Council turns its back to the Playtower

PlaytowerThe original Victorian Ladywell Baths building, built in 1885 and commonly known as the Playtower is one of the most interesting buildings of Lewisham Central.
After its life as a swimming pool it became a gymnastic club, that was until a few years ago when the Ladywell Gymnastic Club relocated to modern facilities in Bellingham.
At that point a very shortsighted Council decided to close the building and keep it like that, which meant that a steady deterioration started its course.
Had they decided to keep it in some use it would not have fallen into disrepair to the point that it now needs a colossal sum just to keep it standing.
Unfortunately the Mayor decided that what it needed was a security guard on site round the clock to make sure that no one gets close to it. This security guard has been the recipient of a full income for some years now and we’re very happy for him.

But regardless of what this administration’s shortsightedness did to the poor building many care for it and last year the Ladywell Village Improvement Group (LVIG) tried to bring it back into use as a Youth Club and to develop that plan it had received the backing of Lewisham’s own Regeneration office which worked with an architects’ firm and came out with a proposal that was presented at a meeting that I attended together with members of the LVIG, local Councillors, Council officers and of course the architects.
The proposal was really impressive, one of the pools rooms would have been transformed into a theatre, the other into a 5 a side football pitch, a whole host of other activities would have been based around the rest of the building.
The price tag for all this was a eye-watering £8m, of which only about £2m coming from Lewisham Council, the bulk of the sum should have come from a Government fund called Myspace set up to give grants of up to £5m to projects for youth facilities.

Only that on Wednesday the Mayor decided to bid for this fund for essentially the same project, only to be developed in Sydenham Wells Park instead of the Playtower. This means that there is currently no plan whatsoever for a use for this rather handsome historic and landmark building that is rotting away as I type.

It’s therefore time for me to put again on the table my proposal for a possible use of the Playtower, proposal that I had shelved to support the LVIG bid for a Youth Club to be based there.

Just before the LVIG made its proposal public I had in fact made public mine, not through this blog but through a guest column on Brockley Central and the response was very good indeed. A thing that I found rather reassuring, because it’s hard to be objective about our own ideas.

Anyway, over one year has passed and I am still convinced that it’s something that’s worth pursuing and since the Council has now decided that it won’t back the proposal of a Youth Club there I think that it’s time to re-open the case for this alternative use.

One difference between this proposal and the Youth Club is that it’s for a use that would create many jobs, substantial economic activity and hopefully generate an income. If a business case for this can be made then this can be used to attract the funds that are needed for the refurbishment of the building, estimated at £3m.

And what’s this proposal? Read it here…

But whatever scheme is pursued urgent action is needed to stop the building from deteriorating further and secure the structure, now.
The money spent on years of 24 hours security guards would have paid for some basic works and would have allowed the building to remain in use, the sorry state it is now and the consequent likely cost of a refurbishment today was an entirely predictable consequence of the lack of action of the Council, in fact it was predicted by many.


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3 Responses to “Council turns its back to the Playtower”

  1. Neil Craig Says:

    We decided at the Nuremberg Trials that planning aggressive war & bombing civilians were war crimes & massacring, ethnic cleansing, genocide & mass kidnap & rape were crimes against humanity. There is no question that the LibDem leaders, without exception, enthusiastically supported an aggressive war against Yugoslavia conducted overwhelmingly by bombing civilians. That after the occupation of Kosovo they unanimously supported the Massacres, such as Dragodan where at least 210 civilians were murdered by our police, widespread genocide, the ethnic cleansing of at least 350,000 & the kidnap & sale to brothels of thousands, probably 10s of thousands of children. It gas since become public that the British government knew & thus party leaders who are Privy Councillors would have known, that our police kidnapped at at least 1,300 Serbs & dissected them while still alive to sell the parts to our hospitals.

    There is clearly a prima faci case that all those involved, including all the leaders of the party, are personally guilty of these war crimes & crimes against humanity.It seems to me that this is a serious charge yet not only have all LibDem MP’s refused to defend themselves in any fact based way* but neither has any
    LibDem blogger & the party has made it a condition of membership that one support this genocide. Indeed most of them (listed here have also censored mention of the facts. It should be unnecessary to point out that censorship (& indeed genocide) is anathema to any real liberal.

    I am therefore seeking to find if there is a single “Liberal Democrat” anywhere among the alleged 60,000 members who feels it is possible to dispute, in any factual way, the prima faci case that the entire party leadership are guilty of war crimes, genocide & worse crimes even Hitler didn’t match in the Nazi cause. Alternately is there any single party member who disproves of such atrocities 7 supports the application of the rule of law to such people.

    * The sole person to have been publicly willing to defend the party is Baroness Shirley Williams who admitted that we had done such things but that it was alright because “Milosevic did the same”. She supported that allegation by stating that she personally had seen Yugoslav police carrying out the same atrocities as our police when she visited Belgrade in 1995. While I have to accept this as representing the absolute pinnacle of honesty of which she is capable nobody else has seen this & all other sources say that the fighting in Kosovo took place in Kosovo in 1998/9. When asked to give details of these alleged acts she has repeatedly refused. I’m afraid before accepting that there is any truth in her words I would have to see independent evidence.

  2. Max Says:


    this comment makes me think that I should have a proper space for “any other issues”, anyway, here’s my quick take.

    I have some experience of the Yugoslavian conflict as I come originally from Trieste (Italy) town on the border with the former Yugoslavia, my family has a house in what’s now Croatia that we inherited from my granfather, I spent there all my holidays since the age of 0 till my early 20’s.
    As such I saw the nationalistic ethnic ideas getting hold into people’s minds and provoking a break up in society.
    All of my then neighbours not of Croatian ethnicity had to move because they were targeted by fascists. I witnessed this with fear and immense sadness.
    I saw a generation of kids I grew up with becoming complete nationalistic assholes.
    I know personally many that from all the corners of Yugoslavia moved to Italy because their lands had become warzones, and these were people from all Yugoslavian ethnicities.
    In short, it was a mess with national armies battling through towns and giving support to militias of fascist hillibillies making a law of themselves.
    And in the face of prolongued plight an intervention on humanitarian grounds was indeed justified.
    The UN forces on the ground were powerless as the Srebrenica massacre demonstrated. There 7000 people were murdered because the UN mission was completely humanitarian and had no mandate beyond assisting civilians in need.
    Only that with ethnic cleansing the civilians are themselves the targets, not collateral damage.
    This difference meant that a rethink of the involvement had to take place and as such air strikes to disable Serbian army capabilities were put forward.

    I am not a military strategist, but it is quite obvious that if you must enter a war you should do so assertively and achieve your objectives as quickly as you can and plan this in a way that avoids civilian casualties and minimizes losses among enemy combatents. I believe that the Un strikes did actually achieve those aims.

    Speaking of Libdem involvement, Paddy Ashdown was in Sarayevo as UN commissioner, he saw with his own eyes the massacres that the ethnic craze produced.
    I, from my border town saw the people fleeing the war zone and from my house in Croatia saw a peaceful countryside becoming an environment hostile to the non ethnic omogenous.
    When the bombing of Serbia started I was in London and my best friend at the time was a Serbian photographer that had been on the front line embedded with the Serbian Army. Those were terrible days and we were very worried for all those that may get hurt, and as we witnessed events unfolding we thought long and hard of all the stupid people and ideas that had brought us to that point and I really can’t remember us blaming the Libdems then.

    You raise the point that atrocities were carried out by other ethnicities but only the Serbs got bombed. Your point being? that we should have bombed them all?
    Or that we should have committed a large army to keep order all around Yugoslavia like what we are supposed to be doing in Afghanistan and previously in Iraq ?
    Well, as you can see now, it’s not an easy thing to do so I hope that in the light of these considerations you may want to reconsider comparing Libdems to Nazis.

  3. Ian Says:

    Or simply consider psychiatric help.

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