22 December 2005

24 December 2005

Top West End theatre producer to manage popular music venue

Keith Murray is to take over as general manager of Blackheath Halls. Keith co-produced the George and Ira Gershwin centenary celebrations at The Royal Albert Hall and The London Palladium, plus theatre productions Spike starring Richard Briers, Sitting Pretty with Maureen Lipman, and Only A Matter of Time by Alan Plater. Until recently he was deputy chief executive of the International Festival of Musical Theatre in Cardiff and is vice- chairman of The Academy of Live and Recorded Arts. The halls, which opened in 1895, were bought by Trinity College of Music in 2003.

Former council leader will quit

FORMER council leader Chris Maines has announced he is to quit Bromley borough. The top Liberal Democrat, who was the leader of Bromley Council from 1998 to 2001, is moving to Blackheath where he intends to stand in next May's council elections.
Cllr Maines said: "I don't think it's a Labour stronghold, it's just waiting for a Liberal Democrat councillor.

"Bromley's very formal. We say prayers and bow to the mayor. Lewisham is not like this. And in Bromley, councillors work very hard to attend meetings. In Lewisham there is a huge absenteeism rate."

He says the issues of safer streets, anti-social behaviour and cleaner streets, will still be prominent.

21 December 2005

Lewisham Eye

Thanks to The Man From Catford for his tip off on TfL's Camera pages.

Deptford Broadway / Church Street (Click for current picture)

Catford Gyratory

21 December 2005

Click story title for complete article.

OAP rapes: Man held

Officers have been investigating 98 unsolved rapes and indecent assaults on female pensioners across the capital. A man was held at a South London police station yesterday for questioning following the 8am arrest. The rapist has struck in areas including Forest Hill, Catford, Dulwich, Croydon and Sidcup over a period of 10 years.

Mayor escapes standards probe

THE Standards Board will not investigate an allegation that a directly elected mayor broke his authority's code of conduct. A complaint was lodged with the board, the national body responsible for promoting high ethical standards, against Lewisham Mayor Steve Bullock in November. It related to council meetings on October 20, and December 15, 2004, at which Mr Bullock was asked what consultation the council had undertaken before deciding to close Ladywell Leisure Centre.

Cops block club's extra drinking bid

POLICE have won the day against a popular nightclub which wanted to extend its drinking hours. On Thursday, members of Lewisham's licensing committee refused to allow The Venue in New Cross Road to sell alcohol any later. The club had asked to be open until 6am every day, with booze being sold until 5am. It will now stick with its current hours, selling booze until 2am each day except Sunday, when it stops at 12.30am. It is open until 6am on Saturday/Sunday and 4am on other nights.

Mother accuses Met of cover-up

POLICE have refused to name three officers disciplined following the hunt for a murdered teenager. Information manager Damion Baird at the Directorate of Professional Standards for the Met Police told News Shopper it would not be in the interest of the public to reveal details of investigation surrounding the disappearance of Hannah Williams. But the 14-year-old's devastated mother Bernadette has blasted the Met Police accusing them of a cover-up.

Asbo punishment for teen tearaway

Sanchez Williams, aged 17, has terrorised residents in the Burnt Ash Lane area of Bromley, for more than a year. He has been verbally abusive, caused disorder and been involved in burglary and theft from cars. Under the conditions of the Asbo, which was made at Bromley Magistrates' Court, Williams, of Goudhurst Road, Downham, must not: use threatening, racist, foul or abusive words or behaviour towards anyone in Bromley borough.

17 December 2005

Wally Parr

Special mention for Mr Parr. I first became away of him two summers ago reading Pegasus Bridge: D-Day - the Daring British Airborne Raid by Stephen E. Ambrose. I'll let the article tell you the rest about this son of Lewisham.


Wally Parr, who has died aged 83, took part in the glider-borne assault which captured Pegasus Bridge over the Caen Canal and the Horsa Bridge over the River Orne at Bénouville.

On the night of June 5 1944, D-Day minus one, D Company 2nd Battalion Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, commanded by Major John Howard and part of 6th Airborne Division, climbed aboard six Horsa gliders, and were towed across the Channel by Halifax bombers. Parr, then a corporal, was in the leading glider.

The men carried a variety of weapons - a rifle, a Sten gun or a Bren gun, mortars and grenades. Their faces were blackened with burned cork or coke. Parr had chalked Lady Irene (his wife's name) on the side of the glider for good luck.

Parr glanced out of the open door as the Horsa swept alongside the canal. The trees seemed to be going past at 90 miles per hour. "I just closed my eyes," he said afterwards. A parachute reduced the speed, but the glider landed with a huge crash which tore off the wheels.

It came to a halt 50 yards from the canal bridge, its nose buried in barbed wire. The passengers were knocked out, but they regained consciousness within a few seconds, scrambled out and quickly overcame most of the resistance from the machine-gun pits and the slit trenches.

Parr and a comrade led the way into a set of underground bunkers, flung open the doors, threw in grenades and sprayed inside with their Stens. The river bridge was captured shortly afterwards, but enemy tanks were heard moving towards Bénouville; equipped with cannons and machine guns, they posed a considerable threat.

Parr slid down an embankment and returned to the glider to search for the Piat. He found it but, having no flashlight, he tripped over an ammunition box and bent the barrel. He threw it aside.

Reinforcement by the 7th Battalion Parachute Regiment freed the company from patrolling duties. Parr and three comrades moved to a gun pit and busied themselves exploring the mechanics of a German anti-tank gun. Convinced that enemy snipers were shooting at them from a nearby château, Parr started putting shells though the top floor, spacing them along the building. Howard, appalled, dashed over to him and ordered him to cease firing because the château was being used as a maternity hospital.

Both bridges were held until 1.30 pm on D-Day, when the Commandos led by Brigadier Lord Lovat took over. When Georges Gondrée, who managed the café near the canal bridge, came out with a tray and a bottle of Champagne, the sight of Lovat shaking his head was too much for Parr, who ran up to Gondrée with a cry of "Oui, oui, oui", and drained several glasses.

At about 3 pm a gunboat laden with enemy troops came up the canal from the direction of Caen. Parr and his comrades had a heated discussion about the range before firing their gun. The first shell dropped short; the second hit the stern and the boat withdrew, trailing smoke.

Walter (Wally) Robert Parr, the son of a professional footballer, was born at Lewisham, south-east London, on April 5 1922 and was educated at Plassey Road School. On the outbreak of the Second World War he was called up as a reservist for the Gloucestershire Regiment.

In 1942 he transferred to the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, and took part in two years of rigorous training for D-Day. A highly proficient marksman, he was in charge of the snipers.

One dark night, Parr and two friends decided to raid the Naafi. They carried away soap powder by the sackload and spread it over the walkways. It rained shortly afterwards, and the next morning everybody had to wade through the foam. Howard demoted Parr from corporal to private, and sentenced him to a fortnight in jail, but protected him from more drastic punishment. "Parr is a born leader," he said. "As soon as we get into action, he will be promoted at once."

After the capture of the canal and river bridges on D-Day, "D" Company moved towards Escoville, where they came under heavy fire and took many casualties. When orders were given to withdraw, Parr and a comrade helped to carry the wounded three-quarters of a mile back to the company position.

The company had lost almost half its strength and spent two months in a defensive position. One night Parr and Howard went out on a fighting patrol near Bréville to try to bring back prisoners.

In the moonlight, in an area strewn with the bodies of soldiers who had been killed by an artillery concentration, they saw a group of six men sitting in a trench, playing cards. They had not a mark on them and were still holding their cards in front of them. They had been killed by concussion.

Parr was wounded by shrapnel in Normandy and returned to England; but he rejoined his company in December 1944 in time for the battle of the Ardennes. He was wounded again in Germany, but remained with the company until the end of the campaign.

In 1946, shortly after his battalion went to Palestine, Parr was demobilised. He worked as a window cleaner in Catford until 1991, when he moved to France.

The original 110-ft long Pegasus Bridge was removed in 1993 to make way for the widening of the Caen Canal. In 2000 it was rescued from rusting into oblivion and moved to a canalside position between Bénouville and Ranville, where it forms part of Memorial Pegasus, a new Airborne Museum.

Parr was English President of the Association for the Defence and Safeguard of Pegasus Bridge and its site at Bénouville. He was an excellent communicator, and played a leading role in the vigorous campaign to restore Pegasus Bridge and make it part of a battlefield memorial to the 6th Airborne Division. The Airborne Assault Normandy Trust contributed substantial funds towards the costs involved.

Wally Parr died on December 3 at Lewisham Hospital, where he had been born. He married, in 1940, Irene Spear, who died in 1986; he is survived by their two sons (one son predeceased him) and one daughter. For the last 14 years, his companion had been Louise Claret, a Frenchwoman; she died in October.

17 December 2005

It's been looking a little untidy around here lately - so let's cut the stories down. It allows you to skim read what you want and click the links to the stories you want to read about in-depth. That way, the sites get hits (after all, they do the hard work and I just provide a link blog). Onwards...

Death of campaigner

A LONG-SERVING newspaper editor who was awarded an MBE for his services to community journalism has died. Roger Norman, 65, retired from South London Press sister paper The Mercury in 1996 after 25 years. He was famed for making a stand against racism when his front page lead was headlined "Let's not vote for the NF" as its members marched through the streets of Lewisham in 1974.

Benefit cheat caught

A FRAUDSTER who cheated the council out of £19,370 has been ordered to complete 100 hours of community service. Farida Sebaduka admitted benefit fraud at Woolwich Crown Court. She was arrested following an anonymous tip-off to Lewisham Council and her home in Hexal Road, Catford, was raided by police in April last year.

Notorious club wants to stay open all night

The Venue, Clifton Rise, New Cross, which has been labelled a "hotspot for street crime, drugs and firearms", wants to serve alcohol until 5am Monday to Friday and 6am on Saturday. But police have criticised the proposal and say longer hours will mean more crime, disorder and public nuisance. Officers have compiled records of the 271 times police have attended the bar in the last year.

Racist cops in our midst

Detective Sergeant Jimi Tele of the Lewisham serious crime unit has been issued with an apology by top brass who wanted to stop his discrimination claim reaching an employment tribunal. DS Tele has accepted the apology and dropped his case, but the Lewisham Anti-Racist Action Group (LARAG) are demanding that the force improve their act to prevent other black cops facing discrimination.

Swimming in satire at party

CAMPAIGNERS celebrated the 40th anniversary of a leisure centre's opening with a panto poking fun at top council figures. The Save Ladywell Pool group held a party outside Lewisham Leisure Centre in Lewisham High Street, to commemorate its opening on December 11, 1965.

Xmas job worries

A HUNDRED council workers face a bleak Christmas after it was revealed they are to be forced to reapply for their own jobs. Lewisham Council has announced it is to drastically change its building services department cutting 29 positions and redeploying 88 in a new structure.

Breath of fresher air

SMOKING anywhere in the buildings and grounds of Lewisham Hospital, Lewisham High Street, will be forbidden from New Year's Day. The policy, which applies to staff, patients and visitors, will help prevent passive smoking. The London Strategic Health Authorities have asked all London trusts to introduce the ban as soon as possible.

14 December 2005


Pop into your local Lewisham Library and take advantage of their rather generous "Hire Two For The Price Of One" offer on CDs, DVDs, CD-Roms and other such multimedia!

Now let's hope they update their blog! ;)

13 December 2005

13 December 2005

£22k reward to find nurse killers

COPS have put up a £22,000 reward in the hunt for the killers of a nurse.

Simon Pearse was viciously set upon after getting off a night bus in Rushey Green, Catford, during the early hours of July 30.

The 45-year-old, of Goodrich Road, East Dulwich, was taken to hospital where he died two weeks later from a fractured skull.

Cops hunting his killers believe there are witnesses to the attack who have yet to come forward.

They offered a reward of £22,000 this week for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of Mr Pearse's attackers.

Police believe the murdered man was in Vauxhall on the night of his death.

He took a N36 night bus to Rushey Green shortly before he was attacked.

Detective Inspector Tim Grattan-Kane, leading the murder hunt, said the driver of a passing taxi could have information vital to the inquiry.

He said: "We are particularly keen to trace a black hackney cab travelling east around the South Circular - the A205 - towards Eltham, around 3am.

"It was a short distance behind a Tesco lorry.

"The cab driver may have seen something and had to brake.

"We are appealing for the cab driver, who may have been going home at the end of a shift, to contact the incident room as soon as possible."

Mr Pearse was white, 5ft 6in tall, of stocky build and was wearing a black T-shirt, black leather jacket and a bandana the night he died.

Police want to hear from anyone who spotted him, or saw several men running away from the area in the direction of Bromley Road.

Information on the murder to 020 8721 4054 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Housing on nature reserve 'ridiculous'

CAMPAIGNERS have slammed an idea to build houses on a nature reserve which is home to woodpeckers, sparrowhawks and lizards.

The New Cross Gate Cutting Nature Reserve was included in a consultation document put out by Lewisham council this autumn asking the public which sites in the borough should be earmarked for development.

But Darren Johnson, Lewisham councillor and Green Party member of the London Assembly, said the site was "the best trackside wildlife habitat in the whole of London".

He said it should keep its status as a site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation.

The consultation document - called Local Development Framework Issues and Options - said the suggestion of development came from a borough resident.

Cllr Johnson said: "I cannot believe the council is taking this ridiculous suggestion seriously. I have been contacted by a number of groups and individuals alarmed at suggestions that the nature reserve be built on for housing."

The site, off Vesta Road, is leased by the London Wildlife Trust from Network Rail.

It lies each side of the railway line between New Cross Gate and Brockley stations.

Charity worker Geoff Taylor, 49, lives in Barriedale and volunteers at the reserve by maintaining its security.

He said: "It is in a wildlife corridor so the wildlife can come up the railway line from the countryside. It is also very interesting because it is the only site of acid grassland this side of Haywards Heath."

The reserve contains silver birch trees which used to be grown to be burnt in the nearby brick foundries.

Mr Taylor said the site was too dangerous to be built on because the ground was weak.

Other attempts to build next to the railway line, at the junction of Vesta Road and Endwell Road, had resulted in subsidence, he said.

Street market has big stores beat for value

SHOPPERS can get cheaper fruit and vegetables at street market than at a neighbouring supermarket, according to research.

The London Development Agency (LDA), which did surveys in London markets last month, revealed a basket of food from stalls at Lewisham Street Market cost £4.74.

The same goods were £7.18 from Sainsbury's, in the shopping centre.

Fruit and veg stall holder Jay Cook, 39, said the findings underlined how important markets are to local economies and communities.

The father-of-two said: "We form an important part of Lewisham and our produce is fresher and cheaper than supermarkets.

"The problem is younger generations go for convenience food shopping and prefer to use credit cards."

The LDA, which did the research for the Mayor's London Food Board, discovered the 100-year-old market helped improve trade for the other shops in the area.

Monde Yamalezi, 26, of Carisbrooke Road, Bromley, who goes to the market every week, said: "It's cheaper and you find everything you want from all cultures."

11 December 2005

11 December 2005

Cops versus club

COPS are against extended drinking hours at a top nightclub after being called to a string of violent incidents.

The Venue in New Cross Road, New Cross, has asked to be open until 6am every day, with alcohol being sold until 5am.

The entertainment it offers includes tribute acts to Madonna, Queen, Elvis, Abba and other performers.

The Venue, which has a capacity of more than 1,000, is able to sell alcohol until 2am every night except Sunday, when it stops at 12.30am. It is open until 6am on Saturdays and 4am on other nights.

Chief Inspector Wayne Nash, of Lewisham police, objected to the extended hours on the grounds of preventing crime and disorder and public nuisance.

Police records show they received 271 calls connected with The Venue between January 2004 and August 2005, 238 of which were between midnight and 6am.

The majority of the incidents officers attended were in the categories of "disturbance in public place" and "violence against person".

A sample of the calls received by police has been submitted to Lewisham council's licensing committee which is due to decide on the licence on Thursday.

In its submission to the committee, The Venue said it had a CCTV system and a search policy at the door to prevent weapons being taken inside.

It said no one who appeared to be drunk or on drugs was allowed to enter, there were security staff inside and outside the premises, and up to 25 bouncers were there when the club was at its busiest.

It added that notices were also displayed at the premises encouraging patrons to leave quietly.

Owner Dan Dowling said: "The Venue is a family-run business and has been established for 17 years.

"Many thousands of people pass through our doors every year and this success is due to our customers feeling safe and secure while they are enjoying their night out.

"We have a full complement of fully qualified and trained door supervisors both inside and outside the club.

"We are very proud of our achievements in The Venue. We feel we have always had a good working relationship with the police and we are ready and willing to address any concerns they may have now."

Some of the 271 calls to the Venue since January 2004 November 7, 2004. 1.09am: Male throwing bottle at informant [person phoning the police]. 1.12am: A female has been assaulted. A disturbance heard in the background.

November 28, 2004. 12.02am: Fight at The Venue, bouncers beating people up. One male hurt. London Ambulance Service (LAS) called.

December 4, 2004. 2.32am: Female requesting police to The Venue stating that there is a fight. 2.48am: Two males fighting.

Christmas Day, 2004. 3.01am: Fight now - staff of The Venue cannot control it. Female heard screaming - five people fighting.

March 6, 2005. 3.30am: Information from Lewisham council's CCTV that there is a fight taking place out-side The Venue between youths and security guards. March 19, 2005. 3.09am: Fight at location - two females detained by security.

March 20, 2005. 2.07am: Crying female requests police assistance at location stating there is a fight taking place.

March 15, 2005. 2.26am: One of the bouncers has been assaulted by suspects running towards Clifton Rise. One male unconscious and taken to Lewisham Hospital.

April 24, 2005. 3.12am: Male assaulted suffering a broken nose. LAS attended. One person arrested for actual bodily harm.

June 5, 2005. 1.15am: Caller states that he has been assaulted by a bouncer at location hitting him on the head. Police on scene state that no one's been injured just two very drunk males being silly.

July 2, 2005. 3.44am: Large fight outside The Venue involving multiple persons. Nine police units originally assigned the call.

Lower Sydenham Bridge makes Top Five

Two of the most bashed railway bridges in the UK are located less than a mile apart, according to Network Rail.
The Barrowby Road bridge in Grantham, Lincolnshire has been hit 32 times in the past year and nearby Springfield Road bridge has had 16 collisions.

A Road Safety Bill proposes a £5,000 fine along with a six-point endorsement for drivers who hit railway bridges.

Ben Herbert of Network Rail said "bridge bashing" causes about £10m in damages every year.

Five railway bridges have been hit more than 100 times since 1995, including the Barrowby bridge and others in Swindon, Litchfield, Lower Sydenham in South London and Ely. Continued...

More than £8m for specialist services

COUNCIL chiefs stand accused of wasting taxpayers' money by spending more than £8m in a year on outside experts.

Opposition councillors say Lewisham Council's spending on consultants is "excessive" and calls into question the ability of its own staff.

And one furious resident who has waged a three-year campaign against council waste says the "profligate" local authority should be "capped".

In the financial year 2004/5, the council spent £8.3m on recruiting expertise, including financial and legal advice, from outside the town hall.

The council has used consultants to advise on many of its major schemes, including the £150m Building Schools for the Future programme and the Downham Lifestyles centre.

Downham ward councillor Mark Morris claims wrangling over consultants' fees was to blame for delays in building the new leisure centre.

Referring to the total amount spent, he said: "There is always the need to bring in expert advice but £8m in a year seems excessive to me.

"Spending this amount of money on outside advice begs questions about whether Lewisham is recruiting enough high-quality staff."

Figures released in a written answer at last month's full council meeting reveal the council has spent a further £3.9m to date in this financial year.

Retired company director Alan Copson has written to the Audit Commission five times since 2002, accusing the council of wasting too much money.

Mr Copson, of Brangbourne Road, Catford, said: "It is scandalous to spend this much on consultants and an outrageous waste of taxpayers' money. This profligate council must be capped. It is the only way to cut this appalling waste."

Lewisham Council says it saves money by employing experts on a contract basis rather than full-time.

A spokesman said: "While council employees have expertise in a number of areas, we cannot be specialists in every area we provide services.

"As such we buy in specialist advice as and when required."

Boroughs ready for the cold spell

COUNCIL chiefs have revealed plans to make sure they are not caught cold by the big freeze.

Forecasters believe this winter could be one of the coldest in recent history, with pre-Christmas snow and below freezing temperatures predicted for the area.

Now both Lewisham and Greenwich councils are taking major action, to ensure motorists and residents do not suffer during the cold spell.

Lewisham says it will spend around £80,000 on gritting roads.

It has earmarked all A and B roads, bus routes and roads with steep hills, to be gritted when forecasts predict icy weather and snow showers.

Greenwich Council has published a winter service plan, which contains details of its measures.

It has in store 1,400 tonnes of road salt and six gritter lorries, which will be used to grit the 400km of carriageway it is responsible for.

The council also says it will concentrate on gritting footpaths and busy areas like shopping centres.

08 December 2005

08 December 2005

Trees replaced on the heath

THREE trees were planted in Blackheath to replace mature willows felled in June.

A willow, alder and birch were set in the ground during a ceremony this week beside the Prince of Wales Pond on Wednesday.

Lewisham council said the previous trees were chopped down for health and safety reasons. Gavin Moore, deputy mayor, said: "Blackheath is not just a historic landmark but a beautiful open space that the public can enjoy.

"We want to do everything we can to preserve its natural beauty and ensure it remains a place that everyone will still want to visit in the future." The council, which paid for the trees, said there were proposals to plant three more birch trees in the future but these would be subject to consultation and funding.

Feed the 'cows' rubbish in New Cross recycling field

NEW Cross became Moo Cross on Monday as recycling bins appeared in a new guise.

Lewisham council has transformed ordinary recycling bins into a herd of lookalike cows, set in a tranquil "field" in the heart of the hustle and bustle of New Cross.

The project Feed the Cows at Moo Cross, funded by the Onyx Environmental Trust, aims to draw attention to the under-used recy-cling site at St James', creating an environment that will encourage people to care for it.

The cows could be farmed out across the borough and even further afield should the scheme prove successful.

Schools could even get their own pet moo.

Lewisham Mayor Steve Bullock, said: "Moo Cross is a great way to get people recycling and help make Lewisham even greener.

"I'm urging people to take care of the cows and fatten them up with plastic bottles, cans, card, paper and glass."

Patricio Forrester, of Tonic Wonder Remedies, the company that designed the cows, said: "The site was a dead space and we wanted to bring it to life with beauty and humour."

Old enough to know better

THREE men have been hit with anti-social behaviour orders (Asbos) for persistently harassing passers-by on the streets.

Michael Marriott, Simon Paul and Harold Thompson have been banned from a large section of Deptford and New Cross, for their constant anti-social behaviour.

Now the borough's leader has used the case to underline his commitment to "name and shame" those people making other's lives a misery.

The trio were already the subject of interim Asbo's following a hearing at Woolwich Magistrates' Court in June.

At the initial hearing the court heard how the men frequently loitered around New Cross Road, acting in an "aggressive and abusive fashion".

The men were also accused of drinking in the street and offering to buy drugs for passers-by.

Permanent Asbos were given to the three men at a second hearing at the same court, on December 2.

Marriott, aged 43 who did not attend court and Thompson, aged 49, were given indefinite orders, while Paul, aged 40, was handed a two-year order.

The terms of the Asbos mean the three men cannot:

Enter a large area covering New Cross and Deptford, including Deptford High Street, Sanford Street and New Cross Road (apart from when travelling by bus or train).

‘We will name and shame the small number of people who are disturbing the lives of our citizens who want to get on with their lives in a clean, safe and friendly environment.’ LEWISHAM MAYOR STEVE BULLOCK

Appear in public together within a specified area of Deptford and New Cross.

Threaten, harass or intimidate anyone within the entire borough.

Loiter with the intent of using or supplying drugs to anyone within the entire borough.

District Judge Dennis Lynch warned the men they would be handed lengthy custodial sentences if they breached their orders.

The trio have been brought to justice following a year-long investigation by Deptford police and the council's anti-social behaviour team.

In April News Shopper criticised Lewisham's anti-social behaviour unit for refusing to release details of those receiving Asbos.

But Lewisham Mayor Steve Bullock says he wants residents to know about the people causing trouble on their doorstep.

He said: "We will not tolerate anti-social behaviour and we will stamp it out.

"People have a right to know who is restricted by an Asbo so they can report any infringement to the authorities.

"We will name and shame the small number of people who are disturbing the lives of our citizens who want to get on with their lives in a clean, safe and friendly environment."

Teen raped in gang attack

A gang has forced a 17-year-old girl to drink alcohol and use drugs before raping her in an alleyway.

Five men approached the teenager as she waited for a bus in New Cross, south-east London, at around 8.30pm on 28 October.

She is not from London and had spent the night with friends.

The men took her into an alley off Manor Avenue, where they made her smoke cannabis.

The youngest member of the group asked the others to leave and raped her.

When he was done, a second man indecently assaulted her.

She escaped and fled to a pub on the corner of a pub Upper Brockley Road and Ashby Road, where a woman helped her.

On the way she also knocked on a green front door, which was answered by a man with a baby in his arms.

Detective Constable Sally Leaver urged the man and the woman to contact police. "They are not suspects and I believe they may be able to provide me with important information."

She also appealed for help to identify the suspects.

Police has issued an e-fit of the rapist, described as white, aged 16 to 22, slim and 5ft8in tall. He wore a dark blue tracksuit, had light, spiky hair and said he was Polish.

The second sex attacker, also white, had an Eastern European accent. Detectives said he was in his late 20s, 5ft5in tall, heavily built and with thinning black hair.

The other three, one of which appeared about 40, also sounded like Eastern Europeans.

Before the attack one man's mobile phone rang with a Crazy Frog ring tone.

Anyone with information can call 020 8284 8300.

04 December 2005

04 December 2005

I can only apologise that the updates are no longer daily :( It's a busy time and that's my only excuse.

Swimming star joins pool battle

OLYMPIC gold medal winner Duncan Goodhew said it was "unacceptable" for a South London town to be without a swimming pool for any length of time.

Ladywell Leisure Centre in Lewisham High Street is due to shut in 2007 to make way for a new school which is supposed to open in 2009.

But campaigners from Save Ladywell Pool have been trying to get the decision reversed. Lewisham council says a replacement pool is due to open in the town centre in 2010, although council officers have admitted it could be as late as 2012, leaving a five-year gap.

Mr Goodhew, told the South London Press: "That is unacceptable. Pools should not be closed unless another one is open.

"Most pools have a serious queue for learning to swim lessons.

"You are denying people of years of health and fitness and children of the opportunity to learn to swim."

Mr Goodhew won gold for the 100-metre breaststroke in Moscow in 1980.

BNP bottom of pile

Last month Mark Morris, a Liberal Democrat councillor in Lewisham in south London, was cleared of libelling BNP candidate Tess Culnane.

A judge ruled Cllr Morris was correct to claim in a leaflet that many BNP members had criminal convictions. It went on to ask whether "this was the kind of person you want as an elected councillor?"

Mrs Culcane was ordered to pay more than £100,000 in legal costs. The BNP have since distanced themselves from Mrs Culcane claiming they did not encourage her to go to court. She is no longer a member of their party.

In seperate developments Conservative MP Ben Wallace has written to the boss of the e-Bay-owned PayPal over concerns that the online payment service is being used to raise funds for the BNP.

The MP's concerns were sparked by a campaign by the local Lancaster & Wyre UAF branch. UAF point out that PayPal's policy bans support for organisations "that promote hate, violence, or racial intolerance."

Mr Wallace has written to Paypal chief executive Geoff Iddison expressing concerns over the BNP's use of the online money-payment facilitiy.

In 2004 Barclays and HSBC closed the accounts of the BNP following an undercover documentary by the BBC into the actions of the party.

Lewisham Social Services' CSCI success

Lewisham Council's Social Services has been awarded an extra star rating, making it a two star service, following its annual review by the Government's governing body, the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI).

The CSCI concluded that Social Services in Lewisham are serving most adults well and that the service has promising capacity for improvement for adults and children.

Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham, said: 'This year’s increased rating is an outstanding achievement and is testament to the hard work of our staff, and their commitment to providing the best possible service to adults and children across the borough.'

'We will continue to be focused on improving services to the borough’s vulnerable adults and children, and deliver them the social services they deserve.'

The CSCI star ratings are an assessment of the overall performance of each council in delivering Social Services in 2004/5.

Social Services ratings range from no stars, the lowest performing councils, to three stars.

Win £500 in the Green box lottery - register free online

More than 700 households have already registered for the Green box lottery - a new scheme to reward residents for taking up the new weekly recycling service.

The first winner will be picked out in mid-December but it’s not too late to register. For residents who missed the registration form in last month’s Lewisham Life, an online application form is now available. And anyone without internet access can register over the phone.

Every month for six months, a lucky recycling Lewisham resident will be picked at random to win £500. Local people can register at any point during this period. A recycling officer will visit the winner to check they are recycling – only regular recyclers will win the cash!

Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham, said: 'It’s great that hundreds of households have already registered for the Green box lottery and there’s still time for more to join up before the first winner is drawn in December.

With our new weekly recycling service, which now collects plastic bottles, paper, card, cans and glass, local people can now recycle up to 65% of their waste.'

All residents need to do to take part in the Love Lewisham: Green box lottery is:

make sure they have a green box/wheelie bin and that they are using it
fill out the online registration form by answering the question: 'What five items can you put in your Green Box?'
Residents can now put plastic bottles in their green boxes as well as paper, card, glass and cans.

Residents living on housing estates can also register for the Love Lewisham: Green box lottery and just need to make sure that they are using their mini-recycling centres.

To order a green box or find out more about recycling call 020 8314 7171 or email recycle@lewisham.gov.uk.

To register online for the Green Box Lottery visit www.lewisham.gov.uk/recycling

Local people who do not have access to the internet can register by calling 020 8314 2245.

30 November 2005

02 December 2005

Mother warns of costly loan plans

A SINGLE mum is warning hard-up families not to get "ripped-off" by doorstep lenders this Christmas.

Jackie Murray, 34, claims she was "conned" into taking out a £500 cash loan just before Christmas, in 2003.

The mother-of-two, who already had a £9,000 debt, did not realise she would be paying back a total of £970 over the space of a year.

This meant she had to repay almost twice the amount she borrowed.

Having learnt her lesson, she is now warning other families living on the breadline not to give in to home credit firms.

And she welcomes an investigation being carried out by the Competition Commission into the ways companies such as Provident and Shopacheck operate.

The inquiry into the £2billion-a-year home credit industry was set up in December 2004 following a complaint from the National Consumer Council (NCC).

The commission has been investigating whether the home credit market prevents or distorts competition to the detriment to customers.

It will publish a report on its provisional findings next year.

Mrs Murray, of Taylors Lane, Sydenham, said: "The sooner people find out what these companies are up to the better.

"I was naive when I took the loan out. I thought the extra money just before Christmas would come in handy.

"It is the worse mistake I could have made and I would advise anyone to stay clear of any dodgy doorstep lender, especially at this time of year."

Gary Ellison, 38, of Manciple Street, London, who used to work for Provident as a doorstep lender in New Cross, said: "I feel guilty when I think about how I used to get money from people, who were mostly single-parent families.

"They were the easiest targets to get money from as they would want to buy presents for their kids from our catalogues. It was our way of keeping them on our books.

"This time of year just before Christmas was one of the best time to earn hundreds of pounds."

Mum’s ashes left on shelf for 9 years

A DISTRESSED son has slammed a funeral firm after it emerged his mother's ashes were still in storage nine years after her death.

Since 1996, Eddie Lengthorn has made weekly visits to Lewisham Crematorium believing his mum's ashes were scattered there.

He and other family members put up a memorial plaque in the grounds and have spent hours paying their respects.

But the taxi driver was left stunned earlier this month when he received a letter from Funeralcare asking what to do with his mother Iris' ashes.

The firm had been charged with the 56-year-old's funeral after she died of bowel cancer in November 1996.

In the letter, the company asked Mr Lengthorn what it should do with the remains which had been kept in a chapel at its base in Rushey Green, Catford, since the funeral.

Mr Lengthorn, who is the oldest of seven children, says he had a verbal agreement with staff the ashes would be scattered across the crematorium grounds in Verdant Lane, Hither Green.

The father-of-three said: "It feels like everything has been wasted. We believed her ashes had been scattered and we took comfort because she was all around us.

"The money spent on flowers over the years can be quantified but what about the tears and grief? You can't measure those."

The 41-year-old is also upset because it took nearly a decade for the funeral arrangers to get in touch with him.

Mr Lengthorn, of Towncourt Crescent, Petts Wood, says when he complained to Funeralcare, he was promised £2,000 compensation.

He was planning to donate the cash to St Christopher's Hospice, Lawrie Park Road, Sydenham, where Mrs Lengthorn died.

But Funeralcare, which is part of the Co-operative group, denies this and does not accept responsibility because it does not have written permission to scatter the ashes.

A spokesman says it is standard for remains to be left with the company for long periods of time.

He said: "We are sorry to learn of Mr Lengthorn's distress over his late mother's ashes, and as a gesture of goodwill, we have offered him any reasonable assistance in scattering his late mother's ashes, such as the provision of a funeral vehicle."

Mr Lengthorn now has his mother's remains and is considering where to spread them.

He said: "We may scatter them at her home in Catford or we may scatter them at the crematorium where we have been paying our respects all these years.

"Then we'll have closure."

30 November 2005

Preying in cemetery

A POWERFUL bird of prey has escaped from its handler and made itself at home in a cemetery.

The Harris hawk, a native of the US, has been spotted in a number of cemeteries over the past three months, prompting fears for local wildlife.

In the past few weeks, the raptor, which has a four-foot wingspan, has taken up residence in Verdant Lane Cemetery, Catford.

John McDaid, of George Street, Lewisham, was visiting a relative's grave when he heard a "tinkling" overhead.

Mr McDaid said: "It had a bell and a piece of leather attached to its foot. I called it and it looked down at me."
He quipped: "I'd better leave my toupee behind next time."

Harris hawks were brought to this country in the last century as hunting birds and live on creatures up to the size of ducks, owls and rabbits.

In the UK they are all kept in captivity. Neal Fowler, of the Independent Bird Register, said: "We have someone in Catford trying to catch this bird but we don't know who it belongs to.

"It is probably in the cemetery because it's quiet, and there is plenty to feed on, like squirrels and pigeons."

Keith Noble, of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said: "It's bigger and more powerful than the sparrowhawks and kestrels you normally see around Lewisham."

Mr Noble added that while the bird would not "devastate" local wildlife there was always a problem with escapees because they did not fit in with native species.

Anyone who sees the bird should call the Independent Bird Register on 0870 6088500.

Advice to help elderly

OLDER people from ethnic minorities can benefit from a new advice service.

Age Concern Lewi-sham launches its new initiative today, aimed exclusively at the borough's black and ethnic minority community.

Three drop-in advice centres have already been established at the Turkish Elders Club, St Laurence Church Hall, Catford, the Calabash Day Centre, Catford, and at Cinnamon Court, Deptford.

Age Concern hopes the new service will complement these and provide "timely, effective and appropriate advice" for the elderly.

Advice co-ordinator Jeanne Wilson added: "We hope this service will reach even more isolated elders.

"Age Concern is aiming to offer them access to our high-quality advice service."

The new service is being funded by £48,000 from the Department for Work and Pensions.

To make an appointment call 020 8690 9050.

Olympic hopeful feared police would end dream

AN INTERNATIONAL sprinter who was mistaken for an armed robber feared heavy-handed police tactics would end his Olympic dream.

Great Britain 100m runner James Ellington was dragged from his car and tied up by armed police in Bellingham because they thought he was a suspect.

Now the 20-year-old has told how he feared his career could have been at risk due to the "excessive force" used by the police officers.

Mr Ellington was on his way home from visiting a friend, in Bromley Road, Catford, when he saw five police cars on his tail.

The cars surrounded him as he got to the Beckenham Hill estate, ordering him to pull over.

The promising sprinter, who finished fifth in last year's European under-23 championships, was dragged from his car.

He claims he was then thrown to the ground and kneed in the back before having his hands tied.

Mr Ellington, who harbours ambitions of competing in the 2008 Olympics, suffered knee and back injuries.

He said: "It was horrible. I was thinking my career could be in danger.

"I have never been in trouble with the police in my life. I don't know why they went after me."

After his 20-minute ordeal on November 22, police realised they had the wrong man and released Mr Ellington.

The Bellingham resident claims the officers apologised and said they were "only doing their job" but he was not offered any first-aid care.

Mr Ellington, who has now made a formal complaint against the police, added: "I accept they have a job to do but they don't need to use excessive force.

"If they are not 100 per cent sure they shouldn't be dragging people from cars."

Scotland Yard say they will investigate any complaint received.

Council ‘hid’ its housing report

AN OPPOSITION leader has criticised Lewisham Council for "hiding" an independent report which criticised its housing repair services.

The Audit Commission findings criticise Lewisham's maintenance standards and says the council will struggle to achieve its Decent Homes target by 2010.

Liberal Democrat leader Councillor Mark Morris is unhappy councillors have not had a chance to quiz council chiefs on the report, six months since it entered the public domain.

Published in April, the report makes a number of damning conclusions.

It says the council:

Cannot demonstrate it achieves value for money in its repairs and maintenance service;

Has no consistent track record of delivering service improvement;

Does not always comply with its own policies and procedures;

May not achieve the Decent Homes target by 2010.

Morris, who represents Downham ward, believes members should have had greater access to the report.

He said: "The council is always willing to boast about complimentary reports but it seems coy about releasing this information.

"It is appalling this has been hidden from us and not been properly discussed by full council."

The report also says the council's gas repair service is "weak" and almost five per cent of tenants remain at "unnecessary risk".

Cllr Morris added: "This report just confirms what I hear from people during my surgeries every week.

"I have known people who have had to wait for more than a week for heating and gas repairs."

The report concludes by saying Lewisham provides a "fair service which has uncertain prospects for improvement".

Lewisham Council says the report's recommendations "are being addressed".

A spokesman said: "We feel the report did not put into context the challenges faced by an inner-city borough or recognise plans already in place to improve services.

"The report was published on the Audit Commission's website and was circulated and discussed with our tenants' representatives."

The Audit Commission is an independent body charged with making sure taxpayers receive value for money.

28 November 2005

28 November 2005

Pools to be saved on film

A FILM-MAKER is to shoot footage of the pump rooms underneath a Victorian swimming baths threatened with destruction.

Once James Melloy has completed his film at Forest Hill Pools he intends to give it to the Sydenham Society and the Friends of Forest Hill Pools for posterity. Both groups are fighting to save the two 120-year-old baths from being knocked down and replaced with one modern swimming pool.

Lewisham council has been consulting the public over whether to proceed with this option or carry out a refurbishment of the existing facility.

James's film will include footage of the 1920s washing machines, spinners and drying systems that were used for towels; the area where coal to heat the water used to be stored; and the filtration system which is still used today.

James, of Sydenham Park, had a tour of the Dartmouth Road facility on Thursday last week and hopes to make the film in the next couple of weeks.

He said: "I hope the pump rooms can be listed. What amazed me is that they are still used. It's almost like a living museum.

"It all looks relatively good for the age that it is. Certainly a lot of the pipework has been painted and looks good.

"There are other bits that are old and knackered and unused."

He said Lewisham council needed to have a "sympathetic and imaginative" approach to the equipment's future.

One idea, he suggested, would be to get the rooms on a list of film locations, which would generate income from television and film companies.

The rooms could also be opened up each September for the annual Open House weekend, he said.

24 Hour Pubs?

DRINKERS looking for 24-hour boozing will be disappointed after very few premises applied for all-day licences.

In Southwark, the Ministry of Sound nightclub is the only venue that has applied to be open all hours.

But the council has received 320 applications to extend opening hours out of a total of more than 1,000 establishments. The rest want to keep the same hours they had before the new law came in.

The Licensing Act 2003 came into effect at midnight on Wednesday.

In Lewisham, Stonewalls bar in the high street has been given a 24-hour licence.
And eight off-licences have also been granted permission to be open all the time.

A total of 141 of the 653 premiseslicences granted have also been given the go-ahead to open after midnight.

Lambeth council received no applications to be open for 24-hour trading.

But 200 premises have applied to vary their licences. All those applications have been approved but with some changes.

Joan Ruddock, MP for Lewisham Deptford, said the new laws would help the police tackle problem bars and problem drinkers.

She said: "I voted for the new Licensing Act because my priority is to combat antisocial behaviour and protect residents.

"Local licensing committees can punish venues by reducing opening hours, imposing strict conditions, suspending their licence, replacing the management or even taking the licence away completely."

Retrial ordered over DJ 'killing'

A MAN accused of murdering his flat-mate then torching the body will stand trial again in April.

Michael Rogers-Wilson, 28, is said to have beaten Brett Youngs to death with a baseball bat after a row.

He then allegedly set fire to the body of the 30-year-old web designer and DJ, before fleeing the squat they shared in Northbrook Road, Lewisham.

Rogers-Wilson was arrested after Mr Youngs's death on May 27, 2003, and stood trial at the Old Bailey last month for murder and arson.

But earlier this month the jury was discharged after failing to reach verdicts following more than 29 hours of deliberations.

On Tuesday, Rogers-Wilson appeared in court again by video link from jail, dressed in a brown jumper and blue jeans.

Judge Peter Rook ordered that he stand trial again on April 10 and remanded him in custody.

Rogers-Wilson, of Little Heath Farm, Little Heath Lane, Oxshott, Surrey, denies murder and arson.

Time to sort out pigeon poo problem at bridge

AN ANGRY mum is concerned about bird poo rather than bird flu after her daughter injured herself slipping on pigeon droppings.

Joanne Hall claims transport bosses have ignored her pleas to clean a poo-strewn railway bridge in Burnt Ash Hill, Lee, for the past two years.

Now Mrs Hall is livid after her 10-year-old daughter slipped on a "skating rink" of pigeon excrement while trying to avoid the poop raining down from above.

Mrs Hall, of Wellmeadow Road, Lee, says she has written 10 letters to Network Rail and Transport for London since August 2003.

She has also contacted Lewisham Council and Lewisham East MP Bridget Prentice to demand the dirty bridge is cleaned up.

But she claims nothing was done and last week matters came to a messy head when her daughter Ellie took a tumble.

Mrs Hall, 44, said: "These pigeons are causing a health risk and an environmental risk.

"When it is frosty the poo on the pavement becomes quite slippery in patches.

"Sometimes it is so thick it is like a skating rink.

"If they can clear the pigeons from Trafalgar Square, why not a railway bridge?"

Ellie, who attends Colfe's School, Horn Park Lane, Lee, walks to school every day but runs under the bridge with a school bag over her head for protection.

She grazed her elbows and knees and ended up with droppings on her bag and clothes after the tumble.

Catering company manager Mrs Hall added: "I have a strong stomach but seeing that made me feel ill.

"Most people encourage their children to walk to school but I want my daughter to walk in a pleasant environment."

Mrs Hall now wants to see the bridge jet-washed, along with another in St Mildreds Road, Hither Green.

A Network Rail spokesman said: "If residents have concerns about pigeons at bridges we urge them to raise the issue with the council."

Lewisham Council says it is happy to pass on "any concerns residents have about bird excrement" to Network Rail.

Car park housing furore

CONTROVERSIAL plans to build high-density housing on a railway station car park have met with fierce opposition from traders.

Lewisham council is consulting over possible uses for sites around the borough.

A consultation document says Network Rail is proposing high-density homes on Blackheath station car park.

It also wants "decked car parking" for the station - cars on different levels.

Lewisham council's member for the environment, Councillor Andrew Brown, believes the plans are unsuitable for the area and will be opposed by the council and residents.

"I honestly can't see how the proposal would meet with any success.

"The plans are very sketchy and, even if a proper planning application is made, I don't think it will get past the planning committee," he said.

Blackheath Traders' Association chairman Chris Ball said businesses would suffer if plans went ahead.

He said: "I am totally against this. It is essential for our customers to have access to parking and the loss of at least 200 parking spaces would have a huge impact on Blackheath."

Traders in the area fear customers will go elsewhere if they are deprived of adequate parking facilities.

Evelyn Blackman, who runs the Good Looks hairdresser's in Blackheath Village, said: "People need somewhere to park and this will just ruin the village."

Blackheath Residents' Association representative David Walker said the site was unsuitable for high-density housing.

He said: "Flats built along railway lines are usually at right angles to minimise noise but it's impossible to do that here.

"Besides, the car park is a valuable amenity that represents 30-50 per cent of paid car park space in the area."

A Network Rail spokesman said: "We take on board the council's comments and will consider them as we develop our plans."

Do you agree a high-density housing development would ruin Blackheath Village?

Write to South London Press, 2-4 Leigham Court Road, Streatham, SW16 2PD or email letters@slp.co.uk

22 November 2005

22 November 2005

Lewisham College gets beacon award

The award for College Engagement with Employers from the Department for Employment and Learning went to the Upper Bann Institute, with Fermanagh College picking up Highly Commended. The Protocol Professional Award for Art and Design was given to the Cleveland College of Art and Design. Lewisham College was another to enjoy multiple successes, winning the OCR Award for Partnerships in Basic Skills and being Highly Commended for the NEBOSH Award for Teaching Programmes in Occupational Health, Safety and Environmental Management (won by Deeside College). The Edexcel Award for Lifelong Learning was awarded to Hull College, with Telford College of Arts and Technology Highly Commended. Full article here.

Lewisham reach e-gov top performers
For 100% of transactions with Newcastle and Birmingham City Councils, Tameside Borough Council and Surrey County Council and like paying rents and council tax, booking venues, applying for licences or complying with regulations and getting information from the council, citizens have the option of completing the transaction electronically. For 13 other councils:- Newham, Lewisham, Halton, Sheffield, Durham, Sunderland, Kingston upon Thames, Darlington, South Gloucestershire, Stockton on Tees, East Riding of Yorkshire, Greenwich and Medway the transactions enabled for electronic delivery was over 90%.

By comparison citizens in North Yorkshire had that option for only 16% of transactions when they last reported to the Audit Commission for 2003/4. The figures for those below 40% were Isle of Wight23.5%, Barnsley24.5%, Wiltshire 28%, York29% Windsorand Maidenhead 32%, Brightonand Hove33.4%, Cumbria35% and Harrow39% All other councils in the region were between 40% and 90%. Full article here.

Marchers remember Rochelle

A HUNDRED youngsters took to the streets in memory of murdered schoolgirl Rochelle Holness.

They held a peaceful march on Sunday to campaign for better protection for young people.

Following the 15-year-old's murder in September, the marchers are calling for more CCTV cameras and more foot police.

They walked from Catford town centre to Lewisham Hospital where they held a minute's silence.

Rochelle was murdered in September. Her dismembered body was found dumped in four bin bags outside Milford Towers Estate in Catford.

Her family are still waiting for the remains to be released so they can hold her funeral.

The aim of the march was to inform youngsters about the dangers, which exist within society and how to keep themselves safe.

March organiser Fiona James, who used to be Rochelle's mentor, said: "They need to be aware about what's going on in the community, and be safe.

"They enjoyed the march and felt they had done something meaningful."

Rochelle's mother Jennifer Bennett, 38, said: "It was good to know how many people there are supporting me. I really appreciate it."

Black comics honoured at Catford

Some of the most established names on the black comedy circuit have been honoured at the Black Entertainment Comedy Awards.

Koyo was named best male comedian while Gina Yashere took home best female.

Other winners included Quincy, for most improved comedian, Angie Le Mar for outstanding contribution and Tony Hendricks for best international (Caribbean) comedian.

Quincy's agent Delphine Manley said: 'This award reflects the progress Quincy has made from being a favourite on the black comedy circuit to doing weekends at London's Comedy Store.'

The lifetime achievement award went to Don Warrington, the Trinidad-born actor who achieved fame as Philip in Rising Damp, and more recently appeared in BBC One’s The Crouches.

Richard Blackwood presented the awards, that were held at the Broadway Theatre in Catford, South London.

The full list of winners is:

Best newcomer: Babatunde
Best male comedian: Kojo
Best female Ccomedan: Gina Yashere
Most improved comedian: Quincy
Outstanding contribution to production plays: Blue Mountain Theatre
Best international (Caribbean) comedian: Tony Hendriks
Best international (USA) comedian: Bill Bellamy
Special achievement to the comedy industry: Jefferson & Whitfield
Outstanding contribution to comedy: Angie Le Mar
Lifetime achievement award: Don Warrington

The awards were set up in 1999 ‘to support black UK comedians and encourage the practice of this craft through public acknowledgement’.

Meanwhile, Jamaican comedian Oliver Samuels has also been honoured with a bash at the Jamaican High Commission in London to mark his 35 years as an entertainer.

High Commissioner Gail Mathurin said: 'The name Oliver Samuels has become synonymous with Jamaica and Jamaican humour.'

Samuels now works with Bristol-based Blue Mountain Theatre, one of the winners in theBlack Entertainment Comedy Awards.

Business Telegraph recognises Lewisham job

Job title Extended services collaborative co-ordinators.

The Employer London Borough of Lewisham.

Salary range £29,718 to £32,016.

Who dreams up these weird job titles and why?

It is a fair question. Local authorities, certainly, and also other public sector organisations have developed a fetish for dreaming up obscure labels for the jobs they advertise.

Ordinary members of the public can be forgiven for suspecting this obtuseness conceals a vagueness about the job specification. That leaves us all wondering whether our society could manage quite well without them.

Why does Lewisham want extended services collaborative co-ordinators?
The idea is to extend the use of school sites for other activities, such as evening classes or sports activities.

This may involve something of a revolution in the attitudes of those already involved in running schools. Naturally such major cultural changes must have "change managers" to oil the wheels of change.

What will the extended services collaborative co-ordinators be doing?

They will not actually be running anything. So Lewisham's council tax payers will be relieved to learn they won't be around for ever.

Theirs will be fixed-term contracts expiring in March 2008 when, presumably, this cultural revolution will have been completed.

Some may think it could be completed without them even though they are expected to be adaptive and innovative and to possess good project management skills.

Still, Lewisham needs to create jobs. Latest figures indicate an unemployment rate of 14 per cent.

How does one co-ordinate collaboratively or, if you prefer, collaborate co-ordinatively?

It is a fair question, but I am not sure if anyone in Lewisham has the answer.

Common sense suggests that any form of collaboration implies a certain about of co-ordination. And indeed, the idea of co-ordination also implicitly suggests some form of collaboration, unless you are co-ordinating and collaborating with yourself and surely only people with split personalities need to do that.

Is Lewisham going to the dogs, then?

Not necessarily. But according to council officials transport links to Lewisham Town Centre have recently made "a quantum leap" as the Docklands Light Railway has been extended to Lewisham from … wait for it… the Isle of Dogs.

Nonjob suggestions to: nonjob@telegraph.co.uk

21 November 2005

21 November 2005

Apologies for the downtime - family business etc etc. Without further delay!....

ELEVEN Labour councillors to stand down

ELEVEN Labour councillors will stand down at next year's elections, with two more high-profile members set to be parachuted into other wards.

Those leaving the council chamber include cabinet member for children and young people Councillor Katy Donnelly.

Others standing down include Lee Green ward councillor Simeon Baker, Lewisham Central member Heidi Nash and Les Eytle from Whitefoot.

Deputy Labour group leader Madeliene Long will stand in New Cross after 20 years serving Lee Green.

Cabinet member for housing Susan Wise is also on the move from Forest Hill to Perry Vale.

The full list of candidates for the elections, which take place next May, is expected to be announced next week.

Parking fine appeals increase across city

THE number of parking ticket appeals has increased by nearly a quarter across London.

Figures show more than 54,000 drivers challenged parking fines in the 12 months to March, compared to more than 44,000 in the previous year.

And 63 per cent of appeals to the London Traffic and Parking Appeals Service were successful.

Motorists are believed to be turning to independent adjudicators because they do not trust councils to sort out their problems.

The Association of London Government figures show 52 per cent of 437 appeals in Bexley were won by motorists.

More than 40 per cent of parking fines were overturned in Lewisham and in Bromley, while 39 per cent of 578 appeals were won in Greenwich.

Barrie Segal, founder of the website AppealNow.Com said: "People don't have any faith in the system and believe it's only there to raise money.

"They believe they can't take the council on because it has technical skills and vast financial resources and decide to just pay up.

"They shouldn't do that if the ticket is wrong."

Calm magnet for the young and fashionable

Anyone who visits Blackheath or Greenwich by car needs patience, determination and a large map.
If you go there at weekends, set off early as its roads get clogged by drivers seeking the Royal Observatory, National Maritime Museum and, of course, the Cutty Sark.

It's precisely because it is so unstreetwise that this unspoilt part of south-east London has so much charm. Stroll down its side roads and alleyways and you end up in Fifties-style villages with specialist shops and curiosities - such as the fan museum in Greenwich's Crooms Hill which has 3,500 varieties of every shape, size and colour including a hand-painted version by Victorian watercolourist Walter Sickert.

Blackheath was the birthplace of Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots, home of the diarist Samuel Pepys and one of Charles Dickens's regular drinking haunts. It also has some of Britain's finest 17th-century architecture, including Sir Christopher Wren's baroque-style Old Royal Naval College, Inigo Jones's Queen's House, which was the model for the White House in Washington, and Vanbrugh Castle, former home of the architect and dramatist Sir John Vanbrugh.

Little surprise then that it's become a favourite spot for the young City set who can hop on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and reach Canary Wharf or the Square Mile in less than 20 minutes.

You can buy a one-bedroom apartment in a Victorian conversion in Blackheath for between £150,000 and £190,000 and a two-bedder for just under £250,000, thus neatly avoiding 3 per cent stamp duty. 'They're a little cheaper and a lot less bland than apartments in Canary Wharf. Instead of waking and looking out on a cluster of dull grey towers you are surrounded by the thin, elegant spires and turrets of 17th- and 18th-century churches and manor houses,' says Rita Tinney of estate agents Felicity J Lord.

Living in London SE10 or SE3 also means that, instead of dashing out to the local deli or mega-metro store to buy your groceries, you can stroll across Blackheath's famous green patch to the local butcher, greengrocer and village shop, dropping in to the 400-year-old Hare and Billet pub for a civilised drink on the way home. Continued...

Hospital 'hit by TV trouble'

SERIOUSLY ill patients are being left bored and demoralised by broken television sets, according to a health-care assistant.

Beds in Lewisham Hospital have a TV set at the end but many of them are said to be out of order.

The sets are supplied and maintained by a firm called Patientline.

The healthcare assistant, who did not want to be named, said relatives and patients were frustrated by the problems, with nearly half the TVs not working at one point.

He said: "I care about patients and like to see them happy, but half of them are bored stiff. They are getting an appalling service.

"One particular TV has been out of action for three weeks. They are not getting repaired."

He said the system was put in this year and costs patients £3.50 a day, or £1.70 for the over-60s.

The man added: "If a TV goes wrong at the weekend no engineer can be called out."

A spokesman for Patientline said: "Our team of on-site staff at Lewisham regularly check to ensure our units are working properly and we are not aware of any significant problems at the hospital.

"However, we know many patients rely on our service and we will ensure a full check is carried out immediate-ly.

"Our units are extremely reliable. However, if any problems do exist we apologise for any inconvenience."

16 November 2005

16 November 2005

£4m for 'glass' railway station

A SUM of £4million has been accepted by Lewisham council for the development of Deptford railway station and the surrounding area.

The money came from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM), which also gave £600,000 in 2004 to buy land needed for the scheme.

It was officially accepted by the Lewisham Mayor and cabinet committee last Wednesday. The station will be glass with a metal roof and there will be a public square and new shops alongside it.

A building containing more than 100 flats is to be built next door in Octavius Street on the site of the car park and Rose Apple day centre.

Not amused

ELEVEN businesses and organisations are opposing an application for another amusement arcade in Lewisham High Street.

Ablethird Ltd wants to convert the ground floor of premises at 97-99 and install amusement machines that give cash prizes.

Ablethird, which already operates around 50 similar centres in the south-east, says the premises will be carpeted throughout and fitted with sound-proofed ceilings and CCTV security cameras. Lewisham council's licensing committee is to look at the application tomorrow.

Businesses in the High Street are concerned because there are already two other amusement arcades nearby - an existing Ablethird amusement centre at number 165 and another one, owned by Blackheath Leisure (Carousel) Ltd, at number 96.

Lynsey Walker, supervisor at Shoe Zone Ltd, which would be opposite the proposed amusement centre, said: "This company already has one arcade in Lewisham High Street - why do they need a second?

"We would prefer the premises to be another shop or a financial institution."

Nobody from Ablethird Ltd was available for comment.

Lewisham business awards launch

Mayor of Lewisham, Steve Bullock, donned an apron and served customers at a local café as he launched the 2006 Lewisham Business Awards.

Steve served customers at Irie Jamaican Café in New Cross Gate, which won last years Best New Business award.

The Lewisham awards recognise achievement in areas such as innovation, customer service, creativity and social enterprise, and not just turnover or profit.

Steve praised local businesses in the Lewisham area: “The success of last year's awards shows that the Lewisham Business Awards are a great initiative and well wroth taking part in. I urge all Lewisham business people to give it a go!”

The awards are open to all businesses in Lewisham borough, and businesses themselves choose which category they would like to enter.

The awards are supported by the well known local comedian and DJ, Angie Le Mar: "As a resident and business woman I know the huge contribution local businesses make to the borough of Lewisham. They drive its economy and represent the fantastic diversity of the area. The Lewisham Business Awards recognise and celebrate that contribution so I'm very pleased to be involved."

Owner of Irie Jamaican Café, Janet McGowan said: “We were so excited when we won the Best New Business Award. Since then we have really seen the benefits to our business of being involved.”

There are eleven categories businesses can enter, each with a different sponsor:

Company of the Year
Best new company
Growth business of the year
Best use of innovation
Best customer care
Mayor’s award for corporate responsibility
Best social enterprise
Safety award
Creative business of the year
Environmental excellence award
Most popular retailer in Lewisham town centre

Entry Form? Click.

15 November 2005

15 November 2005

Manifesto aims for grey power

PENSIONERS are hoping grey power will force decision- makers to give elderly people a better deal.

The Lewisham Pensioners' Forum has published its first-ever Pensioners' Manifesto, which sets out a list of proposals designed to improve the lives of older people.

Those responsible for drawing up the report hope it will help achieve "official recognition" for the contribution the elderly make to society.

The manifesto, which addresses both local and national issues, includes a 13-point plan for change.

Among these is a call for more older people to be included on policy and decision- making bodies.

The report also demands better access to new technologies for pensioners and an improvement in home care services.

Pensioners' forum chairman Doris Smith says the manifesto will give the elderly in Lewisham "a voice" and act as "impetus" for change.

She said: "We are not plucking things out of the air.

"These are issues which truly affect older people.

"This is about putting real pressure on those in power to change things.

"It will give us official support and recognition."

Last month, News Shopper reported how Lewisham Age Concern was forced to close its drop-in advice centre due to a lack of funding.

Mrs Smith says service cuts such as this and the controversy surrounding pensions means it is more important than ever for the elderly to have their say.

She added: "Pensioners in Lewisham play a terrific role.

"We are taxpayers and contribute to the borough, so we deserve to have more attention paid to our needs."

Lewisham Council says it welcomes the manifesto.

Cabinet member for social inclusion Councillor Chris Best said: "We will coninue working closely with the excellent pensioners' groups to address the issues they highlight."

Mayor criticised over school plan

MISTAKES have led to the mayor being accused of "incompetence".

Mayor of Lewisham Steve Bullock has acknowledged blunders were made while planning a new school at Ladywell.

He told a meeting of Lewisham Council's overview and scrutiny committee last week there were mistakes when trying to choose a site for the new school.

The mayor also admitted a formal notice issued in February, saying the new school would be temporarily located in Leahurst Road, was flawed.

In January the same site had been approved for the expansion of Northbrook School as part of a £150m plan to renovate every secondary in the borough.

Then less than eight weeks later the Government told Lewisham Council it was at risk of losing the money if it used the temporary site for the new Ladywell school.

This resulted in a two-year delay to the new four form school, which will now open on the Ladywell Leisure Centre site in 2009.

At the meeting Mr Bullock was questioned over why plans to use land at the former Ladywell police station, originally earmarked for the new school, fell through.

He admitted relying on the willingness of the police to sell the site to the council, despite the Metropolitan Police Authority never returning its letters.

Mr Bullock also announced his decisions were always based on advice from officers.

He said: "Unless there is a very powerful reason, I shall not substitute my personal prejudices for the professional advice of council officers."

Lib Dem councillor Julia Fletcher said: "I find it unbelievable the Lewisham Mayor believes he has no role in decision making and expects to rubber stamp everything put before him by officers.

"It just shows once again how out of touch he is with the wishes of the people in the borough.

"The whole decision-making process is a mixture of incompetence and unrealism."

Save Ladywell Pool campaign's Max Calo said: "Steve Bullock is a politician who is writing his own epitaph, so complacent, not driving along the political process to make a proper decision."

Home work set to start next year

WORK to improve more than 8,000 homes in Lewisham is set to begin in just over a year.

A timetable has been set for the homes to be transferred to new ownership under the Decent Homes programme.

Decent Homes is a national target set by the Government, which says all homes must be improved to a certain quality standard by 2010.

The Lewisham plan will see residents on seven estates balloted to see who they want to take control of their homes.

A report presented to Lewisham's mayor and cabinet committee last week says the ballots will take place in July next year.

Work to improve the homes a total investment of more than £100m will then begin in March 2007.

The Excalibur prefab estate, Downham, is one of the housing sets affected by the programme.

Residents have argued the estate should remain under their control but the council looks set to demolish the existing prefab houses.

The report says: "Only demolition and redevelopment provides a viable solution to achieving decent homes in the area."

Last year a consultant's report revealed 61 per cent of Lewisham's housing stock does not currently meet the Decent Homes standard.

Task force finds 1,000 cannabis plants during raid

OFFICERS have closed down a cannabis factory in Catford.

Lewisham's Crime Task Force searched the premises at Ardgowan Road on Monday at 11.30am.

The police discovered around 1,000 cannabis plants and hydroponics equipment.

A man has been arrested but no details have yet been disclosed.

Priority Crime Task Force head, Detective Inspector Andy Wilkins, said: "Lewisham police will continue to close down factories set up to produce, cultivate and distribute cannabis."

He added: "I hope the closure of any cannabis factory continues to send out a strong warning to others who may be involved in the production or selling of drugs. You will be caught and the drugs will be seized."

Anyone who has information about the production or selling of drugs in Lewisham should call 020 8284 5101.

Blitz horror at hospital

A WARTIME nurse who was killed by a bomb while she worked has been commemorated by former colleagues.

In the early hours of July 26, 1944, in one of the worst raids suffered by South London during the Blitz, Lewisham Hospital sustained a direct hit.

A doodlebug, the dreaded German flying bomb, destroyed two wards, the registrar's office and the hospital's library.

It killed nurse Eileen Crouch, 21, from Ashford, Kent. Seventy patients and staff were injured.

According to documents in local history libraries, three other people are believed to have later died.

On Thursday, former colleagues of the young nurse joined hospital staff for a service to remember and pay tribute to those who worked there during the two world wars.

Kathleen Hallett, a friend and colleague of the late nurse, recalled: "I was just starting my shift at about five in the morning.

"We had just had our morning cup of tea in the ward kitchen.
"I turned back to Eileen and asked if she wanted some help washing up.

"She said, 'no', and at that very moment, the bomb dropped. She was killed immediately."

Mrs Hallett added: "Eileen died but I have had a further 61 years of life."

Former staff member Joyce Woodbridge described arriving for work that morning: "It was all rubble everywhere and there were ambulances and fire engines all over the hospital. I didn't know what was going on."

At the service, hospital chief executive Claire Perry said: "Nothing symbolises the great courage and dedication of our staff throughout our history as much as that shown on that dreadful day in 1944."

Exploding the myths of ‘segregated Britain’

Far from heading towards deeper segregation, Britain is becoming increasingly racially and ethnically mixed, according to a new study released this week.

The analysis by Dr Ludi Simpson of Manchester University is based on the 2001 census. It flies in the face of claims by many politicians and commentators that Britain is “sleepwalking” towards greater segregation, as the head of the Commission for Racial Equality, Trevor Phillips, said this summer.

Phillips claimed, “Residentially, some districts are on their way to becoming fully fledged ghettos — black holes into which no one goes without fear and trepidation, and from which no one ever escapes undamaged.”

But Simpson’s study found that “the number of mixed neighbourhoods (electoral wards) increased from 964 to 1,070 in the ten years between the last two censuses of 1991 and 2001. There will be at least 1,300 mixed neighbourhoods by 2011 — one in five throughout England.” Click link for whole article.

14 November 2005

14 November 2005

At the moment the Venue is looking a little naked compared to normal. Makes it easier to remember what a grand old lady she is under the make up.

South East London Gangsters (Click this for full article)

It's difficult to imagine that this softly spoken, polite man, with a dignified air and direct gaze, served 23 years of his life as a double-category-A prisoner in high-security jails. He spent time in Durham's E Wing, "the Bastille of the British prison system", where Ian Brady, the Moors murderer, was also locked up. Richardson was sentenced to ten years at the Torture Trial, in which, as well as the pliers incident, it was alleged that his brother Charlie had a black box that he would use to direct electricity through a victim's genitals. The sentence was added to the five years Richardson received for affray, after a man was shot dead and several others badly injured in a gangland battle at a Catford nightclub in 1966, when he was also wounded. Richardson served 11 years, many of them in solitary confinement. After his release, he went back into business - scrap metal and pornography - and was convicted for conspiring to import drugs. He got another 25 years. He served a 12-year stretch before being released on parole in 2001. Today, he is a free man. "I was a very naughty boy, a real bad lot," admits Richardson. "Macho man, that was me."

13 November 2005

13 November 2005

Police hunting for yobs after mobile phone theft

POLICE need public help to shop the yobs who punched a man three times in the face and stole his mobile phone.

The attackers spoke to the victim at Brockley train station, Coulgate Street, Brockley, and asked to see his mobile but he denied having one.

They pushed him to the ground, punching him three times in the face before taking his phone.

The first suspect is black, heavily built and with short dark hair.

He was wearing a black sleeveless jacket with the word Nike printed in red on the front over a white T-shirt.

The second man is black with a slim build and short afro hair.

He was wearing a shirt and a denim jacket buttoned to the neck.

Anyone who witnessed the robbery on September 17 betwwn 9.20am and 10am should call British Transport Police London South Intelligence Unit on 020 7922 6213, quoting reference number LS34888.

11 November 2005

11 November 2005

Pastors on patrol to stop violence

Uniformed Christian volunteers have taken to the streets across the country in a bid to stop inner-city crime. Reporter SAMANTHA PAYNE spent a night in Lewisham to see the scheme in action ...

When I was asked to help patrol the streets of New Cross and Sydenham late on a Friday night I was a little dubious.

With only an oversized blue Street Pastor jacket and a baseball cap for protection I didn't feel ready to take on Lewisham's rogues.



A LABOUR MP yesterday demanded an inquiry following his heated confrontation with a backbench colleague who has opposed the Terrorism Bill.

Jim Dowd, who admitted he "seized the lapel" of Bob Marshall-Andrews, has filed a complaint against the member for Medway under the party's code of conduct.

The MP for Lewisham West wants chief whip Hilary Armstrong to investigate.

He claims to have been angered by a "fairly vile and offensive" remark directed at him by Marshall-Andrews in the Commons' Members' Lobby.

Dowd said he had tried to speak to a colleague who was with Marshall-Andrews' group when the barrister "gratuitously" insulted him at around 9.30pm on Tuesday.

But he insisted: "There were no blows exchanged."

Marshall-Andrews has declined to comment.

10 November 2005

10 November 2005

Leisure centre axeing - mayor passes buck

THE inquiry into a doomed leisure centre heard evidence from a mayor - who passed responsibility for the decision to axe it to council officers.

Lewisham council's controversial decision to shut Ladywell Leisure Centre, in Lewisham High Street, in 2007 and replace it with a new secondary school in 2009 has been closely examined by councillors from all parties.

Lewisham Mayor Steve Bullock submitted an 11-line report to the scrutiny sub-committee which was due to meet in Catford's Civic Suite yesterday.

In the submission, he said he made his decisions based on the advice given to him by council officers.

He stated: "It is not my role to substitute my own lay opinion for that of professional officers who advise me."

And in his own report, the council's chief executive, Barry Quirk, reminded councillors funding for the new school was not yet "settled".

He said the council did have some money but a "significant gap in the funding for the school" remained.

This was the reason it had been brought into the Government's Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, which will see five other schools in the borough refurbished and one rebuilt from scratch.

The next stage in the BSF scheme is to invite companies to tender for the building work.

Changes will lead to cuts in places

COLLEGES are protesting over changes which could see thousands of places cut.

Government plans could see up to 200,000 further education places slashed and subsidies cut to those remaining.

Now Lewisham and Greenwich colleges are joining forces with hundreds of others across the country to present a 60,000-strong petition to try to stop the plans.

The cuts to places will affect adult learners who want to study for professional qualifications to improve their career prospects.

And students who do manage to get a college place will have to pay more towards the cost.

This is because the Government is focusing its college funding on 16 to 18-year-old students and adults without basic spelling and maths skills.

Ruth Silver, principal of Lewisham College, Lewisham Way, said: "We are extremely happy so many of our staff and students, and members of our community, have demonstrated their support for their college and for further education in general by signing this important petition."

Bosses at Greenwich Community College, Plumstead Road, also confirmed its support.

Principal Geoff Pine said: "The college is very proud of the role it plays in providing education to the community in the borough and we are always ready to campaign on behalf of all our learners."

A college spokesman said: "We will not be cutting any of our level three or A-level courses.

"But we will have to raise our fees. It is not something we want to do but we have no other option if the Government no longer subsidises our adult courses."

The Association of Colleges (AoC) petition was presented to Downing Street on November 1.

AoC chief executive Dr John Brennan said: "The petition shows how strongly people feel about their local college.

"It is compelling evidence the Government should think again about reducing learning opportunities for adults wanting to improve their career chances and personal development."

Rumpus over hospital work

A £20,000 fine could be levied on a private hospital after noisy air conditioning upset neighbouring residents.

Blackheath Hospital has allegedly breached conditions imposed on it by Lewisham council's planning committee, which gave permission on September 15 for a small building to be added to the site.

The conditions were work should not take place beyond 8am-6pm on weekdays and Saturday mornings, and that noise was to be kept down.

But residents complained about the noise from the air conditioning and builders allegedly working unauthorised hours.

An enforcement notice was issued on October 27. If the hospital does not act on it, the battle could go to court and result in a £20,000 fine.

Blackheath ward councillor Andrew Brown said: "The noise is driving residents up the wall."

Deputy mayor Gavin Moore added: "The planning process is sacrosanct and we have no confidence Blackheath Hospital is respecting that."

A hospital spokeswoman said the chiller equipment making the noise was "essential to avoid damage to the MRI machine" in the new diagnostic suite.

She said an acoustic screen had been put in to reduce noise.

"We accept preliminary work started before planning consent and have apologised," added the spokeswoman.

She said work outside hours was not related to the project.

Asbo tearaways get £300k to keep them from crime

GROUPS working with antisocial young people have been given extra cash.

The Lewisham Youth Offending Team (YOT) was awarded £311,000 to help stop youngsters from offending.

The money could be used to give individual support to young people on antisocial behaviour orders.

Ann McDermott, YOT manager, said: "This is a great opportunity to expand the initiatives we have in Lewisham to divert young people away from crime, support parents in their responsibilities and tackle antisocial behaviour."

The money has come from the Youth Justice Board, which has just given out £45million to projects across the country to be spent over the next three years.

Councillor Crada Onuegbu, Lewisham cabinet member for community safety, said: "The money will allow us to expand our youth inclusion and support panels working with eight- to 17-year-olds, which improve the chances of young people reaching their potential and help parents and carers struggling with out-of-control teenagers."

The cash would also help build links with the police, probation service and primary care trust.

Grieving mum sent lifeline

THE MOTHER of a 19-year-old knifed to death has thrown a lifeline of support to the family of murdered schoolgirl Rochelle Holness.

Lynne Booker has set up a self-support group for mothers whose children have died in traumatic circumstances.

Now she is offering help to Jennifer Bennett after her 15-year-old daughter's remains were found dumped in rubbish bags near the Milford Towers estate in Catford on September 28.

Mrs Booker can relate to her pain after her only son, Terry, 19, died on November 14, 2000, in Plumstead, after being attacked by a 16-year-old with a kitchen knife.

But five years later, thanks to the support of loved ones and friends, his mother says the pieces of her life have slowly come together.

Now the 51-year-old has set up the Terry Booker Foundation group to help mothers such as Mrs Bennett who have lost children through tragic circumstances.

It will meet fortnightly at the Greenwich Women's Centre, in Hare Street, Greenwich, and will also act as a drop-in centre for women on alternate weeks. Thirteen women turned up at the first meeting on October 26.

Rochelle's mother, who lives in Nelgarde Road, Catford, says she is looking forward to getting in touch with the Terry Booker Foundation Group.

The 38-year-old mother-of-three said: "I really welcome this group. I'm at a low point in my life where I only want to stay indoors. It's not fair that I have been made to feel like the criminal with no support from anyone except from my friends because my daughter was murdered."

Mrs Booker, a grandmother-of-three, from Plumstead, said: "I want her to give me a ring.

"This group is open to all mums whose sons and daughters have died from manslaughter, murder, miscarriage and still birth.

"I will provide a great service based on the principle of helping women come out of the darkness into the light.

"I know I wouldn't have been able to come out of this dark time without the support of my family, friends and the women's centre."

A still grieving Mrs Booker, who also has two daughters, Debbie, 34 and Lisa, 28, added: "It'll be the fifth anniversary since my son's death next week. The day when Plumstead stood still.

"I still can't get my head around it. I live day to day. Nothing ever surprises me and nothing will come as close to the shock I felt when I heard about my son's death.

"I want to encourage women who may be suffering to not stay indoors but to pick up the phone and ring me. My group is there to support them."

For more details on the Terry Booker Foundation group, call 07768 373420.

Man attacked after pub row - Blackheath link?

A MAN was punched in the eye in the street.

Police are seeking witnesses to the attack.

The 21-year-old may have permanent damage to his sight after the incident in Greenwich town centre at around 11.20pm on Wednesday, October 19.

The man was approached by two men and a woman as he walked past the Beachcomber Restaurant in Greenwich Church Street. One of the men punched him.

The victim had been drinking with friends at the Admiral Hardy pub. He left at around 11.15pm and went to get his bicycle, which he had parked behind the covered market.

After the assault the trio fled and the victim rang a friend who took him to St Thomas' Hospital, where he was treated for a serious injury to his right eye.

One of the suspects is described as a white man, aged around 30, thinly built and about 5ft 10ins tall.

He had short, cropped brown hair and wore rimless, rectangular spectacles, a leather jacket and jeans. It is possible his first name is Ben and he may be from the Blackheath area.

Detective Sergeant Dave Cooper, of Plumstead CID, said: "The victim is a young man, who because of this senseless attack, could well have lasting problems with his sight in one eye.

"I am appealing for any information about this attack. There was a brief altercation inside the pub that evening. It is possible that the attacker was in the pub and involved in that altercation."

Call 020 8284 9413, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 to remain anonymous.