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Just got an email from the office of Sir Steve (Lewisham’s mayor). Looks like they won’t be building a children’s play area in Eliot Pits after all:
The Preliminary Ecological Appraisal report recently undertaken by The Ecology Consultancy for Eliot Pits has now been received.
The Council’s Ecological Regeneration Manager has reviewed the report and given that the proposal will likely have “significant ecological impact” has recommended that this option is not pursued.
I imagine that further details will be available soon, but given your concerns I am sending you this information at the earliest opportunity following Sir Steve’s request that you are kept fully updated.
Got a very rapid response from the Mayor’s office. See below:
Dear Blackheath Bugle,
I am writing to you on behalf of Sir Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham, to acknowledge receipt of your email received 28th May 2013.
Having looked into this matter at Sir Steve’s request, the proposal for Eliot Pits to be considered as a suitable place to install children’s play facilities was first suggested at a Blackheath Ward assembly by local ward councillors as a key ward priority to meet a lack of an accessible children’s play area. By way of background, the criteria set out for the selection of sites for a children’s play space were that the site should be publically accessible and within the boundary of the Blackheath Ward. Any structures should not impact on the vista of the Heath, not be sited too close to residential properties and any facility should not have a detrimental affect on the ecology of the green space. Ward Councillors discussed various options within the Blackheath ward with parks officers, the Blackheath Society and the Local Assembly and it was decided that Eliot Pits was an option to put forward to the next stage. Options for sites on the more open sections of the Heath were rejected due to the impact on vista. I am also advised that during these meetings no suitable alternative had been suggested by members of the wider public.
That said, I would like to clarify that discussions into this suggestion are at a very early stage. The feasibility process has only recently started and nothing will be done until a phase 1 ecological survey is carried out by an independent consultant. Should the findings and recommendations in the survey conclude that the process can continue without detriment to the ecology of the area, the Council will commission landscape architects to begin the feasibility stage leading to outline design proposals. At this stage officers would carry out in-depth consultation with local residents, the Blackheath Society, the Safer Neighbourhood Team for Blackheath, the Blackheath Ward Assembly and other interested parties in addition to the relevant council officers. Following this, officers will ask the architects to complete the brief and then decide on particular proposals prior to seeking all necessary approvals and consents (Ministerial consent will be required for the permanent erection of the play equipment on the common). As part of the Ministerial consent process, there will be an opportunity for consultees to write to the Planning Inspectorate with any views on the proposal.
I trust that this is helpful.
Office of Sir Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham
Sounds like a level-headed response to me. Would be good to see the initial proposals as a public document. As a side-note, it might be worth also following David Notton who has been tweeting his ecological examinations of the pits:
I wonder whether having an active and responsive residents group in Blackheath in some way acts to the detriment of less wealthy parts of Lewisham in this instance. Because the Blackheath Society is so good at spotting potential sources of funding, it inevitably means that it will put in bids for funding more expertly than say a group based around a more deprived housing estate in another part of Lewisham. This isn’t a criticism of the Blackheath Society, just an observation.
I thought this might come in handy – here’s a map.
(click to get to the Google Map).
The green area is Eliot Pits where the playground is planned.
The blue is Heathside and Lethbridge, an estate being redeveloped without a play area. See the architects plans here.
The orange is the big flat space of land mentioned in Kate B’s comment.
I’ve no idea whether it is available or not, but it seems to me that there are plenty of urban areas in Lewisham which would benefit from a playground. If the Blackheath Society define themselves as Guardians of the Heath, that’s a tricky role to live up to, whilst attempting to please everyone in the area. It seems this proposal may have been a step in the wrong direction.
There’s a plan afoot to build a playground on Eliot Pits. (Eliot Pits is not a kid that went to the same school as you). It’s that really picturesque valley from where you can look down across the whole of London, on the edge of the Heath. It’s also been left relatively unchanged and wild for centuries.
The funding has come from a strange place. Boris has proposed a quite sensible idea to increase the number of “pocket parks” in urban areas, so that more people can enjoy green spaces. Which is a great idea! The problem is that this is already a green space, and it is being seen by some as a way to sneak development into this area by the back door.
There’s a petition to stop building on the site.
And a campaign leaflet.
It seems like this should be a core issue for the Blackheath Society over the next few months…
From Councillor Kevin Bonavia:
Lewisham Council have just served our legal challenge on the Government’s decision to drastically downgrade Lewisham Hospital A&E and maternity services on the ground that the Special Adminstrator was acting beyond his powers.
Depending on how the Government respond, this could end up being decided in Court as part of a substantial judicial review, by which we would seek the Court rendering the Government’s decision void.
As such, this could be a costly process, so the Council has set up a Legal Action Fund for the public to donate whatever they can towards legal funding. We don’t know at this early stage how much will be required, but if there is any surplus it will go to a local charity, Children First Lewisham.
The link to the online donation form can be found here:
I think this is a good practical step forward. I’ve replied to Kevin asking for a breakdown of the costs involved – I’ll update this page when he replies UPDATE: see below
If you can contribute to the fund, the direct link is here:
You can pay by credit or debit card, and the minimum is a fiver.
From Kevin again:
The costs of the legal challenge are initially likely to consist mostly of engaging specialist barrister expertise at Queen’s Counsel level, which unfortunately is not pro bono. Other work is being carried out by the Counsel’s in-house legal team for which there is no additional cost, although it does of course add to their workload. Provision also has to be made for any costs orders that be made by the Court during judicial review proceedings, but it is too early to estimate how much these might be at the moment.
As for operating the legal challenge fund, there are no external costs as this has been set up and maintained by Council officers, so it’s a matter of use of officers’ time, which I understand is quite minimal since the payment system used is the same as that for other payments made to the Council online. Just to make a small clarification to your post, I understand that people can enter a lower sum than the suggested £5 – and also a higher sum than the suggested maximum of £25! As of yesterday, the fund had received donations in a total sum of £2,400.
Working with local campaigners to save the Royal Surrey County Hospital’s A&E department from closure. A 6,000-strong rally, packed public meetings and a candle-lit vigil at Parliament all forced the local Primary Care Trust to keep the area’s vital resource open.
Strangely this quote has disappeared from his website, but Google still has a cache of it.
Spotted by eagle-eyed reader David Porter.
Video of the South London Healthcare NHS Trust statement in House of Commons
22m51s – Bob Neil Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst
24m50s – Dame Joan Ruddock – Labour, Lewisham and Deptford
28m18s – Bob Stewart – Conservative, Beckenham
29m56s – Heidi Alexander – Labour, Lewisham East
31m58s – Simon Hughes – Liberal Democrat, Bermondsey and Old Southwark
34m12s – Tessa Jowell – Dulwich and West Norwood
37m18s – Stephen Dorrell – Chair, Health Committee
38m37s – Jim Dowd – Labour, Lewisham West and Penge
41m52s – Nick de Bois – Conservative, Enfield North
42m48s – Clive Efford – Labour, Eltham
44m05s – Nick Raynsford – Labour, Greenwich and Woolwich
45m12s – Teresa Pearce – Labour, Erith and Thamesmead
47m27s – Kate Hoey – Labour, Vauxhall
49m38s – Kevin Barron – Labour, Rother Valley
Read the full paper here.
You can watch the video of Jeremy Hunt’s performance in the House of Commons today
On youtube here
here. You’ll need Silverlight installed, and you need to scroll to 11:33. You’ll be able to see the outrage of many London MPs at what is being pushed through.
James Cleverly’s astonishingly ill-judged tweet (Conservative member of the London Assembly):
Jeremy Hunt overrules the special administrator and will not to close Lewisham Hospital A&E department. Great news for all of SE London—
James Cleverly (@JamesCleverly) January 31, 2013
Heidi Alexander, before the announcement:
But it’s not over. As the Lewisham Lib Dems put it:
To which Darryl1974 suggested
And Heidi Alexander suggested the same thing on her blog:
“There is also a big legal question about whether the Secretary of State has the power to axe vital services at Lewisham based on the administration process that has taken place.
I know that Lewisham Council have threatened the Secretary of State with judicial review proceedings.
It seems to me that this decision could still be challenged in the courts and I will be seeking an urgent update from Lewisham Council about their plans.”
And a statement from Mayor Bullock today:
“I do not believe that the TSA had the statutory power to make recommendations about Lewisham Hospital and the Secretary of State therefore has no power to implement them.
“I will be talking to our lawyers and we will also of course need to talk to our colleagues at Lewisham Hospital in order to fully understand the implications of Mr Hunt’s statement.”
Good to see the Evening Standard informing and educating the metropolis:
So what to do? Suggestions below please.
Title of this blog pinched from KierShiels:
From 38 degrees:
Across London, NHS services are under threat. Right now, the health secretary Jeremy Hunt is considering scrapping vital services at Lewisham Hospital. If he does, 750,000 Londoners could have just one casualty department between them.
We’ve only got a few hours to stop him – he could be making the decision tomorrow. So far, over 13,000 members of 38 Degrees have asked Hunt to keep Lewisham’s services open. And last Saturday, an amazing 25,000 people turned out to line Lewisham’s streets in protest.
Don’t let Jeremy Hunt close vital Lewisham NHS services. Email him now here: