Friday, May 26, 2006

The Week So Far!

As the Bank holiday weekend approaches I thought it would be good to review the week so far, and in particular the Constitutional Council on Wednesday night when Southwark's Mayor for the forthcoming municipal year was elected. In the event Cllr Paul Kyriacou was elected - a Liberal Democrat councillor somewhere in Bermondsey.
Labour nominated Cllr Lorraine Lauder MBE, one of the councillor's for Faraday Ward, which covers the Aylesbury Estate and the surrounding streets. Lorraine has been an outstanding councillor and has worked for her community over many years. For example, for the past 36 years Lorraine has not spent a single Christmas Day at home but has given up her time to help organise celebrations for 500 Southwark pensioners at Dulwich College with the Peoples Care charity - people who would otherwise be on their own at Christmas. What amazing commitment to the people of this borough!

Anyway, despite Lorraine's impeccable record and her service to Southwark as Deputy Mayor over the past 12 months, the deal between the 6 Tories and the Liberal Democrats meant that Lorraine was passed over. Perhaps just one early example of the way in which this unhappy alliance will deprive Southwark of the best over the coming 4 years?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Bellenden Residents and DKH

Saturday was spent visiting two local groups and the shopkeepers in Crossthwaite Avenue. The Bellenden Residents Group ('BRG') covers an area crossing between South Camberwell and The Lane wards and is organised by Eileen Conn. On Saturday all the newly elected councillors for the wards were invited to attend the BRG at the Coplestone Centre and introduce themselves. It was great that all councillors attended including myself and Veronica Ward from South Camberwell, together with Mark Glover, Susan Elan Jones and Gordon Nardell from The Lane. It looks as if one of the major issues that the BRG will be concerned with is the proposed new tram depot for Peckham. There is a real fear that the depot may disturb the sympathetic regeneration of Peckham town centre and cause the loss of some newly built and proposed social housing. The alternative appears to be to site the depot at Kings Cross. More to come on this topic no doubt!
From BRG Veronica and I visited the Dog Kennel Hill Park Fun Day. Some dedicated local volunteers are working very hard to preserve the various characteristics of this area, which also appears to be threatened by the current proposals for the redevelopment of Greendale Playing Fields. I am sure that a solution can be found to this - but only if Southwark Council starts listening to local people! Some of the work done can be found at
Finally we visited Crossthwaite Avenue which has a parade of shops which are under serious threat from hugely increased rents set by the Council. The shops are a vital local amenity and unless the council's property department has an injection of reality, the shopkeepers will simply shut up and move out, leaving residents without a post office, newsagents, chemist, dry cleaners etc. Veronica and I will be meeting with the shopkeepers over the next couple of weeks to try and help them.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Lambeth & Southwark Housing Association

Yesterday I chaired a meeting of the Lambeth & Southwark Housing Association ('LSHA'), a fairly small association which has about 250 properties across both boroughs. We are shortly to take possession of 13 flats in Steedman Street, which form part of the first phase of the regeneration of the Elephant & Castle. Some of the tenants who are due to be decanted from the Heygate Estate will be moving into the flats over the next few months.

Sometimes I think that housing associations get a bad press, but given the membership and commitment of LSHA's management board and staff I believe that we provide a really good service to our tenants. Small is beautiful?!

With all the development opportunities coming up over the next few years in Lambeth and Southwark I hope that we will be able to acquire more properties and continue to provide a similarly high level of service.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Last Night's Meeting

Last night's East Dulwich Estate Project Team AGM was quorate - but still only about 20 residents out of perhaps 700 from the Estate came along. I am sure that this does reflect some of the scepticism which exists about whether any progress will ever be made on the regeneration. On more than one occasion residents commented that they 'had heard this all before' when officers began setting out proposals and details of what works would be occurring and when. Next week's regular Project Team meeting will be crucial - as officers present last night promised to have available a full timetable and details of works. I think there will be justified uproar if that information is not provided. Stephen Govier was elected as Chair of the Project Team for the year ahead. I am sure that he will ensure that council officers are reminded of the urgency of this project, and Veronica and I are looking forward to working with him.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A Comment on the Elections!

It would be wrong to start my blog without some discussion of the recent local election results. Overall Labour in Southwark did incredibly well. In the face of a poor night for Labour across London and nationally we increased our share of the vote to 40% and saw the Lib Dems collapse to just 33%. On the popular vote we achieved 11,500 more votes than them and took seats in previously the Liberal heartland of East Walworth. Sadly our significant majority in the popular vote did not translate into council seats and a stalemate of 28 seats each was the result, with the Tories collecting 6 and the Greens pinching a seat in my own ward.
It now looks certain that the Tories will form a coalition with the Liberals - in an arrangement reminiscent of the disastrous Lambeth coalition between 2002/06. With the Tories bagging the portfolios of Deputy Leader, Housing Management and Resources it really does look as if the Lib Dems have given up real power in Southwark for the sake of holding office. I have no doubt that the people who will suffer as a result of this arrangement over the next 4 years are those who continue to rely so heavily on council services, and who turned to Labour at this election.

East Dulwich Estate Project Team

Tonight the East Dulwich Estate Project Team will hold its AGM. A previous meeting was inquorate so it is hoped that enough residents will attend tonight to enable the meeting to take place. Frustration still remains high on the Estate as so many people are waiting for the long-planned regeneration to take place. Originally proposed in 1999, the regeneration project ran into objections from residents of the Estate as it involved demolition of up to 6 blocks. In 2004, after a long campaign, Southwark's Executive decided that the regeneration could proceed without demolitions and by an innovative use of void properties on the Estate for key worker affordable housing. However, over the past 18 months little progress appears to have been made on this proposal and long-promised repairs have not been carried out. Hopefully tonight's AGM will show that ther is some renewed urgency in the Council's atttiude to the scheme, following continued representations from Veronica and myself.

16th May 2006

Well at last I've decided to enter the blog age! Having seen the fantastic blog sites of some of my Labour colleagues on Southwark Council I thought that it was time to show that I could cope with this medium as well. I hope that I will be able to highlight issues of concern to residents of South Camberwell ward and keep people informed about some local campaigning issues. In the next few weeks I certainly hope to have some news on the future of the East Dulwich Estate, Greendale playing fields, Crossthwaite Avenue and threatened developments asound the St Francis Estate and Dog Kennel Hill. With my colleague Veronica Ward, I hope that we will be able to truly represent the interests of those who live in South Camberwell over the next 4 years.