Monday, December 29, 2014

2014's top posts

OK, this is utterly self-indulgent given I've only posted 25 times all year, but here is a run down of my top 7 blog posts of the year (why 7? Well, that's all I can get Blogger's stats to tell me....)

7. Pollution in Lewisham, Hither Green and Catford; or why I am against the Silvertown Tunnel (6 May 2014)

Well, this one had to be in there didn't it? After all, it's something I've spent about half or more of all my free time on this year...

6. The worst thing about cycling in London is...? (11 July 2014)

Another thing I bang on about all the time, and pretty popular on the blog too...

5. Update on Catford Town Centre Plan and the Catford Bridge Tavern (17 September 2014)

Lewisham council's first full meeting for over 6 months had lots of interesting stuff, not least on what the future might hold for the Catford Bridge Tavern (still closed but with work going on things look more hopeful than they did earlier in the year.)

4. Lewisham Council's official response to my 20mph petition (6 June 2014)

I started this petition to get Lewisham Council to change their mind on making the whole of the borough a 20mph zone at the end of last year, handed it in around Easter time and received a pretty hopeless response in June. However, following the petition, it was made a Labour manifesto commitment that the borough-wide zone would happen. I must admit I need to follow up on just how far plans have got since.

3. Lewisham Council election results 2014 - the detail (30 May 2014)

It took Lewisham what seemed like forever to get their results online compared to other councils, and when they did they were in the form of a handy pdf... However, thanks to the efforts of the Lewisham Green Party typing the results from pdf into excel by hand, I was able to do a bit of analysis on them in this blog post. The big news of course being the complete melt down of the Lib Dems and the rise of everybody's favourite left wing party, People Before Profit. Not too much going on for UKIP, except on the very outskirts of the borough.

2. How likely is it Lewisham will go 'all Labour' in May? (13 March 2014)

Everyone loves a bit of speculation...

1. Lewisham Council and Mayoral Election Candidates 2014 (25 April 2014)

And everyone loves a list. Election fever struck Lewisham this year then!

Any predictions for 2015?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Train services from Hither Green as of January 2015

Unless you've been hiding somewhere under a rock, it won't have escaped your notice that Southeastern train services are changing from January 12th 2015. It's all part of the Thameslink Programme, known for amusement value as Thameslink 2000, designed to make everything through London Bridge run tickety boo and never ever late. This must be a good thing of course, but the whole thing is going to take years (it's due to finish in 2018) and the biggest disruptions start now.

To be honest, I hadn't really got my head round it at all, and as it's nearly January I thought it might be a good time to try.

I moseyed along to the Thameslink Programme website, which has a lovely feature where you can pick your station and see how the changes in January affect you. Brilliant. Right? No - all it does when you choose Hither Green is tell you your train operator is Southeastern (no, really?!) and direct you to their amazing website for more info.

Frankly the Southeastern website is as confusing as it's possible to be, and has information on at least three different pages about the January changes, at least some of which I think is actually wrong.  I decided the best plan was to download the timetable and sort it out for myself. Yeah right. For starters, to get services from Hither Green you need two timetable books. Then once you open them they are impossible to understand. I tweeted to that effect and got the following reply from Southeastern themselves almost immediately:


OK then, off to the National Rail website for me. And this is what I have managed to ascertain:

Morning Services to Charing Cross
06:29 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 6 06:50
06:38 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 2 07:02
06:56 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 2 07:18
06:58 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 1 07:23
07:16 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 6 07:37
07:19 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 5 07:44
07:36 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 4 07:58
07:39 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 2 08:04
08:02 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 3 08:24
08:15 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 3 08:36
08:22 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 1 08:44
08:38 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 6 09:03
08:42 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 2 09:05
08:55 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 5 09:20
09:08 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 1 09:32
09:16 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 3 09:37
09:37 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 5 09:58
09:42 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Charing Cross [CHX] Platform 3 10:03

None of these trains will stop at London Bridge. (Hip Hip Hurray!) 

Morning Services to Cannon Street
06:46 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 3 07:10
06:49 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 1 07:08
07:08 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 5 07:26
07:11 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 1 07:34
07:28 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 1 07:45
07:32 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 4 07:56
07:49 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 2 08:10
07:53 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 1 08:18
08:12 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 6 08:37
08:32 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 5 08:56
08:50 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 3 09:13
09:00 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 2 09:23
09:19 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 4 09:42
09:28 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 6 09:55
09:49 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Cannon Street [CST] Platform 4 10:12

All these trains will stop at London Bridge (enjoy!)

Morning Services to Lewisham
06:38 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 06:42
06:46 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 06:51
06:58 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 07:03
07:11 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 07:15
07:19 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 07:23
07:32 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 07:36
07:39 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 07:43
07:53 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 07:58
07:58 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 08:03
08:12 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 08:16
08:18 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 08:22
08:32 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 08:37
08:38 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 08:42
08:50 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 08:54
08:55 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 09:00
09:00 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 09:04
09:19 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 09:23
09:28 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 5 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 09:32
09:49 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 Lewisham [LEW] Platform 1 09:53

Ooh lots of trains to Lewisham, exciting.

Morning Services to Blackfriars
07:58 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Blackfriars [BFR] Platform 3 08:29
08:18 Hither Green [HGR] Platform 3 London Blackfriars [BFR] Platform 3 08:48

All new and exciting! Woo! (Not. The 07:58 replaces the 07:58 to Charing Cross). The 08:18 might be new though - can any train geeks confirm or deny?

Morning Services to Victoria
Aha ha ha! You're having a laugh aren't you? This will only happen if something goes wrong somewhere...

So there you have it. Everything you wanted to know about morning services from Hither Green into town on a weekday. For anything else there's

Monday, December 22, 2014

A date for your diary - Lewisham Bloggers' Meet - 30 January 2015

I know you're all thinking about Christmas, but here's a thoroughly non-festive date for your diaries in January. I'm afraid that in the best traditions, we are completely ignoring dry January, though feel free to stick to diet coke if you wish. Anyway, the detail...

What: Lewisham bloggers' meet up
When: Friday 30th January, 8:30pm
Where: Jam Circus, 330-332 Brockley Road, SE4 (nearest station is Crofton Park and the 122, 171 and 172 pass by the door)
Who: You, if you are a Lewisham (or wider SE London) blogger or twitter person who fancies a beer and a chat.

Post in the comments below to say you are coming so we can book a table nearer the date.

See you there!

(Photo by Ewan Munro on flickr, used under creative commons license) 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

WAVES Lewisham events at the Deptford Lounge

To mark international day for the elimination of violence and women and girls WAVES (Women Against Violence Expressing Solidarity) are holding a number of events at the Deptford Lounge on 29 November. WAVES is an independent action-focused grassroots organisation founded to enable women to come together to support each other to make Lewisham a place where violence against women and girls is unacceptable, girls and women are safe and able to fulfil their potential. The events are:
The naming of the dead 
122 women have been killed through suspected male violence this year. That's one woman dead every 2.49 days. At "The naming of the dead" exhibition one pair of shoes will represent each woman who has been killed by suspected male violence this year. This exhibition is a startling visual reminder of the number of women who fell victim to male violence - often by someone they knew or loved. (I donated some shoes for this exhibition myself).

Performers in support of women
Local women Deanna Rogers, a spoken word poet, and singer-songwriter Lucy Cait will be performing with other presenters from 3pm.

The voices of male allies and library display
A number of local men, including Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock, have come together to take a stand against violence against women and girls. In a series of audio recordings by WAVES Lewisham called “The Voices of Male Allies” men talk about what they know about violence against women and girls and what they would do if they knew a man who was being violent or abusive towards his partner, girlfriend or wife.

The audio recordings will form Lewisham’s response to the #HeForShe campaign led by actress Emma Watson.  They will also be played at the Deptford Lounge from 22 November to 29 November.

Kirsty Lowe, Co-Founder of Women Against Violence Expressing Solidarity (WAVES) Lewisham said: “Men can be uncomfortable talking about the violence and abuse of women, sometimes feeling they are being accused or held personally responsible for the actions of other men. WAVES has many male supporters and we wanted to capture them talking about men’s violence to show leadership in making the world a safer place for women and girls. We’d like more men and women to participate in the #BigLewishamConversation on twitter and in real life to explore how, as a community, we can work together to bring an end to violence against women and girls."

For those who cannot attend the events on 29 November, the audio interviews with male allies and a display of library books celebrating the lives and talents of women will be available at the Deptford Lounge from 22 November.

For further information please contact or see their website at:, on twitter at @waves_lewisham, or on Facebook:

(Photo by bitospud on flickr, used with permission)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Safer Brownhill Road

A quick post to draw your attention to a petition that has been set up by Natasha Clarkson, a fellow Corbett Estate resident, asking for TfL and Lewisham Council to look at improving the safety of two crossings on Brownhill Road (also known as the South Circular) - one at Torridon Road, just up from where this picture was taken, and the other at Stainton Road.

Anyone who lives in the area knows Brownhill Road is a traffic nightmare (and it's also a polluted one as an aside), and crossing it is unpleasant and unsafe. There are no pedestrian crossings between Verdant Lane and Stainton Road, the zebra where a student was killed earlier this year. Trying to cross at Torridon involves waiting for the lights to change and then sprinting across before the cars get going again - not much use for people with young children, or the infirm.

Natasha says we need 1,000 signatures on the petition to trigger TfL to look at the crossings. It currently has just over 500 so please share it around!

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Bakerloo line to Catford? Yes please!

Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the last few days it won't have escaped your attention that there is a proposal on the table from TfL to bring the Bakerloo line to Catford. I've completely missed the BREAKING NEWS bandwagon, but I can't let this go uncommented on completely.

Others have written lots about the detail, the politics, and how likely it is to happen

Diamond Geezer
Ian Visits
And of course Brockley Central have coined a natty new hashtag for the occasion.

I hear that Southwark Council is keen, and Lewisham are so keen they've launched a website and a petition (see below).

Of course, if you want something to happen, signing a petition, retweeting, liking on facebook, tweeting the Mayor and all of that are all well and good but TfL only really pay attention to consultation responses so for goodness sake fill that in as well as doing all the social media stuff.

There are a few things that are undecided, such as the route the line would take to get to Lewisham, whether it will be extended beyond Lewisham, whether it will go to Bromley and so on. I hear Bromley council aren't keen to push this, so if we want to see the line come beyond Lewisham itself and into Catford, we need to be active about responding to the consultation ourselves and not relying on others. It takes less than 5 minutes to complete.

The cost of the proposed extension is £2-£3 billion, which is £1-2billion less than the Mayor's roadbuilding programme, all the more reason to put a stop to that and push on with this.

And we really need to incorporate the cat!
(photo by Luke Agbaimoni)


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Update on Catford Town Centre Plan and the Catford Bridge Tavern

It's a full Lewisham council meeting tonight - the first since February where the public have been able to ask questions. That's democracy in action for you. But anyway, that aside, it's a good opportunity to find out what the council have been up to on a whole range of issues. I asked a few questions, and have received written responses ahead of the meeting, which is nice and efficient and allows for planning of any supplementary questions I might want to ask. Unfortunately I can't attend the meeting, but that's another issue entirely.

I asked for an update on the plans for implementation of the borough-wide 20mph zone, and was told that detailed plans and a timetable will be submitted to mayor and cabinet in November. Watch this space.

Helpfully, the council also provide everyone else's questions and answers in one big document so I've been able to scan through those too. There were a lot of questions on the Leegate development and it seems the council plan to tackle these at a separate meeting, otherwise they'd never get through the rest of business tonight.

But, onto the main purpose of this post. I asked a question about what is happening to the Catford town centre plan (CTCLP) and how this plan relates to TfL's inner ring road plans or plans to put the south circular in a tunnel. Another questioner also asked about the Catford plan, and when it might be implemented (it was put on hold because of TfL's Roads Task Force (RTF) report). 

The council had decided that TfL's long-held plans to relocate the South Circular behind Laurence House were unlikely to proceed and so set out a new policy that committed the Council to work on the Catford plan on the basis that this wouldn't happen. However, the July 2013 RTF report appeared to put these proposals back on the table, thus jeopardising the Catford plan. The council say that as a result of the Mayor of London’s request it was concluded that there was merit in re-examining the original TfL A205 road improvement proposals and TfL agreed to undertake a study to investigate.  If, as a result of the study, TfL continued to support their original proposals or some other third way then significant modification of the CTCLP would be required. As the report was not expected until summer 2014 and then would need discussion and consideration, the Council concluded that the best option would be to withdraw the CTCLP from Examination.

An initial concept report has recently been received in draft from TfL which outlines the proposal. Lewisham Officers are currently reviewing the report and raising a number of queries and are seeking a meeting during September with TfL to receive further information to assist full consideration. The proposal focuses on Catford rather than the wider south circular, and the Council is not aware of any current work into the idea of running the south circular in a tunnel.

Work on the CTCLP is expected to resume with further work carried out once the results of the TfL review are evolved and worked through. Once the TfL review is worked through and work on the CTCLP resumes, the web pages will be updated with any new information and timeframes.

Another one to watch at this stage I think.

Another questioner asked about the Catford Bridge Tavern: "Will the Council use the full range of its formal powers and informal persuasion to ensure that the freeholders and leaseholders of the Catford Bridge Tavern restore the property to its use as a pub without further delay?"

This was their answer: The Council has already used its planning powers to put in place policy to protect viable local pubs. This is set out in the Development Management local plan. Government legislation on ‘permitted development’ means that a pub use can change to other town centre uses such as a shop, a bank, or a restaurant without the need to obtain planning permission. These details are set out in the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended) and The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (as amended).The Council has a planning power known as an ‘Article 4 Direction’ that it can put in place with the Secretary of State’s agreement to remove the permitted development right. In the case of the Catford Bridge Tavern the Council has already placed an Article 4 Direction on the property so the owners cannot change the use to a shop or other use without first applying to the Council and obtaining planning permission.

In terms of informal persuasion the planning service encourages owners and developers to engage in pre application discussion on any proposals. To a large extent this relies on the owner or developer making contact but if the Council is advised of any proposal it will initiate its own contact. The Planning Service is preparing a questionnaire on community uses within pubs in Lewisham and as part of this work it proposes to contact the owners of the Catford Bridge Tavern to enquire about the latest situation and encourage the reuse as a pub.

Not exactly encouraging.... I personally feel that the council ought to be being much more pro-active in contacting people who might be interested in making this into a viable pub. I believe that Tesco are the owners. More pressure needs to be put on them to find a tenant to take this on. Given the current situation at the Catford Constitutional Club, maybe Antic would be interested. Although I think that, particularly as the dog track development starts in earnest, the town centre can easily support two high quality pubs! Seeing the CBT sitting empty does no good for anyone.

Want to find out more about what the council are up to for yourself? Ask a question or get to a meeting. They're going to be out and about around the borough so should be coming soon to a venue near you...

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Lewisham's 10 worst roads

Ever wondered which are the worst road surfaces in Lewisham?

Me too, especially since I've been cycling around on them more and more. Those potholes and generally poor quality, patched-up road surfaces don't make for a particularly pleasant experience sometimes.

Recently, after a particularly unpleasant cycle down Bellingham Road I decided to ask where in the council's priorities for resurfacing it was. Surely it must be pretty high up, after all the surface is dreadful. I was vaguely aware of the existence of a list of roads in the borough with their priority order so I decided to ask my local councillor, Alan Smith, where Bellingham Road was on that list. He replied almost immediately to say he'd check and got back to me with the answer the next day:

Oh dear...

Still, my interest was piqued. I wanted this list for myself. And thanks to the Freedom of Information Act I now have it, together with comments from the inspectors. It's not a completely straightforward list, as priorities do change, but it makes interesting reading. The council say they think they can do 60 roads in this financial year, but which ones make it will depend on the results of inspections, what's already been done and so on, and repairs are identified on an ongoing basis.

But, accepting all that, here are the top 10 worst roads in Lewisham and the ward they are in...

1. Grove Street (Evelyn)

2. Whitefoot Lane (Whitefoot)

3. Burnt Ash Hill (Westhorne Ave to Somertrees Ave) (Grove Park)

4. Birkhall Road (Catford South)

5. Downham Way (Old Bromley Road to Bromley Road) (Downham)

6. St Norbert Road (Telegraph Hill)

7. Blythe Hill (Crofton Park/Rushey Green)

8. Lewis Grove (inspectors' note says this might not need to be done...) (Lewisham Central)

9. Ryculff Square (Blackheath)

10. Brockley View (Crofton Park)

So, what do you think? Is your road worse than these?

Friday, July 11, 2014

The worst thing about cycling in London is....?

Over the last week or so there have been a couple of articles published by the Guardian on "the worst thing about cycling..." The first claims that the worst thing is other cyclists - they're inconsiderate, jump red lights and generally give other cyclists a bad name. The second is a response to that piece pointing out that's nonsense and over-simplistic.

Obviously, as I've now been commuting by bike into central London for just over a year, I feel that I am completely qualified to give my own opinion on the absolute worst thing about cycling in London (or anywhere else for that matter).

I started a year ago on my trusty pink hybrid:

Then this year, for various reasons I've ended up with a road bike:

Anyway, I digress. Another reason I've been thinking about what the worst thing about cycling in London is because TfL earlier this week published plans for cycle superhighway 5 from Pimlico to Oval. It's been eagerly awaited and some bits of it are good but I think it falls down because it doesn't address the worst thing about cycling in London.

So what is it? Well, I think the worst thing about cycling in London is conflict. It's really as simple as that. The best bits of my 45-minute long journey into work can be in parks, on separate cycle paths or on the road and the reason they are the best bits is that they don't require me to come into conflict with other road or pavement users. The worst bits of the journey are those where, by poor design of the cycle infrastructure (or even perhaps the complete lack of infrastructure), I come into conflict with pedestrians on shared space, or with cars at badly designed junctions or on narrow roads with lots of parked cars.

The reason I was disappointed by the CS5 designs is because they don't address this. For example:

Lovely segregated track, ends with having to share the crossing with pedestrians. Instant conflict.

And what about conflict with cars? Well, here are a couple of junctions on CS8 where riders are forced to share space with cars:

Now, I don't know about you, but I don't think that's what's going to encourage people of all ages and abilities to get on their bikes. Interestingly that green track on the left of the second picture is NCN4, the cycle path there is off the road, when CS8, along the same route here, puts bikes on to the road. Sadly the NCN4 path just ends at the junction, and on the other side there's no segregation at all. Hopeless.

Still, we can always cycle in parks, right?


So there you have it. That's what I think is the worst thing about cycling in London. Conflict. Apart from that, it's great.

Monday, July 07, 2014

What's happening with Mountsfield Park now?

You may have heard on the grapevine that the proposed new cafe in Mountsfield Park got planning permission last week. This is good news, especially as there had been a few objections based on the materials proposed for the building.

However, what you may not know is that since then it has come to light that the cafe can't now be afforded within the budget the council has for the park. This is because of the rise in contractors costs since the original plans were developed, as I understand it. The overall budget is £525,000, although some of that will already have been spent on tree clearance, surveys, design and procurement fees. Lewisham Council says there’s not enough money to pay for all of the agreed improvements, which includes the improved play area, 90 sq/m cafe building and new community garden. You'll know that over 80% of respondents to a survey on improvements to the park rated a cafe as their number one priority and so this is really disappointing for a lot of park users.

The Council have invited the Friends of Mountsfield Park to meet with them to discuss the situation at an open meeting to be held at the Civic Suite in the Town Hall on Wednesday 9 July at 6.30pm. Unfortunately I can't attend, but I know that the Friends will keep their website updated with the outcome of the meeting. Do get along if you can. The Friends also have a stall at People's Day on 12 July in the park itself, so you can pop along then to find out more.

Update 9 July, 9:30am Link to the agenda:

Update 10 July, 11:30am confirmation that the cafe will be dropped from phase 1 and the project is 50% over budget. Community Garden and playground refurb will be in phase 1.