Thursday, January 28, 2010

Gate designs for Hilly Fields Playground

I'm aware this is my third consecutive post about Hilly Fields, but it's all happening there at the moment, and these designs by Gordonbrock School pupils are too lovely not to post about.

They are for the gates for the playground on Hilly Fields and this Saturday, from 12.30-3pm, APT Studios in Creekside will have an exhibition of the designs.

This is part of the exciting playground works which will be taking place over the next few months. More details over at the Hilly Fields Users' Group website.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hilly Fields to get investment in new cricket pitch

A project that I know has been in the pipeline for a few years now, to restore the cricket pitch on Hilly Fields, is finally set to come to fruition, with the announcement this week that funding totalling £600,000 has been secured from the Big Lottery, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the London Marathon Charitable Trust to regenerate the pitches both at Hilly Fields and in Mayow Park (Sydenham).

Congratulations are due to Peter Rankin from local social enterprise Envirowork Lewisham, who has played a key role in driving this project forward, together with Teachsport and officers from Lewisham's parks department. Former England cricket captain Mike Gatting has been involved and supportive of the project and has visited the site in Hilly Fields.

The pitch will be on part of the flat bit by Francis Drake Bowling Club, alongside Hilly Fields Crescent. I believe this is where a cricket pitch was originally located in the park, many years back.

This is great news, along with the new playground which should be going ahead shortly too.

Now, all we need to do is find some lovely grant-giving organisations to foot the bill for resurfacing the footpaths on Hilly Fields (six figure sum required) and we'll be sorted! (Easier said than done, I fear!)

Friday, January 22, 2010

RSPB Big Birdwatch on Hilly Fields

Visit Hilly Fields on Saturday 30th January to take part in the RSPB’s Big Birdwatch: the world’s largest bird survey. Bird-lovers will be congregating at 11am beside the park keeper’s office for two hours of surveillance. Last year, 20 different species were spotted.

No need to worry about restless children spoiling your view, either: there will also be various children’s activities going on as part of the event, including birdfeeder-making and drawing workshops.

For more information, visit Hilly Fields Users' Group website or email them.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Coming up this week . . .

Tomorrow night (Tuesday 19th Jan) there is a public meeting to discuss the planning application for a children's playground in Foxborough Gardens. The meeting is at 7pm in Ladywell Centre. The planning committee that will consider the application is on Thursday (21st), from 7.30pm, in the town hall.

Friends of Brockley & Ladywell Cemeteries have their next meeting on Wednesday (20th Jan), 7.30pm, in Brockley Grove depot, Brockley Grove (opposite Crofton Park Baptist Church). They will be reviewing the 'Up the Line' event that took place for Armistice Day, and planning future events. Their planned workday for this weekend had to be cancelled due to the weather.

Transition Brockley/Lewisham (it's mostly Brockley people but those from elsewhere are also welcome) are having their next meeting this Thursday (21st), 8pm onwards, at The Orchard Bar/Kitchen, Harefield Road.

And a bit further afield, this Sunday (24th) is Seedy Sunday, and South London Garden Organic have details of a seed swapping event in Dulwich.

Exciting activities in Ladywell

Eight projects in Ladywell ward are soon going to make a difference after the final go-ahead for the funding from the 2009/10 Locality Fund was given by the council last week:

· A second notice board cabinet for the Brockley and Ladywell cemeteries (£1,000), at the Brockley Road end to complement the one that went up at the Ladywell end in the autumn.
· Street trees for the stretch of Brockley Road between Ivy Road and Wickham Road (£1,900), in addition to the funding for street trees in Arabin and Braxfield Road – trees are scheduled to be planted in the spring.
· Bowling equipment for Hilly Fields bowling green (£500), which will enable the bowling club to extend their programme of free bowling coaching for residents of all ages.
· A plaque to commemorate the original Lady Well in Ladywell Road (£500).
· A contribution to the Brockley Max Festival in 2010 (£1,300); this year the focus of activities is going to be on younger and older people (under 25s and over 55s).
· Start-up funding for youth provision 'Vessel Works' (£1,900) for equipment to set up a production studio for music production, graphic design and video editing, to be based at Crofton Park Baptist Church.
· Printing costs for a Ladywell walking tour leaflet (£1,200) which will highlight the local natural history and the built environment and encourage residents and visitors to the area to find out more.
· Contribution to the Saturday School in Ladywell Centre in Dressington Avenue (£700); this takes place every Saturday during term-time from 10am-12pm for children aged 4-15.

Thanks are due to the 318 residents who participated in the online poll about the funding that was held in November – a very good turnout and strong support for improving the area in different ways.

You can find out more about those projects (and much more!) at the next Ladywell Assembly, which is going to take place in Prendergast School (lower site on Adelaide Avenue) on Saturday, 6 February from 1-3pm. This is going to be a social assembly with stalls from community groups and council services so you can drop in at any time and find out more about what is happening in the area. Refreshments are provided and there are probably going to be activities for children (tbc).

And finally, good news about the Youth Village project that received funding from the Mayor’s Fund. The Assembly allocated £1,000 (also from the Locality Fund) to upgrading the alarm system at the Ladywell Centre so that the sports hall could be accessed separately, in order to allow extended community use. This work has been completed and the Youth Village offering activities for 13-19 year olds is starting there now! Watch this space for further details.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Royal Mail and Posties on Bikes

There's an interesting petition on the Number 10 site at the moment, calling for Royal Mail to keep posties on bikes. The blurb with the petition reads:

"The sight of a postman pedalling down the street will become much rarer under plans by the Royal Mail to phase out thousands of bicycles and replace them with vans.

Environmental groups have queried why the Royal Mail would replace a sustainable form of transport with one that causes congestion and is dependent on fossil fuels. Bicycles have been used to deliver post since 1880 and the Royal Mail has more than 16,000, made by the British company Pashley."

I've signed it, as I agree with the general gist of it (ie 2 wheels no combustion engine good, 4 wheels lots of co2 bad), but I suspect the reality on the ground is a bit more complex and varies considerably around the country.

Yes bicycles are a green way to get around, and it is crazy for the Royal Mail to do away with them entirely and to foist changes on its workforce from above, but they are more practical in some situations than others.

In Lewisham, for example, most of the posties have electric trolleys, because the volume and weight of post is too great for them to carry comfortably on their shoulders, and the distances they cover fairly short compared perhaps to more rural or suburban areas, where bikes and vans might be more practical.

Musculoskeletal problems are the number one health issue for Royal Mail delivery staff, and reducing the weight delivery staff have to carry around is key to tackling this. The CWU have also been very concerned about the number of posties using private vehicles to get their deliveries to their delivery round due to the weight of the deliveries and a lack of Royal Mail vehicles. They are not covered by insurance when they do this.

Clearly we want the Royal Mail to be opting for the greenest, lowest carbon delivery method possible, but I wouldn't want to be on some kind of evangelical green mission to cut carbon, at the cost of ignoring health & safety issues for workers.

That said, as this CWU letter to the Guardian points out, there is a potential contradication between Royal Mail signing up to 10:10 (great), which commits it to reducing its carbon emissions by 10% in 2010, and introducing 24,000 extra vehicles to its fleet.

I think the Royal Mail needs to:
  • agree changes with its workforce, who know their patches well.
  • not adopt a one size fits all approach but look at it on an area by area, round by round basis
  • acknowledge that there is still an important role for bicycles to play within their delivery fleet.
  • invest in the most low-carbon and fuel efficient vehicle fleet they can (I'm told that BT are currently leading the field in this - anyone know if that's true?).
  • ensure that any bicycles surplus to their requirements go to a good home and are not thrown on the scrap heap.
You can find the Royal Mail's CSR (Corporate and Social Responsibility Report) here. There's lots of promising-sounding stuff in it - they've already reduced their CO2 emissions by about 12% over the past few years, they are aiming to be the lowest carbon postal operator in Europe, but there's still plenty of scope for improvement/potential for them to go backwards.

If we're to cut our carbon emissions by the amount required to avoid runaway climate change (we may already have missed the boat there of course), we need companies with large vehicle fleets, such as Royal Mail and BT, to lead the way in getting the most sustainable vehicles available, which should then shift the whole market further in that direction.

However, it does also beg the question of what we do when oil prices shoot up and petrol becomes harder to come by, due to diminishing supplies? Go back to bikes, and just ban junk mail, perhaps?!

If there are by chance any posties out there reading this, I would love to hear your views!

Monday, January 11, 2010

What do you think of Lewisham's markets?

The Council's Sustainable Development Committee, which I chair, is undertaking a review of Lewisham's markets and would welcome feedback from local residents on what they think of them.

This week I have a series of meetings with market traders to get their input, and we will be holding a couple of stalls at markets to get customer feedback. There is also an online survey that you can complete on the Lewisham Council website.

We're keen to get feedback on both the street markets and farmers' markets - what you think works well, anything that you think is missing or could be done better, what would encourage you to use them more often etc.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Hilly Fields looking lovely

Just got back from a walk on Hilly Fields, which is looking absolutely lovely. Loads of people are out enjoying the snow, including lots of 'big children' off work and sledging. The photos were only taken on my phone, so nothing spectacular, but they give a flavour.

For info on what Lewisham is doing to try and minimise disruption to residents during the wintry weather, see the Council's website here.

Mattress recycling and clearer labelling on recycling bins: two good new initiatives from the Council's Environment Team

Lewisham's head of environment, Nigel Tyrell has a blog. He very wisely steers clear of politics but uses it to let people know about new initiatives within the team, developments on the lovelewisham site etc. It's well worth adding to your blogroll.

Earlier this week came the welcome announcement that Lewisham is going to start offering a free mattress collection and recycling service, in partnership with a new company, Matt-UK, which has set up near our Landmann's Way waste site. All you have to do is get a sticker from the local library, put it on the mattress and leave it out on the evenign before your normal waste day and it will be taken away. They estimate that they will be able to recycle about 97% of the materials and sell them on to be made into new products, while also avoiding waste going to landfill or (in Lewisham's case) incineration. Sounds like a great idea to me. The icing on the cake would be to have a market to sell on the recyclate in the UK, rather than Asia, but it looks like that isn't possible just yet.

The other good bit of news, which is something I know a number of councillors have flagged up before, is that bins are going to have stickers on them explaining what can/can't be recycled. The ones we had before looked great, but didn't have the necessary detail on them, so many people have been unsure about what can/can't go in their green bin. Hopefully this will help to reduce the recycling contamination rates, which are currently very high in certain parts of the borough and result in a lot of the recyclate collected being incinerated rather than recycled, because it has got food or garden waste mixed in with it. (Pat on the back for Brockley and Ladywell, which our waste officers said had the lowest level of contamination in green bins, when they carried out a waste analysis).

And of course, at the end of last year the battery recycling scheme started at Lewisham libraries and the Christmas tree recycling service is again being well used by residents locally, judging by the numbers of them piling up on the corners of Hilly Fields. You can find details of these and other recycling facilities on the waste and recycling page on the Council's website.

These are all good initiatives and I don't want to belittle the progress that has been made, but Lewisham still has a pretty low recycling rate compared to other boroughs and there is lots more we need to do. One of my bug bears at the moment are the things that you struggle to recycle if you don't have a car to take them to Landmanns Way. Things like broken electrical goods, which you shouldn't put in wheelie bins. Also, the garden waste scheme that ran over the summer, while better than nothing, wasn't much use for us gardeners without cars (and only about half the borough owns a car). I've lost track of the number of residents on the doorstep who've asked when they are getting their brown wheelie bins back (a garden waste collection pilot that took place a couple of years back). I've also got a whole stash of defunct low energy light bulbs in my cellar waiting for an opportunity to recycle them.

The other thing I'm keen to see some progress on is what happens to our collected paper, cardboard and glass. British paper mills won't take paper and cardboard that has been collected together with glass, as happens in Lewisham, so it is generally shipped abroad (China or Malaysia, if I recall correctly) where there is a market for it. Likewise, because the glass has been crushed and the colours mixed, it is unsuitable for reycling back into glass, so is used for aggregate for roads etc. Unfortunately any solution is likely to cost more and/or add an extra layer of complication into recycling for local residents, as it would either involve separate bins for paper and glass, separate recycling days (eg one week paper, one week glass), extra rubbish trucks on the roads collecting them separately or perhaps a return to the street corner recycling bins for glass.

Another thing that residents often ask about, is why tetrapaks and other juice cartons can't be collected in the green bins. Until now, the problem has been that because they are mixed materials (card, plastic and metal), the MRF (materials recycling facility) have been unable to separate them mechanically, as they do with the other types of recycling. I understand that we might be getting some good news about this in a few months, but in the meantime, juice cartons can still be taken to a number of reycling points in the borough, including New Cross Sainsbury and Lewisham Tesco.

What would be next on your shopping list to improve waste and recycling facilities in Lewisham?

Monday, January 04, 2010

Brookbank Road and Hilly Fields Crescent resurfacing works to start tomorrow

Highways have contacted us to let us know that the long-awaited resurfacing works on Brookbank Road are starting tomorrow (Tuesday 5th January), and Hilly Fields Crescent on 11th January. I'm told that just the section of Brookbank Road between Hilly Fields Crescent and Shell Road is being done, but all of Hilly Fields Crescent. I suspect this is because it is the section on the bus route, and it is the top half of Brookbank that is in the worst state.

Residents in those streets should have got a letter through their doors a few days ago asking them to move their cars. The 484 bus route will be diverted along Montague Avenue and Adelaide Avenue while the works take place.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Congratulations to Rev Barry Carter OBE!

A quick post to say happy new year and congratulations to Rev Barry Carter, from St Andrews Chuch, Brockley Road, who has been awarded an OBE in the New Year's honours list for services to the community in Brockley.

Although Barry theoretically retired a couple of months back, after 30 years at St Andrew's, he is still leading services until his successor is in position and with his wife Christine will still, I'm sure, be playing at active role in the church after that.

St Andrew's Centre is very much at the heart of the local community, with loads of events held there every week, from pensioner lunch clubs to mother and baby groups, and I suspect a sizeable chunk of its continued success is down to Barry's hard work over the years.

(hat tip to Nick from Brockley Central who beat me to it with this one)