How Shooters Hill voted in 2014

Percentage of valid votes cast per party
Percentage of valid votes cast per party

Labour candidates were the winners in the Shooters Hill ward in this week’s local government elections, with a 9% swing from Conservative to Labour in the percentage of total votes cast. Danny Thorpe continues as one of our councillors – he’ll reach his 10th anniversary on 29th July – and is joined by two new councillors Sarah Merrill and Chris Kirby. Fourth place in the poll was UKIP’s Les Price, followed by Michael Westcombe from the Green Party. The Greens more than doubled their share of the vote compared to the last local council election in 2010, while the Conservative share dropped by 9.6% and the Liberal Democrats’ vote share almost halved.

The pie chart above perhaps doesn’t give a true picture of the support received by different parties because the Greens and UKIP only put forward one candidate each for the ward, whereas three candidates stood for each of the other three parties. If I allow for this by factoring in the number of candidates per party then I get the following percentages: Labour: 42.8%; UKIP: 20.4%; Green: 15.7%; Conservative: 14.5% and Liberal Democrat: 6.6%

The full results, taken from the Royal Borough of Greenwich web site, are included below. The percentages here are based on the turnout figure of 3968 – just 40.99% of those eligible.

Candidate Party Votes %
Anthony Phillip AUSTIN Liberal Democrats 269 6.78%
Mo BURGESS Conservative 820 20.67%
Stewart Charles CHRISTIE Liberal Democrats 390 9.83%
Pat GREENWELL Conservative 684 17.24%
Christopher Charles Andrew KIRBY Labour 1,940 48.89%
Sarah Jane MERRILL Labour 2,027 51.08%
Les PRICE UKIP 933 23.51%
Bonnie Christopher SOANES Liberal Democrats 249 6.28%
Danny Lee THORPE Labour 1,894 47.73%
Amit TIWARI Conservative 482 12.15%
Michael David WESTCOMBE Green Party 716 18.04%

That 40.99% figure for turnout is particularly worrying. More than half of eligible voters didn’t vote, so even the candidate with most votes was only supported by about one in five of Shooters Hill’s voters. It also seems likely that quite a few ballot papers were spoiled. If the total number of votes is divided by 3 (the number of votes allowed per voter), the answer is 500 less than the turnout figure. Of course this may also be because some voters didn’t use all three of their allowed votes, but it could mean that 12.6% ballot papers were spoiled.

The data I’ve used for comparing the performance of parties at recent elections comes from the London Datastore created by the Greater London Authority. This contains a spreadsheet with the 2006 and 2010 local election results, and a set of pdfs with data from earlier elections. The percentages of the vote received by political parties in the Shooters Hill ward each year are plotted below, though these figures do not allow for parties fielding fewer than the allowed number of candidates. Prior to 2002 there was no Shooters Hill ward – the nearest equivalents then were Shrewsbury ward and Herbert ward, but I haven’t tried to work out the exact mapping to the current boundaries.

The results for the European elections that were held at the same time as the local elections haven’t been published yet, and I don’t know if they will be broken down to ward level. If they are I’ll update this post with Shooters Hill’s European decision.

Vote percentages in local elections since 2002
Vote percentages in local elections since 2002

May half term events at Woodlands Farm

Woodlands Farm half-term events poster

Hannah, the Education Officer at Woodlands Farm, sent details of their February half term events for children:

Wednesday 28th May Make a Cress Head
Sessions at 11am and 1pm. £2 per child, accompanying adults free
Come and join us to make a fun cress head to take home. You will have a chance to plant your cress seed and then decorate your head so it has a fun face ready for when his cress hair grows.
Booking is essential, call 020 8319 8900

Thursday 29th May Pond Dipping
Sessions at 10am, 11am, 1pm and 2pm. £1 per child, accompanying adults free
Come and see what you can find hidden beneath the surface of the water. Using nets we will delve into this mysterious world.
Booking is essential, call 020 8319 8900

Friday 30th May Ugly Bug Ball
11am-3pm. £2 per child
Join us for a day all about bugs. You can go on a bug hunt or go in search of bumble bees. There will also be a chance to look up close at the parts of different insects using our microscopes as well as become a bug yourself with our antennae making craft!
No need to book, just drop in between 11am-3pm. For more information call 020 8319 8900.

For more information, see our website or contact Hannah Forshaw on
We are a farm so sensible shoes and clothing are recommended! We do allow dogs, but please note that these must be kept on a lead and not taken into any farm buildings.

Pond Dipping - Mayfly Larva, Damsel Fly Larva and Phantom Midge Larvae
Pond Dipping – Mayfly Larva, Damsel Fly Larva and Phantom Midge Larvae

Hannah will be combining the children’s activities with two of her set of wildlife surveys for 2014: a newt and pond life survey on 29th May and a Bumblebee survey on 30th. The following surveys are also planned:

11th June, 3pm: Meadow plants
18th June, 2pm: Newt and pond life
18th June, TBC: Bats
25th June, 3pm: Meadow plants
2nd July, TBC: Bats
8th July, 3pm: Opal Biodiversity Hedgerow survey
15th July, 3pm: Opal Tree health survey
22nd July, 11am: Big Butterfly Count

All the information about wildlife collected in the surveys is submitted to GIGL (Greenspace Information for Greater London), formerly the London Biological Recording Project, who “collate, manage and make available detailed information on London’s wildlife, parks, nature reserves, gardens and other open spaces.”  The OPAL surveys are part of the Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) citizen science initiative. The results of the bat survey are also submitted  to the Bat Conservation Trust’s annual field survey and entered on their Big Bat Map.

Smooth Newt at Woodlands Farm
Smooth Newt at Woodlands Farm

Eaglesfield Pond – Gardeners Wanted

Eaglesfield Gardeners at the Lilly Pond March 2012
Eaglesfield Gardeners at the Lilly Pond

The Friends of Eaglesfield Park would welcome help on Sunday (25th May) with their ongoing work in the wild flower meadow surrounding the Lilly Pond. Madeleine wrote with the details:

Regular Monthly Tidy up/Pond Dipping Sessions
The Friends of Eaglesfield Park (FOEP) continue working to ensure the pond and meadow are an environmentally friendly haven for wildlife which will also provide a peaceful setting for contemplation and wildlife observation for the local community and visitors to the park.

In less than 2 years since the official Opening of the Pond it is amazing how important the pond and meadow have become to our local wildlife and how much pleasure it provides the “human” visitor.

This Spring we are seeing an increase in  pond creatures – frogs, newts, insects, butterflies and birds and the POND DIPPING PLATFORM enables access for studying the pond life.  We would like to see more children (and adults!) take advantage of the Pond Dipping facilities and are looking at ways in which this can be achieved.

All this requires some kind of a regular maintenance programme. Last year the FOEP introduced a regular “Tidy Up/Pond Dipping Session” on the Last Sunday of the Month, 11 am – 1 pm and we would like to continue this, if possible.  Sadly this year on 30th March and 27th April there were few troops on the ground!  However the few of us accomplished quite a lot and made a difference.

We cleared various areas and planted Yellow Rattle plug plants.  These feed on grass roots and will hopefully reduce some of the grasses to enable more wild flower seeds to germinate.

It would be great though to see a few more gardeners, or litter pickers, or pond dippers!  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and hope more people will join us next time.

In order for the pond and meadow to flourish we cannot leave it completely to Nature!  We do need to ensure the pond is regularly cleaned and its plants are thinned out and the meadow is properly maintained, including removal of  invasive weeds, sowing seeds and planting wildflowers.  And , of course, we shouldn’t forget the litter picking of assorted empty drink cans and bottles!

The Friends plan to meet each month to work at the pond.  The dates for the rest of the year are: 25th May, 29th June, 27th July, 31st August, 28th September and 26th October (assuming  availability of Friends committee volunteers). I’ve added the dates to the events calendar over on the right.

As well as their work on the pond, the Friends have recently relaunched their web site and have joined twitter as @FOEP1.

Grand Opening of the Lilly Pond 15 June 2012
Grand Opening of the Lilly Pond 15 June 2012

Looking through my Flickr sequence of photographs showing how the pond has changed I’m impressed by how much the Friends have achieved in transforming the dried-up, overgrown historic Lilly Pond into what it is today. The pond goes back well over a hundred years. It is shown on the 1866 ordinance survey map in the corner of the pleasure gardens behind the original Bull Hotel, which stood in the area around where the water tower now stands. It’s great that it has been brought back to life.

The problem the Friends are facing at the moment is that the soil around the pond is really too fertile for a wild flower meadow, and vigorous grasses are able to out-compete the wild flowers. One solution to this is to reduce the garden’s fertility by removing the top layers of soil, but the Friends have chosen to try to reduce the vigour of the grasses using the hemi-parasitic meadow plant Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor). Yellow Rattle, or Cockscomb, is a partial parasite that gains some of its nutrients from the roots of neighbouring plants. Its roots lock on to the roots of surrounding grasses, taking their nutrients and restricting their growth, increasing the meadow’s biodiversity.

The Friends will be meeting at 11.00am on Sunday to tidy the area around the pond and continue the creation of the wild flower meadow. They’d love to see as many people as possible to help.

Mallards at Eaglesfield Park Lilly Pond
Mallards at Eaglesfield Park Lilly Pond

Weekend Walks

The Thames near Erith
The Thames near Erith

Our favourite walk leader, Ian Bull, wrote to remind me of this weekend’s set of strolls brought together by Walk London. Ian is leading two walks over the weekend. The first, and longest, is on Saturday, 17th May – a 17.5 mile, 8 hour hike along the Thames from Slade Green to Greenwich.  This Thames Path Super Walk is described on the Walk London web site as follows:

 – This is without doubt one of the most fascinating walks possible in South East England. In a most attractive way it explores the Thames between bucolic countryside and the intense development of the World’s greatest commercial centre. This isn’t so much a walk as a journey.
– We begin in the farmland of London’s Green Belt beside the River Darent, a stones-throw from Kent, arriving at Crayford Ness and confluence with the Thames by way of brackish marshes rich in bird life. We then receive the almost magical experience of seeing the great river progress from pre-estuarine bleakness to the heart of urbanity.
– The transition between the contrasting landscapes is both inexorable yet surprisingly gentle as the natural environment penetrates well into London. Typically, whilst passing Bulrushes reclaiming an old wharf we might already see the towers of commerce rising before us.
– The walk is also a historical timeline for London. We’ll pass evidence of almost every aspect of the city’s economic and industrial past from agriculture and fisheries through iron and shipping to electronics and nuclear engineering. We’ll conclude besides one of the most famed examples of the built environment anywhere on the planet, Wren’s magnificent work at Greenwich. Overall, this walk is a feast for both the eye and the mind, no wonder it’s proven so popular.
– The start is timed to allow for a walk without rush but please note that it demands the ability to consistently maintain average walking pace for some 14 miles. A packed lunch is essential as is water to drink along the way. There is a small supermarket at the beginning but opportunities to re-stock along the way are very limited
– The walk leader has a lifetime’s experience of walking besides London’s river and will be delighted to share his extensive knowledge. Feel free to contact him, Ian Bull, for further information.  Telephone 020 7223 3572,  E-mail

The walk starts at 10.00am at Slade Green Station and finishes at Greenwich. Both walks are free and booking is not required.

Green Chain walkers in Bostall Wood
Green Chain walkers in Bostall Wood

The second walk, on Sunday 18th May, is even closer to home.  The modestly titled London’s best woodland and views, without doubt is only 7.5 miles, but takes in the best bits of the Green Chain walk. It starts at 11.45am outside the booking office at Belvedere railway station and finishes at the top of Shooters Hill. The Walk London write up says:

 – The title of this walk says it all and participants will not be disappointed.
– South East London is sometimes dismissed as a sprawl of suburban housing. This couldn’t be further from the truth, the area contains the finest landscape in London. Thanks to that quality the South East was chosen in 1977 as the location for London’s first long distance footpath network, the Green Chain.
– This walk naughtily picks the very best parts of the Green Chain system and combines them into one gem, perhaps the most attractive foot journey that London can offer. There will be miles when you’ll have no idea that you are within a City. The Woodland is ancient, extensive, and dense, it was recorded by the Romans and pre-dates them by millennia.
– Within that woodland we’ll meet one of London’s least known ancient monuments, the ruins of Lesnes Abbey. Already having met some notable gradients we now start climbing consistently, to well over 400 feet. As we progress you’ll notice ever more extensive views unfolding and at every stage you can be sure of ever better views and landscape before you. A Victorian interlude at Plumstead Common preludes further ascent towards Shooters Hill and, if the weather is clear, views out to the North Sea. The summit of Shooters Hill with its great vista over Kent and Surrey is crowned by yet more ancient woodland and nestling within it we’ll find the remarkable Severndroog Castle. From here it’s a short walk to buses for home and memories of a day you won’t forget. Please note that our route is very steep in places, a packed lunch is essential, and there are few places to re-stock along the way.
– The walk leader is the Green Chain Walk’s surveying contractor and will be delighted to share his extensive knowledge.

While walking with Ian you could also ask him about the railway system that used to run in the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich and the restoration of the Woolwich steam locomotive. Ian is scheduled to give a talk about “The narrow gauge railways of the Royal Arsenal” at the Greenwich Industrial History Society meeting on 17th June. It starts at 7.30pm at  The Old Bakehouse, Bennett Park, SE3, behind Age Exchange in Blackheath.

Horse riders near Severndroog Castle
Horse riders near Severndroog Castle

Woodlands Farm 2014 Barn Dances

Woodlands Farm Barn dance poster

Woodlands Farm Barn Dances are always great fun, and tickets usually sell out quickly. No skill or experience in barn dancing is required, and little is demonstrated at the dance: the steps and sequences are all called out by the band, the excellent Skinner’s Rats.  Maureen from the farm e-mailed the details:

Woodlands Farm is organising two Barn Dances this year, on Saturday 24 May and Saturday 5 July, 7.30-ll.00pm. Live country music by Skinners Rats. Please bring your own food, drinks and glasses. Tickets £12 each. To book either event call the Farm Office on 020 8319 8900.

Unlike previous dances food won’t be provided, so you’ll need to bring your own drinks and snacks. The volunteers at the farm will be working hard to transform the barn, pictured below, into a dance hall before everyone arrives.

Gingham, denim and stetsons are not compulsory.

The barn where the barn dance will be held, as it is now
The Barn