28 April 2008

Vote Green on the Peach!

Thursday is election day in London.

I have a very very simple message to people in London. Our candidate for Mayor, Sian Berry is unlikely to win the race for Mayor of London. However she has every chance of being elected to the London Assembly on the Londonwide top-up list. This will only happen if enough Londoners vote for Greens on the list - this time round the ballot paper for the top-up list is 'Peach'. So remember, when you go to the polls, if you want more of this, youi'll have to look for the peach.

The race for the Mayor is proving to be very tight. For that reason, we are advising Green supporters to vote '1' for Sian and '2' for Ken Livingstone; Ken Livingstone is advising his supporters to give their second prefence vote to Sian.

27 April 2008

Brockley Fun Run

What a great way to start Sunday morning with a five kilometre trot around Hilly Fields. Despite the name, you forget why they are called 'Hilly Fields' - struggling up them reminds you in a particularly forceful way.

Back in November last year Erin approached the three local councillors with her idea for a Brockley Fun Run and requested some money from our 'Localities Fund' for help get things up and running. We put the idea to the meeting in November 2007 and we all agreed that it was worth spending this money to help establish a new 'Community Wide' event in Brockley that was both good fun and could help improve the health of people in Brockley.

Today's event was everything it promised to be...and more. It was good fun, it introduced a wide range of people to the joys of running in our lovely open spaces, it provided a bit of a spectacle on a pleasant Sunday morning, and further it brought together a large number of people in Brockley. Finally, I hope that this is the first such 'Fun Run' of many, and that this can become a more regular event in the Brockley Calendar.

Well done to the Brockley Cross Action Group and the organisers, Erin in particular.

The results are available here. I came in 91st place with a time of 30:33.

Here are some of my pictures of the event:





26 April 2008

Compost Corner

For all the green-fingered people living in Brockley!

Compost Workshop: 6 May

Do you want to know more about how to make your own compost for your garden or allotment?

As part of Compost Awareness Week, which runs from 5 to 10 May, Lewisham Council is holding a compost workshop for residents.

When: Monday 6 May
Time: 5.00pm to 7.00pm
Location: Civic Suite, Catford.

Compost Awareness Week aims to encourage more people to recognise the benefits of home composting and the great results that can be achieved by using peat-free compost containing recycled material.

Did you know that as a nation we produce around 300 million tonnes of rubbish a year and over half of this waste can be easily recycled. Over one third of the contents of an average UK household bin can be home composted, not to mention all the garden waste that can be added to a compost bin.

As well as learning how to successfully get your own compost started, we also have a limited number of free compost bins available. If you would like to attend this or other compost workshops held during Compost Awareness Week, or get a free compost bin contact Beth Sowden on 020 8314 2053 or email her at recycle@lewisham.gov.uk .

Don’t forget, it’s not too late to register to become a Recycling Champion. Call Beth (as above) or Nicky Callan on 020 8314 2245.

For more information about home composting go to http://www.wrap.org.uk/composting

For more information about Compost Awareness Week go to www.compostawarenessweek.org.uk

Planning - Rear of 10 Malpas Road

Planning permission was granted for 11 1 & 2 bed flats at the rear of 10 Malpas Road. The site overlooks Luxmore Gardens, considered by some as an improvement in 'natural surveillance' - considered by others as allowing future occupants of the flats the right to be 'nosy and intrusive' as regards users of the Luxmore Gardens park.

However the scheme, despite well-voiced concerns by local residents against the impact on the trees, the scale of the building, over-looking, and added to that my concerns about the complete lack of affordable housing (more on this later), the creation of a postage stamp-sized (sorry courtyard) garden from a good-sized family home at 10 Malpas Road, permission was granted, and that only 'ambulant-disabled' will be able to get around the site.

I was particularly annoyed that no attempt whatsoever had been made at any stage of the development to negotiate on the issue of providing affordable housing. The reason given by the officer at the committee was that it would 'unreasonable' to include a reference to the issue of affordable housing at this stage. Yet this completely ignores the fact that it was clear when the application was originally submitted the threshold for requiring affordable homes was about to be reduced from 15 to 10 homes - so-called 'emerging policy'. I have asked Lewisham's officers for an explanation of the precise point at which the threshold is considered to have changed.

24 April 2008

Plane Trees Safe

The application to chop down the Plane Trees has been turned down. There are a few legal matters to sort out, but instead of being hacked down, these valuable trees will now be protected with Tree Preservation Orders.

6 April 2008

Trees on Upper Brockley Road

Even though I know the area very well, I have just been out on another site visit for a planning application to fell four trees on Upper Brockley Road. Clearly we don't know if they are structurally unsound or unsafe - however they do seem to have survived some of the worst winds we've had in a long long time this winter.

Here's the damaged wall:

Here are the trees:

Lewisham's policies on trees is:

"URB 13 Trees
The Council will seek to maintain, protect and increase the numbers and quality of trees in the Borough, and where this does not conflict with nature conservation interests will:-
(a) make Tree Preservation Orders wherever necessary and safeguard all trees that are the subject of tree preservation orders;
(b) require developers, as a condition of planning permission, to retain existing trees and to plant appropriate new ones where this is appropriate and practicable; and
(c) resist the loss of trees unless dangerous to the public or in rare circumstances when felling is required as part of a replanting programme and particularly on sites where trees make a significant contribution to the character and appearance of the area.

The Council considers that trees and shrubs are very important to the visual and environmental quality and amenity of built up areas as well as to nature conservation, biodiversity and sustainability objectives, and are a valuable resource to be cared for and protected. The Council will interpret ‘suitable’ trees for replanting as meaning native species in support of these objectives.

The Council has the power to place Tree Preservation Orders on single trees or groups of trees, which it considers are important, in order to prevent their removal or mutilation.
Many Tree Preservation Orders were made in the 1950s and their number has been continually increasing. Tree Preservation Orders will be made in accordance with current Government guidance. As well as protection, continual maintenance, pruning and replanting of trees and shrubs is needed in order to maintain the stock. The Council can require planting in private developments as a condition of planning consent. The Council will discourage proposed development that would result in the loss or damage to trees, especially those making an important contribution to the street scene or the character of a Conservation Area, and will normally require a proper replacement when a tree is felled. Trees should also be protected from street or road-works and the use of chemicals on road surfaces."

The protection of our trees is an issue that comes up time & time again, yet still without satisfactory resolution. It seems in part to do with a risk-averse, do-it-on-the-cheap culture. However, views across our streets like that above add so much to the pleasure of living in Brockley I really think we have to be really sure that nothing can be done before rushing to fell such trees.

In Lewisham all applications for tree felling are made by officers under 'delegated powers', other local authorities do things differently. Perhaps it's time for Councillors to have a direct say on behalf of the local people, in granting such permissions. We are not so daft as to simply reject any application for felling, but perhaps we may in a better place to explain decisions and articulate local concerns, opinions and options.

4 April 2008

Brookmill Park Bats

Looking for bats - look in the park. This evening there were a number of bats in the park flapping around the area between the pond and the river. Not sure what species - but they appeared to be both black & blind if that helps! I do urge people to go and have a look around dusk - especially they come in particularly close to the ground.

Additonally, the park's daffodils are currently out and at dusk the scent is very powerful.

The park, although small is a real gem.