Friday 29 October 2010

Save Lewisham's libraries march

If you want to get your marching feet in practice ready for the evening's parade in Deptford, there is a cheerful event with a very serious message taking place from Crofton Park to Lewisham on Saturday lunchtime. Click on the picture for more details.

Deptford carnival procession Saturday 30th

This Saturday sees the MADCAP MARCH OF MAYHEM AND  MISCHIEF - described as 'an inter-cultural, end of summer extravaganza bringing together the work of local schools, artists, volunteers, dancers, makers and shakers in a frenzy of glitter, sparkles and a smidgen of approaching winter darkness....'

The march, which is organised by the Madcap Coalition, will start at the Albany at 6pm and will travel via Ferranti Park to the Laban Centre where there will be 'music, games, fire, food and much more!'

It should certainly be a colourful event - volunteers have been working on costumes for weeks and there will be musicians, banners, flags and so on.

Paddy Power licence granted

Depressingly predictably the council's licensing committee this week granted a gaming licence for the John Evelyn pub for Paddy Power.

Despite the very vocal objections of local businesses and residents, as well as the blatant over-saturation of Deptford by such establishments, the council found no grounds on which to reject the application.

With the Halifax due to vacate its premises in the next couple of weeks, I shudder at the thought of the possibilities this raises.

Monday 25 October 2010

Union Cycle Works

I had heard a tip-off some weeks ago that a new cycle workshop was setting up in one of the arches of the old carriage ramp at the station, but since then nothing.

Happily it seems that Union Cycle Works is now established and on the case, working to give disadvantaged people the skills to turn old bikes into new ones.

East London Lines has got an interview with Jo Harrington about the new venture here.

Sunday 24 October 2010

Master Shipwright's Revelry

Another great date for the diary - the Master Shipwright's Revelry on Sunday 7th November.

"This bonfire weekend, The Magpie’s Nest and Kit and Cutter, Deptford’s very own purveyors of folk events, will be docking up on the banks of the River Thames for a nautically themed, fire brazened and musically scored celebration. With permission granted to host this event in London’s historic Master Shipwright’s Palace, this is an opportunity to explore the grounds, its unique wooden theatre and ballrooms, animated by the sounds of both British shanty and folk singers young and old including City Shanty Band but also the more contemporary sound of Peter Gabriel’s and Realworld’s Spiro, Lake Chad’s Mamane Barka, Bulgaria’s Perunika trio and Morris dancing from the Belles of London City and the Blackheath Morris Men and many, many more acts. Also included in the event will be a Fire lit ritual for a Drowned Sailor with full river burial procession, Fireworks, lectures on London Guy Fawkes and London’s river faring traditions. As well as food, bonfires, storytelling, sing-a-longs, dancing and local Greenwich Meantime Ale aplenty. Aslo included is music by Princes in The Tower, Kidnap Alice, Skinny ListerFirefly, Nick Hart, Keith Kendrick and Sylvia Needham, Lady Woodsman and the Boat Band"

Buy your tickets here.

Dog & Bell pickle festival 2010

Get the date in your diary - Saturday 27 November at the Dog & Bell on Princes Street.

Entries accepted between 7.30 and 8pm; prizes at about 10pm.

No idea what I'm talking about? Click here for more info.

Saturday 23 October 2010

Meeting about New Cross Library

As you may have read elsewhere, New Cross Library is one of five in the borough that Lewisham Council is 'consulting' locals about closing. As well as the fact that the council wants to save money by cutting 15-20 members of staff from its cross-borough library service, the building is apparently in a poor state. Bear in mind that Lewisham Borough has only 12 libraries in total, so this would mean almost halving the number of facilities available.

Plans to relocate the library to a new building as part of the New Cross Gate redevelopment have had to be put on hold because the redevelopment is also on hold as a result of the recession. Unfortunately that's one of the drawbacks of relying on private partners to deliver public services as part of a larger project - and clearly an issue that the council should keep uppermost in its mind as Tidemill School attempts to become an academy and take control of a community building.

The first consultation meeting in August revealed some interesting facts (full documents here):

- the building is owned by Lewisham Homes (I assume that there are council flats in the upper part). A question was asked about the cost of repairing the building but from the notes, it seems this was not answered. Assuming that Lewisham Homes has a duty to repair the building for the sake of tenants, surely the council should be investigating this possibility?

- the council is proposing various 'outreach' services to replace some of the services the library offers, and yet there is no specific budget for outreach. Again this would rely on other parties such as community groups or colleges to participate. Not really a solution for what should be a public service.

- there is not a single bookshop in the area. Of course owners of computers have access to online bookshops, but what of those people who do not have a computer at home and rely on the library for their internet access?

Although the libraries being targeted are small, and presumably more expensive to run in relation to the number of users, this proposed reduction in services is unacceptable. For many pensioners, people on a low income or the unemployed, the library offers vital access to books, music, computers and even social contact that they might otherwise have to go without, not to mention giving children an opportunity to improve their literacy skills and explore the wonderful world of books.

With a decision on the cuts looming next month, the council is holding a second round of meetings - Monday 25 October is the date for the New Cross Library consultation.
The meeting will be held at 7pm at All Saints Church, New Cross Road (at the junction with Monson Rd). All are invited to attend.

In the meantime I am glad to say that an active group has been leading a campaign against the closure, with leafleting and petitioning going on over the last few months.

To show your support please sign the petition if you haven't already done so: you can also join the Facebook group to find out about other events and protests that are planned.

Friday 22 October 2010

Deptford Xtra/Bridge House Meadows

Every so often the freesheet 'The Gate Post' sponsored by the New Cross Gate Trust has a special insert called Deptford Xtra. When this happens, the monthly newsletter gets delivered round the Dame's neck of the woods as well as its usual circulation - presumably NX environs.

The insert of four pages is vaguely useful in updating us on what's happening around the area with the various developments and initiatives - although of course much of it is council puff pieces telling us what a great job they are doing.

I'm not sure how useful the update on that old chestnut known as Deptford Station redevelopment is. We are told that 'building work on the new Deptford Station is expected to finally get under way before the end of the year'. Notice that they are not committing themselves by mentioning an ACTUAL year. However we are promised that 'the new station will be operational before the end of 2011'...oh hang on, they've covered themselves by adding 'if all goes according to plan'.

There's quite a bit of information about things I'd already read about elsewhere, mostly in Lewisham Life; new 'public art' (I use the term advisedly) such as the Quill sculpture on Evelyn Triangle and the bits of cloth on sticks that are planned for the waterfront on Pepys Estate; the Deptford Lounge/Tidemill gets a mention (although no word of the ongoing furore); and an update on Deptford Green school along with a rendering that sent me off looking for something to show. The fly-through below is interesting if a bit scary at times (mind those girls' heads!) although I couldn't help thinking there were rather a lot of open balconies just begging to have someone's school books chucked over them.

Page 13 has something a bit more interesting - as well as a huge rendering of the 'centre for sporting excellence' that Renewal is proposing for Surrey Canal Road....

...the reason for a recent invitation to a consultation event about plans for Bridge House Meadows becomes clear.

Bridge House Meadows is a small park tucked away between north Lewisham's forgotten housing estates, somewhat equidistant between Mercury Way and Ilderton Road. I've only been there a couple of times, doing a recce on my bike - it's not really a place you would pass through on the way to anywhere. But I'm sure it's very much appreciated by the people living nearby, being more or less surrounded by blocks of flats with little access to outdoor space. There's also a useful footpath/cycle path that links through the park, across Surrey Canal Road and past Millwall Football Ground towards Rotherhithe.

Unfortunately it seems local residents are not going to be able to use their little 'green lung' for the next couple of years, and cyclists and walkers will have to find detours (very difficult in an area with so many rail lines). TFL is planning to take over Bridge House Meadows as a headquarters while they build the next phase of the East London Line extension.

I have to admit I'm rather gobsmacked by this. Considering the area is surrounded by industrial estates I cannot believe that TFL can't find anywhere more suitable to locate themselves. They are intending to close one of the area's few public parks and a cycle and footpath for two years.

In order to get permission to do this, it seems TFL have had to commit to improving the park after they have finished using it, but all the same it seems like a long period during which to expect residents to do without.

The most painful irony is that the new line will go through the meadows when it opens, but local residents won't even benefit by getting their own station at the end of it all!

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Tidemill school invitation-only meeting

Further to my post about a public meeting on Thursday, it turns out that this event is invitation-only.

This was revealed in a letter to parents from the Tidemill School head. Crosswhatfields blog has the whole story here.

Monday 18 October 2010

Bid for a night out at the fireworks

Ebay bidding opens this Thursday for a chance to win a VIP night out at the Blackheath Fireworks display. Lewisham Council has been trying to raise more cash for the event since Greenwich Council decided not to support it this year.

It's good to see that the council is using a bit of imagination to try and raise the money - there's a £36k shortfall to make up and so far it has received £11.5k in public donations.

The council is aiming to boost funds by Ebaying a VIP night out at the fireworks, which includes the opportunity to light the blue touchpaper and stand well back (although I'm sure it's a much more sophisticated system than that...!).

The successful bidder will not only win the chance to start the firework display but a VIP package that includes:

* access for up to 10 people to an exclusive VIP viewing area for the duration of the display
* a private tour of the firing zone by experts from Pains Fireworks where all the fireworks will be laid out ready to fire (the tour will take place at 6pm, 2 hours before the display itself)
* VIP parking for 3 cars in the very heart of the event
* 10 meal vouchers from the Fine Food Company
* 10 drink vouchers to be used at any of the mobile bar units supplied by Creative Bars
* 10 hot chocolate vouchers supplied by Jaz and Jules
* Glo sticks for the whole party provided by Limelight Entertainment Ltd

The eBay auction will start at 7pm on Thursday 21 October with a starting price of just 99p. Bidding will continue until 7pm on Sunday 31 October.

To bid go to and follow the link (the link will only be live during the auction period).

Saturday 16 October 2010

Tidemill school public meeting

A meeting to discuss the implications of Tidemill School's bid to gain academy status will be held at the school on 21 October at 7pm and will be chaired by Joan Ruddock. If you are concerned about the school's plans, or simply want to know more about what it means for the school and for the wider community in Deptford, you are invited to attend.

It's worth remembering that the new school being built for Tidemill also includes the 'Deptford Lounge',  which will house the library, meeting rooms, a cafe and other public facilities. What will happen to these facilities in terms of ownership and maintenance responsibility is not yet clear, but building the school and the Deptford Lounge as a single unit is bound to raise complex issues.

Deptford Says No to Tidemill Academy from leila on Vimeo.

For further information about the local campaign against the bid for academy status, visit their website here. Tidemill School's page is here, although I wasn't able to download any of the 'consultation documents' that are attached on the news story.

Update: Thanks Marmoset for sending the link to the consultation documents on the campaign's website.

Friday 15 October 2010

Blu Eden - Champagne & Shockwaves

In a bid to introduce a lighter note to what has been a gloomy couple of weeks on the blog, I direct you to the video of Champagne & Shockwaves by local duo Blu Eden - singer Nora Blu and musician Richard Eden. You won't need to take the band's word that it was filmed in and around Deptford and Greenwich - see how many of the locations you recognise.

Richard adds: "If any of your readers have pop video making skills we would bite off their hand to help make us our next video. You may have noticed that we made the current one ourselves. I pulled the manager along on a skateboard while he filmed the girls miming as they walked along."

If you can't see it here, you can check out the video and some other songs at Blu Eden's myspace page.

The band has also offered readers the chance to win a Blu Eden t-shirt. Just email the answer to the following question, along with your details, to by the end of October to enter the draw.

Q: Which Caribbean restaurant in East Greenwich was the club scene filmed in?

Wednesday 13 October 2010

South London Press picks up on John Evelyn story

The South London Press has got a good story on the closure of the John Evelyn pub in its latest edition.

It highlights the fact that the pub is owned by Admiral Taverns, although no-one from the company was available to comment when the story went to press.

Anyone who wishes to make Admiral Taverns aware of the impact their decision to hand the pub over to Paddy Power (presumably on a lease, although this is not clear from the story) will have on our local community can do so on the company's website here.

Unfortunately it seems the company has been in trouble for some time, and last year was partly taken over by Lloyds Bank.

Sunday 10 October 2010

Deptford Arms planning issues rumble on

With Deptford at risk of losing another community pub to the gambling industry, it is interesting to hear that planning issues relating to the conversion of the Deptford Arms by Paddy Power have still not been resolved. My previous post (and the additional comments) explain some of the background to the various planning applications that have been submitted and refused.

The current situation is that the revised planning application - which was refused by the council - has now also gone to appeal and is awaiting a decision. Naturally Paddy Power didn't wait to get permission before making the changes - presumably they are confident of winning the appeal, or have some compromise in mind to appease the planners if necessary.

The main intention of the council's planners in refusing the application is that since the building is in a conservation area, any changes to it should be in keeping with its original use - in plain terms, it should still look like a pub so that the original character and frontages of the street can be preserved even if there is a change in use. Paddy Powers' appeal focusses on its claim that these changes are vital to preserving the building. Next time you are passing the building, I invite you to glance up at the crumbling plaster above the windows and the tree growing out of the wall of the upper storey, and make up your own mind about these claims.

To view the documents go to this page and use the case reference 2135043 to search the site, then follow the links. I tried to put in a direct link but it seems they've changed the site address and it's no longer possible to do so.

Sunday 3 October 2010

Proposed improvements to Douglas Way

Feedback from yesterday's consultation at the Albany has been very useful in clarifying what's happening in the market square, and answering some of the questions about the lack of publicity.

Ironically enough the improvements that are planned are not part of the general Deptford town centre regeneration works - which perhaps explains why fellow Deptford blogger Marmoset's visit to the town centre regeneration office shed so little light on the matter. Instead, the improvements to Douglas Way are being carried out by the North Lewisham Links project, which is intended to improve walking and cycling connections in north Lewisham - and which includes the work that has already been done in Margaret McMillan Park, the ongoing work in Fordham Park, and the improvement of the underpass that links the two.

The good news is that this means the funding for the work is already allocated. The intention to improve Douglas Way has not been publicised till now because there were uncertainties about whether the funding for the North Lewisham Links project would stretch this far. But miraculously it has, so this phase of the work is just about to kick off.

I do feel that the designers have got the hardest task in front of them with this part of the work, in that they have to accommodate the practical requirements of a working market in their plans. Three days a week, market traders need to be able to drive their vans in to the square, wheel in the stalls, hook up to electrical supplies and set out their wares for the day. Annoying things like benches and trees will just get in the way for them.

But for the other four days of the week, Douglas Square is a desolate place and there is an urgent need to improve it. Without the market there to attract people, it lacks any kind of redeeming feature. There is nowhere to sit, no shelter and no greenery to soften the harsh lines of the wonky bollards and uneven paving. It's a place through which to hasten on your way to somewhere else. I'm sure the Albany suffers to some extent, being on the other side of this unwelcoming expanse - people walking along Deptford High Street are not tempted to venture into the square to see what's there, and passing business for the cafe must be minimal.

No renderings were available at the consultation simply because they have not yet been developed - but the intention is to introduce some elements of the improvements in Margaret McMillan park such as similar furniture and finishes and so on, in order to create a 'continuous' link. Anyone wanting to assess the likely quality of the work and the type of furniture that might be used can do so by having a wander towards New Cross station.

There is a limit to what can be done in the square because of the need to retain access for the market traders - no option to introduce large planters or landscaping for example! - and a limit to the items that can be consulted upon anyway. It's more a case of 'what colour paving do you prefer?' and 'how do you feel about a few trees?' than anything particularly radical, hence it does seem that a start date of January 2011 is achievable.

Friday 1 October 2010

The John Evelyn pub: another Paddy Power?

Reader Chris has alerted me to the depressing news that Paddy Power is attempting to open another betting shop in Deptford - in one of our last-remaining community pubs. 

According to Chris, the pub closed its doors a couple of weeks ago, with the notice in the window shown below:

But only a few days later a notice of application for a gambling licence appeared in the window - on behalf of none other than friend-of-the-neighbourhood Paddy Power.

Chris is understandably already upset about the closure of the pub, but says that local shopkeepers and businesses are also worried about the knock-on effect the loss of business from the pub customers and the opening of a THIRD betting shop in this small area will have.

"We (local residents and the shopkeepers on the Evelyn Triangle) have written a petition letter and our deadline to get as many in to the council is, I believe 9th October."

Residents wanting to voice their concerns about this application should either visit the Post Office in the Evelyn triangle and hand in their letter to Jay, or send it direct to the council by 9th October at the latest.

A suggested text has been helpfully supplied by Chris:

London Borough of Lewisham
Planning Department
Town Hall
London SE6 4RU

Sender's Name & Address


Dear Sir

I the undersigned am concerned about the change of business application and gaming licence application by Paddy Power Enterprises regarding the premises known as the John Evelyn Pub at 299 Evelyn Street Deptford SE8 and we are appealing to Lewisham Council to turn down this application.

There are already 2 betting shops in the Triangle and another 7 within a ten minute walk. 

We feel that the removal of the public house and the facilities it provided as a large community hub, which included not only a meeting place for funerals, weddings, anniversaries etc, but was used by a wide range of the local community as a place to unwind and catch up on local news and gossip.  It provided a safe haven to many of our local senior citizens who would congregate there daily where they could communicate and also be provided with a nourishing meal.  Unfortunately many of our older neighbours will now no longer have a place to socialise should the premises be granted a licence and be turned into a betting shop. 

Another big concern is that in an area with a large amount of the population being in the low to middle income group, that they will be tempted to improve their situation by gambling monies that they can ill afford, made all the more tempting with yet another gambling opportunity opening up within a stone’s throw of the other two. There is further concern about the temptation to minors of having more options to gamble.

The John Evelyn is also the main local vantage point for the annual London Marathon and over the years has raised many thousands of pounds for charity.  It was also used as the main hub by the local Fire Brigade for their annual charity bus pull. 

The loss of revenue to the local traders is already noticeable and if this downward trend was to continue it could result in other businesses having to close further eroding the very strong sense of community that has been built up around the Triangle over the years.

Yours faithfully

(your signature)

Concerned readers should also lobby our three local Labour councillors to raise these issues with the licensing committee.

You can do so by emailing Sam, Crada and Joseph direct via this page on the Lewisham Council website, or raising it with them at their regular surgeries. According to the web page, they will be holding a surgery this Saturday between 11-12am in the Albany - so if you are intending to visit the town centre consultation it might be a good opportunity to raise this issue at the same time.

Incidentally, if you want to know what 'benefits' the gambling industry as a whole suggests it can bring to the area, you might want to read this rather glib commentary piece on Sportsbook Reviews. Or you might not; be warned it is likely to raise your blood pressure.