Monday 28 March 2011

Joining the London blogosphere (soon!)

Oh how very nice. From the Guardian's, David Hill's Metropolitan Lines last Friday:
"London blogosphere
Last week I declared my firm intention to get a whole load more London blogs added to my Top London Bloggers aggregator page. I have, of course, failed to do this. I offer in mitigation my assurance that this noble work is just about in progress and the following links to some of the blogs that will benefit from it in a tiny but tenderly-meant way: Crosswhatfields; London Masala and Chips; The Charlton Champion; E-Shooters Hill; Chislehurst News. Visit them all. And watch this space."
Look forward to it!

In the meantime, just to remind you that David Hill is currently running round parts of London for charity. He's raising money for Shelter. You can sponsor him online at his Virgin moneygiving page.

He is documenting his runs on his Guardian blog. At the top at the moment, there's a lovely write-up about 'Leg 21 - Bexley to North Woolwich', amongst other SE London areas, complete with delicious bits of history and links.

Peckham - a South London area on the up

Not exactly my usual geographical territory, but hey, it's South East London - in the Independent today:
"Introducing the new Montmartre: it's Del boy's manor, Peckham SE15

It's not as odd as it sounds – the deprived south London area is rebranding itself as the capital's contemporary art hub, much like the Parisian district during the 19th and 20th centuries
One boasts the Sacré-Coeur, Salvador Dali, Picasso and Van Gogh. The other has abandoned car parks and dark echoes of the murder of Damilola Taylor. On the face of it, Paris's famed Montmartre and London's infamous Peckham have very little in common. But all that is about to change..." Read the rest of this article by Simon Tait
Such pieces do appear from time to time about run-down areas - New Cross and Brockley have had the treatment too in the past.

Some local bloggers/tweeters are not impressed though:

Infamous: check. Murder: check. No tube: check
RT @ Another paper wheels out cliches about SE London .

So Peckham has 'infamous', murder' and 'no tube'. I wonder what the media 'checklist' for Eltham would be ....

Sunday 27 March 2011

March for the Alternative today

So today over 250,000 marched against the budget and related plans of the coalition government.

Brendan Barber, the general secretary of the TUC on LeftFootForward explains why “The March for the Alternative has come at just the right time”:
“On Wednesday we had what was proclaimed as a budget for growth which the chancellor’s own advisers in the Office for Budget Responsibility promptly said was no such thing, and most people seem to have already forgotten. It is now much harder to dismiss the warnings we made last year that these deep cuts will harm the economy by hitting consumer and business confidence.

Even the boss of Sainsbury’s is blaming poor results on what the Daily Mail calls “uncertain employment prospects and government spending cuts.

Next week, as the financial year starts, the cuts will really start to bite. Local councils and community groups will start closing services and sacking staff in their thousands.

The NHS reforms seem to run into more difficulties every week as first the Lib Dems and even Conservative backbenchers get increasingly assertive in their opposition.

The government is losing the argument. Big majorities now say the cuts are unfair and that they are damaging the economy.......”

There are examples here of how cuts are affecting people:

Despite this a challenge remains - even if the depth of cuts is accepted (ie. it’s not just the ‘undeserving poor’/‘scroungers’ being affected), for some people it is still a necessary evil which the shining knight Tories are, with regret, having to perform. For these people, the need for the proposed cuts is down to Labour mismanagement (see almost any edition of the Daily Mail). Each further example of pain is seen (and sometimes relished almost) as further proof of what a hard job the Tories have. Labour are going to have to clarify their message around these areas and articulate the credible other choices for reducing the deficit. This difficult for any opposition party, especially if you are still regrouping and having policy reviews.

street theatre on the march
I’ve not seen much on the local blogs - there’s Transpontine’s post on the SE London contingent on the march (with great photographs) and e-shootershill on the local effect of cuts. Jenny Jones at The Londonist explains why she was marching today. Jenny Jones is a member of the London Assembly and was recently nominated as the Green candidate for London Mayor.

Apart from the political issues involved, the violence by a small minority dominated the media today at the expense of more good-natured scenes - all that will be debated ad naseum no doubt, I've run out of steam now. As I write, the police are still dealing with about 200-300 protesters, some out to cause trouble, in Trafalgar Square in central London - I don't envy individual police for having to deal with these situations.

I leave you with a collage of tweets from the day:

TheMichaelMoran RT @mashythetictac: GUARDIAN: "Protesters in good spirits as hundreds of thousands march in London"...DAILY MAIL: "ANARCHISTS THREATEN TO UNLEASH HELL" #march26

Just after 3pm, according to @SteveCurran, “Hyde Park. Like a massive village fete. Brass bands, pensioners &Tony Robinson.”

GuardianEdu GuardianEducation
Nurses, lawyers, students, teachers: the faces of the anti-cuts protest

sueluxton Sue Luxton
Finally marched into Hyde Park at 4.45pm - lots still behind us. Definitely the biggest demo I've been on since the big anti-war one.

jon_trickett jon trickett
by ns_mehdihasan
ActIons by 150 gets wall to wall BBC coverage. Half million on demo now being ignored.Balanced Editorial Priorities?

riprap007 Nicholas Ripley
RT @sturdyAlex: #BBC coverage of the demonstration is disgraceful. 10 minutes of bonfires followed by 2 minutes on the huge #march26.

Friday 25 March 2011

Good luck to the March for the Alternative tomorrow

PCS projection on Battersea Power Station. Credit link
Good luck to those marching tomorrow on the TUC's March for the Alternative.

The March for an Alternative forms at 11am on the Victoria Embankment, London and proceeds to Hyde Park - for details see the March for the Alternative website.

In a nutshell (I don't have time for more...) I totally agree, too much too soon, there are other ways without decimating such public services. Have a look here at the Guardian's ongoing round-up of public sector cuts or click for NHS cuts, Children's services cuts, Housing and regeneration cuts, Local government , cuts, Social care cuts, Voluntary sector cuts.

More lucid arguments for the need to protest here from people like Michael Mansfield (QC), Anthony Jones (first-time protester), Avis Gilmore (regional secretary, National Union of Teachers), Darren Lockley (bus driver) and Michael Chessum (National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts).

From my own experience I know that, despite the best efforts of staff involved, higher education is never going to be the same again.

There are details on the Transpontine blog about how to join the marches from the SE London area.

And if you can't join:
"Can’t march on 26 March? There's loads more ways to get involved

March 26th is expected to be the largest civil society demonstration in almost ten years. However we realise that it’s not practical or feasible for everyone join in the march.
Whether you're attending the march or not you can help create an online protest that matches that on the street. Here's how...". Read more at False Economy.
I've signed up with a 'twibbon' which explains the strange footprints on my head, on my Twitter image...

Thursday 17 March 2011

Eltham's Grove Market development approved by Greenwich

Courtesy of via Twitter tonight: 
Breaking big Eltham news: Greenwich Council planning board backs Grove Market Place hotel/supermarket redevelopment by 6 votes to 2.
and he neatly summaries for us that: "Eltham development is six-storey building, supermarket, 86-bed Travelodge, restaurants and 71 new homes."

My previous post:

Clive Efford MP questions UK's arms trade

Good to read that our local MP has been questioning our role in the arms trade...from a debate in the House of Commons on Monday 14 March:

Photo of Clive EffordClive Efford (Eltham, Labour)
The fact that arms that could have been sold by this country and many other western countries are being used against the people fighting for freedom in Libya highlights the unacceptable nature of the arms trade. Were there any discussions at the European Union about the possibility of international agreement about who we should deal with regarding arms in the future, to prevent such circumstances from coming about?

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Axe freezes over BBC Asian Network

Alesha Dixon at the Asian Music Awards
Following the announcements last year about closure of the BBC Asian Network (my post on it here 'Axe hovers...'), I was glad to see in the press in recent days news of its reprieve. Here's the Guardian's take on it:
"The BBC has reversed its decision to close the Asian Network digital radio station – but will look to cut its budget in half....
BBC executives are understood to have concluded that a national digital radio station remains the best way to reach Asian listeners, rather than a collection of medium-wave services that was mooted as one possible replacement.

The station's audience has already increased by about a third since the closure plan was announced in March 2010 and it had an average weekly reach of 477,000 listeners in the final three months of last year. Management is expected to demand a further increase in its audience, as well as cutting Asian Network's budget." More here.
I must admit that only last night I enjoyed using the 'interactive red button' thingy on the BBC Asian Network via Freeview, to watch last week's UK AMAs at the Roundhouse in Camden, London. The Asian Music Awards are like the Asian MOBOs and reflect a growing and influential music scene - I don't think those awards were broadcast anywhere else, at least I'm not aware (and didn't Alesha look great in a sari - she was there along with Tim Westwood, Apache Indian, Jay Sean and a lot of younger people!)

Monday 14 March 2011

Eltham and SE London events - March (2)

More ocassional and random events:

Tuesday, 15 March
'The Birds of SE9'
ST MARY'S COMMUNITY CENTRE, Eltham High Street, Eltham, SE9 1BJ
An illustrated talk by John Beckham, Greenwich Park Ranger, hosted by Eltham Nature Club
Contact Details: £1 entry. Email here  Visit Website

Wed 16 March 2011
Me and the Crown Jewels
A former senior guardian at the Tower of London, John Newson, will be giving a free talk
Tudor Barn, Well Hall Road Eltham SE9
For details call 07894 711765

Sunday 20th March 2011
5:00pm to 7:00pm
Kirtan (Chanting) in Greenwich
by The Yogi Tree
Kirtan/Chanting evening to celebrate the Spring Solstice and Full Moon in March. A new chanting group being established in South London lead by Katie Rose at The Yogi Tree, Yoga Studio in East Greenwich.

Sunday 20 March 2011
National Frog Day
11am to 3pm

Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park, SE10
Fun free event celebrating all things froggy!
Pond dipping & bug hunting, prize trails, froggy art, barbecue (no frog's legs), things to buy and more.  All ages and no booking necessary. (there's 2 hrs free parking nearby).

Friday 25th March - Thursday 7th April 2011 
Telegraph Hill Festival 2011
Now in its 17th year the festival brings together thousands of local residents to celebrate home- grown arts, creativity and engagement.
This year's programme is the biggest and most varied ever with over 70 events packed into the 10 days. You can find out what's on by looking at the day by day programme here.

Wednesday 30 March
History talk at Erith Library
A local historian will be talking about the history of Erith riverside from the founding of its Dockyard by Henry VIII and the fitting to its part in the D-Day landings. Ken Chamberlain is due to give a talk at Erith library in Erith High Street, on Wednesday, March 30, at 2pm, when he will look back to the 19th century when the area was known as a riverside resort.
Tickets cost £2 and are available in advance from the library. Call 020 8303 7777 and select option four.

Looking ahead:

Sunday 10 April
Bromley Fun Run 2011
Norman Park, Bromley
Closing date for entries: 20 March. See

Sunday 17 April 2011
Vegetable growing
Practical workshop by Growing Greenwich
Well Hall Pleasaunce, Well Hall Road Eltham, SE9


Eltham Cycle Club rides
Start Eltham Park cafe (Glenesk Road, SE9)
All ages and abilities, varied routes

Click here for other What's Ons

Friday 11 March 2011

Bexley council votes through £35.3 million cuts

More SE London budget cuts - this time from a Conservative Council, and where all the Labour councillors opposed the budget.

From the Bexley Times:
"...The budget will see £35.3 million cuts over a three-year period to 2014. The council intends to save £15.3 million in the forthcoming financial year. This includes £1.6 million in children’s services and £1.2 million in health and adult care.

Protesters gathered around the back doors to chant “care, not cuts” as councillors entered the emotionally charged meeting..."
"...There were deafening boos as 51 councillors voted in favour of the budget while all 11 Labour councillors voted against. One member was absent."

The cuts to many valuable services are a sad state of affairs which are being repeated around the country.

Meanwhile, here's the approach of another Tory London Council, as Liberal Conspiracy have described it:

"More than 140 staff at Barnet Council’s Regulatory Service’s Department will take industrial action, in a bid to remain directly employed by the council.

Barnet council is a flagship for the Tory’s small-state vision of outsourced public service delivery.

Instead of directly providing services, the council plans to shrink the workforce down to a small core of a few hundred staff, who will commission services from outside providers. The current workforce is 3500."

I was aware that some Councils were exploring this approach but here it is about to happen already. Can out-sourcing a public service to anything other than a not-for-profit operation ever be a good thing? A longer debate...

Co-incidently last week I saw the table above, in the Evening Standard, showing the reserves held by London councils, and the percentage that represented of their annual expenditure.  It shows that Greenwich holds that largest actual reserves though Kensington & Chelsea holds the largest percentage of expenditure. The government is saying that the 'rainy day' has arrived for councils to start drawing on their reserves. The problem is that drawing on reserves is generally not a good idea for recurrent expenditure, for funding services for which there will be bills year after year. I'd like to know more about how councils view and treat these reserve budgets.

Vaguely related posts:

Thursday 10 March 2011

Be A Local Tourist in Eltham: Sunday 20 March

Eltham's Local Tourist day is happening again. This time on Sunday 20 March 2011. Free walks, building tours, half price to Eltham Palace for local residents and other discounts.

Although I'm not complaining, Greenwich strangely appear to be having this 'local tourist' thing in Eltham alone in the borough this year (unless I'm mistaken?). Some geographical confusion was noted last year with the event - wonder why Eltham alone, when there are loads of other places of interest around the borough? Anyways...

List of available tours and walks in Eltham on 20 March 2011:
  • Free town centre guided walk

    2pm, meet outside main gate of Eltham Palace, Court Yard
    Duration: 1hr 30mins
  • Free guided tours of The Lodge, Royal Blackheath Golf Club, Court Road

    10am, 11am, 12 noon, meet outside The Lodge
  • Free 'Views of Eltham' circular walk (via The Tarn/King John's Walk)

    1pm, meet outside Mottingham Station
    Duration: 1hr 30mins.
  • Half price entry to Eltham Palace (Greenwich borough residents only, subject to proof of residence)

    10am to 5pm.
  • Farmers' Market, Passey Place

    10am to 3pm, with musical accompaniment from singing duo "Brothers in Swing".
  • Bob Hope Theatre, Wythfield Road

    11.30am to 3.30pm
    Open House with memorabilia on display and free refreshments.
  • St John's Church open house

    11.30am to 3.30pm, Eltham High Street.
  • Eltham Fire Station open day

    10.30am to 4pm, Eltham High Street.

Shopping and dining discounts:
Shops and restaurants will also be offering discounts to visitors who present the Be a Local Tourist flyer, which you can collect at the Eltham Centre in Archery Road or any of the open-house venues:
  • Tudor Barn, Well Hall Pleasaunce

    10% off evening a la carte menu from 6pm on presentation of Be A Local Tourist Day flyer.
  • Park Tavern, Passey Place

    Complimentary selection of hot and cold nibbles and buffet items on the bar at lunchtime and early evening for customers' enjoyment.
  • CafĂ© Dee, Pound Place

    10% discount when spending £5 or over, on presentation of Be A Local Tourist Day flyer.

More events:
In the week leading up to Be a Local Tourist Day, there will also be a range of other events:
  • Tuesday, 15 March

    Eltham Nature Club open meeting at St Mary's Community Centre, Eltham High Street at 7.30pm: 'The Private Lives of SE9's Birds', an illustrated talk by Greenwich Park Ranger John Beckham Entrance: £1.
  • Wednesday, 16 March

    Friends of Well Hall Pleasaunce Annual General Meeting: Free Talk at the Tudor Barn (7.30pm)  'Me and the Crown Jewels' by John Newson, former senior guardian at the Tower of London.
  • Thursday 17 March

    St Patrick's Day Celebration, Tudor Barn, Well Hall Road: Live entertainment in the restaurant from 8pm until 11pm - fancy dress welcome. Guinness and whiskey by the bucket load! Free entry.
  • Friday, 18 March

    Friends of The Tarn, St Andrew's Church, Court Road at 8pm, free talk - 'The defences of south east London in World War Two' by Chris Mumbray.
  • Sunday, 20 March

    Tudor Barn, Well Hall Pleasaunce Spring Wedding Fayre, 11am to 4pm: over 30 exhibitors offering various services 
See Greenwich Council for more details.

(Last year's event here)

[note: some additions made later to this post...]

    Eltham & SE London events

    An occasional and erratic listing of local-ish events and happenings:

    9 -12 March 2011
    Humble Boy
    Location: Bob Hope Theatre, Wythfield Road, Eltham, SE9 5TG
    Tel: 020 88503702

    10 March 2011
    Got a Greenwich Card? Get access to Katy Perry tickets at The 02 via from 9am on 10 March - 24hrs before general sale (No, I won't be calling, but others may be interested ...)

    12 - 19 March 2011
    A Tour of ChristChurch at Christ Church
    Christ Church, 229 Eltham High Street, Eltham, London SE9 1TX
    Tel:  020 88501666

    "Father Paul Rea C.R.L., your tour guide, has prepared an informative narrative to guide you through the building, explaining the significance of the various chapels and objects and also the biblical references where appropriate."  Various times - see website:

    13th Mar, 20th Mar, 27th Mar, 3rd Apr, 10th Apr, 17th Apr
    Jazz in the Park at Well Hall Pleasaunce
    2pm on Sundays
    A performance by Blackheath Conservatoire's jazz team at Well Hall Pleasaunce,
    Well Hall Road, London SE9 6SZ
    Tel: 020 88505145

    15 March 2011
    Greenwich Council: Just 500 days to go until the 2012 Games begin in Greenwich. Get ready for ticket lines opening on 15 March  

    17th now 18th March at 8pm
    OnBlackheath: "We are holding a public information evening at The TA Building on the Heath (Wat Tyler Road)." All welcome. (This is about the proposed Blackheath Festival for 10-11 Sept - see below)

    Wednesday 23 March 2011, 7.30pm
    Young Cattermole’s Grand Day Out
    Talk by Anthony Cross.
    Greenwich Historical Society
    More info.

    13 - 16 April 2011
    Anything Goes
    By Sidcup Operatic Society
    Location: Bob Hope Theatre, Wythfield Road, Eltham, SE9 5TG
    Tel: 020 88503702

    11 July 2011
    Plumstead Make Merry - CANCELLED due to budget cuts
    There may be an alternative event on this date instead. For information visit

    26-31 July 2011
    Greenwich Summer Sessions 2011
    take place in Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich between 26-31 July. Includes Squeeze, Status Quo, Mark Ronson and The Pogues amongst others. Details and local comment see
    Got a Greenwich Card? Get exclusive access to Greenwich Summer Sessions tickets before general sale; £2.50 off

    10-11 September 2011:
    Blackheath Festival? Maybe? September 10 and September 11 by the Hare and Billet Road. 853 post here on some of the issues around this event.

    Eltham Farmers' Market at Passey Place
    Every 3rd Sun Of the Month 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
    A range of stalls offering a wide spectrum of fresh produce from the south east. Choose from hog roast pork and traditionally made succulent sausages, free-range organic eggs, organic and locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables, freshly pressed juices, jams, pastries and cakes and freshly baked breads.  Dates & Times:
    20th Mar 2011 @ 10:00 AM
    17th Apr 2011 @ 10:00 AM
    8-10 Passey Place, Eltham, London, SE9 5DQ. Tel: 020 83112314

    Click here for further What's Ons

    Event: 'Just how bad is the mainstream media?'

    This sounds an interesting event if you're in the area - it includes Richard Peppiatt, the bloke currently causing a stir with his resignation letter to the Daily Star proprietor Richard Desmond (read that letter here)

    Just how bad is the mainstream media?

    Monday, March 14 at 7:30pm

    The Monk Exchange
    Strutton Ground
    SW1H 0HW

    With Suzanne Moore, Laurie Penny, Anna Chen, Mark Lewis, and Richard Peppiatt

    This is just off Victoria Street (round the corner from where I used to work at Westminster City Hall, once upon a life, at the same time as Shirley Porter's awful tenure there - used to be a decent weekday market in Strutton Ground, not to mention a rather nice cave of a wine bar...)

    Sunday 6 March 2011

    Greenwich Council approves budget cuts

    The big local news this week was, of course, Greenwich Council’s budget plans, which were approved last Wednesday evening (2 March). I was avidly following the Twitter feeds of @darryl1974 and @AdamBienkov, amongst others.

    The Council unanimously voted through £48.6m cuts, agreed in recent months, and to be made over the next two years. A further reduction, bringing total savings of £63m, will be agreed at a future budget meeting.

    One curious aspect which onlookers commented on was the relative lack of protest against the budget proposals, especially compared to the level of anti-cuts activity at the budget meetings of other Councils, eg. Lewisham (my previous post here) and Hackney. There was a small trade-union led protest, apparently of about 30 people, outside Woolwich Town Hall. Also, the public gallery for the Council meeting was only half full. It was good though to be able follow a blow-by-blow account of the proceedings (thanks presumably to Eric Pickles’ the new tweeting and blogging rules...)

    Darryl has covered Greenwich Council’s budget extensively in his excellent posts at his 853 blog (how does he do it on quality and quantity, I just can’t keep up with my blog!) - for example, this one:  Greenwich Council cuts £63m without a whimper.

    As a parent who will need to start thinking about secondary schools in a couple of years time, I was interested in the following comments reported from the meeting:

    “Labour's Jackie Smith says free schools would deny resources from council-run state schools”

    “Chris Roberts says free school organisers have told Greenwich council "your sort of children won't want to go to" their schools”.
    On schools, I feel that we don’t need more choice or diversification of resources - we just need the schools we’ve got to be good, and for all children. I think that's best done by professionals and within a national, and local, framework. It is in the interests of a community for all its children to be well-educated not just the ones who get away to a grammar school in Bexley (a popular future landing site for the parents at my kids’ primary school - that’s why they’re all tutoring the hell out of their kids in some kind of tutoring-arms-race gone mad!)

    And breathe. Back to the budget. Here’s how the reported it:

    “Greenwich Councillors unanimously supported plans to cut spending by £48.6 million last night.

    Council leader, Chris Roberts, presented the council budget to colleagues at the full council meeting at Woolwich Town Hall. He told councillors that it was “a robust budget” but issued the stark warning that there was a “ticking Tory timebomb” underneath it.

    The proposed budget would protect the frontline, he said, but acknowledged increased charges for parking and allotments would cause concern for residents.” Continue reading

    The News Shopper’s report also commented on the lack of protest, that the Leader of the Conservative Group supported the budget, and that no cuts would be made this year to the Maryon Wilson Animal Park, much to the relief of the 3,000 petitioners.

    The next full council meeting is scheduled for 30 March at 7pm. You can submit questions by emailing by noon five working days before the Full Council meeting.

    Thursday 3 March 2011

    Funny, sexy and a bit decadant - La Soiree

    On Saturday night we went to see La Soiree, at the South Bank Big Top, a birthday surprise organised for my lovely sister-in-law by her enterprising husband.

    Despite my original mild horror and panic at actually going out on a dark and cold Saturday night to central London to something which didn't even start until 10pm (hey, as a hard-working mum I'm usually knackered most of the time!), it was a fantastic evening.

    La Soiree is essentially a series of 'alternative' variety acts in a circus-like setting. But that clinical description belies the beauty, comedy and occasional eroticism of the huge multi-national talent we saw last weekend. As soon as you enter the beautifully lit and staged venue (a temporary 'tent' opposite the back of the National Theatre) you feel as if you are entering an intimate and private party. (The pre-drinks at the Oxo Tower helped, as did another drink in the cosy venue lobby bar...)

    We saw Cabaret Decadance (Montreal puppeteers of sassy divas) and Captain Frodo (a Norse contortionist who told us, in answer to a frequently-asked question, 'yes, I can'...) amongst others. I really enjoyed Hamish McCann's alternative pole-dancing act, starting with a Gene Kelly pastiche, and morphing into a sexy, strutting routine to Nina Simone's 'I'm feelin good' - watch it here, if you dare. Also featured 'The English Gents' - here they are guesting on Paul O'Grady.

    There was an interesting female act of erotic comedic magic, by Ursula Martinez, which sparked a debate amongst us about whether full female nudity (for yes, she ended up naked at the end) was ever justified in such a setting (especially as she was the only act to go fully naked, though plenty of male torso on display).

    Also spotted in the audience, the bizarre combination of Theo Paphitis (definitely, one of our party spoke to him, him off 'Dragons Den') and Howard Donald (less definitely, apparently of 'Take That', seemingly on his own).

    The current run of La Soiree at the SBC is over now but they will be returning in the winter to the Roundhouse in Camden. I'd very much recommend this for a group night out (no children allowed). Let's hope the party atmosphere created by the tent-setting continues at the Roundhouse setting.