24 May 2010

Dull and uneventful.

My commute to work today took about 39 minutes Brockley to Euston Square via Whitechapel.

At Brockley there was a train within a couple of minutes of me arriving - train was bright airy cool and I could sit down - changing at Whitechapel was a breeze and the 4 minute wait was taken up with a quick phone call.

No crowds at all.

How dull and uneventful - which for commuting is how it should always be.

23 May 2010

New Signs and Services for Brockley Station

It was warm, not a cloud in the sky and it's about ten to seven. A few of us (well Darren, Kate, Tamsin and myself) assembled at Brockley Station to catch the first train to Dalston Junction on this the first day of the new London Overground service. The entrance to Brockley Station has had a bit of a makeover to rival the Brockley Common. A somewhat exciting start to our journey.

The first train is actually delayed and this is the first train that called at Brockley this morning. I think Brockley Central should have a competition for the first person to have a picture of every one of the 20 trains on the London Overground service at Brockley Station.

Our delayed train came along shortly...and here it is in the sun.

The journey continued over the new bridge at New Cross Gate offering a good view of the new depot, incinerator and the various railway lines criss-crossing the area. The train soon rattled through the various stops.

In no time at all we arrive at Dalston Junction. The balloons are here too...but in what looks like the aftermath of a party celebrating Diane Abbot's decision to make a pitch for the Labour leadership some of them have been burst

The journey back was smooth and uneventful and when we got back to Brockley new signs were being erected.

Welcome to the London Overground.

17 May 2010

It's looking good

First day back at work for me after the elections - and a bit of a shock to the system to be up and on a train so early. Yet the recently completed planting has started to transform the area and when established will create a lovely green slope welcoming us to the station.

It reminded me that the Brockley Assemby should be receiving a report from the nely-elected Mayor soon on any proposals for the Coulgate Street area in general. I will look forward to that.

The train driver also helpfully announced that there will be 'serious changes' to the timetable on Sunday because of the East London Line. It's probably just as well that his bosses and others in charge of our railways didn't describe these changes in quite the same way all those years ago. Still the East London Line will be a welcome addition to public transport in Brockley and I'm looking forward to catching one of the new trains next Monday (Brockley - Whitechapel, Whitechapel-Euston Square). Commuters hate changes to schedules - it's just as well that I've only got a week to get used to the current timetable.

8 May 2010

On elections, winning, and losing

For those of you who don't know it, I was unsuccessful in my bid to get re-elected for a second term in Brockley Ward and as the Mayor of Lewisham. However I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people in Brockley who voted for me in the local and Mayoral elections - it is much appreciated.

I really enjoyed the campaign - and in particular my bid as Mayor of Lewisham. The hustings were a real plus point for me - in addition to the Brockley Cross Action Group Hustings I attended one hosted by the Lewisham Churches and the Lewisham Pensioners' Forum. The audiences in the context of the Lewisham-wide electorate were small - however they do offer a snapshot of views and opinions on a wide range of issues - and ensure that you as a candidate have credible policies. Long may the hustings continue... #

I have thoroughly enjoyed representing Brockley over the last 4 years and found it an enormously enriching and enjoyable experience. Understandably I am disappointed to have lost - but in politics if you want to enjoy the considerable pleasure of winning, you have to also accept the risk of losing and all that goes with it.

On a personal positive note Darren was successful and Brockley still has a Green councillor - and of course the Greens got their first MP elected to Westminster from Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas.

I am going away for a few days - to relax, unwind and generally recover...and it's back to work the following week.

7 May 2010

Mayoral and Councillor Count

After a very very long night observing the parliamentary election counts and far too little sleep today to make up for that, I'll be setting off for the Mayor of Lewisham and Councillor count that should have started at about 1530 today.

4 May 2010

Doorstep Pledges

Over the past few weeks I have had the chance to personally meet literally hundreds of people in Brockley - either on the street or more likely on their doorsteps - but also I have received a number of emails. Throughout that time I have made a number of pledges as to what I would seek to do if I am re-elected on May 6th. As part of that process I though it would be interesting to let others in Brockley know what issues I have pledged to adopt as initial priorities and in so doing I can be held to account for these in due course.

(1) Upper Brockley Road - The problems at the Parade on Upper Brockley Road have not gone away. One of my first priorities will be to seek a meeting with senior officers at Lewisham Police and the officers of Lewisham to determine how they intend to ensure that this area remains a safe and welcoming part of the borough. I will retain this as a key priority until myself and local residents are satisfied that a long term solution has been implemented.

(2) Services offered at Job Centre Plus. A local person who has been unemployed for a long time was concerned that the service offered was inadequate and the staff rude and not trained sufficiently for the job. I pledged to find a way to look into this and would hope to use the scrutiny process to follow this up.

(3) Coulgate Street - I pledged to continue working to bring plans forward for this street - and now that Lewisham's officers are bringing forward a report on the plans we can hope to see some progress on this.

(4) Pavements on Brockley Road - I pledged to continue working to get these brought up to scratch as soon as possible. My wider pledge on improving pavements is about eradicating the 13 year backlog on pavement repairs - I will push for this to happen if I am not elected Mayor myself.

(5) High Level Station - as Mayoral candidate I supported the re-opening of this station along with the other candidates. If unsuccessful as Mayoral candidate I will make it a priority to seek action from the Mayor on providing a framework and timescale for re-opening this station.

(6) Support for the Tanners Hill Tenants and Residents Association - the association has struggled to get off the ground and I want to see it thrive.

(7) Improving the way the local police work with the community - the shootings exposed a gap in the way in which the police work and inform the community about incidents in the area. I pledge to find a way of working with the Police to help improve such communications.

(8) Developing a better framework and understanding as to how the mews in Brockley might change for the better and how to bring this about.

UPDATE from evening of 05/06

(8A) To call on more people outside of the election period.

I would like to add to the above list some of what I consider to be priorities for Ward Councillors in Brockley:

(9) An immediate one - watching the impact of the East London Line on commuters in Brockley and being ready to put pressure on Southern and TfL if the overall service to Brockley fails to bring the improvements promised and results in worse over-crowding at peak times.

(10) Working to improve the Brockley Assembly - pushing for more decisions to be devolved, ensuring it can be an effective voice for local people and their issues and concerns.

(11) Keeping in touch with local residents - either through the blog, via newsletters or by simply being out and about at fairs, events, in the street and community meetings.

(12) Play a constructive role in the Council as whole - a role that properly considers the issues and reaches an informed decision.

(13) Tackling the Brockley Cross roundabout/local environment.

It's late and I'm going to be up early again - this list is just a start. We'll know whether I'll continue as one of the Ward Councillors or Mayor on Friday evening, Saturday I'll have off, Sunday we're clearing out the campaign shop. On Monday, with the consent of the electorate, I hope to start on my second term as a Brockley Ward Councillor and to get on with tackling my initial list as set out above.

25 April 2010

Things l learnt about running the London marathon today

Having had the chance to think about by experience today I'd like to share a few things I learnt with others thinking of participating in the marathon in the future:

* It is far more of an amazing spectacle than I ever thought it would be - crowds lined the 26m395yd route all the way - and the crowds cheering are great encouragement
* crowds near pubs cheer the loudest
* The music along the route is a tremendous boost - offering a couple of minutes respite from the physical toll of the running
* Lucozade Sport is not very nice - it's sweet and sickly and certainly does not quench your thirst - judging by the relatively full bottles discarded on the course others agree (I did not even think about trying Lucozade gel - it's here at home) - I was annoyed at having drunk this stuff as I had to wait about 10 minutes to get some water to get the nasty taste out of my mouth
* I prefer the sweets, biscuits, fruit provided by the people along the route to the 'technical' stuff offered by sponsors of the event - these sweets taste nice and appear to do some good!
* The first half of the race is very different to the second half
* The last 2 miles pass very quickly and the the last 800m even more so
* Having your name printed on your t-shirt means more cheers!
* Training helps
* The baggage deposit and retrieval system appears very efficient - do not worry about using it if you run in future marathons
* there is an enormous amount of waste from bottles - it would good if we could think about finding a way of reducing this.
* Your legs are still tired and achy after a few pints down the pub

5h 08mins...and now back to the campaign proper

Today I completed my first London Marathon in 5h and 8mins - something that I've been waiting do for a few years. I won a place in the ballot last year but had to pull out because of injury - but today had no such excuses...a fantastic experience - but not sure whether I'd want to repeat - certainly not in an election year!

After a day off of sorts it's now back to the election campaign and looking forward to the Councillor and Mayoral Hustings tomorrow night.

18 April 2010

London's Skies

A friend of mine is stuck in Naples following the closure of UK airspace after the Icelandic volcano eruption - she's found space on a sleeper service from Zurich to Amsterdam and I spent the best part of an hour finding out whether she could get a reasonably-priced train from Cologne to London via Brussels. However it appears that Eurostar is clearly trying to make up for the losses it made just before Christmas and is charging silly prices for its trains from Brussels - something like £600. Stena Line meanwhile provided a single ticket for two from Hook of Holland to London Liverpool Street of 110 Euros. Their 'Dutch Flyer' is well worth looking into if you want to go to Amsterdam or easy connections from the Hook of Holland to other places in mainland Europe (but that's another story and the Man in Seat 61 covers that far better than me). Whilst I was sorting this friend out, another asked me how her partner should get back from Copenhagen - I suggested ferry from Esjberg to Harwich. The reason for mentioning this is that I am all too aware of the hassle that has been caused to thousands of British people by this abrupt and totally unplanned shutting of UK airspace.

This morning I went for a long run along the Thames from Greenwich to Crossness and back - my final long run before the marathon on Sunday - and it was absolutely lovely. The sky was clear, the sun was warm, it was very quiet, the tide was just turning and there were no boats meaning the river was very flat. But for the third day running I couldn't help but notice how quiet it was without the planes and that there were no condensation trails criss-crossing the sky. I'd noticed the same the previous two nights and the times I'd been outside in the garden. The peace and quiet was noted in areas around Heathrow as this article on the BBC websites shows

14 April 2010

Message from the Metropolitan Police

In response to questions raised by the recent incidents in Brockley, the Metropolitan Police have issued the following statement.

Superintendent Lisa Crook said: "We understand the community are anxious about recent incidents of violence in Brockley and share these concerns. Our officers take this very seriously and are committed to putting a stop to violence on our streets. Officers from Trident are investigating these matters and urge anyone with information to contact them."

"Members of Brockley Safer Neighbourhoods team are patrolling the ward to reassure local people, and if you need to discuss any concerns please contact the team."

Anyone with information should contact Trident on 020 8785 8580