Live at the Bull

The Eskalators live at the Bull
The Eskalators live at the Bull

The Eskalators kicked off a season of live music at The Bull on Shooters Hill last night in great style with a brilliant ska set that included one of the best versions of Hey Joe I’ve heard, and that includes the Tim Rose version I heard back in Leeds more years ago than I care to remember. I’m frequently very pleasantly surprised at how talented the musicians are that play at small local venues, and the members of the Eskalators were no exception. They were all good, from the lead singer who looked a bit like author Ian Rankin but with the attitude of Paul Jones and with a great ska voice, through to great rhythm, keyboards and trombone but especially the bassist and sax player. A brilliant evening!

The atmosphere the Eskalators generated in the Bull is captured in this audio clip:

There are also several videos of the band playing at last year’s Danson Festival on YouTube.

The full list of bands playing live at the Bull are:

Band Dates

February 23rd            Eskalators

March 9th                   Cross Logic

March16th                  48 Thrills

March 30th                 The Rant

April 13th                     Hard to Handle

April 27th                     Caretakers

Well worth a visit. The beer was good too!

Out of Eltham?

Thamesmead and Plumstead BC
Proposed new Thamesmead and Plumstead Constituency Boundaries

Shooters Hill ward will move out of the Eltham parliamentary constituency into a new Thamesmead and Plumstead constituency if the latest Boundary Commission for England proposals are implemented. The map above shows which wards would be in the new constituency, and there is also an excellent visualisation of the changes on the Guardian web site – snippets of the old and new constituencies are included at the end of this post.

The Boundary Commission proposal aims to reduce the number of constituencies – hence the number of MPs – and balance the number of voters per consituency.  New constituencies will have populations of no fewer than 72,810 and no larger than 80,473 people, apart from Isle of Wight. The Boundary Commission also took into account:

•  special geographical considerations, including in particular the size, shape and accessibility of a constituency;
•  local government boundaries as they existed on 6 May 2010 (see paragraph 16 above);
•  boundaries of existing constituencies; and
•  any local ties that would be broken by changes in constituencies.

The new boundaries are different to those originally proposed, and the Boundary Commission have documented the reasons for any changes. In the Commission’s original proposals the Eltham constituency, including Shooters Hill ward, was to have been extended into Bexley, but this crossing of borough boundaries “provoked considerable opposition from local residents on both sides of the boundary” –  i.e both Greenwich and Bexley. In addition:

The Labour Party expressed strong objections, and Clive Efford MP highlighted the strength of the existing constituency boundary (reflecting not only borough boundaries but also the former division between London and Kent), the limited number of cross?borough access routes, and the division of residential areas on either side of the boundary.

The rationale behind the new Thamesmead and Plumstead constituency is based on strong local ties between different wards, even though this new constituency is split between Greenwich and Bexley. In particular the strong link between the Thamesmead and Thamesmead Moorings wards was seen to be  important. The ties between the different Plumstead wards was also a factor:

Some respondents highlighted the ties between Glyndon ward and Thamesmead. Many local residents urged us to recognise the links between Plumstead and Glyndon wards, and, to a lesser extent, Shooters Hill ward. The Royal Borough of Greenwich, among others, suggested that these three wards make up the area commonly regarded as Plumstead, and their shared interests would be best served by their being together in one constituency.

What would this mean politically? The ward-by-ward breakdown of votes in the election for London Mayor shows that the wards in the new Thamesmead and Plumstead constituency voted 56.5% for Ken with Boris on 29.7%, then Lawrence James Webb the Fresh Choice for London candidate just beating Green Jenny Jones into third place by 2 votes and Brian Paddick in sixth behind the BNP.

If you want to comment on the new proposal you have until the 10th December, and you can do it via the Boundary Commission’s web site.

Of course this is all  academic given that Nick Clegg has said that the Lib Dems won’t support the boundary changes, unless he changes his mind ….


Current Boundaries
Guardian Datastore: Proposed constituency boundary changes mapped – how would the alterations affect you? Current Boundaries
Proposed Boundaries
Guardian Datastore: Proposed constituency boundary changes mapped – how would the alterations affect you? Proposed Boundaries

Shooters Hill Crime Statistics

Snippet of website showing reported crime around Shooters Hill
Snippet of website showing reported crime around Shooters Hill

My inbox and twitter feed seem to include a lot of crime at the moment, which set me wondering whether crime in the area is increasing, or just more visible because of improved information flow. There certainly is more information. For example the Metropolitan Police have a Neighbourhood Link community messaging service which sends out regular e-mails on local crime incidents, police activity and scam warnings. Recently there have been e-mails about the burglary at John Roan school and the jailing of two men who forced cabbies to drive to a secluded place in Mayplace Lane and then attacked and robbed them.

On twitter there are regular tweets from the Metropolitan Police, @metpoliceuk, various borough forces such as Greenwich, @MPSGreenwich and even the Police Helicopter @MPSinthesky, giving information about local incidents.

Then there are the excellent Neighbourhood Watch groups, who provide local police and crime news by e-mail and via the Shooters Hill Neighbourhood Watch web site, including up-to-date information about any suspicious people seen in the area or attempted scams.

The map snippet at the top of this post is taken from the web site which provides access to “Independent information on force-level crime and anti-social behaviour provided by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary”. It is possible to see the location of all reported incidents in any specified month, or a subset of crimes such as Burglary or Anti-social behaviour. The reports are positioned on the map using an anonymising algorithm to preserve people’s privacy. Another mapped view of local crime report levels can be seen on the Metropolitan Police Crime Mapping web site, snippet below, which shows reported crime levels broken down by ward – it says that there were 66 reports in the Shooters Hill ward in July, down from 67 in June, which works out as as a crime rate of 5.13 per thousand people. For the whole Royal Borough  of Greenwich the rate was 8.7. It’s not clear to me why the figures on the  two maps are so different, 66 vs 667; partly it will be because the first map covers a larger area, but also I suspect the second one doesn’t include reports of anti-social behaviour.

Snippet from Metropolitan Police Crime Mapping showing Shooters Hill
Snippet from Metropolitan Police Crime Mapping showing Shooters Hill

The  Metropolitan Police Crime Mapping web site also contains a set of spreadsheets of crime report data, which included one showing number of reports per crime category per month over the last two-years broken down by borough and ward. What bliss, I thought – an opportunity to produce lots of graphs and pie charts! There’s a couple below: the first shows the total number of reported crimes in the Shooters Hill ward each month for the last two years. Excel manages to fit a straight line to the data, with a downward trend, though I would say the number of reports is about level – it isn’t really decreasing or increasing significantly.  The numbers of reports for some of the crime categories are quite small, and the trends are often spiky. The trend for burglary reports, for example, shows distinct spikes around about December/January in both 2010 and 2011. Maybe mid-winter is a time to take extra precautions.

It’s interesting also to compare reported crime levels with other parts of London. The ward with the highest levels is the West End Ward in the borough of Westminster. Their reported crime level in July 2012 was 1755 compared with Shooters Hill’s 66 – a crime rate of 235 per thousand population.

So it would appear that my pereception that there is more crime at the moment is an illusion prompted by the Met’s  increased  transparency, and me being plugged in to more sources of information. Of course  drawing conclusions from official statistics is often hazardous, and crime levels are notoriously difficult because much crime doesn’t get reported. An alternative approach is the British Crime Survey (BCS) which is based on interviews and is seen as giving a better picture of the extent of crime. The BCS figures aren’t broken down to ward level, but seem to give figures a bit over double the recorded crime numbers. However the BCS figures also show crime levels as steady or decreasing slightly according to the Home Office Statistical Bulletin on Crime in England and Wales 2010/2011.

One possible benefit of the increased visibility of crime figures is that people will be more vigilant which, when coupled with improved communication about crime threats from community groups such as Neighbourhood Watchers, plus the excellent work of the Shooters Hill Safer Neighbourhoods Police Team (SHSNT),  may help decrease the figures further.

As Nick Ross used to say after discussing crime on Crime Watch, “Don’t have nightmares, do sleep well”.

Shooters Hill Total Offences Trend
Shooters Hill Total Offences Trend
Shooters Hill Burglary Trend
Shooters Hill Burglary Trend

Edge of the City – Plumstead Film Festival

In a twist of serendipity, just as one Plumstead festival dies, another springs to life[1. the festival has another website too], thanks to the PiP.

The theme of the Festival, The Edge of the City, was chosen to evoke not only the idea of a geographical location, but a psychological state of mind. Our Festival has recognised the possibility of marginalisation of certain members of society who do not always have a voice, because of their ethnicity, age, disability, perceived social background, sexuality or income. These issues will be articulated in the selected films and discussed with filmmakers and their guests.

The festival will be a fantastic opportunity for the local community to interact with filmmakers, both amateur and professional and to enjoy a free cultural event in the local area. We have also developed this event to bring together members of the community. We will be inviting members of arts groups and institutions, local authorities, representatives of schools and community groups, and members of the press to attend and participate in our activities. We hope the network that is formed at this event will blossom into relationships that will benefit the local community and its representatives.

19th March 2011 – 2pm to 7.30pm: At St Patrick’s School Hall, Griffin Road, Greenwich, London SE18 7QG. This day is open to the public and is committed to screening documentaries and drama films other than those entered into the Festival competition. There will be a special screening of the film ‘Covered’ at 15.30 – documentary discussing the meaning of the scarf for women from different cultures. There will also be an opportunity to watch and be involved in a film editing process of a short drama Love in SE18.

20th March – 12pm to 7.00pm: At Tramshed Youth Theatre, 51 – 53 Woolwich New Road, London SE18 6ES. We will start at 12pm with screenings of shortlisted films, moving on to the awards ceremony at 2.30pm. At 4pm this year’s best films will be screened followed by Q&A’s with their directors. There will also be a special screening of the film ‘LOVE in SE18’ at the end of the day. The bar will be open throughout this event which will conclude with a networking party.

Live Music at Shooters Hill Bull

As someone said recently, why go to the dome to watch a band on a screen when you can see the real thing at the Bull. I went to a great little gig there last Saturday, it was one of those so bad it’s good kind of gigs, with much hilarity ensuing over their demolition of the music of David Bowie (well, Suffragette City was ok, but Starman has got some pretty ouchy high notes in it)… anyway, this was made up for with some great glam stompers and iggy pop, the nation’s favourite insurance salesman. I think there’s a Rockabilly night there starting tomorrow from 7, with the Smokin Aces on at 9pm.

Another band that sometimes plays there (and at the woods café) is OCD, and here’s a little video of them to give an idea of the live music offering at the Bull; it’s worth listening through to around 3:30 minutes at which point the drummer turns into animal from the muppets!

For those who prefer to observe and perform, I believe there’s also karaoke at the Red Lion this weekend, courtesy of @pitstopmark although i’m still trying to confirm this, i think it’s tonight.
–update Yes, it’s confirmed that karaoke is on Fridays from 8:30 at the Red Lion, and this has been (perhaps) neatly timetabled so as not to clash with the Live music up the Hill.

Plumstead UnMake Merry

Right, that’s it, Greenwich’s longest running festival has been cancelled. I know that conspiracy theories have been floated to the effect that the council are withdrawing support from community events as part of the cuts blame game, but as the organisers of the event acknowledged on the in the meantime radio show, the council has to make the vulnerable a priority now.

The fact that this event has been going since 1978 only to be stopped now just goes to show how severe the cuts are; and as one of the important elements of ‘social glue’ that binds the fabric of Plumstead society together, the make merry’s loss is also our loss.

Despite this, the rallying of local people to bring back the festival in 2012 has already begun, and a benefit gig on the evening of the 16th of April at Plumstead Pavilion has been arranged as the first step on the way to the future. According to the newsshopper report, the council have offered to try and help with applying for lottery funding, as they begin to concentrate investments in potentially lucrative projects such as the forthcoming greenwich summer sessions.

Here’s the full statement from the organisers:

It is with great disappointment and regret that the organising committee for the Plumstead Make Merry have to announce that there will not be a Make Merry on Plumstead Common this year. Due to central government cuts in local authority funding, Greenwich Council have been forced to cut the funding on which the Make Merry has depended on for its infrastructure. The committee is made up of local people who all volunteer their time and efforts for free, we do not make a profit, and proceeds from our tea tent and stalls are spent on staging, marquees, sound equipment and on providing free activities for children.

The Plumstead Make Merry has been held on Plumstead Common every year for the last 32 years. It is the most eagerly awaited local event, and the longest running event in the borough. Last year, over 6,000 people visited the festival. We, the Plumstead Make Merry Committee are devastated that there will not be a festival this year, and we know that we are not alone in this feeling.

The Plumstead Make Merry is an important event in the community calendar. We provide a unique opportunity for local charities, voluntary organisations and small businesses to raise awareness of the services, products, information, advice and guidance that they have to offer. As well as this, the Plumstead Make Merry strives to ensure that everyone in our diverse community has the opportunity to be involved. Our funding cut will have an impact on everyone that lives in Plumstead, and beyond.

The Plumstead Make Merry is a celebration of our vibrant, talented and diverse community and will be a great loss to thousands of people. Generations of families have attended the event but due to our lack of funding will not be able to do so this year. The summer of 2011 in Plumstead won’t be the same this year without the Plumstead Make Merry.

However, we will rise above the cuts. We could spend our time and energy complaining about the cuts and campaigning against them – but we won’t, there are many other cuts happening within the borough and nationally, instead, we are dedicated to ensuring that a Make Merry will take place next year. We are appealing to you, the community, to help us.

Throughout the year we will be fundraising and making sure that the Plumstead Make Merry stays in the hearts and minds of local people. Don’t forget the Make Merry, it’s an event put on by local people for local people, it is your celebration of our community.

We are determined to show that the community is bigger than the cuts, and that we can survive. We appeal to everyone to support our fundraising events so that the 2012 Plumstead Make Merry will go ahead, whatever happens with the budget cuts.

We have a great night of entertainment planned for Saturday 16th April 2011 when the ‘Benefit Bash for the Plumstead Make Merry’ will take place in the Greenwich Rugby Club Pavilion on Plumstead Common, (Old Mill Road, London, SE18). Entry will cost just £5 at the door and all proceeds will go towards supporting the festival. There will be live music, karaoke, disco and fun and games. The fun starts at 7:30pm, and we hope to see you all there!

The next event is on Saturday 11th June 2011 – the day the Plumstead Make Merry was due to take place. It will also take place at the Greenwich Rugby Club Pavilion on Plumstead Common, and for a small donation of £5 you can expect a day and evening of non-stop entertainment.

Woodlands Farm in April

woodlands farm lambs
Last year's lambs

Now that the signs of spring are showing, the farm is moving into the lambing period, and have announced the details of the first of their big seasonal events for 2011: Lambing Day. This and further activities have been added to the calendar, and will appear on the front page as they draw closer.

The Woodlands Farm Trust Lambing Day
Saturday 23 April 2011

All are welcome at the Woodlands Farm Trust Lambing Day. Come and see our new-born lambs, and enjoy the chance to buy quality local produce at reasonable prices, including home-made preserves, cakes and honey. Relax in our café, enjoy the treasure hunt or get involved in craft activities. A great family day out!
Entry is £1 for adults and 50p for children, and all proceeds go towards caring for our animals. No booking required.

Things that go BUMP in the Night!

Friday 1 April 7.30pm-9.30pm

Tuesday 26 April 8.00pm-10.00pm

Come and see what the farm is like after dark! Try your hand at moth trapping, listen to bats with our bat detectors, and keep a look-out for other nocturnal animals like owls and hedgehogs.

£1 per person, or FREE for farm volunteers and Members of the Woodlands Farm Trust.
Booking required; please email or call the farm office during office hours. Please note that all children must be accompanied by an adult.

Easter Holiday Activities

Come and visit us during the Easter Holidays, and meet some of the wildlife on the farm. All activities are drop-in; no booking required. Please note that all children must be accompanied by an adult.

Tuesdays (12 & 19 April)
10am-12pm Moth Magic
1pm-3pm Pond Dipping

Wednesdays (13 & 20 April)
10am-12pm Reptiles and Amphibians
1pm-3pm Pond Dipping

Thursdays (14 & 21 April)
10am-12pm Mouse Count
1pm-3pm Pond Dipping

Friday (15 April)
10am-3pm Easter Egg Hunt £2 per person

Plus come along any time to take part in our woodland bear hunt! £1 per person

Plumstead Make Merry cut

Last year I wrote a very positive review of the Plumstead Make Merry (Est. 1978), which I wrote after having had a great time feeling very optimistic about the local area. I saw various local faces down there, got chatting with some of them, found out about the environment group’s excellent newsletter, saw various community workers, historians, and old friends, and bought a nice handmade basket and a mr whippy.

Fast forward to the brave new politics… Yesterday I read on 853blog that the council have withdrawn a grant of around £2500 to the make merry as part of their cuts programme. One perspective on this is that the council are pulling funds to high profile events such as this and blackheath fireworks to stir up anger about central government interference; another is that the most vital services (homecare, childcare, daycare) are being protected at the expense of items such as festivals, kidbrooke library, park rangers, teenage pregnancy services, youth services, connexions, park keeping, healthy schools, sheltered housing, voluntary groups and more as the council lose in the region of £65000000 this parliament.

Apparently the organisers are going to be guests of the in the meantime radio show this sunday, which is recorded and broadcast at the Queen Elizabeth hospital, and is usually available as a download by the following day. The radio show is well worth a listen in it’s own right: it has the homemade charm of resonance fm (although they haven’t misplaced the jingle yet); is doing a useful job of filling the news void left by Greenwich Time, Newsshopper, and Mercury; and has brilliant roving reports and interviews too, which none of the other hyperlocals have really attempted as yet.

Anyway, podcasts aside, the Plumstead Make Merry organisers are also planning a benefit bash on Saturday 16th April, and have a popular and informative facebook page.

Crossrail is back!

I’m not really posting at the moment… not that there isn’t much to talk about: the lilypond restoration, the shifty bit of the woods, shooters hill against the mast (that’s going well), the aperture woolwich photographic society exhibition at the QE hospital, the speed guns, the price increase at the cafe (about 10p), minister gove approved the shooters hill free school, (although it looks like they won’t be able to open when they wanted to), the planned mixed-mode playground behind christchurch school, all the new activities at the farm… anyway, i’ve been tweeting a bit, but i hope to return to writing more from april. i might also decide to move the whole site to too, which is a bit of a loss, but it would be possible to have comments again (with automagical spam removal).

Anyway, since good news can be hard to find these days, I just had to say something about crossrail – it was revealed today that the woolwich crossrail project is alive again, which is brilliant news for woolwich itself, and also for oxleas woods: the better the public transport infrastructure round here is, the less likely it is that a motorway will be built over the farm/woods. So, well done woolwich! The hold-ups have been going on for a while, at one point it was because berkeley homes, who agreed to pay for the ‘station box’ on the agreement their social housing commitments at the royal arsenal could be scaled down, and also on the condition that greenwich council paid for the inside. Since then berkeley seem to have kept their promises, but then there were various quibbles over land buying (?) that threatened the entire scheme (?!) Anyway, I believe that around 2019 (?) woolwich may be able to seriously say that it’s back on the way to enjoying some of its former glories. (Sorry no time for fact checking)…

Woodlands Farm Saturdays

Wow, things are really hotting up down the farm, check these new saturday activities out (i will update the details as they come in, and add them to the calendar):

29th January 10am. Big Bird Watch. Based on the RSPB’s Big Garden Bird Watch, and results will be sent to them. FREE.
1pm-3pm Afternoon workshop making bird feeders. £1.50 per feeder.

12th February 10am-12pm and 1pm-3pm. Making chocolate truffles for Valentine’s Day. Charge £3 per person; ages 7+.

19th February 10am-12pm and 1pm-3pm. Making Bird Boxes – based on BTO bird box week. Charge £2 per box; ages 8+

26th February 10am-12pm and 1pm-3pm. Dissect an Owl Pellet. FREE; Ages 6+.

5th March 10am-12pm and 1pm-3pm. Pond Dipping. FREE; ages 4+.

19th March 10am-12pm and 1pm-3pm. Woodland Adventures. Bush-craft activities for over-8s.
Booking required – please contact the farm office during office hours; 020 8319 8900/ Charge £1 per person; ages 8+.

16th April 10am-12pm and 1pm-3pm. Make chocolate animals for Easter. Charge £3 per person; ages 7+.

30th April 5am-7am Dawn Chorus Walk. FREE; all ages.