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New Lives for Fallen Branches

Yes, Brockwell Park is bigger and offers perhaps more scenic variety, but Ruskin Park is closer. Those of us who live in this quarter of Herne Hill are doubly blessed.

But Ruskin Park has one (so far) unique detail. The massive fallen branch of the Turkey Oak which looms at the bottom corner of the park near Finsen Road has been granted a new life by the Friends of Ruskin Park, who engaged the artist Morganico to work on it, producing a wealth of carved three-dimensional designs – a whale, squirrel, acorns, oak leaves and even a seat and a recess for your coffee cup (though of course we are not supposed to sit down anywhere in public parks at the moment). Children love it, everyone stops to admire it.

Carved oak branch: detail

You can read a full article about this project, which also features the artist, in the next issue of Herne Hill magazine hopefully out next month. Covid permitting, those joining the Herne Hill Society now (a mere £10) will be sure of getting a copy delivered to them.

Meanwhile the Brockwell Park urban forest are not far behind.

They too have a great and ancient oak tree, albeit of a different species, which has also lost a significant branch. There are now plans to make that branch, too, come alive with carvings by the same artist – all subject to a host of necessary permissions and approvals of course. Undoubtedly some money is needed.

Brockwell’s Oak and fallen branch

When complete, this new carved bench will be dedicated to all those we have lost during the pandemic & work towards improving mental health for the local community and all visitors to the park.

There is now a funding campaign to help this project along, which can be seen at  GoFundMe.

 

The Nottingham Knockers scam

Who are they?

Nottingham Knockers (that’s where it started, apparently, but it’s a generic name) are usually young men who go door to door, selling household products. They are dropped off early in the morning in a particular location by a large van and are then transported around that area throughout the day until approx 2100hrs.

They will offer to show you ID which will likely be ‘Hawkers Work Creation’ and say they have just been released from prison. This company does not actually exist and is purely a laminated piece of card with their picture on. They will be carrying a large holdall style bag which contains various household items at high prices and will try and hard sell to make more money. They will also tell you about how they are trying to make a better life.

Police all across the country regularly receive calls from the public, who state that upon declining the products, they have been subjected to verbal abuse and threats to cause criminal damage from the sellers. Police have carried out stop checks and the people involved have been identified.

Police advice

If you do experience any verbal abuse and feel intimidated, please call 101 and tell the police what was said, and a description of the person.

Tier 4 Rules

We thought it might be useful to flag up the latest government rules, issued last night, about how we’re supposed to behave under the new Tier 4 rules

Sorry this is rather long. What follows are lifted from the Department of Health Guidelines. The full guidance can be seen here.

Summary

“If you live in a Tier 4 area, you must follow the rules below from Sunday 20 December. This means that you cannot meet other people indoors, including over the Christmas period, unless you live with them, or they are part of your existing support bubble. Outdoors, you can only meet one person from another household. These rules will not be relaxed for Christmas.”

Stay at home

You must not leave or be outside of your home except for where you have a specific purpose, or a ‘reasonable excuse’. A reasonable excuse includes:

Work and volunteering

You can leave home for work purposes, where your place of work remains open and where you cannot work from home (including if your job involves working in other people’s homes).

Essential activities

You can leave home to buy things at shops which are permitted to open in your area, but you should stay local. For instance you can leave home to buy food or medicine, or to collect any items – including food or drink – ordered through click-and-collect or as a takeaway, to obtain or deposit money (e.g. from a bank or post office), or to access critical public services (see section below).

Italy has some of the toughest restrictions – effectively a national lockdown for much of the holiday period. The entire country will be subject to “red zone” restrictions, meaning people will be allowed to leave their homes only to work, buy essentials or attend medical appointments.

Fulfilling legal obligations

You may also leave home to fulfil legal obligations, or to carry out activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property, or vote in certain elections taking place overseas.

Education and childcare

You can leave home for education (formal provision, rather than extracurricular classes such as music or drama tuition, or out of school settings) or training, registered childcare and supervised activities for children that are necessary to allow parents/carers to work, seek work, undertake education or training, or attend a medical appointment. Parents can still take their children to school, and people can continue existing arrangements for contact between parents and children where they live apart. This includes childcare bubbles.

Meeting others and care

1 in 3 people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and will be spreading it without realising it.

You can leave home to visit people in your support bubble, or to provide informal childcare for children aged 13 and under as part of a childcare bubble, to provide care for vulnerable people, to provide emergency assistance, attend a support group (of up to 15 people), or for respite care where that care is being provided to a vulnerable person or a person with a disability, or is a short break in respect of a looked after child.

Exercise and recreation

People can also exercise outdoors or visit some public outdoor places, such as parks, the countryside, public gardens or outdoor sports facilities. You can continue to do unlimited exercise alone, or in a public outdoor place with your household, support bubble, or one other person.

Medical reasons, harm and compassionate visits

You can leave home for any medical reason, including to get a COVID-19 test, for medical appointments and emergencies, to be with someone who is giving birth, to avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm (such as domestic abuse), or for animal welfare reasons – such as to attend veterinary services for advice or treatment.

You can also leave home to visit someone who is dying or someone in a care home (if permitted under care home guidance), hospice, or hospital, or to accompany them to a medical appointment.

Meeting others safely

In general, you must not meet with another person socially or undertake any activities with another person. However, you can exercise or meet in a public outdoor place with people you live with, your support bubble (or as part of a childcare bubble), or with one other person.

You should minimise time spent outside your home. When around other people, stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household – meaning the people you live with – or your support bubble. Where this is not possible, stay 1 metre apart with extra precautions (e.g. wearing a face covering).

You must not meet socially indoors with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble.

You can exercise or visit a public outdoor place

  • by yourself
  • with the people you live with,
  • with your support bubble,
  • or, when on your own, with 1 person from another household.

Children under 5, and up to two carers for a person with a disability who needs continuous care are not counted towards the outdoors gatherings limit.

Public outdoor places include:

  • parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
  • public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
  • allotments
  • the grounds of a heritage site
  • outdoor sports courts and facilities
  • playgrounds

You cannot meet people in a private garden, unless you live with them or have formed a support bubble with them.

You must wear a face covering in many indoor settings, such as shops or places of worship where these remain open, and on public transport, unless you are exempt. This is the law. Read guidance on face coverings.

Support and childcare bubbles

There is separate guidance for support bubbles and childcare bubbles across all tiers. You can form a support bubble with another household if any of the following apply to you:

  • you are the only adult in your household (any other members of the household having been under 18 on 12 June 2020), or are an under 18 year old living without any adults
  • you live with someone with a disability who requires continuous care and there is no other adult living in the household
  • you live with a child under 1, or who was under 1 on 2 December 2020
  • you live with a child under 5, or who was under 5 on 2 December 2020, with a disability

You may need to change your support bubble if your circumstances change. Find out more about changing your support bubble.

Where and when you can meet in larger groups

There are still circumstances in which you are allowed to meet others from outside your household or support bubble in larger groups, but this should not be for socialising and only for permitted purposes. A full list of these circumstances will be included in the regulations, and includes:

  • for work, or providing voluntary or charitable services. This includes picketing outside workplaces. This can include work in other people’s homes where necessary – for example, for nannies, cleaners or tradespeople. See guidance on working safely in other people’s homes). Where a work meeting does not need to take place in a private home or garden, it should not – for example, although you can meet a personal trainer, you should do so in a public outdoor public place.
  • in a childcare bubble(for the purposes of childcare only)
  • for registered childcare, or for supervised activities for children where this enables a parent to work, seek work, attend education or training, or for respite care
  • education or training – meaning education related to a formal curriculum or training that relates to work or obtaining work
  • for arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents or guardians
  • to allow contact between birth parents and children in care, as well as between siblings in care
  • for prospective adopting parents to meet a child or children who may be placed with them
  • for birth partners
  • to provide emergency assistance, and to avoid injury or illness, or to escape a risk of harm
  • to see someone who is dying
  • to fulfil a legal obligation, such as attending court or jury service
  • for gatherings within criminal justice accommodation or immigration detention centres
  • to provide care or assistance to someone vulnerable, or to provide respite for a carer
  • for a wedding or equivalent ceremony in exceptional circumstances, as set out below.
  • for funerals – up to a maximum of 30 people. Wakes and other linked ceremonial events can continue in a group of up to 6.
  • to visit someone at home who is dying, or to visit someone receiving treatment in a hospital, hospice or care home, or to accompany a family member or friend to a medical appointment
  • for elite sportspeople (and their coaches if necessary, or parents/guardians if they are under 18) to compete and train
  • to facilitate a house move

 

Support groups that have to be delivered in person can continue with up to 15 participants where formally organised to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support – but they must take place at a premises other than a private home. This includes, but is not limited to, support to victims of crime, people in drug and alcohol recovery, new parents and guardians, people caring for those with long-term or terminal illnesses, or who are vulnerable, people facing issues relating to their sexuality or gender, those who have suffered bereavement, and vulnerable young people, including for them to meet youth workers.

Parent and child groups can continue where they provide support to parent and/or child, and children under 5 will not be counted within the 15 person limit – meaning parents and carers can attend such groups in larger numbers. These cannot take place in private dwellings.

Where a group includes someone covered by an exception (for example, someone who is working or volunteering), they are not generally counted as part of the gatherings limit. This means, for example, a tradesperson can go into a household without breaching the limit, if they are there for work, and the officiant at a wedding would not count towards the limit.

Cleaners, trades people etc

“Where it is necessary for you to work in other people’s homes – for example, for nannies, cleaners or tradespeople – you can do so. Otherwise, you should avoid meeting for work in a private home or garden, where COVID-19 Secure measures may not be in place.”

If you break the rules

The police can take action against you if you meet in larger groups. This includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fines (fixed penalty notices).

You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000.

Phew!

Bike theft

You probably don’t need the warning … but just in case, this was posted by someone in SE24 on the Nextdoor website earlier today.

“Stolen bike (Herne Hill, SE24).

Hello all, make sure you keep any bikes firmly locked up, preferably inside at the moment. Someone broke into our communal entrance hallway and stole my hybrid bike on Tuesday night (I’ve now found my bike being sold on Gumtree in Barking 🙄).

 

Our neighbour’s son was also mugged for his bike too recently.

Bike theft is on the rise in the lead up to Christmas so be extra careful. If you’re buying a bike off somewhere like Gumtree, I recommend asking for a picture of the frame number. You can then check if it’s been registered as a stolen bike on websites like Bike Register .”

Brockwell Park music events – Lambeth respond

Following our earlier post (below) about the proposed massive music events in Brockwell Park next summer, we wrote to our two Labour councillors expressing serious concern.

Jim Dickson replied promptly. His response reads as follows:

“Thank you for getting in touch and for putting forward your views as part of the consultation, held much earlier in the process than previously under our new Events Strategy so that we ensure stakeholder feedback is incorporated much earlier on. It is vitally important that residents able to feed back and play an active role in the conversation around events in parks and how Lambeth maximises its cultural offer to its residents.

Our parks and open spaces have been, and continue to be, a lifeline for people during lockdown and they are hugely important for the health and wellbeing of our residents. I am hugely proud of our parks team, volunteers and friends groups and others who have played their part in Lambeth’s parks being voted the best in London as per the recently published Good Parks for London report. We take our role enormously seriously as the custodians of these great public amenities, not just in terms of protecting the ecology within the park but enhancing it as we rise to meet the necessary challenges facing us in terms of the climate and ecological emergency. I am proud that this was also reflected in the Good Parks for London report, where Lambeth was only one of two London boroughs to score in the highest category on ‘sustainability’ as well as also doing the same in the ‘supporting nature’ category. We wouldn’t do anything that put at risk the precious ecology of our green spaces.

Sadly the financial pressures that the council faces due to the government reneging on its promise to not leave councils to pick up the bill for the coronavirus pandemic and this means that we do have to ensure that we bring income in across the board so that we are able to continue to spend on our at-risk young people, on care for our older residents or on our award-winning parks and open spaces.

I am pleased to say however that the event organisers for the coming summer event are changing their application so that the events will only run for 1 weekend rather than the 2 originally proposed. In other words the application is similar in pretty much all respects to that for the events which ran successfully in 2019. The change means the events will therefore set up and pack down in shorter time than in the original application and there will be fewer days when parts of the park can’t be used. That is an outcome I support.”

Christmas parcel scam warning

Norwood Action Group are warning of a Christmas scam involving allegedly undelivered parcels, according to the News from Crystal Palace blog earlier today.

NAG say: “Scammers are using Christmas trading to send fake ‘attempted delivery’ emails using company names like DPD.”

This can be followed by a suggestion that you pay extra for redelivery  –  at which point the scammers have your bank details!

See story here.

Festivals in Brockwell Park, Summer 2021 – here we go again

Lambeth Council’s plans to allow music festivals again in Brockwell Park are already well advanced, all subject of course to Covid-19.

At this stage,we have until 8 December to make our views known to Councillors (see below).

Published documents envisage a Summer Event Series 2021 with up to six Large / Major event days taking place over two consecutive weekends, with medium/ small community event days taking place in the weekdays between.

The Great Wall of Brockwell

Final decisions will supposedly be made next spring. But the council has naturally been in discussion with the operators already, and appears disposed to grant permission. So, pandemic permitting, the park will again hold a major event organised by Mighty Hoopla plus other events.

Areas blocked off for weeks

The occupation of major parts of the park area would start on Wednesday 26 May (when the contractors begin the build) lasting until Sunday 20 June 2021 when the derig ends. Allow several more weeks for repairing  the damage done to the ground and fixtures of the park.

Quite a lot of people

On ‘Major Event Days’, planning will be in place to accommodate 25,000 on site each day. On ‘Large Event Days’ (mid-week community days), planning will be in place to accommodate up to 10,000 on site.

The detailed timetable, and other details, are in a densely worded Lambeth document: see  Brockwell Park 2021 summer events

Divisive?

As in previous years, the prospect of such events provokes controversy.

Some people are content to see the park used in ways that brings fun to mainly young people, and some financial benefit to the council and some local businesses. Others are bitterly opposed to offering this public amenity to what are, in effect, fiercely commercial operators whose events can damage the park, create massive noise disturbance, disrupt local streets and prevent local people and visitors having access to and enjoyment of many areas of the Park .

According to a recent Brixton Buzz article, The Friends of Brockwell Park, in particular, are leading the outcry and inviting people to protest to our Councillors by 8 December. We can also send comments direct to Lambeth via events@lambeth.gov.uk

Events have damaged the park

Our Herne Hill Ward Lambeth Councillors’ contact details are as follows:

Cllr Jim Dickson (Labour Party)           jdickson@lambeth.gov.uk

Cllr Pauline George (Labour Party)     pgeorge@lambeth.gov.uk

Cllr Becca Thackray (Green Party)      BThackray@lambeth.gov.uk

The Park in normal times

A view sublime?

Living in Herne Hill brings many advantages and pleasures, not least because we are, er, living on an actual Hill. So we have views.

When John Ruskin and his family lived in their houses near the top of Herne Hill itself, there were more views, because there was so much less housing. Much of the time he found them blissful, but in 1854 the translation of the Crystal Palace from South Kensington to the summit of Sydenham Hill spoilt his view southwards. He described the Crystal Palace as “possessing no more sublimity than a cucumber frame between two chimneys”. (Sublimity was a big thing for him; he was not normally seduced by modernity.) Anyways it’s gone now, burnt down in 1936.

But we have other views, particularly to the south-west, and they show a world city which is still evolving. When we looked in that direction a few years ago, we would have seen the four iconic chimneys of Battersea Power Station. Though they are still there, they are dwarfed and hidden from our view by the gleaming towers of the new South Bank development generally known as Nine Elms.

Nine Elms / Embassy Quarter from Ruskin Park

This 561-acre space between Vauxhall and Battersea is transforming at a pace seldom seen in an established world city, with £15 billion total investment, 20,000 new homes and reportedly 25,000 new jobs. The Northern Line Extension with two stations is scheduled to open in 2021. There will still be the vegetable and flower market, tucked among the skyscrapers and the new US Embassy.

Poor Mr Ruskin would probably have hated it, and many of us would not actually want to live there. But we might be happy to view it from a safe distance, across Ruskin Park. In its own dramatic way, the view is perhaps sublime.