19 May 2010

Tewkesbury Lodge garden opening 2010

A group of five very different gardens will be open to the public under the National Garden Scheme, to raise money for cancer, caring, and gardening charities. The gardens are within a few minutes walk of each other.

Opening times and combined admission: Sat 29 May, (5-9pm) £6.50 with glass of wine. Sun 30 May (1:30-6pm) £5. Free for accompanied children. By a ticket on the Green at the junction of Horniman Drive and Liphook Crescent.
Refreshment: Homemade tea and cakes on Sunday. Plants for sale on both days.
NB. Sorry, wheelchair access not possible. Well- trained dogs on leads welcome.

Coach House, 3 The Hermitage.
Mature courtyard and roof garden crammed full of unusual plants and the artist's ceramics and sculptures. The aim is a wildlife garden of interest and productivity twelve months of the year. Water features, decorative plants and vegetables in containers large and small. Art work for sale, pottery demonstrations.

30 Westwood Park
A garden designer's sloping creation, full of unusual plant combinations to suit a variety of conditions in the borders, a herb garden, water features, and winding paths. Featured in The English Garden, Gardeners' World magazine, Homes & Gardens, and House Beautiful.

27 Horniman Drive
Traditional planting in a re-designed contemporary setting to complement modern extension and emphasise long-reaching views to North Downs. Below and beyond there is a potager-style vegetable haven. Small, low maintenance, north-facing front garden with shrubs creating a tapestry of green.

28 Horniman Drive
Garden in two sections, evolving from the owner's love of growing vegetables. Raised beds, fruit cage, greenhouse, working and wildlife areas. Deep informal flower borders under mature trees. Some uneven paths. Newly planted front garden designed for low maintenance.

53 Ringmore Rise
Corner plot with spectacular views over London. Front garden inspired by Beth Chatto's dry garden, with stunning borders in soft mauves, yellows and white. Mature rear garden is on three levels, with themed beds of herbaceous plants and shrubs, some shady, others sunny. Large pond, terraces and pergola.

17 May 2010

Forest Hill Clean Up

Lewisham's Environment and Community Development team are organising a series of clean up sessions in the area as part of the London-wide Capital Clean-Up campaign.

The Capital Clean-Up Campaign aims to make London a cleaner, safer, greener capital fit to host the Olympics in 2012 and is supported by Keep Britain Tidy, 31 London boroughs, McDonald’s and sponsors Enterprise.

Previous campaigns saw Londoners initiating and taking part in clean-up activities including Thames riverbank and canal clean-ups, litter picks and graffiti removal. Over the past two years, the campaign has coordinated over 500 clean-up events. This year’s Capital Clean-Up will take place between 12 May and 23 June. Over the six-week clean up period, people from across the capital will be involved in making London a place to be proud of.

The clean-up involves removing overgrown vegetation and weeds, cleaning off graffiti (where possible), removing flyposters and clearing and sweeping litter. Lewisham council will provide necessary PPE such as hi-viz jackets and gloves but please bring your own sturdy boots and old clothes. The following local clean up sessions are planned

  • Friday 11 June, 10 am - 2 pm, Earlsthorpe Mews, Sydenham SE26
    (Earlsthorpe Mews is the alley which runs parallel to, and between, Earlsthorpe Road and Sydenham Road)
  • Monday 14 June, 10 am - 2 pm, Willow Way, off Kirkdale, SE26
  • Friday 18 June, 10 am - 2 pm, Forest Hill Footpath (off London Road) SE23
    (Directly opposite Sainsbury's)

If you would like to help or require any further details please contact Colin Sandiford by email or using the information below.

Colin Sandiford
Environmental Projects Officer,
London Borough of Lewisham,
Wearside Service Centre,
Wearside road,
London, SE13 7EZ
Tel: 0208 314 2295
Fax: 0208 314 2128

15 May 2010

Local Plant Sales

It's that time of year again when all those gardeners who failed to plant their seeds in time can buy ready grown plants from the Friends of the Horniman and .

The annual Book and Plant Fair is being held at the Horniman today from 11am to 3pm

Sydenham Garden, an award-winning community garden on your doorstep, and are launching a new garden stall! The stall will be open every Wednesday from 19th May 2010 until the end of September. All proceeds from stall sales will go to the charity to support their work in the community.

Why not pop down, spend some time enjoying their garden oasis and pick up something fabulous at the same time! They will be selling

  • Plants grown in their garden
  • Home-made jams & chutneys
  • Hand-made cards
  • Arts and crafts
  • Fresh, locally grown produce

The entrance to the garden and stall is via a wooden gate in Holland Drive, SE23. A map is available on their website.

Fundraising Dinner

Sydenham Garden and Ponte Nuovo (in Crystal Palace) would like to invite you to join them for an evening of fine dining, entertainment and great company on 16 June 2010 at 7.30pm

You'll meet lots of interesting new people, including many of their regular supporters, volunteers and staff. You'll also get to enjoy Ponte Nuovo's wonderful culinary delights in a spacious, modern Italian restaurant.

Tickets are available in advance at £25 each. The ticket price includes a fabulous two-course meal and a complimentary glass of wine. All proceeds raised on the night will go directly to supporting the charity's work.

They are busy planning some fun activities for the evening, so do make sure you book your ticket in advance as places are limited (only 100 tickets available). Book your ticket via the Sydenham Garden website

14 May 2010

LOROL Passenger Board

We were recently invited to the LOROL Passenger Board. While there were no agenda items for the East London Line, we were able to raise various points with them.

TVM Displays

LOROL have received a lot of complaints about the lime green colour scheme they chose for the Ticket Vending Machines outside the stations. As a result, they will begin down loading an improved colour scheme for the TVMs on Monday, which should make ticket buying easier. This is an interim change whist they continue to develop an optimum colour scheme and they would value any input to help them get the final solution right for their customers. Please provide feedback to us and we will forward it to them. The interim screens are shown below

Welcome ScreenTicket Type
Popular DestinationsConfirmation Screen
Oyster Travelcards

LOROL has inherited the current ticketing system from Southern Railway. As a result, they have to operate two system; FasTIS on the core section (all stations north of Surrey Quays) and FAST on on the mainline section (all stations south of New Cross Gate). LOROL have just paid Shere the licensing fee to allow them to sell Oyster cards, weekly travelcards on Oyster and PAYG topup at the Ticket Offices. However, they will not be able to sell Monthly or Annual travelcards on Oyster unless you go to a station in the core section. This situation is most unsatisfactory.


Peter Latham,(Head of Train Performance and Planning) from LOROL told us that the ELL service would reduce from 4tph on each route to 2tph after 2200. We raised the issue of evening trains with LOROL, especially our surprise that the ELL stops running before Southern service from London Bridge. At a meeting in 2009, we were lead to believe that the last TfL service would allow us to leave central London at about 0030. The current timetable shows that while the last Southern train will now leave London Bridge at 0036 instead of 0026 (Mon-Fri), the last train from Canada Water will be at 0017. LOROL pointed out that their services would be in addition to the 4tph that Southern currently run. They also stated that they would like to run later services, but would not do so until the Engineering and Maintenance strategy had bedded in. The earliest that they would expect a change was May 2011.

LOROL also announced that there would be 8 tph running to Highbury and Islington after May 2011. These would probably be the services from West Crotdon and Crystal Palace.

Station Upgrades

David Timmins spoke about the station upgrades. 'Phase Two' upgrades will be complete by 23 May at stations previously managed by Southern. This involves a deep clean, removal of grafitti and scratched paintwork and rebranding of the Station Name signs by temporary vinyl ones. Four stations had been signed off by RfL, with four still to be done (Forest Hill, New Cross Gate, Norwood Junction and xxx)

'Phase Three' will be started in July and hopefuly completed by December, although past experience has shown big overruns due to uncovering unexpected problems. 'Phase Three' aims to improve ambience and Systems.

Ambience improvements will improve signage, platform surfaces, seating and lighting. The new signs will be spaced every 30m on alternate sides of the train and should be more legible than the temporary signs. They will be large roundels, with the station name on the crossbar. Lighting levels will be 150 lux in 4 car area and ticket office, 100 lux elsewhere (similar to bar/restaurant lighting levels).

System Improvements will involve the installation of CCTV (with 90% coverage), Customer Information Screens on each platform, Summary screens in the Booking Hall and Help points and PA with induction loops. The PA System will also adjust its volume level based on ambient noise.

12 May 2010

May eNewsletter

Forest Hill Society’s next General Meeting will be on Thursday June 10th at the Hob, opposite Forest Hill Station. We’ll be getting an update from the Horniman Museum on their plans for the gardens then we’ll move on to Society business and an informal discussion of the key issues facing SE23. We look forward to seeing many of you there.

Following the cosmetic upgrading of Forest Hill Station, the Society initiated contact between the station’s Delivery Manager, Alan Jessop-Peacock, and Shannon’s Garden Centre with a view to removing the plastic flowers and greening up the station. It has now been agreed that Shannon’s will plant up and maintain tubs of real plants on the platforms, once the station has supplied the containers. Meanwhile, the tubs either side of the station’s main entrance will be given new plants donated by Shannon’s. We hope the floral results will put a smile on your faces as you run for your trains.

Trains start running on Sunday, May 23rd. There is a rumour (from TfL) that they will be giving away 10,000 free tickets on a first come/first served basis. If these plans go ahead, the tickets will be distributed across the ELL stations according to “ridership patterns.” Those with Annual/Monthly/Weekly travel cards will be able to collect a souvenir ticket, rather than a free ticket.

If you’d like to celebrate the ELL’s first operating day, then do join the 23 Club on Sunday, May 23rd as we ride the rails.

The plan is to meet on Platform One at 14:00 and catch the 14:11 from Forest Hill Station with Sydenham Society, enjoying their theatre performance on the way. They will be going to Dalston and back. But the 23 Club would like to recommend getting off at Hoxton Station at 14:36 for a visit to the fabulous Geffrye Museum (www.geffrye-museum.org.uk). Opening hours on Sundays & Bank Holiday Mondays are 12 - 5pm. Admission to the museum's eleven period rooms, special exhibitions and herb and period gardens is free. The restored historic almshouse, in the south wing of the museum buildings, will not be open.

Pools Planning Application

The planning application for the new pool can now be found on the Lewisham Council Website.

06 May 2010

Havelock Walk Open Days

A total of over 20 local artists, including the Havelock Walk community, will be exhibiting their wares as part of the Dulwich Festival's Artists' Open House event starting today. The exhibits will be open from 11am-6pm on Saturday & Sunday 8-9 May and 15-16 May 2010. Some venues are only open on the first weekend and these are shown in green on the map below.
Click on a pin for details of the Artist and their work.

View Dulwich Festival - Artist Open Days 2010 in a larger map

The Dulwich Festival runs from 7-16 May and consists of walks, concerts, films, exhibitions and dancing. Full details can be found on their website DulwichFestival.co.uk

05 May 2010

Mayoral Elections - Liberal Democrat 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?
I am completely committed to the future of Forest Hill Pools, and making sure they are rebuilt now that the council has finally come around to the community's way of thinking on them. When they are completed in 2012, Forest Hill will have been without swimming pools for six years, which is an improvement on the ten years it took Labour to rebuild the pools at Downham, but still far too long. The cost of the delay to taxpayers like you and me has been horrendous - the existing building has needed securing and heating, and inflation has hit the construction industry - this project has cost millions more than it should have done. As well as being committed to making sure the pools are finished efficiently, I want to make sure that Lewisham Council learns lessons about both costs and dealing more straightforwardly with the public so such a shambles doesn't happen again.
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?
We need to look at the types of employment which will provide long-term growth. While Lewisham has been treated as a dormitory borough by successive planners, we can recognise that Forest Hill in particular has a particularly large single-person business sector. Not enough has been done for either high streets or newer hubs as Havelock Walk, and this can be as simple as making sure that other council services such as road repairs and refuse are prioritised. We need to support the local shopping areas, and build on opportunities provided by future trends - while 'chore' shopping is likely to move increasingly online, smaller local parades are likely to be successful and town centres where they provide a pleasant leisure destination. There are examples of successful small industrial areas at Malham Road and at Willow Way, and there are opportunities around Bell Green. Certain forms of employment have not sat happily as immediate neighbours in residential streets, but many of the industries we are likely to see growth in do not share this problem.
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?
The hugely complicated and bureaucratic system for dealing with the rail system that the Labour government has set up masks the fact that civil servants and ministers have more control over day-to-day services on the railways than they had in the days of British Rail. Yet changes to service levels are poorly consulted when they negotiate the new minimum timetable with the train operating companies and network rail. Nowhere has this been more apparent than on the Sydenham line, where the public were not invited to the decision on removing the requirement on Southern to run so many services to London Bridge or any to Charing Cross. To no-one's surprise, Southern have chosen not to run a train they don't have to when ministers failed to press them to and commercial realities dictate otherwise. The ministers' response to the local campaign and petition has been the shockingly high-handed strategy of 'lets wait and see how the new service pattern beds in' - in other words, to fob local people off. At the same time, Lewisham Council announced that their outgoing Mayor decided that this wasn't a campaign they wished to press the government on just a week-and-a-half after he supported the full Council in a strong message to his friends in the government. I can assure you that I will always stand up for local residents in this sort of situation and will make sure that the council is paying attention across the web of responsibility the government has set up.
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?
There' currently quite a significant shift in shopping patterns taking place. No-one knows exactly where it is leading, but we can be sure that past performance can only be a limited example of future success. What we can be sure of is that town centres which are successful are those which are convenient to get to and pleasant to visit. On the former, the footfall around the railway station is not sufficiently expanded upon, while the car parking situation has only just begun to be dealt with (thanks to money from Sainsburys rather than any direct investment from the Council). On the latter, the town centre has undoubtedly been damaged by the absence of the pools and the signs of neglect are everywhere, from broken pavements to bins left out and street clutter left for years. With the new pools campaigners have won there is an opportunity for further development, and building on the survey which the local assembly and your Liberal Democrat councillors commissioned, we have the chance for some exciting work.
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?
The success of the Beach has been fantastic. Your councillors have been campaigning to improve the play park since 2005 and the Beach, demolition of the old toilet block and new cafe have transformed it. The new toilets near the cafe are a success which can be traced to the money which the local assembly invested in it. The Beach, does however, provide facilities for a quite specific age group and it will be one of my six priorities to invest more in providing extra-curricular activities for young people right across the age spectrum.
Whoever you choose as Mayor tomorrow, the crisis in school places in Lewisham is going to be probably the biggest single issue facing the Council over the next four years. For a variety of reasons, this is a problem affecting all of London, but Lewisham is expecting one of the highest increases in demand of any borough. This is at least partially down to poor planning by the outgoing administration: figures three years ago highlighted this was going to hit Forest Hill, Lee and Sydenham particularly badly but the Mayor's managers pooh-poohed the figures when they were raised by Liberal Democrat councillors. The result is a shortage of over 500 places next September, rising to a shortage of over 3000 places in a few years' time. This means children in emergency accommodation: schools expanded so fast that children are in overcrowded conditions which affect their learning. When the Labour candidate promised a new secondary school in 2002 which he's still promising and on which a brick has still not been laid, residents can perhaps be forgiven for lacking confidence in his ability to deliver for our children. I will have an urgent programme of sensible expansion of schools, reopening some schools closed under the present administration, and building new schools.

A little background...
I am a Blackheath councillor. Before living in Lewisham I was a Bromley resident and local councillor. Between 1998 and 2001 I was Leader of Bromley Council, so have some experience and knowledge about leading a local authority. The Liberal Democrats are opposed to the system of directly Mayors - we do not feel it gets the best decisions for the local community. A system where views are exchanged, opposition can challenge and scrutinise leads to better decision making. If elected I will strengthen ward assemblies and devolve power and some budgets to local communities, I think many issues should not need to decided by officers in the town hall but are better decided at a ward level.