The relief of poverty?

Nope!

I’m struggling to discover, from the available information on the internet, how the outdoor education charity Wide Horizons fulfils their stated objective of the relief of poverty.  This from their report attached to their last set of accounts:-

Relief of poverty

Perhaps their CEO, Alex Brooks-Johnson, or Trustee, John Russell, could enlighten me?  But probably not because they do not want to engage in debate about Beckenham Place Park so I don’t suppose they want anyone to delve deep into the wider issues of the charity.

AJBJ block

JR blockWH block

Sure, they have a “Get Out Go Wild” holiday programme for disadvantaged city children and 227 kids benefitted last (financial) year.  But that’s out of a total of 41,625, which is pretty pathetic.  However, 227 is better than none, the programme being funded by London Quadrant and Phoenix Housing Associations, but for how long?

Wide Horizons say both Lewisham and Greenwich Councils provide support through joint initiatives to schools etc, but it is not explained exactly how they do so or how many of the 41,625 kids who enjoyed a WH experience are 1) from Lewisham 2) from Greenwich 3) fall into the category of disadvantaged, other than the 227 already mentioned.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against an outdoor education organisation, or schools and parents who can afford to use their service, but I think it is a bit rich that they claim to improve the lives of other kids in adverse social and economic circumstances when the only evidence of them doing so relates to a tiny percentage of 227 kids.  Not unless they are hiding their light under a bushel, but this from the horse’s mouth:-

Achievements

Some other numbers to consider:-

  • 74 state primary schools in Greenwich
  • 18 state secondary schools in Greenwich
  • 64,500 children and young people under the age of 18 in Greenwich
  • 74 state primary schools in Lewisham
  • 17 state secondary schools in Lewisham
  • 73,000 young people under age of 19 in Lewisham

You know how independent schools can apply to be registered charities?  And some offer a bursary for maybe one child whose family can’t afford the fees.  Seems to me the same sort of thing is going on with Wide Horizons.

Relief of poverty?  They say they target groups such as “Looked after Children”, but where’s the evidence?

Benevolent

This is part of the booking form for Wide Horizons’ Horton Kirby centre in Kent:-

Booking enquiry form

It is the only booking enquiry form I can find on the website, and I don’t know whether it is out of date, but it seems strange there is no other publically available guidance on pricing for their other centres.  Anyway, it seems that a day trip out to Horton Kirby for a class of up to 32 will cost (did cost) a Lewisham or Greenwich school £343.60 (unless they have their own coach or can get one cheaper).  There is nothing on the form to indicate lunch arrangements.

But hey, they are a charity!  So unless anyone on Lewisham Council or Heritage Lottery Fund is prepared to apply proper scrutiny – LOL 🙂 ha, ha,  – it’s obvious, innit, that the “regeneration” of Lewisham Council’s 240 acre Beckenham Place Park should be set up especially for them (one assumes at a similar cost to schools as Horton Kirby) and the 90 acre public golf course closed.

Ed programme

Kayak & canoes

So, for the scrutineers amongst us, here’s some Wide Horizons by numbers:-

  • 41,625 children had a WH experience 1/8/14 to 31/7/15 across eight centres (2 SE London, 2 Kent, 3 Wales, 1 Dorset) = average of 5,203 per centre = average of 14 per day (albeit accepting that over the Christmas holiday there would be no programme so that pushes the daily average up).
  • 227 inner city disadvantaged London kids had a “Get out Go Wild” experience i.e. 0.005% of total
  • This Easter the five day Eltham Adventure Holiday Club costs £150 (£30 per day) per child 9.30 to 16.00 or £200 (£40 per day) per child 8.30 to 17.30 with a 10% discount for second and subsequent siblings.  (Relief of poverty anyone?)
  • According to the report attached to their accounts, WH have 43 partnership schools across all centres; eight of the schools are in Greenwich and no information is available about Lewisham.  However, I have seen other evidence that two Lewisham schools have used WH.  Wow!
  • Wide Horizons took 150 kids into Beckenham Place Park in July 2015 before closure of the public golf course  – from Tower Hamlets.  I don’t know how it was financed.
  • By year five of the education programme coming to Beckenham Place Park (once Godot has arrived) Wide Horizons anticipate bringing 7,800 children annually during term time into the education centre i.e. 40 a day.  They will charge the schools involved for their service.  It is known that government funding to London schools is to be cut, albeit Wide Horizons work with schools for fund raising.  And they organise other fund raising activities:-

Cycle

  • Also by year five, a holiday programme for ten weeks of the year will, apparently, see 5,000 kids annually participating in BPP i.e. 100 a day.  This will be charged at £15 a day (concession of £10 available) and kids will have to provide their own packed lunch.  How reasonable is that compared to the Eltham (London Borough of Greenwich) programme quoted above!  How this discounted service will be achieved no one knows, given that both Greenwich and Lewisham are already described as benevolent landlords to WH, so the discrepancy between the two sites is quite puzzling.  Indeed, even the Heritage Lottery Fund Case Paper concedes it’s a bit of a gamble:-

SustainabilityI have no idea how many Lewisham families will be able to take advantage of the “cheap” holiday scheme at Beckenham Place Park, but I would suggest that this WH programme will do little to relieve poverty.

  • Beckenham Place Park is 240 acres, the revenue generating public golf course used to take up 90 acres of that, yet Wide Horizons claim they need the whole site – for 40 kids per day!?!!!  Oh, sorry, 100 during holidays.  By the way, what says the Lewisham troll who mocked me for pointing out that WH brought 150 kids into the park in July 2015, saying that wasn’t many and implying there would be many more on closure of the golf course?  Erm ….
  • Wide Horizons will be supplying canoes and kayaks exclusively for use under their direction for the new lake in the park and the plans indicate storage for 12 of the former, 36 of the latter.  They will also project pilot private hire.

Kayaking

And now we come to the nub of why Wide Horizons supported closure of the revenue generating golf course, despite 150 kids having coexisted with it in July 2015 – because there is to be an expensively constructed lake just for them!

Canoes and kayaks are not cheap, but I suppose WH will get a discount for buying bulk (one assumes life jackets too!)  Perhaps they will fund it via initiatives such as this:-

Ardeche disadvantaged kids

You don’t think Wide Horizons’ #mates want messing around on lakes (and other “approved” activities such as cycling) in order to keep their hand in for cronies’ adventures in France do you?

Swale Tri

It would be good to be able to discover just exactly what providing life changing adventures for “disadvantaged children” means.  How many and how often will disadvantaged kids go to the Ardeche, for example?

Wide Horizons social media feeds and website don’t really enlighten us any more than the report attached to their accounts.  Yes, we see tweets and Facebook posts of happy children at WH centres, but how were they able to participate, who paid, who was included and, most important of all, who was not and how many were “disadvantaged”?

You know what else I can’t find on the WH website?  It’s severely lacking in testimonials.

Here are some more Wide Horizons by numbers for accounting period 1/8/14 – 31/7/15:-

  • Income £2,912,233
  • Outgoing £2,901,235
  • Operational surplus £10,998
  • Reserves £330K to £430K
  • Staff costs £1,701,137 (58% of income)
  • Buildings and maintenance costs £419,448
  • Vehicle costs £178,347
  • Other costs (cost of generating funds, catering, depreciation, legal, audit etc) £386,122

Financial review

Looks like they will have to up their game if they are to have another base in Beckenham Place Park, or maybe they will close one or both of the Greenwich ones.  If so, the expectation of an average of 40 kids a day during term time to visit Beckenham Place Park looks even less impressive, in comparison to the overall size of the site and the fact that “Everyman” revenue generating golf has been closed for a fake lake for #mates.

So, for the benefit of an estimated 40 (occasionally 100) children a day, a 90 acre revenue generating public golf course was closed.  An “Everyman” course which, by my reckoning, if running at full capacity could have 216 players on it at any one time throughout the day (4 players on tee, 4 progressing on fairway, 4 on putting green x 18 holes = 216 x £s = wasted possibility to maximise a public asset.)  And there is still another 150 acres of Beckenham Place Park.

Still, I suppose Wide Horizons will need a training facility for when peeps go off to the Ardeche with however many lucky kids who are funded!  Or rather, whose parents can afford it.

Ardeche

I can’t help thinking Wide Horizons is an enterprise for the enjoyment and employment of outdoorsy types to provide jolly japes and jaunts for their peers, as much as for the advancement of outdoor education.  Seems to me that as far as Beckenham Place Park is concerned a group of #mates got together, including the hierarchy of Wide Horizons, and decided upon the type of park that suited them, which did not include the heritage and revenue generating public golf course.

Quite where this leaves the council tax payers of Lewisham I don’t know, with the prospect of Lewisham not only incurring capital costs (including an expensive lake) for Beckenham Place Park over and above the Heritage Lottery Fund grant, but also the continued maintenance of the 240 acre site, with very little (if any) savings having been achieved by the closure of revenue generating public golf and Wide Horizons contributing little to the upkeep and they are to benefit from a “peppercorn” rent.

This, in order to bring outdoor adventures to a relatively small number of children compared to the overall size of the park, on a site where Wide Horizons’ coexistence with revenue generating public golf had previously proved possible, in a climate where school budgets are to be reduced, and no clear indication of how “the relief of poverty” is to be achieved.

Is it just meanie old me?

Anyway, here’s a curious thing to end.  If you go to the Greenwich Council website and put in a search for Wide Horizons you get a result for Councillor Christine May, who is a director of the “charity”.  Not that you will find that information on WH website, but you will at Companies House.  If you go to Lewisham Council’s website and search, there are no results.  Strange!  However, at the Lewisham AGM on 27th March 2017, item 83 Mayoral appointments, two senior members of Lewisham staff plus all 55 councillors were appointed to one body or another.  One of the bodies is Wide Horizons.  The Mayor’s appointee is Mr John Russell, who is neither a Lewisham officer or a councillor but is the Trustee of Wide Horizons.  Hmm.

 

Choo, choo! Beware the know-it-alls.

The Government has set up a survey into the Heritage Lottery Gravy Train.

Choo, choo!

Erm … I mean, the roles and responsibilities of the distributors of National Lottery players’ money.

Gov Survey

Seems like it is aimed more at applicants than the General Public, but anyone can complete it.  Here is the link:-

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/review-of-the-national-heritage-memorial-fund-and-heritage-lottery-fund-launched

I have done so, along with several other people I know.  For example:-

Responses

As Frank says, it is a long survey, although the website says it should only take 25 minutes.  I think that gives us some indication of what the government think will be the outcome i.e. that everything in the garden is rosy and people will be ticking all the positive boxes.

But as Frank and Daniel indicate, there is a different view!

There is the option to exercise your democratic right and highlight Heritage Lottery Fund’s failings in its dealings with Lewisham Council.  For most options where you tick a negative, a text box will open up for you to add a comment (with a word limit).  It took me an hour and a half, but you can do it in stages.  Deadline is 6th April.

I copied my comments on to a word document.  I have pasted below.  Unfortunately it was impractical to copy the questions as well, but you will get the gist.

Starts:-

This may be correct in most cases. In the example I know of the asset has been lost and a different asset imposed.

The one example I have a close association with has obliterated one heritage in favour of another heritage. A subjective judgement on the part of the funders was made in conflict with wishes of local people.

Heritage Lottery Fund work to a tick box formula which leaves little room for thinking outside of the box.

Except that a tick box formula is followed which means some assets of national heritage are lost.

The one project I am familiar with is early stage work in progress, hence I have ticked the “don’t know” option; outcomes remain to be seen. Where I have ticked “not well at all” this is because heritage that has been destroyed cannot be better managed. Nor will it be in better condition and the interpretation, explanation, identification and recording will, in fact, be a case of virtually air brushing the heritage from history and existence in favour of HLF’s preferred heritage. The local authority with whom HLF are working will not be more resilient because there is nothing in the documentation produced by the local authority or HLF to suggest this will be so. In fact, they are relying on an optimistic statement from a council officer that council elected members are committed long term.

I’m sure HLF do all of the above very well. But the heritage sector they promote is subjective and it supports a self-serving heritage gravy train.

HLF do not seem to care about negative impacts its funding makes. The example I have based my comments on so far is Beckenham Place Park. HLF are very well aware that a large number of local people object to their funding of a scheme which has led to the removal of a popular, viable, accessible, inclusive & diverse public golf course. A golf course which is of heritage value itself, in favour of recreated 18th Century landscape which is of no relevance. They have ignored evidence presented to them that Lewisham Council lied in their application form about key issues of usage and financial viability of the golf course and the rigged consultation. See Verita report on HLF website. In addition, in awarding a £5M grant to the Council, they have saddled them with another £3.6M of costs & rising.

In the case of Beckenham Place Park and Lewisham Council it is difficult to identify how HLF funding makes the 240 acre site more resilient. Removing 90 acre public golf has led to loss of income, but maintenance costs are largely the same as most is staff and staff numbers will not be cut but increased. The new income coming into the park is untested and does not equate to what has been lost, let alone what was the true income potential had Lewisham Council not deliberately undermined the golf operation. The financial sustainability of the site relies on the stated long term good will of elected representatives to commit the necessary funds from annual budgets. The council also have to find (as at end of 2016) an extra £3.6M to complete the project i.e. 43% which will probably rise.

In the case of Beckenham Place Park, HLF have colluded with Lewisham Council to remove a heritage public golf course because it does not suit HLF branding and tick box culture. In doing so they have destroyed networks of friends, golfers and non-golfers alike, in favour of an experiment and the heritage of the golf course will be air-brushed from existence. The previous community of users was ethnically and socially diverse and was a good base on which to build a bigger diverse community of users (bearing in mind golf only too up 90 out of 240 acres). So far, although it is only early days, this diverse community has left behind a largely white dog walking community as the main users. The targeted new community of users could have coexisted very easily with the community that has been lost

The most important thing HLF can do is listen to the concerns of local people. It must be open minded instead of closing out evidence of wrong doing by a council that was determined to railroad through a scheme which had little support from local people. It needs to be flexible, to think outside of the box instead of being fixated on which boxes have been ticked. Beckenham Place Park Community Trust sent HLF a pre-action letter advising that it would seek judicial review of their decision to award funding to Lewisham Council. Ultimately it did not do so because of raising the necessary funds and running out of time, after having waited for HLF to take the maximum time to respond to Freedom of Information requests. It may be in the future that their high handedness will attract a challenge.

Seems like HLF working with Lewisham Council meant working to close out opposition and covering up mendacity, so they succeeded there. As for organisations working in the natural environment, it seems that heritage is just a self-serving gravy train and that companies like Land Use Consultants do very nicely, to the detriment, in the case of Beckenham Place Park, to the local community and existing community of users.

In the case of Beckenham Place Park HLF have not considered the financial resources needed to sustain the questionable benefits of its funding. It has gambled and placed too much reliance on a statement made by a council employee that elected members of the council are committed to long term sustainability of a 240 acre site, which had previously been neglected and marginalised for decades.  HLF have been complicit in Lewisham Council throwing away a viable income stream into the park and ignored all the evidence presented by campaigners with regard to that viability. Much of the new activity identified as coming to the park will be subsidised by the council. Commercial sources of income stated are untested, other than a café

Too big a list – too many tick boxes. Vague and patronising. Define an enjoyable experience? Changing attitudes and behaviour shouldn’t be part of a heritage remit. The first five are important, plus resilience and environmental considerations.

HLF has a duty to scrutinise. In the case of Beckenham Place Park they 1) failed abjectly to do so 2) when members of the public did the job of scrutiny for them they failed to engage in a positive manner. Their attitude was to sweep inconvenient truths under the carpet rather than address the issues brought to their attention. An arrogant attitude of “we know best”. In early interactions they responded promptly to Freedom of Information requests. As time went by, they used the full statutory 20 working days response time to respond to even the simplest of request. The level of redaction for FOIs from Stage 2 documentation submitted by Lewisham Council was tantamount to an abuse of the FOI Act, which they are now reviewing on being advised that a complaint will be submitted to ICO.

Leadership is predicated on closing ranks & protecting the backs of staff. There is a reluctance to accept that staff have been unprofessional and that there are very good reasons for a scheme they are supporting is highly controversial. Please see Verita report on HLF website, especially comments about lack of impartiality of the Grant Officer’s Stage 1 Case Paper. Also note that the Verita report & recommendations was not referenced at Stage 2. It appears that the 3 stage complaints process is a façade, going through the motions, rather than a learning and improving exercise. HLF were dismissive of a paper petition of 8,000 people presented to their London office because no mention was made of it at the Board meeting of Trustees and the Case Paper merely referred to some local opposition

They are skilful at deflecting criticism, experienced and knowledgeable in their subjective opinions and attitudes. Otherwise they seem naïve in not being able to see the holes in Lewisham’s application.

The scheme HLF agreed with Lewisham Council for Beckenham Place Park is highly controversial. HLF has been provided with reams of evidence about Lewisham’s mendacity, but have overlooked it. HLF appear only to be accountable to themselves. Seems like if they like the look of a scheme, they will endeavour to ensure the scheme goes ahead, despite the level of opposition and in spite of the grave concerns and issues to which they have been alerted. There is a reluctance to engage positively with anyone who crosses their vision. It is part of HLF remit to work with applicants, but not to such a degree that they actually collude to railroad through a controversial and unpopular scheme and that they resort to being obstructive with regard to Freedom of Information requests

Ends

N.B. ICO referred to above is Information Commissioners Office.  I have previously successfully complained to ICO about Lewisham Council’s obstruction tactics with regard to Freedom of Information requests.  For example, when I asked for details of the “targeted work” they claimed they had done with schools, referenced in their Stage 1 application form to Heritage Lottery Fund, they quoted the Data Protection Act as a reason for not providing the information.  ICO said they had to answer my question.  Turns out it was only one school, not schools plural and only eight children.  The work was not targeted for children as they were given the same materials to work with as adults.  Their survey returns were included in the 175 Lewisham collected and on the basis of 175 surveys Lewisham claimed to have the overwhelming support of local people for their preferred plans for Beckenham Place Park.

By the way, only 62 said get rid of golf, not that Heritage Lottery Fund were “bovvered” by this shocking disingenuousness – because it was their preferred plan too!

Here is the Verita report mentioned above:-

https://www.hlf.org.uk/file/21441/download?token=pRcF1TUV69w5lUf85dziwUGexKtq3GuJgUoqcyEIWlE

As the government survey is about the Heritage Lottery role in particular, rather than just them and Beckenham Place Park, let’s have a quick look at some other issues.

There is HLF London’s contentious funding for Tooting Common which involves removal of trees in Chestnut Avenue.  Campaigners and Friends of Tooting Common dispute that all the trees are diseased and the need to remove rather than conserve:-

FOTC

Just like campaigners and Friends of Beckenham Place Park objected to closure of the viable, accessible, inclusive and diverse public golf course.  They even submitted their own robust survey, unlike Lewisham’s, to HLF London, which indicated the majority of people welcomed regeneration of the park, but not by taking away golf.

But of course in both cases, Beckenham Place Park and Tooting Common, Heritage Lottery Fund knew better than the Friends Groups.  Strangely, HLF claim to set great store by the involvement of Parks’ Friends groups in their projects.  When it suits them.

And look at a project the we-know-better-heritage-experts decided not to fund:-

HMS President

Rejected because of available budget.  What the Trustees of Heritage Lottery Fund mean is that they deem lottery players money is better spent getting rid of a popular heritage public golf course, in favour of the history and landscape of an obscure 18th Century rich gent, rather than on restoring a ship in the firing line of the defence of this nation, with all the human stories that involves.

Here is what some historians on Facebook think about it.  But what do they know, compared to the know-it-alls of HLF:-

IMG_1435[1]

IMG_1437[1]

IMG_1438[1]

IMG_1439[1]

IMG_1437[1] - Copy (2)

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Language Timothy!

While I’ve been writing this I have received communications from Heritage Lottery Fund about the level of redaction in their responses to my Freedom of Information requests.

Hooray!

Just about the only concession they made was that it was unnecessary to redact the headings to tables contained in application documentation.  So, for example, I – and you – am/are now allowed to see this:-

Work schedule

So, we can see this is a proposed annual work schedule, but we are not allowed to see the actual details of schedule.  Can anyone think of any conceivable reason for such secrecy?

Then there is this gem – a Public Interest Test:-

Public Interest test

Yep, they got that right “HLF is required to ensure that their grant-giving and grant-management processes are robust, fair, impartial …” but something they refer to as “undue public scrutiny” gets in the way of that.  Anyone like to suggest how public scrutiny of a park’s annual work schedule compromises HLF’s processes?

No one asked to see sensitive financial data.  The work schedule is just a description and schedule of jobs.  How does that fall into the “undue” category.

It just confirms that Lewisham Council are allergic to scrutiny.  I wonder why?  And why would Heritage Lottery Fund collude with them?

Not fit for purpose if you ask me.  If you agree, please take some time to complete the online questionnaire via the link above.

 

Strange Relationships

Is it just me?  Strange?  Well probably!

Maybe after reading this blog post you might think it’s not just me that’s strange!  LOL 🙂

Lewisham Council do seem to specialise in “strange” e.g. that strange contract with Glendale Golf.  It also seems to me that they do strange relationships with *suitable* charities too.  Suitable charities being two where their involvement applies a veneer of respectability to contentious land issues.

Firstly, the creation of Surrey Canal Sports Foundation seems to have been the acceptable face of what otherwise appears to be a grubby Compulsory Purchase Order land grab. I mean, why create a sports foundation right on top of Millwall’s community project, why not just support the latter?

But that seems to have backfired anyway.  In the news of late (national as well as local) has been the issue of Lewisham Council’s recommendation of a £500,000 grant to Surrey Canal Sports Foundation, of which Sir Steve Bullock, our powerful executive mayor, was until recently a Trustee.  He resigned from the Foundation in strange circumstances.  So strange is this and connected issues that the Council has been forced into commissioning a judge led public enquiry.

Secondly there is a strange looking relationship with Wide Horizons, who are to have a new base in Beckenham Place Park.  Someone on Twitter recently implied that I was a bit of a meanie because he thought I begrudged Wide Horizons from *happening* to benefit from the *regeneration* of Beckenham Place Park.  Not true.

I am simply pointing out that a very expensive new landscaping scheme, including the construction of a lake, has been set up especially for them.  In order to do so, the popular and viable public golf course has been closed.

Hypocrisy is a word that could have been invented for Wide Horizons.  Here we have their Trustee, John Russell, retweeting solidarity with Millwall’s legitimate complaints about land grab.

Millwall Lion.JPG

Yet Wide Horizons are party to a land grab in Beckenham Place Park, grabbing land away from an established community of users for the exclusive benefit of Wide Horizons.  Just to rub salt into the wound, here he is again retweeting the LibDem leader’s article about the heart break of Millwall having to move.  Tell that to the public golfers of Beckenham Place Park who have had to move.  More specifically, tell that to the ones who have had to give up playing after closure of the course at Beckenham Place Park, for accessibility reasons, because it is to become, instead, a huge adventure playground for Wide Horizons.

Heartbreaking

Of course, closure of the public golf course has changed the status of the land from formal recreation to informal recreation, thus stripping away a layer of protection of the land.  I expect that’s just a coincidence.

Remind me, what’s happening with the Mansion House in the park?  Does anyone know?

The decision to close the golf course was made solely by Sir Mayor; a decision that by-passed adhering to the recommendation made by Lewisham Council’s Sustainable Development Select Committee, 14 January 2016, that “an analysis of the true profit potential of the golf course” be examined before a decision was made.

As for the Mansion House, seems like it’s proving more tricky than those clever Lewisham officers expected to relocate the car park from in front of the mansion, so why don’t they just leave it there?

The Planning Officer has commissioned more archaeological reports on the new car park site, thus taking money from the budget to get things done to funnel into the hands of consultants.  Easier to just redesign the current car park in front of the mansion.

Hmm. I wonder why they don’t do that?

OK, you can accuse me of being a conspiracy theorist.

Moving on.

Do other councils “support” a particular charity in the same way as Lewisham and Wide Horizons?  Is it normal for a council to source a large amount of money in order to set up a charity in new premises and make radical changes to a park’s landscape?  And in so doing saddle itself with approximately 75% of the costs (or the headache of sourcing other external funds)  OVER AND ABOVE the grant already secured?

hlf-57

And from where is that extra £3.6M going to be sourced?

This is what Wide Horizons say about themselves:-

Adventure model

They are “now an independent charity”.  An independent charity dependent on Lewisham Council to set them up in new premises.  Hmmm.

They serve other London boroughs as well as Lewisham (and Greenwich) but Lewisham are, effectively, underwriting their expansion.  Odd?  Strange?   Anyway, they already have two centres in London Borough of Greenwich and have used Beckenham Place Park for activities prior to the closure of the golf course.  This from their report attached to their last accounts:-

Achievements

No one begrudges Wide Horizons a base in Beckenham Place Park in order to increase the use they have already made of it.  And, of course, an education room is an eminently sensible idea.

ABJ

In fact, wouldn’t most people like the idea of kids participating in learning sessions/ adventures in the woods and meadow areas of the park, whilst older people enjoy the sport which occupied just 90 acres out of the whole 240 acre site?  Young, old and not so old mixing together in the same space. But no, Wide Horizons don’t want to share.

They do not want to share with golf, neither do they want to share with another outreach organisation like the Golf Trust.  In fact, perish the thought of Lewisham Council or Wide Horizons using a fantastic sporting asset to get kids involved in golf as part of their activities!  Unlike other local authorities:-

James and Tonbridge

I am also wondering about the children Wide Horizons’ outreach programmes actually reach. I can’t see anything on their website to indicate that any parent with young kids, on a make-ends-meet budget, could actually apply to the charity for a free adventure learning place for their kids.

OK, so it’s facilitated through schools.  But schools are charged.  And do schools pass most, if not all, of the costs on to parents?  I don’t know – someone help me here.  But what I do know is that school budgets in Lewisham have recently been cut and there is uproar about it.  Indeed, John Russell is in uproar:-

Sydenham School

Anyway, look at a couple of extracts from a document forming part of Lewisham’s Heritage Lottery Fund second stage rubber stamping exercise – oops, I mean application.

First:-

Charge schools

Yep!  Wide Horizons would be charging schools for programmes for their pupils.  Or maybe the beneficiaries will be just those school kids whose parents can afford any charge passed on by the school?

And notice that despite being an independent charity, Lewisham will be underwriting Wide Horizons’ rent.  I wonder what the 60 odd NGOs who have just had their funding from Lewisham Council cut by 25% think of such favouritism?

Seems like there will be enough schools with enough money in their ever reducing budgets to bring kids into the park five days a week, 39 weeks of the year.  By year 5 that will be 7,800 per annum. Wow!

Seven thousand eight hundred lucky kids for whom a budget of some sort (school or parent) will stretch to enable them to participate.  That is 200 per week, which is 40 a day.  Impressive, eh?  And 40 kids a day can’t coexist with revenue generating public golf and an established community of park users who have been pushed out elsewhere.

Then there’s this:-

Charges

Another 5,000 children will take part in holiday programmes over just ten weeks of the year i.e. 500 children per week or a hundred a day, although we have to wait until 2021/22 for that.  Costs will be £15 per day per child (albeit a concession of £10 will be available) and they will have to bring their own lunch too.  Presumably that’s 2016 costing when the rubber stamping document was lodged, with no allowance for inflation to 2021 costs.

I suppose all of Wide Horizons’ Charitable objectives fit into this scenario somewhere, but I’m struggling to identify where.

Charitable objectives

Can someone please advise this dimwit where the relief of poverty fits in with charging £10 concession, £15 otherwise, plus cost of packed lunch, per child?

Whatever, I am sure the kids that do take part in Wide Horizons’ activities benefit, but I still don’t understand why they can’t coexist with golf.  On which note, did you spot that two salaried posts are to be created to encourage people to use the park, one of whom is a Business Development Manager.  Strange (that word again) how revenue generating golf was deemed unacceptable but that other businesses may be acceptable.  Definition of acceptable?

And that salaried posts are needed to get people into the park after pushing regular paying visitors out (despite the presence of Wide Horizons!)

Austerity, eh?

Anyway, I have tried asking Wide Horizons’ CEO, Alex Brooks-Johnson, and the Trustee, John Russell, why they could not co-exist with golf.  Strangely, after initial engagement with me, they ceased responding.  But, but …. look at this from Mr Russell:-

Anyone reply

LOL, he’s endorsing Lewisham LibDem’s complaint that Lewisham are not responding to questions asked about Millwall.  Yet he has done the very same to me about Wide Horizons’ use of Beckenham Place Park!

Then there’s this:-

Unacceptable

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, LOL!!!

Mr Russell is very well aware of the dirty tricks Lewisham used to obtain closure of the golf course because I told him.  Seems like the indefensible for the benefit of Wide Horizons is OK!

Turns out Wide Horizons  just don’t want to coexist with golf. Here’s a paragraph of a letter they sent to Heritage Lottery Fund:-

Limiting factor

Such a lot going on in that one paragraph!  The oft repeated mantra (so it must be true if you say it enough times) that the park is underused and that people consider the park to be a golf club.  A golf club!  Not even a public turn-up-and-pay-to-play-open-to-anyone golf course!  Another insidious trick of Lewisham and their mates in creating the impression of the golf course being a private club. Wide Horizons admit that they have had hundreds of participants in the park in the last two years i.e. when the golf course was operational.  But, poor loves, the golf course is a limiting factor.  So why did they bother?

Why not just wait for Godot to arrive?

Limiting factor?  That would be because the participants would have to walk a couple of hundred yards from the Homesteads building end of the park to access woodland and meadowland where their activities took place.  No wonder there’s an obesity crisis!

How about if Wide Horizons started off from the Old Bromley Road car park in the east of the park instead.  Indeed, look at this:-

East of river

They appear to have used Old Bromley Road end!  As do other peeps who aren’t fussed about the golf course:-

BPP 046

 

That’s where I came into the park as a kid from Downham and the golf course never stopped my enjoyment of the park, as I told ABJ and JR, but it fell on deaf ears.  Plus, part of the masters’ master plan involves new adventure play equipment, skateboard park upgrade and BMX track in the east of the park, which also has a river and easy access to the woodland, so why do Wide Horizons need the golf course as well?

By the way, what’s that about supporting Lewisham and being a key partner?  Methinks it’s the other way round!  And it’s Wide Horizons who are the, largely, financially sleeping partner!

You know what I think about this “limiting issue”. The limitations are that with the golf course in place they would not be able to have outdoor jolly japes messing around on the water i.e. that expensive lake that’s being constructed for them.

Kayaking

And they wouldn’t have as many choices of cycle routes so coveted by the mates who have set up this self-serving scheme.

Best if you look the screen snip below up on Wide Horizons’ website and scratch your head trying to make head or tail of it.

Favoured few

Wannabe Beckenham Place Park kayaker and all-things-bike from rural middle class West Country upbringing, Mr Brooks-Johnson, opines:-

“for too long this park has been enjoyed by the lucky few”. 

Really?  So Wide Horizons didn’t bring kids into the park after all?  Golfers didn’t golf, dog walkers didn’t walk, other walkers didn’t walk, runners didn’t run, cyclists didn’t cycle, a dementia group never visited to sit and have coffee and commune with friends and nature every week, people with newspapers and books never sat reading in the fresh air on benches, bird watchers never watched, nature photographers never photographed, no one used the skate park or the kids’ playground or the open fields, Foxgrove social club members never enjoyed the park, visitors didn’t visit the mansion on a Sunday to go to the visitor centre run by the Friends of Beckenham Place Park and the Friends never ran any activities – walks, talks or volunteer gardening sessions.  And 8,000 people didn’t sign a paper petition on site against closure of the golf course.

Blimey those people really were a “lucky few!”  So pleased that *his* years of planning have paid off and Wide Horizons will just *happen* to benefit from the regeneration of the park, complete with bespoke lake.

Finally, look at this retweet from ABJ’s sidekick, JR:-

No real Qs

and his own tweet:-

Chair of O&S

For “Scheme ‘For Sale’ with no real questions” read “park use handed over and expensive landscaping agreed with no real questions”.  Mr Russell was alerted to the issues of lack of overview and scrutiny (not to mention dirty tricks with regard to Beckenham Place Park) but it was “nuffink to do wiv me, guv”!

How very convenient. And how very disingenuous.  I’m sure Liberal Democrats must be very proud of his “pragmatism” (also known as hypocrisy).

Strange!

The Blame Game

Sir Mayor of Lewisham really is on a sticky wicket!

And no, I’m not referring to the strange shenanigans regarding the Millwall FC CPO issue.

Should I feel, for once, a degree of sympathy for Sir Mayor?  After all, other councils find themselves in the situation he describes in the letter that came with my council tax bill this month.  He says, it’s all the fault of the government that Lewisham is “increasing council tax in order to protect the most vulnerable …”

Bollox2

And, of course, they “will continue to do our best for you and your family in these very difficult circumstances”.  (That bit is below the screen snip above).

What I’m trying to work out is – how does losing golf income from Beckenham Place Park, retaining the same maintenance costs (largely staffing) and incurring substantial extra project costs, help me and my family, let alone protect the most vulnerable?

Or was it the government who forced Sir Mayor into a vanity project costing (at last count in 2016) £8,368,938, of which there is a £3,639,938 shortfall from Heritage Lottery Fund grant?

Who is to blame?  Not Sir Mayor, surely?

hlf-57

 

And what a result for Heritage Lottery Fund!  Their grant for the “regeneration” of Beckenham Place Park only forms 57% of the projected costs, which means if things go pear-shaped belly-up they won’t be to blame.

Percentage1

Percentage3

Then there’s the assurance from Lewisham Council that the balance of 43% i.e. £3,639,538 is secure.

Percentage2

Except that I’m not sure partnership funding necessarily equates to the whole £3.6M (as at last count in 2016).  In fact, HLF Case Paper says this:-

Shouldering

The Council are “shouldering much of the increase”, which equates to exceptional value for money!  Apparently.

Tell that to the Lewisham NGOs supporting the vulnerable and who recently had their funding slashed by 25% i.e. total of £1M, whilst the council is committed to finding £3.6M to turn Beckenham Place Park into a replica of a rich 18th Century man’s estate.

This blame game, blame the government, is beginning to unravel, don’t you think?

And Lewisham said this in their 2014 application form:-

Capital funds

But, but … doesn’t that confirm some “partnership” funding comes from, uhm, erm … Lewisham itself -Lewisham Capital funds!  Really?  Who authorised that?

As for Section 106, seems to me that the Lewisham officer who completed the application form has put the cart before the horse.  I can’t get my head round Section 106, but I do know it forms part of statutory planning policy and that there is a level of consultation required involving councillors and the public in the process

What a shambles – only from Lewishambles!

Must be the government’s fault.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heritage Hypocrites

Is Heritage Lottery Fund a bunch of hypocrites, or is it simply that their left hand doesn’t know what their right hand is doing?

Or to put it another way, do Heritage Lottery Fund manipulate their way to their preferred outcomes or are they merely incompetent?

This statement is taken from their Annual Report attached to their accounts 2015-16 for year ended 31 March 2016, published 13 July 2016.

public-involvement

Really?  Strange, then, that members of the public had been writing to Heritage Lottery Fund, for two years prior to this statement, about their concerns regarding Beckenham Place Park and the Parks for People application by Lewisham Council, yet HLF just fobbed us off.  They didn’t want anything to do with our concerns then, or subsequently.  Wrong kind of “public” I suppose.

Whilst accepting that the statement below (from the same report) relates to administration of a grant, surely the claim that HLF “learn our lessons, improve our processes” must apply to ALL their processes?

fraud-write-off

But it would seem not.  Round about the same time that the Annual Report and Accounts was published, the independent adjudicator, Verita, published a report into a complaint that had progressed to Third Stage against Heritage Lottery Fund’s handling of Lewisham Council’s Stage 1 application.  It’s on HLF website in the Corporate Information section.

This is what the Verita adjudicator said about (so called) consultation relating to Lewisham’s Stage 1 Parks for People scheme for Beckenham Place Park:-

v7-consultation

It is worth repeating: “The information provided in the application is, however, weak and does not justify the wording … This should have been immediately obvious to anyone reading the application and should have put the case officer on guard and encouraged them to look more closely at the data.”

So, what happened when it came to assessing Stage 2 in December 2016, five months after the Verita report?  First of all, the Verita report was not referenced in HLF’s Case Paper to its Trustees.  Strange!

And it seems HLF Trustees were oblivious not only of the Verita report, but also the statements made in its own Annual Report.  But then, I suppose the period between July and December is such a long one.  The attention span of a gnat springs to mind!

This is what the HLF Board’s December meeting Case Paper said about consultation:-

assuage

So, let’s get this right.  HLF’s annual report in July said it needs to involve the public and it needs to learn lessons and improve processes.  In July Verita said HLF’s quality assurance process did not identify consultation weaknesses of Lewisham’s Stage 1 application.  Yet in December, at Stage 2, HLF Case paper says “further consultation would not have assuaged objectors to the scheme”; so in other words this is carte blanch to just:-

  • ignore Verita
  • ignore identified weaknesses
  • ignore the public who HLF’s Annual Report claims to want to involve.

And here we have one of the conclusions of the Verita report about Stage 1:-

v9-conclusion

Seems pretty clear to me that five months later that HLF were guilty once again of not giving sufficient weight to any alternative point of view and was not sufficiently objective.  It’s not surprising the Verita report was conveniently overlooked:-

v5-emotive

Returning to HLF’s Annual Report and Accounts, there is other interesting stuff such as the statement below that applicants should set out their applications in a business like format.

business-plan-format

They want to protect their investment through better long-term management.  That being the case, it’s a shame they choose to redact from their responses to Freedom of Information requests all information to indicate that the Beckenham Place Park “regeneration” will achieve this.

Oh, but remind me, what was that thing about “involve the public and local communities in making policy, setting priorities and distributing money”?

When one requests documents under Freedom of Information Act 2000 one expects a certain level of redaction. Obviously there are commercial sensitivities, but Heritage Lottery Fund have taken things to a whole new level. Not only have they redacted the figures from financial tables, they have also redacted the descriptive headings which top the tables and the descriptions in the first column of all the tables. Then there are other redactions in the main body of text, which seem to relate to a shyness on theirs and Lewisham’s part to admit to what some of the plans are for the park. Some of the redactions have been made citing Data Protection Act i.e. hiding the identity of individuals.

In the Management and Maintenance Plan (produced by Land Use Consultants) there are twenty redactions in the main body of the report, in addition to those redacting financial tables. There is a coyness about what the plans are for the mansion house and the Foxgrove; references are made to future income generation from them, but what and how? 

There is a separate buildings paper produced by Lewisham and it is all waffle. It just refers to an expression of interest exercise back in the summer. We know that as a result of that exercise Sydney Thornbury has taken a short lease on the mansion and has done a great job to get some of it into use again. But no one knows what’s going to happen beyond expiry of her lease and any clues in the M&M plan have been redacted.

Back to HLF’s Annual Report and Accounts, it refers to:-

more-resilient

How so?  Whilst allowing for redactions, I can see nothing in the Maintenance and Management plan to indicate Lewisham will be more resilient with respect to financial sustainability of Beckenham Place Park.

The main new stakeholders in Beckenham Place Park appear to be charities and NGOs.  Wide Horizons, whose outgoings always match their income, will benefit from a peppercorn rent for the education room in Beckenham Place Park and will only be passing on 10% of any profit margin they make from park activities to Lewisham Council.

Rushey Green Time Bank, the majority of whose funding is from Lewisham Council, and who is one of 63 NGOs whose funding has been cut by Lewisham Council by 25% in response for the need for budget savings, is another NGO who will stretch their resources to activities in Beckenham Place Park. Apparently.

Sweeping statements are made about how fairs, events and licenced activities will contribute to upkeep, but not one concrete targeted example is quoted, case study referred to or examples from other parks.

events-and-fairs

The only areas in which Lewisham seem to have done any identifiable homework is the café and a cycle hire scheme, citing those at Dulwich and Battersea parks.  What a surprise!

Yet staff costs, which constitute the vast majority of upkeep costs, will remain the same.

Oh, but wait!  I nearly forgot!  There’s this:-

onikosi

LOL – I nearly fell off my seat laughing, did you?  (By the way, it’s Onikosi, not Onokosi).

In case you can’t read it on your device, this is what the fairy tale clause 9.9 says:-

“Lewisham Council is committed to the ongoing success of Beckenham Place Park as a key resource for local communities to enjoy for generations to come.  The Director of Customer Services, (Kevin Sheehan) and Cabinet members for the Third Sector (Cllr Joan Millbank) and for the public realm (Cllr Rachel Onokosi (sic)) are thoroughly committed to ensuring there are sufficient resources for the management and maintenance of Beckenham Place Park for many years beyond the HLF’s investment.”

But, but …. don’t all councils set an annual budget?  Or do Lewisham do things differently?  Hasn’t the recent budget just cut 25% off the annual funding for 63 NGOs?  What authority do the Director of Customer Services, plus Cllrs Onikosi and Millbank have to, allegedly, give such an assurance?  Aren’t the councillors subject to re-election every four years, and isn’t it the case there is a local election next year and the possibility that they won’t be re-elected?

Sheer comedy gold.  No credibility whatsoever.

And, of course, Cllr Rachel Onikosi is well known for memory lapses about statements she has made about Beckenham Place Park in the past. LOL.

And what a totally ludicrous claim for HLF to believe!  But then, Beckenham Place Park suits their desire to increase their portfolio and branding, so why let little details such as their Annual Report or the Verita report get in their way.

I’ll look forward to the next Annual Report attached to accounts ending 31 March 2017 – and reading how everything in the heritage garden is lovely!

P.S. the scheme for Beckenham Place Park needs an extra £3.6M over and above the grant from Heritage Lottery Fund.

(P.P.S. to the troll who thinks I will write a blog about him so that he can broadcast to his four Twitter followers.  I’m not sorry to disappoint).

 

 

The “gift” that keeps on taking!

I suppose it’s time to move on from my last blog and the trolls who kept on giving (until unmasked) to a new blog and the “gift” of the Heritage Lottery Fund grant.  A grant, finally rubber stamped in December 2016 (because it was always a done deal), which as time has moved on is going to deliver less and less for more and more money.

Not only has there been an uplift of £91,500 in the grant, to just shy of £5M (including what’s already been spent), but the total cost of the “regeneration” is now projected at an eye wateringly £8,386,938, of which the HLF grant only accounts for 57%.  So where’s the odd 43% i.e.£3.6M quid coming from?

hlf-57

Well, that’s a blog for another day.

What I want to know is, what exactly are we – the general public, park users, lottery players, Lewisham Council tax payers – getting for our money?

What we are not getting, but what was claimed we would get in Lewisham’s Stage 1 application form is:-

  • Tennis courts
  • MUGA (multi use games area)
  • Replacement heritage feature – glass houses
  • Replacement heritage feature – kitchen gardens
  • Public toilets in east of park
  • Adventure play in east of park
  • Exhibition space
  • Junior triathlon events

And the lake has reduced in size.  Will it even be delivered?  Heritage Lottery Fund have already suggested that Lewisham drop this from the “regeneration”:-

discrepancy

This is an astonishing turn around.  The lake was claimed to be the pivotal plank on which the whole scheme rests:-

lake-focus

It now seems as if, as long as the golf course was closed, Heritage Lottery Fund aren’t much fussed about what takes its place as long as it is some kind of “parkland” that conforms to their version of heritage.  They are happy to overlook John Cator’s lake, even though we are supposed to be buying into a vision of flocks of people visiting Beckenham Place Park, in order to imbibe the lifestyle (including lake) and culture of a nondescript 18th Century rich gentleman.

Rank hypocrisy.

However, Lewisham Council have assured HLF that the funding is there to complete the project including the lake.  Apparently.  Hmm, that’s a big funding gap to be closed by non-specific money and claimed funds from Environment Agency.

This is what Environment Agency say on the YouGov website:-

ea-grant-from-hlfStrange!  EA seem to be off-message.

Strange also that despite claims that this reduced size lake will be for kayaking and open water swimming, as in:-

trim-trail

there are no changing rooms for swimmers and the only “hire” facility on the masterplan is for cycles.  Do we have to bring our own kayaks?

cycle-hire

Returning to my list above, no sooner had the ink dried on the application form than the glass houses and MUGA disappeared from the equation.  Anyone with a smattering of common sense knows the former were always going to be a non-starter and one wonders why the latter was included in the first place?

These losses from the “gift that keeps on taking” were followed in due course by the tennis courts.  HLF’s Parks for People grants scheme does not allow for sports facilities, that’s why it was such a handy grant to enable Lewisham and HLF to get rid of the golf course.  Hence no MUGA or tennis courts either!

Here is the masters’ latest plan for the park, showing the reduced size lake for which independent engineering opinion is that there will never be enough water to fill it, as per the Council officer’s stated cunning plan.  It will require an alternative cunning plan!  But that’s another story.

masterplan

The text on the right isn’t even readily legible on Lewisham’s website, let alone as a screen snip, but I can confirm there is no mention of a kitchen garden.  Another “gift” that has been taken away.

The masterplan does still show toilets in the east of the park and the Heritage Lottery Fund Case  Paper says there will be too:-

transformative-toilets

Yet, Environment Agency do not seem to be aware of this provision:-

ea-provisionAnd compare EA’s statement above to Lewisham’s masterplan:-

adventure-play

There are major discrepancies in addition to the phantom toilets.

Both organisations are singing from the same song sheet with regard to the new BMX track (subject to planning permission) and upgrades to the existing skate park and small playground close to Old Bromley Road entrance, but they are markedly different with regard to the larger play area on the Common, between the river and railway line.   Lewisham say “The design will provide play opportunities for ages 0-11 … Designs will focus on natural timber and rope play elements”.  Yet EA merely state “opportunities include new paths and play facilities”.

“Opportunities” sounds like a fudge to me.  Yes, it can be done … but will it?

In view of the fact that the EA’s policy paper has only just been published and, in my experience, they have proved to be open and transparent, unlike Lewisham, I know who I believe.  Seems to me like the timber and ropes play opportunities are more like smoke and mirrors – and another “gift” that has been taken away.

In addition, note the pretty drawings on the masterplan of wetlands to the east of the railway line, adjoining the – will it be, won’t it be – Common Adventure Play Area, these have also been relegated to an “opportunity” identified (second paragraph) on EA policy paper rather than a definite “attraction” (such as skate park, first paragraph).

What about the trim trail?  Will that survive?

I don’t know about you readers, but the claimed sport provision in the planning document (below) looks a bit thin to me.  Seems to be all bikes, bikes, bikes, plus lake sports for which there is no evidence of any provision other than, possibly, a small lake!  Other claimed sports are activities which cannot properly be classified as such, but which could, in any case, be accommodated whilst retaining the old park and golf scheme.

sports-provision

In fact, the only real sports, as in the readily understood, competitive, sense of the word “sport”, are those being removed i.e. golf and tennis!  The gifts from previous Local Authority administrations that have been taken away.

Meanwhile, the true gift that keeps on giving is the dosh being earned by consultants in fees relating to the removal of those sports and constructing a new landscape.

Have I mentioned Land Use Consultants before?  LUC for short, who, since 2006, have been hovering like vultures over the carcass of Beckenham Place Park waiting for the kill.  LUC who, in 2006, erroneously advised Lewisham Council and its receptive mayor that no use could be found for the Mansion House with a golf course so close.  LUC who subsequently drew up plans for a 9-hole course for the 2008 professional consultation; LUC who drew up four different options for the 2014 in-house “consultation” and LUC who continue to draw up masterplan after masterplan, to reveal the gift that keeps on taking away from the park, but which is the gift that keeps on giving to LUC.

A quick skim through the planning application documents reveals at least ten other consultants have been used to date, albeit a couple were employed to report on the condition of the Homestead buildings rather than for works on the landscape.

A quick shout out to CFPUK, another landscape heritage consultants, accredited by Heritage Lottery Fund to ride their heritage gravy train.  CFPUK, “Parks, Green Space and Heritage Consultants”, who oversaw a walking survey in the park in November 2016, carried out by “volunteers” from Lewisham Council staff and others whose identity they did not wish to reveal, which – shock, gasp – confirmed the echo chamber’s narrative that the park was underused.

Did you notice that, of the £8,368,938 project costs for the gift that keeps on taking away, £1,111,574 are “other” costs, in other words, consultancy fees, a gift that keeps on giving!

Lewisham Council have just trimmed off £1M from their annual grants programme to voluntary and charitable organisations, over 60 have seen a 25% cut back in their funding from the council, including Grove Park Youth Club, a couple of miles up the road from the park..  Yet in the La, La land that is the vanity project of Beckenham Place Park, fake lake and all, the council have thrown away an income stream from golf, equating to £450K per annum, and now need to find an extra £3,639,538 (latest costing, it’s bound to increase) capital costs (plus on-going sustainability costs) for a “gift” that keeps on taking away.

Way to go, Lewishambles!

P.S. There’s still no plan for the Mansion House!  Or not one that Mayor Bullock is letting on about.

 

 

 

 

Silly Timmy! (Unmasking of a troll)

Vile.  That’s me, according to LeiaJ – and it’s well known!

vile

Then there’s this from Leia’s partner in trolling:-

stupid-cow

Actually, those tweets aren’t not too bad compared to other insults I have had from the peeps who claim to know my character so well.

Being routinely called a vile and nasty (etc) person by trolls gets a bit wearing, but then why should I worry when most people who read (or at least have commented on) my blog are supportive and can judge for themselves without being hectored by Leia and co?

Twitter is a different ball game, of course.  But on Twitter Leia Jedi (or whatever the J stands for) only has seven followers – except that she did have nine.  That was until Ros Kerslake, CEO of Heritage Lottery Fund (who a lot of people believe colluded with Lewisham Council to get rid of the popular, viable, inclusive and diverse public golf course in Beckenham Place Park) and also the charity  Wide Horizons (who have a vested interest in closure of the golf course) decided perhaps it wasn’t such a good call to follow Leia.

You see Leia and BPP Truth’s purpose in life is to discredit campaigners against closure of the golf course; campaigners who think the whole park can be regenerated coexisting with a revenue generating public golf course.  Hence, tweets such as:-

Lies & misinformation.JPG

Pot. Kettle. Black.

So, who is Leia, where is she – where does she reside, where does she work?

Well, I’ll leave you to mull that one over while I turn my attention instead to Tim Harper, husband of Laura Harper who is one of the Lewisham Council officers driving the so called regeneration scheme for Beckenham Place Park.

Cripes!  Tim really loves a pseudonym and has trolled me and others, on a number of forums, in a similar  vein as LeiaJ, under the guise of:-

  1. BPP Truth (@bpptruth) – see above!
  2. Beckenham88
  3. Anonymous
  4. Dean Wilson
  5. Gareth Walsh (@gazwalsh57)

In addition, he has engaged on my blog with Dave Beckenham, Simonsays (@SimonWSmith), Walter Cronkite and tellitlikeyouseeit to undermine me and other golf course campaigners.  All of the last three have left comments on my blog from IP addresses in Lewisham, including one owned by Lewisham Council.

I will return to the subject of IP addresses in a moment.  But first, let me introduce you to Timothy M J Harper.  Can you spot how I know he is also the same person as Dean Wilson:-

dean-wilson

Silly Timmy – he made up a name but forgot to create a corresponding email address. Doh!

Then he did it again, calling himself Beckenham88  – this time leaving a commentary on the quality of my writing and deliberately twisting my words.

no-substance

 

Here is the link to the blog in question so that you can check the references I made, compared to what Tim said, if you so wish:-

https://savebeckenhamplacepark.wordpress.com/2016/03/07/weapon-of-mass-deception/

Timmy was very silly, slipping up with that email address.  But there’s a double whammy, an even bigger “oops”!  He obviously did not realise that the administrator of the blog (me) can see email addresses of commentators and also accompanying IP addresses, which are not visible to the general public.

Shame he didn’t read Word Press Ts&Cs, especially those relating to visitors and privacy.

Oh dear, Superior Clever Dick Tim has obviously never watched the BBC programme New Tricks.  How deliciously ironic!

For those who haven’t got a clue what I am talking about, don’t worry!  I didn’t either for a long time until @BPPGolfUsers on Twitter alerted me to it towards the end of last year – and I will explain.

The IP address is that number string which appears underneath the photo (Avatar) and email address of the commentator, which is only visible to me.  An IP address tells you the location of the device from which the comment was posted.  Silly Timmy changed jobs between his incarnations as Dean Wilson and Beckenham88.  The IP address beginning 132 is Timothy Harper’s current employer and oh dear, they weren’t best pleased when I alerted them.

ip

More comments on my blog followed from yet different pseudonyms, posting from the same 132 IP address, but at least Tim wasn’t as dim as to use his own email this time.  You know why?  Because I kindly let Tim/Dean/Beckenham88 off the hook.  When I tackled him about the email address being at odds with the name of the commentator, he swore to behave himself as long as I didn’t complain about Laura.

Tim apology re Laura.JPG

But, but ….

He, then renamed himself Anonymous (highly original), and broke his promise – and HE has the cheek to call me nasty!

nasty

And let me introduce Leia’s equally charming mate BPP Truth – with the same 132 IP as Silly Timmy’s previous incarnations:-

dont-flatter

You are clocking that number, aren’t you? 132.185.160.121 – strangely shared by BPP Truth, Anonymous and Beckenham88.  I wonder if he had three different work desks?  LOL!

No wonder Timmy has been a bit slippery-shoddy silly, it must be very confusing at times being different people!

I did wonder at first if he was Leia too, but as Leia posted replies to Silly Timmy from static IP addresses it was obvious he had an accomplice.

And there’s more.  Ladies and Gentleman, enter stage left, Gaz – aka Gareth Walsh.

suspicious

Now those of you who are not of a dim persuasion will note that Gareth does not have that IP address starting 132  – by the way, Association of Millwall Supporters might want to check out this blog to see how a troll like so called football fan Gaz might try to entrap you: https://savebeckenhamplacepark.wordpress.com/2016/11/04/drop-dead/

So, how do we know Gareth/Gaz is Tim?  Well, obviously Tim isn’t in the office all the time.  Check this out from BPP Truth (aka Silly Timmy) – it has the same IP number as Gareth/Gaz, which in my book also makes him Silly Timmy – obvious, innit?:-

totally-above-board

He’s not kidding is he when he agrees with Simonsays (@SimonWSmith66) that he’s not “totally above board”!  But Leia thinks there’s a good excuse for that:-

frustration

So, returning to LeiaJ, I’d guess she might be Laura, but I can’t say for sure.  But I do know the real Laura lives in “Des Res” leafy Beckenham rather than Leia’s claim of a no-garden flat in Bellingham.

Apart from the marital connection, and Tim’s heartfelt message to me (earlier in blog) above, when I caught him out being dim, why would I think Laura is Leia?  Well, the category of IP address from which she left comments on my blog leads one to believe this is someone who works in the public sector.  Then I ask myself these questions:-

  • How does BPP Truth know the staffing levels on the Beckenham Place Park “regeneration” project unless he had inside information?  In fact, he is discussing that very issue with Leia!  LOL.

2-people

I’m glad he finds me funny.  Revenge being a dish best served cold.

  • How did BPP Truth obtain an out of date Lewisham Council “masterplan” image (already taken down from the website) for his profile – unless from an insider?  This image shows tennis courts and at the time BPP Truth account was opened, the tennis courts had already exited – stage right – Lewisham’s “masterplan”.  (Just like all other formal sports in the park).  LOL notice his reference to “truth” and he doesn’t even use the “true” image for his profile!  “No links at all to Lewisham Council” hmm?!

wrong-avatar

And Leia is sooo convinced, in her discussion with Silly Timmy, that HLF will award the funding:-

will-award-funding

Bit of a slip from the keyboard warrior below, folks.  Who is “we”?  Is that like the royal “we” – Silly Timmy and Princess Leia/Laura?:-

oops-we

What do you folks think?

I think I need a Trolls 3 blog to examine the activity of Silly Timmy’s mates who have commented on my blog from Lewisham IP addresses – Simonsays et al, including Walter Cronkite, whose comments were left from a Lewisham Council owned IP address.  I bet no one of that name works for Lewisham Council, although Mayor Bullock has mentioned the American broadcast journalist Walter Cronkite in several speeches.

So, I’ll leave it at that for now.

Oh, except there are three quick issues before I leave you to contemplate on the activity of Trolls.

  • Firstly, these charming comments on Twitter directed at people other than me, because a troll truly is the gift that keeps on giving.  This lovely tweet to a person who has had major personal issues with which to contend:-

mean&nasty.JPG

Perhaps Tim had consumed one drink too many when he tweeted:-

lewd

He will reply how he sees fit, which includes being lewd!  And I am vile and nasty?!  Too much time on hands – I’d say that applies to Silly Timmy!  By the way, BPP Truth confirms Tim is the same on Twitter as on my blog:-

bpp-twitter-blog

bpp-blog-twitter

  • Secondly, here’s Leia so pleased with herself that she cracked on to me having a dip into the Land  of Trolls.  Yep, hands up, banged to rights!  I admit I’ve had a short dabble on the dark side to get into the heads of trolls and expose their  hypocrisy.

Carole & Eggs.JPG

I could ask a similar question to Leia’s – who in their right minds “trolls” a person who writes a blog about a position they do not support?  Anyway, Confused Eggs is now no more (or will shortly be no more once I figure out how to close it). But here’s one of my tweets for you to consider:-

gavin

No one got back to me!

  • Thirdly, in case you haven’t guessed, or left this blog to do an internet search, the IP number starting 132 is a BBC address.  They have conducted a thorough and rigorous investigation following my complaint.  Strangely, Lewisham Council have never (despite a reminder) acknowledged being copied into it.  Looks like I’ll have to try again … but they do have rather a lot on their plate at the moment … what with one thing and a CPO other.  Even more strangely, although Heritage Lottery Fund sent an acknowledgement, they don’t seem to be “bovvered”.

Anyway, seems like Tim – in one of his serially named accounts in his own name – has also recently left Twittersphere:-

tim-closed

Here is Tim before he left (and prior to re-naming his Harper account because that Confused Egg person made a pointed comment).  Ahh, isn’t that nice, look how polite and appreciative he is to me.  And his assessment of trolls. LOL!

real-tim

Silly Timmy!

 

Coincidences?

My next blog was going to be an update about Leia Jedi (or whatever the J stands for) and other trolls.  But something else came along.  Mind you, what a coincidence that Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive Officer of Heritage Lottery Fund, follows @leiaJ6 on Twitter!

ros-and-leia2

Here’s another coincidence: Ros’ brother Sir Bob Kerslake is a Director of Housing and Finance Institute, along with Sir Steve Bullock, the reviled mayor of Lewisham Council.  Reviled by campaigners who tried to keep the public golf course at Beckenham Place Park, reviled by a lot of other non-campaigning park users, reviled by Millwall FC supporters, reviled by Lewisham libraries activists, reviled by People Before Profit, reviled by … well those are just the ones I know about.

reviled2

Mind you, Heritage Lottery Fund aren’t exactly on the list of our favourites either!  I don’t suppose the 8,000 people who signed this petition presented to Stuart Hobley, London Manager, are best pleased that HLF, just like Lewisham Council, have chosen to ignore it.  There’s a coincidence!

petition

Anyway, I wonder why Sir Mayor has not declared his directorship?  Indeed, why is there a register of interest on Lewisham Council website for all councillors (even ones who declare nothing) but not Mayor Bullock?

no-register

Here is the directorship, by the way:-

director

Enough of that, I am sure AMS are on the case.  What perturbs me is why, even if Sir Mayor decides to conveniently forget to declare his directorship, it is that Ros Kerslake has decided it is not a material fact that one of Bullock’s fellow directors is her brother, in view of all the controversy over Lewisham Council’s application for Heritage Lottery funding?

Sir Mayor had a nice day out in Beckenham Place Park recently, a month before Heritage Lottery Fund rubber stamped the Stage 2 funding.  Oops, I mean before the Board of Trustees considered Lewisham’s Stage 2 application and HLF officer’s Case Paper.

day-out

How many people would agree with Jenny’s comment, I wonder?  Distance?  LOL.

The world is full of coincidences, but these just don’t sit right.

 

 

Ducking and Diving

I am responding to a request from Association of Millwall Supporters ahead of Lewisham Council Mayor and Cabinet meeting on 11 January 2017, which will have a significant bearing on Millwall F.C.’s existence as a community asset.

This blog is about the contribution of cabinet members, especially Cllr Rachel Onikosi and Cllr Kevin Bonavia, when the fate was confirmed of Lewisham’s viable, inclusive and diverse public golf course at 17 February 2016 M&C meeting.  The fear is that they will be bringing a similar level of probity, expertise and scrutiny  – i.e. none – when in attendance at next week’s meeting regarding CPOs on land leased by Millwall F.C.

I say in attendance because it was evident from the recording of the February 2016 meeting that cabinet members were only there to rubber stamp the will of officers who had already applied for a grant to Heritage Lottery Fund, based on closure of the golf course and who were evidently enacting the will of the Mayor of Lewisham.

Here is a link to the printed minutes and the recording of the meeting.

http://councilmeetings.lewisham.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=139&MId=3866

By way of context, it is important to note:-

  • that a month previously Lewisham Council had been obliged by their constitution to consider a petition of 5,000 signatures against closure of the golf course and campaigners were allowed to present at Sustainable Development Select Committee, 14 January 2016.  This was pretty much a waste of time because the Chair, Cllr Liam Curran, made it clear that this was a decision only for the Mayor of Lewisham.  However, at least some councillors displayed some independence of thought, questioning and making some awkward points to the officers present.  The petitioners were not allowed to question officers.  Here is my blog about it. https://savebeckenhamplacepark.wordpress.com/2016/01/21/strange/
  •  Anyone that knows Beckenham Place Park realises that it is in need of significant investment, but most would agree the dilapidated heritage buildings and basic infrastructure upgrades are the most pressing need. Strangely, Lewisham Council officer Gavin Plaskitt chose to apply for a grant to restore only one building (fully)  in favour of radically changing landscape, which meant closure of the golf course.  The Grade II* Mansion House will not be restored as part of this vanity landscape scheme.  This Parks for People application, instead of Heritage Buildings application, was agreed by Mayor Bullock, as stated in the minutes of 17 February 2016.

Anyway, at M&C 17/2/16 Cllr Onikosi presented the officer report justifying this earlier bizarre decision and commended it to her colleagues, although, of course, the only opinion that mattered was Mayor Bullock’s.  Nevertheless, her colleagues went through the motions of apparently scrutinising the proposals which would result in closure of a popular and viable facility.

Here is my original blog about the meeting and the fact that Cllr Onikosi seems to think that it’s not possible to source a golf contract which does not lose the council money because collection of black bins will have to go on a two week cycle! https://savebeckenhamplacepark.wordpress.com/2016/02/26/crocodile-tears/

Cllr Onikosi did not bother to inform her colleagues that when she met with campaigners against closure of the golf course the previous summer she had been presented with documentary evidence:-

  • that officers had manipulated and misrepresented an in-house consultation exercise in January 2014 – rigged in fact.
  • that a so-called Movement and Usage Survey purporting to prove underuse of the park wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on – rigged in fact.
  • that officers went to great lengths to cover up the true nature of the “strange” contract with Glendale Golf.  The one where Glendale Golf took all the income from the golf and café operation (hundreds of thousands of pounds) but didn’t do the maintenance of the golf course (the biggest cost factor) which was paid for by Lewisham Council, in exchange of payment of a fee of approximately £70,000 to the council, which included a “contribution” towards utilities!  Here is my blog about that – and note the shrill mania of Lewisham trolls who have tried to undermine my blog in the comments section.  More about them another time. https://savebeckenhamplacepark.wordpress.com/2016/09/27/strange-contract/

Here is Cllr Onikosi’s response to my reminder about queries put to her:-

onikosi-portfolio

Her diverse portfolio is still getting in the way of a reply.

However, what’s even worse is that neither Cllr Onikosi or the officers present at M&C 17/2/16, Gavin Plaskitt and Alison Taylor, bothered to tell Mayor and Cabinet that they had received a strong expression of interest (plus reminders) from Trent Park Golf about a contract for both the golf operation and the Mansion House months beforehand. 

trent-park-onikosi-2

Trent Park Golf can provide the email trail, which I have seen and is reproduced on this blog post by Jeff Jeffery:-

https://t.co/PBBZEi2dQD

Indeed Cllr Joan Millbank had given her colleague the perfect opportunity to declare the interest from Trent Park Golf when she opined that she would rather have a one-off £5m grant from Heritage Lottery Fund than the prospect of a long term golf partner to bring long term sustainability to the park and Mansion House (well, that’s my interpretation anyway).

Cllr Joe Dromey accepted the assertion from officers that the existence of the golf course was not compatible with Heritage Lottery funding, yet strangely there was no documentary evidence presented to back up that claim.  Although Alison Taylor appeared to confirm that Gavin Plaskitt had applied for the wrong grant.

Seems like Lewisham Council turn their noses up at the prospect of a partnership with a golf operator offering long term sustainability.  They appear never to have approached Bromley Council’s golf partner Mytimeactive, despite the Public Accounts Select Committee having consulted other local authorities about best practice in other areas of local authority administration.  And despite the chairman Cllr Jamie Milne’s assurance!

milne

No, Lewisham Council would much rather go with received wisdom from heritage consultants, coincidentally resulting in the consultants making money out of a new design landscape.  When I directed a query to Adrian Wikeley of Land Use Consultants (who told the Mayor in 2006 that no use could be found for the Mansion House with a golf course so close – and repeated by Mr Plaskitt at 17/2/16 meeting) he referred me to Lewisham Council, copying in Mr Plaskitt – Mr Plaskitt’s personal email rather than his employment email.

No one knows if the Trent Park Golf interest would have been viable, despite the fact that they run other public golf courses, but the point is the paid and elected personnel of Lewisham Council did not bother exploring it.  Yet, Trent Park’s submission of strong interest came after Cllr Onikosi had stated during an interview on BBC Radio London in 2015 that the council would consider expressions of interest for the golf operation.

Turning to Cllr Bonavia.  He asked about the possibility of how the council could find a means to develop income from golf.  Silence from Cllr Onikosi again, but Mr Plaskitt did helpfully explain that an unsuccessful exercise was conducted in 2010/2011.  Here is the minute item:-

Bonavia

And legally trained Cllr Bonavia just accepted that assurance. 

So there are two parts to that assurance.

The first being that “efforts had been made over several years to attract a golf partner”, an assertion made in February 2016. The last time the golf operation was tendered was 2010 –  draw your own conclusions.  In addition, that 2010 tender was pie-in-the-sky whereby the council expected a golf operator to maintain the whole 240 acre park (not just 90 acre golf) and were to be responsible for restoring the burnt out Homesteads. No other tender, let alone a sensible one, has been issued since.

By the way, what also conveniently escaped Mr Plaskitt’s (and  Mayor Bullock’s) memory is that they rejected a 2011 bid (invited by the council at the same time the golf was tendered) from Beckenham Place Community Trust to take responsibility for the Mansion House and source funding for its restoration. No one has been able to establish a credible reason for the rejection.

The second assertion from the assurance given to Cllr Bonavia was about unsuccessful efforts to increase golf income.  Cllr Bonavia had already thanked the officers for a thorough report and Mr Plaskitt had referred him to relevant paragraphs.  Here is a relevant paragraph:-

golf-income-table

What this table (and other information/sources) tells us is that Lewisham already had a thoroughly unsatisfactory golf contract in place with Glendale Golf in 2011/12 (left column) and that the “interim” contract put in place in 2012 (right column) was a reward for Glendale’s mismanagement. It was an incentive for Glendale to address that issue, but one which consequently would yield a large profit margin to them during the period 2012 – 2016, whilst leaving the council with most of the costs and a small fee from Glendale. It also tells us that Lewisham Council officers were applying guestimates to income from golf fees.  Yet legally trained Cllr Bonavia was not able to work that out and was not able to formulate the right questions to establish the true nature of profit and loss of the golf course. 

The “interim” golf contract Lewisham put in place with Glendale Golf meant that there was no way the council could increase golf income because the only golf income they received was a set fee from Glendale Golf.  The golf course could operate at full capacity all 365 days of the year and Lewisham Council would still lose money on the contract they put in place with Glendale, who also happen to have the borough wide parks maintenance contract.

So how exactly are we to quantify the statement that efforts had been made to increase income?  It’s a nonsense, but Cllr Bonavia could not work that out (but to be fair, he obviously was not alone amongst his cabinet colleagues).

This “strange” contract (as referred to by Mr Plaskitt at 14 January 2016 meeting when the petition was presented), together with the fact that the 2010 tender was totally unrealistic, reveals that officers/councillor/mayor were either too stupid or incompetent to negotiate an equitable contract for the council – or maybe the equity was divied up in other ways?

Cllr Bonavia only had to ask a few basic questions starting “when”, “who”, “how”, “what” and he could easily have established that the assurance he was given was, in fact, a lie in the second part and disingenuous in the first part.

I would also draw your attention to this minute from Sustainable Development Select Committee meeting of 14 January 2016 at which the petition was presented:-

Golf profit

An examination of the officer report presented to Mayor and Cabinet 17 February 2016 made no such analysis of the “true profit potential” of the golf course.  There were some guestimate figures bandied around, but no analysis according to conventional accounting principles of profit and loss was made in the report, or presented to Mayor and Cabinet.

This is the quality of the “scrutiny” Millwall supporters can expect from Cllrs Onikosi, Bonavia et al at next weeks meeting to decide upon granting Compulsory Purchase Orders to off-shore based developers who have no track record in delivering construction projects.  CPOs for off-shore based developers who just happen to be ex Lewisham Council personnel and colleagues of CEO Barry Quirk, who has never bothered his jargon filled head with addressing serious complaints submitted to him by Save the Beckenham 18.

It doesn’t bode well.

 

Yule Tidings

Hooray! – for Lewisham Council.

Seems like we should have believed Lewisham Council’s Regeneration officer all along.  Mr Plaskitt said from the beginning it was a “done deal”.  Café staff and golfers were told it was a “done deal” in 2014.  And so it has come to pass that despite all the evidence of Lewisham Council lies, manipulation, cover ups and dirty tricks advised to Heritage Lottery Fund in the run up to the Stage 2 decision, none of it has influenced what was, indeed, a rubber stamp.  And so folks, nearly £5million quid of lovely lottery lolly (also known as public money) has been awarded to Lewisham Council on the back of false pretences.

Still, I suppose if the dosh is being used to help a deprived area the end justifies the means?

2nd-stage-announcement-2

Hmm, I’m not sure how many of the excited people from “des res” Beckenham would fall into the category of deprived (I’m sure Mrs Harper, Taylor et al do pretty well for themselves, despite only working for Lewisham Council) and I am pretty sure even the Lewisham wards adjoining the park are not “one of the UK‘s most deprived areas”.

Still, I believe LeiaJ from an estate in Bellingham is over the moon!  More of that androgynous person another time.

Talking of false pretences, apparently golf (a sport invented in the 15th Century) is not compatible with an 18th Century manor house and landscape.  This is the wisdom received from Land Use Consultants, who seem to do very nicely thank you out of Heritage Lottery Fund projects.

Yet ….

Erm ….

This landscape is compatible?:-

Tracks 2.JPG

This is what has been left behind by the Beastway Yulecross cycle event held on a portion of the former golf course, not long designated as *sacred* 18th Century parkland (and the first cycle wasn’t even invented until 19th Century!)  But seems like HLF and Lewisham Council are only influenced by the so called heritage and history that suits them.

According to Mr Humphreys, the organiser of the Yulecross event which took place on 27th December, this ugly track will soon disappear and the grass spring back to life … into existence even!  I’m not too sure that’s likely to happen now that there are f**kwits like this one riding yesterday in the cycle treads of the, largely, temporary visitors to the park who competed in the event.

tracks-later

There is a page on Facebook entitled Protect Beckenham Golf Course and is for sad saps like me who think it’s a good thing to hold Lewisham Council to account.  Mr Humphreys has chosen to leave comments justifying the Beastway Yulecross event.  But strangely, he wasn’t willing to reply to the question asked of him about the fee they paid to Lewisham Council.  Or rather, he replied, but steadfastly refused to advise even a ball park figure.

Seems like it could have been a mates’ rate?  After all, he has been “stalking” the venue for a long time and Mr Plaskitt and chums are keen cyclists who have engineered a park to eventually cater for their preferred sport after cleansing it of public golf and public tennis.  Funny that – how  according to Mr Humphreys (this time via received “wisdom” from Lewisham Council) “SE London’s largest heritage park … sadly hasn’t been really open to the public until now.”  I must have been trespassing over there for the last fifty years! 

stalking

Seems like the Lewisham Parks bye-law Part 3, Section 16 has been contravened, not unless the Cabinet member for Sir Mayor’s Realm (Cllr Rachel Onikosi) had rushed through a new bye-law specifically for the event.  After all, she has been sooo good at facilitating council officers’ and Sir Mayor’s wishes with regard to getting rid of the golf course.

Let’s be clear, I am not saying there should be no cycling or events of this nature in the park which is, after all, 240 acres and only 90 was golf.  What I am saying is that it’s possible coexisting with revenue generating golf. I have covered the “strange contract” Lewisham Council had with Glendale Golf previously, agreed by officers/councillors/mayor who were either too stupid or incompetent to negotiate an equitable one for the council – or maybe the equity was divied up in other ways?

But even if we accept (which campaigners do not) that the result of retaining a golf course would only garner £70,000 of income per annum to Lewisham Council, how many events such as the once a year Yulecross would be needed to replace it?

Looking at the information on Beastway Facebook page regarding competitor fees and results of all races, it seems they made about £1,244 in fees.  Even if they passed all that on to Lewisham Council, it would need 57 such events a year to replace the pitifully small amount of golf income the “strange contract” yielded to Lewisham Council, compared to the hundreds of thousands of pounds taken by Glendale Golf from golfers who paid a going rate.

There is a document entitled “Sustainability” on Lewisham Council planning portal for Beckenham Place Park, which addresses every aspect of sustainability except financial.  There’s a surprise.  They reckon on 400 (uncosted) small and medium public events attracting over 50,000 people in the first five years after the magic regeneration has taken place.  So, that’s 10,000 people a year attending 80 events i.e. seven a month.  Cuckoo!  There were 146 (paying) competitors for the Yuletide event, plus friends and relatives spectating and usual park visitors.

Anyway, HLF are supposed to be “regenerating” Beckenham Place Park largely for the benefit of nearby “deprived” Lewisham communities (as opposed to  those of adjoining Beckenham or, indeed, Beastway visitors from out of area) of whom 48% are black and mixed ethnic.

demograph

That’s why a mixed social and ethnic community of golfers of both genders was cleansed from the park.

diversity2

Yet, stangely, looking at the photos on the Beastway Yulecross event Facebook page it seems that most of the 146 competitors were largely white, male and the majority were out of area from Essex, Suffolk and Surrey.

Seems like Lewisham Council only pay lip service to diversity and locality – but as long as it ticks one of HLF’s boxes then the end justifies the means.

ipswich-guy

And LeiaJ was soooo vociferous about a golfer from Southwark having an opinion about the golf course she used for twenty years.  Go and lobby your own council for a golf course she/he/she said!  As I said before, I will return to the subject of Trolls shortly.

Perhaps this Freedom of Information request I was copied into yesterday will shed light on how Lewisham Council are approaching the issue of financial sustainability of the park, having thrown away reliable golf income.

fee

Any bets the reply will be that the information is commercially sensitive, or some such other get-out-of-jail card produced with the sleight of hand for which Lewisham Council are so renowned.

Not that Heritage Lottery Fund are “bovvered”.