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"Into" Southwark

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Friday 10 December 2004 3.50pm

can anybody shed any light on what this 4 million pound project (based at Trinity St near Borough tube) offers to residents, other than half day courses in basic internet/word processing skills and website which is a list of links (duplicating in part the Southwark Council website's A-Z section)?

You can rent the conference rooms and PC suited etc. but what is/has the 4mil being spent on? We've been told we'll get
"a range of multimedia, creative and life skills training, as well as a drop in facility for ICT and internet access, and support for personal development.......
to ensure that local people have access to high-quality training to enable them to take advantage of the employment opportunities afforded by the physical regeneration and rapidly expanding cultural and creative industries in Southwark"

We appear to have a fully kitted out and catered mini-conference/training centre with day rates of several hunder pounds. Free, gratis you can have a few half arsed courses for the local plebs if you hassle enough (took me several efforts to get a response). This place was (first) launched in July.

Sorry to moan but if anyone can convince me this isnt a farce, Id be a happier bunny.........

Tuesday 14 December 2004 12.16pm
You are right, easyrecall. For months there has been various notices in the window proclaiming an imminent opening.

Last week I popped into the reception area.

Still very disorganised.... yes, there WILL be an internet cafe.... wow, ....yes, it WILL be fully open next month.

Maybe I should calm down until it does fully open.... but I don't get a comfortable feeling on this one. I hope I am wrong...

Tuesday 14 December 2004 12.39pm
It has replaced the former "Elephant Links" website.

Given the rocky history of Brixton Online, I am a tad concerned about their ability to manage a whelk stall, let alone another 4million of regeneration money.
Tuesday 14 December 2004 12.43pm
I agree Rabbie...In my previous post I typed and then deleted the words "brewery" , "piss-up" and "outreach worker ".

It's hard not to be pessimistic.
Friday 17 December 2004 12.43pm
A fully open internet cafe?

That is their current prioirity for a public amenity when there is

a) a very reasonable commercial internet cafe 60 seconds walk away on Borough High Street (in newsagents beside tube) and

b) a free internet facility (not over subscribed) in Borough Library approx 90 seconds walk away

oh, the lives that will change........................imagine if they'd spent the 4mil on a hospital ward or something

Saturday 18 December 2004 12.14am
I wonder what 'consultation' was done with the local residents they are claiming to want to help? I am assuming of course, that spending 4M merits some consultation. Did they look at any of the numerous studies done in this area (I have copies of perhaps 40 of these things they could have used) which say that what local people want and need?

(I have to say though, that the computers in the library can be difficult to get on to and more would be welcome)
Tuesday 11 January 2005 12.02pm
I am interested that Lang Rabbie thinks Brixton Online are 'rocky'.

They have been around since 1997 and have done a lot to help people in south London get to grips with new technology. I always find it hard to understand why people have to have a go at local social enterprises like Brixton Online and yet the vast sums of money that comes out of government and goes into big business is ignored.

Worthy 'not for profit' companies like Brixton Online should be supported as they are part of our local economy providing jobs and opportunities for local people. I think they have had to struggle to get the INTO project going against some entrenched interests in the Southwark corridors of power.
Tuesday 11 January 2005 1.00pm
Having done some delving, I may perhaps have been unfair to the current directors and staff of Brixton Online Ltd and Brixton Online Training Services (BOLTS) who have been living hand to mouth from various regeneration funding sources.

However, Brixton Online, the original project suffered from a lack of a sustainable business plan when Brixton Challenge funding came to an end. As a result the Lambeth Online community directory of organisations and events seems to have vanished, and hasn't have been picked up by Lambeth borough.

(The obvious exception is the educational contacts on the excellent - which Brixton Online still receive funding for.)

IMO there was also a distinct lack of transparency as to the respective roles of the not for profit company and the commercial TMG hypermedia (now an SE1 based firm).

From a quick Nominet search, it seems that "Brixtonia Ltd" is the current registrant of the domain, which was once the public face of the project.

The domain is still registered at the Brixton offices formerly shared by Brixton Online and TMG, whereas a quick Companies House search suggests that this company's registered office is
at the same address as TMG.

Name & Registered Office:
Company No. 03267556

The domain name now appears to be for sale, with a TMG e-mail contact .

Edited 2 times. Last edit at 11 January 2005 1.03pm by Lang Rabbie.
Tuesday 11 January 2005 1.26pm
I don't know about Brixton Online, but I do know that (a) there are two reasonably priced internet cafes within 200 yards of this centre, (b) their website is pants (and largely duplicates other sites) - both are strong indications that this is off to a shaky start.

Now I agree that we need more training and also that ICT training is a good thing - but would it not have been better to give Four Million Pounds to an existing establishment (Southwark college, Morley etc...).

I am sure it is a pain to have people criticising community projects instead of helping them, but I have also often wondered as I wandered past this building, what it was for - and since it is likely to be community money which has paid in part for it - and their website gives a *very* poor impression, I am starting to feel critical.

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 11 January 2005 1.27pm by red bus.
Wednesday 12 January 2005 12.33pm
Done a bit of delving myself and it appears you are right that Brixton Online were effectively a 'project' of TMG that received money from the Brixton Challenge in 97. However they split in 2000 with TMG taking the site with them and Brixtonia (wholly owned by TMG) in order to cash in on the dot com boom. They failed and hence the for sale sign on the site.

Since 2000 Brixton Online - whose own site is have become a pretty succesful social enterprise focussing mainly on training and web development. They have actually been providing ICT training in Southwark for the last 4 years. I think if the mainstream providers had been delivering the sort of ICT training needed then there wouldn't have been a demand for the kind of thing that Brixton Online do well - I know - I benefited from their approach and they seem like a good bunch of people to me - very commited to community and not a rip off commercial company or a bureaucratic college.

I also think the talk of 4m public funding is wrong. I don't think they have received anything like that Thats the sort of money that the council shovels to companies like BT, IBM and Anderson Consulting without batting an eyelid. Incidentally I quite like the INTO website - more colourful and easier to find info than the councils... could do with a bit of fun stuff though - how about some video and music. I thought that was what INTO was supposed to be about.
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