Thursday 29 March 2012

London Mayor and Assembly elections 2012

Candidates have been announced for the 2012 London Mayor and 25 member Assembly elections on 3 May. See below for Greenwich & Lewisham.

These elections have three parts: you will be voting for:
- the Mayor of London
- the 14 Constituency London Assembly Members and
- the 11 London-wide Assembly Members

So that's a whopping three elections in one go. You will be given three ballot papers when you vote.

1. the PINK coloured ballot paper for your London Mayor vote 

You can make a first and second choice from the list of candidates who will either be part of a political party or standing as an independent candidate. The candidates are:
  • BENITA Siobhan - Independent
  • CORTIGLIA Carlos - British National Party
  • JOHNSON Boris - The Conservative Party Candidate
  • JONES Jenny - Green Party
  • LIVINGSTONE Ken - The Labour Party Candidate
  • PADDICK Brian - London Liberal Democrats
  • WEBB Lawrence James - Fresh Choice for London

2. the YELLOW coloured ballot paper for your Constituency London Assembly Member

You can make one vote for the candidate you would like to represent you in your local area. Candidates will be part of a political party or standing as an independent candidate. The candidates and political parties will vary between each constituency, but you can only vote in your local constituency. Candidates here. SE constituencies discussed below.

3. the ORANGE coloured ballot paper for your London-wide Assembly Member

You will be able to make one vote for a political party or an individual standing as an independent candidate. The parties or independent candidates standing are detailed below. Political parties put forward a 'party list' of individuals who will be elected if they get enough votes. You can find out the individuals on each party's list by clicking here

For more information visit the ‘How to vote’ page for 'London elects'. You need to register by 18 April to vote.

Homing in on the yellow ballot paper...the current London Assembly constituency map looks like this. That's six Labour constituencies and eight Conservative ones.

About half of the 14 Constituency London Assembly members have just been announced:

Here's Greenwich & Lewisham:

1. CULNANE Tess – National Front Putting Londoners First
2. DUVALL Len – Labour Party Candidate
3. OAKLEY Paul James – Fresh Choice for London
4. RAYMOND Barbara – Greenwich and Lewisham People Before Profit
5. RUSSELL John – London Liberal Democrats
6. SEDGLEY Roger – Green Party
7. WILSON Alex – The Conservative Party Candidate
8. WOODS Roberta – British National Party

Woolwich born and raised Len Duvall was first elected as an AM in 2000, and retained the Greenwich and Lewisham seat in the 2004 and 2008 elections. Interesting that both the BNP and NF are standing in the same constituency, as they are in some others...

And Bexley and Bromley:

1. HANNER Josie - Labour Party Candidate
2. CLEVERLY James Spencer - The Conservative Party Candidate
3. COBURN David Adam - Fresh Choice for London
4. ROOKS Jonathan Scot - Green Party
5. TREANOR Donna - British National Party
6. WEBBER Sam Dunning - London Liberal Democrats

Lewisham born James Cleverly was elected for the Bexley and Bromley constituency in May 2008.

If you're interested, here was the 2008 result for Greenwich and Lewisham:

The London elects website (from which much of this info is drawn) and Snipe are very good on the elections.

Saturday 24 March 2012

Dickens at Eltham Llibrary this Easter

The Eltham Centre Library, at Archery Road in Eltham, are having some Dickens events for children on Thursday 12 April (click to enlarge posters).

Monday 19 March 2012

Update on the 'big fat' wedding

Well, it was, of course, a lovely event (my previous post about the wedding we were going to last weekend). I posted these two photos via twitter during the event, trying not to invade anyone's privacy too much (click to enlarge). However, the first dance of the bridal couple (here in the pic above) was a real paparazzi event - not very romantic though the couple only had eyes for each other.

I didn't get any closer to exactly how my family were related to the wedding couple though I did hear some charming and nostalgic stories from my mother about how she remembered various people there when they were toddlers, toddling around the village, being baby-sat by her and her sisters, in the state of Punjab, India. That all seemed so far away, many grim London rented rooms, double factory shifts and sacrifices away. The community now at this opulent wedding were a confident, financially secure, and more relaxed group than those early days of struggle. That felt good.

p.s the aunt and her family with whom my mother had fallen out never showed! So all was good in the wood.

Friday 16 March 2012

Big, fat* Indian wedding

Yes, we are attending one tomorrow. More specifically, a Sikh Punjabi 'do'. The wedding is of a relative who hails from the Nottingham branch of the family. But don't ask me how we are related - I have no idea. My mother, at whose behest we are attending, launches into great details about the aunt-of, the cousin-of, the niece's husband's sister-in-law, but I am none the wiser! I need a diagram. Trouble is, I lose interest half way through...

We are all ready with our outfits, and will travel over tomorrow to my mother's to the west of London, near hounslow/heathrow. As you can see my outfit is particularly sparkly, yes, it reminds me too of a xmas tree. Unfortunately I didn't have time (or frankly, the inclination) to spend hours searching for something more sophisticated. The children (8 & nearly 10) are excited about going to an 'Indian party'. It's been ironic that I've turned to British descriptions of Indian dancing to explain to my inquisitive daughter how it's done - yes, the old change the light bulb with one hand, and pat the dog with the other, at the same time...(some people really do dance like that, but there are plenty of other moves too).

My mother is very excited to be attending such an event with her whole family, especially with all her grandchildren around her, something which happens increasingly less. But there will be an element of frisson in the mix tonight - in good old family tradition, there has for years been a schism between my mother and her sister which means that that they, and their supporters, don't talk to each other! This will be tricky to negotiate tomorrow night especially because I find it difficult to be (knowingly) rude to people. I shall take the 'third way' I think. There will be lots of showing-off and one-upmanship tomorrow night about who's got the best car, clothes, house, most successful children etc. I won't enter that race (much to my family's annoyance).

Lord knows what my (non-Asian) husband makes of it all - he goes along with it all very sportingly. I guess he married the package...

Aside from all this (!) I'm looking forward to it!

There may be some 'live-tweeting' from the wedding, now that I've got my new smart phone, if I'm not too busy with kids, relatives at war, and busting a few of my own moves...

*bit loathe to use this phrase given the horrible trouble caused by the Channel4 programme recently, but I don't want to lose it altogether because, since the 'Big Fat Greek' wedding days, it has been a really apt and useful phrase to describe a particular type of diasporic event

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Olympic missile plans for Eltham, Shooters Hill, Blackheath

Big story about Eltham, Shooters Hill and Blackheath, in the news at the moment, although I've not time to blog it properly. It was all over the internet Sunday night, with lots of wry comments about protection of the 'corky fruited water dropwort' (what's that? Read about it on the e-shootershill blog).

Here's the press reports so far:

Bexley Times:
Eltham MP Clive Efford criticises Olympic missile plans
Eltham MP Clive Efford yesterday criticised plans to shoot down terrorists over Greenwich during the Olympics because he has not been consulted
Olympics missile sites considered for Blackheath and Shooters Hill
"The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is considering plans to install surface-to-air missiles in Blackheath and Shooters Hill during the Olympic Games.
The MoD said it had taken military advice to identify sites to base the defence systems to protect the skies over London in the event of an attack...."

Mailonline (where I saw this first last Sunday):
Olympic missile defences (located at a cafe) under threat... from the Corky-Fruited Water Dropwort
"Plans to use surface-to-air missiles to protect the skies over London during the Olympics could be thwarted – because they will disturb the habitat of a rare wild flower."

And a blog post at the Blackheath Bugle.

There is a Blackheath Assembly meeting tonight, Tues 13 March, 7.30pm, at St. Matthew Academy, St. Joseph's Vale, Blackheath where no doubt, the Blackheath-end of this story, at least, will be discussed.

I've just heard this story at the top of the 3pm news on LBC radio, where there also had a rep. from the Blackheath Society voicing their objections to having such a site based there.

Sunday 11 March 2012

Be a Local Tourist Day in Eltham

Display at C13th Well Hall Pleasaunce, Eltham (Apr, 2011)
It’s that time of year again. ‘Be a Local Tourist Day’ takes place on 18 March 2012, in and around Eltham. From the ‘Royal Greenwich’ website:
“A day of activities, events and special offers taking place in and around Eltham, enabling local people to rediscover their area.
There will be a wealth of activities for all the family to get involved in that are either free or offered at reduced rates during the annual Be a Local Tourist Day. A selection of town shops, bars and restaurants will also be offering special promotions.
A full programme for the day is set out below:
  • free town centre guided walk, 2pm. Meet outside main gate of Eltham Palace, Court Yard (duration one and a half hours)
  • free guided tours of The Lodge, Royal Blackheath Golf Club, Court Road, at 10am, 11am and 12pm. Meet outside The Lodge
  • half-price entry to Eltham Palace from 10am to 4pm (last entry at 3pm). This is open to Royal Greenwich residents only, subject to proof of residence
  • farmers' market, Passey Place, from 10am to 3pm
  • Bob Hope Theatre, Wythfield Road, from 11.30am to 3.30pm. Open house with memorabilia on display. The Eltham Society will be presenting historical information on Eltham, and free refreshments will be provided
  • open house at St John's Church, Eltham High Street from 11.30am to 3pm. Refreshments provided
  • open day at Eltham Fire Station from 10.30am to 4pm, Eltham High Street”
There are also special promotions and events being offered by Eltham businesses on or around the 18th, including:
-- Coffee Town, St Mary's Place: Half price hot drinks for anyone dressed like a tourist (on presentation of a Be A Local Tourist Day flyer) [uumm, ‘dressed like a tourist’? how does that work then?]
-- Gusella's Ristorante, Eltham High Street: Sunday roast 2 courses for £10.85.
-- Eltham Grill, Chequers Parade: 10% discount on presentation of Be a Local Tourist Day flyer.

More details of these, and other offers, at

My post here on the 2011 ‘Be a local tourist in Eltham’

Saturday 10 March 2012

Eltham round-up - March

Quite a bit happening locally recently while I’ve been a bit awol, busy with life:

Greenwich Council meeting
Greenwich held its Council meeting on 29 Feb. Apparently it was much longer than usual due to budget discussions. One of the headlines to emerge was that councillors voted to freeze the council tax for the fifth year in a row. The meeting was very usefully tweeted by Matt Clinch and there are reports about the meeting at website.

Seems to have got quite heated at times, with “Cllr Roberts implying that new master-plans for the area are an antidote for cuts coming from central government” and “attacking Conservative councillors on their Eltham-centric amendments to the budget” (@mattclinch81)

Since writing this, I see that 853 blog also had a good post on the meeting and especially a question put to the Council about how much the recent royal celebrations cost:
853 reader beats press and politicians to royal borough sums

Libraries to transfer, then not
Elsewhere in the forest, on 14 Feb Greenwich had approved transfer of its libraries to the ‘social enterprise’ company Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL) which already runs its leisure centres, amidst much protest from trade unions and librarians fearing cuts to services. Then we saw the surprising announcement that the transfer was halted due to a ‘conflict of  interest’ declared by Councillour John Fahy.  Cllr Fahy apparently runs Meridian Link with Mark Sesnan, managing director of GLL. However, the transfer has not been stopped completely and may still go through.

Reverse parking
And then there was the slight problem for Greenwich Council with the parking consultation. Having put out to consultation controversial changes to parking arrangements in Eltham and Old Dover Road, it then released the following statement, on 29 Feb, withdrawing them:  
“Parking proposals in Eltham and Old Dover Road – fresh consultation questionnaire to be issued
The Royal Borough of Greenwich has been considering changes to parking arrangements in Eltham and Old Dover Road as a result of the severe cuts imposed on budgets by the coalition government.
Formal consultation on these proposals has begun but unfortunately the consultation papers already issued contained errors so have been temporarily withdrawn.
New papers will be issued as quickly as possible and the consultation time period will be extended. The Royal Borough apologises for this delay in the process.”
You can read more about this story at 853, the Westcombe Society's blog and

Parking plans featured, of course, in the Council’s ‘Masterplan’ for Eltham - no doubt folk will have voiced their opinions in that consultation too, which closed yesterday.

A question of class
Last week local MP Clive Efford questioned class sizes in Parliament, but unfortunately it didn’t really get him very far:
Clive Efford (Eltham, Labour)
“One of the most demanding tasks that teachers do outside the classroom is marking books, which allows them to monitor the progress of pupils. The applications for free schools that I have seen have an average of 25 pupils per class. If we value teachers in all sections of our education system, should they not all be teaching classes of 25 pupils? If the Government are serious about reducing the work load of teachers, they should take that on board.”

In a promotion of Gove's push on academy schools, his question was batted away by Nick Gibb (Minister of State (Schools), Education; Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, Conservative) with “I would encourage schools that want to have smaller class sizes and more control over how they are run to adopt academy status.”

But wait, a piece in last Saturday’s Guardian was interesting on this score: “Academy schools attain fewer good GCSEs, study shows”. Hmmm.

Bank on sensible precautions
There are reports of some worrying goings-on in some Eltham High Street banks, if the accounts are to be believed. Take care when using ATMs and carrying large amounts of cash in and out of banks. I’m not wholly sure of the veracity of the sources for now, hence my caution - so just be aware.

Eltham Green on the radio
On 6 Feb an Eltham school featured in a radio programme. The ‘Your Old School’ slot on Robert Elms’ BBC Radio London show focussed on Eltham Green Comprehensive School (now the Eltham Foundation School, though soon to become another Harris Academy) with ex-pupil Glenn Tilbrook talking about his time at the school and why he was expelled from the school for having long hair. The Packet of Three blog has a brief write-up about programme and you can (still) listen to the programme there.

Eee-haw to the Palace
And finally, a bit of news for those who’ve grown used to seeing the donkeys on Blackheath, or parents whose kids had their first donkey ride there. I had an ‘aaahh’ moment reading that “the Blackheath Donkeys have moved home from Thompsons Garden Centre, on Shooters Hill, to Eltham Palace. Nice post here on the e-shootershill blog.

Previous Eltham round-up 
Other Eltham posts

Wednesday 7 March 2012

Eltham school children break world record!

Well, yes they did. But more importantly, my 10yo daughter tonight performed at the O2! She joined her school choir to perform as part of Young Voices, an organisation which brings children together to sing.

It was an incredible performance of over two hours long which brought together over 7,000 (!) primary school-aged children to sing together, alone and also to back up other artists. There was a Monkees medley, a Queen medley, they backed The High Kings for Qaudete (the haunting latin Steeleye Span track), and Randolph Matthews for a stirring version of Labri Sifri's Something Inside So Strong. Apparently, Beverly Knight was a guest the night before.

It was all very high energy, with great lighting orchestration and with the children waving their torches, stomping feet and doing 'wavy arms' at the right times.

But it was by singing with 11 yo Connie Talbot (apparently the Britain's Got Talent 'singing sensation') that tonight's Young Voices choir achieved the world Guinness record for the largest number of backing singers (at 7,310!). The Guinness adjudicator was there to judge and declare the results. A BBC crew were also filming. The place went wild.

It was a tremendous evening, and a real tribute to music teachers who enter their pupils for this event and then rehearse them for months. We got home very late with a very buzzing daughter. Thing is, we are buzzing too. Now where is that order form for the DVD....