Posts Tagged ‘events’

Ladywell Hustings – Wednesday 21st April

April 15, 2010

The Ladywell Village Improvement Group (LVIG) is hosting a hustings for Council hopefuls, and since part of Ladywell falls within the borders of Lewisham Central there I will be.

The meeting takes place at 7.30pm on Wednesday 21 April at the St.Mary’s Centre on Ladywell Road, SE13 (also within Lewisham Central borders).

People are invited to submit questions in advance by emailing ladywellfields@yahoo.co.uk by midday of Tuesday 20th April.
At that point the submitted questions will be forwarded to the candidates so that they can prepare answers.

This electoral debate will follow a strict format with 5 minutes for each party to make a presentation speech and 2 minutes to answer to each of the questions, please note that the organizers want to focus on Ladywell and the Borough, not on national politics.
To make sure that your question is put forward please be also present at the meeting to read it aloud, submitting it in advance but missing the meeting may end up with the question being relegated down the agenda and possibly not being asked.
The event closes at 9pm and adjourns at the award winning Ladywell Tavern for further discussions.

For those more interested in national politics the Deptford Dame has also details of a parliamentary hustings for Lewisham Deptford taking place this Saturday April 17, 5pm, at the Utrophia Arts Project at Tanners Hill, SE8 4QD (entrance opposite the Royal George pub).
Our Lib Dem candidate Tam Langley will be there to impress you.

St Mungo’s & Safer Neighbourhood Team joint event

March 13, 2010

St Mungo’s, the very large homeless hostel of Arlington Close (off Ennersdale Road) is hosting an open day event in conjunction with the Safer Neighbourhood Team for Lewisham Central.

This event is set for next Friday 19th March, 4pm to 8pm.

In the words of PCSO Andy Griffey:

This will give you a chance to look around the hostel and see what work is carried out and ask questions, and speak with staff. The meeting will also give you the opportunity to meet members from our team and learn more about Neighbourhood Watch Scheme which would like to start in your area.

This is a very welcome event, at the latest Safer Neighbourhood Panel meeting we were told that they had just established a positive line of communication with the hostel and this initiative is evidently the first fruit of that forward attitude of the local SNT team.

Cycle to the Wave this Saturday

November 30, 2009

Are you planning to go to central London this Saturday 5th December to join in the Wave?

Then why not cycle it there with the cyclists’ group organised by Councillor Pete Pattison? The group will leave from the Clock Tower in Lewisham Town Centre at 11am.

Action for Lewisham public meeting report

November 13, 2009

Yesterday’s public meeting of the Central Lewisham Action Group was much better attended that I expected, halfway down the meeting I counted 55 people, and most of them stayed until the end, and it was a very long meeting.

Here’s Cllr Andrew Milton‘s speech which was really well received:

Other speakers from the platform were Helen Mercer of the group that opposed the Lewisham Gateway, Fran Rogers of Transition Lewisham and Matthew Blumner of QWAG, who also spoke as a former board member of Urban Renaissance Lewisham (URL), the board that gave us the Gateway plan, he was the community representative on that board but was unable to scrutinize appropriately the plans (a thing referred to by Andrew Milton’s speech when he mentions that the former Deputy Mayor, also chair of URL told Matthew Blumner that he would not have received further answers to his queries about the new traffic system. A serious matter of concern indeed.)

I spoke a few times, giving my opinion on the developments (that is still the same as here) but also trying to advise on practical ways to campaign. I saw a lot of enthusiasm and I really got excited, there is a will to propose alternatives and if the Gateway fails to happen there will be a chance to try to make them into a reality.

Among the practical things I mentioned is that I have two questions about the development at the coming Council meeting of 25th November, these questions ask details of the roadworks program for the new road layout and associated consultation.
This is a follow up to one of my questions at last Council meeting when I instead asked about the original Single Regeneration Budget (SRB) for Lewisham Centre and whether sums were allocated but yet unspent. The answer was that yes, there are almost £9m (out of a total of £15.9 of the original SRB) that were originally transferred to the LDA for the enabling roadworks and are still there.
At that point I asked whether the fact that public money had to be paid for this development instead of the usual other way round where developers pay for works around the developments for the privilege of building there meant that this deal had always been at particular risk from market fluctuation since despite its hugeness it never really stood on its own two feet . The answer I received was that no, on the contrary, they were now consulting with partners about the imminent enabling roadworks.
And that’s why this time I’m asking details about these roadworks and the consultation. I told people to come and support, so that after the meeting we can go and have a quick update at the Ram pub that’s near the Council (and you’re welcome to join us too).

Other politicians present there were Ladywell Councillor Ute Michel, my fellow Libdem Candidate for Lewisham Central James Jennings, who actually spoke very well about how the centre of Lewisham is really “the centre” of Lewisham and if you mess up there you really mess up everywhere.

There was also a Labour Candidate for Lewisham Central, who only identified himself when asked to (shame, but not a surprise). Someone asked how to send a strong signal to Labour, “boot them out” I shouted, and I won’t apologize for that.

But besides the politicians there were plenty of ordinary people concerned about the effect of these developments for the area and willing to do something about it and work for an alternative.

Public meeting on Loampit Vale

November 9, 2009

This coming Thursday 12th November, at 7:30pm at the Tabernacle, Algernon Road SE13 7AT there will be a public meeting held by the Central Lewisham Action Group, a group of residents that opposes the current plans for redevelopment of the area often referred to as Lewisham Town Centre although currently this area is still mostly a transport hub with a roundabout.

This promises to be a very interesting and lively meeting, many important issues will be discussed, I will be attending and very possibly say something too.

Speakers announced so far are Libdem Councillor for Lewisham Central Andrew Milton and Fran Rogers of Transition Brockley.

Rivers of electronic ink have already been poured on this subject but here’s a quick to recap of the main points to allow me to state clearly where I stand on this issue.

There are two adjacent yet distinct main developments that are supposed to be built near Lewisham Station and that already have planning consent, these are the Lewisham Gateway and the Loampit Vale development. Besides these developments very close to these two there are other large blocks on the horizon and also a few others that have just been built. These developments would bring thousands of new accomodations, a large amount of commercial space, a leisure centre, a school, a new road layout, a new bus station and more. All in a relatively small area, with all the repercussions on the environment and services that a development of this scale creates.

The Lewisham Gateway development should rise where today lies the roundabout plus quite a lot of land around it, edging the Citibank Tower on one side and including what today is the Lewisham Bus Station on the other side.
Planning application for the Gateway development was agreed in April 2006, works have not started yet.

The other development with planning consent is the Loampit development and I wrote extensively about it on this blog (link to posts on Loampit Vale).

I personally strongly oppose the Loampit Vale development mostly because it includes a leisure centre that is not built to a size sufficient to serve both the existing local community and the newcomers that would populate all those new developments. There would be many losers, mostly among the current users of Ladywell Pool.
This is a straightforward damage to the quality of life of the residents of Lewisham that use Ladywell pool that would have reduced access to swimming. I squarely blame Mayor Bullock and his uncritical supporters and associates for the inability to plan for sufficient leisure provision.

Regarding the Lewisham Gateway I oppose that too, but for different reasons, one more mundane reason if you will is that to my eyes that’s plain ugly. Despite the best efforts of the architects it still remains a massive bulk, and this is  due to the economics of the development, that burdened by an unusually high level of expenditure for the preparatory infrastructural work, to cover costs and allow a profit for the developers must include an enormous volume of built and no matter which way you turn it the bulk just doesn’t  go away.

To be more specific this development must pay for a new road layout to replace the roundabout so to create the space for the development, and that alone is 2 years of roadworks, then it must move some very large utility mains that run under the roundabout, move a river and a bus station. All this is mightily expensive hence the massive bulk.

My main reason for opposing it though is that I am not convinced that the design of the new road layout is a good plan for Lewisham. I fear it will transform much of the centre in a massive near constant gridlock and that’s surely not my idea of a thriving town centre.
During the years of planning for this project we were all told that this new system would not have had any negative impact on the traffic, there was an explicit firm guarantee that at the very least the impact would have been neutral, this guarantee was repeated at every stage of the process. Then when the study was finalized for planning consent the admission came that it would have been marginally worse.
Now, even assuming that the admitted marginal worsening would have been acceptable the fact remains that the traffic model was done on the Gateway alone, without considering the impact of the other developments around it and so what we have is a traffic model that implies the same amount of built as today, which is a semi-desertic half baked retail park and employment area where there are supposed to be tall buildings all around and a few thousands people living in them, plus a school for 600 children, a leisure centre, a new parade of shops in front of the station. There is a lot of extra activity associated with this plan and this would have a serious further impact on traffic. Think about Lewisham roundabout at peak time today, well, it will be substantially worse.

At the recent planning committee meeting on Loampit Vale the Head of Planning himself admitted that the traffic passing through the Lewisham roundabout is not traffic generated locally, that there’s little that can be done to alleviate it and that probably it won’t get any easier. And I ask myself, if the new traffic system is guaranteed to make traffic slightly worse than now, and this even without considering all the developments surrounding the Lewisham Gateway, what will this high rise traffic-ridden quarter be like to live in? The answer is that probably it won’t be that great. And so, because I don’t believe that we should build houses we wouldn’t like to live in, I oppose it.

Now, as I already said, the Lewisham Gateway has planning consent, so whether we oppose it or not it doesn’t actually make any difference, but there is a concrete risk that the project derails without any external help, just because the numbers don’t stack up anymore, and 3 and half years after planning consent we’re now beginning to be quite close to the moment the planning consent expires.
And if the Gateway wouldn’t happen then that land and adjacent large plots like for example Thurston Road could be at the centre of new planning considerations because the much trumpeted new Town Centre wouldn’t have materialized and a fresh thinking would be required.
Likewise the Loampit Vale development may not happen, but that in my opinion is more at risk of delaying or losing some bits (like part of the social housing) than to derail completely.

Anyway, it may not happen, but a degree of risk that the project derails exists, and for us Libdems it’s time to think about it concretely so that if after next elections we gain control of this Borough Council we can work on an alternative and of course we must start by listening around to what people would like to see there and what ways there could be to move the current scheme to a more desirable one.

So,  if you’re interested in these and other matters related to the developments at the fabled Lewisham Town Centre (schools for example) then you’d do well to attend this public meeting.

On Springbank Road

November 1, 2009

October09-224

I didn’t clear all that by myself, I only arrived after lunch actually, I wish I could have got there earlier but children’s meals are sacred, and I was the one doing the cooking. Anyway, for the hour or so I was there I had a brilliant time playing with proper gardening tools and picking up the strangest litter.

A great thanks to everyone involved with organizing it at HGCA, especially Johanna that took the lead, everyone at Enviroworks Lewisham and of course Network Rail for trusting we wouldn’t have chopped a major main by mistake.

The job there is not finished, it will proceed in stages, next time flowerbeds will be placed where it’s been cleared this time and at the same time the clearing will proceed further down the embankement, and we already have an appointment, it’s for Saturday 21st November.

Hither Green Community Association meeting report

October 22, 2009

Very good attendance at last night’s Hither Green Community Association meeting where updates on different aspects of community life where received from various people.

The Town Centre manager Deborah Efemini told us about shops opening at various locations on Hither Green lane. The unit at number 132 will soon have an art related business, A cafe is also due to open in the Meridian South Piazza.
This sudden activity at the long suffering Meridian South commercial units is attributable to the change of management that from Bellway Homes goes now to Johal Reagan which is much more proactive
If you are interested in one of those units you can contact David Byron on 020 8858 9303 or Chris Chidgey at 0208 532 2222.

In the largest commercial unit of the same piazza an indoor golf course will also soon open, but that’s been in the making for a long time so that’s not strictly news.
We were also told that the units on the shopping parade just by the yellow light crossing, next to the chemist, will soon have occupancy and also about developments at the unit at number 118 Hither Green Lane (towards the Spotted Cow end of the parade) that’s currently unoccupied and there a charity shop could open, this is an activity where the Church would be in part involved but they are looking for people that want to run it. If you’re interested please contact the Vicar here.
Another update Deborah gave was about the shopping centre where HMV is about to open an outlet.

There where then questions raised to Deborah about the problem of the car dealers and garages around the junction between Hither Green Lane and Benin Road where illegal parking has been making the area a complete mess for years.
And also about cars and shops I repeated the call for some short stay car park spaces on Hither Green Lane, a measure that would help some of the shops there that really suffer without the possibility to ever park a car nearby.

We then had a report from the Police and we learnt that the local Safer Neighbourhood Team for Lewisham Central is understaffed and likely to remain so because due to budget constraints the police is not currently recruiting.
We should have 1 Sergent, 4 PCs and 12 PCSOs, we have instead 1 Sergent, 2 PCs and 8 PCSOs. That’s for the whole of Lewisham Central Ward.
Another important information that was given is that recently there have been muggings where the victims were women who had their jewelery snatched from them on the streets by criminals on motorbikes. The advise was to avoid jewelery, that now replaces iPods on top of the list of items likely to be stolen. Also an appeal was made to avoid keeping valuables visible in your car as cars have been broken into even just for a few coins. This is a problem particularly felt at Meridian South, but there isn’t a place that is particularly safe.

This was followed by an update on signposts saying “welcome to Hither Green” and bearing a logo designed by a design student that was there to present it and take questions. This is an initiative that came out of what people answered to questionnaires about what could be done to enhance the area. About 10 of these signposts should go up around the area so attention should be paid to making them attractive.

Joanne Deverson (of HGCA) told us that after negotiations with Network Rail access has been granted to the overgrown Station embankement on Springbank Road so that it can be tidied up and landscaped by volunteer gardeners. There was real jubilation at this announcement.
The provisional date is 31st October (still in pencil) and everyone’s welcome to get a bit messy and help in. Tools and overall clothes including safety jackets and boots will be provided on the day.

Then I did my update on the Hither Green Community Hall and Arts Society activity, this means the cinema event of last Sunday and the struggle for the Park Hall Cinema, commonly known as Kidz Korner but now back in use as a shop under the name of “mostly 99p”. Now, my take is that this is preferable to having the building demolished or empty and it allows us time to put together the large funding we need to get hold of the building. Obviously the degree of success of the current shop will play a major role in determining the chances of success.
In a couple of weeks we’ll have a meeting with a serious potential private investor, two weeks ago we met with the Council’s bosses, we discussed options and the possibility is very much alive.

But, as I explained, in the meantime we constituted ourselves as an organization that “aims at promoting cultural events in the area with a view to establish an Arts and Community Centre in Hither Green”, and we carefully chose this wording to avoid tying up ourselves with one specific building, that as important for the area as is, is not as important as the activity that we need it for. So, emboldened by the spectacular success of last Sunday we’ll now think of more cultural activities to promote in the area.

One immediate consequence of the event is that Crave Arts Theatre that ran the Drama workshops for children at Sunday’s event are keen to start a regular drama group for kids in the area and this is a first tangible improvement to opportunities in the area as a consequence of our work. The availability of after school activities is a big indicator of a healthy community and we can do with more of them, so from me this is particularly welcome.
If you are interested in the Drama club you can contact Crave Arts Theatre here. A course may already take place on half term week.

My update was really well received and many people asked questions including how to join and help, which is the best question for me. If you want to help too then just write an email to contact@hithergreenhall.org.

Last point on the agenda was the election of a new steering group committee, many of the old members stayed in, but not the chair Chris Freed, who was the chair from start and did the work to set up the association and get it going from zero to where it is now. A huge thanks to her is due. Well done Chris.
A few new members joined the steering group and so with fresh blood end enthusiasm the association should produce even more good initiatives for Hither Green.

Hither Green Community Association public meeting tomorrow

October 20, 2009

When? Tomorrow Wednesday 21st October 2009 at 7:30.
Where? Hither Green Baptist Church.
On the corner between Theodore and Radford road SE13 6HT (map)
Who? The Hither Green Community Association.
What? Public meeting.
Why? To make this place better and make us a functioning community rather than the inhabitants of what’s around a non description railway station in commuter belt, which is what we’d be if we let things be.

I’ll be there. It’s actually a quite important meeting. Until a couple of years ago there was no residents’ association whatsoever in Hither Green. Then the HGCA was set up and a few visible improvements to the area have been brought forward, the notice boards outside the station, tidying up and planting on green yet grotty patches like the now marvellous little garden around the bus stop in Springbank Road, then hanging baskets on Hither Green Lane, the lovely Hither Green week that took place this summer. Just a few examples of what HGCA has done that spring to my mind now.
Now thanks also to the HGCA we were able to set up the Hither Green Community Hall and Arts Society group focusing on cultural events like the Hither Green Cinema day and trying to rescue the former Park Cinema building to make it into an Arts and Community Centre.
Things are moving, but they don’t just happen, you have to make them happen. Don’t leave it to someone else, get involved.
Come down if you live around Hither Green, care about your area and can make it.
If you can’t come you will be able to read what happened here on this blog but it’s not like the real thing.

Spectacular success for Hither Green cinema day

October 19, 2009

Firemaster-cinema-empty
Firemaster-cinema

Great thanks to all those who yesterday came to the Hither Green cinema day.
For those that weren’t there here’s a run down of what happened:

– 250 people paid to be there providing living demonstration that the area needs cultural activity;
– in the morning the two drama workshops for children were great, lots of happy faces and possibly a follow up as a regular drama club for children may start to take place in the neighbourhood (contact here if interested);
– people from all walks of life collaborated in a spontaneous and harmonious way to make the event happen. Each according to their abilities, some could run a bar, some others could design leaflets, some others could make spreadsheets, some other again could drive a van, all equally necessary. We showed to 250 people that things can happen and we got many of them to join us to make it bigger and better the next time round;
– three great films were enjoyed on a big screen, one with live piano accompaniment from a truly great pianist;
– we had a busy foyer with a well provided bar and an exhibition about the history of the area. There people got to know each other (including guest of honour Sally Cooper, daughter of Gladys Cooper, the greatest star Hither Green ever conceived);
– at the final count we broke even which was not something we could take for granted since the operation involved considerable set up costs.

Yesterday the newly formed Hither Green Community Hall and Arts Society started its activity with a resounding success, may it continue like this.