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.

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