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28 April 2010

Mayoral Elections - Labour Reply

  1. After a hard fought local campaign, the council has agreed to fund and build a new swimming facility in Forest Hill on the site of the old baths. These plans have now reached the stage where they are due to be submitted for planning approval at the end of May and the construction contract has been put out to tender. What commitment will you make to the future of these pools and what guarantees will you give that the pools will be built and will not fall victim to any budgetary cuts after the election?
  2. I do have to be careful not to appear to be favouring Forest Hill over other areas but as a Forest Hill residents I must say I am looking forward to being able to use the new facility myself as soon as possible. The decision to go with the new build behind the old facia of the building was taken by me and I also identified the funding needed. Forest Hill residents can be very sure that if I am re-elected I will make sure the project is completed. It may be worth explaining that the funding for the Forest Hill Leisure Centre is capital and the expected squeeze on public expenditure is likely to hit revenue (i.e. day to day) spending more quickly than its hits capital – at least over the next year.

  3. At 70%, Lewisham has the highest proportion of residents that work outside the Borough of any Borough in London. What will you do to attract employment to the south of the Borough?
  4. Lewisham has always been a largely residential borough and that is one of the reasons that I have given a high priority to improving transport links and making sure our residents are able to develop the skills they need to compete for jobs elsewhere in London. The actual patterns of employment are complex in London with both inflows and outflows to and from Lewisham. It would not be realistic to expect to create large-scale opportunities for employment growth in the South of the Borough but we do need to protect the employment that is already here and identify opportunities for growth.

    The retail sector is important and I want to launch a “Shop Local” strategy building on the positive work that has already been done with local businesses. Lewisham as a borough has some particular strengths like the cultural sector and an unusually high number of successful Social Enterprises. I have worked with these sectors in the past and the Council should go on providing support to enable both those sectors to grow further.

  5. Approximately 30% of Lewisham's commuters use the train service to London Bridge along the Sydenham corridor. While welcoming the introduction of the East London Line and the new travel opportunities it presents, we recently presented a petition of 5800 signatures to the DfT and are greatly concerned by the reduction in service to London Bridge. The timetabled services due from May 2010 are predicted to be severely congested at peak times from day one. What will you do to lobby the DfT, TOCs and National Rail and achieve increased capacity to London Bridge?
  6. Lobbying ministers, the London Mayor, Transport for London, the TOCs and National Rail are almost an everyday part of the mayor’s job. That extends from pursuing long terms campaigns to get things like the DLR and the ELL to very detailed issues about the operation of services and management of stations. I am not happy about some of the changes not least the end of through running to Charing Cross. I am aware as mayor of the whole borough just how complex some of these issues are with changes on one line impacting on capacity elsewhere. I will want to see what happens once the new services start running – as a regular user of the line I know only two well how bad conditions get at times and if there are problems I will seek to use the links that I have developed to not only lobby those who can do something about it but make sure they are held to account for their actions.

  7. According to Lewisham's LIP, Forest Hill Town Centre has had the highest vacancy rates in the Borough for at least 15 years. What will you do to revitalise the town centre?
  8. The fact that units remained unlet even during a period when the economy was buoyant points to an underlying problem. It may be that there is an over supply of units and this is something which should be looked at carefully. We know that shopping patterns have changed with an increase in Internet shopping (I can remember buying vinyl records from a specialist record shop in Forest Hill!) and also the increasing tendency for Supermarkets to offer “one stop” shopping.

    The businesses that appear to be most successful in centres like Forest Hill are either specialist retailers or personal services. The new Leisure centre on the Pools site offers a major opportunity to look at Dartmouth Road. It will pull more people to that location and I would like to see an exercise carried out that looks at the whole stretch of road from there to the junction with London Road to seek ways of improving the lay out and facilities with a view to not only encouraging pedestrian use but trying to create small but attractive spaces where potential shoppers can linger – the work which is going to be carried out in Sydenham High Street may offer some ideas.

  9. The success of the Beach in the Horniman Triangle highlights the need for better youth provision in the ward. How will you address the needs for primary school places and extra curricular youth provision?
  10. The revamp of the Horniman Triangle through the Play Builder scheme has proved a great success and the missing link i.e. the toilets is being sorted too. Provision for older young people is more challenging. There are good youth projects either within the ward boundary or close by which will need to be supported. The new Leisure centre should offer young people much more than the old pools did and they have had a voice in what is planned. A major investment in a new youth facility will be taking place near Wells Park and this is intended to serve young people from a wider area including Forest Hill.

    London Councils, the body that brings together all the London Boroughs, reports that this problem has emerged quickly and is likely to be due to a number of factors, Including an increase in migration to London and the accompanying rise in birth rates and changes in London’s housing stock, which has led to parents remaining in the capital rather than moving away as their children reach primary school age.

    Neighbouring Southwark has had a government bail out because of the problems it faces. In Lewisham we did not act as precipitately and retained some so called “surplus places” even when the figures seemed to falling. However the spare capacity in the Borough’s schools is in the upper years and demand is, of course, lower down the age range. At least 17 “Bulge” classes have been created for September, and a number of these are in the local area.

    It does appear that this is a permanent shift in numbers rather than a temporary change and we will need to increase primary provision across Lewisham. I have already instructed council officials to work on plans to do this either by expanding current schools or building new ones. If I am re-elected I have made it clear that this will be one of my priorities for the next four years.

Steve Labour candidate
A little background...
Source: citymayors.com

Steve Bullock’s public service career began in 1982 with his election to the council of the London Borough of Lewisham. Bullock steadily worked his way up its civic ladder, becoming Chair of Finance and Deputy Leader before taking the council leadership in 1988. Bullock spent five years as leader before standing down in 1993 and from the council altogether in 1998. During this time (1993-1995) he served on the Commission for Local Democracy, an influential think tank which was successful in getting elected mayors on the agenda for the reform of local government by the incoming Labour government in 1997. He was also instrumental in establishing the New Local Government Network in 1998, the leading campaign and think tank in favour of elected mayors and modernisation in local government. After leaving the council in the late 1990s, Bullock became Head of the Labour Group Office at the Local Government Association (formed in 1997), an important time for the body given the new Labour government and Labour’s pole position among the ranks of local government. He also took up the post of chairman of the local hospital trust, a central government appointment, which he held until becoming mayor in 2002. He was reelected in 2006, though Labour lost control of the council chamber that year for the first time in 25 years.

Mayoral Elections - English Democrats Reply

  1. After a hard fought local campaign, the council has agreed to fund and build a new swimming facility in Forest Hill on the site of the old baths. These plans have now reached the stage where they are due to be submitted for planning approval at the end of May and the construction contract has been put out to tender. What commitment will you make to the future of these pools and what guarantees will you give that the pools will be built and will not fall victim to any budgetary cuts after the election?
  2. I am on record as saving another swimming pool in South London last year. I assure you I will fund the swimming facility in Forest Hill. After several years of Labour mis-management with our economy nationally, there will be national cuts to councils, but in Lewisham it will be easy as it has the highest of council taxes, and gives the worst service, so just dealing with the inefficiency will be enough to reduce the budget without any cuts to projects.

  3. At 70%, Lewisham has the highest proportion of residents that work outside the Borough of any Borough in London. What will you do to attract employment to the south of the Borough?
  4. Lewisham needs to be attractive to businesses so working towards zero crime is the answer through dealing with all small offences rather than ignoring them to send the message out. Also traffic on the south circular at Catford needs to be dealt with to enable people to get out that way.

  5. Approximately 30% of Lewisham's commuters use the train service to London Bridge along the Sydenham corridor. While welcoming the introduction of the East London Line and the new travel opportunities it presents, we recently presented a petition of 5800 signatures to the DfT and are greatly concerned by the reduction in service to London Bridge. The timetabled services due from May 2010 are predicted to be severely congested at peak times from day one. What will you do to lobby the DfT, TOCs and National Rail and achieve increased capacity to London Bridge?
  6. The London Bridge line is key and I will work with TfL and National Rail to ensure the best of service (I use it myself).

  7. According to Lewisham's LIP, Forest Hill Town Centre has had the highest vacancy rates in the Borough for at least 15 years. What will you do to revitalise the town centre?
  8. Forest Hill town centre needs better parking facilities to open up the economy.

  9. The success of the Beach in the Horniman Triangle highlights the need for better youth provision in the ward. How will you address the needs for primary school places and extra curricular youth provision?
  10. I will continue to work with the Youth offending teams to ensure there are healthy ways for youths to spend their time, and will ensure the increase in school demand through immigration is met with double entry schools, coupled with a reduction in immigration to the borough by cancelling all council funded translation services.

Graham Dare English Democrats
A little background...
Source: hustings.com

Medium and spiritualist healer. Croydon councillor 1998-2002, originally for the Conservative party but defected to the Liberal Democrats 2001. Contested Croydon South 2005 for Veritas, Barnet and Camden 2008 London elections for Veritas. Contested London in 2009 European elections. I live in Forest Hill.

27 April 2010

East London Line launches


Boris Johnson formally opened the first section of the new £1 billion East London Line at 0945 this morning, signalling the start of London Overground's East London route, which builds on and extends the old East London Line.

The line is opening at first with a "preview running" service of eight trains an hour between New Cross, New Cross Gate and Dalston Junction, between 0700 BST and 2000 BST, from Monday to Friday. Northbound services will leave New Cross Gate at 10, 25, 40 and 55 minutes past the hour, while Southbound services to New Cross Gate will leave Canada Water at 13, 28, 43, 58.

Full evening and weekend services will begin on 23 May, when 12 trains will run each hour.

Mayoral Elections

As there are no Mayoral hustings scheduled in the Borough, we asked each of the candidates to answer the following questions:
  1. After a hard fought local campaign, the council has agreed to fund and build a new swimming facility in Forest Hill on the site of the old baths. These plans have now reached the stage where they are due to be submitted for planning approval at the end of May and the construction contract has been put out to tender. What commitment will you make to the future of these pools and what guarantees will you give that the pools will be built and will not fall victim to any budgetary cuts after the election?
  2. At 70%, Lewisham has the highest proportion of residents that work outside the Borough of any Borough in London. What will you do to attract employment to the south of the Borough?
  3. Approximately 30% of Lewisham's commuters use the train service to London Bridge along the Sydenham corridor. While welcoming the introduction of the East London Line and the new travel opportunities it presents, we recently presented a petition of 5800 signatures to the DfT and are greatly concerned by the reduction in service to London Bridge. The timetabled services due from May 2010 are predicted to be severely congested at peak times from day one. What will you do to lobby the DfT, TOCs and National Rail and achieve increased capacity to London Bridge?
  4. According to Lewisham's LIP, Forest Hill Town Centre has had the highest vacancy rates in the Borough for at least 15 years. What will you do to revitalise the town centre?
  5. The success of the Beach in the Horniman Triangle highlights the need for better youth provision in the ward. How will you address the needs for primary school places and extra curricular youth provision?

We will publish their replies in the order received.

20 April 2010

Supermarket Shakespeare


Teatro Vivo will be bringing their Supermarket Shakespeare back to Forest Hill for a second outing. This year there will be performances on
  • Tuesday 27th April at 7pm
  • Wednesday 28th April at 7pm
  • Thursday 29th April at 7pm
  • Friday 30th April at 7pm
  • Saturday 1st May at 12pm and 6pm, and
  • Sunday 2nd May at 12pm and 3pm


Inspired by Sonnet 23, six performers will create contemporary characters that have intertwining stories and these will be performed all around the supermarket.

Supermarket Shakespeare is FREE to attend, with no need to book; just show up and find the characters in the Vegetable Section.

Get Involved
They want you to send them your pictures of Supermarket Shakespeare. Upload them to their Facebook Group and the best one taken at each store will win a prize!

17 April 2010

DfT Replies to Petition

We have received a disappointing reply from the Department of Transport acknowledging our petition. Few of our concerns have been addressed and rather than providing the leadership we called for, the DfT will merely 'not stand in the way of the operators'.

A fuller rebuttal will follow in due course.


Train Services on the Sydenham Corridor

Thank you for your letter and petition of 23rd March 2010 to Chris Mole MP regarding changes to train services on the Sydenham corridor. I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Department of Transport.

As the Minister stated in the recent Parliamentary Debate on this issue, any changes to train services, however small, are often unpopular but he restated the view that overall the package of changes to be introduced this May will significantly enhance the service provided in this area of South East London.

When discussing these changes it is important that both East London Line and Southern services are considered together. The provision of an extra 8 East London Line trains an hour on this route, and the improved interchange opportunities this will bring will significantly alter the demand patterns seen today.

From most stations on the route train frequencies will double with many stations receiving 14 trains per hour in the morning peak compared to 6 or 7 today. This will reduce demand levels on existing services to London Bridge.

It will take some time for demand patterns to stabilise after the new services are introduced as passengers alter their travel habits to take account of the new journey opportunities that the line will bring.

We expect the ability to easily interchange with the Jubilee line at Canada Water to significantly alter current demand patterns. It is also very unlikely that the suppressed demand that you refer to from the RUS will emerge straight away. Such demand would normally materialise over a number of years that would accord with the extra train capacity delivered by 10 car trains that are to be introduced in 2012.

You raise a number of other points and I will seek to address each in turn

Charing Cross Services

As you are aware the withdrawal of late evening services to Charing Cross was necessitated by the complete rewrite of the Southeastern timetable as a result of the introduction of High Speed Services. Timetable planners at Network Rail, Southeaster, Southern, First Capital Connect and London Overground attempted for a number of years to develop a timetable that allowed these services to continue to operate, but it was not possible to find appropriate train paths that would allow these services to continue.

If in the future a way of timetabling these services to Charing Cross can be found the Department of Transport would not stand in the way of the operators of doing this.

However it is also important to note that the Jubilee line serves large areas of the West End and passengers may choose to travel via Canada Water interchanging with the 8 trains per hour service toward Sydenham.

Sydenham Services and the East London Line

As stated earlier it is important that the combined Southern and East London Line timetables are looked at together, alongside the improved interchange opportunities that the East London Line will offer.

We expect journey patterns in this part of London to alter significantly when extended East London Line services are introduced. For example passengers travelling to Canary Wharf from Sydenham are likely to travel via Canary Wharf [sic] rather than London Bridge, especially as the journey will be cheaper (avoiding Zone One). For passengers travelling to other stations on the Jubilee line we expect the significantly quicker interchange at Canada Water will mean a number of passengers will divert via this route. Other similar changes are also likely.

Given this we expect a reduction in the number of passengers using London Bridge services.

You suggest that Southern are reducing capacity from London Bridge in the evening peak. Southern will be operating the same number of services from London Bridge although two of those trains will operate fast from London Bridge to Norwood Junction. This has been necessitated by the difficulties in timetabling East London Line and Southern services together on the corridor. For passengers travelling to Norwood Junction and West Croydon we expect these faster services to be an attractive option and many passengers to use these fast trains, reducing demand levels on the remaining 4 slow line services.

Again this timetable has taken a number of years to develop and has involved Network Rail, Southern, First Capital Connect and London Overground. However, it has not proved possible to match all the available paths from London Bridge with those on the East London Line and through key bottlenecks such as Windmill Bridge junction.

We believe that a combination of
  • Some Norwood Junction (and beyond) passengers diverting to 'fast line' services
  • Some West End and most Canary Wharf passengers diverting to East London Line services via Canada Water
  • Additional East London Line services south of New Cross Gate
will reduce demand on evening peak Southern services from London Bridge.

The combined evening peak capacity on the 'slow lines' south of New Cross Gate will increase by around one third when the new timetable is introduced.

Southern are committed to keep this situation under review after the introduction of the new services and officials will liaise with Southern and London Overground on demand levels later this year. Again demand patterns on the revised services will take some time to stabilise as people try out the new journey opportunities.

If additional services or stops can be accommodated within the timetable in future the Department would not stand in the way of these being introduced.

Platform Lengthening

Network Rail are committed to a programme of platform lengthening on the Sydenham route (and across South London) that will allow trains with 25% more capacity - an additional 2 carriages - to stop at all station son the corridor, with works to be completed by 2012, in advance of the start of planned works at London Bridge.

Yours sincerely,
Matthew Lodge, Franchise Sponsor

14 April 2010

Election Hustings

The three main political parties have now unveiled their manifestos for the May 6th General Election and on Thursday, we can watch the first of the leaders’ debates live on television.

Amidst all the excitement (?), it’s easy to forget that there are local council elections taking place as well on May 6th which will have a direct impact on the way Forest Hill is run over the next few years.

Local Elections


If you want to find out more about what the parties have to offer local voters and challenge them on the issues that matter to you, please come along to the local council election hustings organised by the Sydenham and Forest Hill Societies.
This will be held on 22nd April at Sydenham High School, 7.30 pm
There will be one speaker from each of the main parties standing in our area.

Labour - Chris Best
Liberal Democrats - John Russell
Conservative - Ross Archer
Green - Jill Rutter

If you have any questions which you would like asked, please email Tim Lund of the Sydenham Society (timlundse26@googlemail.com) or submit them through the online hustings at Sydenham Town Forum http://Hustings.notlong.com

Residents of Sydenham ward can also listen to interviews with their candidates on Sydenham Community Radio Election Specials - broadcast on Thursdays, but available on their 'Listen Again'.

Parliamentary Candidates


Similarly, if you want to find out more about the people who want to represent Forest Hill in parliament, Churches Together in Sydenham and Forest Hill are organizing a (live!) 'general election forum' for the Lewisham West and Penge constituency. Candidates from the Conservative, Green, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties have agreed to take part. It will be held at 7.30 pm on Thursday 29 April at Living Springs International Church, Zoe House, 8-10 Devonshire Road, London SE23 3TJ (on the South Circular Road, just round the corner from Forest Hill station). There are more details on their website which also has a facility for submitting questions in advance. Everyone will be welcome.

13 April 2010

35 Sunderland Road - House of Favour

The Forest Hill Society has objected to plans to convert 35 Sunderland Road into a Church. You can view the planning application here.

You can read the Forest Hill Society objection here.