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Archive for June, 2013

Do you know a garden in need of a makeover?

19 Jun

Do you know any local residents in the Oval Ward area in need of a garden makeover or horticultural advice from experts?

Sam Wildman from Plum Pictures has been in contact and asked us to get the message out about a new Channel 4 TV gardening series.  The key points are:

  • Opportunity for residents in the Oval ward to participate in a brand new TV series for Channel 4.
  • Mary Portas and Channel 4 are bringing together a team of retired people with a wealth of skills and experience to provide professional gardening services throughout London, including Oval.
  • If you’ve got any ideas, e-mail work@plumpictures.co.uk

I nominate anyone with Japanese Knotweed around the Offley Road area for starters.  Then there’s the best(?) local wisteria that needs to be taken to a new level.  How about some native bluebells to replace the Spanish hybrid types epidemic in the area?  Get your thinking caps on and get the word out.  Here are some pictures to inspire everyone.

 

Red List (?) Bumble Bee at Kennington Park Keepers Lodge

16 Jun

Rare bumble bee at Bee UrbanThis wild bumblebee was spotted today at the Kennington Park Keeper’s Lodge. Bee Urban were having one of their regular open days and I was asked to take a photo of it because this particular species – the buff tailed bumble bee – is on a watch list.

Lambeth have recently applied to have the Keepers’ Lodge demolished as part of the Northern Line Extension work. It remains to be seen how this will affect local wildlife – bees in particular.

 

One way to clear street clutter and vandalise bike at same time

15 Jun

Street Clutter ClearingThe Oval Crossing is one of the top ten most dangerous junctions for cyclists in London.  It seems that the risk also extends to parked bicycles.  I took this picture this morning at the corner of Brixton and Prima Roads which leads into the junction.  It seems like a vehicle mounted the pavement and managed to take out a cycle stand, bollard and bin not to mention crushing the bike.

I’m not a great fan of street clutter and doubt whether bollards provide much protection to pedestrians if a car does mount the pavement.  Much as I would like to remove a lot of street clutter, I would stop short of using this method.

I don’t know the circumstances of this particular incident but some drivers go a little too fast through this junction.  There are aspirations to extend 20mph speed limits to residential roads but perhaps TfL need to look at the speed limits on red routes like Brixton Road.  It would be nice to be able to say that Kennington/Oval roads are to go safety to not to speed through.

 

 

 

Table boot sale – A chance to see Ashmole Sheltered Clubhouse

13 Jun

This Saturday (15 June 2013) there is a ‘table boot sale’ at the Ashmole Sheltered Clubhouse at 2 Coney Way. The event runs from 11am to 3pm. Do try and get along to support the event as it is a rare opportunity to see the heart of the Ashmole Estate.

The clubhouse is hidden away in the centre of the Ashmole Estate and can be reached through a passage way off Carroun Road (the road that runs between the Fentiman Arms and the Ashmole Stores).  I like what Metropolitan Housing Trust (MHT) have done with the garden and  trust the residents like it too.  Here are some pictures.

 
 

Claylands Green Summer Lunch

08 Jun

More than 60 people turned up at the Claylands Green summer lunch today. The lunch was organised by IMPACT (the local resident group that covers the area) and is fast becoming a popular community event.  It was nice to see so many families and children playing on the green.  All three local councillors (Jack Hopkins, Jane Edbroke and Ishbel Brown) came and it was nice to see local businesses represented including:
* Ludlow Thompson (estate agent) who donated some bubbly for event and
* Tracey – the new landlady for the Roebuck.

Haibat Arbo from Lambeth Council was also present to discuss the Neighbourhood Enhancement Programme (NEP). Haibat is best known locally for his work on the award winning Van Gogh Walk.  Display boards were also on show inviting residents to put their ideas forward for improving the area.  Whilst the NEP will not be able to deliver radical street landscaping it does offer a chance to tidy up the area – remove some redundant parking posts/bollards, review the parking bays, some additional planting areas etc.

 
 

Zumba demonstration at Oval Farmers’ Market

08 Jun

Zumba is a dance fitness program that originated in Columbia in the 1990s and is now practised in some 150 countries around the world. Sarah French, a local fitness instructor, and some dance class members were demonstrating Zumba dancing at the Oval Farmers’ Market today. Sarah runs two local Zumba courses on Mondays at Ashmole Primary School (from 18:15) and on Wednesdays at Lilian Baylis School (from 18:45) See Sarah French’s Zumba website.  It looks fun – so I’ll definitely give it a try.

 

Post Office plans to close Kennington Park branch

04 Jun

Local residents and representatives of local community groups attended a ‘pre-consultation’ meeting at Kennington Park Estate Community Centre yesterday (3rd June 2013 from 19:15). The meeting was chaired by Kate Hoey MP. Simon Burman (External Stakeholder Manager) and Julie Thomas put forward the Post Office view. Ian Ward and Peter Meech spoke on behalf of the Commercial Workers Union (CWU) whose members will be affected.  

Kennington Park Road Crown Post Office Meeting
 

Simon Burman stated that the Post Office were planning to “merge Kennington Park and Walworth post offices”. The euphemism was immediately seized on by the audience as it was clear that the intention was to shut the Kennington Park Road Crown Post Office. This is a very busy post office generating a high footfall. Its’ closure would be devastating to the local community and would “serve a death sentence on some local shops”.

The general reaction of the audience was one of shock that the Post Office was even considering closing such a busy branch. Simon Burman put forward the argument that this particular branch was un-profitable and was unlikely to be turned around. Although many shops would like to have the foot fall of post offices, the financial reality was that many of the items/services had very low profit margins making them unviable [Comment: Not sure how this is helped by moving all the work to one branch as that would just result in longer queues for the same low profit margins items] The unions countered that the Post Office was using an invalid assessment which favoured some parts of their business at the expense of Crown Post Office making them appear to cost more/contribute less than they actually do.

Several residents and representatives of local groups emphasised the adverse impact on local people particularly the elderly and infirm. The proposal was insensitive to their needs as it was clearly not practical to expect such individuals to commute to the more distant Walworth Road office which, in any case, had much poorer transport infrastructure compared with the Kennington Park Road office which is between Oval and Kennington Stations and well served by local bus routes. Questions were asked about the socio-demographic differences of the populations served by the post offices and it was evident that this had not been considered. The Post Office was asked to make available all of the underpinning data and assumptions behind their proposal.

Another was the impact on small business particularly charity and community groups. One local charity representative stated that it would be difficult to continue if the branch were to close.

Michael Keane (Oval Partnership) outlined the impact of the closure of the sub-post at 12 Clapham Road some years ago. The effect was immediate and devastating on local shops with several closing in the following months and years. The parade has yet to recover. Another consequence of the closure was that a local sheltered housing block, from which residents could walk to the post office, had to start taking cabs to the more distant Kennington Park Road Office. If this office closes, they will need to travel even further.

As this was a ‘pre-consultation’ meeting to gather initial views from the local community it was hoped that the Post Office would change its mind. If not, their will be formal 12 week consultation phase at some future date to be announced.

Kate Hoey closed the meeting thanking the speakers. This is clearly an important issue that will gather pace as the local community becomes aware of the proposal to close the Kennington Park Road Crown Post Office.

 

Kennington Park Post Office Under Threat?

01 Jun

There will be a public meeting to discuss the future of the Kennington Park Crown Post Office on Monday 3 June at 19:15 in the Kennington Park Estate Community Centre . Speakers include Kate Hoey MP and a representative of the Post Office. If you care about your local post office you should attend the meeting, find out what’s going on and let your opinions be known.

Kennington Park Post Office

 

Impact of post office sell off/closures

If post offices are sold off it is perhaps inevitable that the new owner would wish to reduce costs and focus on those branches/services which produce the most profit. In the event of the Kennington Park Post office being under threat of closure it is worth knowing the consequences if does close.

Post offices, particularly larger ones like the Kennington Park Post Office, generate a lot of ‘footfall’. Local businesses benefit from this footfall as a proportion of people visiting the post office will go into other shops. When the smaller post office near the Oval Station closed, the effect on some local shops was devastating. Once it closed, there was an immediate reduction in footfall with many local shops reporting a reduction in customers. This pushed some shops into the red and the local shopping parade has yet to recover. Another unintended consequence of the closure of this particular office was that residents of a local sheltered housing block reportedly had to start taking cabs to the more distant post office – whilst they could walk a few hundred meters to the shops, a return trip of a mile was more than many could manage.

It is always dangerous to make forecasts but this is one I would bet a lot of money on. If the Kennington Park Post Office were to close I forecast:

(1) An immediate reduction in local footfall in the Kennington Park Road/Kennington Road area;
(2) Certain local businesses reliant on footfall will notice a reduction in the number of their customers; (Note: Not all businesses are equally affected. Some, like pharmacies and estate agents, tend to generate their own foot fall and will be less affected by the closure of the post office. Others will be devastated.);
(3) Some businesses along the Kennington Park Road will almost certainly see a significant reduction in their turnover. Although Kennington Cross shops are a little further away, there too some shops will be adversely affected as potential customers go elsewhere;
(4) There will be an increased turnover of local shops/business (As footfall reduces, the numbers and range of shops that the area will support changes. Businesses already affected by high local parking charges and unhelpful red route timings may well be pushed to the brink and close sooner or later. As each shop closes it accelerates change often to the detriment
(5) Small fledgling businesses, like those relying on mail order, may be discouraged from even starting
(5) As businesses start to close and foot fall reduces, the need for a local bank comes into question. High street bank branches are also under threat and it would be easy to see a scenario where the one remaining local bank – Barclays – also closes.

It may be the case that if you could fast forward 10 years, a new thriving commercial area might emerge. In the short term, following closure of the post office, it seems much more likely that the area will go into decline which could result in increased street crime. If the Post Office is going to close then it would be much better to plan for a replacement business that helps maintain the foot fall. The area does not need another derelict shop.