Freebie school

A few posts back I speculated that the late opening hours offered by the proposed free school might be reflected in a direct fee to parents (as opposed to the indirect
use of their tax), however following the recent report in the mercury, I looked at their website again, and couldn’t help but notice several mentions that the free school will be free in the money sense of the word as well as the lea one.

Actually if I’m reading things rightly this could actually represent good value for money for working families as it could end up being cheaper than using an after school club at a non-free school.

Elsewhere in the unfolding story of the school, things are looking very promising in terms of uptake, the one form intake policy has been revised to two with the reception class being oversubscribed! Years 1 and 4 are also looking busy, so now’s the time to join the bonanza!

Parents that have expressed their interest in a place are being invited to a forum next wednesday, details can be obtained following registration on the school website.

Shooters hill free school plc

The idea of setting up a new free school in the area has just been announced in a local leaflet in which potentially interested parents of (near) school age children are invited to complete a questionnaire on their website.

It seems that this whole enterprise is very much in the early stages and it’s difficult to know exactly what’s going on, but if it does manage to open in September 2011, it will be the first free school to be set up by a plc (skyeward) rather than parents (hampstead and dearne).

The news section of the website reports that premises have been found at adair house (opposite the old herbert hospital), and the company “… have gained a better understanding of the needs in se18, greenwich”.

Currently the school is being marketed, measuring potential numbers of children, dates of birth, and postcodes as part of the campaign to start the school – they are also looking for parental support in this regard. The curriculum appears a little odd as it runs to 5pm on weekdays, so presumably it will be a fee paying school, with some tax funding on the side.

It will certainly be interesting to see how this pans out; could it be that Shooters Hill becomes a test case for the future privatisation of education?


The turnout for the local election was a fantastic 80.4% 67.7% (oh dear I just checked and the turnout figure appears to have been revised), almost double that of four years ago. The most interesting thing to come out of this is that decent voter turnout here appears to be very good for labour, and very bad for the tories, with a 7 point swing to labour (I’m not exactly sure if i calculated it right, but here goes):

lab = sum(total lab vote 2010/total vote 2010)-sum(total lab vote 2006/total vote 2006) = 5% positive
con = sum(total con vote 2010/total vote 2010)-sum(total con vote 2006/total vote 2006) = 9% negative
diff/2 = 7%

On the fringes, the greens got more votes (4%) than the bnp (3%) too, another reversal of national behaviour, so overall, and considering the extremely high turnout, it looks like the residents of Shooters Hill present a fairly socially progressive political outlook compared to the country as a whole.

The lib dem share went down by 3%, which leads me to speculate that the downturn in con/lib fortunes is probably not for want of trying (the tories look to have spent a small fortune on glossy leaflets) but rather the mobilisation of the left. Certainly it is possible that some of the green/liberal vote went to labour, although it’s curious to note that the local green got more votes than their parliamentary candidate for eltham, who only got 419 votes, losing his deposit… Considering that, it looks like shooters hill greens probably did vote tactically nationally but possibly not locally…

I haven’t really given much thought to the national election, but now that clive efford has successfully staved of the tories in their target seat #68 (based on the 68th smallest amount of swing needed – 4.1%), i’m looking forward to seeing what happens with his proposals for green flag paths and signs (and gym!) in eaglesfield park. simon emmett, who was very gracious in defeat, has announced that he will be watching labour in the proposed regeneration of swingate lane shops and in the opposition to the tetra mast (but not the other masts?) – i.e. can the emergency services have it moved somewhere else?

2010 Council Election for Shooters Hill Ward (turnout 80.4% 67.7%)
Name Party Results
Phillip Jonathan BECKER Green Party 659
Mo BURGESS Conservative 1,881
Richard John CHANDLER Conservative 1,628
Simon EMMETT Conservative 1,777
Edward OTTERY Liberal Democrats 1,210
Harry Drummond POTTER Liberal Democrats 939
Jagir Kaur SEKHON Labour 2,917ELECTED
Barry Ian TAYLOR Labour 3,093ELECTED
Danny Lee THORPE Labour 2,788ELECTED
Steven Thomas TOOLE Liberal Democrats 1,009
Eddie Herbert WHITE British National Party 513

For comparison, here’s the details from last time:

2006 Council Election for Shooters Hill Ward (turnout 42%)
Name Party Results
Linda Susan Cunningham Conservative 1409
Sylvia Gladys Derrick-Reeve Liberal Democrat 796
Elizabeth Patricia Drury Conservative 1393
Denise Hyland Labour 1527ELECTED
John Kelly Labour 1589ELECTED
Edward Ottery Liberal Democrats 736
Simon Lester Tee Conservative 1326
Danny Thorpe Labour 1540ELECTED
Michael Westcombe Liberal Democrats 660

Too Sloe

Back in October when the sweet chestnut season was in full swing, I mentioned that I was looking forward to the first frost of the year, the seasonal cue to make sloe gin… however climate chaos (or cyclical warming as some would have it) appears to have put a kibosh on my plans, as whilst I patiently waited for jack frost to turn up and ice those berries near the duck pond, someone or something came along and snaffled the lot!

My first thoughts were that some human(s) had picked them all, but considering how high up some had been, I began to wonder if perhaps those pesky parakeets had been at them?

Anyway, today I was out testing the unofficial shortcut from Dot Hill to Cheriton Drive (very muddy), and I stumbled upon a whole load of blackthorns at the entrance to the old allotments! Luckily enough I still had a bit of gin left (which I’d been drowning my sorrows in after the loss of the other sloes), so I grabbed about 40 or so, plus a thorn, leaving plenty enough for any other foragers/birds in the area. There’s also a load of rosehips there too, at least that’s what I think they are.

The home made recipe is totally straightforward, but superior to the shop-bought version, which apparently gets made with rough spirits and cordial. Essentially, you just use the sloes to double the amount of drink, and it makes a very pleasant winter warmer:


  • enough sloes to fill bottle of gin
  • one empty bottle of gin
  • one full bottle of gin
  • one thorn


  • prick the berries with the thorn
  • drop them into the bottles with gin
  • shake gently every now and then
  • the colour and flavour is optimal after three months, but it rarely remains in the bottle that long
  • decant carefully for clarity

Falconwood is on the TfL Map

Falconwood on the TfL Map
Falconwood on the TfL Map

Part x in an occasional series on maps. This little beauty came via the mighty 853, who reported on the forthcoming oysterisation of overground train fares in this neck of the woods. Local stations are now included on arguably one of the all time classic maps, the present day version of the London Underground map, a.k.a the integrated TfL map. As you can see we have the blue line (charing x and canon st), and the green line (victoria) – I would have preferred primary colours myself, but they were all spoken for… I’m not mad on the parallel lines either, as they look a bit hollow, but I’m guessing the designers were trying to differentiate the overground services by tapping in to how people visualise train tracks.

In Mr 853’s post, the title of which contains the phrase the “great train robbery”, he also notes that fares are set to rise, let’s have a look:

  • Currently: A so called anytime single to London Terminals from zone 4 stations is £3.70, with peak/off-peak returns at £6.20/£4.70 respectively, (for all the confusing details about zone 1 connections, daily cap changes, changes to peak times etc see his pricing post) or the full proposed pricing document.
  • Presently: Comparative trips using oyster fares will cost £3.10/£2.30 (peak/off-peak) single, this is already significantly cheaper than £3.70!). Return prices will vary a bit depending on the time of travel (e.g. the dreaded afternoon peak from 4-7pm), but let’s consider a pleasant scenario for the sake of optimism: a nice little day trip to trafalgar square on a sunny weekend in january, with no onward connections from charing x: this will cost someone over 16 £4.60, which is actually cheaper than current fares by 10 pence.

There are various catches that even out the price differences, such as the premium train users pay if they connect with other TfL services in Zone 1, and apparently season ticket holders are going to pay extra, and there are further criticisms of south eastern trains in particular for not going above and beyond the call of duty by making eco-friendly travel to bluewater more accessible (as has been done for lakeside), but overall, it’s good to welcome in these long overdue changes.

Fire Safety

”]the ex new shooters hill fire station Recently I welcomed two huge firemen into my place as part of the free home safety visit[1. You can also call to arrange a visit: ℡ 08000 28 44 28.] scheme, which is currently being carried out by London Fire Brigade – this includes the installation of smoke alarms. The visit itself was quite brief, and aside from setting up alarms, it includes an education in safety, also available on directgov which is organised under a series of headings:

  1. Smoke Alarms (tested weekly)
  2. Smoking
  3. Cooking
  4. Candles
  5. Portable Heaters
  6. Open Fires
  7. Electrical
  8. Escape Plans
  9. Before Bed Routine
”]Eltham Fire Station

I was reminded that, like lots of electrical items (batteries, toys etc), smoke alarms would contaminate landfill with lead/lithium/cadmium etc, and should be disposed of at nathan way.

The other thing that happened is that I started to ask about the selling off of the fire station, the historical preservation of the doors, and where our new station is (Eltham High Street). As a result of the closure, the call out time for this area is around 3 minutes longer. This makes home safety all the more important, especially during icy winter when the hill becomes less accessible to traffic.

Lost Cat

Lost Cat - Artillery Row - October 2009
Lost Cat - Artillery Row
The behaviour of dogs and their owners was recently considered, and now it’s time to think of the cats of the hill too. Paget Rise appears to have by far the most cats, and quite a few of them are very friendly and/or elegant too, but this story is about a cat on Artillery Row, a very muddy road, which, as an aside, is where Aphrodite had his studio (he is one of the pioneers of drum and bass, in fact this whole area played an important part in the foundation of this form of music on account of how far radio waves carry from here).

Anyway, yesterday it was raining cats and dogs (groan), and so I found myself wondering how to get to the other side of the biggest, muddiest puddle of all the big muddy puddles on Artillery Row (a private road with no storm drains) and I noticed a lost cat sign, which is included here minus the contact details, as I did not, (and never do), approach sources.

If you do have any information about where this cat is hiding from the terrifying tv repair man, then either email the webmin address at the foot of the page, or add a comment, and I will contact the household, or, if you’ve got welly boots, go to Artillery Row.

Here is the message verbatim, I wonder why it’s written from the cat’s perspective?

As you can see I am an adorable young female black cat, I ran out frightened of the tv repair man and haven’t been able to get back into my home as I am lost and confused.

Please let my owners know if you see me, thank you very much.


Good Dog (Owner)

It might not quite be a banksy, but the council dog stencil does seem to be fairly effective at keeping the hill clean and safe, at least in the bits it appears; I certainly would tread carefully walking across the roundabout lawns on the wimpey estate, or certain parts of eaglesfield or shrewsbury park or the woods, although things are getting better.

Anyway it seems to be a fairly serious initiative with its own enforcement officials being geared up to hit anti-social dog-owners where it hurts, i.e. the purse.

I’m not sure what kind of dog the stencilhound is? I once saw a similar street painting in paris, and it was definitely a lapdog of some sort, you know the type that fits in a handbag, but the Greenwich version appears to be modelled on a cross between a Poodle and an Alsation, I call it a Poosation.

Traffic Modelling


Is Shooters Hill still safe from Ringway 2?

On Tuesday June the 30th I was on the way to work and saw a police biker at the roadside pulling over drivers so they could be interviewed by traffic surveyors modelling journeys on behalf of tfl.

According to the researchers, this particular survey is a routine exercise, and will provide London’s traffic managers with an insight into the toing and froing in this area. This sounds plausible and even sensible, however, it also transpired that similar ‘routine’ inspections are being carried out in east london. Perhaps I was wrong to infer the link, but the utterance of the words east london, south east london, and traffic modelling in one sentence immediately made me think of Ringway 2

Traffic designs linking the south/north twistulars completing an inner london ring road go back at least as far as the now infamous Ringway 2 blueprint of the 1960’s, and they seem here to stay, in design form at least. These plans were succesfully blocked by the people of south east london in 1973, 1993 and 2008. Things looked especially bad for Shooters Hill in the early nineties, but the area did ultimately fare better than Wanstead and Twyford Down…

On past form at least, Shooters Hill does appear to be safe from the bulldozers for at least another ten years. However the surrounding area may not be, as attention has now shifted to Blackwall. Clive Efford is currently lobbying for a third blackwall crossing, which would include a doglands light rollercoaster to north greenwich and onwards to eltham. His campaign has its merits, primarily it doesn’t have ill intentions for the woods, secondly it makes use of pre-existing links to the south/north twistulars and A2 (which was the original justification for the oxleas woods bypass linking the A2 at falconwood to the crossing at woolwich), and thirdly, the inclusion of a public transport link is a very smart idea as it improves the image of what is, first and foremost, a road building scheme. There are probably some potential traffic problems to be worked out however, and this will be done with traffic modelling!!

If the link at Blackwall gets improved, will it attract more traffic? Will the approach roads and residential areas on each side be able to accomodate extra through traffic?… Furthermore, Blackwall has never had a particularly good record on pollution, air quality measurements at woolwich flyover routinely fail to meet the air quality objectives, what will the building of new roads do for air quality? (Actually for balance it should be added that most of London fails to meet its pollution targets – not that that makes it alright for blackwall to be as bad as it is).

On that note, here’s the survey debrief:


This survey has been commissioned by Transport for London (TfL). Colin Buchanan is conducting it at this site on their behalf.

In order to address transport problems, we need to know more about current travel patterns and so are conducting the survey. It is taking place at a range of locations across the study area. It will last only one day at each location. Stopping vehicles in this way is the only effective way of establishing the volume and types of journeys being made on a typical day.

Thank you for taking the time to provide TfL with this important information.

We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused by the survey. Every effort has been made to minimise disruption and congestion, but it is not always possible to achieve this as successfully as we would like.

The data you provide will only be used for transport planning purposes by TfL, its agents, London Boroughs and other agencies involved in transport planning.

Should you require any further information about the survey please contact us using the details below. Phones are not continuously manned, but calls will be returned within 24 hours.

Transport for London

T: 02071261423 E:

Colin Buchanan


Three days ago I emailed the supplied contact details to enquire about the motivations for this survey, if I hear back, I will comment further…