Thursday, December 18, 2014

Do They Know It's Christmas?

OK, so the cuts have taken their toll. No Xmas lights for Deptford High Street.

Just the south end – the lights came on (as they have for the past week) just as the Wednesday market was finishing today. Nothing in Giffin Square or Douglas Way. Obviously no Christmas tree here, that would be excessive (and of course attracts street drinkers, so we can't have that). Nothing from the Giffin St junction down to the very bottom (or very important north) of the high street where there are a couple of lampposts with a twist of lights as it meets Evelyn Street. In fact there is a twist of lights down there with no bulbs attached to their sockets.

Cuts? Incompetence? Lack of care? Couldn't one of Deptford's millionaires sponsor some lights? Did no one from Lewisham ask HSBC? Barclays? Poundland? 99p Store? Iceland? Tesco? Cathedral (cashing in already on Deptford)? Hutchison Whampoa (Convoys Wharf owners about to cash in)...Waitrose even? Just who the f**k is running this high street anyway? The "Deptford Society" don't appear to know. Who at Lewisham is responsible?

No doubt Lewisham Gateway (latest phase 0% affordable housing) is lit up like a Christmas tree. But Deptford, non! And no bloody explanation or apology either!

Meanwhile, at the Ha'Penny Hatch where Lewisham meets Greenwich over Deptford Creek, there have been NO LIGHTS since the beginning of October (or is it longer?).

The picture above is from 9th November. There's no change. Fortunately, as far as we know, with darkness descending at 4pm or sooner, the only remotely bad thing that has happened is graffiti artists having a party or two (and leaving all their litter, which is also never cleared up). But it's almost three months since this path has been lit.

Usually this is the sort of thing you could post to Love Lewisham, but it is not so simple. Firstly this path has no postcode – so they can't find it and you can't use their interactive map to report it. More importantly, neither can the police if something awful happens here in the darkness.

Secondly, you have to report the number of the nearest lamppost that has a number written on it (back on Crossfields) because none of the lampposts on the path have numbers. As you can guess, none of yer usual civic minded peeps have done this (because they are sick of being the only people who do), and since the people working for the Parish Council only care about their takehome pay and don't live in the area, no one has done anything about it. Yes, we have been waiting to see how long it will take them to notice before publicly humiliating them (or before there is a nasty episode they will regret). Now that it is dark so early, something must be done. It is simply not safe.

It's a very important path since it forms part of the GLA's Cycle Quietways. In fact TWO so-called Quietways are offered at the Creekside end of this route (one of which is through Crossfields – the maintenance of some of the path has been paid for by the leaseholders who were never even consulted). Strangely, that path is the responsibility of Greenwich Council even though it's in Lewishame, and roadworks to accommodate it across Deptford Church St are still being carried out by them, months after the work was started. Lewisham Homes wasn't even told about it. (Not that them knowing now makes any difference since they would hardly tell us).

Both Greenwich and Lewisham are contributing to the Quietways. The alternative path is along Bronze Street which affects no one and is almost in Greenwich yet is Lewisham's responsibility. Maybe there is a little argument over who is responsible for the Lewisham side of the Ha'Penny Hatch. Well, Lewisham, IT'S YOU – AND YOU HAVE FAILED TO LIGHT THIS PATH FOR THREE MONTHS!

And while we're on the topic of Lewisham being given spending money to tart up Deptford, where did the money disappear to, where's the promised (naff) caff at the top of the high street that was part of the original bid for cash to replace the anchor? WHERE IS THE ANCHOR? What is happening with the Law Centre? It's being done up. Is it going to be a flagship Food Bank Shop as it ought to be? Is it nelly.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Sunday 14 Dec : Deptford Fowlers Molly + London Pantomime Horse Race

Deptford Fowlers Troop do a kind of morris dancing as part of a tradition associated with Plough Monday, the first Monday after Epiphany. Molly dancing began with out of work ploughboys touring around villages offering the landowners the opportunity to pay them to dance instead of plough (since there would be no ploughing till Spring). If the landowners refused them money, they might find their garden lawns ploughed up, so the dancers would conceal their identities by blacking their faces with soot and dressing up in a variation of their Sunday best, with one of the members – the Molly – dressed up as a woman.

Basically it's a pub crawl with music and dance and a bit of dressing up! If you fancy joining the festivities, here's the schedule:

12.00: at the Royal Albert, 460 New Cross Road with dance commencing at 12.30. 
1.30: dance at the Little Crown, 495 New Cross Road
2.30: dance at the Job Centre, 120-122 Deptford High St
3.30: dance at the Dog and Bell, 116 Prince St

Deptford Fowlers Troop also celebrate Mayday when the Deptford Jack in the Green tours south London and the City. The video above is shot outside the Dog and Bell, their spiritual home. If the dancing starts a little too early for you, you can catch them at the Dog & Bell later, and meanwhile, head down the road to Greenwich for the annual Pantomime Horse Race...

Now in its fifth year, this Greenwich event has grown in size (though the contestants remain smallish in numbers – they're hoping for between 20 and 40 this year). Lots of comedians and showbiz personalities get involved.

This year the festivities begin with a science fiction themed opening ceremony at 11am. Stormtroopers (including Darth Vader) will march from the Cutty Sark to Devonport House where the race will start at 1pm. The panto nags then race to the Union Bar on Royal Hill. An after-race party hosted by comedian Stephen Frost starts at 2.30pm at the Greenwich Tavern next to Greenwich Park (£12 on the door). The event raises money for Demelza Children's Hospice – for more details and to see the route go the website!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Do you need help with computers?

The Digital Lab is a new club-type space for Crossfields tenants who need some advice and help with using their digital devices, whether it's a laptop, tablet or smartphone (Android or iPhone).

Local IT trainer Paul Clayton will be setting up a club at the Pink Palace in the new year but in order to get this off the ground, he needs to know how many Crossfields residents are interested.

Paul says "Residents can come to the club with their own devices, or pop in and use the laptops and tablets I'll be setting up. I'll be doing a couple of talks about useful topics such as using wifi and keeping your laptop cleaned up. Internet will be provided via a 3G modem – which limits the numbers of people who can be online to around five – but all are welcome. You may just want to pick up some tips on typing! I'll have some accessibility software, big keyboards and trackballs which are useful for older people or people with low vision, and for those with limited movement. So, if anyone gets a digital gadget for Christmas this year, the club will be a perfect place to show it who is boss!".

The hope is to get it started in late January. Paul already has some interested tenants, but needs a few more to make a case to get funding before setting the date and time. It's intended that the drop-ins will last 6-8 weeks.

If you or someone you know is struggling with their gadgets, get in touch with Paul on 07958 251448 or email

Friday, December 5, 2014

Busy weekend of Creekside music and art starting tonight

Starting with Number3London...

We've slagged off her landlord in the previous post, but we wish only the best to Caffy St Luce and her latest Rocklands project Number3Live Sessions launching at Number 3 Creekside this evening (and continuing 12th and 19th December). The bill tonight is Rhiannon The Nightmare, Jean Genie's Massive Hugs, James Fisher and DJ Gavin Black. It's free entry, doors are 7pm.

Despite the planning application being unresolved, the licensing is in place, so it's likely to be a late one, and a good opportunity for the nearby Crossfields residents to test the sound and noise barriers! Here's hoping their evenings won't be disturbed, and everyone has a great time.

Artwise, it's Christmas Open Studios at Cockpit Arts  – lots of visitors expected as usual as people come from far and wide to pick up classy and crafty Chrismas presents at studio prices at Numbers 18-22 Creekside. It's free entry from 11am till 9pm today but a £3 ticket price over the weekend (which allows entry both days, Sat & Sun 11am-6pm).

APT Gallery at Number 6 Creekside and Arthub Studios at Numbers 5-9 Creekside hope to attract some of these visitors to their own Christmas sales – though of course it might be the other way round! APT were open late for 'SLAM Last Fridays' last weekend and the traffic on Creekside was terrible! Tonight they'll be open from 6–8pm and 1-5pm on Sat & Sun.

Arthub Studios & Gallery's 'Snap it up!' offers a free glass of mulled wine this evening (6-9pm), a DJ and some 'screen printing' (not sure what that means!). Then they're open 1-5pm on the weekend.

Next week on Saturday 13 December, there's a Winterfair at the Arthouse and a Vintage Christmas & Craft market at The Albany.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

New developer buys into Creekside gold rush...

Number One Creekside is the latest bit of real estate in our vicinity to be snapped up by developers. The owner of this popular MOT Testing Centre (opposite the Bird's Nest pub) has sold out to Bluecroft Property Development.

On their home page, Bluecroft announce their new land purchase (May 2014, apparently) as a site with "potential for a large residential new build development of circa 150 apartments".

In an effort to distance himself from this boast, one of Bluecroft's two directors, Tom Mulligan, told us that this refers to another site in Deptford, but he wouldn't say where. So it's probably this one. With 150 flats to fit in to this medium-sized plot, it is likely there will have to be a tower block.

Tom said they specialised in "Affordable Commercial", a mixed use of housing and commercial space – with the affordable emphasis on units for 'creatives' rather than homes that ordinary people can afford. Conscious that he was talking to a local artist, he was keen to show his awareness of the area already being a 'creative and small business environment'. This is also the designation for Creekside given by the Council, though this did little to stop Faircharm Estate owners Workspace cutting its affordable commercial employment space by two thirds in order to build luxury flats by the Creek.

Bluecroft say it will take two to three years to work up suitable plans and they will do their best to consult with their neighbours, since they "are a small company who cannot afford refusals" – in other words, they cannot afford to appeal if planning permission is refused. It is equally true that the Council cannot afford appeals either – there is only so much they can do in the face of aggressive market interests (and practically nothing at all when Boris Johnson steps in and takes planning control from them, eg Convoys Wharf, where the GLA has bent over backwards to give the Hong Kong developer everything it wants). Anyway, just how small can Bluecroft be if they can also boast a £150m project in a secret location in the City?

The north London outfit are also already ensconced in Lewisham – they include Riverdale House next on their list of recent projects. This is a bit odd since Galliard Homes are already actively promoting a whole floor of (15) properties 'off-plan' in this "all private" development (with no 'help to buy'). One way or another, Bluecroft are partnered with some big sharks.

Perhaps they will operate in a similar way to Cathedral plc's Deptford Project. They 'worked with' the Council in its plans for the new station and claim to have 'worked with the community' (the train carriage and low-rent 'creative' spaces in the arches). They certainly threw some money at the area around their site, but where's their investment in Deptford now? Nowhere to be seen. Since they arrived in Deptford, they've acquired large sites in Greenwich. Building on Deptford Project aka Rise was delayed whilst they concentrated on their Greenwich High Road site, and at Morden Wharf on the peninsula they're now pretending to be terribly concerned about the future of the river (and all those terrible high rise luxury developments!).

Then as soon as building started in Deptford they brought in IP Global to sell their properties overseas. See our recent post, and also the Deptford Dame's new post on local reactions to IP Global's marketing strategies. (See the video which provoked protest at the end of this post). It remains to be seen what businesses can exist and survive in the renovated arches, but the busy market and cafe culture depicted in their visuals will be in shade for most of the day.

Will they be offering special rents to social enterprises? Why aren't they doing that now in another part of Deptford – and showing their on-going commitment to the area? As the ex-director of Deptford X Visual Arts festival often noted when trying to raise funding, developers only give money when they are trying to curry favour. Once they have their planning permission, the funding dries up. This year's (late) funder was Anthologynew kids on the block, and making all the right noises and showing themselves to be well cuddly. They only appear 'nice' because they're not as awful as Lend Lease or, indeed, Hutchison Whampoa.

Still, even if Bluecroft intend to pretend to be friendly (quote Tom Mulligan "I come from an artists' background, so I know all about the arts"), it is blindingly obvious that development is their business and they are out to make shitloads of money (as the Deptford Dame coins it). And that is almost preferable to the deception being forged by the wolf-in-sheep's-clothing that is the owner of Number Three Creekside. Mr John Cierach (whose portfolio also includes the yard behind the Bird's Nest and the Big Red Pizza Bus) claims to be creating a "creative hub" for this little corner of Creekside and has tried to convince locals that he is "fully invested in the creative life of the area". Fully invested alright – with his secret plans to buy the Bird's Nest pub and turn it into flats (so far resisted) and his fanciful idea of building flats under the DLR viaduct (nice!).

[Ironically, whilst Cierach's plans to stage weekend late-licensed live music events attracting up to 500 people give nearby long-term residents on Crossfields much cause for concern, a brand new residential development at the MOT-Bluecroft site would be incompatible not only with that, but with the already well-established activities at the Bird's Nest. Venues are often shut down as a result of noise complaints from people who move into new developments knowing full well there is a lively and popular venue nearby – hence this recent e-petition.]

Ultimately, the issue we have with developers is that they are not building the homes that ordinary Londoners can afford. Creating balanced communities is simply not their business; their role in 'regeneration' is totally skewed. Bluecroft Property's plans may include affordable creative business units but they'll probably be the 'micro' kind suitable only for trendy mobile app designers who have been outpriced in Shoreditch. And then only because the Council have asked them to – so that they can continue to attract development money to Lewisham! But Bluecroft are under no obligation to provide any remotely affordable homes. Are they?

"When the artists start coming, that's when you want to get in" Tim Murphy, IP Global.
Er, they're already here, Tim, you knob, and you're pricing them out so they'll all be gone soon.