“When I stand up, you sit down”

“When I stand up, you sit down!”  

(Wags finger at naughty children).

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It’s always been my opinion that the *regeneration* of Beckenham Place Park is a metaphor for the endemic deceit, obfuscation, manipulation and arrogance within Lewisham Council.  But not many people took much notice of such issues thrown up by this project.  

Why would they?  

It’s only a park.  

It’s only a park right on the periphery of the borough, both geographically and in the Lewisham psyche.  

It’s only a public park that used to contain a public golf course.  

Golf is boring, golf is played by middle-aged, middle-class, white men.  Obvs.  

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So why worry about the deceit, obfuscation and manipulation utilised to close the 90 acre public golf course and obtain a large grant of money for the *regeneration* of all 240 acres?

Except that not all 240 acres will benefit – the parts of the park nearest to Lewisham will not – and that’s another story!

Moving on, the attempt to compulsory purchase land crucial to the running of Millwall Football Club, both its business and community programmes, is another example of how Lewisham Council operate and, again, the wider Lewisham public weren’t too much bothered by it, for similar reasons.

It’s only football.

It’s only Millwall. No one likes them! 😂

Millwall are on the periphery of the borough.

Why be bothered?  Luckily, Millwall FC itself and their fans proved a much tougher opponent than the people who wanted fair scrutiny of the golf course issue and the CPO has gone away.  For now, at least.

But nothing escapes the Eagle Eyes of the Millwall fans!

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Now, with the advent of the new executive mayor, who has the misfortune of 1) inheriting a number of contentious issues from his predecessor (although sympathy is in short supply because he was a Cabinet Member) and the fact that 2) Mayor Egan has presided over one gaff after another since his election, lots of people in mainstream Lewisham are up in arms.  The penny has dropped in some cases and is plummeting in others.

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All is not well in the heart of Lewisham, from people worried about needless destruction of council housing, even more needless destruction of a community garden, libraries under threat, perceived social cleansing dressed up as regeneration, an out of touch and arrogant council and the mysterious departure of a new Chief Executive Officer who arrived to a great fanfare with excellent credentials, including a reputation for tackling cover ups!

I’m not going to address all those issues but the latter is very interesting, insofar as the Council’s announcement about Ian Thomas’ departure said that the Council had parted company with him because of a change of direction.  See my question to Full Council and the response below.  I’m not sure where privacy and confidentiality fit into a simple issue as a “change of direction!”

251A5941-EB74-4FA0-BE56-087D84BD9393Also of concern is that Lewisham Council really did not want the Press present at last week’s Full Council meeting.

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So, without further ado, I will just leave some more screen shots on the other issues here for you to contemplate.

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(I sympathise 👆having been one of three people *allowed* to make a 10 minute Powerpoint presentation when submitting a paper petition of 5,000 signatures to a council meeting. Councillors listened politely to our case for keeping the asset which was the public golf course, both for its value as a sport facility and its potential to grow business and earn income for the Council, with the right management.  It could offer so much more than it was delivering, in conjunction with a regeneration scheme for the park to offer so much more. But then an officer was allowed to speak for an unlimited amount of time to obscure the picture and we were not allowed to ask her questions 🤔)

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Yes, there were some members of other political parties and some single issue campaigners above, but also some people who are just fed up with how Lewisham Council operate, including some extremely upset people about the departure of the new CEO, and they are starting to see the light!  Hallelujah!

 

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Naughty Environment Agency! 🤔

And so it came to pass that there will be no Flood Alleviation Scheme in Beckenham Place Park!

Gasp!  How surprised am I?  How shocked are many other people?  Not at all!

And so it came to pass that no improvements, not even some TLC, will be achieved in the east of Beckenham Place Park.

 

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And so it is coming to pass that there is feverish activity and loads of money being spent in the west of Beckenham Place Park i.e. that part of the park whose demographic is more Bromley than Lewisham.

And so it is coming to pass that in the east of the park i.e. that part whose demographic is more Lewisham than Bromley will not benefit.  Zilch, zero, nought, nil, nuffink.

And so it is that cars belonging to golfers in the west of the park have been replaced by the BMWs, four wheel drives, people carriers, sporty types etc of the new park users.

And so it is that in the east of the park there is no longer a car park after a BMX track was hastily constructed on it, because it could not be constructed anywhere because of – ahem – the ghostly Flood Alleviation Scheme.

And so it came to pass that despite four years of, apparently, liaising with Environment Agency, it was a surprise to Lewisham Council’s Beckenham Place Park project team – three officers, two of whom only work on the project – that there are no longer any plans (plans? Plans? Who makes plans? What is planning ahead?) for toilets, a kiosk, upgrades to the skate park and childrens’ play area, let alone a brand new adventure area for older youths in the east of the park.  Well, well, knock those clever officers down with a feather!

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Still, as it’s back to the drawing board to source more funding at this late, entirely predictable, stage it keeps the clever officers in employment for some time to come.  There’s always an upside.

And, of course, it is all that Naughty Environment Agency’s fault.  I mean, fancy getting hold of the wrong end of the stick and thinking that there was Heritage Lottery Funding for the east of the park.  Whatever (whoever?) gave them that idea?

 

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In other news, a lady in the park asked me the age of my dog today.  We exchanged pleasantries.  She said it was good to see work going on for *normal* people instead of golfers.  Funny that.  I could have sworn that the golfers I know are normal (whatever that may be!)

And so she strode purposefully off towards her gleaming white BMW in the car park with her Pekingese at her heels.  I’m sure that is the *normal* profile of a Lewisham resident, going about her business on a Friday morning. 🤔

Something to do with a brewery springs to mind!

Ta Da!  Big drum roll from Trolls who were nothing to do with Lewisham Council; no, nyet, non, nein, nay, most definitely not; just interested bystanders, who were super quick off the mark to congratulate Heritage Lottery Fund on awarding Lewisham Council nearly £5M of funding.  And no doubt giving themselves a big pat on the back for undermining people with valid concerns about project Beckenham Place Park.

So, what’s been achieved in the nearly two years since the award was confirmed (other than the outing of Trolls, of course, who were, funnily enough, intimately connected to Lewisham Council)?  See my blog Silly Timmy.

Let’s see now.  Well, I reckon “Other Costs” must have gone up i.e. consultants’ fees, in view of the extra archaeology investigations required on the car park, the asbestos investigations for the lake and the design for the mounded garden which was not part of the original application submitted to Heritage Lottery Fund.  And that’s only what I know about!

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But hey!  The Mayor of London recently topped up HLF grant to mitigate the extra costs.  So, that’s alright, it’s only more public money!

On the plus side, good progress is being made with the reconstruction of the burnt out Homesteads, to provide a cafe, toilets and education centre.  I think there is supposed to be a store room too for kayaks, for which Wide Horizons were fund raising in local Co-op stores.  The only problem is, Wide Horizons have now, entirely predictably, gone bust!

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Campaigners tried to alert the funders and council to the precarious nature of Wide Horizons’ finances (as early as 2015 – and as late on as January 2018 when Lewisham underwrote a loan of £700K) but always were swatted aside as being an irritating, irrelevant nuisance.

Having said that, HLF acknowledged in their Case Paper that relying on Wide Horizons was a risk – but, why let readily available evidence and common sense get in the way of making a politically correct decision?

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This also begs the question of who is going to use the education centre.  Do local schools have the resources to be able to utilise it without the input of Wide Horizons? 🤔

 

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Moving on.  Construction of the fake lake started and stopped.  It is now on its third (I think, maybe more) redesign.  It’s getting deeper!  Why?  In pursuit of an elusive water supply by any chance?  It had already reduced in size on a previous re-design, but now it has changed shape, forced by the discovery of soil contaminants, specifically asbestos.  Not that any planning notices have been displayed, but then, why would Lewisham Council comply with planning laws?  

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I suppose we should just count our lucky stars that the contractors didn’t happen upon unexploded ordnance from WW2 too!  So far (I expect the Council have got it all under control! 🤔)

 

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Construction of the daft mud mound has also come to a halt.  Redistributing contaminated soil to make a landscape feature (with no point of reference to the so-called 18th Century scheme) would not be the brightest of ideas, even for Lewisham Council!

No work seems to have been done on the new car park, either, for weeks.  What’s the reason for the delay, guys?  

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Whilst other paths in the park continue to be neglected …

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… this ugly concrete path is raising more than a few eyebrows.  It’s all so 18th Century-ish isn’t it – the idyll of the rich gentleman’s estate so coveted by HLF and Lewisham Council. 

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Funny how the goalposts keep changing – much like the removal of goalposts and all other formal sporting facilities the park once supported.

But hey!  We can now go to the park for fast food, alcohol and shopping opportunities because, of course, there’s nowhere else locally that one can do so!

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I wonder what Lewisham peeps think? 🤔

This *regeneration* is going so well guys! 🙄😂

Fake lake; real fatalities.

If only the *only* issue about the fake lake at Beckenham Place Park is the fact that it is phoney!  Lewisham Council and Heritage Lottery Fund spin this fantasy of a restoration, but if it was a restoration surely there would be a water supply to work with?  And why do they have to dig so deep, why will they use a bore and why will it have so much kit associated with it – if it’s a *restoration*?

It’s not a restoration, it’s a high tech construction and will need specialist maintenance and interventions.  This is a summary of the kit:-

 

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Here we have the lake subcontractor advertising in the park for digger and dumper drivers.

 

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Hold on to my dog, I’ll give it a go. 

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Anyway, work has temporarily ceased on the fake lake.  Maybe they can’t get cheap labour?  Or maybe the contractor awaits payment?  Except that, it seems WW2 asbestos contamination has been found – but weren’t test pits dug prior to work starting?

In any event, there’s already too much spoil for the Temple of Dirt, so Lewisham Council need to come up with another cunning plan to dispose of the lake spoil (other than the expensive one of it being taken off site.)

The amount of spoil has significantly increased because the depth of the lake has increased.  The water diviner appears to have let them down.

Funny that, I thought the occupants of the Ivory Towers knew best?!

The same as we are led to believe that a few warning notices and, what the Beckenham Place Park Project Manager refers to as orangey rubber things is all the safety measures that are required.

Whereas, at Hampstead swimming ponds they have life guards.  And even then there have been fatalities.

Lewisham are promoting wild swimming, yet they are swimming against the tide of expert opinion.  Why would a Chief Inspector of Police and an outdoor rescue specialist be wrong and the clever officers on the Beckenham Place Park project team be right?

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And then there is the issue of the outdoor organisation Wide Horizons providing kayaking on the lake.  

Outdoor education is a valuable tool if schools/parents have the budgets to access it.  Wide Horizons is a registered charity in the same way that Eton College is a registered charity.  How many *deprived* kids have they actually provided an outdoor experience to? The 2013/14 set of accounts indicated 39,000 kids had used their services, but of these only 69 benefitted from the Get Out Go Wild programme “aimed at disadvantaged city children.”  For 2014/15 it was 41,000 and up to 227 disadvantaged kids and 2015/16 47,000 and down to 166 disadvantaged kids.  Their 2016/17 accounts are over a month overdue.

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Wide Horizons are crowd funding to fight for survival let alone having the resources to provide kayaks and staff supervision at Beckenham Place Park.  Or maybe Lewisham Council will subsidise them? And yet, Wide Horizons were supposed to be the lynchpin of revenue generation in Heritage Lottery Fund’s thoroughly scrutinised 😂😂😂 whizzy plans for the new shiny regenerated park.

And to whom do Wide Horizons actually provide services in south London? Mainly Greenwich schools and parents who can afford to pay.  Surely they need a lake in Greenwich Park, then? 

Irrespective of any other considerations, Greenwich Council wouldn’t want the responsibility should a tragedy arise.  Maybe they are more sensible than Lewisham Council and listen to the people who really know – rather than the people who think they know best and think they should not be challenged! 

Well, it’s a theory!

By the way, this is the timeline for the lake works:-

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Apparently!

 

 

Bullock’s Folly #5 Temple of Dirt

Seems like Sir Mayor isn’t just keen on the idea of converting Lewisham’s largest public park into a faux 18th Century landscape laid out by a rich gentleman, he now wants to go further back in time and up his game to aspire to the landscape of 16th Century royalty.

Beckenham Place Park is to have its own mound!

The popularity of mounded gardens had died out by Squire John Cator’s time and even the most diligent of local historians won’t find evidence of one having formed part of his 18th Century estate called Beckenham Place.

But then, accuracy isn’t one of Lewisham’s strong points.

Clearly, one must have something like King Henry’s Mound, to be found in Richmond Park; so will the one to be constructed in Beckenham Place Park be called Sir Mayor’s Mound?

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Here is the top of King Henry’s Mound, affording fabulous views over the surrounding area towards London.

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Here is a plan drawing of Sir Mayor’s mound.

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And guess what the predominant view from that viewing platform will be?  The railway line!  A railway line constructed through the Cator estate in the 19th Century after the Squire’s descendants had tired of the place and let it out to tenants.

Apparently the clearing in which this folly is to be constructed is *under-used* and the:

mounded garden in this area will participate to attract visitors to this part of the park and increase the footfall between the eastern and western sides of Beckenham Place Park.”

Nope. I’ve never used it. Never been through that clearing, don’t know anyone who has. It’s all been an hullicination! 🤔🙄🤪

That phrase “under used” again!  But then, the consultant responsible for this drawing, and who made the planning application, is also the same consultant who produced a Movement and Usage Survey in 2013, at a cost to the council tax payers of £8,000, which was used by Lewisham Council to *prove* the park was underused and needed re-landscaping.

Hmm 🤔

I suppose the top platform of Sir Mayor’s Mound will appeal to train spotters.  Or maybe people keeping a lookout for the visiting occupants of the Ivory Towers of Laurence House.  There again, there will be a view to the fake lake.

Ah, yes, that ever decreasing in size fake lake.  A significantly decreased fake lake from the original drawings because of hydrology problems.  Really?  Who would have thought that?! 🤔🙄

Sir Mayor’s Mound, in fact, is to be created from the spoil from the lake.  How handy was that?  Still, at least the spoil will be accessible for when they have to fill the fake lake in again! 😂😂😂

The reality is that this Temple of Dirt is to be created because it will cost too much to dispose of the spoil off-site.  But how can that be?  Surely the grant from Heritage Lottery Fund covers the full cost of the excavation of the fake lake?  After all, it was the jewel in the application for heritage landscape crown.

One has to wonder whether, despite all the impressive looking suite of application documents and guidelines on their website, the staff and Trustees of Heritage Lottery Fund are fit for purpose.  Seems like they only went through the motions of scrutiny.

Seems like HLF and Lewisham Council project team ran out of fingers when it came to counting the costs.

I think Vivienne has got it about right!

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Bullock’s Batty Folly #4

Lewisham Council are a law unto themselves and THEY KNOW BEST!

Apologies for shouting.

They probably get that from Sir Mayor – top down and all that. I am given to understand that Sir Mayor isn’t too fussed about the opinions of many Lewisham residents and he is good at ignoring petitions of thousands of signatures.

So, when the Health and Safety Executive warn Lewisham of a danger posed to the public visiting one of their sites, of course Sir Mayor’s cohorts ignore it.

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Are they bovvered about the £150K fine, £65K costs, bad publicity and avoidable dent in the borough’s finances?

Are they setting themselves up for another accident (perhaps fatal) fine and costs with regard to the fake lake vanity project at Beckenham Place Park?

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The margins of the new fake lake will be shallow, so it will be easy to get out of.  So that’s alright then?!  Is the council (and complicit Heritage Lottery Fund) not aware that it is possible to drown in a bath – a large puddle even?

Then there is the issue of the council’s legal, statutory obligations to bats and bat roosts when planning for such events as felling trees.

This is an email I sent on 23rd January 2018 to the project officer for Beckenham Place Park (a salaried post paid by Lewisham Council whose only responsibility is to oversee the fake lake etc vanity project) – email slightly tailored in layout for this blog.

Begins:-

“Dear Ms Taylor,

Please refer to the screen shots and I suggest that Lewisham Council cannot prove it has not caused an absolute offence as per the screenshot for the Forestry Commission website. I would remind you that development works that may cause killing or injury of bats, or that would result in the damage, loss or disturbance of a bat roost, would require a licence.

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I would draw your attention to the following.

1) The final ecological appraisal submitted by LUC dated February 2017 states (page 32, paragraph 5.24) that 18 trees with high bat roost potential are located within the works area of the lake footprint, 13 of which will be felled.

2) Your reply to me dated 21st January 2018 states that a further survey was carried out in Jan/Feb 2017 prior to submission of the final report with no evidence of active roosts. You claim that as tree works commenced in November 2017 i.e. less than a year later, therefore no further reports were required.  See screen shot:-

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3) But tree works did not begin in the lake footprint in November 2017, did they? They began a few weeks ago. (Please also refer again to the Forestry Commission screenshot “Bat roosts are protected by law even if bats are not present at the time.”).

4) I would refer you to page 2 of the ecological report and the table summarising the contents of all seven versions of the report. Version 4 refers to final issue following completion of surveys and this was dated November 2016 (and many of the surveys had taken place earlier in the year, as per pages 26 and 70 to 100 of the version 7 report of February 2017). The details in the table relating to versions 5,6 and 7 make no reference to further surveys having been carried out. Please, therefore, supply the new surveys you claim to have been carried out in Jan/Feb 2017 or contact details.

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5) Turning to the screenshot of Appendix 9 of the ecological report – also set out on page 33 paragraph 5.34 of the main body of the report, the flow chart asks you to consider the level of bat roost potential per tree. If high (and the report already states 13 HBRP trees are to be felled and a further 5 remain) it asks if arboricultural operations are required immediately in the interests of the public. The answer to this is clearly no, there was no danger to the public. If no, the flow chart states “work can only be carried out between late August and early October or between March and April.” Whereas, you have allowed tree felling in the HBRP area in January, even though you claim November – which is also not one of the acceptable months.

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6) The flow chart also advises that “work should be conducted in a sensitive manner”. Please advise how the use of large mechanical diggers (of which there are plenty of photographs posted on social media) fit into this scenario?

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7) The flow chart says “If bats or roosts are discovered during operations, re-consult the flow chart and follow the advice for a confirmed bat roost presence.” Please advise how the use of mechanical diggers allows for the discovery of bat roosts in an area previously identified as having HBRP?

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I look forward to your reply.

Carole Hope”

Email ends

And here we have the prospective Labour candidate for Rushey Green who (along with Sir Mayor’s other echo chamber inhabitants of Lewisham Labour) believes the council are *managing* trees in Beckenham Place Park.

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When what they are actually doing is vandalising trees and appearing to break the law with regard to protocols for trees with High Bat Roost Potential.

But Bullock’s Folly will continue apace and eventually the new mayor will have to carry the can.

 

Bullock’s Folly #3

Back in the late 1990s a senior Lewisham Council officer suggested that Beckenham Place Park be renamed Lewisham Country Park. His rationale was that such a change of name, together with some judicious promotion, would attract more visits from Lewisham residents from all over the borough, to supplement those who lived on the border with Beckenham/Bromley and, indeed, a big community from that neighbouring council.

Oh, and the golfers, of course. Let’s not forget the revenue generating public golfers!

However, the Lewisham powers-that-be decided against it.

Nowadays social media is a powerful tool in promoting just about anything. Strangely, one rarely sees posts or comments on Lewisham social media pages about Beckenham Place Park, compared to it having been promoted by Lewisham Council on the Beckenham Appreciation Facebook group (over 4,200 members) and it is intermittently a hot topic for discussion there.

Beckenham Place Park is now undergoing a *regeneration* courtesy of Heritage Lottery Fund’s gravy train. Sir Mayor Bullock of Lewisham has approved the transformation of the public park and sport amenities, originally provided by London County Council in the early 20th Century, into a new landscape to mimic when the the estate was in the private ownership of a rich 18th Century gentleman.

Seems a strange concept to me. Indeed, social media activists are familiar with the term “regeneration”, often scorned as it is all too often a euphemism for gentrification and/or social cleansing. Surely Labour’s *Sir* Mayor wouldn’t allow Beckenham Place Park to become gentrified.

Would he?

According to Lewisham’s application form to HLF, the closure of the public golf course for the regeneration of Beckenham Place Park is supposed to specifically benefit those Lewisham people judged by the Council and HLF to be deprived.

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Yet there doesn’t seem much evidence of that happening.

Indeed, if the users of the mansion house are a microcosm of what is happening in the wider park, it appears that people other than the deprived are the main beneficiaries.

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The successful business that leases the Beckenham Place Park mansion is based in Peckham. Businesses renting rooms in the mansion offering mainly fee charging activities are from … erm … Beckenham. Recently a planning application was lodged for a Bromley based private school to open in the mansion. I won’t even talk about the Beckenham tweep running the @BeckenhamPark Twitter account.

As for the parkland, instead of 90 acres out of 240 being used for revenue generating public golf, it has now been reserved for that well known egaltarian sport of mountain bike racing, much loved amongst the deprived people of Lewisham. Are these some of them?

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I wonder how much revenue last Saturday’s MTB event generated for Lewisham Council – compared to, say, public golf? Enough to repair the tracks across the coveted 18th Century rich gentleman’s parkland?

Or, in the alternative universe inhabited by Lewisham Council and Heritage Lottery Fund, do 21st Century bike tracks complement an 18th Century landscape?

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And do the tracks encourage growth of the twigs … I mean whips … I mean trees?

According to Lewisham’s leaflet available in the mansion house cafe (and statement on their website) “the woodland edge is particularly valuable habitat – providing an important transition zone between the forest and the grassland where many species forage and lay eggs.”

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Well, it may not be the egg laying season, but if any species were foraging in that transition zone with MTB cyclists whizzing by they might have experienced their last forage!

The leaflet also refers to ecologically maximising the value of the zone – hmm?  With MTB racers going hell for leather over it?

Yet the council were never interested in maximising the revenue generating golf course, despite many offers of help and constructive suggestions from the golf campaigners.

Do you know, I’m beginning to think Sir Mayor and the Heritage Lottery Frauds have been taken for a ride!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sent

Bullock’s Folly 2 #heritageday

It’s #HeritageDay.

Here’s Department for Culture Media and Sport tweeting the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism about it:-

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My reply, sorry for the repitition, is that, back in the day, if it wasn’t for London County Council, it is doubtful that Beckenham Place Park would exist in order for Lewisham Council and Heritage Lottery Fund to airbrush LCC from the park’s history.  The early twentieth century social history, and heritage, of the forward thinking London County Council, in creating a public park, together with public golf course, has been usurped in favour of that of a nondescript eighteenth century rich gentleman.

One has to question Lewisham’s motive.  This tweet springs to mind:-

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I hope Ruthanne Reid doesn’t mind the screen shot.  It puts me in mind of Lewisham’s “Sir” Labour mayor, Steve Bullock, who is so keen on the estate of a rich eighteenth century gent, in preference to a park and golf course for the hoi-poloi.  One can only assume he hated the heritage public golf course.

Maybe he hated it because he thinks golf is elite?  🤔😂  Way to go then, remove an accessible and diverse public golf course.

Or maybe he hated the golfers – all those white, middle aged middle class men 😂🤔?

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Lewisham Council and Heritage Lottery Fund would much rather have *diverse* groups such as these in Beckenham Place Park:-

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Maybe Sir Mayor hated the tens of thousands of pounds of income generated by the golf course? Even though, as yet, there has been little income to replace it and no guarantee it will be equalled let alone increased.

Still, in the whole year since Heritage Lottery Fund confirmed their grant to airbrush the legacy of London County Council in favour of a fake lake project, to replicate John Cator Esquire’s 18th Century parkland, the squirrel sculpture in Beckenham Place Park has had a makeover!

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Impressive, eh?  I bet Lewisham residents were really excited to see this in the council’s propaganda publication, Lewisham Life.

What’s not to like about Bullock’s Folly? 😜 #HeritageDay

Bullock’s Folly 1

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On 19th October 2017 Lewisham Council finally granted itself planning permission to progress Bullock’s Folly and keep the mates of Heritage Lottery Fund gravy train in clover.

Oh, and not forgetting that it will provide the *destination* two-wheel sports venue some of the cycling loving officers and councillors of Lewisham have long coveted.  Except they could have had that anyway without radically changing landscape and closing the golf course.

Then there is the ever decreasing in size fake lake, for which Harry Potter’s wand will be required in order to magic up a water supply.  A fake lake which, despite being substantially smaller than other lakes that support water sports, is being touted as providing a venue for kayaking, canoeing and open water swimming. 🙂

Such is the burning desire to eradicate all traces of the former, heritage public golf course and replace it with new toys desired by the *collective* of mates that, what should be a priority in the park, to correct decades of neglect of the 18th Century Mansion House, has been overlooked.

Still, the good people of Beckenham and Bromley have stepped in to make the most of a bad situation, by taking advantage of short term leases on rooms in the mansion cleaned up and given a makeover by the temporary lease holder from Peckham.

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Just as well they have, but I’m not too sure whether this cross borough development was part of Sir Mayor’s cunning plan for the park.

Oh, the irony of this-

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The Public Accounts Select Committee recommends that Mayor and Cabinet task officers on how to “generate income through the use of its existing assets and resources.”  In this case it is regarding procurement, but I wrote to the PASC in 2015 querying the dodgy golf contract and suggesting they look into maximising income from the council’s wonderful asset, the public golf course.

Here is the reply I received:-

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He didn’t. Or if he did start to make enquiries he was encouraged not to.  Sir Mayor’s dream of getting a one-off £5M grant from Heritage Lottery Fund (which will be quickly spent, 20% has already gone on consultants and Lewisham also have to find extra millions) was too big a carrot.  Any common sense thinking about long term revenue generation, based on a proven model, to maximise the wonderful sporting asset was abandoned.

Instead of a jewel in the sporting crown, it’s a bit like a case of Gollum’s obsession with a shiny ring – ”my precious”!

England Golf objected to the plans on the grounds that there “is significant demand in Lewisham for golf and the proposals involve the loss of the only golf course in the borough.”  

OK, so we know Sir Mayor and co are not *bovvered* about golf, but the fact that Sport England objected to the loss of golf and other traditional sport in Beckenham Place Park cut no ice.  Irrespective of the narrow statutory rules, Sport England maintained a non-statutory objection.

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Despite this and a multitude of other objectors and objections, some based on National Planning Policy Framework and the London Plan, the planning officer recommended that Bullock’s Folly be authorised.  There was, of course, a convenient “get out of jail” card:-

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The impartial councillors of Planning Committee A duly voted it through, including:-

1) André Bourne, one of my ward councillors, who has replied seven times to emails I have sent him since June 2015, raising important issues about Beckenham Place Park.  His replies ranged from a polite thank you and acknowledgement to unfulfilled promises to look into my concerns and report back.  Then there was this pass the buck gem:-

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André is very well aware that it is only possible to ask one supplementary question for each originally submitted question.  He also knew from my email that each originally submitted question raised several more questions to the replies given.  So, how was I supposed to obtain comprehensive replies?  Very disingenuous – typical Lewisham Council.

But, hey, he did refer me to Cllr Rachel Onikosi.  Yeah, right – like Lewisham Councillors are renowned for responding to queries from people who are not in their ward.  And the less said about Rachel’s collusion, the better … for now.

But aren’t councillors supposed to look into queries/concerns/issues/complaints and generally try to help members of their own ward?  Would you not think André would have raised my concerns with Rachel?

2) James J Walsh. Impartial?  Hmm.  Eh

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Funny, I read *somewhere* that you are never far from a green space in Lewisham 🙂

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And Lewisham Council’s map doesn’t even show all of Lewisham or extend as far as Beckenham Place Park!

3) Jacq Paschoud was in attendance at the planning Drop-In session at the Green Man on 25th January 2017.  Many of the 40 people who attended would have heard her eulogising about the new scheme for the park.

I wonder if there will be any declarations of interest recorded in the minutes when they are published?  For example, does a cyclist voting for a scheme to replace golf with cycling count?

So, Bullock’s Folly of an ever decreasing fake lake is to go ahead.  Maybe it will end up small enough so that these observations, by an engineer who knows something about water movements, will be overcome and we can float some rubber ducks on it instead? :-

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Bullock’s Folly, eh?

 

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Sounding Off!

Here’s one of the new whizzy things you can do in Beckenham Place Park that replaces a combination of healthy public golf and usual park activities in the other 150 acres.

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Erm, well actually, it’s one of only two new things that you can do any time on the parkland (the other is BMX in the east of the park).

So, in the west of the park you can now walk across the former golf course gawping at your phone with head phones stuck in your ear.  And, of course, the app won’t take you to the east of the park.  Can’t think why.

Tralaa!  Its the Beckenham Place Park Soundwalk map.  Download the app and let’s begin!

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The friendly voice hopes we have an “enjoyable experience and remember to watch where you are going!”  Pretty much sums up the pretentious clap-trap that is a park walk driven by a mobile phone app.

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Here is that group of diverse peeps testing the app.  Diverse? Eh

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These groups look more diverse to me.

 

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Anyway, after engaging the first arrow on the map we hear the interviewer asking someone their name and I recognise that voice – it’s Lin, a long standing local resident, park user and non-golfer who campaigned for retention of the golf course. But then, suddenly, Lin is cut off and Roger is speaking instead.

I can’t think why!

How interesting is Roger, though!  He said he first discovered the park on 2 July 2016 and during that walk he realized how unbelievably beautiful it is.

Think about it folks.

The golf course was not closed until end of October 2016, that’s almost four calendar months after Roger discovered and fell in love with BPP.  But, but … Lewishambles said golf was a barrier to discovery of, and use of, the park, yet here is Roger eulogizing about how he found and was enthralled by it before the golf course closed.

I am sure Roger will correct me if I am wrong, but he sounds Afro-Caribbean.  Yet Lewisham closed the golf course used by a diverse community in order to … uhm, attract more diverse users.  Yet here’s Roger rocking up in the park prior to closure of golf.

How strange.  A bit like that strange golf contract Lewisham had with Glendale.  Have I mentioned that before?  th[2]

Engage arrow two and Roger contributes again, loving the ancient trees and pointing out that every mature tree feeds a family of four with oxygen.  I’m sure that must be true of mature trees in general, not just the ancient ones, so I wonder what Roger thinks about Lewishambles’ plans to fell mature trees just to create a different vista?

Also known as a vanity project.

There are other voices now: appreciation of the bluebell woods and the variety of animals and birds to be found all over the park.  People remembering such things as scrumping and foraging in the park, a colony of rabbits back in the 1960s and someone else loves the egrets and kingfishers still to be found on the river.  Yet, despite having this wonderful water habitat running through BPP (plus a large pond), Lewishambles insist on creating a fake lake and in doing so will be destroying another kind of ecological habitat.

Still, it all helps to obliterate that pesky golf course, seemingly so hated by Sir Mayor.

‘old on a minute me ‘earties, wots all this?  Eh

A lady says there was always somewhere new to explore in the park.  How can that be?  The clever Lewishambles officer told Heritage Lottery Fund that the golf course was a barrier to use!  Sorry, I already said that – and if you tell a lie enough times then it must be true.  Mustn’t it?

Arrow three and memories of the golf course!  All positive, with the exception of one lady remembering that back in the day (the 1960s I believe) her golf partner was from the West Indies and nobody else spoke to him.  Such a shame that no one thought to bring some context to that statement because by the time the golf course closed mixed heritage groups of golfers were a common scene.

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The young interviewer was asked at one point if he played golf and he said he tried it but he was no good.  This brought the response that at BPP you didn’t need to be any good.

That’s the whole point of an accessible public golf course.

Anyway, the lady of advanced years (stands to reason she must be if she was playing golf as an adult in the 1960s) now thinks she likes the park without a golf course (I suppose she doesn’t play any more – had her fun, lets deny others!)  Adding the pearl of wisdom that it’s “quite a big park, over 200 acres.”

Why do supporters of closure of the golf course never see the irony of that fact?

Arrow four was about hand tree carvings in the woods.

Moving to arrow five and memories of the Estonian Day event held at the Foxgrove Club in the grounds of BPP.  The social club that the mean-spirited Lewisham Council officers forced to close in order to ….?

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Answers on a post card please?

Here’s Frank, the former resident steward of the Foxgrove Club.

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He lost his home and job when spiteful Lewisham Council closed the club down, because their plans for it are ….?

Anyway, the Estonian Day, remembered on the sound walk as being organised by Frank with the local Estonian community, was great fun, offering an insight into a different culture, with national flags, dress, food, music  and dancing.  Someone thought Frank organized one every year.  But then the clever Lewisham Officers closed the club because it is now going to be ….?

 

Foxgrove rubbish

And it’s obvious, innit, that we can’t have any unapproved, golf loving people (Frank played the course too) organizing cultural events on Lewisham’s property!  That’s only for them to decide.

Arrow six and a discussion of the outdoors as being therapy – “God’s Cathedral”.  I wonder how many of the sound walkers were getting that elevated sense of place gawping at their phones and fiddling with their ear pieces?

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Arrow seven and lots of childhood memories.  People talking about playing with their friends over the park and the tobogganing in winter was fab!  Surely not?  How can that be?  The clever Lewisham Officer told Heritage Lottery Fund the park was little known.

Someone said he was always over BPP with friends!  Sometimes up to mischief and avoiding the park keepers.  Anyone remember them?  Will the whizzy new park have park keepers?  Nope!  But it’s got a community engagement officer!  LOL!

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Arrow 8 and going back further in time with tales of Second World War connections.  Italian Prisoners of War were housed in the park and local kids threw snowballs at them, which were returned in kind.

Arrow 9 and a lost dog story of Ye Olde London Towne – I mean Beckenham Place Park. All good reminisces must feature a lost pooch!  After a week of being missing Max’s owners found him being walked in the park by a golfer, who had looked after him.  He said “I could tell he was a really loved dog.”

Funny that, because we used to have a really loved viable, accessible and inclusive public golf course until interfering busy-bodies decided they knew best.

Not forgetting vested interests, of course.

Still, the clever Lewisham Council officer will get a gold star from Sir Mayor and I’m sure a park sound walk app will look good on his CV.

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