27 February 2006

27 February 2006

Masterplan aiming to revamp site

The Giffin Street masterplan would see the area around the road, near Deptford High Street, transformed by a new-look school, more homes and extra business premises. The plan, first seen by Lewisham's Mayor and cabinet committee last week, puts forward two proposals. The first would see Tidemill Primary School, Frankham Street, Deptford, rebuilt on a new site in Giffin Street.

Police hold woman over £6000

A NURSE wept last night as she told how police swooped as she tried to pay £6,000 into a building society, suspecting it was Securitas stolen cash. Mum-of-three Dawn Bailey, 41, was opening an account at the Portman in Bromley, Kent, with a bundle of £50 notes when staff became suspicious. They delayed her for half an hour saying there was a computer problem. Dawn, of Brockley, South East London, had drawn the cash out of her Halifax account in Catford. Dawn, a Salvation Army care nurse, said: "It was taking a long time but I thought it was only because it was so much money. Then suddenly I was surrounded by uniformed policemen who handcuffed me and marched me to a police car.

Sleuth seeks clues to student lodger’s death

AN INQUISITIVE resident is appealing to News Shopper readers for information on a mysterious death more than 30 years ago. Tony Mclaren and his family moved into a house on Bromley Road, Catford, in 1977 where they heard a student lodger had died at the address following an electric shock in the bathroom.

24 February 2006

24 February 2006

£40 Million theft takes Lewisham Twist

Police have arrested two people over the record £50m robbery of a security depot on Wednesday but officers believe some or all of the armed gang may have escaped to the Continent.

Last night, a man aged 29 and a woman aged 31 were arrested in the Forest Hill area of south London. They were being held at undisclosed police stations in Kenton suspicion of conspiracy to commit robbery. Adrian Leppard, Assistant Chief Constable of Kent Police, said the two arrests were "significant and directly related to the investigation". He said the two people were arrested at separate addresses in Forest Hill, which were both being "extensively searched" and examined by forensic scientists.

From ‘tired’ centre to tree-lined streets

PRESSURE from a residents' group has paid off as a "tired" town centre looks set to get a £500,000 makeover. The Sydenham Society last year drew up its vision for the Sydenham Gateway, which includes the creation of new open spaces and a tree-lined high street. Now this dream is set to become a reality after transport bosses put up the cash for the work.

Hoping to be Maines attraction

LIB Dem candidate Chris Maines is ready for a new challenge. This is why he is set to hang up his boots as an Orpington councillor after 20 years and vie to unseat current Mayor Steve Bullock in the upcoming May elections.

He has recently moved to Blackheath and says if he makes it to office as Lewisham's directly elected mayor, he will improve people's quality of life. Providing a cinema for the borough is on his hit list of things to do, and he is also keen to expand leisure facilities.

A week in the life of a campaigner

Max Calò's local leisure centre, Ladywell Pool in Lewisham, is under threat of closure. This week he'll be keeping a diary of the highs and lows of his fight to save the pool, and how he fits his campaign work into his life as a new dad.

Victim calls for better security

A FORMER councillor who was attacked at a mugging hotspot is calling for security to be upped in the area. Cathy Priddey was going to meet her partner for a romantic Valentine's Day meal when she was jumped on by an attacker near Hither Green Station.

Now the former Lib Dem councillor is urging those now serving in the town hall to improve safety in the area, which is a notorious haunt for muggers. Ms Priddey, 40, was attacked at around 8pm, on February 14, as she walked towards the station down Beacon Road, Hither Green.

Tributes stolen from graveside

THE mother of murdered teenager Rochelle Holness has spoken of her anger after floral tributes were stolen from her daughter's graveside.

Jennifer Bennett says her family is devastated by the theft of flowers and teddy bears from the grave at Hither Green Cemetery, Verdant Lane, Hither Green.

Body found in the Thames

The body of a 20-year old South African man has been found in the Thames two days after he disappeared, police revealed today. Police were called on Sunday evening just after 10pm after the bosy was spotted on the shoreline opposite Caledonian Wharf in east London. The identity of the dead man is believed to be that of Levier Van Der Hoven, who was living in Lewisham.

20 February 2006


New Cross and Lewisham's very own Blade releases new album GUERRILLA TACTICS today.

"After extensive touring and non stops shows all over Europe, BLADE finally decided it was time to knuckle down to get some new material recorded. It looked like the only way this was gonna happen any time soon would be if he got another producer involved; enter BABY J. This whole relationship started off with one track for which BLADE bought the beat off the hot producer. The recording completed and discussion began to possibly get a whole album recorded together, this being the end result. There are a few collaborations and the skits are designed to give props to the five elements of Hip Hop. The whole album is produced by BABY J and has a very varied feel to it ranging rom laid back meaningful tracks to all out in your face brutal attack of words an content. Something for everybody!!"

Visit BLADE here. Order the album directly here.

Post Office

Being an eBay fiend I've spent a lot of time in Lewisham Borough's various Post Offices. I'd wanted to rant at length about the decling state of the services but it's like shooting fish in a jam jar and won't change anything. But I do need to mention a few things.
Blackheath deserves a special mention - is there a post office in the borough where the staff are as efficient and helpful? I don't think so. The Forest Hill staff are slightly more friendly but Blackheath is just all round excellent. That's where the praise ends.

I haven't ventured into the Lee Green Post Office in a year now. I promised never to put myself through it again. The staff are rude and ignorant - three times in a row I witnessed a verbal fight break out between the staff and customers. The two older men that work in there have a system of whistling to each other when women who they find attractive walk in (I'd spent enough time in the queue to work it out - and believe me, that post office has some long queues).

I'd given up on New Cross because it seems like a meeting place for the insane and the other post offices just don't come up to scratch. Of course, central Lewisham is nice if you like the High Street because you'll be standing in it as the queue stretches out the door and along the street. The bald young guy that works there goes out of his way to be polite and is the only plus side to a miserable experience.

My last bastion was Catford. Catford is normally always busy - but the queue moves and the staff were surprisingly upbeat. Recently the branch was franchised out and new owners are running it. The existing staff have all vanished and I thought it was time I visited again to see how it was doing.
First thing I noticed was the queue to the door, past the door and pressed up against the window. Then I noticed the state of the place - chipped walls and paint missing. Leaflets across the floor and trash everywhere. Forms, posting certificates and applications are missing from the desk and a bundle of recorded delivery slips remain vacuum sealed in a pile at the side. Did I mention how dirty it was in there? Yes? I will do so again - it's horrible.

The staff sit there in casual clothes and not even smart casual - c'mon guys - if KFC opposite and WHSmiths can manage a uniform surely you can get into something professional looking - like a clean shirt? I see an old lady having to yell at the young guy behind the counter who isn't really listening to her and makes her repeat everything twice whilst his eyes stare into the distance. While five people serve there is an employee of the post office (central office?) walking around with a clipboard trying to sign people up to services they don't need - we need that man behind the counter. Never again, like I snubbed the Lee Green branch I will never set foot in the Catford branch again. I'd rather stop off closer to home or wait until I pass Blackheath (even though I won't be able to park and I'll end up having to go elsewhere).

As for the worry over the ever increasing amount of Post Office closures I'll simply shrug and huff. The operating methods they employ are out of date and half hearted - they deserve to die out and although that causes great problems to certain sections of the community hopefully it will spark a review of services and how they can be delivered in a bolder, cleaner, nicer and more efficient manner.

17 February 2006

17 February 2006

Stations shamed by crime figures

THREE of the borough's train stations have been named crime hotspots in a damning new survey. Greenwich, Abbey Wood and Blackheath stations all polled in the worst 20 manned railway stations in London. Thirty-five criminal offences were reported at Greenwich station, Abbey Wood had 32, while Blackheath saw 25. All three are staffed until 8pm each day.

Major battles for mayor’s role

The Tory candidate for Mayor says he is hoping the electorate will use their vote "Cleverly". And 36-year-old
James Cleverly believes he has a "strong chance" of election success in less than three months' time. Born and bred in Lewisham, the Territorial Army major says he knows what is best for the borough and wants to make changes.

Restoration delay ‘threatens manor’

CAMPAIGNERS are calling on the council to get its Manor House in order. Residents fear the Grade II listed Manor House Library in Old Road, Lee, will "fall apart" if no restoration work is done soon. They blame the council for a series of delays which have blighted the project, first mooted six years ago.

15 February 2006

15 February 2006

The haul of 20 signs includes old favourites such as Give Way and No Entry, along with signs giving information on the new road layout in Lewisham High Street. They were spotted by an eagle-eyed council officer piled up against a wall in Courthill Road, Hither Green. The spotter took a picture of the signs on his mobile phone, before sending the evidence to the council's environmental unit.

The identity of the thief is not known but council bosses believe he or she was set to sell the signs for scrap. Do you know the identity of the road sign thief? Call the newsdesk on 01689 885790. Call the Love Lewisham line on 020 8314 7171 to report environmental crime in the borough.

POLICE have launched a manhunt after an alleged rapist failed to attend court. Ekene Ofoeze, aged 31, was due to appear at Croydon Magistrates' Court on December 16, charged with raping an 18-year-old woman. But Ofoeze, of Southend Lane, Catford, did not turn up and a warrant has now been issued for his arrest.
Anyone with information on Ofoeze, also known as Kenny, should call Lewisham police on 020 8284 8300 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

STREET crime in a borough has soared despite an overall drop in the crime rate. Lewisham police have launched a crackdown called Operation Strongbow to tackle the problem. Between April and December 2005 street crime went up by 18 per cent meaning there were 305 more offences than in the same period the previous year.

The worst month was December when there were 53 per cent more street robberies. The crime rate overall fell by 2.9 per cent. Operation Strongbow has targeted known criminals and three prolific street robbers are currently awaiting trial.

A FATHER-OF-TWO says he was appalled after finding evidence of class-A drug taking in a hospital toilet. Jamie Lewis found a plastic bottle with a makeshift pipe attached in a toilet close to the children's ward at Lewisham Hospital on January 22. Mr Lewis, of Merritt Road, Brockley, says he saw a man who looked like a "junkie" walking down a corridor at the hospital moments later.

The announcement comes after we exclusively revealed last week that Lambeth council would soon have a dedicated detective in place. As part of the same operation, another officer will be sent to Lewisham Town Hall in a bid to beat the fraudsters. The officers are part of Operation Sterling and will follow in the footsteps of a colleague already working at Greenwich council. A Lewisham council spokesman said the authority was committed to tackling fraud.

Barclays Bank is dispensing with the US acronym ATM and other user-unfriendly language and practices as part of a major revamp of 1500 of its UK branches. Under the revamp, the ATM will be replaced by the more colloquial 'hole in the wall', and deposit and withdrawal options relabelled as 'money in' and 'money out'. Customers entering or exiting branches will be greeted by new signs saying 'Hi' and 'Bye'. Rather than queuing for counter service, customers will be directed 'this way to counter service' and in personal banking areas invited to 'take the weight off your feet'. Barclays has tested the use of its new language in five branches across the country, in Guildford, Bristol, Coventry, Bradford and Lewisham.

11 February 2006

11 February 2005

There's been a certain amount of slackness with updating over the last few weeks, for which I apologise. Personal circumstances could mean further changes over the coming weeks. Having moved out of the borough I could be looking at moving jobs as well - so the future of the blog is uncertain. If you have a blogger account and want to be involved in this blog - let me know. You can have multiple people posting and it would be a shame to lose it, even though just a handful of people read it (thanks guys!) and the majority of hits are from odd searches! Goes without saying it's unpaid and only updated through love of Lewisham ;) Onwards...

The race will then travel through Bermondsey, Deptford, Greenwich and Erith before travelling in to Kent. Lewisham Mayor Steve Bullock said: "If it is true that the Tour de France is coming here it is fanatstic news for the people of Lewisham.".

Bosses at the pest control- to-hygiene firm Rentokil have confirmed 245 jobs will go at its largest site in Catford where Initial Hygiene employs the workers. Rentokil will close the linen and workwear operations on April 30 as part of a total 1,700 job cuts country-wide. The firm has pledged to do everything possible to get workers jobs within other parts of the company, but cannot confirm this until the consultation period with workers and customers is finished.

LEWISHAM: Mayor Steve Bullock wants to impose a council tax increase of 2.5 per cent in 2006/7. The increase would mean a bill of £967.70 a year for Band D properties in the borough. But the Greater London Authority's part of the council tax - the precept - is yet to be set, so this figure is likely to rise. Mr Bullock's decision will be put to a vote at full council on March 1.

COUNCILLORS are supposed to represent the interests of their constituents but some it seems do it more rigorously than others. Figures obtained by News Shopper under the Freedom of Information Act reveal hundreds of complaints have been made by the 54 Lewisham councillors on behalf of residents in the past three years. The man who has made the most moans about the conduct of the council is Lib Dem leader Councillor Mark Morris.

POOR communication has led to delays in building a £16m leisure centre, a report claims. In September Lewisham Council confirmed the Downham Lifestyles Centre will open in February next year nearly three years later than originally planned. Now an independent report has blamed the delay on a "lack of clarity in communication" between the council and its chosen Private Finance Initiative (PFI) bidder.

A DRINK-driver led police on a high-speed chase when he took his mother's car for a spin. Inner London Crown Court was told how Gareth Clark forced two cars to swerve and pedestrians to flee as he careered around Forest Hill in a Renault car on November 16 last year. He was three times over the legal alcohol limit at the time. Clark, who was described as being an alcoholic since he was 15 by his defence lawyer Harry Drummond, finally stopped and was found lying in a garage doorway by police. Clark, aged 24, of Hennel Close, Dakers Road, Forest Hill, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, driving with excess alcohol, failing to stop and driving without insurance when he appeared before the court on January 25.

09 February 2006

15 Leegate

On a recent stroll around Lee I passed the Leegate Centre. I noticed that where there had been three empty shops a gent's barbers had set up in one unit. The other two units were still empty and 15 Leegate stuck in my mind as it used to be the Abbey National. I'm pretty sure it's been empty for quite a few years and although Leegate isn't a busy centre I couldn't work out why it hadn't been used.

So I decided to check out how much the rent is. I contacted Baxter Philips who are the letting agency. They sent information to me, I'm not really interested in leasing it, but very nosey.

Seems that first off, the "in-going tenant to make a contribution of £500 towards the landlords legal fees in the granting of the new lease." Okay. Seems odd considering the landlord wants to encourage interest but I don't know what the norm is, so let's move on.

15 Leegate is classed as having A1 use - that's shop, hairdressers, travel agent, dry cleaners "etc". It's 1488 GF sq ft and 1488 FF sq ft - a total of 2976 sq ft. Rent is £200 a week.

So, how much am I looking at for my first year? I've not included the tenants legal fees.

£500 to Landlord
£10,400 Rent
£8,300 Local Authority Business Rates
£19,200 Total

Now that's without paying any utility bills or staff wages or anything else you can think off. £800 short of £20,000 for your first year. Is there a passing trade to support any business to that amount?

I now understand why it's still empty.

02 February 2006

02 February 2006

Report is a whitewash

EDUCATION campaigners say a council-commissioned report into the siting of a new school is a "whitewash". The New School Campaign has criticised the report into delays surrounding the plan to build a secondary school on the Ladywell Leisure Centre site. The campaigners are angry the scruitny committee report appears to clear Mayor Steve Bullock and his advisers of blame over the delays.

Excluded pupils’ second chance

Deptford charity Positive Mental Attitude has helped more than 300 excluded pupils get back into mainstream education. Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) was established in 1996 to meet the high demand of excluded pupils from black and minority ethnic backgrounds in Lewisham. The agency has established a track record of working with 311 young people in the past five years who do not access mainstream services and for whom there are few opportunities.

Borough’s news can be heard worldwide

A BUDDING broadcaster is doing his bit to spread the News Shopper gospel across the globe. Jon Jacob's weekly internet podcast carrying news and views from the borough has fans everywhere from the USA to Iran. Podcasts are audio or video files put on the Internet, which web users can subscribe to. To hear Mr Jacob's latest podcast, visit www.thoroughly-good.com

£5m cuts needed to stop increase

COUNCIL chiefs claim a proposed £5m package of cuts is needed to protect the borough's council tax payers. Two council committees have advised Mayor Steve Bullock council tax will have to rise without the savings package. And the Government has warned the council it could be capped if it increases the tax by more than five per cent.

Email Blunder

DEPUTY Mayor Gavin Moore was left red-faced after a confidential email was leaked to a packed council chamber. The email ordered Labour councillors to avoid speaking to a group who opposed a motion supporting its Building Schools for the Future programme. The email read: "It goes without saying but we need to ask you all not to have dialogue with the New School Campaign who are opposing the group motion to council tomorrow night."