Category Archives: Herne Hill

Herne Hill Ward Safer Neighbourhood Panel Meeting, 23 March 2023

This meeting was attended by representatives of the local police (only two, the others were off work for unstated reasons); two of the Herne Hill Ward councillors; a couple of representatives of local Herne Hill businesses and Traders Association; and people representing some (but not all) of the different areas/roads of Herne Hill.

Drugs, theft and ASB

The issue that took up most time was drug abuse and antisocial behaviour in and around Station Square, and the associated surge in shoplifting and aggressive begging. It was reported that some businesses had suffered costly opportunistic thefts. The two supermarkets were regularly raided by thieves who carried off bags of goods with total impunity. But even where a security guard was present, it was clear that they had orders not to endanger themselves by trying to physically prevent the shoplifters walking out with the goods.

Those who could observe this happening regularly, and who had learned to recognise the “usual suspects”, were convinced that the shoplifting was mainly designed, not to alleviate hunger or want, but to finance a drug habit. The police and the councillors were well aware of at least two local premises where addicts/thieves and petty dealers congregated to be supplied with and consume drugs. Raids had taken place, but the latest raid did not result in any prosecutions as no evidence could be found. This will be kept under observation and review: further raids might take place, depending on intelligence received.

The police said they were of course willing to attend the scene of any crime if someone called 999, but usually by the time they arrived the perpetrators had disappeared and proper evidence of a crime was often not available.

Beggars

Persistent begging was on the increase again, with most beggars claiming homelessness as the reason for asking for money. Again, police , traders and the councillors believed that most of the money obtained would be used for drugs. There was therefore talk of encouraging generous passers-by who wanted to help the homeless to donate to an independent homelessness charity rather than direct to the beggars; and there was discussion of having posters to this effect and even some sort of donation site. This will be followed up.

Meanwhile, some people said, the atmosphere around the centre of Herne Hill was more intimidating now, especially at night, than  in recent years. There have also been more muggings, often of young people, and committed by heavily disguised people of the same age.

Police presence on the streets

The small team charged with policing the Herne Hill Ward was not numerous enough (taking into account different shifts, holidays, illnesses and the need to be instantly mobile and on call for unforeseen events) to simply patrol the streets in the traditional way. Being in cars made them much more efficient.

This of course reflects the overall depletion of local police teams as a result of austerity budget cuts exacerbated by imperfect police command structures. See the separate note here about the Metropolitan Police and the Baroness Casey Review. This broader issue was not raised at the meeting, but most of us recognized that our conscientious and hard-working local police teams are dangerously over-stretched.

Speeding traffic, especially on Milkwood Road

I emphasised the concern of many residents about the ever present danger of traffic speeding along Milkwood Road and even veering to the wrong side of the central reservations. The fact that this road provided the main access for many people to neighbouring schools was an additional cause of anxiety.

Our councillors were well aware of this problem. There is no instant solution at present. Speed cameras can only be installed and monitored by the police, not by the local authority: and even then, the police will only do this when there have already been accidents and perhaps even fatalities. But there are other measures that can be developed. And Councillor Deepak Sardiwal has just followed up with a very helpful email which I have quoted in full below:

Dear Pat
Thank you very much for raising at the Herne Hill and Loughborough Junction Ward Safer Neighbourhood Panel meeting on Thursday the issue of speeding on Milkwood Rd on behalf of Fawnbrake Avenue residents.
Speeding is a criminal offence and all roads controlled by Lambeth council now have a 20mph speed limit, while TfL is rolling out 20mph on some of its roads in the borough. I am aware though of the need to reduce traffic speeds in specific parts of the ward including Milkwood Rd and tackling this issue is a major concern for residents.
As Fawnbrake residents probably know, speeding cannot be directly enforced by Local Authorities. The Council’s ‘enforcement’ takes the form of design measures e.g. traffic calming. In terms of Milkwood Rd, the council has installed a zebra crossing and speed humps to slow racing traffic. The humps are rather diminutive in nature due to the ambulance service on Milkwood Rd and regular speed humps which I would ideally like to see would slow the deployment of emergency vehicles.

Wandsworth trial

At the Panel meeting, the trial started last year by the London Borough of Wandsworth to enforce the speed limit on selected streets in Wandsworth came up. This is a novel interpretation of the legislation by Wandsworth: the relevant highways legislation explicitly precludes the use of permanent traffic orders for this purpose, but is silent on the use of experimental orders (ETO) and Wandsworth council have therefore decided to test this approach. An ETO can only run for a maximum of 18 months and in this case there is no legal mechanism to convert to a permanent traffic order so that the scheme can remain in place. I do therefore think that such initiatives are to be best viewed as a proof of concept / lobbying tool as part of wider discussions with Government on the devolution of powers.

However, as Cllr Dickson noted in the meeting, the Department for Transport has stopped the scheme despite Wandworth Council reporting that the proportion of speeding vehicles on the trial roads had reduced since the scheme was introduced. Further information on this here.

Lambeth council is preparing a new Road Danger Reduction Strategy. I am told this will include a review of the possible actions required to help achieve ‘Vision Zero’- the Mayor of London’s ambition to reduce road danger to the extent that no-one is killed or seriously injured on our roads. As part of this process, the council is reviewing locations where collision clusters have been recorded and where it has received feedback from the community in relation to road danger. I am seeking information about the proposed public consultation process for the Strategy and will ensure the details are shared as I receive them.

In the meantime, the Police have powers to enforce against drivers exceeding the speed limit, but finite resources to do so. I would like to see more frequent Community Road Watch operations in the hot spots in the ward of Milkwood Rd, Herne Hill Rd and Denmark Hill with resident participation including children (although the operations typically take place during school hours). The last operation was in March 2022. I also want to see the council continue to make robust representations to the Government for local authority enforcement of speeding offences. Finally, I do think speaking with local residents that further traffic calming solutions could be explored for Milkwood Rd, which I submitted to the council in December.

I hope this information is of some assistance. You would be welcome to share it with Fawnbrake Avenue residents you have been in touch with if that might be helpful – as I say I understand their concerns. Thank you again for raising this important issue.
Best wishes
Deepak

Dog nuisances

The forthcoming Public Spaces Protection Order was mentioned. See earlier post on this.

The next meeting of the panel is likely to be in June.

Hollywood comes to Herne Hill

Well-informed local friends report that on Monday 3rd April there will be a film crew filming in Herne Hill for a feature film called “We Live in Time”. In the morning they will be filming in Brockwell Park, and then at midday their attention turns to Station Square. Some parking bays will be suspended (but not all), and during takes the public will be prevented from walking / driving around for 3 minutes at a time.

There will be extras waiting nearby, and the two main actors are British / Hollywood stars (see below). Crew trucks will be parking on Dulwich Road. Most of the action takes place in Llewelyn’s and Lulu’s, then over by the Herne Hill sign under the bridge (good job that the Herne Hill Forum had it repainted), then by the station in the evening.

Andrew Garfield & Florence Pugh

Checking with film industry gossip, it seems that Academy Award nominees Florence Pugh and Andrew Garfield are in negotiations to star in this production, described as a “funny, deeply moving and immersive love story.” John Crowley will  direct, with Nick Payne as scriptwriter:  StudioCanal developed the script.

 

 

We’re getting better connected tomorrow

Herne Hill’s travel options into and around London are improving this weekend, with the joining up of the Elizabeth Line (formerly known as Crossrail), which we can of course access via Thameslink trains to Farringdon (except when Thameslink’s all too frequent weekend maintenance works rule this out, as on this Sunday).

This latest improvement means that from tomorrow, the lines from Reading, Heathrow, and Shenfield will connect with the central tunnels of the Elizabeth line – opening up new direct journeys across London, without having to change at Paddington.

In addition, customers will be able to use the Elizabeth Line seven days a week: Sunday services through central London will also start from tomorrow, Sunday 6 November.

 

Train frequency has improved too: between Paddington and Whitechapel, it goes from 12 trains per hour to up to 22 trains per hour in peak times and 16 trains per hour during off-peak. The final timetable, which will see 24 trains per hour during the peak between Paddington and Whitechapel, is on track to be in place by May 2023.

And there’s a new convenient interchange. Bond Street’s Elizabeth line station, which opened on 24 October, connects with the London Underground Bond Street station, accessing the Jubilee and Central lines. The new station is step-free from street to train with two lifts, further enhancing accessibility on the Elizabeth line and across the TfL network.

elizabeth-line-map-6-november-2022

Caution: There are some future planned engineering works when sections of the Elizabeth line will be closed:
Saturday 12 November – no service between Shenfield and Liverpool Street / Whitechapel
Saturday 19 November and Sunday 20 November – no service between Shenfield and Liverpool Street / Whitechapel, or between Hayes & Harlington and Heathrow

Local Election Results

The local election results for our ward were announced this afternoon:

 

HERNE HILL & LOUGHBOROUGH JCT. WARD 2022
Jim Dickson Lab 2,429 elected
Pauline George Lab 2,393 elected
Deepak  Sardiwal Lab 2,342 elected
Celeste Hicks Green 1,838
Nick Christian Green 1,818
Paul Valentine Green 1,566
Robert Blackie LibDem 264
John White Cons 253
Dick Tooze Cons 251
Andrew Whitten Cons 243
Charley Hasted LibDem 175
Jonathan Price LibDem 148
Berkey Kartav TU & Soc. 71
Electorate: 11,301
Total votes: 13,791
Turnout: n/a
Number of postal votes sent: 1,373

Herne Hill Safer Neighbourhood Team

Perhaps it’s not generally known that the Metropolitan Police have a Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) explicitly for Herne Hill Ward.

 

 

 

They have asked if members of the community could please complete a short questionnaire, for which the link is given below.

Herne Hill SNT is formed of a Sergeant, two PCs and one PCSO. The team is responsible for keeping Herne Hill safe as well as dealing with any ongoing Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) issues and concerns raised by the local community. They have regular meetings with a panel of community representatives, and aim to issue monthly reports on their activities locally.

The latest report reads as follows:

“The team this month [March] have focused on several community deployments aimed at targeting what have been identified as key priorities on the ward.

“The first tasking undertaken was a bike marking event at Brockwell Park utilizing smart water. This was following several reports of bike thefts. This was incredibly successful with over thirty bikes marked.

“The team then undertook two days of community speed watches on Herne Hill Road and Milkwood Road. This involved the use of a speed gun and saw many community volunteers participate. This led to several speed warnings being issues and one male being arrested for traffic and drug related offences.

“Finally, the team undertook a weapons sweep on the Thorlands Estate (comment: this lies to the north of Coldharbour Lane) with council community enforcement officers. This again was very successful with four knives recovered.

“The team will take on feedback from the ward panel meeting and will be looking to replicate this again in the coming months.”

Click here for link to short survey.

 

The very best local read

There’s plenty of good stuff to read in the latest issue of “Herne Hill” magazine: a beautifully illustrated article about the treasures to be seen in Saint Paul’s Church; an interview with the owners of the new and already popular bubble tea shop, Cuppo Bubbo; a revealing survey of a unique 1935 house on Dorchester Drive; and a snapshot of the very cosmopolitan population of Herne Hill at the end of the 19th century and on the eve of the First World War – with an unexpected preponderance of residents of German origin. Also an affectionate review of the major exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, featuring the work of Helen Frankenthaler – a show that has been widely recognised in the national media as of major significance.

Members of the Herne Hill Society get the magazine automatically, of course. Non-members can buy it at Herne Hill Books, or can get it (along with future issues), by easily joining the Society online.

Ruskin in the South London Press – how appropriate!

‘Sunset over Herne Hill’, an absorbing & very  readable exploration   – by local writers (including one of our Fawnbrake neighbours) and  published by the Herne Hill Society  –   of the great John Ruskin’s South London (indeed, Herne Hill)  roots, is featured in the current issue of the bi-weekly South London Press.

Luckily it’s also in their online edition at pages 34-35.

See also the Society’s online shop.

As Jon Newman, one of the authors, writes:

“Ruskin was one of the first people to question the self-confident and assured capitalism of the 19th century – what he referred “the Great Goddess of Getting-on” – and to foresee the destructive physical and social consequences of unfettered industrial and urban growth. In the 21st century, with the same concerns, we have much to learn from him. What is more, the destruction and damage that he started to observe around him, became more and more focused on his immediate surroundings in South London. Around Herne Hill he finds confirmation of his antipathy to railway building, uncontrolled suburban growth and the consequent destruction of the landscape. The Crystal Palace, glittering on his skyline, came to exemplify the philistine commercialism of Victorian capitalism for him. …”

“Sunset over Herne Hill”

A new and deeply interesting book about John Ruskin and Herne Hill has just been published by the Herne Hill Society (as members of the HHS have just been told).

John Ruskin spent his childhood and most of his working life here in Herne Hill. When he died in 1900 just a year before Queen Victoria – about the same time as many of the houses here on Fawnbrake Avenue were built – he had become one of the most original,  controversial and globally influential thinkers and writers of the 19th century.

Despite the cascade of studies and biographies of Ruskin over the last hundred years, this is the first book to look with authority and in depth at the importance of South London in shaping Ruskin’s thinking.

Despite all his foreign travels, public lecturing, the academic posts at Oxford, his work for London’s museums, and those messianic forays into the new industrial regions of England, Herne Hill was the place where Ruskin spent his childhood and most productive years. Here he wrote the increasingly passionate books, articles and speeches that made him nationally and indeed globally celebrated.

It was also from here, and well into his old age, that he studied and pronounced upon his shifting world.

A witness to a degrading environment

Even from his early age a precocious and acute observer of nature, Ruskin loved the then unspoilt hills, skies, rivers and fields of Herne Hill, Dulwich, and Norwood .

But his affectionate memories of this unblemished (but as he discovered, all too fragile) environment also turned out to be a painful benchmark for what developed in later decades. So it was also in Herne Hill, as the years passed, that Ruskin witnessed and described, with increasing horror, the destruction of the natural environment through railway building and uncontrolled suburban growth.

Sunset at Herne Hill through the Smoke of London 1876 (The Ruskin Museum,Coniston)

A prophet of climate change?

As early as 1860, he had written “Whenever I look or travel in England or abroad, I see that men, wherever they can reach, destroy all beauty.” (Modern Painters V). His vivid 1876 watercolour “Sunset at Herne Hill through the Smoke of London”, featuring on the front cover of the new book, is a melancholy and prophetic attempt to illustrate this change

Published by the Herne Hill Society, this important new book by local historians Jon Newman and Laurence Marsh, based on meticulous research, brings sensitive and original insights into the development of Ruskin’s distress about the world and the environment, as he prophesied how manufacturing and hasty urbanisation was damaging society and the climate across England, and especially, from his own bedroom window, in the world metropolis that his native city had become.

“Sunset over Herne Hill” concludes with a rewarding examination of the social and historical context of Herne Hill and Denmark Hill during Ruskin’s lifetime and his family’s place within South London as the 19th century progressed, when London was becoming the most prosperous and populous city in the world, as well as probably the most polluted.

This illuminating and touching book restores John Ruskin to South London… the authors of ‘Sunset over Herne Hill’ take us back to the neglected roots of the great Victorian romantic’s creativity”Andrew Saint, Professor at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, general editor of the Survey of London, and author of the newly-published “London 1870-1914: a City at its Zenith”

The book has 160 pages with 80 colour & b/w illustrations, with a map by David Western.

£17.00 (including delivery) by mail order from the Herne Hill Society
or from Herne Hill Books.