Archive for the ‘lewisham council’ Category
It’s been a long wait, but first details of the On Blackheath music festival, due to take place on 7 and 8 September, will be revealed in the next few days. Long-suffering 853 readers will remember the festival was initially due to make its debut in 2011, but was derailed by a costly court battle brought by the Blackheath Society, which aimed to overturn Lewisham Council’s decision to award it a licence.
The ruling upholding Lewisham’s licence came in July 2011, too late for a festival that year, and the heavy demands on Blackheath during the Olympics kiboshed any chance of a festival in 2012.
While it won the court case, Lewisham Council was criticised by magistrates for a lack of transparency in consulting over the event. It failed to formally tell Greenwich Council about the application, which magistrates called “astonishing”. The festival site, at Hare and Billet Road, runs metres from the boundary between the two boroughs, and all six Greenwich councillors for the Greenwich West and Blackheath Westcombe wards formally objected to the event.
But Greenwich may try to fight the festival again. At a council meeting in March, Blackheath Westcombe Tory councillor Geoff Brighty asked environment cabinet member (and Greenwich West councillor) Maureen O’Mara if the council had heard anything from Lewisham about the festival.
Her response: “Both of us lodged a very strong response against this matter, and if anything happens, we will you know – and I’ll see you at Bromley Magistrates Court!”
It’s difficult to know on what grounds Greenwich could object – the magistrates’ decision in 2011 dismissed fears over noise and public order. But with Greenwich boasting of its own festivals down the hill, it’d be sad to see an attempt to stop an event that organisers hope could pump a much-needed £1 million into the local economy.
In fact, it’d be downright hypocritical to claim disruption from On Blackheath when Greenwich Council remains determined to host unloved half-marathon Run To The Beat a few hundred metres away on the same weekend, a date pencilled in by On Blackheath for 15 months, an event which is likely to cause many more problems.
Sadly, there’ll be no Greenwich Summer Sessions to run alongside On Blackheath this year – just as the Greenwich Festivals lost the comedy festival, the music festival was also kicked out by the Old Royal Naval College, and has been brushed under the carpet by the council which once funded it.
But its organisers determined to stay in SE10, and are putting on Deptford boy Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel at the Borough Hall on Royal Hill on 19 July – it’s good to see a criminally under-used venue put to good use, and hopefully GSS will be back next year.
Finally, anything about festivals in SE London would be a incomplete without mentioning Leefest, at Highams Hill Farm near Biggin Hill, about as far away from Greenwich as you can get while still staying (technically) in the capital. I went in 2011 and it was a fantastic day out – now it’s ballooned to three days (12-14 July) and has raised £50,000 from fans to fund its future expansion. Tickets are still available, and it’s well worth the trip.
Will On Blackheath build up such a dedicated following? We’ll have to wait and see…
New plans to redevelop Convoys Wharf in Deptford are about to be submitted to Lewisham Council, so London’s monopoly evening newspaper very kindly copied and pasted one of the developers’ press releases.
Why would London want another Shoreditch, for heaven’s sake?
(Cliche watch: It’s nine years since the Standard called New Cross “the new Hoxton“.)
Anyone on the east side of Deptford Creek who hasn’t been keeping up with the Convoys story should be brushing up on it now. With 46-storey towers looming over the riverfront, and 3,500 new flats – with the only new transport infrastructure being diverted bus and river bus routes – this makes recent plans for Greenwich and Woolwich look like child’s play.
It’ll have a huge impact on the Greenwich town centre heritage site, but the wider effect on the local infrastructure threatens to be even more damaging than some of the other poorly thought-through developments in this area. See the Deptford Dame for more.
But hey, new Shoreditch!
“Not kept pace with those of other riverside areas,” eh? Silly Deptford for being Chelsea Harbour. Well, not yet.
Deptford Is… has much more informed Convoys commentary than I could ever provide, while for imaginative ideas of what to do with the Convoys site, take a look at the Sayes Court Garden project (which wants to recreate John Evelyn’s 17th Century garden) and Build the Lenox – a scheme to get the old dockyard building a ship again. Both ideas aim to build on the tourist appeal of Greenwich, and deserve support.
Demonstrators are planning to picket Woolwich Town Hall on Thursday evening as the NHS administrator recommending downgrading Lewisham Hospital’s A&E arrives to takes questions from a panel of Greenwich councillors.
Trust Special Administrator Matthew Kershaw will talk to Greenwich’s eight-member healthier communities scrutiny panel about his plans to deal with the collapse of the South London Healthcare Trust, which runs Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich.
He recommends that QEH is taken over by Lewisham Healthcare Trust – but that Lewisham Hospital’s A&E is restricted to “urgent care for those who do not need to be admitted to hospital”.
Indeed, never mind consulting the public, the boss of Lewisham Healthcare has already been put in place to take over South London Healthcare.
Campaigners have already had the backing of Lewisham’s elected mayor Sir Steve Bullock, who has branded the proposals “staggering” and has pledged to throw the resources of Lewisham Council into fighting the report.
But what of Sir Steve’s Labour colleagues in Greenwich? Despite the obvious effects on the already-overloaded QEH of the plans for Lewisham, Greenwich Council has so far been coy about the plans. Health cabinet member John Fahy told a council meeting two weeks ago that the report was “better than expected but with serious negatives”, and the council has pressed for further public meetings (which, to its credit, it has got – see below).
But that’s been it. Two anodyne stories have appeared in its weekly newspaper Greenwich Time to promote the report and public meetings, but with no mention of what the council thinks, despite the paper existing to do just that. (Remember: “Greenwich Time represents the views that come from the decision makers at Greenwich Council,” according to its PR chief.)
There’s also a short summary on the council website, which doesn’t mention the Lewisham proposal, and a non-committal quote from leader Chris Roberts: “We will study its recommendations for healthcare in Greenwich before responding accordingly.”
Greenwich councillors won’t even be discussing the proposals at a full meeting before the consultation closes on 13 December; while Lewisham’s will be meeting on 28 November.
It’s a sharp contrast from Sir Steve Bullock’s damnation of the plan as “complete nonsense“, and Lewisham councillor Liam Curran declaring the government “must not be allowed to divide the people of Lewisham and Greenwich”. After all, Greenwich Council seems to be doing the job well enough on its own.
As for Thursday night’s meeting, the clash between a council uncomfortable with being scrutinised and a group of highly-motivated protesters looks set to be a troubled one.
But with campaigners feeling the closure proposals are a done deal, there may be clues towards whether Greenwich Council will line up alongside their Labour colleagues in Lewisham, or whether they’re content to join Bexley Council in siding with Conservative health secretary Jeremy Hunt.
A consultation’s under way on the proposals – read more on the Trust Special Administrator‘s website (and Save Lewisham Hospital) and there’s a series of public meetings too – most of which, however, have been scheduled for when most people are at work. The first one, on Tuesday at West Greenwich House, had only around 50 people there.
In fact, it’s worth questioning how seriously the TSA is taking the consultation, with two public meetings in Greenwich borough not listed on its website. While information about the proposals should be displayed in all surgeries and pharmacies in the area, the photo above shows all I could find at Sainsbury’s pharmacy counter in Greenwich on Wednesday evening, behind a sales display in a staff area.
Evening meetings include: Woolwich Town Hall on Monday 19 November (not listed on TSA website), St Mary’s Community Centre in Eltham on Monday 26 November (not listed on TSA website), Charlton Athletic FC on Monday 3 December and and the Calabash Day Centre in Lewisham on Tuesday 4 December (all 7pm).
Update 2.50pm Lewisham Council has now come out against the proposal on its website.
In case you’d forgotten, the annual Blackheath fireworks display starts tonight at 8pm. More details are on Lewisham Council’s website.
It’s the third year that Greenwich Council has refused to fund the event, which attracts 100,000 people, sits squarely on the border of Lewisham and Greenwich boroughs and had been jointly-backed by the two councils for about 20 years before that.
Last year, the fireworks were actually launched from Greenwich’s side of the heath.
In case you’re thinking this is good old sensible Labour Greenwich putting local services ahead of whizz-bangs, unlike silly old er, Labour Lewisham, then it’s worth remembering Greenwich pulled out to save £37,000. This year, Greenwich has treated its head of PR to a £25,000 pay rise, and has blown at least £114,000 on royal borough celebrations. The whole sorry tale of how Greenwich blew 2010′s fireworks cash on a booze-up for the mayor can be found in the archives.
If everyone who went to the fireworks gave a couple of quid, Lewisham would cover all its costs. So don’t be like Greenwich Council, donate and enjoy tonight.
This video, from Lewisham Cyclists, was doing the rounds a couple of weeks back, but perhaps it needs a bit of post-Olympics attention. Would you want to ride a bike along here? Turn the sound up for the commentary.
This is the junction of Greenwich High Road, Deptford Bridge, Deals Gateway and Blackheath Road, right on the border between Deptford and Greenwich. This is what cyclists who leave the housing at Deals Gateway are expected to deal with – being left stuck in a box junction in the middle of the A2.
It’s the ideal spot for politicians to sit on their backsides and do nothing – it sits just off the border of Greenwich and Lewisham boroughs, and the A2 that cuts across this junction is the responsibility of Transport for London. But London Assembly members Darren Johnson (who’s also a local councillor) and Len Duvall have both put this to Boris Johnson – and so far, have had no joy.
I’ve done a piece for Snipe about whether the mayor can keep his promises on making the capital safer for cyclists. If an obviously dangerous junction like this can’t get sorted out – and it’s not on TfL’s list – then you do have to wonder if the mayor’s simply taking trusting campaigners for a ride.
Run by: Lewisham Council/Glendale Services
Distance from Greenwich Park? 1.6 miles on foot – cross Blackheath and walk via Heath Lane (map)
Manor House Gardens in a sentence: Secret haven in the back streets of Lee.
It took me until 2010 to discover Manor House Gardens. Why would you if you don’t live in the immediate area? Tucked away off the Lee High Road, and hidden on three sides, it’s easy to miss. I came across it by accident while on an early cycle ride – I wheeled myself in, and found myself gawping at a fountain in the middle of a beautiful lake. How had I missed out on this place?
So my knowledge of Manor House Gardens is limited. But I do know it was restored in 2000, bringing nature back to what had been a dead lake and breathing life back into the park. It’s dominated by the manor house itself, once owned by the Barings banking family but sold to the London County Council in 1901. The following year the house became a library and the grounds became a park, and things have stayed that way since.
Just below the manor house is an ice house, recently restored and opened to the public occasionally. But that’s not the main attraction these days – that honour goes to the first Pistachios in the Park cafe, a favourite with local families.
Come during the week and you’ll find a secluded getaway, with kids playing and mums chatting – but at weekends Manor House Gardens is buzzing with local families. Once inside, it’s deceptively large, but it’s only when you walk around the streets surrounding the park that you realise how small it is.
The revival of Manor House Gardens has provided a template for revamping green spaces all over London; followed even more closely in East Greenwich Pleasaunce and Hilly Fields, Brockley, which have both gained their own Pistachios branches.
If you’ve never been, it’s worth a look. You’ll wonder why you’ll never been before – but be grateful that this part of London can still offer such pleasant surprises, even to those who thought they knew it all.
A whole month late with this one, but for me, it’s probably been for the best. I’ve finally caught up with the BBC/Open University Secret History of Our Streets documentary on Deptford High Street, which is still in iPlayer.
Like the other documentaries in the series – last week’s one on Reverdy Road in Bermondsey was a fascinating watch – it relies on local characters to tell the vivid stories of social change in the capital’s streets. There’s plenty of those on Deptford High Street.
But the Deptford one whipped up a storm – and in retrospect, it’s easy to see why. It focuses on the planning disasters of the 1960s which saw many of Deptford’s old streets torn down and replaced with housing estates, and in particular the destruction of Reginald Street, at the south end of the high street. Former Lewisham councillor Nicholas Taylor is seen on screen saying the streets were slums, and it’s easy to get the impression he backed their demolition, particularly as one ex-Reginald Road resident is seen criticising an individual for taking the decision.
But the decision was taken long before he entered politics, in the dying days of the old Deptford council and the early days of the current Lewisham Council in the mid-1960s. Even more peculiarly, the programme then claims Deptford has been in terminal decline ever since, showing a street pastor out among the drunks sat at the anchor at the junction of New Cross Road. While Deptford has had, and has its problems, anyone who’s known the area over the past decade will know that’s simply not the case.
For me, I was trying to work out which was stock footage and which was actually footage of Deptford – and while there’s a wealth of fascinating anecdotes and film from the time, it’s easy to see how Mr Taylor feels stitched up – and a bit of local knowledge fills in the rest of the story.
Nicholas Taylor’s son Martin has put together Deptford: Putting The Record Straight to try to get an apology out of the BBC. It’s a fascinating read, even if you haven;t seen the programme. The story’s been ignored by the local press (of course), but the new Lewisham branch of the National Union of Journalists has taken up the issue. Martin Taylor’s speaking at its next meeting, at the Dog and Bell in Deptford on 19 July.
One thing in the programme did stay in my mind, though – the mention of the County of London Plan, the 1943 scheme to completely redevelop much of the capital and carve it up with ring roads, of which the Blackwall Tunnel approaches were among the few to be built, and assigning a purpose for each individual community. While Deptford was certainly badly hurt by the planners, it’s horrible to think what could have happened to the rest of south-east London…
After a week away, I came back to to find news from Greenwich Council about Olympic parking restrictions in my doormat. A few days on from reading it for the first time… does anyone understand what the hell it’s about?
If you’ve not had one delivered – and I understand some homes have not had one, here’s a PDF of the Greenwich Council Olympic parking leaflet. It’s not on the front page of the council website, and frankly, it’s a perfect example of how not to communicate with people – I’m a fairly literate fellow, but I lost it in the talk of RBPPAs, CPZs and EDZs.
However, as far as I can tell, the situation is roughly how it was announced last October. If you live in an area between Deptford Church Street, Lee High Road (yes, this affects Lewisham borough residents too) and Plumstead Common, you are likely to need a parking permit during the Olympics, even if you live in an area which doesn’t need permits (or are in a parking zone with “free” spaces). Existing residents’ permits are valid, it may be worth grabbing some additional visitors’ permits, whether you’re a driver or not. More details are due to be available at www.2012gamesparkingpermits.com later today. (UPDATE: This has now been delayed until Wednesday.)
Why on earth did it take Greenwich seven months to disseminate this information? With 46 days until the opening ceremony, it leaves almost no time for consultation and makes the communication process harder. The last time this happened, for the Millennium Dome, news was announced at two or three months beforehand (I still have my visitors’ permits…)
But the Dome situation was simple – here, people are in different situations, yet Greenwich just decided to send out a single generic leaflet written in pure council-speak. Even dumber, there are hundreds of notices tied to lamp posts, which again are just generic and confusing (although slightly more informative than the leaflets). (Some streets even have both the Greenwich Council and Lewisham Council versions of the notices – the latter refer to the “London Borough of Greenwich”, which is the first time I’ve ever chuckled at a public notice.)
It’s all a mess, but typical of a council that is concerned about using communications to burnish its own reputation instead of telling residents useful information. But gripes aside, get onto www.2012gamesparkingpermits.com today, and see what it means for you.
Nederlandse Hospitality in het hartje van de Spelen! If you’ve followed some of the Peninsula Festival stuff on here, this video won’t tell you much that’s new (apart from the discovery of a “subway” line from the peninsula to Woolwich Common). If not, then this should fill in some of the gaps about this summer’s Dutch invasion – concerts, camping, ships and a beach. And £50,000 from Greenwich Council for a “community element”.
Up the road, Lewisham Council’s also forking out for a community party on Blackheath during the Olympics. The programme for The Lewisham Big Screen includes music, film and dancing, and The Mayor’s Quiz Night. You know, I could be up for that last one… hopefully what’s planned for the “community element” on the peninsula (where the stage site is still a storage space for London Marathon portaloos) will be just as good.
You might have read The Greenwich Phantom’s damning post about the plans for Greenwich’s new swimming pool. If you haven’t, go and read it now.
Work’s finally started on the old Greenwich District Hospital site, 11 years after the NHS moved out, where the plan is to build flats, a council service centre, a library (to replace East Greenwich Library) and a swimming pool (to replace the Arches). The Arches is a grand old facility, built in the 1920s and revamped in the late 1980s, featuring a proper old swimming pool with a very deep deep end.
So it’s been popular for the youngsters of the Greenwich Swimming Club to learn how to swim competitively and dive properly, as the Phantom’s correspondent Elaine says. Unfortunately, the replacement pool will be no good for them – it’ll be 1 metre deep at both ends, and 1.5m deep in the middle, which is too shallow for the Amateur Swimming Association, which prefers 1.8m for diving.
Another Arches user, Teresa Griffith, told me: “Most races (except backstroke) start with a dive. As a trainee official for swimming galas I love seeing youngsters flinging themselves into the water and flying up and down. What is the point in building a pool where they will not be allowed to fling themselves in?
“I see them swimming Tues, Weds and Thursday nights, as well as 8am on Sunday mornings… I don’t think they will enjoy their swimming if they don’t get to practice diving when at weekends. They are asked to compete against children from other areas who may be lucky enough to get to dive in from time to time.”
So much for an Olympic legacy.
She emailed a few councillors, and opposition leader Spencer Drury took her complaints to the council’s overview and scrutiny panel last week. Apparently the problem is being “looked at” by council leader Chris Roberts, and he was told a retractable floor originally planned for the pool had been scrapped because they don’t work very well.
According to planning statements published by original developer First Base, the design of the pool was “the product of consultation with the Council and their leisure providers, the Primary Care Trust (“PCT”), the Education Department and other key stakeholders”.
Ah, those key stakeholders again. They’ve got all the answers.
Still, never mind, according to the Phantom’s post, “swimmers can learn to dive and turn elsewhere in the borough”. Well, in actual fact, they’ll be able to do that without having to trudge all the way to Eltham.
Just a couple of miles away in Lewisham, the new Glass Mill leisure centre is taking shape on Loampit Vale. You might have seen it, it’s the huge great colourful thing appearing opposite Lewisham station (along with another development of flats). It’ll replace the Ladywell Leisure Centre (to the anguish of its regular users) and will be Lewisham Council’s flagship facility.
Unlike Greenwich, Lewisham has put all the plans for the Glass Mill on its website. Plans include “a competition pool – eight lanes (17 x 25 metres) with a moveable floor at the deep end to allow additional water area for teaching”. Cuh, those pesky moveable floors which don’t work, eh?
As for diving? Well, the full details are in the Glass Mill client brief. “The hallow end is to be set at 1200 mm which is considered a safe depth for competition swimming but will not be suitable for certain teaching purposes. The deep end depth should be set at 2000mm.” Poolside diving blocks will be provided.
So, Lewisham, the non-Olympic borough, has managed to commission a swimming pool suitable for teaching kids how to dive. Olympic host borough Greenwich, meanwhile, hasn’t. Good to know the legacy’s in safe hands… at Catford town hall.
Still, there is time for Greenwich to sort this mess out, isn’t there? Or it’ll face the embarrassment of its young people heading to a neighbouring borough to learn how to swim competitively. Is that the legacy it wants?