853’s top 10 posts of 2014


A bit late with this one – well, you have to celebrate New Year properly, don’t you? Here are 2014’s most-read stories from this website…

1. The Guardian’s redundant row over Deptford’s Job Centre pub (11 July 2014)
(Also known as “national newspaper falls for small political party’s concocted yarn”. Expect more of this kind of guff in 2015, while property speculators, City Hall and branches of Foxtons go untouched.)

2. Postcode plotters eye escape from Deptford to Greenwich (22 February 2014)
(Another Deptford story, featuring some of SE London’s biggest berks.)

3. Emirates Air Line cable car now has NO regular commuters (16 December 2014)
mail(Followed up by The Independent before Christmas, and by the Daily Mail afterwards – for my mind, Robert Hardman’s Mail piece is the best piece of journalism on the Dangleway since it opened. With permission given for another TfL tourism boondoggle, the Garden Bridge, I suspect the cable car will be looked at in a less forgiving light in future.)

4. M&S to close: Woolwich’s Marks finally loses its spark (6 June 2014)
(The outlet store’s lights went out for good in September – a reminder that reviving Woolwich isn’t as simple or straightforward some would have you believe.)

5. Bridge East London: Come Labour bombs and fall on Plumstead? (1 July 2014)
(London’s leading opposition party revealed its biggest blind spot – roadbuilding. Will it actually start scrutinising policy in 2015?)

6. Run to the Beat organisers sorry after course cock-up (8 September 2013)
(The unloved half-marathon moved to Wembley and bothered fewer people this year. The stink from its time imposed on the people of Greenwich still wafts over Google, though.)

7. Social cleansing: End of the Greenwich Peninsula dream? (2 April 2013)
(It’s taken a long time for the rest of the media to catch up with what Greenwich Council allowed to happen on the peninsula – but you’ll be hearing more about this in 2015.)

8. Greenwich Council ignores locals and backs new Ikea store (4 March 2014)
(Bullying former council leader Chris Roberts’ final “gift” to the people of the borough. After a brief government halt, permission was finally ratified in December – campaigners are now trying to get to the bottom of the opaque process and are fundraising for a judicial review.)

9. Return of the high-rises: Kidbrooke Village’s 31-storey tower (17 March 2014)
(The plans, which were later whittled down to 25 storeys, are likely to be heard by Greenwich’s planning board in the new year.)

10. Operation London Bridge: Thameslink Programme, 1975-style (29 May 2014)
(The corking old British Transport Film at the heart of this post disappeared from the web for a while, but it’s back there now. The disruption, however, will be all too real in a week or two…)

And also… Greenwich Council election results: Labour prevails, but no wipeout (25 May 2014), Sexist Jim Davidson quip embarrasses Charlton Athletic (16 September 2014), Will Charlton’s pitch problems flush out ground move? (12 January 2014), The Dear Leader resigns: Chris Roberts leaves Greenwich Council (11 April 2014), Greenwich Council bullying: Who’s out to get John Fahy? (13 May 2014)

I don’t know about you, but I can’t see many reasons to be optimistic in 2015. London’s not in a good place, politically or journalistically, and I can’t help thinking the capital’s about to drown in its own hype. But the best thing we can do is stay informed, make our voices heard, and have a smile or two on the way. Hopefully 853 can help you do that in the next 12 months. Happy new year.


  1. What is your problem?
    Thanks to the efforts a “small political party” (aka Lewisham People Before Profit) you got your most-read story of the year.

    Blow, blow, thou winter wind, thou art not so unkind as man’s ingratitude.

    And what’s all this nonsense about being soft on property speculators and “City Hall” (Lewisham Council in English)?
    Lewisham People Before Profit has never given these people an easy time.

  2. I’m rather surprised none of the Silvertown Tunnel posts made it to the top ten. I feel many people are sleep walking into this and will only start moaning when it is too late, in a similar way to us losing our direct rail service to Charing Cross.

  3. On the subject of the Lewisham ‘People not Profit’ party, I see that leading party member and candidate Ray Woolford’s Housemartins estate agency website now redirects to London & Country. A re-brand?

    The fees still seem the same though, and appear to put profit before people. £90 for an ‘additional tenant be added to the contract and/or the agreement extended beyond the fixed term agreement a fee of £90 inclusive of VAT may be chargable to cover referencing’?! This costs £10 to check, if even needed as existing tenants who have never missed a payment do not need to be checked again surely?

    A referencing fee for new tenants is ‘from £0 to a maximum of £180 inclusive of VAT per applicant’. I wonder how many are £0 and how many £180? At £10 a pop to check references through various credit checking agencies this is quite a mark up.

    But that’s not all. There’s this –

    “Before commencement of the tenancy you will be required to also pay:

    • One Months’ rent in advance
    • A Security Deposit equivalent to 6 weeks rent held with the Deposit Protection Service

    Please note that the above terms may be subject to change and additional fees may apply.”

    Additional fees on all that? Quite contrary to the philosophy of people not profit no?

  4. Chris – I think what’s worth remembering is that most of this top 10 is comprised of stories that had a wider resonance (both Deptford stories contain familiar themes to many Londoners, for example) or came as sudden events (M&S). Last year’s top 10 was similar. It’s partly why the Greenwich Council bullying stuff isn’t guaranteed bums-on-seats material – it’s well-known that there has been an issue with bullying, and it’s been a tough story to sell beyond this borough, so new stories have less “blimey!” impact, although the bizarre Fahy email affair did get some traction. There’s not much you can say about the Silvertown Tunnel that can surprise people who already know about it, although I’m hoping to return to the issue in the coming weeks with some stuff that hasn’t been widely reported so far. There’s some other bits I’ve neglected over the past couple of months I’m hoping to catch up on, too.

    Murkydepths – we’ve already had this conversation elsewhere, but for the benefit of everyone else Woolford’s estate agency has been rebranded. Heaven knows what the mortgage broker of the same name thinks. Woolford’s an interesting character – might be taking a closer look there this year, if only to keep LPBP’s activists busy in the comments box…

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