Wednesday, 30 September 2009

REMINDER: KA AGM: Monday 5th October 7pm @ The Brit Oval

Dear KA Members

This year’s AGM will take place at 7pm on Monday, 5th October in The Captain’s Room at Surrey County Cricket Club, which is accessed via the Hobbs Gate, through the main entrance to the lift to the third floor, with fantastic views over the grounds. All KA members are invited.

To save paper on the night, here below are the Draft Minutes of last year's AGM.
Best wishes
Cathy Preece
KA Administrative Assistant

Kennington Association

Minutes from Annual Meeting

7pm, Monday, 27 October 2008, the Little Apple PH


Gareth Adamson, Tim Boxall, Valerie Collins, Jon Davies, Tessa Forbes, Sylvia Goodman, Mark Harrison, Maureen Johnston, Diane Kavanagh, Veronica Ledwith, Jean McCarthy, John Midgley, Margarita O’Malley, Alison Packer, Cathy Preece, Angela Rayner, John Roberts, Sue and John Rump, Elizabeth Scott, Betty Severn, Celia Stothard, Anna Tapsell, John Maltby and David Tinney, Julie and David Tisdall.


Angus Aagard, Chris Eames-Jones, Jeffe Jeffers, Jennifer Lanier, Kevin Rimmington, Rob Banks, Mark Rogers, Oladapo Habeeb, Charles and Sarah Kennedy.


Minutes from the previous AGM on 3 December, 2007 were accepted without amendment.

Report from the Chair

Anna Tapsell welcomed everyone and observed that the Kennington Association has been very active in the community since the last AGM. Most recently was the art auction that raised money for the Secret Santa Christmas project. (This is a scheme for giving Tesco vouchers to local needy families through a parent-child group.) Although not quite as big or well attended as the auction two years go, it ran very smoothly and can serve as a template for what we hope will be an annual event. The greatest need is for more publicity.

The annual fete in Cleaver Square was another triumph with more people participating and visiting than ever before, and an attendance that represented the cultural diversity of our neighbourhood.

The Ethiopian Cultural Festival held in Kennington Park was also very successful with an enthusiastic and diverse audience. KA was especially useful to the Cultural Festival by helping out with last-minute, unexpected expenses.

All of these activities have helped build a community spirit and brought people from diverse backgrounds together through work, fun and socializing.

While the community has also dealt with a fair amount of difficulties over the past year, crime has gone down and the KA has been able to help and support families traumatized by crime.

The KA is growing and taking on more tasks. As a result, the subgroups are becoming more autonomous. The Planning Group, for example, has become a separate, self-functioning part of KA that studies all developments proposed in the community and then drafts a response or opinion in the name of our members. The subgroup then presents their recommendations to the committee for a vote sending the responses to the council and other interested parties. In the future, there will be more such groups set up for activities such as bazaars, the art auction, etc. so better use is made of busy members’ time.

Treasurers’ Report

Gareth Adamson reported that the KA is in good financial shape as we finish the year. Money from subscriptions and the bazaars are covering expenses. Beyond this, any money raised can go toward special projects and a contingency fund to help community groups in need. This usually means a month or so of financing a venue or an instructor while a group waits for a funding grant to be approved or a cheque to actually show up in the mail.

Proposed Amendments to the Constitution

The revised Kennington Association constitution was circulated and approved with one change. The Introduction now reads: The Kennington Association (KA) is a politically-independent community organisation created to facilitate co-operation, communication, recreation and a conduit for lending a help hand in the neighbourhood. All work is done by volunteers, and all money raised is spent for the benefit of Kennington, with a minimum reserved for assets and expenses.


The committee was re-elected or newly elected as follows:

Gareth Adamson resigned as treasurer after six years and stood down from the committee. The group thanked Gareth for the time and work he has put into keeping the books straight – always a tough job in volunteer groups which inevitably include people with more good will than skill at record keeping.

Margarita O’Malley was elected to the committee with a view to taking Gareth’s place.

Committee member Jeffe Jeffers resigned. The group thanked him for his long hours working to get approval for the Tree of Hope lights.

Other Committee Business

Welcome Pack: Angela reported that the Welcome Pack now consists of 16 inserts and 70 pages so far. The quality varies – some inserts are very good and some a bit sketchy. The group needs to start making some decisions and is now looking at a pub date in the spring of ’09.

Arts Lav: Celia Stothard brought information sheets about the Kennington Cross ArtsLav project and Tomorrow’s People flower stall. TP would continue to test the market for the stall outside the church and hope to move the stall to outside the entrance to the lavs on Kennington Lane to get more visibility and publicity ASAP in the New Year.


The planning sub-committee is following up on planning permission requests for a supermarket at 250 Kennington Road. The space was originally set aside for use of local people, but no money was made available to the community and they were priced out of the market. The owners then sat on the space until they could say that no community request for use had been received, therefore it reverted to the owners to use it as they saw fit. The planning sub-committee is going to request an open meeting to find out what’s going on with the property.

All Other Business

Alison Packer raised the problem of dangerous dogs in the neighbourhood. Her own dog has been attacked while she was walking it on a leash and she has heard of other such attacks in the neighbourhood. She asked if KA could lend its support in helping to curb this problem.

A number of other people also reported their fears that there appear to be more aggressive dogs being walked by owners in the area. Maureen Johnston said that it’s difficult to report concerns or incidents because there is no central area that receives complaints. Both police and Lambeth Community Safety receive complaints, but there is nowhere to follow up and see if anything was done about reported problems.

The KA agreed in principle to look into this problem and perhaps have a session on dogs.

There being no further business, the meeting closed at 8:50 pm.

Ethelred Children's Centre - Holiday Club 26th to 30th October 2009

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Jack Straw on Gordon Brown's 'difficulties' and the Lockerbie bomber

on 's 'difficulties' and the Lockerbie bomber

Plus the tragedy of his six-day-old daughter. FIFA's ban on Chelsea... Cole Moreton puts the world to rights with Her Majesty's Secretary of State for Justice, Jack Straw


Last updated at 9:30 PM on 19th September 2009

Jack Straw

'Everybody knew that this was a negotiating position,' said Jack Straw over the release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the Libyan convicted of the Lockerbie bombing

This is like meeting the Wizard of Oz. Everything about the Ministry of Justice is designed to impress and impose, from the coat of arms to the building itself, a modernist fortress near New . Police vans dominate the street outside, and from the Army barracks next door comes the sound of a military band.

High up on the ninth floor, looking out across the treetops of St James's Park, stands the Secretary of State for Justice, the Right Honourable John Whitaker Straw, the first member of the in history to hold the mighty office of Lord Chancellor.

And what a surprising little bloke he turns out to be, this chirpy Essex chap with the build of a jockey. There is no ministerial grandeur as Jack Straw whips off his suit jacket to reveal a pair of thick, old-fashioned braces and directs me to sit in a particular armchair.

'That's the one. I'm stone deaf in one ear.'

Let's not be fooled by the double bluff, though. The machinery of state is not just smoke and mirrors. This 63-year-old runs all our courts and tribunals, making decisions that change the course of lives and even nations. One is the pardon of the jailed football fan Michael Shields, which his staff are working on as we meet, although they are not about to tell me that. There is an awkward moment when Straw tries to discuss it with them in front of me, then realises he shouldn't.

Suddenly we're in a scene from The Office, the minister and his staff staring at each other in silence, not knowing what to say, until he starts talking like secretive about 'the thing tomorrow'.

What he must and will talk about properly is his place at the eye of an international storm over the release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the Libyan convicted of the Lockerbie bombing. There are so many questions to ask. What pressure were the Scots under from Westminster when they set the bomber free on compassionate grounds? Was his fate used as part of a deal to win access for Britain to Libyan oil?

It looks very much like that: Straw was happy at first to include al-Megrahi in an agreement that prisoners held here would be transferred back to their homeland of , but changed his mind when the Scottish government asked him to leave the bomber out of the deal. Then Straw changed it back again after taking phone calls from a former MI6 man who was acting for the fuel giant BP, as it negotiated a massive deal for access to Libyan oil fields. So, Mr Straw, did you reverse your position to save the oil deal?

'Not exactly, but trade was an important part of the overall normalisation [of Libya, a former rogue state which the Government was seeking to bring back into the fold]. By no means the only part, but you can't have a normal set of relations with a country unless you have trade. The oil deal was part of that. So yes, I did take that into account. But there were other factors that I also took into account.'

That appears to contradict the Prime Minister's insistence that there was 'no deal on oil'.

Then again, Gordon Brown also maintains he was never involved in the process of deciding whether or not al-Megrahi should be included in the transfer agreement. So, how much did he really know?

'He was informed at the beginning, when I originally agreed the negotiating line in September (2007),' says Straw.

Jack Straw

'I'd say people from Essex have chutzpah,' said Jack who was raised in a council house in Loughton

That was when the Secretary of State wrote to the Scottish justice minister Kenny MacAskill saying he now agreed that al-Megrahi should be excluded from the transfer agreement and would tell his officials to say so as they negotiated the details in Libya.

The following December, he wrote again to say it had not been possible to agree this and 'in view of the overwhelming interests of the ' the bomber would now be included. Was Gordon Brown informed? Earlier this month, Straw told a newspaper, 'I certainly didn't talk to the PM.'

Now, though, he says something different: 'I'm sure that people in his office were aware.'

He didn't say that before.

'The question was put to me (in a previous interview): had I discussed it with him? The answer to that is no. Did I minute him? Well, I'd made the decision.'

There was no note to Number 10, he insists. 'We have no record of minuting that.'

The story seems to differ depending on which cabinet member you ask. , the Education Secretary, said that 'none of us (in government) wanted to see the release of al-Megrahi', but Straw must have been perfectly willing for that to happen, as he was originally in favour of including the bomber in the transfer.

'The truth is, my original instinct was that there was no great purpose in getting a carve-out for al-Megrahi. The Scottish Executive then said that they wanted a carve-out for al-Megrahi, so I said yes, and I would seek one. I set out how.'

The next thing he says is quite a surprise and seems to back up the Conservative claim that the bomber was used as a bargaining chip.

'Everybody knew that this was a negotiating position. Rather crucially, if you're having a negotiating position you don't tell the other side what your fall-back is. You have to say, "This is really important." I was always aware I might have to change. So I changed.'

The only people who don't make mistakes are those who don't make decisions

He did so 'secure in the knowledge' that the final decision would be made in , he says.

'We never said to the Scots what they should do about releasing al-Megrahi, let's be clear about that.'

The irony is, he says, that in the end the decision to free him was made on entirely different grounds anyway, after doctors said he was dying of prostate cancer and had only months to live.

President Obama was furious and the head of the FBI branded it a 'mockery of justice' and a comfort to terrorists, so has this seriously damaged the special relationship with ?

'I don't think it has and I have seen nothing to suggest that is true,' insists Straw. 'We have a very close and active relationship with the Americans and it has never been the case that we agree on everything. I found Guantanamo Bay and the treatment of their prisoners and the other secret prisons very difficult. I didn't know about secret prisons until later on. You have to handle these things.'

He also denies the suggestion that was let out of prison because it would have been embarrassing to keep a dying train robber inside while the biggest mass murderer in British history was set free.

'Barking,' is what he calls that idea. 'Totally and utterly barking.'

Spoken like an Essex boy - which we both are, as it happens. Straw was raised in a council house in Loughton, where his elderly mother still lives, and he has plenty of stories about growing up there.

'From the Tube you can see a house with a chimney that was nearly the end of me,' he says. 'My three uncles were all plumbers, and I was working with a central heating fitter who said, "Right lad, you're going up the bloody chimney." I was 14. I said, "I've never been trained to do this, and isn't it your job?" He said, "You en' well get up there. Last time I went up I broke my en' leg. I'll hold the ladder, lad..."'

Is he chippy, like most of us?

'I'd say people from Essex have chutzpah,' says Straw, who has some Jewish blood.

'I have a pal who reckoned the reason for Britain's great historic decline was that the economy had been run by people from and not Essex.' But then the Essex boys took over the banks, I say, and look where it got us. 'Yes, well, I know. Quite.'

Jack Straw pictured in 1971 when he was the President of the National Union of Students

Jack Straw, centre, pictured at the House of Commons in 1971, where he was lobbying MPs in his role as president of the National Union of Students

Straw has been MP for Blackburn in Lancashire since 1979. He is a season ticket holder at Blackburn Rovers, and goes often. A short-sighted asthmatic, he was never much good at football at school, although he is a fitness fanatic and was on the exercise bike in the Commons gym first thing this morning.

'The combination of strength, agility and balletic skills that soccer players have to have these days is astonishing. I love watching this marvel take place.'

That doesn't sound much like Rovers, but he does go to away matches, too.

'It's the tribalism I like, in the best sense of the word. It can be dismal, but a kind of gallows humour takes over.'

Does he swear at the ref?

'I'm very careful about this,' says the former criminal barrister, 'because people can lip-read. If people get really agitated, I just sit there.'

That must be difficult.

'Yeah it is. But who'd be a ref? They're bullied. And we need video playback, because they don't get it right on some of the decisions they make. Particularly on penalties. Above all, penalties at Old Trafford.'

Justice is his job, so I wonder if he thinks there is any in Chelsea being banned from making transfers after allegedly poaching a young player.

'I think it probably is fair. There is a real and fundamental problem inside the Premier League about the over-dominance of money.'

That's a bit rich. Didn't Blackburn once buy the league title, just as Manchester City are now trying to do?

He smiles.

Jack Straw dancing with the Duchess of Kent in 1968

Jack dancing with the Duchess of Kent in 1968

'The great was a Blackburn guy. He had done a lot for the town and had a vision of turning the team back to its glory days. Yes, he invested, but it was about other things too. Good luck to Man City - did us a lot of favours, but it's not just about money.'

Straw is well placed to know how the people of Blackburn feel about this, because every couple of weeks he stands on a soap box in the town centre and invites comments and questions from any passing member of the public who wants to have a go - something very few other MPs would dare to do, let alone secretaries of state.

Straw was raised on street-corner politics, the son of a teacher and an insurance salesman who met on a peace march. His mother, who brought up five children on her own after his father left, was a local councillor until her seventies.

Straw went to Brentwood Grammar School on a scholarship, but the most intriguing part of his youth happened in the Sixties when 'Red Jack' led a mass sit-in protest at Leeds University (on his way to becoming president of the of Students).

One eye-witness said he gave a 'brilliant, emotive speech', standing on a table surrounded by red and black flags and portraits of Lenin and Trotsky; but it's not quite as simple as that. There are also photographs from the same period of the mop-haired radical with the Buddy Holly glasses dancing respectfully at the union ball with the Duchess of Kent.

'I was radical, but I was never the rabble-rouser some have suggested.'

So, what does he think the 1968 Jack Straw (he started using the name Jack at school, after one of the leaders of the historic Peasants' Revolt) would make of the present version?

'I think he would recognise him.'

What, with bitterness and anger at his sell-out?

'No, not at all. I think the 1968 version would be slightly sceptical, because you ought to be at that age, but also quite pleased that here is a Labour government that has delivered on almost all of its pledges. We have been the most successful Labour administration - certainly on a par with the 1945-51 one.'

The best ever? Quite a claim.

'Every school has been improved, the health service has been transformed. We have produced a quiet revolution, in constitutional terms: freedom of information, human rights, independent national statistics, devolution, all the race relations changes... Yes, we have made mistakes, but as someone famously said, the only people who don't make mistakes are those who don't make decisions.'

Critics compare Brown's tenure with that of , whose government ended in an exhausted shambles.

'Well, I'm certainly not exhausted,' he says. 'I get no sense of exhaustion from colleagues, least of all from Gordon. I happened to see him socially last night and he's in remarkably good form. Despite his, you know, difficulties.'

As the picture of Straw dancing with the Duchess shows, his strength has always been in knowing how to work the system, rising up the ranks to hold the great offices of state. It has not been without cost: he was said to have blamed himself back in 1999, while Home Secretary, when his 17-year-old son Will was trapped by a reporter into buying her £10 of cannabis.

Gordon Brown and Jack Straw at the I.C. C. in Birmingham

'We have been the most successful Labour administration - certainly on a par with the 1945-51 one,' said Jack (above with Gordon Brown)

Straw refuses to talk about any member of his family, including his high-flying civil servant wife Alice Perkins, his daughter Charlotte or Will, who is now a political thinker based in the US, but I do want to ask him about one barely known detail of the incident, which is revealing.

I understand that one of Will's friends, who set up the sting with the newspaper, came round to the family home in Kennington to confess what he had done, and broke down in tears in front of Straw, who responded by hugging him. What a thing to do to a lad who nearly destroyed his political career.

'Yeah. I did,' he says, taken aback at the question. 'I felt... it had produced a terrible series of events for the family, but he was full of remorse. So it was the natural thing to do.'

There is something else I want to ask him about that is personal and difficult. It concerns his daughter Rachel, who was born in 1976 but died soon afterwards because of a heart defect. His first marriage, to a teacher called Anthea, was over within the year.

'Oh. I see,' he says, blinking in surprise. 'It was a very long time ago... but I can remember it like it was yesterday. Any death of someone you are close to is difficult to cope with, but the death of a child is incredibly difficult. That's an experience that just lives with you. Everybody was fighting hard to keep this little girl alive, but tragically she died after six days.'

Has it changed the way he thinks about matters of life and death, such as the right to assisted suicide?

'There have also been other experiences where I have watched relatives die, and they have actually had more influence on my thinking,' he says. 'It's about the sanctity of human life.'

He is a Christian but doesn't like to talk about that, believing that when people hear a politician do so 'they start counting the spoons'.

The death of a friend from cancer confirmed his view that relatives should not be given the right to end a life.

'Death of loved ones brings out the best, but also can bring out the worst in people,' he tells me. 'The temptation would just be too great. And how does someone who knows they are dying and who knows they are a burden on others really give free consent? I don't think we should place people in that position.'

He pauses for a moment.

'Of course, it's true that doctors say, "We have to turn this machine off." I've been in that position. But that's different.'

Something in his voice says the memory hurts. 'That's very different.'

Some say Jack Straw has sold out in return for power; others believe he is part of a government that is at the end of its road.

Having met him in his fortress, behind the facade of state, I can only say this: the Wizard of Oz is a human being.

Brixton's community cash

Brixton's community cash

An area of London now has its own currency. Will the Brixton pound really boost trade and bring the people together?

Brixton Pound notes launched

Photograph: Handout/PA

Totnes businesses were trading goods and services in Devon in their very own local currency 200 years ago. Now a facsimile of the 1810 note is part of the design for the modern-day version of the Totnes Pound. Local currency initiatives are popping up all over Britain. Totnes and Lewes, Sussex are the oft-quoted examples of local "pounds" already in circulation; and this week Brixton became the first urban community to launch its own currency: the Brixton pound.

Brixtonites were out in force to cheer in the new notes at the Lambeth Town Hall on Thursday. Local businesses supporting the initiative – there are over 70 of them – were present alongside interested locals. Walking around Brixton today, I could have bought a record from Blacker Dread Muzik Store, repaired my bike or even have had belly-dancing lessons with my brand new set of £1 and £5 notes.

Three months ago, I voted for Olive Morris to appear on new bills and it is hugely satisfying to hold five £1 notes bearing her image. On the other banknotes are Vincent Van Gogh, CLR James and James Lovelock.

The initiative encapsulates the sense of community that has long marked Brixton out from fellow London boroughs. It's nice to see it in the news for something other than gang shootings or drug dealing.

The Brixton pound is supported by all the key local businesses – both Caribbean and non-Caribbean – with the notable exception of Brixton Wholefoods, which turned down the offer, and The Ritzy cinema, which was keen to get involved but was prevented at the last minute by its owners, the Picturehouse. Lambeth council has been especially enthusiastic – there are even rumours of a Lambeth Pound, with Streatham and Kennington watching developments closely.

You can spend your Brixton pounds in any shop that accepts them and ask for them back in change. There are five exchange points at places likely to be frequented by a wide range of Brixtonians. Josh Ryan-Collins, an associate at the New Economics Foundation, emphasises the importance of "encouraging businesses, not just consumers, so that they trade with each other to reduce carbon emissions".

This isn't just a Brixton thing, or even just a Britain thing. In the UK, the campaign is part of a movement called Transition Towns. They have drawn inspiration from local currencies all over the world. The Berkshires in upstate New York led the way; there is a growing movement in New Zealand; and Germany has 29 active local currencies – the so-called Regionalgeld – and 38 to come. Worldwide, people are starting to return to local cooperative models.

These inspiring global precedents are all very well but only 800 residents have signed up in Brixton, an area with over 65,000 residents. The overwhelming response from Brixtonians at the Town Hall – not the now-converted businesses – was interested bemusement. The desire for localism is there, but will the pound actually make a difference?

There has been no official evaluation of the economic impact of local pounds in Totnes or Lewes. A staff member at the Lewes cafe, Bills, said that they take in roughly £600 a week in the currency, but still "it hasn't made a difference to our business personally, although I know that lots of smaller businesses are keen to promote it." County Carpets in Lewes have only taken in a few hundred pounds this year. What is generally agreed upon, however, is that, if not a direct financial help, it has raised awareness about the importance of local shopping and the pound sign in the window always attracts punters.

One major difficulty for the urban scheme is that local traders often do not use suppliers from London, let alone from Brixton. The Brixton pound team answer the sceptics with their "cheerful disclaimer" – they don't have a damn clue if it will work either. Josh Ryan-Collins admits that it will be an "enormous awareness-raising exercise" to convince traders to keep supply chains within the area, but he is confident of the strength of their viral marketing It seems unlikely that the Brixton pound will make a major difference to business – but even if it doesn't lift the area out of the recession it certainly won't drag it down. And if it creates community cooperation and an awareness about shopping locally and sustainably, done with creativity and fun, then indeed, why not?

Twitter video wins Kennington team an exotic fixture

Twitter video wins Kennington team an exotic fixture

Mark Prigg, Science and Technology Correspondent

An amateur team from Kennington lines up for a football match in a South African game reserve, with elephants and zebra looking on.

The match, on the Aquila game reserve outside Cape Town, was part of a Sony campaign linked to the 2010 World Cup.

The London team won their place by entering a video on Twitter. Player Connor Greely said: “The day before the match there was a family of hippos asleep on the pitch, but they moved away.” They beat their opponents, a South African team, 1-0

Watch their winning entry

Choral Evensong this Sunday at St. Peter's

Choral Evensong this Sunday evening at St. Peter's church, 310 Kennington Lane, Vauxhall at 6.30pm

With The Lambeth Palace Singers and The Revd. Peter McGeary (preacher)

A peaceful way to prepare for the week ahead

All welcome

The Onion Shed - Thursday 15th October, 7.30 - 9pm at Roots and Shoots

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Coming Soon: Home Movie Day Saturday, October 17 2009 @ The Cinema Museum

"Home Movie Day is important because our lives, our recollections, and our truth is recorded in home movies. One day, what the heck, c'mon!"
Steve Martin

For the seventh international Home Movie Day on Saturday, October 17 2009, film archivists will take time out of the film vaults to help the public enjoy and save their home movies. We encourage people to share their home movie collections, whether they are scenes of family holidays, birthday parties, or films made about local communities or specific topics of interest. More importantly, it's a chance to see the films once again - possibly on a cinema screen! Find out more at the website:

Home Movie Day will be held at two locations in the UK this year, one at the Cinema Museum in Kennington, London and the other at the National Media Museum in Bradford.

Events in London include a Film Clinic, staffed by volunteer film archivists from the BBC, BFI and Wellcome Library, to which members of the public may bring their films (on standard 8mm, super 8, 9.5mm and 16mm) for examination. The archivists will give feedback about the condition of the films, and advice on how to store them properly in the home. Information will also be available on donating films to archives and how to transfer films to DVD for easy home viewing.

Films will be projected by expert projectionists, who will be continuously screening home movies throughout the day. This is often the most enjoyable part of the day, as often people will have inherited films but no equipment to watch them on.

While in Bradford, there will be opportunities to look behind the scenes at the Museum and see some great examples of home movies from the Yorkshire Film Archive's collections. Staff from the NMM and the YFA will also be on hand to advise you on the preservation of your films.

The day's events will also include three sessions with Michael Harvey, Curator of Cinematography at the NMeM, focusing on the technology used to create home movies and highlighting pieces from the Museum's collection. There will also two presentations by YFA's Binny Baker and series producer Andrew Knight taking a closer look at the highly successful television series "The Way We Were", a series completely designed around home movies and amateur filmmakers. Plus there will be screenings throughout the day of home movies, and an afternoon screening of films made during the Family Filmmaking Workshop.

As Steve Martin says, come on! Don't deprive your future descendants by letting your films rot in the loft, bring them to Home Movie Day!

Event details:
Home Movie Day London
Saturday, October 17 2009
11am - 5pm
The Cinema Museum, Kennington
2 Dugard Way, London SE11 4TH

2pm: Talk by film archiving expert David Cleveland on the history of amateur film
Also: Screening of some of actress Phyllis Calvert's home movies presented by her grandson Thomas Dyton.

Nearest tube: Kennington. Free parking, access via Renfrew Road. Tea and cake will be available. Music by DJ Fanny Foxtrot of the Shellac Sisters.
Contact: Lucy Smee,, 07515 888465 and Lisa Kerrigan,, 07817503001

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Macbeth at The White Bear Theatre Club

We would like to offer Kennington Association members 2 for 1 for Macbeth which opens tonight. Just quote 'Kennington Association' when you book on 020 7793 9193.
next production image
By William Shakespeare
22nd September – 11th October 2009
Tues - Sat @ 7:30pm, Sunday 5:30pm
Presented by TheatreTroupe

Ensemble physical theatre, mask work and macabre, life-sized puppetry combine in this original and pacy reworking of Shakespeare’s grim tale.

Vaulting ambition and treachery battle amid nightmarish hallucinations. Corrupted morality reigns over a world that spirals into madness.

Inspired by the current economic crisis, this is an energetic and arresting piece of total theatre that incorporates inventive movement and vocal work with atmospheric music, sound and film. Not for the faint-hearted, an intense theatrical experience that explores the darkest depths of the human condition.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Observations: Werner Herzog as (and where) you've never seen him before

September 18, 2009

Observations: Werner Herzog as (and where) you've never seen him before

By Emma Love

We've had pop-up shops and theatre, now it's the turn of pop-up cinema. Until the end of October, 26 films by legendary German screenwriter and director Werner Herzog are being shown in a series of rare screenings in unusual spaces around London. Timed to coincide with the Werner Herzog: Conquest of the Useless event at London's Royal Festival Hall on 3 October, where Herzog himself will be in conversation, each venue chosen for a screening has been matched to the subject of the film being shown.

So Heart of Glass will be on at the Horniman Museum, which is a Victorian glasshouse in Forest Hill as part of their Thursday Lates programme; Gesualdo: Death for Five Voices will be shown at the Cinema Museum in Kennington, with the ushers wearing outfits from the museum's own collection, while God's Angry Man and Huie's Sermon will be shown back to back at The Tabernacle in west London, with a live gospel choir singing in between screenings. Other venues on the schedule include Pushkin House, the Old Biscuit Factory in Bermondsey on Hallowe'en and Westbourne Studios.

Tara Cranswick, founder of art collective V22 who organised the film season, explains: "Werner Herzog is coming to London and it's going to be such an exciting event that I thought it was an unmissable opportunity to show his work. I'm always amazed that he's not more widely known. We were looking for places that take an audience out of the normal world, just like his films do."

For info and tickets to the screenings, visit; for tickets to Werner Herzog in Conversation, visit

Plans for £275m US Embassy approved

Plans for £275m US Embassy approved

By Grant Prior

Wandsworth Council has granted outline planning permission for the construction of a new £275m US Embassy at Nine Elms.

The site covers five acres on the south side of Nine Elms Lane and straddles the existing Ponton Road which will be repositioned. It is the first major scheme to come forward in the Nine Elms opportunity area.

The detailed design of the building will be settled following a competition involving four US-based architectural practices.

The embassy will be in the centre of the site and set back 30 metres from its boundaries. The building’s height has still to be determined but will be in the region of 15 to 20 storeys. The final design will have to preserve existing views of the Palace of Westminster.

The outline permission is subject to detailed negotiations on contributions to the cost of local and strategic transport improvements. This would include funding towards Crossrail or the council’s preferred alternative of a Northern Line extension from Kennington. This could include a station at Wandsworth Road.

Other improvements include a new pedestrian and cycle link between Wandsworth Road and Nine Elms Lane, improvements to the riverside walk and a new ‘park’ which could take the form of a green chain running through the site from Vauxhall to other new developments in the area.

The full schedule of improvements will also have to be approved by Transport for London and the Mayor of London.

The Embassy will employ 800 people and offer jobs for local people. It is the first of a series of major developments now expected to come forward that will change the face of the mainly industrial area of Nine Elms.

Planning applications chairman Leslie McDonnell said: "This is an outline consent which sets out the broad terms on which the development can proceed. It is very much the first hurdle. There is a lot of detail still to be resolved. Most of this will become clear once the winning design has been chosen. This will then require a series of detailed approvals from the council.

“At this stage we will be looking closely at the building’s appearance from Nine Elms Lane, the effect on important local views from Albert Bridge and Chelsea Bridge and the impact on Battersea Power Station.

"We are delighted that this scheme is moving forward. It promises to kick start the wider regeneration of this part of north Battersea and encourage further development on other sites in the area."

The wider Nine Elms area comprises around 450 acres of land on the Thames riverside and is the biggest regeneration opportunity in central London. The council has identified the potential for thousands of new homes and jobs in the area which stretches from Vauxhall Bridge to Battersea Park.

Planners approve new US embassy

Planners approve new US embassy

Wandsworth Council has granted outline planning permission for a new US embassy at Nine Elms.

The site covers five acres on the south side of Nine Elms Lane and the building will be up to 20 storeys high.

The design will be chosen in a contest for US architects. Some 800 people will work in the building.

The council's planning applications chairman Leslie McDonnell said the scheme "promises to kick-start wider regeneration of the area".

He added: "We are delighted this scheme is moving forward."

The outline permission is subject to detailed negotiations on contributions to the cost of local and strategic transport improvements.

This would include funding towards Crossrail or the council's preferred alternative of a Northern Line extension from Kennington. This could include a station at Wandsworth Road.

It promises to kick-start the wider regeneration of the area
Councillor Leslie McDonnell Planning applications chair

The embassy will be in the centre of the site and set back 30 metres from its boundaries.

The building's height has still to be determined but will be in the region of 15 to 20 storeys. The final design will have to preserve existing views of the Palace of Westminster.

Other improvements include a new pedestrian and cycle link between Wandsworth Road and Nine Elms Lane, improvements to the riverside walk and a new park location which could take the form of a green chain running through the site from Vauxhall to other new developments in the area.

The full schedule of improvements will also have to be approved by Transport for London and the Mayor of London.

The current embassy, which has been in Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, for more than 40 years, is the largest such US institution in western Europe and one of London's most recognisable buildings.

It has been the scene of many demonstrations over the years and since 9/11 has been heavily fortified.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/09/16 21:00:33 GMT


WAC: Scrabble on Tuesday afternoons 2pm


Starting this coming


22nd Sept. 2pm

at Waterloo Action Centre, 14, Baylis Rd, SE1 7AA

We need more people!

If you have a game you can bring along that would help as we don’t know how many will be interested.

Tea / Coffee – donations towards its cost welcome.

It is meant to be fun – so don’t worry if you are not world champion.

FoDL: Monday 21 September: How to get the government to improve your community!

Monday 21 September


167 Kennington Lane SE11 4HF (020 7926 8682)

6.45 for 7.15pm

All welcome

Free admission

Suggested donation £2


How to get the government to improve your community!

Not everyone has even heard of a newly-passed law that set up a ‘bottom up’ process for communities to drive government action to create all sorts of benefits for their area. The Sustainable Communities Act has been called “the most radical new law for a century”. Learn how to use it! Steve Shaw, national co-ordinator of the Local Works coalition, explains how it works.

Steve is a specialist in grass roots mobilisation and citizen outreach. He has worked on several national campaigns, most notably in his five years as National Co-ordinator of the Local Works coalition. To bring in the Sustainable Communities Act he organised over 100 public meetings and built a broad coalition of over 90 national organisations. Now 100 principal councils are using the new process of governance it enshrines.

Steve has also worked as a coalition co-ordinator on the successful Climate Change Act campaign and the Fuel Poverty Bill campaign, and for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Intelligent Energy.

Friends of the Durning Library

Wednesday, 16 September 2009



CHARITY AUCTION: Volunteer Receptionist needed

Dear Neighbours
The Receptionist at the C&G Art School has been taken ill so we are looking for someone to man the door and let people in for the Charity Auction viewing.
Do you have some time this afternoon or tomorrow to help out, please?
If yes, please contact Catey on 07770 427068 to let her know your availability.
Very many thanks
Best wishes
Cathy Preece
KA Administrative Assistant

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Traffic News: A202 Kennington Oval Kennington Both ways between Kennington Oval and A202 Harleyford Street

High severityA202 Kennington Oval Kennington
Both ways between Kennington Oval and A202 Harleyford Street
Last updated 8 minutes ago
A202 Kennington Oval both ways closed, long delays due to emergency repairs, burst water main and surface water between Kennington Oval and A202 Harleyford Street, congestion to A3036 Albert Embankment / A203 (Vauxhall Cross) and on A202 Vauxhall Bridge Road to B324 Rochester Row. Causing queues on all approaches to Vauxhall Cross. Also long delays back over Vauxhall Bridge and on Vauxhall Bridge Road back towards Victoria. Diversion: Affecting bus routes 36, 185 and 436

until 4.45pm Tue 15th Sep 09

Victory for service charge campaign


Victory for service charge campaign

Monday, 14 September 2009

Steve Rice

Steve Rice

CAMPAIGNING leaseholders have won a momentous victory against a town hall and its trouble-plagued social housing firm.

More than 9,000 leaseholders living in Labour-controlled Lambeth have cause to celebrate after a small group successfully challenged huge hikes in service charges.

Lambeth Living, the firm set up by Labour councillors to manage the council’s housing stocks, had attempted to impose price hikes on leaseholders living on council estates for services such as communal cleaning and CCTV.

Some leaseholders received estimated bills with 2,000 per cent increases in charges.

But, thanks to a tireless campaign led by leaseholder Steve Rice from the Ethelred Estate in Kennington, the council and Lambeth Living have now agreed to recalculate all service charge bills after an independent audit revealed more than 50 per cent were wrong.

Mr Rice said: “We said all along that Lambeth Living had just plucked these figures out of the air and we have been proved right.

“We shouldn’t have had to put in so much time and effort to achieve this commonsense outcome.

“Lambeth Living just didn’t want to listen and we had to work hard to get the council to call in the independent auditors whose investigation proved we were being ripped off.

“We have endured dozens of meetings where Lambeth Living staff told us we had got it all wrong.

"But we were right and now we want to see a public apology.”

Lambeth Living staff are now recalculating service charge bills for leaseholders across the borough.

A spokeswoman said: “We’ve already trained more staff to complete this work and we aim to adjust the accounts and to contact leaseholders individually by next month.

“We’re absolutely committed to getting on top of this situation and we will be acting on issues raised.”


Lambeth officer in Facebook rant


Lambeth officer in Facebook rant

Monday, 14 September 2009

A COUNCIL officer could find himself in hot water after apparently posting complaints online about taking a “trashing” at a council estate meeting.

Lambeth council’s Sean Lai appears to have made the comments on social networking website Facebook after the meeting at Kennington’s Ethelred Estate.

An online exchange with a friend who was going on holiday, says: “Lucky u and I’m stuck wid Ethelred.”

The exchange goes on to comment about the meeting: “Yeh jus getting hm from a trashin! Gotta b careful wat we say on fbk as people are getting fired as a result ...”

The meeting on Monday was between the council’s housing firm, Lambeth Living, and its contractor Breyer, which is carrying out improvement works.

The online comments have left residents unamused.

Steve Rice, North Lambeth Area Leasehold Forum chairman, who lives on the estate, said: “I was there and have to say the meeting was extremely productive and well mannered.

"If anything, it was one of the best meetings we have ever held with Breyer and the officers from Lambeth Living.

“I feel it is disrespectful for the Ethelred Towers steering group to be commented about like this when we are supposed to be a showcase of how resident involvement in a major works project can be beneficial to all concerned.”

Mr Rice said he planned to contact Lambeth council’s legal team to complain about the Facebook comments.

The South London Press tried to contact Mr Lai on Facebook but he did not reply before we went to press on Thursday.

A Lambeth Living spokeswoman said: “These comments in no way reflect Lambeth Living’s official view of the meeting – we will look into this matter.”


Situation Vacant: WAC: Senior Advice Worker

CHARITY AUCTION/volunteers needed TODAY

If you have a few hours spare later this morning,
we desperately need a few pairs of hands to help the other volunteers hang the wonderful art work which has been donated for the annual Charity Auction (this Thursday)
Please come to The City & Guilds of London School of Art as close to 12 noon as you can make it and ask for Gareth or Catey.
Or call 07770 427068 if you can help in any other way with the Auction

Monday, 14 September 2009

KA Charity Auction - this week!

Dear Neighbours
If possible, might you pass this on far and wide around your own networks? office staff? community groups? mailing lists? and display where possible? please?
(We have a white version if that is easier on your ink! Just let us know.)
Very many thanks
Best wishes
Cathy Preece
KA Administrative Assistant



London Open House - Roots & Shoots volunteers


Roots and Shoots is opening for London Open House weekend for the first time this year on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 September. If you would have time – and inclination – to volunteer to help at some time over the two days, Elsa at Roots and Shoots would be delighted to hear from you. Even if you have an hour or two to spare, that would be terrific.

Elsa can be contacted on

With best wishes


Lindsay Swan

Co-chair, Friends of Roots and Shoots

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Russell Vernon

Russell Vernon

Russell Vernon, who has died aged 92, was an architect who left his mark on Dulwich in south-east London; his most prominent postwar reconstruction project was the rebuilding of Sir John Soane's masterpiece, the Dulwich Picture Gallery.

The gallery had been badly damaged by a flying bomb in July 1944. Vernon and his uncle Austin (who ran the family's architectural firm) ensured that it was a faithful reconstruction, retaining as much of the original fabric as possible.

Austin had been on site the day after the bombing, collecting fragments, and measuring and photographing the damage. While he provided the scholarship, Russell Vernon undertook the working drawings, ran the building contract, and ensured that it was finished on time. It was reopened by the Queen Mother in 1953.

Vernon designed and built 27 structures and more than 3,000 houses in the Dulwich area. He was architect to the Dulwich College estate for 23 years, and during the early 1950s formulated its development plan. Over the years he won four awards from the Civic Trust and the Department of the Environment.

Russell Geoffrey Duddell Vernon was born in Norwich on November 12 1917, and educated at Alleyns in Dulwich, where he captained the cricket and football teams and excelled at fives. Despite being invited to join the family firm by his uncle, Russell volunteered for the Territorial Artist Rifles.

Serving with the Royal Engineers, in 1944 he was in Normandy commanding 508 Field Park Squadron in the Guards Armoured Division of the Second Army. The squadron carried heavy gear for crossing tank obstacles and rivers.

Vernon's most harrowing wartime experience was when the division reached Belsen, where his unit was required to clear the camp and its piles of corpses. This was accomplished by digging a trench into which the bodies were bulldozed. Rather than ordering someone else to drive the bulldozer, Vernon decided to drive it himself. He was appointed MBE.

Later Vernon was in Hamburg, blowing up unexploded bombs in the devastated city. He was demobbed in early 1946 in the rank of major.

Back in civvy street Vernon became the third generation of architects to join the family firm, becoming a partner in 1948 on the formation of Austin Vernon and Partners. In 1959, on his uncle's retirement, he became senior partner. During his tenure the old-fashioned office was transformed into a strong, modern, professional and highly successful firm noted for its residential work; he was always concerned that people should live in an amenable environment.

While Dulwich was his passion, Vernon and his firm also undertook work throughout England and, during the 1970s, in the Middle East and Canada. In London it designed and built the headquarters of Otis Elevators in Kennington; a church and training centre for the Church Army in Blackheath; and the Lufthansa office in Piccadilly.

AV&P also undertook social housing projects for the GLC, Peabody Trust, Southwark Council and the Quadrant housing trust.

Outside London it built houses for the Duke of Westminster on his Chester estate. Housing schemes were completed in Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Bognor, Reigate and for the Crown Commissioners in Windsor. It also undertook development plans for Thame in Oxfordshire, Ingol Preston in Lancashire and Hadleigh in Essex.

To the end of his professional life he was architect/surveyor to All Saints church, West Dulwich, and he continued regularly to inspect the roof until he was well into his eighties. The fire which nearly destroyed the church in September 2000 was a major blow to him, although it was quickly rebuilt. He worshipped there for nearly 80 years, and his funeral took place there.

For many years Vernon worked for charities including the Abbeyfield Society, British Home Society and the Shaftesbury Society. He was also a patron of the Dulwich Picture Gallery.

Russell Vernon died on July 3. He married, in 1940, Ruth Creaton, who predeceased him. He is survived by two sons and a daughter.

World War 2: Journalist killed in blackout

World War 2: Journalist killed in blackout

A Daily Express journalist has been killed during a blackout in London.

Article first published in the Daily Telegraph, Sept 2, 1939.

Mr. Geoffrey Swaffer, brother of Mr. Hannen Swaffer and himself a well-known journalist, was killed during London’s black-out early on Saturday when the car in which he was a passenger collided with a tram in Kennington Park-road, S.E.

Mr. Swaffer, who was 39, was on the staff of the “Daily Express.”

All spruced up 'in time for elections'

All spruced up 'in time for elections'

Monday, 07 September 2009

A TOWN hall is to spruce up neighbourhoods in marginal wards in the run-up to an election, it has been alleged.

Labour-run Lambeth is to spend £3.1million on environmental improvements to neighbourhoods and estates in seven Labour-controlled wards and one politically split ward.

The areas will benefit from new pavements and trees between now and the next local government election in May next year.

Just £400,000 will be spent on other wards, it is claimed.

The work – which has already begun – will take place in: Clapham, including the Heath and Westbury Estates; Brixton Hill, including the Blenheim Gardens Estate; Kennington, including the Ethelred Estate; South Lambeth, including South Lambeth and Caldwell Gardens Estates; Clapham South, including the Poynders Estate; and Streatham Vale.

Opposition Liberal Democrat Councillor Julian Heather pointed out almost all of the neighbourhoods are in Labour-controlled wards.

He said: “Almost 90 per cent of the funding has been targeted at seven Labour-held marginal wards.

“I have obtained emails between council officers under the Freedom of Information Act and it is clear they got a steer from Labour councillors on where the funding should be spent.

“They show other neighbourhoods and estates in other areas were considered but dropped after discussions with Labour members.

“I’m not suggesting that the officers involved were politically motivated, but what I do believe is that there has been political manipulation of officers which has resulted in expenditure being targeted at Labour-held marginal wards.”

Cllr Heather has written to Lambeth’s chief executive Derrick Anderson calling on him to investigate how the funding was allocated.

A Lambeth spokesman said the areas chosen for improvements were selected because they were in the greatest need of improvement.

He said: “We are focusing work on priority areas where the extra money will have the most impact, but this project will make a difference to everyone in Lambeth.

“New trees are being planted in every ward across the borough and Green Community Champions are being recruited borough-wide to help neighbourhoods become more sustainable.”