cemetery is a beautiful, almost unaltered space, with two very poignant memorials to those who died from their wounds on their return to the UK during WWI. Local men in the main, from early teens to their forties. Many, if not most local people know little or nothing of the memorials or those who are engraved on the walls, including those who perished in Deptford during the first London Blitz of WWI from the Zeppelin attacks.

On Armistice Day, November 11th at 7.30 an event is to be held to recognise the sacrifice of these young men and others and the work of those who have tried to keep their memory alive. The intention is to create a simple experience that is sober rather than sombre yet powerful enough to lodge deep in the mind of those who attend. It is not intended as a history lesson but a history reflection that will be easy for all ages.

The event will be a lantern lit walk through the cemetery during darkness and regardless of the weather conditions. The route can be from either Brockley Road to the Ladywell gates or vice versa. The route will have poets and classical performers reciting from appropriate pieces and writings of the time. Contemporary dance will capture the essence of passing and a silent film and soundscape expressing the 'ordinariness' of how the War became during this period.

The intention is not to create an education event or an exploration of people's opinion of war; the intention is to lodge an experience in the mind that will create questions and memory. The purpose is to attract as many families and younger people as possible, to have an unusual experience in an unfamiliar environment that will bond in the psyche. In the days, months, years that follow it would be hoped the audience will occasionally remember the evening of poetry, classical music, dance and a beautiful local cemetery and by association WWI, and the impact and loss it caused.

People are encouraged to come with differing generations of family, friends and neighbours including the young and the senior. A slow walk will take approximately 25 minutes maximum you can arrive anytime up to 8.25pm. The Rivoli ballroom have kindly offered to open for people to gather to discuss and chat regarding their experience of the evening.

This event involves many individuals and organisations who have made this event a reality.
Friends of Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries, the Royal British Legion club in Crofton Park, many departments, officers, councillors and the Mayor of Lewisham Council, Lewisham Police who will be organising a guard at each entrance, Max Media Arts (Brockley Max), Mr Lawrence's, Rivoli, Oscars of Ladywell, South London Press and a huge array of talented artists from across London who will be performing in silhouette on the night.

Full details will be on the
Brockley Max website and the event is bought to you by Moonbow Jakes events. This is a borough wide event to honour all those who died from and in Lewisham and remembering those from overseas who are also laid to rest on our behalf."

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Battery recycling available now in Lewisham libraries

A good bit of news this week from the Council's waste team - battery recycling points are now available in libraries across the borough.

Lewisham Council has teamed up with the environmental organisation BatteryBack to encourage residents to dispose of their batteries in a 'BatteryCan'.

In the UK we recycle less than 3 per cent of our batteries, compared to over 50% in Belgium.

Batteries contain various hazardous metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, zinc, manganese and lithium. It can be damaging to the environment to mix them in with normal domestic waste. And, as the Council press release rightly points out, the materials that can be recovered from the correct treatment of batteries are the very same that are being mined (at great cost) in other parts of the world; therefore battery recycling helps to conserve more natural resources.

And for anyone who thinks that the European Parliament is a completely useless institution that doesn't ever do anything, this has all come about as a result of European legislation, backed by the Greens, back in 2006. The European Directive states that 25 per cent of all batteries placed on the market must be recycled by 2012, rising to 45 per cent by 2016. Currently, the UK recycles less than 3 per cent of portable batteries, with more than 30,000 tonnes of batteries being discarded every year. I'd like to think that this would all have happened in the UK without the European Union, but in this case it definitely seems to have dragged us towards where we need to be far quicker than would otherwise have happened.

Local events coming up . . .

There are a number of events coming up locally over the next few days that are well worth supporting:

The LVIG committee has been hard at work organising two events to brighten up Ladywell this weekend:

Christimas Market Benefit Gig in Ladywell Tavern this Saturday
On Saturday evening The Grey Cats will be performing at Ladywell Tavern. This benefit gig is in aid of the Ladywell Christmas Market, which is in serious needs of funds to make it happen this year. Come and join us for great music and dancing from 8pm on Saturday 10th October, and help make it a Christmas Market to remember.

Bulb Planting this Sunday
On Sunday afternoon LVIG will be out in force to refresh the planters and baskets along Ladywell Road and Algernon Road with some autumn and winter colour, and to get our spring bulbs in. Meet from 2pm onwards on the corner of Ladywell Road/Algernon Road. Please bring any small gardening tools you may have with you - especially trowels, forks, bulb planters, buckets and watering cans.

And advance notice of a few more events coming up:

FOBLC Workday in the cemeteries
On the 18th October, Friends of Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries have a workday in the cemeteries from 10am-1pm. More volunteers are always welcome, meet at the chapel in Brockley cemetery near the Ladywell Road gate. They will hopefully also soon be unveiling their new notice board, paid for out of the localities fund.

Two volunteering events in Ladywell Fields in November
Saturday 14 November from 1.30 p.m. - Hedge whip planting session in the northern field, run by Glendale. Any children must be supervised by an adult. Contact: Vicki on 020 8318 3986 (Tues-Thurs only) or e-mail her. Meet at the café/WC building in the north/Ladywell field.

Sunday 15 November from 10.00 a.m. - River clean-up organised by Thames 21, in liaison with Glendale and the User Group. We need as many volunteers as possible for this please. 25 or so would be good! Any children must be supervised by an adult. Contact: Chris Coode, Thames 21. Meet in the Park at the end of Malyons Road.

Monday, October 05, 2009

New licensing application: Morley's, 6 Loampit Hill

We've received details of a new licensing application for Morleys on Loampit Hill. Fast food places don't need licences to operate up to 11pm, but they do if they want to operate after then. This is an application to allow Morleys to open until 2am everyday except Sunday, when it could open until 11pm, and to open 24 hours over the New Year holiday period.

"Please be advised that the following premise has applied for a NEW / VARIATION Premises licence under the Licensing Act 2003.

6 Loampit Hill
SE13 7SW

Sale of late night refreshment on & off the premises Monday – Saturday 11:00 – 02:00 & Sunday 11:00 – 23:00.

New Years eve to start of permitted hours on New Years Eve until end of permitted hours on New Year's day."

Any comments should be sent to Lewisham's licensing team at the address below, by 2nd November.

Licensing team
Laurence House, 5th Floor Laurence House, 1 Catford Road, Catford SE6 4RU
Tel: 020 8314 6400

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Gordonbrock Primary School - planning application submitted

A planning application has been submitted for the partial demolition and partial rebuild of Gordonbrock Primary School. The application can be viewed here. The plans are a revision of those submitted and passed back in 2005, before the project was shelved due to funding probems. I'm pleased that this is again now firmly back on the agenda and my understanding is that if planning permission is granted this Autumn, the school will be decanted and the rebuild start in January.

Part of the reasoning behind the rebuild is to enable the school to go from 2.5 form entry to 3 form entry, which as well as creating much needed extra primary school places, avoids the need to have classes with mixed age groups. I'm pleased that it's proposed to retain parts of the Victorian school building, that the awful portacabins in the playground that are long past their sell-by date will finally be going and of course that more, larger classrooms will be built.

Last week I went along to a drop-in session at the school to look at the plans. There were a number of positive aspects to them, with lots of outside play space, including provision for outdoor teaching areas and for the recently-acquired play equipment and raised borders to be incorporated into the new designs. One of the pupils asked the officer 'Are you going to cut down our trees?' and was assured that the trees would be retained, which is just as well, as this 9-year old looked ready for some direct action to protect them if the need arose!

However there were a number of aspects to the design which left me distinctly underwhelmed, in particular the wasted roof space, with no plans for either living roofs, solar panels, rainwater recycling or anything else that should frankly be standard in contemporary design. The school will be fulfilling its 20% renewables target with a biomass boiler - this seems to be the renewable energy source of choice for schools at the moment, (mostly on value for money grounds), which is good as far as it goes, but there are no plans to exceed the minimum requirement. I had expected to see a few other 'green gubbins', such as a few solar panels on the roofs, even if more for educational purposes, rather than making a significant contribution to the school's energy needs, but currently none are proposed.

Having just spent the past few months on the Sustainable Development Committee doing an in-depth review of home insulation within the borough (more on this soon), I had also expected the rebuild to incorporate some internal insulation of the Victorian buildings that are being retained, to bring them as close as possible to modern building requirements. Again, it doesn't seem to be on the cards. This looks like a missed opportunity to explore how to make our Victorian/Edwardian buildings in the borough more energy efficient, which will also be key to other school rebuilds/refurbs around the borough.

Having discussed various aspects of the design with the council officer leading on the project, as well as representatives from Bouyges, the PFI contractor, I was left with the impression that Gordonbrock was being short changed on sustainability due to cost restrictions. (Bouyges is the company behind the recent rebuild of Prendergast Ladywell Fields school, which personally I think is a distinct disappointment in sustainability terms.) Recycling is all well and good, but when you recycle building plans from 5 years ago, you need to ask what has moved on in that time and surely, sustainable design issues given the need to reduce our carbon emissions have leapt right up the global agenda in the past five years.

I don't wish to be overly negative as I want to wholeheartedly support the school rebuild, which parents, pupils and staff have been waiting for for a very long time now, but I fear that unless the contractors are pushed a bit further on the designs, Ladywell is going to get a good new primary school, with a much improved learning environment, but not the exemplar of sustainability we should be aiming for. Officers have promised to see what more can be done to address some of my concerns, so I await their feedback on these discussions and am hoping for a few improvements before this gets to planning committee stage.