Trust the Ombudsman?

Never say never but …this is quite possibly the last blog I will write on the subject of Beckenham Place Park. 

Hooray says Gav! 

In addition, I intend shortly to close my original Twitter account which I have used to highlight this issue.  Life is too short.

Let me first put it out there that Beckenham Place Park has proved to be a boon for a large number of people during these Covid times and one hopes it will continue.  Whether the new demographic of the park is one that Gav and other occupants of Ivory Towers intended is another matter.  

It is the case that campaigners against large scale landscape interventions have been proved right in that advertising and promotion of the park, together with the provision of decent basic amenities – toilets, cafe, kids’ play – was all that was needed to bring more people in. One only has to look at how the whole site of the 240 acre park is now being used, not just the small area where grant money was spent, to understand that.  It remains my position that this could still have been achieved with retaining the public 18 hole golf course and certainly if it had been reduced to 9 holes instead.

It is also the view of many people that the amount of money spent on the artificial lake, fenced off and guarded, for a small niche audience of outdoor swimmers, could have been better spent on quality landscaping e.g. the existing ornamental garden was not transformed into the much trumpeted 18th Century themed pleasure ground (I’m pretty certain they did not have crazy paving in the 18thCentury).  More importantly, a network of good quality new paths could have been provided, instead of the quickly degraded, rutted ones with which we have ended up.  Pre-existing paths, neglected, crumbling and degraded for decades, could have been repaired – but continue to crack and  crumble even more.  However, Ivory Towers knew best.

It remains to be seen how the operation of the fake lake turns out long term, especially when the infrastructure of pumps, filters, liner etc starts to break down.  The ropes to the jetty have already had to be replaced last week.  The cheapest option and/or cutting corners was counter-productive.

Moving on to the main subject of this blog; in 2016 I agreed to assist a friend in his complaint to Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman against National Lottery Heritage Fund, whose grant enabled Lewisham Council to close the public golf course in order to build their fake lake.  In our opinion the evidence of failings by NLHF to properly scrutinise the council’s grant application i.e. taking information (including lies) at face value from the application forms, failure to weigh up the heritage value of the golf course, refusal to engage with informed stakeholders, who had legitimate concerns, bias to the applicant which extended to omitting key, but unfavourable, information from their case papers to Trustees, was overwhelming.

Had I known at the time about the phenomenal website and campaign http://www.phsothetruestory.com I would have declined my friend’s request for assistance.  Four years later we have a final report from PHSO which, sadly, lines up with the concerns and overwhelming evidence published on the “true story” website.  This is reinforced by the replies left to so many tweets from the following accounts: @PHSOmbudsman, @RobBehrens1884 (Ombudsman) and @phsothefacts i.e. that complaining to PHSO is a disheartening waste of time which leaves one disillusioned and emotionally drained. Insofar as my friend’s complaint is concerned, it is *only* a park, not a person or someone’s loved one who has been badly let down by the NHS.  We can easily move on, so many others cannot.

Complaints have to be submitted to PHSO with the prior approval of the complainant’s Member of Parliament; as a rule of thumb, two-thirds of complaints relate to the NHS, one third to other departments.  According to the “true story” website:-

In 2018/19, following investigation, PHSO upheld just 2.4% of all complaints submitted.  If resolution without investigation is taken into account this figure rises to 20%.  Bear in mind that ‘resolution’ is often an apology from the public body complained about and no more.”

These are quite incredible figures given how difficult it is to get a complaint looked at in the first place.  Currently Mr Behrens (Ombudsman) and co are lobbying for complainants to be able to bypass the need for authorisation by their MP, in the guise of making the process easier.  Seems to me that it merely gives PHSO increased scope to refuse to take on a complaint or find against the complaint.

Scanning through the replies to PHSO tweets, one comes across these words time and again: lies, collusion, cover ups, corrupt, time waste, lack/no transparency, excuses, bias, inept.

This is another quote from the PHSO true story website:-

“Despite evidence to the contrary, PHSO will always accept the version supplied by the public body and decide that their account is beyond question.  They will simply skirt round or totally ignore any evidence that does not match up to this version of events.  

The draft report is often full of factual errors and assumptions or accepted as truths.  The complainant may spend painstaking hours correcting this draft report only to find the final report is virtually the same.”

As it happens, the experience of my friend and I was a little different in that we were reasonably happy with the draft report … but then, after input from NLHF, it got changed … four times … to arrive at a report that bore hardly any resemblance to the first draft.  Indeed, it was not only that the content of the report was radically changed, but also the tone and the style.  Whereas the draft report was clear, concise and easy to follow, the final report is inconsistent, contradictory, muddled and over-wordy, which is obviously designed to befuddle readers.

At draft four, in exasperation, we tried reframing our case specifically centred on the Nolan principles of public life i.e. selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.  We provided evidence of how the middle five principles had been breached, but this was dismissed out of hand.

The attitude of PHSO seemed to be that the end result justified the means of getting there i.e. that failings in process could be overlooked because NLHF considered that the application from Lewisham Council met the objectives of their grant scheme.  This is contrary to Nolan and particularly so with regards to the issues of honesty and applying the best available evidence.

Amongst their many instances of giving NLHF an easy ride was PHSO’s refusal to consider evidence about two people crucial to the heritage grant.  In September 2016, three months before the grant to Lewisham Council was approved by NLHF Trustees, their Chair, Sir Peter Luff, liked the following tweet:-

Not only did Sir Peter show partiality to a tweet linked to a grant yet to be decided (or not, of course – done deal? Nooo) but he had no means of being able to quantify the contents of the tweet.  Who was Simon W Smith?  Did he work for the applicant – Lewisham Council – no!  It was, in fact, a troll account.

Mike Harding, NLHF’s “independent” project manager, has a website in which he advises that he has worked offering technical advice to the heritage fund for 15 years.  

https://www.mhhummingbird.com/contact.html

Yet, despite NLHF tendering for consultant contracts specifying appropriate qualifications and affiliations to relevant professional bodies, there is nothing on his website to indicate that he has any qualifications or relevant affiliations.  And in the 18 months or so that I have been checking his website, his projects page remains under development.  Yet, here is a person whose opinion was influential in making the grant and then he went on to oversee Lewisham Council spending it.  But jobs for the boys seems beyond PHSO’s remit when examining complaints.

Anyway, I could … and maybe one day will … write a book about the whole debacle of The Lies of the Lake.  In the meantime here is the link to PHSO’s final report.  Unfortunately I cannot provide a link to the first draft for comparison purposes because I am not allowed to.  Mr Plod, or some such, will come knocking if I do.  Strange that!

https://1drv.ms/w/s!AmhSdJbLcB1fi3NWA2YXnsxBeQoD

The Lies of the Lake

The most basic lie of the lake is that it’s a restoration. It isn’t.

Another lie of the lake is that it is nothing like Lewisham Council’s artist’s impression.

So many convoluted lies flowed from the premise that a lake which once existed was to be restored.

The artificial, *constructed*, lake does not cover the footprint of the original 18th Century lake, neither is it fed by the same, natural, means.

Lewisham said in its application form to National Lottery Heritage Fund: “The lake created by Cator will be restored in its original location” (John Cator, a rich, 18th Century timber merchant).

That then got revised to (again in the application form): “The lake shown on 19th century plans will also be reinstated”.

Here is the 19th Century OS map of the lake, the eastern end of which is tucked right up to the railway line. I think it’s a bit of a pork pie (lie) for Lewisham to claim they ever intended to take the perimeter of the lake so close to the railway line. And naive of National Lottery Heritage Lottery Fund to believe them. But then, NLHF don’t do proper scrutiny.

Compare the OS to this board on the park.

In addition, the report into the asbestos particles found during the 2016 excavations, makes it clear that the footprint was adjusted elsewhere too, in order to avoid disturbing more asbestos.

The fake lake is an artificial, engineered *construction*; it is fed via a bore hole pump and uses aerators to try keep the water moving and (hopefully) healthy; it sits only partially on the original lake footprint.

The 18th (and 19th) Century lake was an open feature, there were no fences, hedging or any other impediments to people accessing it.

Admittedly, though, just like now, the original lake was not available for the enjoyment of any old Tom, Dick or Harry. The 18th Century lake could only be enjoyed by the Gentry; the present fake lake can only be enjoyed by those that pay to enter the enclosure.

The now, departed, Lewisham Council ex-project manager during construction of the lake stated on many occasions, including at a public meeting, that the lake would provide interest and enjoyment even to people who have no interest in accessing the water. People would be able to walk around its perimeter and would be able to sit on benches close to the water’s edge and gaze over the tranquil waters.

Lovely! Except we can’t get close enough to study the water habitat unless we pay.

In Lewisham’s two application forms to National Lottery Heritage Fund they referred to *restoring*

“the eighteenth century lake creating an attractive centrepiece;”

“John Cator created a lake within the estate for its ornamental values”;

they said the lake would provide “attractions where people want to linger”.

When were we ever told that lingering at the lakeside, or that swimming, would be chargeable? Lingering at the lakeside sitting at these benches incurs a fee. Really?

When were we ever told that the fake lake would be similar to a lido, fenced in to prevent unpaid entry? Not that any lidos I am aware of are guarded by intimidating men and dogs.

When were we ever told that just sitting on a bench to watch ducks and darting dragonflies would either incur a fee or that you would have to bring binoculars to get a close up view of the natural water life and habitats?

Oh, and that CCTV tower is a unique “heritage” addition.

So, have Lewisham lied by omission – oops, we forgot to say that sitting close to the water’s edge incurs a fee! Oops, we forgot to say ugly security measures would be in place. Or was it just plain old porkies?

Or plain old incompetence fuelled by arrogance and hubris?

Seems like it never occurred to Lewisham Council and National Lottery Heritage Fund that commissioning an artificial, engineered *construction* in a public park confers attendant responsibilities. Despite being questioned on the health and safety aspects by members of the public, the project team were convinced that the same rules apply as to naturally occurring bodies of water. They don’t. But the clever officers wouldn’t be told, they knew best. Except they didn’t, hence losing face and bringing in a lake operator, hence charges for water based interaction.

Nowhere in Lewisham Council’s two application forms to National Lottery Heritage Fund and nowhere in the Fund’s officer’s case papers to Trustees did it say there would be charges for accessing the fringes of the lake, let alone the water. They said:

“The lake will provide opportunities for water activities”

“Reintroducing the lake for use by park visitors and [sic] would be an important part of the capital work”.

Nowhere was charges for use mentioned, either in writing, during CONsultation or at meetings, including Lewisham Borough ward meetings.

A big whopping lie of the lake is that it is our heritage. Not mine, mate. I grew up on the Downham estate: council house, comprehensive school, no university … far removed from the occupants of Ivory Towers who decided the 18th Century lake is the heritage of the people of the three Lewisham wards adjoining Beckenham Place Park, of which Downham is one. I wonder how many Downham residents swim in it?

The council officers were at pains to point out in their application forms to National Lottery Heritage Fund that the Lewisham wards adjoining Beckenham Place Park are officially considered to be deprived and the demographic of BAME is a significant percentage – 48%, plus a large demographic of children. The application form said the park would facilitate: “a broad range of activities … appealing to diverse audiences”.

Are the, largely, white adults who swim in the lake generating enough income to reinvest into the rest of the park for the diverse audience, including any of those “deprived” Lewisham residents, to enjoy? Erm …

Lewisham residents, many of whom cannot afford the charges to swim, residents who were *not* told at Downham, Bellingham and Whitefoot ward meetings that there would be charges to even access the perimeter of the fake lake, have been conned.

The heritage of Downham, Bellingham and Whitefoot wards is the social history of the park after it came into public ownership, purchased by London County Council in 1927, including a 9-hole golf course they opened to the public. Where can we find any narrative or timeline for this; mind you, where are the interpretation materials required by the Funder to explain the heritage and ecology of the park?

Hey! National Lottery Heritage Fund, looks like you’ve been conned.

Oh, and here is a reminder of a group of a previous (non-diverse, obvs 🤔) park community.

Seems to me that the very fact that parks exist and have evolved as society evolved is an aspect of our heritage, so why invent a fake one?

Another lie of the lake: “Water usage will be reduced, as the greens and tees are regularly watered in the dryer months …” – really? So the bore hole doesn’t draw water away from the water table?!

Is the artificial fake lake even a lake? It’s a large, long, narrow pond with a sticky-out bit. It’s 285m long, no more than 50m wide at the point of the salient and 3.5m deep. But then, I suppose it is only semantics as the only official lake in the Lake District is Bessenthwaite, all others are “meres” or “waters”. However, the smallest of the Lake District “lakes” is Brotherswater at 0.2 square *kilometres*. Beckenham Place Park is a mere 14,240 square metres.

Look at this, from Lewisham’s website. Is this another porky? I’m not aware of any clubs or youth sessions taking place.

All that money spent on a piddling piece of water, used by an unrepresentative, largely affluent, demographic that has caused nothing but problems and expense since the *mates* who decided it would be a good idea decided to forge ahead in the face of all common sense.

The budget for the fake lake (both originally allocated and extra to deal with the asbestos issue) could have been used to deliver other good quality landscape improvements in the park. Can anyone honestly say that any of the lottery funded landscaping is of a high quality?

The lies of the lake are just the tip of an iceberg of a tsunami of lies relating to this project. Watch this space ….

In the meantime, here’s some proper lake photos.

Stay Alert!

I wonder if the people who have discovered the wonder of public parks during this Corona virus pandemic, will largely abandon them to return to previous leisure activities, such as shopping and the gym? Winter will be interesting for all us regular park users.

Covid-19 has done more to populate Beckenham Place Park than any initiative by Lewisham Council, and it is telling that those areas of the park (i.e. most of it), where not one penny of National Lottery Heritage Fund grant was spent, is brimming with people as much as the so-called regenerated areas.

Another salutary tale, both of this pandemic and the fake lake aspirations of those-who-knew-best, in the Ivory Towers occupied by National Lottery Heritage Fund and London Borough of Lewisham, is that of self discipline and self policing.

We have all encountered, or at least heard of, incidents of the breaking of lockdown rules. Did the government even put lockdown in place quickly enough? Who knows? They say they listened to and were guided by the expert advice. What expert advice did the NLHF and LBL consult and listen to? Indeed, wasn’t it just a matter of everyone staying alert to the dangers!

Common sense did not dictate that there will always be adults who flagrantly disregard rules, let alone rebellious young people and mischievous children?

Campaigners tried to engage with both LBL and NLHF about the complex issues around wild swimming in their coveted fake lake. They didn’t want to know. Taking just one example of the bury-heads-in-sand approach, the notes from a public meeting held at Beckenham Place Park Mansion 13th September 2016:-

“From a safety point of view it [the lake] isn’t seen by the council as high risk and behaviour will be self directed/self policed.” savebppgolf.wordpress.com

National Lottery Heritage Fund have recently refused a Freedom of Information request to see any report they have surrounding the incidents, shortly after the fake lake opened, of children getting into difficulties and one being air lifted to hospital. One can conclude that is because either 1) the report is too embarrassing or 2) they continued to take a blasé attitude towards the issue and didn’t bother with a report. One has to wonder what the qualifications and experience of their project monitor was to oversee this fake lake project.

One also has to wonder what the qualifications and experience was of Lewisham Council’s project manager? She who referred to self direction and self policing. Or those above her pulling her strings?

Ten months down the line from those incidents, her departmental boss, Kevin Sheehan, Executive Director for Housing, Regeneration and Environment, and a Lewisham Councillor, Jacq Paschoud, continue to shut the barn door after the horse has bolted.

Councillor Paschoud was recently quoted by the NewsShopper (28th May 2020) regarding misbehaviour round the fake lake, probably referring to when the police recently had to attend to unauthorised swimming by young people in the “closed” lake. She said: “it’s not particularly Covid safety that I’m worried about but safety, all told, because we were very concerned about the lake last summer.”

It was a bit late, then, wasn’t it? I mean, a sandy beach leading to a large body of water didn’t just miraculously appear. They deliberately set out to build it, so different rules of engagement apply compared to naturally occurring bodies of water.

They were concerned last summer after previously steadfastly refusing to admit that a life guarding service was needed. Or, more to the point, that building a lake, an artificial construction requiring major intervention in the landscape, requiring engineering infrastructure to build, fill it and keep it clean enough for swimming, requiring maintenance of that infrastructure, was a stupid idea. Especially with regard to wild swimming of the human kind, rather than for ducks – and the geese. Don’t forget that notoriously friendly species, the geese!

Then we have this gem in the NewsShopper from Mr Sheehan:-

“I’m very conscious of the risks around the lake, particularly in hot weather, so I’ve asked the parks team to increase patrolling … Yes, there have been a few breaches when the fencing is breached we do act on it …”

So, the penny finally dropped for Kev! Doh!

Fencing, eh. That would be the three lines of fencing, plus the planting of hedge plants in between two of the lines, erected round a fake lake that was never supposed to have a barrier round it. It’s supposed to be an 18th Century “restoration”, innit.

In the notes of the 2016 meeting referred to above, it says: “Activities – No specific activities for people who currently play golf, other than sitting by the lake (audience horrified by this patronising response)”. Not only was it patronising, but it’s turned out to be a load of horse shit that the horse left behind when the barn door was bolted after its departure.

No one can get close enough to sit by the lake. Even when it is reopened after lockdown, the only people who will be able to get close enough to sit by the lake are those that pay for the privilege. Yes, we can sit on benches around the lake outside of the fenced perimeter, but by the time the hedge thickens up we won’t be able to see a thing!

Good, innit.

Mr Sheehan refers to the “parks team” patrolling – what team would that be, pray do tell? Or is he going to fund, from his obviously bottomless pit of a budget, yet more security guards with dogs, just as he was forced to do last summer – because Kev is one of the elite – one of the “they-knew/know-best” club.

Obvs.

I am reminded of the film The Great Escape. All we need now is some gun turrets to be erected round the lake and the only way in will be a la Steve McQueen. LOL.

Trouble is, though, for Kev and the other know-it-alls, I’m pretty sure that they’re not going to get any respite any time soon from the issues surrounding the fake lake project. A project that they have been firefighting from the first day when someone came up with the not so bright idea. There is no Great Escape!

Don’t be like LBL and NLHF – stay alert!

The Great Escape

CONsultation time

Lewisham Council are CONsulting about Beckenham Place Park again. They have already posted a link, it’s on their website. And now there’s even an email address of a real person to write to! I’m surprised I’m on the mailing list but, then, Gav doesn’t appear to be in charge of the CONsultation *this time.*

According to the email they have already *transformed* the west of the park. 😂😂😂 I think they need to order a new pair of rose coloured spectacles . That *transformation* would be:-

⁃ A fake lake, that’s not a lake but a large pond, which has caused them, and continues to cause them, nothing but trouble since day one.

⁃ A wet woodland that is not wet, except for one stinky muddy patch; a former woodland area with a long established ecology that Lewisham virtually razed to the ground for no good purpose. But then I suppose they needed to fell a lot of trees and clear the bush to enable the mountain bike races they allowed in the park a couple of years ago. And now we have people walking (and cycling) through the re-growing woodland that is far from *wet*. Still, they won’t be able to do so once the Japanese knotweed starts to sprout again. Invasive weeds that were not present before the occupants of Ivory Towers started messing around with the natural order of things.

⁃ A dangerous mound that is also an eyesore. I’ve posted photos in previous blogs.

⁃ Degraded, cracked and rutted *new* paths. Despite an army of consultants and Lewisham officers who clearly know best, no one worked out that the reason the west of the park was suitable for a public golf course was because of the undulating landscape. And water runs off undulating landscape where it can’t soak in. And run-offs on hard surfaces causes gullies. So much for new paths being needed to make pushing a buggy or for wheelchair use easier!

⁃ A variety of issues with the car park, the *carriage* drive and the ornamental gardens, I mean pleasure grounds.

I could go on writing about cock-ups in the landscape. And all the trees that were needlessly felled on the parkland away from the site of the fake lake; nice healthy timber carted away by the tree contractor.

It’s probably easier to talk about the successes, except there aren’t any. The successful restoration of the *other* pond was a project run by the Friends, but now they are dependent on Lewisham Council to facilitate maintenance … and so far that ain’t happening. And that’s another story, for another time, as Gav tries his best to get rid of the Friends of Beckenham Place Park.

So, if you are a park user and do not want the same incompetence and appalling workmanship in the east of the park, complete the survey. Sure, a toilet block would be appreciated and any bets it’s the one thing we won’t get! I was recently asked by a lady when out walking in the east – from the 2 metre distance – if there are any toilets and when I told her how far she had to walk – and maybe they wouldn’t be open anyway with lockdown – she turned and headed out of the park.

Unbelievably, I think they might be planning new *wetlands* – and that could mean more ugly mounds.

The good news, at least, is that despite loony Lewishame/Lewishambles allowing mountain bike races through woodland in 2018, the bluebell woods are glorious this year attracting lots of visitors for £0 spending!

Lucky or unlucky 13?

Ter-dahhhhhhh!

Report from Gav and Vince, item 13 Mayor and Cabinet, 15th January 2020.

Summary: inexperienced council dictating terms of operation seeks expert operator to generate £165K in order to pay said council an unstated percentage to run a large swimming pond masquerading as a lake (including throughout the winter).

Blog Report page for blog

Same old, same old from Gav, then.

For golf course, read swimming lake.

For golf operator, read swimming lake operator.

For small fee from golf operations, read even smaller fee for swimming operations.

And still there remains the costs of the upkeep of the whole 240 acre park by Lewisham Council.

Oh but, but, with no golf course replaced by a fake lake taking up less room there are a lot more activities taking place on the grassed parkland.  Really?  And what about all the income generation opportunities?  Hmm.

Well, the answer to my public question to Lewisham Council last November indicated that in its last year of operation – except that it was ten months, but what does accuracy matter – the golf operator’s fee to Lewisham Council was £64,000.  In the three years since the closure of the golf course, the Council garnered the princely sum of £28,168. Yes, for two years of that period there were major works going on in the park, but that £28K also includes for the Naked City festival last summer, which saw major disruption and damage to the natural environment of the park as well as inconvenience to park users.

So, Gav has now submitted his and Vince’s smoke and mirrors lake masterplan for Lewisham’s Mayor and Cabinet.  They recommend a concession contract for a period of up to five years to manage swimming and boating activities and to develop a community of users.

Except that (paragraph 5.9) access has to be prioritised to swimmers above other activities.  That could not possibly be because the fake lake is so small (really it’s just a large pond) that after the initial novelty of trying boating last summer, provided by PTP Coaching, there will not be a big demand? Or is it that the need to maximise income is so great that there is not room for swimming and boating to coexist?

Five years (maximum) – is that the amount of time Gav has worked out that the winning tenderer will need to claw back their investment?  Or maybe because after such time the Council will have developed the skills and expertise to do it themselves, given that Lewisham are now in favour of in-sourcing?

Who knows, but it just goes to show how Lewisham Council and National Lottery Heritage Fund have always put the cart before the horse with regard to a fake lake and water activities. As Gav admits, paragraph 5.4 of the report: “The provision of these activities in the outdoors is a relatively specialised area of leisure operation and is outside the expertise of the Council to deliver” and paragraph 5.5: “Our lack of specialist knowledge, the level of commercial risk associated with this venture, and complications involved in recruiting, retaining and managing seasonal staff were all major concerns.” Not to mention the costs, eh Gav?

One might venture to suggest, perhaps, that all this might have been looked into before deciding to create a fake lake?  Especially as he says in paragraph 4.4 that during public CONsultation there was only: “a modest level of interest in use of the lake for swimming and other leisure activities.”

Then there is the issue, as per paragraph 5.10: “In addition to the above conditions officers will request method statements to cover risks associated with demand management during peak times and to cover any proposed access by under 8’s and weaker swimmers/non-swimmers.”  Erm … the lake has been operational since last summer! Doesn’t Gav already know this stuff?  Still, fair play in requiring a method statement.  I wonder if the Council will release it if asked, as Gav has always refused to release previous cycling event method statements.

Paragraph 9.1: “Queue management and communication will be key areas that the contractor will need plan (sic) for as part of the service delivery strategy.”  One wonders how this was *managed* when the lake was opened?  Oh yes, cart first, horse second – again!  That’s why the Council has insurance claims lodged against them.

So what exactly is this concession contract that Gav is seeking?  Well, just like the former golf course there will be an operator who will bear all the commercial risks but will keep all the income generated, then pass a fee onto the Council, based on a turnover of £165K.  Well, I assume it’s turnover?  Or does Gav think the operator will garner £165K profit?  Do they know the difference?

The Council will re-charge to the operator any costs arising from maintenance and the electricity costs for pumps, aeration etc for the fake lake.  Oh, and the Council will dictate to the operator how much it may charge for lake activities; paragraph 5.9 says that they expect Lewisham residents to be charged slightly less than non-residents. That’ll be easy to enforce, then – LOL.  And: “such charges to be reviewed annually and not altered without London Borough of Lewisham’s consent.”  That’s told them!

Funny kind of business model.

Form an orderly queue folks to get your bid in for: “a model which delivers year round swimming” (Paragraph 5.9) and the: “one hundred committed winter swimmers who continue to enjoy the lake.” (Paragraph 4.5).

One hundred!  Wow!  Although to be fair, Gav does point out that in late August 2019 there were 3,000 visitors in a little over two weeks using the facility.  So, if we make the reasonable assumption that in August the lake might be open twelve hours from 7am to 7pm, there would have been in the region of 17 people in/on the lake per hour over that two weeks.

Gosh! Mind you, as someone who needs all her fingers and thumbs to count, maybe my calculations are wrong. I’m sure Gav could correct me on that.  What about the other two weeks of August? Oh yes, it was closed following a Grand Opening.  What about Autumn and Winter to date?

Roll up, roll up to bid for this amazing opportunity!

Despite Gav’s (and Vince, don’t forget Vince) admitted lack of specialist knowledge, they can confidently estimate (paragraph 5.11) that the value of the concession contract will be in the region of £165K per annum i.e. (paragraph 6.3):  “It is estimated that the concession contract will generate in the region of £165,000 of income per annum based on a price of £6 per swim although this is dependent on the price ceiling approved by the Mayor” (the Mayor being an expert in such matters) “The Council will receive a percentage of these fees …”

Hey, Gav – you forgot to say what that percentage will be – 10%, 15%, 20% – you’ll need considerably more than that to replace lost golf income. Or maybe the driver of the cart has requested a secret squirrel report from the horse as to exactly how the figure of £165K in the cart has been arrived at and what the percentage to the Council will be?

Come on peeps, where’s that orderly queue for this bargain concession contract?

Then there is that exciting prospect (paragraph 5.13): “The Council will work with the incoming operator to help develop aesthetically pleasing lakeside facilities to support the lake operations.”  Wot?!  You mean the current portacabins and gazebos are not aesthetically pleasing, let alone compatible with the 18th Century heritage project funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund? And once again Gav has forgotten an important piece of information – who will fund these facilities?

*Incoming* operator rather says it all for the current operator, PTP Coaching, methinks.

In addition to new facilities being on Gav’s wish list, it seems that the *temporary* Hera steel security fencing, that has been in place since last August

Blog Hera for blog

will be replaced with a new railing and native hedging to provide “a boundary that is sensitive to the heritage setting”. (Paragraph 5.2).  That would be a reproduction of the railing and hedging that was in place round the 18th Century lake – LOL.

Blog lake for blog

My favourite part of the report is Pargraph 3.2: “Restoration of the park will allow us to seek another Green Flag.”  Gav and Vince must walk round that park with blinkers on if they think the quality (a misnomer) of the work and the mess left by the landscape contractor is worthy of a Green Flag.

Oh, and seems like Gav’s memory has let him down again. There is the rather important point that most of the park has had no investment and no work done, it is only a small area that has had money spent and the investment has not achieved all that was promised in the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Case Paper to their Trustees when seeking confirmation of the grant. For example, all entrances to the park were supposed to have been upgraded. That has not happened.  How can a park be granted a Green Flag when the majority of it is run down and dilapidated?

Anyway, the driver of the cart has agreed the horse’s report that this swimming concession should be procured.  One assumes that the Council will remember to advise any interested parties of the percentage of turnover the Council expects from this concession.

Blog decision

And still there are no plans for restoration of the 18th Century, Grade II* mansion in Beckenham Place Park.  Funny that.  Strange how Gav opted for Parks for People grant to change landscape and bring all these complications on the Council, rather than a Heritage grant to restore all the buildings.  Minor detail – LOL.

I did try to include a link to the report but it threw all the WordPress formatting out.  For those interested, go to Lewisham Council’s website and navigate as follows:-

Mayor and Council; Council meetings; Meetings calendar; scroll down to January 15, 6.30pm, Mayor and Cabinet; scroll down to item 13 and click Beckenham Place Park Swimming Concession 264PDF document.

Unlucky or lucky 13?

 

 

 

#embarrassing

I wonder how last Sunday’s Open House went? There weren’t any reports of traffic chaos on Beckenham Hill Road as in previous weekends, so I’m guessing not that well.

The weather was somewhat dull, unlike earlier that week when I decided to conduct a photo survey of the state of the “regenerated” area west of the park, to look particularly at the landscape work done by id Verde, who seem to have largely scarpered from an unfinished site. Don’t be fooled by the dappled sunshine in these photos, which sometimes dissipates the shocking reality of nearly £2M paid, as at end of June 2019, to id Verde to deliver so little.

As someone who is sometimes able to “travel smartly”, and not have to be lectured by the car parking jobsworths, my walk from home started at the “un-regenerated” east of the park, accessing via Old Bromley Road entrance. Nice, innit.

Strolling from the east of the park over the railway bridge one passes this weed-strewn monstrosity, with it’s spongy wood-chip path which develops into a boggy mire and an-accident-waiting-to-happen wooden steps.

Continuing my walk I come across the *wet* *woodland* 😂😂😂

I decide to walk along one of the new paths that starts opposite the joke of a wet woodland … but it was blocked. Deliberately.

Retracing my steps, I take another new path, passing the picnic area. Who fancies a bit of mud dust with their sarnies?

I’m not getting that sense of serene calm normally induced by a large body of water. Oh but wait … the lake must be around here somewhere?!

It’s difficult to feel a sense of tranquility anyway, peering through ugly Hera fencing which appears to have become a permanent *feature*. Nice, eh? Not forgetting the attractive portaloos!

Vandalism – or a cheap product? And you’ll need to be an Olympic thrower to get the line over the fence and into the pond.

A job well done by id Verde 🤔

This *new* path is a disgrace. Rutted almost along its entire length.

The lovely landscape *features* left behind by the Naked City Festival.

And on to the pleasure ground and so called terrace. Decades old crazy paving not replaced, full of weeds, broken in places. And broken steps – seriously?

Incomplete path which will become mud in due course.

These trees look as if they are dying rather than turning into Autumn colours.

These are decades old healthy trees on the parkland. The colours are barely turning yet and where they are the leaves are healthy in appearance, unlike the scrunched up mess of the new trees planted on the *terrace*.

I don’t believe the wall separating the new cafe from the so-called terrace replicates an original Georgian feature. But then, the so called Georgian terrace and pleasure ground is nothing like the original plan. All that’s happened is that the original footprint of the 20th Century built ornamental garden has been utilised. There is no transformation in the design. And, in this case, this section hasn’t even been finished.

Why would the landscape contractor, who has been paid much of the total sum of the contract, bother to finish planting? What a waste of rhododendrons and other plants. When can we look forward to the “snagging” guys?

I think this is supposed to be the much vaunted orchard.

Look at the state of the car park surface.

Weeds in the borders of the car park planting – but weren’t id Verde supposed to provide a maintenance service for the first year? Mind you, define the first year – when does it start? After they have finished the work they were contracted to do? When will that be?

Car park trip hazard?

More ripe ankle twisting terrain.

Memorial benches. So disrespectful.

Where are the cycle racks?

Oh, here they are. Less than half of what was required by the Planning consent. But, hey peeps – “travel smartly!”

This path 😱

This 😱

This 😱

I’m sure I was told by Gav (in a Lewisham Council email) that the edges of the *seasonal* swales would be planted with meadow flowers. 🤔 😂

Look closely at these three sets of attractive fencing! Wire net fencing, metal Hera barrier fencing and the rusty bit of railing that they could not be asked to replace when they put all the new black “estate” railings in place.

The edge of the original main path skirting the parkland going down past the Squirrel was supposed to be re-seeded. 🤔🙄

I have largely left the restoration of the Homestead complex out of this survey because it looks like the contractor, Ash Construction, did a good job. However, I cannot fathom why, in a park of this size, there are so few toilets? Whose bright idea was that? In addition, I’d like to know the total square footage for the footprint of the buildings and how much has actually been brought into public use.

Finally, I know the grant from Heritage Lottery Fund (or National Lottery Heritage Fund as reinvented) was only for the west of the park – because Lewisham Council told them separate funding was secure for the east – erm … no it wasn’t! But it is truly shocking that the path running from Old Bromley Road through to Beckenham Hill Road is in this state almost its entire length when so much money has been spent elsewhere on site. And, in the case of the landscape, such a poor return on the investment.

#Embarrassing 😱 😳

The lie of the lake

Lies

And deception and they

Knowingly fabricate and

Equivocate

That’s Lewisham Council with regard to Beckenham Place Park for you; liars. Especially about the lake (which is actually, officially, a large pond, so even that is a fabrication; but that is another story).

Compare and contrast! BPP and Bedfont.

The last Full Council at which public questions are dealt with took place on Wednesday 24th July 2019, four days after the grand opening of the “lake” and a day after it was closed again. Who would have thought we would see an air ambulance and the fire service attending a near drowning so soon after it was opened? And that was only the worst example of several incidents.

How unfair was that, nipping the crowing triumph of the executive mayors of Lewisham, Damien Egan, and London, Sadiq Khan, in the bud!

Oh dear, I can just imagine the congratulatory speech Damien was going to give at Wednesday’s Full Council about the wonderful opening the previous Saturday. Oops!

Gosh! And my question to Full Council, about the lake’s beach, submitted a couple of weeks before the grand ceremony, found its way to number 77 out of 77 and priority 12! Hardly surprising, given that there is only 30 minutes for supplementary questions and they wouldn’t want me to challenge the garbage provided in reply. Sorry, I mean equivocation.

Not that I attended anyway, I might have got myself arrested for heckling.

So, here again is the question and reply from Cllr Sophie McGeevor. (Needless to say Sophie has blocked me on Twitter.)

I asked where in the planning permission was a sandy beach approved for the lake. I know the answer, there is no permission, the sandy beach was an afterthought long after permission was granted and the officers did not reapply. Cllr McGeevor (or rather the officer that supplied the answer) has lied by omission. There is no answer given to the question asked.

The response that has been provided is unintelligible and contradictory. Or maybe it’s just me.

The lie in the reply – or maybe equivocation is a more gentler word – is “what currently looks like a sandy beach”. Erm … it looks like a sandy beach because it is a sandy beach and has been promoted by Lewisham Council, Heritage Lottery Fund and the Mayor of London as a sandy beach!

The fact that Cllr McGeevor says that the sandy beach is only a temporary measure is risible and a wheeze to try and get over the fact that this is a massive design, build, oversight and promotion cock up. In any case, there was still no planning permission!

She refers to the lake needing to be full – but hang on guys, you got a licence from Environment Agency to extract enough water via a borehole pump to fill the lake/pond (whatever). And that was another lie – the fact that we were told the borehole pump, to extract from the water table, was only to top up the natural springs feeding the lake. What a load of old bull, as the response from Environment Agency to my Freedom of Information request proved.

But I digress.

So, here we have another more recent information/promotion board which, admittedly, does not refer to a beach but does refer to a paddling area and illustrates a beach.

First point: any such information board presumes that people will walk up to it, read it and that all such people are capable of reading it and absorbing the information.

But, perhaps I am nit-picking.

Seems like Joe (Cllr Joe Dromey) didn’t bother reading it. LOL. The rules don’t apply to them. Nit picking again, I suppose. Was it a dive or a dive-bomb?

Secondly, even allowing for the fact that there is an independent lifeguard service, note how Lewisham Council absolves itself of all other responsibility – water quality, information and advice, no contact telephone number, just 999.

Look, also, at this Full Council response to a question about disabled swimmers – in other words, not our responsibility, guv.

Oh and look, any problems and it’s your fault if you don’t visit the website … and a Third Party one at that!

Third, there is just one orange, round rubbery thing (Lewisham Council project officer’s description) AKA a life ring. Now placed for optimum performance outside of the fencing that has just gone up (because of the accidents) and don’t you just know that no high-spirited person would ever try and breach the fencing.

Fourth, the illustration clearly shows a paddling area and implies a beach plus, most importantly, shows (with a straight line, rather than one that follows the curve of the beach) a steep slope under water from the paddling area.

And here is the steep slope (photo taken November 2018) before the bore hole pump got pumping to FILL the big pond, which then disguised the drop.

How did the Mayor of London’s office think this was safe?

I don’t know what other warnings and safety measures were put in place to delineate that sudden deep dip from the beach/paddling (whatever it is called) area into deep water, but clearly it did not work. I can’t think why an air ambulance and fire brigade would have attended otherwise.

Here we have a load of old bull from Lewisham claiming the lake is a victim of its own success. Seriously! That’s why kids have been left severely distressed and one taken to hospital, not because of any unthought out safety issue?! More deceit.

I suppose it’s appropriate that the fire service was called to the lake/pond (whatever) in view of the fact that Beckenham Place Park project officers have been fire-fighting every single issue to do with the lake, ever since someone came up with the stupid idea to build one. Such issues as:-

1. Size (plan B saw a reduction in size from plan A i.e. the original Cator lake, with a so called wet woodland substituted for part of it instead)

2. Cost (see 1 above)

3. Heritage Lottery Fund discussed with Lewisham about not having a lake

4. Further reduction in size and differing footprint because of asbestos contamination

5. Water supply and water quality

6. Conflict around its usage, with dog owners aggrieved that there is no area for them to use (despite so many assurances that the new whizzy park would be accessible to all)

7. Disappointment of many users regarding the small size, no actual “wild” swimming, charges for use, lack of supporting facilities and the usual expected infrastructure in a park e.g. small number of bins, no toilets close by, no changing or security facilities. Disappointment that has turned to outright derision on some social media sites

8. Dangerous beach, paddling and safety issues because of the need to make it inclusive.

And number 8 is the nub of the issue folks. Lewisham BPP project officers wanted a swimming lake and a wider park for their mates and peers who enjoy the activities of outdoor swimming, cycling and running.

They were never interested in just having a stylised reproduction of an 18th Century design lake, as per the Lottery Fund’s heritage ethos i.e. an ornamental (and probably fishing) lake. All other considerations than swimming were mere irritating detail to be swotted away. And that has been their downfall.

They weren’t going to have a lifeguard service (because, after all, experienced triathletes don’t usually need lifeguards and clubs using the lake would provide their own). Lifeguards for the lake/pond are a recent new player to the scene. Seems like some authority (who obviously could not be ignored) told them they had to have lifeguards, hence the charge for swimming.

The free paddling was a later introduction too – I’m guessing because some other authority, that they also could not ignore, told them the lake had to be inclusive. Doh! How annoying is that when all you want to do is get on and provide a wonderful new facility for your mates who are quite happy to pay to jump off a jetty.

How’s that deception looking now? That one where we were told at public meetings (oh, and the message reinforced by social media trolls working on behalf of Lewisham Council) that the radical changes to the park were justified because all of the parkland should be freely accessible without charge? (And we won’t even talk about the ticketed concert area!)

Isn’t the lake part of the parkland, then?

And now they are even going to charge for paddling – because of the clear and present danger presented by the sudden deep dip requiring safety measures (yet to be declared).

Now the Council is between a rock and a hard place on so many issues:-

1. Not only is it doubtful that a lake on the estate of 18th Century gentry would have been used for swimming, it also would not have been fenced off (what say the clever folks of Heritage Lottery Fund?)

2. But if you don’t properly fence off the imitation lake, how can you ensure safety?

3. This new whizzy park was supposed to be inclusive.

4. How can charges to use the lake/pond make for inclusivity?

5. The lake/pond is a purpose built imitation; not a reproduction, not a restoration. As a built structure it is subject to any rules and regulations applicable to any construction project, both permission and in respect of its usage once built. It is not a naturally occurring body of open water that just happens to be on council land.

6. Lewisham project officers and expensive design consultants have had little regard to five above. What are the consequences?

Hopefully we will find out when Lewisham Council provide a response to the Freedom of Information request about the Health and Safety assessment they carried out.

Finally, before some sanctimonious, perfect parents put comments on this blog about parental responsibility, don’t even go there. The issue is safety of children, not parental responsibility. Young kids have no control over what safeguarding is in place for them in a municipally owned, artificially constructed outdoor swimming facility and one of the safe guarders is the Council – not just the parents.

Have a butcher’s (hook)!

At first glance it seems a bit scary, but it need not be. What’s not to like about the opportunity to exercise your public right, enshrined in law, to scrutinise local council accounts?

I’ve just advised Lewisham Council that I wish to have a select butchers – hooray!  The window of opportunity for this year runs from now until 12th July.

I know, it all sounds so very off-putting. I certainly thought it was an interesting idea when I came across the Twitter account @PeoplesAudit but I didn’t think it was for me. Nope, I’m a words person, numbers don’t rock my boat. A balance sheet is a foreign country to me!

However, there was something about the concept that kept drawing me back to the website http://www.thepeoplesaudit.info/ and I started to think it needn’t be scary. What if you just want to do a small scale investigation? The legislation allows for that.

Where does one start? Well, look at council payments made to its suppliers (see below), identify what you want to look at further i.e. the invoices, purchase orders, contracts etc and send an email (see below and screenshot above). Simples!

For example, if you are a Lewisham resident wanting to reconcile public statements from elected members about a council supplier with what’s been reported by members of the public, you could consult the monthly spreadsheets published on the council website. I was shown how to filter out results from these long, daunting spreadsheets in order to isolate and group together only the payments for which I was interested. A whole new world was opened up – one that even a numerical dummy like me could get to grips with.

By this means, I was able to satisfy my curiosity about whether, indeed, County Enforcement Group still worked for the Council – or not, as claimed by Cllr Paul Bell earlier this year. Well, here are the results for April, so it’s pretty clear that the contract is still running.

County April

If another interested person wished to check the contract e.g. maybe Paul Bell might like to ascertain for himself rather than rely on what officers tell him, they could look on the contracts register. Although, whether Lewisham have complied with their own advice that the contract is listed on the London Tenders Portal – Contract Register is another matter.

London Contracts

Certainly, one of the contracts I am interested in, id Verde, for landscape work at Beckenham Place Park was not there last time I looked (last week) although that for Ash Contracting, who are restoring buildings in the park, is listed. Hmmm.

So, here are some simple instructions for Lewisham peeps for filtering out payments to suppliers you are interested in. They will only work on a PC with Excel, not an iPad – or, at least, not mine!

Use Search on the Lewisham website and type in Council spending over £250. Then choose a financial year and monthly spreadsheet to analyse. Open the csv version of the spreadsheet, NOT the Pdf.

Note: If you are considering using any results for the People’s Audit, bear in mind that you can only choose the last financial year.

The opened spreadsheet will have five columns A-E all scrunched up and the first thing to do is expand each column. Do so by clicking the cursor at the top right hand corner of the column and drag across to make big enough to see all entries clearly. Repeat with all columns.

Expand columns

You can now identify which of the columns you wish to filter to look at what interests you. If you are interested in a particular supplier, filter on Column B.

I filter on Column C – Cost Centre Description. You can only filter via one of the columns at any one time.  The name of the columns may change slightly from month to month but the nature of the contents remains the same. For example, Column C April 2018 is described as Cost Centre Description, whereas May 2018 it is described as Service.

I do this by firstly going to the column heading clicking the cursor into cell C1. (Or you may want B1). Then take the cursor up to address bar (making sure you are on the Home browser which will be underlined top left). Then click the function top right of the address bar a couple of icons from the end which says Sort & Filter. Click that and on the drop down menu click Filter. You will then see that each of the column headings now has a small arrow at top right of each.

Filter

Return to whichever column (B or C in all probability) and click that arrow. Ignore the first few options and go down to where Select All has a tick in the box – and click to untick. All the ticks in the boxes disappear and you can now scroll down to tick the names/descriptions you are interested in.  By clicking the relevant cost centres (or suppliers, as the case may be) you get to see all the payments. You can tick as many or as few as you like (just one if you want) and then click OK.

 

You can Save the filtered result (top left on address bar) on your own computer.

There are two template emails on the Peoples Audit website which you can use to make your request. I have used the one that refers to attaching a spreadsheet with a list of suppliers and invoices paid.

Template letter

Even if you think People’s Audit is too much to take on this year, there’s always another year.  And keeping an eye on the Council spending over £250 is a good way of being informed instead of relying on what representatives of the council tell you!

Oh, by the way, I had problems with Lewisham Council’s website search engine trying to find the “Notice of public rights” for the audit.  I got there in the end via Google.  In case you can’t see the email address above clearly it’s CoreAccountingTeam@lewisham.gov.uk

 

 

 

 

Tempus Fugit

Last week I did a tour of Beckenham Place Park to take photos of the *progress* of the *regeneration*.  Looks like they are running out of time to me.

Pictures often speak louder than words, but sometimes one just feels compelled to comment!  One thing I must say is that the *regeneration* works were (erroneously) touted as opening up the park to everyone, yet prior to work starting it had never been my experience that I felt excluded from any area of the park.  Yes, out of courtesy I never walked on golf greens (except in the snow) and I also checked for golfers before crossing fairways.  Obviously I never picnicked or similar on the golf course, but there were other areas for that.  But I definitely could access every nook and cranny of the park.

For example, the area running alongside the railway line, between the railway bridge within the park to the entrance gatehouses at Beckenham Hill Road, was a favourite.  It remained a favourite when the golf course closed and hundreds of new whips were planted in that area. Subsequently those whips were buried under piles of earth excavated from the site of the fake lake; earth that had revealed asbestos contamination. This had, apparently, been hand picked to remove the contaminated particles and the soil left in one of my favourite areas, which is now rendered inaccessible.

But the park is *open* to all!

That crane hasn’t moved this year, in fact since well before Christmas.  Doesn’t look to me like this moonscape of mud is going to be dealt with anytime soon and the area restored to public use.  Yet, the park has been opened up!

Similarly, if one approached the woodland from the east of the park, crossing the railway bridge, there used to be a pleasant glade one could walk in by way of a change from sticking to the path.  Not any more.  This pile of mud has grown on that glade; it is spoil dumped before the asbestos contaminated particles were found and, one day, is supposed to form a mounded garden (to overlook the railway line!)  I wonder how long that will take?  And while we wait that is another area of the park which has been closed off.

Mound

Mound2

This is an area I don’t go close by, not that it is closed off but who wants their dog cavorting in a stagnant pond?  Another of those instances of the law of unintended consequences that the clever Lewisham Council officers didn’t factor into the equation.

Seasonal pond

Once the barriers are down I still won’t be able to access this area in the normal course of events i.e. with my dog – the so called 18th Century lake with its 21st Century yellow beach.  Dogs will be banned (assuming they can read notices) and there is uproar expressed in local doggy social media.

Lake

Still, the summer beach babies with their picnics are welcome to the attentions of geese and, no doubt in due course, gulls.

Lake geese

Then we have all the other temporary cordons restricting park users’ access …

Cordons

… unless they have collapsed of course!  According to one of those clever Lewisham Council officers, the fences are checked regularly throughout the day and re-positioned.

Where’s the salt water?  And rinse!

Maybe he meant just one day out of the whole contract? LOL.

Cordons 2

Cordons3

Strangely, although new paths are still cordoned off, some existing ones have been rendered dangerous or very muddy but are still open!

Dangerous path

Dangerous path 2

And new paths are damaged before they are even open.  A few examples:-

And then there is the path to nowhere, or rather it leads to another area that would be a Health and Safety Inspector’s nightmare.

Path to nowhere

Moving on. I’m loving the health and safety housekeeping.  Not.

A few examples:-

Yet another task started before any are finished. The carriage drive appears to have hit problems (or maybe it’s just id Verde’s tactic to keep those monthly payments rolling in; start stuff, no worries about finishing any time soon). Oh, and they cut the power cable to the mansion.

Carriage drive

Good idea to close the old car park before the new one is finished.  Maybe we should have a sweepstake on what month (and year – LOL) it will be finished and operating.  I expect the flooding problem has been sorted.

The pleasure ground has also been started.

Kids’ (unusable) play pieces have been in place for months.  Waiting for Godot …

… but I have no idea what the small arch is supposed to be.  However, I do note that nice healthy, chunky piece of timber from yet another mature tree felled to facilitate this vanity scheme.

kids play2

Meanwhile, in some parallel universe the Mayor of London dishes out an indiscriminate grant (because public money is so plentiful) to plant new trees in convenient places to replace those pesky, inconvenient healthy, mature trees.  I mean, what good are existing trees to anyone?!

new trees

According to an answer given at Full Council, Lewisham have already paid £1,926 for new park furniture and bins.  Perhaps these articles are in storage because there are no bespoke new bins or benches in evidence.  A couple of new (to the park) Lewisham blue livery metal bins may have appeared, but that’s it.  Feast your eyes on some examples of bins in the park!

Oh, and the photo bottom left is at the edge of the wetland! LOL.  And top right shows the second major building in the park (along with the mansion) which has no funding in this so called regeneration.

One thing Lewisham’s contractor id Verde is good at, though, is regenerating mud!

I haven’t been to the *regeneration* west area since these photos were taken a week ago.  The ancient woodland (accessed from Crab Hill) is starting to bloom with bluebells and the east of the park, which has no funding from the Heritage Lottery grant, looks a million times more attractive at the moment.  Not unless there has been rapid progress in the west!

Time marches on, deadlines to be met, I’m so looking forward to regaining access to the area between the railway bridge and gate houses when the grand opening takes place in July!

asbestos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A picture paints a thousand words

And so I will spare you the thousand words!

This is the end product of expensive consultants’ surveys, research and reports, together with expert project management and skilled construction methodology that is the carve up of Beckenham Place Park.  A *finished* path along the fake lake that has not yet (officially) been walked on and is still cordoned off to the public.

And it’s not an April Fool joke!

Good innit?!

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