Thursday, 25 December 2008

Merry Christmas

I wish a Merry Christmas to all readers of the Lurking about SE11 blog. We have the following local good news stories in honour of Christmas:

Here's a great story from the Telegraph about a one 100 year old lady, originally born in Kennington.

There's an alarming story here of a Pest Control officer who discovered a 2 ft crocodile in a house in Peckham!

There's a bright story about the father in Walworth who has decorated his estate with Christmas lights to celebrate his son's recovery from leukaemia.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Another stabbing: Tooley Street

There's been another stabbing at Tooley Street in SE1. This is of two men, one in his thirties and one in his teens, but fortunately, it is thought that neither of their lives are at risk. London-SE1 reports the rest.

Good grief. I thought that this was the season for goodwill and cheer.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Camberwell Shooting

A 26 year old man was shot dead two nights ago (Friday 19th December) after an incident which apparently began in Coldharbour Lane, Camberwell. Police are chasing two men who apparently ran in the direction of Crawford Road.

There's not much further information on the matter. The Telegraph's report is scant. The Press Association suggests that the shooting started in Coldharbour Lane, Stockwell, but since Stockwell isn't really near Coldharbour Lane, I can only assume that they've incorrectly labelled the area.

My sympathy goes to the family of the man in question.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Is Kennington / this area safe?

I cannot quite recall how many times I've been asked "is Kennington safe?" or "is this area safe?" or received looks of incredulity for owning up to the fact that I choose to live in SE11, but I can safely say that if I had £1 for every time I was asked, I think I'd be able to live quite happily on the proceeds.

The problem is that I don't have a good answer to the question. I've hosted numerous international students over the years, and I have several answers to this question:

1. None of London is safe in the sense that it's a large city with dark corners containing a huge number of strangers.

2. London might be safer in certain parts than some cities because of the fact that some parts are very busy.

3. The areas that I feel safe in are actually areas that have less money. Whilst Kensington or Chelsea might "feel" safer, I'm inclined to think that the risk of being mugged is higher because one actually stands a chance of finding somebody with some money on them in those areas! However, there are also locations within certain areas that I perceive to have deep pockets of poverty, and which I would consequently feel vulnerable walking at night.

This is the advice that I give to international students for living/traveling in London:

1. If you do not know the city well (particularly if you are a woman), try to travel as much as possible with somebody else until you know the area better. If you get lost, ask an older woman for help with directions.

2. Once you know an area, walk confidently and determinedly at a steady pace to wherever you're going. Do not catch peoples' eyes or stare at people, but also do not look as though you're afraid. You have as much right to be out as anybody else to be out and about during the day or night.

3. Traveling through well-lit and well-populated areas is much safer than traveling through dark side streets. I know it may be noisier, but choose to live on a main road in a property with double glazing, rather than opting for a quiet cul-de-sac in which the lighting is poor, and where people will not pass regularly.

4. Do not carry your camera/wallet/purse on display or get them out more than necessary. Keep valuables in a bag which has a zip. My top tip is to keep your oyster card separate from your wallet so that each time you go on public transport, you don't have to get your money out!

In answer to the question, "is Kennington safe?", I can only point to the Metropolitan Crime Maps here: and ask you to start burrowing into Lambeth at ward or sub ward level. Unfortunately, the maps don't appear to have been updated since October 2008, but it does give some idea of crime in the area. Most of Kennington appears to have average levels of crime for London. If you want to be really safe, you could move to Wimbledon, Richmond or Twickenham, but you'll then live in the suburbs. I'd much rather walk home alone from Kennington tube than have to catch a late night overground train back to Twickenham.

Oh, and I don't think the shooting/knifing headlines are useful to judge how safe an area is because knife crime/gun crime does appear to be particularly targeted upon those involved in drugs/turf wars.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

John Bull Centre: This year's best kept secret

I was delighted to read recently that a new centre for the LGBT community was due to open in Vauxhall, SE11. The scene has long been dominated by clubs under railway arches, and to be honest, the "L", "B" and "T" provision in the area might be said to be, errr, non-existent. Still, in these days of post-Thatcherist politics, everything is led by the market, so one just has to wait for queer minorities to make some money...

The John Bull Centre is to be opened on Tyre Street (in the old pub of the same name), after having received funding from a local entrepreneur, Adrian Flack, who has also decided that the scene lacks a heart, and wanted to put something in place. Flack is quoted in the Pink Paper as saying:

“We have a gay village, but it doesn’t have a heart. Yes, I could’ve opened the place as another club, but there’s a definite need for a focus for our community. Since the press release yesterday, the response has been amazing.“ The opening of the centre will provide the LGBTV and TG with a dedicated community
centre in Vauxhall.”

The press-release, which I discovered here, notes that the centre was due to open on 8th November, and the coffee shop on the 1st December.

After my initial delight, I peered more deeply into the ways in which the centre was to fund itself. Unfortunately, it seems that for a large portion of the time it will be open, it's going to exist as another club. The John Bull Centre website suggests that during the following times, it will host the Play Pit club:

Thursday: 9:00pm - 2:00am
Friday/Saturday: 9:00pm - 3:00am
Sunday: 3:00pm - midnight

I suppose that some form of club promotion was to be expected, but I was vaguely hoping that the community space might be more accessible in the evenings for LGBT people who don't have any interest in clubbing. On the plus side, it does have a coffee shop:

Monday - Friday: 8:00am - 5:00pm
Saturday: 12:00 noon - 5:00pm

It would be really good to hear some comments from anybody that has actually dropped by. Disco Damaged has a review from the Play Pit clubbing point of view of the opening night, but I'd like to hear comments from anybody that visited in a broader social capacity.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Cutting of concierges on council estates in Kennington

I've been watching with some concern, various news stories about concierges being removed from (or having their hours cut) on various council estates in Kennington. There have been plenty of reader responses in the media, and all have reacted negatively against the cost cutting suggestions. The SE11 Labour councillors have weighed in on the debate, arguing that it's the Lib Dems fault for bringing in expensive CCTV cameras that there's now no money to operate. Unfortunately, the current Labour councillors have not actually resolved the situation yet.

Whilst cutting concierges might appear to the council (or more likely, the management companies), as a quick way save money, it appears instead to be making certain estates more dangerous. The concierges perform the role of keeping an eye on the estate, and no doubt, help unite the people who live in any particular area.

Sadly, there is now an alarming piece on the front of this week's South London Press about serious arson at Elkington Point on the Ethelred Estate. I think that the newspaper's linking of the blazes with the issue of cutting concierge services is spot on, although I'm not clear whether the Elkington Point services have been cut. (By the way, Elkington Point is such a nasty looking building - that is, it's very badly upkept, that I cannot find one image of the tower to display here). If they haven't actually cut the concierge services, I dread to think what might happen within the next few months...

Saturday, 29 November 2008

RIP Franklins

I'm somewhat saddened by the response made to my post on the closure of the Dippy Egg Cafe yesterday. A reader has noted that Franklins in Kennington has been closed. Sure enough, I checked their website, which reports:

"Due to unforseen circumstances Franklins Food Emporium is closed. Franklins Restaurant and Franklins Farm Shop in Dulwich are trading as normal."

My guess is that the unforseen circumstances are the credit crunch, but I suppose there's a possibility that it might reopen.

Kennington has been rather badly affected by the credit crunch, but I'm not convinced that the worst has yet happened... At this rate, we're going to lose a lot of businesses in the SE11 area.

Friday, 28 November 2008


I've noticed that the Lurking About SE11 stats are up (from around 10 or so visitors a day to around 20 or so visitors a day). There are various reasons for that. Lots of people now list my site (thank you!), and there's now considerably more content here than there was at the beginning. I've also speeded up the site load time (although I admit it's still slow).

However... I'm delighted my entry to DMOZ (a kind of user validated search engine) has been accepted. An entry in DMOZ is valued very highly by anybody with a website as it's something that Google uses to decide how high your site should rank in Google. I'm achieving considerably higher Google rank for a number of searches, so I can only assume it's due to being added to DMOZ here.

Thanks DMOZ editor :)

Dippy Egg Cafe?

Sorry about my failure to post recently. Life is hectic, and I'm trying to study part-time for a degree! I have quite a lot of local news that I keep intending to post about, but never quite get around to.

You'll recall that I was very excited about the former Jado cafe being replaced by the Dippy Egg Cafe, and the potential for fun socialising opportunities which might come to the SE11 area as a result of the changed venue... Unfortunately, I passed the cafe in late October to see a sign from bailiffs on the door. I'm a bit sad about that, as it represented a good business opportunity in the area. I've not found out any more information on the matter.

Also on Kennington Road, there's a shop front that has been empty for ages (it was some sort of photocopying type shop) that has recently been taken over by a new barber. Good luck to them. I would go and give it a try, but I'm a massive fan of Gino the barber. Gino's is located on Kennington Park Road, in the row of shops just north of Oval tube station, and he has been cutting hair for years. Also, he has the most old fashioned barber shop to exist anywhere (old black and white photos of camp hair cuts that are about 50 years old) and red/white bars outside, and an ancient till. He's so good, and requires no marketing that I can't even post a picture of the shop front as there isn't one on the internet that I can see anywhere!

In another good piece of cafe news, Peluqueria (remember the hairdresser / Spanish video shop / internet cafe), also on Kennington Park Road, has finally opened as a cafe. It has 3 internet terminals, a sofa and a few chairs, and a giant coffee bar. I'm really not too sure how it will work as a business, as I'd have thought it would be better to allocate more customer seating than take up a lot of room with a bar. However, there might be more seating at the back, which I can't see. I'll post more, if I have time to visit.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Cross River Tram: It's all over...

Further to the post made earlier, I've just spotted the news item on SE1 effectively reporting that Boris has axed the Cross River Tram.

TFL says it's due to the lack of funding.

Have a look at the London-SE1 article.

I'm too angry at facing this inevitability that I don't think I can face writing anything else at the moment.

Edit: I wonder if it's worth organising a protest.

Way to Go: Cross River Tram

It's a while since I did a Cross River Tram update. In the meantime, rumours and rumblings abound, but we've no concrete "no" and only occasional positive hints.

Planning Resource (subscriber only, so just a snippet) notes that "Way to Go!", Bojo's new document on transport policy in London, does not mention the Cross River Tram (or the Thames Gateway Bridge).

Transport Briefing reports the same, but adds that the Mayor tries to surprise us by suggesting that the eventual Transport Strategy might look at Tube Extensions in South London. That is quite convenient because it's by no way achievable in one term of office. It's also highly unlikely that the government will commit any funding to it whatsoever. Sharon Grant (chair of passenger Watchdog) is reported in the same piece as "endorsing the principles" in the document and says they're "broadly in line with the needs of transport users in London". She presumably doesn't live South of the River then.

Both of these reports supercede that of Devono which noted a comment by Cllr Paul Noblet (Southwark) at the end of October that Boris was going to work with various boroughs about options for the project before any final decisions are made. Hmm.

"Way to Go" might be more aptly named "A Very Long Way To Go".

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Rooftop gardening of fruit or vegetables or Purloining other peoples' roof space

It was only the other day that I was gazing down from my luxury Kennington palace, wondering whether I could purloin roof space from my and neighbours' rooves, in order to grow some flowers or vegetables. Everything looks very grey when gazing over rooftops, and some of the roof spaces get a lot of sun...

But it seems that somebody else has been thinking the same way. A Telegraph article tells of roof space to be converted to vegetable gardens for feeding Olympic athletes. I suspect we might be too far away to participate, but I really like this idea.

I think there may be issues re. accessing rooves. Our roof is communal, and requires a ladder to reach it. Not sure who I'd need to get permission from (not that that would stop me). Also, to access my neighbours' rooves (some of these are light commercial enterprises) would need permission, as well as odd access, and I don't know whether some of the roof space could support the weight of soil and pots, but it is a thought that I don't want to entirely dismiss. In the meantime, I should really get in touch with the local Guerilla gardeners.

Does anybody know whether there are any types of vegetables that can be grown through the winter?

Monday, 27 October 2008

Lurking about in a generally gay way

On the map above, you'll already be able to see quite a number of LGBT friendly pubs and clubs in SE11. Kennington, but more particularly Vauxhall, is known for its queer vibe, and provision of suitably pink venues. Consequently, we are (apparently) the largest gay (although I doubt lesbian) residential area in London, outside of Soho. I have been inclined to term the whole area "the gaybourhood". However, it appears that Vauxhall and Kennington might just have some competition:

A new site has just sprung up here:

Gay, and even more excitingly, they're spicing up November by launching a whole month of gay fun and frolics.

Have a look at the site, and you'll see jazz evenings, viewings at the Red Gate Gallery, a Transgender film festival (cunningly hosted in Brixton, and borrowed for the Camberwell events series), a launch party, a special theatre trip, and a new lovely, lively literary book group held in The Castle, for luscious, lovely, literary lesbian (and gay :)) people!

Also, they have a blog: Gay Camberwell Blog, but it's not as good as the SE11 blog so you won't all visit them to the exclusion of my lovely blog here, but you can pop across for a quick visit, if you like.

Another interesting piece of gay news for this area from the Pink Paper, who report that lots of gay clubs have had to move from the West End, due to the soaring rents. A quick snippet...

"From December 2008 the city will have 3 clearly defined gay villages, which is no bad thing.

[There will be] Soho for the Tourists and mainstream, Vauxhall for the late night sweaty dance clubs and The East End for the arty, studenty, wacky, weird and cutting edge stuff."

Friday, 24 October 2008

Oval incident - man under tube train still alive!

Yesterday, I reported that there had been some kind of incident at Oval tube station. Some other news sources have now published information about what happened.

It was not a suicide, as various people assumed (or if it was, it appears to have been an unsuccessful attempt). Instead, South London today report:

"A 58-YEAR-OLD man had a lucky escape after being pulled from under a train at Oval Tube station yesterday (Thursday)".

Exactly how the man came to be on the track is unclear, but more is revealed by a London Daily News article, which reports:

"The man escaped with head injuries when he fell off the northbound Northern Line platform at Oval Station yesterday."

The Lurking about SE11 team extend wishes for a quick recovery!

Ashley Kemete - mother agreed to forgive killers

It's rare for mainstream newspapers to issue headlines about forgiveness, but I think it's vital.

In an article published by the South London Press today, Ashley Kemete's mother spoke out on how she has agreed to forgive the men that killed her son:

"As a mother I forgive the people responsible for his murder and feel sorry for their families.

God will judge them in time

We could not bear to think that another family will have to go through this heartache we have.

So what we want to do is identify the people responsible."

Ashley's dad has said that they have no idea who killed their son.

The BBC reported yesterday that the three men brought in for questioning regarding Ashley's death have been released on bail.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Incident at Oval tube?

According to a police officer leaving the scene, there was an incident at Oval Tube station this morning. He didn't give me any more details.

At about 8:25, everybody was preparing to leave, but I counted at least 2 fire engines, 2 ambulances, 1 services motorbike, 2 medium size police vans and 2 British Transport Police units (sort of a cross between fire engines and police units).

Apparently, buses weren't stopping at the bus stop for some time, but have since resumed. Obviously, there was quite a considerably traffic build up.

What on earth happened? Does anybody have more details?

Edit: See blog comment. Apparently, one person under a train necessitates 10 emergency vehicles.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Three men arrested for shooting Ashley Kemete

According to a BBC article, three men have been arrested for the Ashley Kemete shooting on 17th October in Kennington.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Ashley Kemete - any more news? Also, memorial site.

As far as I can see, there's been no further announcement by police on Ashley Kemete's death. The South London Press released their own article a few hours ago, and it contains a little more information than was currently known.

It's important to remember (as one commentator on this blog pointed out last night) that the gang connections are only posited. A few people have commented that they knew Ashley as he was growing up, when he wasn't involved in anything untoward. The South London Press article adds that Ashley was shot outside his parents' flat, that his poor mother heard nothing, that Operation Trident do not know why he was targeted and that it's still unclear how many people were involved because of the panic at the time of the incident (although we know now that he was shot four times). Indeed, police say that Ashley was only on the periphery of their own general investigations.

I hope that they find out who did it soon. I can't imagine what Ashley's parents and friends must be going through.

One thing I've discovered though, whilst having a look at the Google Analytics for this blog, is that a number of people are looking for information about a shooting (in which, apparently, nobody was injured), not too far away in Gipsy Hill last night (20th October). It might be totally unrelated, and there is no news at all on the incident. (I only found out through the Virtual Norwood forum). But, there must be more people asking whether two shootings within three days of each other, only 5 miles apart could be, in any way related.

Ed: A Memorial Site has just been set up for Ashley on Gonetoosoon here.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Ashley Kemete death in Kennington

I don't have any further news on Ashley Kemete's death in Kennington, which is unusual as I was hoping that due to the number of witnesses, somebody/people might have been taken in for questioning by now. The news hasn't entirely sunk in with me yet. I know that violent crime happens all over London (this is the 5th? violent death since I started the blog), but there has been nothing in SE11 (thank goodness) for over a year, especially not gun crime.

An anonymous comment left on this blog notes:

The location of the shooting is a cul-de-sac that separates Kennings and Penwith Manor Estates. Poorly-lit and with no CCTV, it's a gift to local dealers servicing the demand from local pubs and elsewhere. Whether there are 5 gangs in the immediate location, there is a drug problem that nice parts of Kennington don't see. Police have now cleared off, and there's a shrine at the spot where the shooting took place, so it appears there's something to the gang link.

I'm not clear on how a shrine points to the gang link, but I wish it didn't take deaths for poorly-lit, unobserved alleyway areas to be brought to public(?) or council (?) attention. Of course, that presumes that somebody is paying attention at all. I've often used that particular cut through from Kennington tube station (and will continue to do so), but I admit that I tend to use it before dark, because it sometimes does involve walking past groups of youths. I refuse to be intimidated by groups of people, but I can see why some people might not like it.

I've been doing a little questioning of the "5 gangs" in the area figure, quoted by the unnamed source. It seems that two things are at issue:

a) What exactly "this area" refers to. The local estate? (which is what I was presuming). Kennington? Kennington and Oval? Kennington and Vauxhall? Further out to encompass Camberwell, Peckham and Brixton, as well as Kennington? I was thinking that 5 gangs sounded too high for the local estate. However...

b) The guy who runs The Assha Project blog (a blog about a gang conflict mediation programme in Tower Hamlets) has pointed out to me that the unnamed neigbour might have been using a wider definition of "gang" than I was anticipating. I was using "gang" to refer to a group of people that routinely hang around together with some criminal intent. I wouldn't use the word "gang" just to describe some friends who hang around on the street, with no criminal intent. I realise that there is a fine line (especially because groups comprise some people who might have some criminal intent, and others who might not), but it does seem that the former involves illegal elements, whereas the latter is actually still legal. A group of friends who hang around on street corners might be disapproved of by some UK citizens, but I figure that freedom to congregate peaceably hasn't been made illegal yet. If the unnamed neighbour is using the word "gang" in this looser sense, then I concede that there may well be 5 gangs on that particular local estate.

One issue that I really appreciate the anonymous poster commenting on is drug supplies to local pubs (and I believe that Camila Batmanghelidjh brought this up in one of my favourite interviews for the BBC) when she said:

Adults - it's y'know, adults - some people who work in the city running crack dens y'know, to make extra money. And it blows my mind, because the people who ring the 'phones of my kids are city workers, who ring for their drugs. And yet they're the same people who judge these children y'know? But they keep the drug trade going.

And I was thinking that a lot of libertarian type people who don't object to taking drugs, or having friends who take drugs, might not think about the people whose hands the drugs pass through... Theoretically, in one guise, I'd be one of those people who said something like, "well, if people choose to take drugs, and they're not harming anybody else, then it doesn't bother me that they're doing something illegal". But it seems that drug-taking is harming other people, just not the people actually taking the substances in question. (This of course, raises more questions about whether any drugs should be illegal?)

Being that Vauxhall, and its numerous gay clubs are around the corner, continually fueled by newer and more ingenious ways to get high, it can't be an accident that we'll end up with shootings in the area as well. The whole supply and demand chain is on our doorsteps.

Car accident - Kennington

There's more trouble in the Kennington area tonight, as somebody (a male?) appears to have slammed a car into the side of a building in Stannary Street (just off Kenington Road). According to various onlookers, he(?) was still conscious when removed from the car, but if the damage to the building is anything to go by, he must have either been being chased or have been an appalling driver as I think the vehicle must have been doing some speed to make such a tremendous impact.

I just nipped across the road for some late night chocolate and discovered a fire engine, ambulance, police vehicles, and a very large hole in the side of the first building on the end of Stannary Street!

I presume the ambulance will take him off to hospital, and I hope he's ok!

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Kennington - Shooting of Asley Kemete - White Hart Street

I think I'm absolutely last on this story, as it has been covered extensively elsewhere, but a 20 year old man named Ashley Kemete was shot in Kennington, White Hart Street at 9.10pm last night.

The reports all seem to suggest that three people shot at Ashley. The Press Association have released an informative press release. The Bexhill Observer is naming locals who are putting it down to gang related violence. Apparently, there are 5 gangs in the immediate area! I have to say that I wonder whether that figure is somewhat inflated, but I don't know how I'd disprove it. I'm trying not to think about the number of people wandering around in SE11 with guns on their person.

It's a very busy place for a shooting to happen, and occured in such a populated spot that drinkers in the White Hart heard the gun shots. Various reports also mention that there were a number of witnesses, which probably means it's more likely that perpetrators will be caught.

When in the car this morning, I noticed the area had been cordoned off with tape, and was buzzing with police officers (and a lot of people talking to the police officers), but didn't suspect that a shooting had occured deep in the heart of, what is for this blog, SE11 land.

"You can talk to Trident officers on 020 8247 4553 or, to remain anonymous, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Gandhi's: Kennington's moment of fame

The most interesting piece of SE11 news this morning, which puts Kennington on the map of the nation's mind, was that the effective nationalisation of the country's banks by Alistair Darling and assembled ministers took place over...

...A meal from the fabulous Gandhi's restaurant in Kennington.

The FT reports that Mr Darling ordered tandoori chicken and sag aloo. Unfortunately, the FT also notes that when Alistair Darling went to bed at 1.45am, the rest of the Treasury had to work through the night on Diet Coke and water!

The independent report states that Alistair Darling and 30 officers ate a takeaway curry from Gandhi's Indian restaurant in Kennington, south London. The Independent notes that the visitors from banks and building societies had to make do with tea and biscuits!

They're certainly correct about Gandhi's cuisine, which is the best Indian in Kennington by a long shot.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

US Embassy and Regeneration of New Covent Garden Market

All of the local area blogs have recently been buzzing with the news of the relocation of the US embassy to a yet unknown site in the Nine Elms quarter of Vauxhall. Although I say, "yet unknown", a story on the "bd architect's website" refers to the embassy location as the "2ha site" that is "close to Terry Farrell’s high-security MI6 building and the proposed Battersea Power Station development".

However, a piece of news, just spotted in the Evening Standard, indicates that the New Covent Garden fruit and vegetable market is about to receive funding for redevelopment. So now we'll have lots of US embassy employees munching apples wandering about the area. I've never been to New Covent Garden Market but they have a snazzy looking website. In the redevelopment section, they suggest the redevelopment will provide:

an invitation to the private sector to innovate on how the site could be more than just a market - becoming a focus for food and indeed flowers for London
I /like/ the idea of having an entire "focus" for food and flowers in this part of South London. I just hope that Borough market, and East St market, and Oval Farmers market can all keep flourishing at the same time...

Now, regarding the US embassy, it's obviously quite exciting that a major "player" wants to move to the area, but I'm more convinced that the embassy is moving for security reasons, than that they're moving primarily to be a part of the development of the South Bank! I figure that they want to be on the Thames so that they can use motor boats to get away if there's a terrorist attack. I'm vaguely concerned about traffic/planning/nuisance implications of the new US embassy in the area because I know what Mayfair residents have had to put up with, due to the recent installation of tank traps around the current embassy site. Also, I wonder whether it's sensible to have so many "target" buildings eg. MI6 and US embassy and Parliament all so close to one another...

The developments are all just outside the SE11 area, but if it all comes to fruition, I imagine our area will see development (good or bad, I know not) as a result of general investment. I wonder if there's something that they know that we don't, ie. whether anybody is about to enhance the transport infrastructure or go ahead with proposed public transport ideas, such as the Cross River Tram (hint, hint) to cope with all of the new developments.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Rape in Kennington?

The Sun newspaper have reported that a woman in her 20s was seriously sexually assaulted in Kennington on Saturday night (September 27th). It happened at 1:30am, and despite a passerby calling the police when seeing the woman in question flee from a man, the police appear to have arrived too late to catch the attacker. The woman's friends report that she suffered cuts and bruising as she tried to resist the attacker.

For some reason, the police appear to think that the woman might have been stalked for several weeks prior to the attack. The paper reports that the woman is a "top model".

The Sun only suggests that the crime in question was a rape ("tried to rape her"), but does mention that the attack lasted 20 minutes, and that a DNA sample was taken from the woman, which will be tested by the police.

Whilst the block of flats that the woman lived in was apparently equipped with CCTV, not all of the cameras were working.

I can only assume the attack took place in SE11 somewhere (but we have found the media's reporting of "Kennington" to be wide of the mark), but I don't like the fact that there's no report that the man in question has been caught.

The woman concerned is in my thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Peckham Boys Gang - arrests

This is London have just published an article publicising the fact that there have been arrests of suspected members of the Peckham Boys gang.

Some of the arrests have been made in the SE11 area in Kennington. Others are furthur afield. The arrests are mostly for crimes such as violent robberies on pubs and bookmakers using knives and other implements.

I often wonder what happens if one is suspected of this sort of very serious crime, but actually has not done anything. Who pays to have the reinforced door that the police have smashed down in Kennington replaced? How does your reputation (or your family's reputation) survive?

Anyhow, they've arrested seven men. I'll update furthur as I hear more.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Interesting SE11 Planning Applications

One finds out all sorts of things when one starts digging around on the Lambeth planning applications database.

There's currently an application pending to turn 190 - 198 Kennington Lane away from its current usage as offices into a mental health clinic. I think that this is quite a good thing. Mental health is usually underprovided for and an increase of provision is good. However, depending on what the facility will actually offer, it might not be such a good thing for residents of Kennington Lane. Treatment for people with severe (or any) mental illness is a very good thing, but I hope the visiting patients won't lead to the neighbourhood becoming more dangerous. "Mental illness" is such a broad term which covers everything from mild to depression to the infamous, potentially non-existent "severe" personality disorder.

There's another application pending to turn 130-138 Newington Butts into student accomodation (presumably for South Bank university), restaurant, retail, storage and offices. For some reason, I thought that this was going to become residential flats. I think that there is currently retail and offices etc. on the site so I don't know if they're just going to extensively renovate or whether it will be knocked down and started again.

That's all of interest today for the SE11 area. I will try and run the search again in October to see what else might pop up...

Sunday, 21 September 2008

March against knife crime from Kennington

Photos taken in Hyde Park:

I didn't manage to take any photos of the Peace March against knife crime in Kennington Park because it was quite a lot smaller than I expected (only about 1000 people left from Kennington Park) and consequently departed on time! I only reached SE11 at about 11.30, when it was so quiet that I wondered whether they'd cancelled it!

As a result, I decided to go and take some photos of it in Hyde Park as I wanted to support the effort. Something a little odd has happened with the camera exposure so the sky appears pink. It wasn't pink, it was actually a very bright day at about 16:00.

I went to the rally, not because I thought it would prevent furthur knife crime, but because I wanted to demonstrate solidarity as a Londoner with the families of knife crime victims, and also to show that I'd like to be part of any discussion about a solution. I was hoping that I'd hear some sensible ideas about how society might come together and work at strategies for preventing crime (strengthening families, working with schools etc.). Unfortunately, I found quite a lot of the rally's rhetoric to be about "bringing back National Service". It simply doesn't make sense to me to say that "knife crime is wrong" and yet to be seen to be legitimising war through the promotion of National Service. Also, I disliked the way that Gordon Brown, who made an eloquent pre-recorded speech against knife was pretty much "booed" by the crowd. It's not so much the booing I objected to, but the failure to listen to what he was actually saying before booing him! There was a coherent message against knife crime, but I didn't feel that there was any coherent ideas about how the whole community should pull together to stop it!

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Peluqueria, Kennington Park Road and the credit crunch

I've made a few changes and additions to the map. It seems somewhat peculiar, but despite travelling past certain locations daily, I can't remember what's where.

One piece of interesting news is that Peluqueria, the small Spanish-speaking ex-hairdressers, ex-video shop, ex-internet cafe (see above) is to become something else. It's currently undergoing refurbishment in order to become.... possibly, a cafe. I popped in a day or so to check it wasn't disappearing completely, but they were reticent to say much except for "cafe". It sounds promising.

One piece of sad news is that I have heard that H Morrell & Sons (the attractive shop near to Kennington Library on Kennington Lane) will be closing down. As a building supplies firm, I imagine that they've been driven to the edge by the credit crunch. They now have "closing down" notices plastered over the shop.

I will have to walk up Kennington Park Road to check whether I've got some of the other locations on the map quite right. I've added Dominos Pizza Takeaway. I've also marked on the map properly that Mansion House pub seems to have been closed down. (I'm not clear whether the building will form part of the new flats planned for that area of Newington Butts).

Kennington Park Road accident



A friend told me yesterday that there had been a serious traffic accident at Kennington Park Road, near to Kennington Park Place at around 13.30 yesterday. Details are sketchy, but it might have involved a motorbike. It definitely involved the air ambulance. Does anybody know anything? Was the injured person (people) ok? What happened?

One of the odd things about local news blogging is the realisation that there's a lot that happens at a sub-regional level that doesn't even hit the radar of the newspapers or blogs. Obviously, every minor road skirmish doesn't make interesting news, but I wonder how the right balance is struck. Perhaps we're all so busy watching the banks crash and burn that we're not noticing what's happening under our noses in our local area. Anyhow, I only found out because it popped up in my Google search results as something that somebody had searched Google for yesterday, which prompted me to ask some questions. But how many other newsworthy items do we fail to hear about?

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Kennington Association Charity Art Auction

The Kennington Association are holding their fourth annual charity art auction tomorrow evening (18th September) at 18.30. There is a preview tonight.

More trouble at the Oval?

When driving through SE11 and past the Oval tube station yesterday, I noticed what looked like a memebr of the police force boarding a bus that had been stopped just outside Oval tube station. A few hours later, I drove passed again and noticed that Oval tube had an "incident response unit" outside. Also, the road around the Oval was closed.

I've no idea whether that was one, two or three events of any significance. Does anybody have any information?

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Thames Festival 2008

The three wheeled one only found out about the Thames Festival by accident this year after wondering about the vast hordes of people making their way through Waterloo yesterday. This might (or might not) be due to Boris Johnson (BoJo) scrapping The Londoner (the newspaper that supplies Londoners with information about what the mayor is up to). On the other hand, chances of us actually receiving the newspaper are slim!

So... Excited about the possibility of the giant meal with strangers (and happy to try and meet some more South Londoners), we plodged off today, beginning towards the east end of the festival near Southwark Bridge. Unfortunately, I had not realised that the giant meal only took place yesterday and would not be repeated today. Not to be deterred, we obviously had to go and nosey around at what else was on offer...

The rest of the festival consisted of food stalls (many over-priced), stalls selling pictures of London, music stages (I presume some of it /was/ music), the Co-Op selling Fairtrade goods (yay), the BBC doing something related to art for children, various European cultural promotion/food stalls, a giant stage put together by those people who manage to get around London without touching the floor (it's called "freerun" apparently), the BBC and Capital FM broadcasting, lots and lots of performance artists, some people kayaking on the Thames (not sure if these were part of the kayaking demonstrations), old and young men skulling along the Thames (separately), some rather strange performance drama, free Starbucks coffee, more stalls selling everything from books to clever widgets for hanging flower pots...

We were queuing to buy Hog Roast after arriving at lunchtime (around 2pm), but that failed because the Hog Roast wasn't on offer until 5pm. Driven by impending starvation and lack of money, we ended up sharing a Doggett's cheeseburger after concluding that despite Lebanese food being good value for £5 a plate, it just appeared too expensive. I figure that for people visiting London, the prices must just be swallowed, but for actual Londoners facing impending recession, the costs are all too high!

We walked from Southwark Bridge to the London Eye (I'm not sure what was beyond the Eye, if anything) and enjoyed browsing at the varied stalls. We discovered a world film/DVD shop (named mdc music and movies) that we didn't know existed (which wasn't part of the festival) and generally had a happy time soaking up the sun. I think the festival lacked some edge (there were parts of the South Bank that didn't seem to have much going on) and it didn't seem much different from festivals of previous years. However, that won't stop us going next year!

As we left, we saw some people that appeared to be preparing for a carnival procession (in some fabulous outfits), which (if it was a repeat of previous years) would have taken place this evening. We headed home after about 3 hours, and then happily watched an absolutely stupendous, amazing, fantastic, glorious, expensive, colourful fireworks display from our home in SE11. The fireworks were so good that we might have to invite lots of people around next year just to watch!

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Peace March leaving from Kennington Park, SE11

According to an article in Southwark news, there is to be a peace march against knife crime, organised (in part) by The Damilola Taylor Trust later this month. The march is to be called "The Peoples' March", which is a fitting tribute to Kennington Park's history of organised revolution and ferment.

The report also notes that two individuals, Sharon Singh and Gemma Allway organised support for the march through Facebook. I think it's fantastic when networking technology allows for friends to organise strangers to march together for peace. I googled the two of them and found that The Mirror has a photo of them alongside their description of themselves as "two ordinary Londoners who can't bear to see any more dead children on the news".

The march will congregate in Kennington Park on 20th September at 10am, depart at 11am and will culminate with a rally in Hyde Park at 2pm. It is specifically organised as a peace march, and not a protest march.

I will go. I might even make a "Lurking about SE11 for peace" banner, but I'm only little and it's a lot to get on one banner!!

SE11 Monthly Crime Update: July 2008

I just noticed that the July 2008 stats are out for the Metropolitan Police Crime Map. The Police have started to compare the different levels of crime in each different Borough when you click in detail on the map. However, I'm turning it into a crude chart format so we can watch Lambeth in-depth over the next few months.

See my previous post for reasons as to why these stats. are not definitive.


Lambeth crime levels (Average - June 08, Average - July 08)
Southwark crime levels (High - June 08, Above Average - July 08)
Westminster crime levels (High - June 08, High - July 08)

So, overall, things have improved somewhat in Southwark, and Lambeth remains the same. Now, breaking Lambeth down into its boroughs, we find as follows:

(3 = Average, 4 = Above Average)

Jul08 Jun08
3........3 = Bishops
3........3 = Brixton Hill
3........3 = Clapham Common
3........3 = Clapham Town
3........4 = Cold Harbour
3........4 = Ferndale
3........3 = Gipsy Hill
3........3 = Herne Hill
3........3 = Knight's Hill
3........3 = Larkhall
4........4 = Oval Ward
4........3 = Princes
3........4 = St Leonards
3........3 = Stockwell
3........3 = Streatham Hill
3........3 = Streatham South
3........3 = Streatham Wells
3........3 = Thornton
3........4 = Thurlow Park
3........3 = Tulse Hill
3........3 = Vassall Ward

Oval Ward has high crime for 2 months running and in Princes Ward, crime has risen to the "high crime" bracket. However, other than that, crime has broadly either stayed the same or improved throughout Lambeth and every borough is reporting "average" crime. Furthur investigation reveals that 31 crimes were reported in Princes in June, but in July, this went up to 41!

Thursday, 4 September 2008

A couple of Stockwell news items

I have failed to report a few Stockwell items that have come up in the news of late, so here is a quick round up:

1. A good Guardian article on "why we must remember Jean Charles Menezes". Last month was the third anniversary of his death, after he was shot by police in the aftermath of the July 7 bombings in London.

2. A BBC article (thanks to Stockwell news for pointing this out) about a seventeen seater minibus travelling back from the Notting Hill Carnival which collided with four pedestrians on South Lambeth Road. Unfortunately, two of the pedestrians have died as a result of the traffic accident.

3. And most recently on Friday... According to The London Daily News, some burglars broke into a house on South Lambeth Road in order to steal scrap metal. They tore out gas pipes, which basically put everybody in the locality in danger as it casued a major gas leak. Personally, I think it all sounds rather strange. Could it be the other way around... Might they have meant to cause a major gas leak and have it look like a burglary? Presumably they'd have put themselves in some danger, and how much can old pipes possibly be worth...?

Cross River Tram - more news

We've not yet reached the crucial date of 8th September, but Boris Johnson appears to have announced to a committee:

I am not intending to spend a lot more money on the Cross River Tram

SE1 news have the full article.

I'm still rather hoping that this doesn't mean the project has been axed. I'm hoping Boris will say that he doesn't plan to spend more money on the Cross River Tram until he receives a committment from central government to fund it... or something...

Caroline Pidgeon has made adequate disappointed noises, but I really wish that there was something else that could be done.

Friday, 29 August 2008

SE11 goes Scottish

I just spotted an article in The Times advising that the Scottish Piping Society will be holding lessons at the Charlotte Sharman School on West Square. I wonder whether they are at all related to the somewhat incongruous man man who plays(?) the bagpipes on Westminster Bridge.

West Square itself is worth a visit as it has a lovely open green garden in the middle of it, and it's a bit of a haven in the Elephant and Castle area, but I might go and visit at a time when I knew the bagpipers weren't about :)

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Cross River Tram - we have a date

My "Cross River Tram" alert popped up a BBC article today to reveal the date crucial for whether the tram project goes ahead: September 9th.

The article contains a fabulous quote from Caroline Pidgeon who is upset that it takes longer to get to central London from Peckham than it does from Reading. I wonder whether that's because the people in Reading have more money... :-)

"It can take longer to get from places like Peckham to the centre of town than it does to get to places like Reading, and that is just ridiculous,"
she said.

Unfortunately, some councillors north of the river aren't so excited about our trammy ambitions :) But that's because they're all lucky enough to own and drive cars.

Anyhow, 9th September is when the tram review is to be undertaken by Boris Johnson. Here's keeping our fingers and toes crossed.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Ezekiel Adeboyego Ojo murder in Penrose Street

In the early hours of Friday 23rd August, Ezekiel Adeboyego Ojo was found with head injuries on Penrose Street (just off the Walworth Road, SE17) from several gun shot wounds. He died soon after. He was only 24 years old. Operation Trident are investigating the incident.

Penrose Street is not unknown to police. Unbelievably, the main police station for the area is on Manor Place, which is only two streets away. I sometimes wonder whether police turn a blind eye to crime that occurs immediately upon their patch. I don't think I blogged about it, but earlier this year on June 21st, two young boys were stabbed in Penrose Street (both are ok). Indeed, in the same article, it is noted that "The boys were attacked in a London borough being targeted by the Met as a knife crime hotspot with dozens of extra patrols and "stop-and-searches" of anyone suspected of carrying a weapon."

It appears that we don't need a Metropolitan Police Crime Map to tell us anything at all.

I know I'm probably last on the news front with this one as I haven't been near a computer since late last Thursday, but still, another shooting... In how many weeks?

Oval incident involving 173 innocent people who might have been about to commit crime

I've been offline (and will be for the next week or so) due to the house move, but heard more than the usual wailing of sirens and saw a lot of blue lights near to Oval tube station last night. There was clearly something more going on than cricket.

This morning we have the following round up:

1. The Metro reports that a "mob of 180 youths" who apparently only "planned" to unleash chaos at Notting Hill were stopped yesterday.

2. The BBC report that "About 180 youths were stopped and seven arrested outside Oval as police prevented a large group from going to the carnival". Out of the 150 or so that went to the police station, only "seven were formally arrested". Even more outrageous, "Police said they believed the group, which included many teenagers, were on their way to the carnival to create disorder and criminal incidents." And of course, it's definite that they might have been about to commit crime. After all, "Some members of the group had a history of being involved in disorder at the carnival, police said." The drama all took place in Harleyford Road, which was closed off.

3. Bathsheba at Stockwell News asked what was going on, and received reports of helicopters and police presence.

Is it just me, or does it appear somewhat wrong that a large number of {innocent} people were stopped by police, a huge number of {innocent} people were then detained, and only seven were arrested? I mean, the BBC report rather implies that these were people that only might have been about to commit crime. Can you really refuse to allow somebody to go to the Notting Hill Carnival on the basis that they might commit crime? And from all of the "intelligence" gained, why was it only possible to arrest seven people?

Of course, we're not living in a police state...

Monday, 18 August 2008

Crime in SE11, Lambeth, Southwark and surrounds

On some of my previous posts, I've been scathing about people who consider South London to be dangerous, full of crime and not worthy of their attention. I've been interested for some time about how much crime is really committed in the different parts of London, and what type of crime etc. I'm most interested in SE11, but being so close to SE1, SE17, SW8 and SW9, it seems that a wider view ought to be taken. We can hardly stop people postcode hopping to commit crime!

Crime statistics are massively flawed for (at least) the three following reasons:

1. Crime stats. depend upon people reporting crime. I know lots of people who are the victims of petty theft who wouldn't report their crime if they didn't think that there was anything the police could do.

2. The police, periodically, change the definition of of what constitutes a crime "bracket" for a particular crime. So if one bracket goes up too much eg. "violent crime", they'll remove car crime from the bunch and place it in a different bracket. This makes long term study of crime very difficult because it's hard to tell where the boundaries have moved from and to.

3. Periodically, the area boundaries for measurement of crime are changed. I'm not sure whether this is so much of a problem as changing definitions, but it no doubt factors.

Anyhow, having said that, I found that the Metropolitan police (with some cleverish google mapping) have plotted a crime map of London (excluding the City). The "crimes" it counts are burglary, robbery and vehicle crime. The map uses colour to display highest crime areas in orange and red, and average in yellow. One can then break the areas down furthur and see the crime in particular wards.

Overall, Lambeth has a yellow shading (average crime), but Southwark has a red shading (high crime) for June 2008. I checked the figures, which state 850 crimes in June 2008 in Southwark, and 739 in Lambeth. It seemed to me then that the margin of difference between the brackets was small. However, I've played around a little more and it seems that the average numbers are calculated on the size of the borough in question. Westminster had fewer crimes committed than Lambeth, but since it's smaller, it records "above average" crime for London. The site is only in "Beta/testing" mode at the moment and I've asked for feedback as to more detail on the crime for future versions....

Anyhow, looking at Lambeth overall, there are (as is predictable) pockets of parts of Lambeth with more crime than others for June 08, but the good news first:

Average Crime compared with the rest of London: Bishops Ward, Princes Ward, Vassall Ward, Stockwell Ward, Larkhall Ward, Clapham Town Ward, Clapham Common Ward, Brixton Hill, Herne Hill, Thornton Ward, Tulse Hill Ward, Streatham Hill Ward, Streatham South, Streatham Wells, Gipsy Hill, Knight's Hill,

The bad news (but note that Lambeth has no wards with "high" crime:
Above Average Crime compared with the rest of London: Oval Ward, Ferndale Ward, Cold Harbour Ward, Thurlow Park Ward and St Leonards Ward.

Lambeth is statistically safer (but remember that this is an odd figure because of the different ward sizes) than both Southwark and Westminster.

SE11 has average crime levels for June 2008 (much of the area is in Princes Ward so that seems correct), the small Oval Ward subsection of SE11 also has average crime levels. The west of SE11 (a small subsection of Princes ward) has above average crime, but it's not clear how much of that might stem from the Albert Embankment.

However, the borders of SE11 are not so good. At the south and east side, SE11 is surrounded by 3 pockets of "above average" crime and 1 pocket of "high" crime (I suspect that that is due to Vauxhall Station and its unpleasant surrounds). Directly north of SE11 near Elephant, there is a pocket of "above average" crime as well.

As I said above, I'm hoping that the Metropolitan Police Crime Map will be developed over the next few months so that it will be possible to compare different periods of time and break down the type of crime in any area. I'll report back as soon as they release the figures for July 2008, so we can just see whether it was a quiet month, of whether Lambeth might really be declared to be a place of only "average" crime.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Ashley Bucknor remanded for Walworth Road shooting

The Press Association reported on Sunday that a 19 year old man named Ashley Bucknor was remanded in custody for Ryan Bravo's murder on Walworth Road in SE17, which I reported previously here.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Another SE11 Blog

It seems that SE11 bloggers are brushing off their blogging skills and happy to share their insights with the rest of the world.

Here is the latest SE11 related blog, Flogging a Dead Horse from somebody who terms herself, "the grumpiest gal in SE11". She's started off with a suitably ranty post concerning bad manners and lack of courtesy on London's public transport.

Cross River Tram - a furthur update

I've just spotted a new post on London SE1 forum to advertise a seminar hosted by the Greater London Authority to consider the Cross River tram in light of current mayoral priorities.

Unfortunately, being mid-house move and working flat-out, the three wheeled person can't easily take the morning off, for the sake of attending the seminar. It would be great if lots of home-working / retired / flexi-time people could be present to give support and make a constructive noise.

It's possible to provide written submissions. I wonder if one has to be important (or represenative of some important body) so to do.

I'm uninformed on the structure and politics of the GLA, so I don't know whether this an officially mayor promoted/sanctioned event, or whether it's an attempt to stall for time, or quite what the purpose of it is. However, some of the panel of speakers look quite interesting, especially the one speaking on the business perspective from Camden, which (I think) sounds like a Tory / Boris Johnson type line of thought.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Walworth Road shooting - atrocious reporting by Daily Mail

You may have noticed yesterday that in my first post about the shooting on the Walworth Road that I quoted several sources; BBC News, Sky News and the Daily Mail. I included a brief excerpt and link to the Daily Mail, without saying much, and indicated that they are not my preferred source. It appears that the first Daily Mail report has vanished... However, I did manage to find a Google cache of it here. The report that replaces it with the "innocent victim" remarks can be found here.

What's so interesting about the report's disappearance is the way that the initial report was entirely inaccurate. The first report rather implied that Ryan Bravo was a member of a gang and that he entered a rival gang's territory. I'll quote from it furthur down. You'll notice in my posts that I never speak of race/colour unless they're in some way pertinent to the story in question. eg. I might report on the "Black LGBT Pride march", but I wouldn't report, "Leeona Smith, a black woman from Vauxhall won an award". I don't see race as particularly useful data in relation to a killing/award ceremony etc. Although, I have to confess that I /do/ want to be told about instances of racial discrimination, so there's a careful line to be trod. However, there are rarely reports that state, "Lots of white traders have manipulated the market and caused huge losses".

But, despite it's political incorrectness so to do, I want to raise the question of whether the Mail would have posted its initial story if the victim had not been black. The initial report didn't mention that the victim was any particular colour (although they did mention the colour of the moped riders), but I just think that the inaccurate report reflects the Daily Mail middle-england bias of the kind of story they'd /like/ to report on from South London, irrespective of its veracity. If I were the parent/friend/partner of Ryan, I'd sue them for serious inaccuracy. Of course, I caught the online version very quickly, and don't know if it ever went to print...

So, let's look at some of the discrepancies:

Report 1:

"One man, who asked not to be named, said the youth had deliberately crossed into a rival gang's area as an act of bravado.

'If you cross over you are going to make sure everyone knows about it. It was a statement,' he said.

'He wanted to be a big man. That is why it happened. It is a gang zone around here. He is from the wrong side and came down here trying to act the big man." ...

'I have known him for years, ever since he was a kid. He did not go to school, he was in a gang.'"


Report 2:

"The teenager shot dead at a supermarket in London was the innocent victim of a dispute between two street gangs, it has emerged.

College student Ryan Bravo, 18, was caught in the line of fire as two or more gunmen tried to shoot the two youths after they strayed into the wrong territory."

In report 1, the police are quoted:

"Police sources said the victim was not a major gang figure. 'He is not known to Trident - he is not a major player. That does not mean he wasn't involved in more petty postcode rivalries.'"

It seems to me that saying somebody is "not a major gang figure" rather implies that they might be a minor figure! Luckily, that's all sorted out later...

Report 2:

A local resident said: 'He was a good boy. I didn't ever know him to get into any trouble.

'My son and him were always talking and laughing together. As my son would say, he was a gentleman – he didn't have any "street name" or anything like that.'

How is it in any way acceptable to publish a report that is later found to be almsot entirely inaccurate? Does this happen often?

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Update on Walworth Road Shooting

Furthur to my earlier post about the Walworth Road shooting (and one reason not to trust the Daily Mail) is that the male, now named as Ryan Bravo, has been revealed to be an innocent bystander, shot in the back during gunfire between local gangs. Some reports are saying the incident took place on Camberwell Road, but it appeared to happen at the point of the road just where Camberwell Road becomes Walworth Road.

The Telegraph reports that police suspect the shooting might be linked to an incident in Myatts Field earlier the same day.

Anybody who has furthur information relating to those involved in the incident has been asked to contact the police's Operation Trident.

Walworth Road Shooting in Costcutter

I've just seen the BBC news and Sky News of a shooting yesterday just outside the SE11 area in the Walworth Road (SE17).

From the brief details available, the killing took place in Costcutter. The victim was aged 18 and male. He is the 22nd victim to die in London this year from shooting or stabbing.

The Daily Mail (not a preferred source) states:

Onlookers said the shooting at 9.45pm yesterday was gang related and part of a vicious "postcode warfare".

I'm posting this because I want everybody to keep noticing that our young people are killing each other. It can't be written off as just "gang related" killing as though that either explains sufficiently or justifies in any way. A death should not become just another statistic.

I'll post more news as it becomes available.

My thoughts and prayers are with the family of this young man.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Trying to find a flatshare in SE11 [Part 2 of house hunting in SE11]

This is Part 2 of an ongoing series for people interested in buying, renting, flatshares, obtaining local authority or housing association property, squatting or crashing on somebody's floor in the SE11 area.

Today's post is about finding a flatshare in SE11 (or around the area).

First things first... There's no point in trekking around the Kennington or Vauxhall branches of letting agents in order to try and find a room to rent. If you're new to London, you may not realise that letting agents do not advertise flatshares. This is mostly because there's no money in it for them. Consequently, the only sort of property that you'll find in SE11 from letting agents are studios, advertised somewhere between £180 - £210 per week (around £780 - £910 per month). And the likelihood is that if you're looking for a room to rent, you won't be able to afford a studio.

There are a couple of reliable ways of finding flatshares:

1. You could try the age old Gumtree website. Searching through the listings is one option, although you might want to set up email alerts because property will go quite quickly.

2. One new development that I think provides the best way for searching for a Flatshare is from Globrix. The search engine provides the ability to search for lettings properties using the new criterion "Flat Shares" in the box at the top left of the screen. Typing in SE11 and clicking "Flat Shares" reveals that there are currently 23 flat shares available in the area, ranging from £69 to £160 per week. It squeezes information from all of the property portals and puts it in one place, thus reducing the time you'll spend Googling.

3. There are a number of specific websites that deal with flat-shares only. A quick Google reveals:
a. Move flat
b. Spare room

There are at least another 12 sites that seem to specialise in this area.

Once you have spent 10 years sharing a flat, you might be able to afford to buy a run-down studio in SE11. Please then refer to the link below for one idea about buying a property in SE11.

A useful website for those looking for houses in SE11 - [Part 1 of house hunting in SE11]

My personal quest to make SE11 a bit greener

Following on from a recent article in the East London advertiser that suggested that Vauxhall Cross and Brixton Road are within the top 10 most air-polluted roads in London, perhaps it's time that car drivers other than trades related people or minicab drivers start to reduce their car use. Some of Vauxhall Cross is included in the SE11 area, and I was surprised that one neither Kennington Road, Kennington Lane nor Kennington Park Road were included in the top 10 list, especially considering their proximity to Brixton Road and Vauxhall Cross.

Current petrol prices might encourage the trend to abandon cars in favour of other methods of transport. (C'mon, the Cross River Tram would be a real asset...) I imagine a move from petrol to LPG powered vehicles might help the cause... But best of all, it would be really exciting if London could become more cycle friendly. I was reading an article in the Independent by James Daley who has changed his cycling route from being based around the quiet back streets of Stockwell to a new busy route along the Thames Embankment. Having seen Clapham Road/Kennington Park Road also become a route for cyclist anarchy, I'm not surprised that he notes
"much of my route seems to turn into a cycle racetrack"

I try and cycle responsibly (not going through red traffic lights, sporting bike lights at night etc.) but I hope the trend towards cycling will lead to some form of stiffer penalty for cyclists that break the rules in a dangerous manner. As a driver, cyclist and pedestrian, it's fairly clear to me that cyclists are the worst transgressors of the highway code (especially couriers). On the other hand, there's nothing more frustrating than facing red light after red light when on a bike, because the traffic lights are phased for motorists. Obviously, I'm not suggesting changing all of the lights in favour of cyclists, but some innovative thinking re. roads that could be "cycle only" or more cycle paths (preferably not on pavements) might mean that cyclists could ride around more safely.

Once the move has taken place, I hope to get the trusty old bike out again (am a bit worried about the level of bike theft, so a folding bike might be a better option), and cycle to work where possible. That will probably turn Lurking about SE11 into a list of traffic violation grievances, but hopefully it will also help SE11 go green!

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

The new Kennington Oval reservoir... oops

Although I saw yesterday the devastating traffic effects of the burst water main between the end of Kennington Park and Oval tube, I didn't have the camera in order to photograph the chaos itself. Fortunately, a blogger passing through the area has captured it in his post entitled Flooding in Kennington and photographed the carnage in a useful photo which he's placed on Flicker here.

It was still causing traffic chaos today, but hopefully they'll sort it out soon! Still, Kennington Park Road is wonderfully quiet.

Lambeth Council does something

There is a piece in the Guardian today (topped off with a lovely picture of lots of knives) that suggest Lambeth Council are launching an initiative. I realise that this, in itself, might be shocking to some people. However, having been a resident of an north London council who will not be mentioned, I will at least defend Lambeth on the matter of recycling. Apparently, since I last lived in Lambeth (2006), they've even brought in tetrapack recycling. *squee* How exciting! But since I'm nearly as much a recycling geek as I am a public transport geek, I shall save all of the posts about recycling goodness, and the possibility/likelihood of obtaining orange bags etc. until the move has taken place.

What's interesting from the three wheeled pleb's point of view is that Lambeth Council's initiative is about knife crime, which has some bearing on the SE11 area.

I have grave doubts that any council initiative can "solve" knife crime. I suspect that public money being spent in a certain manner might well go to solve the issue, but it's likely (although not guaranteed) that the money will be put to short term fixes rather than long term solutions. It seems to me obvious that the key to tackling crime is to tackle poverty. Whilst it is not clear that it is only those who live in poverty who commit crime, it seems that there is significant correlation. I was persuaded some years ago that one solution to the poverty/crime dynamic is to spend significantly on early years projects. If one engages with women on a single income at the stage when they are first pregnant, and teaches them about healthy eating / alcohol/drug consumption risk during pregnancy, then their child is significantly less likely (due to early intervention from development agencies) to engage in a life of crime. It must be stressed that such early intervention means that they and their children are given access to services and education that mean they're not left to fend for themselves. It's been quite a while sine I've looked at any of this, but Google for the "Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development" for a source about these ideas.

So... how long is the initiative?

The Guardian says:
the five-year strategy is the first "long-term comprehensive" initiative of its kind to be set up in England

It depends what they do over the five years as to how effective it is. I'm not convinced that a 5 year strategy is long enough to tackle the causes of crime. There's too much risk that fundign can be obtained for helpful services which will then fold in 5 years time.

So... where are Lambeth Council spending their money?

The Guardian says:
a series of initiatives that include increased investment in youth services run by and for local people, a specialist outreach team for hard-to-reach youngsters, parenting classes, and a network of police officers in primary schools.

I like the sound of the parenting classes, but I'd prefer it to say "ante-natal classes" since I think that the earlier the intervention, the better. I'm also a massive fan of Camilla Batmanghelidj's charity, Kids Company. It's a self-referring charity for children in South east London, and I believe they do some great work, offering mentoring, skills, and a safe place to hang about. I hope that they'll be on the receiving end of some of the cash (rather than somebody wasting money setting up new Lambeth bodies) to do the same thing. I'm a bit sceptical about the police officers in primary schools, but we'll see. I believe I also once read a BBC article on some research which suggests that teenagers who attend /unstructured/ youth clubs are more exposed to becoming involved with criminal activities. So let's hope that we have fewer youth clubs with very structured activities, rather than more youth clubs that effectively offer little more than a pool table.

Also, I figure that since most of Lambeth's initiative will have occurred too late to offer hope to those people in the 16-19 bracket, we won't have seen the end of the knife crime / stabbings for a while yet. So... The Lambeth Council initiative (if effective) will not really kick in for another 5 years (at least) especially if targeted at younger children, and things could get worse in the meantime. That means (and here I'm being rather pessimistic) that just as the initiative starts working, the public won't have seen the effects, and the whole initiative will be pulled just as it has begun to work (if it does) on the grounds that the public will claim that knife crime has risen, and that the scheme is a waste of public money.

I hope they prove me wrong.

My strategy (and personal goals):

1. Know your nearest neighbours (at least 2 households) well enough to offer them a cup of tea.
2. Know 15 people in your postcode (preferably outside if you're on a boundary) that are also on good enough terms with their nearest neighbours to be able to offer them a cup of tea.
3. Become involved in one youth initiative in your area (youth club, Guides, Scouts, parenting classes, Sunday school, mosque group, school reading scheme).

I figure that if everybody followed all three steps that we could virtually prevent all knife crime in the Borough of Lambeth... Even if we only followed the top 2 steps, we'd have created such a web of people that a great many social ills coudl be solved.

Maybe I should start a "have a cup of tea" campaign. The drawback? I don't drink tea :)

Monday, 28 July 2008

Cross River Tram - more news

There's a new article on London-SE1 about a group that has been put together to attempt to ensure the Cross River Tram does not drop off the list of Boris Johnson's City Hall priorities. The photo shows a rather small group of people; I wonder where all of the activist types have gone. Also, I noticed that Lambeth Council weren't represented on the banner. I'd have thought that some of the Lambeth councillors would have been very supportive.

The members of the Back the Cross River Tram group have also put together a petition here. I'm not generally a fan of petitions, but nobody else appears to be doing anything... It would be good to get a large number of signature from SE11 people to show demand.

Anyhow, the SE1 article states that an answer is expected in Autumn re. Boris' tram review. My last post suggested that an answer was expected in July 2008, but that doesn't leave many more days...

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Update: Freddie Moody murder

Bathsheba over at Stockwell News (see blog roll) has a brief news round up and a few facts relating to those accused of the Freddie Moody stabbing. I don't have much more to add, and she's giving better coverage as it falls within her patch and slightly outside of SE11.

New SE11 blog

There are not many really local blogs to Kennington. I think I've got most of the generic "about the location ones" (ie. the ones that are /not/, proponents of the "I'm really into and I happen to live in Kennington school of thought"). However, a new blog has recently been launched for the residents of Denny Street (just off Chester Way), Denny Crescent and the people that use the communal garden of Denny street. I don't know Denny Street very well at all, but the few photos of the blog make it look like a great place to lurk about.

I've added their blog "Dennygarden" to my blog roll, so it might be worth subscribing if you are a part, or live near to that community. Click here for a quick link to It's excellent that this is another like-minded blog that exists, in their words to "share news, share views and generally be good neighbours."

Natasha Panas puts Kennington on (or possibly off) the map!

Thank you to the commentator of the last post who pointed out that a pop singer; Natasha Panas, has just released a single named after our lovely SE11 locale "Kennington".

I did download to Itunes for a quick listen, but found that I could have listened and watched the video for free by following this link from Music Remedy. It must be noted however, that the Itunes file was of a much better quality...

That being said, I'm not quite sure what the single is about. It lacks depth and profundity. Natasha appears either to be entreating that her audience emerge from the tube station and meet her somewhere down Brangaza Street, Kennington Park Place, or indeed, possibly at 41 Kennington Park Road. I was hoping it might sound a little like "I left my heart in San Francisco" or even "24 hours from Tulsa" or possibly "Baker Street" in terms of celebrating places, but I'm afraid that it only mentions Kennington once at the beginning of the song. It then mostly repeats itself about having been much too long since she last saw somebody.

Maybe I wasn't thrilled because pop is not quite my genre, and my inate "I was born 40 years old feeling" means that I can't appreciate new music, but I think not... In lyrics, it lacks imagination, and the tune is rather bland. But, what can I say? It does, after all, mention Kennington.

[Please do feel free to comment if I've been desperately unfair! This blog welcomes disagreement.]

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Cinema museum

There is a good article posted by the Kennington News blog about the Cinema Museum on Duggard Way, in SE11, which is in danger of having to close due to needing a new premises.

More frequent buses in South London

The chaps and chapesses over at Oval News have got wind from TFL that there are to be extra buses laid on in and around the SE11 area. They report here that:

1. The 155 bus will increase frequency from every 12 mins, to every 10 mins, but only on Sunday. [That seems to me to be a fairly minor change.] In case you wondered, the rough route for the 155 is as follows:

St George's Hospital - Tooting - Balham - Clapham - Stockwell - Kennington - Elephant & Castle

2. The 88 bus is due to increase in frequency from 12 mins to 10 mins on Sundays and during every evening. In addition, the weekly night buses will increase in frequency from 30 to 20 minutes. Again, if you're not sure, the route for the 88 is as follows:

Clapham Common - Vauxhall - Westminster - Oxford Circus - Camden Town

This public transport geek is pleased.

Unfortunately, we've still no update on proposals for the Cross River Tram. I'm getting rather pessimistic as the days go by.

Gasometers, hotel development and the Kennington Oval

I've not spotted any of the other blogs picking up on this, but Construction News plus have reported here that the Buncefield Major Incident Investigation Board (set up after a tanker explosion near an oil plant) have called for reviews of building around "dangerous" sites.

The reason that this affects us around SE11 is because of the proposed hotel development at the Kennington Oval. There is still to be a public enquiry, but the decision about whether building work might be taking place too close to the gasometers could well slow down the planning process once the public enquiry (which is due to take place soon) has happened. I'm in two minds about the development. A well built hotel, offering jobs and facilities for local people, is not to be immediately shouted down. On the other hand, there will be a definite increase in traffic around the roads that would lead to the hotel, and those roads are in very residential areas. The proposals would have to be thought through to demonstrate that people weren't kept awake or furthur polluted by having the roads around the Oval used for deliveries.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Lilian Baylis surfing ahead

I just caught this news item in today about Lilian Baylis Technology School (on Kennington Lane) winning 10k funding in order to promote computer use in the homes of some of their students.

The e-learning foundation (who have handed over the cash) consider that low income families often do not have computers at home, and so children from the low income families have less access to the opportunities that technology provides. Also, apparently providing households with computers allows members of the wider family to use the same computer for job searching, so providing a computer gives benefit to the entire household.

It all sounds rather good, but I do wonder how they know that the computer will be used mainly? primarily? sometimes? for educational purposes (which is why they think the enterprise is worthwhile). Maybe they consider that the sheer existence of computer technology in the home, is, of itself of educational value, whatever the use the computer is put to.

Anyhow, I'm all for Lilian Baylis receiving grants (they don't exactly charge fees), so good for them!

Monday, 21 July 2008

New SE11 related blogs and a look at the political wards

I've resisted adding SE11 councillor blogs to the list until recently because I do not support any particular political party. However, I today discovered two blogs both written by different parties, so I do not appear partisan and since they both cover the area, it seems a shame not to link to them. They are as follows:

1. Oval News - by 3 lib dem councillors in the Oval Ward

2. SE11 Action team - by 3 labour councillors (and some of their supporters) in the Princes Ward

That made me wonder about the rest of the Lambeth political wards, and whether they are represented. (SE11 is largely spread across the Borough of Lambeth, but there are a few bits at the north end that come under Southwark's control). There's a nice handy map of the Lambeth Wards on the Lambeth Council website.

As you can see, the ones that are relevant to SE11 and surrounds are:

1. Princes Ward - This is really the northern part of SE11. It goes up as far as the southern half of Brook Drive, runs down the middle of Kennington Park Road and does not go any furthur south than Kennington Lane. The map also indicates that it covers half of the river Thames! [Labour - as of July 2008]

2. Oval Ward - This is a major constituent part of SE11 and also covers quite a lot of SW8. It includes the whole of Kennington Park, Oval cricket ground (which is its centre) and Vauxhall Park. It goes south as far as Dorset Road and Thorne Road, east to cover a small portion of Brixton Road, and in the north, it runs down the middle of Kennington Lane. [Lib-Dem - as of July 2008]

3. Bishop's Ward - There is a very tiny part of the north east corner of SE11 that is covered by Bishop's Ward. The northern part of Old Paradise Street, the northern part of Fitzalan Street, the whole of Walnut Tree Walk and a very small segment of Kennington Road all fall into this ward. I think, however, that my own postcode map boundaries are a little hazy around here, because SE1 creeps into some of the streets around here. [Lib Dem - as of July 2008]

4. Vassall Ward - This is not strictly a part of SE11, but it's very close to Oval, and covers the area south-east of SE11. For our purposes, it goes down the middle of Camberwell New Road in the north, and Clapham Road on the west. [Labour / Lib Dem Split as of July 2008]

5. Stockwell Ward - Again, this also does not cover SE11, but is situated to the south west of SE11. [Labour as of July 2008]

The political parties of the councillors and the councillor details are all condensed on very helpful Lambeth Council page here.

A useful website for those looking for houses in SE11 - [Part 1 of house hunting in SE11]

This is Part 1 of an ongoing series for people interested in buying, renting, obtaining local authority / housing association property, squatting or crashing on somebody's floor in the SE11 area. I'll also see if I can talk a little about obtaining parking, permits and car clubs in Lambeth as well. is an excellent resource whether you are looking for a property to buy or rent in SE11. The site features an SE11 area information page where you can find such information as council tax rates, school performance ratings, crime statistics and some 'word on the street' submitted by SE11 residents.
You can search lists of houses in SE11, flats in SE11 and view selling prices of any house in your street in the last eight years. If you're feeling particularly nosey, you can see how much your neighbours bought their house for! (Or indeed, in this climate, how much money your neighbours lost when they sold their house!!)

[And in case you wondered, FindAProperty have agreed to link to me from their website. However, in the interests of keeping things fair, I've decided to launch a general guide to searching for property in the SE11 area, as it's something I've considerable experience of! I must also add that, out of all the property portals, Findaproperty is one of my personal favourites, but I'll talk in furthur detail about some other portals later in the series.]

Sunday, 20 July 2008

More Dippy Egg Cafe goodness

You'll recall about a month ago I made a post with some photos about the opening of the new Dippy Egg Cafe on Kennington Road. Oddly, since that day, I've found that one person (or I'm presuming one person) searches this blog (often several times a week) using the Google search term "dippy egg cafe" "opening times". I don't know who they are or whether it's a web-crawler thing, or quite what, but here is the answer...

I have been informed today, through a reliable source, that the promoter of the Dippy Egg Cafe is now extending its opening hours. In addition, there is currently a summer offer running, as follows:

Mon- Fri: 7am - 10pm (Except Monday evenings)
Saturday: 8am - 10pm
Sunday : 9am - 3pm

Apparently, the cafe also offers free wifi, and there is currently a special summer offer which means a free glass of wine with evening meals is available. Also, it's now possible to bring your own bottle.

How exciting!

Saturday, 19 July 2008

The inspiration for the SE11 blog; 56a infoshop

I've been meaning, for a while, to make a post about (part of) the reason for starting this blog.

I used to work in the SE11 area in a job where I was required to spend a considerable amount of time trudging around Kennington, Elephant, Vauxhall, Stockwell, Brixton, all over really. Whilst working, I chose to walk a great deal, and I took a lot of short cuts through random areas. Such trudging lead to lurking, and the lurking lead to a great deal of knowledge about some really groovy hangouts.

The one that really inspired the blog though was the discovery of the 56a Infoshop on Crampton Street. It was the first place that made me say, "I wonder why more people don't know about this... it's a really good local place to lurk about". I know that Crampton Street is in SE17, but it's one of the places I really wanted to add to the map, even though it's outside the mapped area (and it's also one of the reasons that SE17 is a place that I'm qite interested in blogging).

The 56a Infoshop on Crampton Street is a kind of information resource and food distribution centre and social space, based loosely around a theme of "radical" politics. It appears to be held together by volunteers who work fairly limited shifts. This sounds like a bad thing, but actually the limited opening times almost always guarantee that it's open when it says it will be. At certain times, the Fair Shares food place (I hesitate to say "shop" since I think it would be better characterised as a "way of life") is open, and it sells (not for profit) vegetarian and vegan goods. At other times, they run free bike workshops for teaching people how to fix bikes. My favourite part though, is the kind of archive of books, zines, pamphlets and odd bits of paper based loosely around the theme of alternative politics. It include anarchy, encapsulates feminist info (really hard to find this these days), socialist literature, queer history, alternative histories of London, squatting info, and a whole lot of things that don't quite fit into the categories outlined. Also, they have a fair amount of non-UK related material.

When you first wander into 56a, it's quite odd as it doesn't appear to be "staffed" by anybody. There is no hierarchy, and anybody can come and affiliate (or just lurk there) themselves, if they feel that the space might be useful for them to read, study or hang about in.

There is a website for the 56a Infoshop here.

Edit: There's a great video by some friendly looking ladies about their work too.

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