Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Top posts of 2015

This shouldn't take long, I've only posted 13 times in 2015 (and five of those were in January...).

13. Lewisham Council advertises for "Change and Innovation Manager", 29 December 2015, 207 views. Not surprising that this only has 207 views given that I posted it yesterday... In fact with 207 views in under 24 hours I have high hopes for this post's future... ;)

12. Catford's "poo patrol" take matters into their own hands, 9 September 2015, 320 views. Perhaps people aren't all that interested in poo after all.

11. Update on the Safer Brownhill Road campaign, 21 January 2015, 360 views. This deserves more attention - a local resident's campaign to get Transport for London (TfL) to install a safe road crossing at the junction of Torridon Road and Brownhill Road in the wake of a particularly bad crash on Brownhill Road where a student was sadly killed. The campaign continues and TfL are currently in the process of carrying out an assessment of the site.

10. Ace's Bar applies for change of use, 26 February 2015, 416 views. Poor old Ace's Bar. It didn't get its change of use and is currently closed. Maybe £2.50 pints of Carling just aren't very Corbett, dahling.

9. Was Labour's purge worth it?, 11 September 2015, 570 views. No.

8. More through trains from Catford to Kentish Town are coming!, 22 January 2015, 662 views. Not any time soon mind you.

7. Catford Bridge Tavern fire - some pictures and some speculation on what the future holds, 11 March 2015, 757 views. The CBT going up in flames was one of the big stories in Catford in early 2015. The roof and a large part of the upstairs was destroyed by the fire and there was plenty of speculation about both the causes and the consequences. Towards the end of the year the company that owns the pub, Solitaire Limited, announced that they will be applying for permission to redevelop the site, restoring the building and opening at the end of 2016. We live in hope...

6. Free travel on national rail for under 11s - beware the small print!, 4 December 2015, 816 views. I wrote this when I realised that Boris's announcement that free travel on national rail for under 11s wasn't quite what it first seemed. I'm still banging on about it because I think many parents are going to get caught out by the fact they need an Oyster Zip card for the children to be able to take advantage of this. Tell your friends!

5. Don't mention the prefabs - Lewisham Council plans new "pop up" housing, 19 January 2015, 924 views. The new "pop up housing" is coming along. In the meantime, Excalibur is left to rot.

4. Lewisham's borough-wide 20mph plans - a good news update, 7 January 2015, 941 views. The good news that Lewisham are continuing to press ahead with implementing borough-wide 20mph.

3. Cleverly's Bakerloo bungle..., 14 January 2015, 957 views. Unfortunately, despite the fact that extending the Bakerloo line to Hayes would actually speed up journey times for residents of the Hayes area (the subject of this post), Bromley council refused to back it and towards the end of the year TfL announced that the extension would be going ahead, but only as far as Lewisham. Gutted doesn't quite cover it.

2. Pollution monitoring in Catford and Hither Green - some shocking results, 25 May 2015, 1,057 views. The results of a frankly shocking piece of work I undertook with some friends at the beginning of 2015 showing that all of the Corbett and Culverley Green estates in Catford have moderate or worse air pollution. Unfortunately the council remains entirely uninterested in stopping rat running through the estates.

1. The General Election in Lewisham East, 8 April 2015, 1,280 views. Everyone loves an election. Shame about the result nationally. Still, Heidi did well anyway, she's now Shadow Secretary of State for Health.

A busy year despite the small number of posts. Bring on 2016.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Lewisham Council advertises for "Change and Innovation Manager"

This job dropped into my inbox on Christmas Eve, courtesy of the Civil Service jobs search website email updates and it immediately caught my eye...

It's a secondment to Lewisham Council from Whitehall - the job description is quite short so I've reproduced it below:

"An important role, this is an opportunity to lead complex projects, work with senior members of the organisation, and be at the forefront of issues facing local Government. These roles will play an important part in the overall success of the organisation: To lead complex organisational redesign projects and be responsible for achieving the successful delivery of £85m savings via the Lewisham Future Programme, To lead on and effectively manage multi-disciplinary and multiple project teams to deliver organisational and cultural change across the Council. To advise Heads of Service, Executive Directors and Members and support the Head of Technology & Change to deliver the objectives of the Lewisham Future Programme."

Salary £50,000pa for two years.

If you're an existing civil servant who fancies a challenge, you have until 18 January to get your application in.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Free travel on national rail for under 11s - beware the small print!

Back in November, the mayor Boris Johnson announced something that a lot of us with young children living in South East London have been waiting for a long time - free travel on national rail for under 11s, bringing them into line with the tube and other services. This was widely reported and welcomed.

But beware the small print that the reporters missed! Unlike our counterparts in north London, parents of children south of the river will need to obtain a 5-10 Oyster Zip card in order to benefit from this, otherwise we will be charged the child paper ticket fare (currently £1.45 for a single from zone 3). The cost of this is £10 per child.

We already have them because they were worth having to reduce the cost of a single journey on national rail to 75p, but I suspect many other parents won't. It's likely many will just have heard the general announcement, maybe seen it in the paper and will assume their child can travel freely with them as they do on buses, DLR etc now. This could lead to many being hit with a penalty fare without realising they were doing anything wrong! I certainly hadn't realised we would still need the Oyster Zip cards in the new year until I received an email from TfL yesterday.

So while the change is welcomed, we are still being penalised for living south of the river, as if we weren't penalised enough by having to use Southeastern, Southern and Thameslink!

If you're a parent of a 5-10 year old, or you know someone else who is, do let them know about this change! Forewarned is forearmed and all that.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Was Labour's purge worth it?

Last month the was a huge hoo-hah over the fact that the Labour party had been weeding out non-supporters from people who had signed up after the general election, removing the vote from people they suspected didn't "support Labour values". I'll declare now that I think this was the wrong thing to do, so this is the background from which I am writing this post.

I'll also declare up front that I signed up as a registered supporter and paid my £3, before the general election, on the basis I wanted a say in who the London mayoral candidate would be for Labour. Getting a vote in the leadership election was a surprise. You can see me above supporting Labour values at People's Day back in the heady days of July when no one thought Jeremy Corbyn stood a chance.

Anyway, the point of this post is to determine whether the purge of 3,000 people who had signed up to vote in the leadership election was worth it, statistically and then following on from that from a PR point of view. It's clear from the post I linked above that the purge has removed some people who were in fact genuine supporters of Labour, so from that position I argue straight off it wasn't a wise thing to do.

But onto the stats. In order to determine whether or not the purge was "worth it" we need to determine whether or not those purged could influence the result. This requires a bit of information about who gets to vote in the election and their likely voting intentions and it requires you to make a few assumptions about those who were purged.

I have taken the data on Labour party membership from the Guardian live blog on the purge (yes, they liveblogged it...) and the data on likely voting intentions from a compilation of opinion poll results on wikipedia.

So the total electorate for this leadership election was made up as follows:

Pre-election members  187,000
Post-election members 105,973
Affiliates            148,182
Registered supporters 112,799

This gives a total of 553,954.

According to the Guardian, 3,000 people were "purged". My first assumption is that all these were registered supporters, not members. In fact I know this to be false, but I think it's reasonable to assume the majority were so let's stick with that.

This gives an electorate of:

Pre-election members  187,000
Post-election members 105,973
Affiliates            148,182
Registered supporters 109,799

Next we need to decide how these people will vote. I have taken a range of opinion poll results to try to reflect the views of the different categories above. Obviously these are all assumptions. I have also assumed that 12% of the electorate won't vote and that all these are pre-election members.

I've assumed the pre-election members vote as the Ipsos MORI poll for the Evening Standard of 14-16 June:

Burnham 23%
Cooper  20%
Corbyn   9%
Kendall 11%
Unsure  37% (it's these people I have removed from further calculations).

I've assumed the post-election members vote as the Opinium poll of 21-25 August:

Burnham 27%
Cooper  22%
Corbyn  39%
Kendall 12%

I've assumed the affiliates vote as the Opinium poll of 11-14 August:

Burnham 29%
Cooper  19%
Corbyn  37%
Kendall 15%

I've assumed the registered supporters vote as the YouGov poll for The Times of 6-10 August:

Burnham 21%
Cooper  18%
Corbyn  53%
Kendall 8%

And lastly I have assumed that every single purged supporter was an infiltrator intending to mess up the Labour party good and proper by voting for Corbyn.

Following through these numbers, it follows that if the purged voters were removed this would be the outcome:

Burnham 28.4%
Cooper  22.4%
Corbyn  35.9%
Kendall 13.3%

Removing the purged voters has the following effect:

Burnham 28.6%
Cooper  22.5%
Corbyn  35.5%
Kendall 13.3%

That's right. Removing those 3,000 people affects the result by 0.4 percentage points. That is it has absolutely no impact on the first preference results.

The eventual winner of the contest depends on what you assume happens to the second and third preferences but making some assumptions about who transfers to whom, the impact on the outcome is still 0.3 percentage points, that is keeping or removing those 3,000 people does not affect the result.

So was it worth it? I argue on the basis of the stats the answer is no. Those 3,000 people couldn't influence the eventual outcome and it's certain that some of them were genuine supporters, who may now be lost to the party forever. And that's before we get started on how incompetent and petty it makes the party look - a PR disaster.

And who will be the eventual winner? Well that really does depend on the distribution of second preferences. I worked out two, both plausible, scenarios, one of which leads to eventual victory for Burnham, the other for Corbyn. No doubt there's a third way that would lead to Cooper being victorious. The one thing that's certain is it won't be Liz Kendall. But she's philosophical about it:

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Catford's "poo patrol" take matters into their own hands

Residents of Catford's Corbett Estate have decided to act over the levels of dog poo being left around the allotments on Hazelbank Road. Overnight these chalk markings have appeared, encircling the offending excrement piles, and imploring dog owners to have some respect.

The area around the allotments appears to be a popular dumping ground for people to bring their dogs to do their business and simply leave the droppings behind rather than clearing it up. Presumably this is under some misguided notion that leaving poo by some allotments doesn't affect anyone.

This is obvious nonsense, and people who have to walk their children to school along "poo road" as my children affectionately call it, appear to have had enough.

In the past the council would have cleared this mess up on a fairly regular basis, but with cuts to street cleaning and weed control, the section of pavement surrounding the allotments is in a pretty terrible state.

What do you think? Is this a good tactic to get people to stop letting their dogs poo wherever they like? Can foxes read? Should the council be clearing this stuff up more regularly?

More poo news as we get it!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Pollution monitoring in Catford and Hither Green - some shocking results

Back in February a small group of us undertook some air pollution monitoring in Catford and Hither Green (basically covering the Corbett and Culverley Green estates and slightly beyond). This was made possible through funding and support from Mapping for Change. We put up 30 nitrogen dioxide monitoring tubes - that look like this:

We put them on lamp posts and other street furniture, left them up for a month, took them down then sent them off via Mapping for Change to a lab to be analysed to determine the level of nitrogen dioxide in the air in that area. The results are in the map above. Anything between 30 and 39 is amber and is considered moderate air pollution. This would be considered harmful to health. You can see that the level outside Torridon Infant School is 34.

The level outside Rushey Green school was 36.

Anything 40 and above is above the EU legal limit. You can see that there are a number of places where the nitrogen dioxide levels exceed 40, mainly on the main roads such as Rushey Green, Bromley Road, Verdant Lane, Hither Green Lane and Sandhurst Road. What these all have in common of course is that they are on bus routes and our buses are unfortunately some of the worst polluting vehicles on out streets. Hazelbank Road also came out as red, this is a road often used as a rat run by drivers wanting to avoid the South Circular.

Ah yes, the South Circular. You'll see that some of the circles on the map are black. These are places where pollution was more than 1.5 times the EU legal limit - and these are all on the South Circular road. Those of us who live here know that the traffic on this road is horrendous and that it is snarled up at all times of the day and sometimes night! Now we know that the pollution on this road is harming our health.

Low emission zone? Ha ha.

Incidentally, Lewisham Council monitors air pollution across the borough and publishes a report annually on it. The area we covered is in two Air Quality Management Areas - which means the council recognises there is a problem and is supposed to take steps to actively reduce pollution in the area. However, it only monitors three locations in our area at present, and none of these are in the most polluted places. Incidentally, the council monitors outside Torridon Junior School and the results the council is showing for that location over the years are very similar to what we found outside the Infants. This is not a new problem.

When we got the results we were shocked, so we went to the papers with our findings. We had articles featuring our work in the South London Press and News Shopper:

Since then I've arranged to meet with both the council and our MP, Heidi Alexander, to discuss the results and consider what can be done about air quality in our area. I'd like to put pressure on Transport for London to speed up the introduction of hybrid buses on routes through residential areas like ours and I also want the council to consider stopping rat running traffic on roads like Verdant Lane and Dowanhill/Hazelbank Roads. It was also announced last week that councils may be able to opt in to the ultra low emission zone when it is introduced in 2020, and I think Lewisham should definitely do this if that becomes possible. I'll report back on the results of my discussions in due course!

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

The General Election in Lewisham East

(picture from Heidi Alexander on Twitter)

It won't have escaped your attention that there's a general election coming. Unless of course you live under a rock. I live in the Lewisham East constituency so that's the one I'm going to write about here. You'll have to look elsewhere for your Lewisham Deptford and Lewisham West and Penge cutting edge analysis I'm afraid.

(picture from wikipedia)

What do we know about Lewisham East? Well, it's formed of the council wards of Blackheath, Lee Green, Grove Park, Rushey Green, Catford South, Whitefoot and Downham. These wards returned 21 Labour councillors at the last local elections.

Historically the seat was Conservative from 1983-1992, when it was held by former Sports Minister Colin Moynihan (a name that might be familiar to the real politics geeks amongst you.) Interestingly, the Conservative victory in 1983 was largely as a result of Labour losing votes to the SDP, whose candidate was Polly Toynbee. In 1992 it was won by Bridget Prentice and when she stepped down in 2010, Heidi Alexander took the seat. Heidi had previously been a councillor in Deptford, and, fact fans, is 40 during this election campaign, being only a couple of months younger than me.

I had a look back through the election results from 1992 to 2010 using the amazing Political Science Resources website by Richard Kimber, to produce a couple of charts with some interesting info about previous results. Did you know, for example, that only four parties contested the seat in 1992 - Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem and the Natural Law Party. In case you've forgotten the Natural Law Party here's one of their party political broadcasts to remind you:

Genius. Who could forget yogic flying?

And did you know that one James Cleverly, London Assembly member for Bexley and Bromley, contested the seat in 2005, gaining 7,512 votes for the Conservatives?

Here's a chart of the historical results. I've included "did not vote" as a category.

I think it's pretty clear who's going to win in 2015, unless all those Did Not Votes decide to do something very different. The only sign that there's a general election on when you pootle about the constituency is the proliferation of these signs in people's front gardens...

What's of interest, apart from taking bets on the size of Heidi's majority, is who is going to come second. I think we can expect the Lib Dem vote to collapse, as seen in the council elections when their vote share plummeted from 27% in 2010 to 9%. They got a 28% share in the general election in 2010 if you exclude the DNVs from the equation.

The chart above shows the 2010 election results, including only the parties expected to contest in 2015. I've left off the English Democrats as they only got 426 votes in 2010 and don't appear to be standing a candidate in 2015, thankfully.

The Conservative candidate is a Bromley councillor, Peter Fortune. I guess he might fancy his chances of coming second given past form and what's happened to the Lib Dems. However, this leaflet seems wildly optimistic.

They can't even get the name of the constituency right.

I've had no election literature from the Lib Dem candidate Julia Fletcher, until last year a councillor in Downham, or from the Green candidate Störm Poorun. I'm promised something in a couple of weeks from the Greens...

We'll gloss over the complete inability to spell my name.

The Greens got 16% of the vote in the 2014 council elections, and were the second party, so you'd think they might fancy their chances at second place in this general election. But in 2010 they polled 11% in the local elections, coming third behind Labour and the Lib Dems, but managed only 1.5% in the vote for MP. So it's pretty clear that local results aren't a huge guide to what might happen nationally.

It's been suggested to me that Lewisham East is on a list of constituencies where UKIP might come second. I couldn't find evidence of that on googling but if anyone wants to point me to it I'd be interested to see where the idea has come from. They polled less than 2% in the last general election here. They did poll fairly high numbers in the council elections last year in Whitefoot, Downham and Grove Park, to the south and east of the constituency where you might expect them to do well, but even there their vote share is nowhere near sufficient to see a leap in voters of the magnitude you'd need to put them second. The UKIP candidate is Anne Marie Waters, founder of Sharia Watch (nb she is listed as Anna Maria Waters in the nomination papers).

Taking the top six parties and including only the highest scoring person from each party at the council elections last year in the wards that make up Lewisham East, you get a vote share that looks like the above chart. This sees UKIP coming last, with a share of 8%. It wouldn't surprise me too much if this isn't pretty much the order of the parties come May 7th, although I'd expect the Tories to score somewhat higher than this.

People before Profit did quite well in the council elections in some of the wards in Lewisham East, and their candidate Nick Long seems keen and willing to answer questions (more than can be said for some of the other candidates) but if we're honest, this is a bit outside their main stamping ground of Deptford, Telegraph Hill and New Cross.

So there you have it. The state of play in Lewisham East. I'm expecting a stonking victory for Heidi Alexander, with the Tories in second. The Lib Dems will collapse and I think People before Profit and the Greens will increase their vote share from 2010 significantly. I hope we see nothing of UKIP.

Any predictions, readers?

Update 9 April 17:30: The Christian People's Alliance are also standing a candidate (the link is to Lewisham Deptford candidate Malcolm Martin, they don't have a page for the Lewisham East candidate, Maureen Martin), and the UKIP candidate is listed as Anna Maria Waters, not Anne Marie Waters, but I'm 99.9% certain it's the same person. Full list of candidates here.

Update 10 April 11:15: You can see what YouGov are predicting for Lewisham East based on a whole range of factors (not local opinion polls....) here.

Update 24 April 20:30: corrected an error in the 2010 election results that had transposed the Conservative and Lib Dem vote. Oops! Still think the Tories will come second in 2015 though.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Catford Bridge Tavern fire - some pictures and some speculation on what the future holds

On the evening of Sunday March 1, Catford residents started to hear via twitter that the Catford Bridge Tavern was on fire. As this pub was, for a short time, my much-loved local, I had to go down and take a look for myself. I took some photos and video, although by the time I got there the pub had been burning for around 3 hours and the flames had died down a bit. Eventually the fire was out by about 11:30, but fire fighters from all over south and east London were dousing down the flames through the night.

I cycled past the site on Monday morning on my way into work and it was looking in a sorry state. The roof was completely gone, as was most of the upper floor and the first floor also appeared damaged:

This photo taken from the edge of the police cordon shows that a lot of the back of the pub was also damaged:

London Fire Brigade are at the moment saying that the cause of the fire was not thought to be suspicious. Some on twitter suggested it might be lightning.

Others were a little more speculative based on the recent history of the pub. Briefly, in August 2012, plans were submitted to Lewisham Council to turn it into a supermarket - with a Tesco on the ground floor and housing above.

In November 2012 it briefly closed as Antic, who were running the pub at the time, were ordered out. However, Lewisham council put a temporary article 4 direction on the pub, preventing it from opening as a supermarket without planning permission being granted. This was confirmed in April 2013 and the pub went on to win SE London CAMRA pub of the year. However, at the end of 2013, Tesco threw Antic out and they went on to open the Constitutional Club, just down the road. In August 2013, Tesco sold the lease to Solitaire, who were refurbishing the pub with a view to reopening.

Before opening as the Catford Bridge Tavern in 2012, it had been the Copperfield and had numerous problems with antisocial behaviour, and was closed in December 2011.

So where are we now? Solitaire, the current holders of the lease, say they still intend to press ahead with refurbishment and reopen as a pub. They say they will be carrying on, subject to approval of their planning application for a pub and some flats above.

What protection does the article 4 direction give? Well, the direction is on the pub rather than the site.

However, since all an article 4 does is remove ‘permitted development rights’ for a property - meaning that any proposed change of use has to go through a planning committee - in reality this has no bearing on whether or not the refurbishment will go ahead. If the building is found to be unsafe and has to be demolished, building something else on the site will require full planning consent, just as change of use would do. Whilst Local Planning Authorities have the power to make and confirm their own Article 4 directions and do not require the Secretary of State's approval in this respect, the SoS does retain the power to cancel or modify Article 4 directions. So if Lewisham council refused permission to change the use of the site, the owners could appeal to the Secretary of State. This is unlikely, as Solitaire have said they intend to proceed with their application as planned, although it doesn't appear to have been submitted yet (at least I can't find it on the planning portal...)

So for the moment, we need to wait to see what the outcome of the investigations post-fire are, and whether or not the building is too badly damaged to be refurbished. This is the biggest risk to the future of the site as a pub, and in this respect the article 4 direction doesn't protect it. Watch this space.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Ace's Bar applies for change of use

Ace's Bar on Verdant Lane has applied for change of use to class A4, from its current designation of A3 (takeaway) and A5 (restaurant) use. A4 use means a "drinking establishment" and would allow the bar to serve alcohol without requiring customers to also consume food. Last month the bar was ordered to operate as a restaurant by Lewisham's licensing committee after a license review following complaints from neighbours about late night noise and disturbance. Ace's can therefore currently only serve alcohol until midnight at weekends and 11pm on weeknights.

It seems pretty clear the current application is a response to this review and confirms the owners' clear intention to operate the premises as a bar and not as a restaurant. In one of the planning documents they state that they thought they already had an A4 license granted, though this does not appear to be the case from the list of planning applications associated with the bar from the council planning portal.

I've uploaded a copy of one of the supporting statements as the council website won't let me link directly to it. It can be accessed through the planning portal though.

In the supporting statements the owners say they are operating successfully as a bar at the moment and that the community are supportive of the use of the premises as a bar. This would appear to be counter to the evidence from the license review that was prompted following residents' complaints.

The owners say they want the bar to be a part of the community and be a place for local residents to socialise.

Comments on the application can be made until 10 March.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

More through trains from Catford to Kentish Town are coming!

I'm late to this, but Govia Thameslink Railway, who run the trains through Catford amongst other things, launched a consultation on their proposed timetable changes for 2015 last year, with a closing date of 30 January.

The changes proposed for Catford are minor, so minor that they aren't asking for feedback on this part of the timetable change (see page 8 of this 29 page pdf)!  

In December 2015, they are proposing that early morning and late evening services which currently operate only between London Blackfriars and Sevenoaks will be extended to and from Kentish Town. This will provide Catford with extra connections through to St Pancras and beyond.

They propose no further changes in 2015.

From 2018 they propose that trains between Sevenoaks and London Blackfriars on Saturdays are extended to and from Kentish Town providing weekend connections to and from London St Pancras. This is also obviously good news, but one might ask why we have to wait so long? Presumably it's something to do with the Thameslink Programme.

If one were feeling churlish, one might also suggest that there is potential to run more frequent services through Catford, the service frequency can be pretty woeful! Still, it gets me to the football.

(Thanks to Darryl for the tip off)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Update on the Safer Brownhill Road campaign

I wrote back in October about the Safer Brownhill Road campaign, set up to try to make TfL take action to improve the safety of the crossing at Stainton Road and to install a crossing at Torridon Road. Natasha, who set up the campaign, was running a petition to TfL which was presented towards the end of last year. It was presented to the chair of TfL by Len Duvall, London Assembly member for our area and in the meantime Heidi Alexander, our MP, has written to TfL. Caroline Pidgeon, a LibDem assembly member who covers transport, came to view the junction and the crossing earlier this month.

Since that visit TfL have agreed to refresh the Stainton Road zebra crossing. They say that they have inspected the road markings at this location concluded that while they were not in urgent need of refreshing and were legible, they would be happy to add a refresh onto their programme of works for 2015/16. TfL also say they are investigating the lights in the zebra crossing posts and will take necessary action to make them brighter and therefore more visible to drivers. They are also exploring the possibility of adding two advance warning signs on the posts before the crossing to warn drivers. They say that they are hopeful of having these signs installed within the next 10 to 12 weeks. Keep an eye out!
In addition to this, TfL have agreed to carry out a safety assessment on the junction of Brownhill Road and Torridon Road to consider installing a controlled pedestrian crossing - this assessment will be carried out before January 2016.

In TfL's letter to Heidi Alexander from October 2014, from Leon Daniels MD for surface transport at TfL, they say the review of the Brownhill/Torridon junction will happen "within the next financial year", which I guess fits with Jan 2016. However, in an email sent from his office in December to Mark Morris, LibDem senior press officer, it is made very clear that this is "subject to change". TfL also state in that same email that "there were just two collisions in 2013 at this location that resulted in injuries."

This email was followed up by Mark at the beginning of this month with further questions about both Stainton Road and Torridon Road. TfL's reply outlines their plans for the Stainton Road crossing. They say that after recent events and the petition signed by local residents they will include this location in their 2015/16 annual programme of road safety reviews. As part of this, they will review the safety record of Brownhill Road, which includes the existing zebra crossing at its junction with Stainton Road. The study will also consider the viability of introducing a controlled pedestrian crossing at the junction of Brownhill Road and Torridon Road. This review will be completed by January 2016.

Natasha plans to push for the review to happen sooner, rightly pointing out that a year is an awful long time to wait. Watch this space, and well done to Natasha for getting this on to the agenda at all!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Don't mention the prefabs - Lewisham Council plans new "pop up" housing

Lewisham Council announced last week that it plans to put "pop up housing" on the site of the former Ladywell Leisure Centre, to provide temporary homes for 24 families, plus some community facilities. The plan is that the housing would remain on the site for no longer than four years. There would be eight ground-floor non-residential units.

The council have published some details of the scheme, including the following images, which I have downloaded from their website:

The units are constructed off site, which means that the first residential units could occupied by late summer. The units can also be taken down and used elsewhere, hence the term "pop up", which I hate with a passion, by the way. You can meet the architects on January 24th, at Lewisham library between 2 and 4pm.

It might not have escaped your attention that this is essentially pre-fabricated housing. I wonder why the council have shied away from using the term prefab? Could it be because it has authorised the demolition of the Excalibur prefab estate, which provided 187 two bedroom houses on its site in Catford? These houses were intended to last 10 years, but a large number still stand today.

However, the demolition has begun and in December I took a wander round the site to see what it looks like now.

A large part is boarded up, with signs like this at the gates.

Peer through the gates and this is what now remains:
This was Mordred/Wentland/Ector Roads, which once looked like this:
It looks very eerie now, with the lampposts and telegraph poles the only hints as to what was there.

 The former prefab museum is in a sorry state after last year's fire:

Though for the moment this artwork remains next door:
In December those behind the prefab museum decided not to look for a space to reopen in one of the prefabs that's still there. I assume the money raised by the kickstarter will be used elsewhere.

Some of the prefabs still look well cared for, like this one did a couple of years ago:
but others look more like this:
 Or this:

But, never mind, shiny new pop-up housing to house less than a seventh of the families that could be housed here. Yeah! Way to go.

All my prefab pictures are on flickr. I will continue to document the estate's decline, whether the council want me to or not.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Cleverly's Bakerloo bungle...

A bit late on this one, but it's still worth a mention. Despite the cries of joy around large parts of South East London at Boris's announcement of the proposed Bakerloo line extension, it seems there's one council that remains to be convinced - Bromley. I've been led to believe that Bromley council is refusing to get involved in discussions about the extension, possibly because of worries about losing the Hayes National Rail service. This seems to be borne out in the responses to the comments on this 853 piece about the extension.

In the meantime, James Cleverly, the London Assembly member for the area, has asked a number of questions of the mayor about the proposals, and specifically their effect on the Hayes service. What interested me most was this question:

If the Bakerloo Line Extension goes ahead, what would be the effect on journey time for those travelling from Hayes to London Bridge?

It seems to me this question was clearly designed to get the response that journey times would increase. I mean, it's obvious isn't it, the South Eastern service from Hayes often goes "fast" to London Bridge, so a tube line that stops everywhere is clearly going to be slower. Right?

This is the mayor's response:

Allowing for an average wait time of 3 minutes for a National Rail train at Hayes station, the current total journey time from Hayes to London Bridge is 41 minutes. The proposed Bakerloo line extension Option 1a via the Old Kent Road would reduce the journey time between Hayes and London Bridge to 35 minutes, delivering a journey time saving of approximately 6 minutes. Option 1b via Camberwell and Peckham Rye would reduce the journey time to 37 minutes, reducing journey times from Hayes by 4 minutes via a change at Elephant and Castle.

So, what this means in essence is that either option on the table would *reduce* journey times from Hayes to London Bridge, either by 6 minutes for option 1a and 4 minutes for option 1b, including a change at Elephant.
The mayor goes on:

This does not consider the additional benefits of enhancing the frequency of trains on the line from an average of 6 trains per hour to at least 15 trains per hour with the proposed extension. This means that Hayes station could be served by a train every 4 minutes rather than every 10 minutes, more than halving the gap between services.

So not only would journey times be faster, they would also be more frequent, jumping from 6 trains per hour to at least 15!
And of course, the extension would provide a direct link right into Oxford Circus and beyond, another benefit over the current National Rail Service.

I couldn't find Bromley's response to the consultation on their website (you try finding anything on a local government website), but I did find their response to the Mayor's Transport Strategy from 2010, which sets out their concerns about the Bakerloo line:

Whilst Bromley remains broadly supportive of this proposal in principle, we would need complete reassurance that the Hayes Line’s current connectivity to Charing Cross, Cannon Street, Waterloo East and London Bridge would in no way be lost by such a proposal, prior to committing our full support.

Surely, in the light of the response above, Bromley can see that the Hayes line would benefit from the switch over to London Underground, and that clinging to connectivity through a congested national rail link through London Bridge that struggles to cope with the number of trains it has to carry isn't benefitting anyone! Removing the Hayes trains from London Bridge and beyond would free up space for everyone else's lines, journey times from Hayes will still be quicker and Hayes would be better connected than it is now! I think that's what transport planners like to call a "no brainer".

Any Bromley residents want to follow this up with their council?

Update 18:00: Lewisham Council have published their response to the consultation, which is worth a read.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Lewisham's borough-wide 20mph plans - a good news update

Not just an excuse to use this picture again, I promise...

At next Wednesday's Mayor and Cabinet (14th Jan), a paper is being presented for a decision on the plans for implementing a borough-wide 20mph speed limit in Lewisham. This follows on from the Labour Party manifesto pre-election which made it a Mayoral commitment.

The key decision document is on the council website, and the main thing to note is that the report is seeking approval from the mayor "for the proposed approach for the implementation of a 20mph speed limit on all borough roads, and proposes a programme of work covering the planning and delivery period between 2014 and 2017."

The report says that while introducing 20mph limits on 65% of the borough's roads has helped address a number of casualty hotspots, it's now time for a new approach focussing on addressing the inequality that now remains for vulnerable road users in the remaining 35%. They point out that often the borough's most disadvantaged people live closest to main roads and therefore would benefit more from implementing 20mph borough-wide, this ought to have the knock on effect of, eventually, reducing health inequalities by, for example increasing life expectancy of the most disadvantaged borough residents by more than the rest.

It's also now possible to implement 20mph zones more cheaply, since it can be done through signage and road markings, rather than through physical measures. This would also mean that, eventually, the behaviour and attitudes of road users would change. However, the report acknowledges that signed-only areas aren't ideal where before speeds are relatively high and therefore other targeted interventions may be needed in addition in these areas, e.g. by engineering measures or by use of speed cameras.

The overall plan set out by Lewisham is as follows (copied from the report):

1. Agree overall approach, governance and funding (Dec 2014) (presumably this is now Jan 15)

2. Data collection of speeds/ analysis of data (six months from Jan 15 - June 15).

3. Consultation with key stakeholders such as the emergency services, TfL, and neighbouring authorities - Police are likely to object to the borough wide implementation initially as some roads may not be suitable without traffic calming to ensure self-enforcing compliance. We will work closely with the Met Police to work out issues and resolve them so we can deliver a joined up approach and a successful implementation process throughout the scheme. (Jan 15 - Sept 15).

4. Review policy relating to the design of 20mph areas and the programme of work for the introduction of the limit. (Sep 15 – Mar 16)

5. Complete the required programme of work for Traffic orders and implementation (April 16 - July 16). This assumes minimal work on the ground at this stage.

6. Design options (interventions) to encourage\enforce compliance (May 17 - Oct 17)

7. Arrange formal consultation on compliance measures with emergency services and buses (Sept 17 - Dec 2017).

8. Carry out a widespread ‘hearts and minds’ publicity and public information campaign as part of LB Lewisham's new Road Safety Plan Jan 2015 to March 2018.

This means implementation will start in March 2016.

Lewisham intend on doing a publicity campaign around the introduction of the limit, focussing on fairness for all road users. There will be information materials (presumably signs) at borough entry points "making drivers aware that they are entering a borough that is committed to reducing casualties and making the roads safe for all road users."

The programme has been costed at £1.23m, and will be funded from council reserves.

The estimated breakdown is as follows (taken from the report):

I'm really excited that this is finally happening, and pleased to have played a tiny part in pushing the council in the right direction. Let's hope all runs smoothly and we finally get the 20mph borough we deserve!

Update 18:15, 14th January: The Mayor approved the plans tonight, so hopefully it's all systems go!