Friday, 20 February 2009

Additional library for Lambeth... The Library House

At the end of last year, astute local news watchers might have noticed that Lambeth Council was accused of opening "ghost" libraries, shortly before the Council was due to be inspected. It opened temporary book borrowing from three already existing facilities that it ran, but the facilities were never intended to be libraries. Whilst Lambeth Council claimed the "libraries" were pilot projects, some internal emails from staff indicate otherwise...

But the really good news is that Lambeth does have a new library (or at least one that has been given a new lease of life). And guess what? Lambeth Council is trying to close it down. Why are there no headlines? Why no outraged Daily Mail readers? Well, presumably because, like the transport network is at times subject to "the wrong kind of snow", Lambeth Council is now subject "to the wrong kind of library".

According to an article in The Evening Standard (that liberal bastion of merry goodness), about the Library House's occupants,

"Lambeth council had most recently been using it to provide social housing but it had been vacated for renovations.

Yet construction work has not been able to get under way and the squatters have refused repeated pleas to leave during the last six months. The council now faces a legal battle to obtain a court eviction order."

There's a quote by one of the occupants (Simon), who apparently said:

"When we arrived, it was in a real mess. We cleaned up the garden and fixed all the rooms. There were squatters here before us who sold drugs. We are not interested in any of that. We do live an alternative lifestyle, but all we want to do here is something for the community."

Well, how fabulous! I applaud the efforts of all squatters and other anarchist-y types who are attempting to work for the common good, or create that most elusive concept, "community". I think it's really good news that they're offering classes in everything from "Squatting" to "Spanish". And all of that, for no charge at all. Lambeth Council should be encourage such initiatives! It's hardly like they're going to get any money to put all of their empty buildings to good use.

I confess I've not yet visited them because whilst my soul is that of an anarchist, community forming, hippy squatter, my upbringing is one that almost entirely precluded such an anti-establishment option. I think I'm secretly afraid of getting beaten up for sustaining capitalism by doing an ordinary job in a corporate firm. One of these days I might just run away and join one of these self-sustaining anarchist communities. It's so damned tempting. In the meantime, I want the option open to me, so I'm going to unabashedly promote their activites. On Sunday 22nd (this weekend), they're going to be running a Free School. See here for more details.

I've been subscribed to their blog, The Library House, for sometime now and I think they deserve some good publicity. Billed as being in Camberwell, they are actually kind of in no (wo)mans land between Brixton, Camberwell and Stockwell, but it's definitely possible to walk/bus from SE11.

Oh, and I forgot... within the next weeks I'm going to be doing an exposé of some of the Lambeth Council properties in my locality that are currently boarded up because /that/ should act as a good answer to the commentators on the Library House who think that deserving people require housing. Yes, they do, and Lambeth Council doesn't seem to be doing much about it.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Round of News in SE London, and quick note on Brixton market

SE11 is still very quiet at the moment. The only event of note is that the Kennington Association will be having a bazaar on Saturday (21st Feb) from 11am-1pm. More details on the KA blog.

Consequently, I bring you only the pieces of exciting news that have caught my eye in the South East:

The Peoples' Republic of Southwark (courtesy of Camberwell Online) are hoping to set up a Public Meeting to increase Real Life interaction between people in Camberwell to involve more local people with their surroundings. More details on CamberwellOnline blog.

Again from Camberwell Online, funding has been approved for Phase 2 of the East London Line extension which will put more of South East London on the overground/tube. There's a lovely map (for those sad types that like to see coloured lines linking things together) from another blog here. It will be interesting to see how this might create possibilities for better joined up thinking in South London.

I forgot to mention that the nasty, ugly 23 storey building, destined for the end of Black Prince Road in SE11 didn't get the go ahead. London-SE1 did a report on that. There is likely to be an appeal, so we'll keep our fingers crossed. My only concern is that another developer might dream up something worse!

And finally... I'm not too sure how serious this threat is, but I've caught whiff of news which suggests that there is a company who hope to build on Granville Place (part of Brixton market). It's not possible to oppose the plan yet as it hasn't been placed on Lambeth Council's online Planning database. The Friends of Brixton Market have quickly put together some info. and have given instructions about what you can do to keep the market in place and to stop Brixton becoming some sort of trendy shopping mall. I like the market down in Brixton. I think it has great character, and some of the few fresh fish stalls left in London, so I'd be sad to see it turned into a bastion of smart looking chain stores, especially considering that Elephant and Castle will probably go that way any way (and surely with better reason than Brixton). Isn't there a limit to the amount of chain stores that any town centre needs...?

Monday, 2 February 2009

Kennington park and Kennington SE11 in the snow - amazing sculptures

Taken about an hour ago in Kennington Park:

These amazing sculptures have been designed and executed by local students at the City and Guilds of London Art School. They were supposed to be in college! Apparently, the first sculpture only took an hour and a half.

This one was the largest snowman in Kennington park:

This was my favourite Kennington Park snowman. Look carefully and you'll see he's from Columbia and is enjoying a drink!

An amazing snow bird, spotted on Kennington Park Road:

These three photos were taken this morning at about 8:45:

This is at the entrance to Kennington Park:

More Kennington Park this morning:

Kennington Park Road on the way to work this morning at 8:45:

Crossing Kennington Park at about 16:00 this afternoon:

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