Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Threat to Denmark Hill Service....again!

Last year a successful campaign by Cllr Veronica Ward, Val Shawcross AM, Harriet Harman MP, myself and numerous local residents led to Network Rail withdrawing plans to cut the direct train service between Denmark Hill and Victoria.

Well now Network Rail are at it again - but this time they want to cut the direct service between Denmark Hill and London Bridge, and significantly reduce services from other local stations. The consulation period is incredibly short but Veronica and I will be handing out leaflets and asking people to sign a petition at Denmark Hill station next Monday and Thursday between 8am and 9am.

My colleague Cllr Fiona Colley gives more detail on her blog. It is really important that local residents express their views - we know from last year's campaign that it does work!

UPDATE - If you want to send your comments to Network Rail on these proposals this is the e-mail address - southlondon.rus@networkrail.co.uk

Monday, October 08, 2007

Election 2007/ 8 / 9 / 10.....

So there won't be a General Election this year. Although Team Labour in Southwark was ready to go if Gordon Brown had announced a November 1st Election, many members will be relieved that we can concentrate instead on the important elections for the London Mayor and the GLA next May. The choice for the electorate in those elections is plain - more progress on developing London as the World's Capital City under Ken Livingstone; or making us a laughing stock under Boris Johnson. I can't believe that anyone is seriously considering voting for Boris - he treated the whole exercise of becoming the Tory candidate as "a bit of a laugh", and apart from making a few fatuous and inaccurate comments about bendy buses has said nothing of interest about London or Londoners.

So did Gordon Brown make the right decision? Almost certainly, yes. There were numerous reasons why a November 1st poll would have been bad for Labour. Firstly, it would have been incredibly difficult to encourage people to come out to vote after dark; the electoral register is at the end of its useful life for the year and many people would have been disenfranchised; and I am not sure that people would have understood why we were having an election now. Given that we had just passed an amendment to our Party constitution in Bournemouth which provided that any future manifesto had to be agreed by a vote of the entire Party membership, it would also have been a bit odd to throw ourselves into an election without going through that process. It would hardly have been a demonstration of support for our new-look internal party democracy!

The speculation was allowed to run on too long, and I can't help thinking that Gordon Brown has not been well served by his team of advisers. It is incredible and fairly disheartening that he has ended up getting such bad publicity for such an unnecessary reason.

So when will the next General Election be? Although the indications are that it will now be in the Spring of 2009 I have believed for some time that we may have a General Election on the same day as the next borough elections in London in 2010. This will be leaving the General Election until the last possible date, but there are recent precedents in 1992 and 1997. Now that really would make for an interesting election locally and nationally!

One footnote from the weekend of campaigning - both Labour and the Conservatives were out working in Bermondsey and Old Southwark, but there was no sign of the LibDems. I can't help thinking that Simon Hughes and his colleagues are really worn out and are just giving up on Southwark!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Labour Conference 2007

Last week was spent in Bournemouth at the Labour Party Conference. I took advantage of the opportunity to chat with the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, about the continuing problems of anti-social behaviour in the north of the borough on the Four Squares Estate, and the failure of the LibDem Council in Southwark to respond to the repeated requests of residents on the Estate to take tough action. Jacqui Smith called on the Council to respond to those requests and use all of the powers available to tackle the problems of anti-social behaviour.

I also noticed that it was reported this week that only 4 ASBO's had been issued against residents in Bermondsey over the past year, compared to 14 in Camberwell. Although there have been some historic issues concerning street drinking in Camberwell, it is surprising that so little seems to have been done in Bermondsey when this seems to have been one of the parts of Southwark which has suffered for so long from the sort of behaviour on estates which was supposed to be tackled by Anti-Social Behaviour Orders.

At another meeting at the Conference Yvette Cooper, the Housing Minister, told Southwark to get on with bringing its council housing up to the Decent Homes standard, given recent reports that the council is looking for an extension of up to two years after the 2010 deadline for the works to be completed. Southwark has dragged its feet unacceptably over the whole issue of Decent Homes, and at a time when other London Councils are completing their works it is amazing that Southwark is continuing to dither and delay.

The Conference was a good week for Labour, with excellent speeches from Gordon Brown, Ken Livingstone and Harriet Harman closing the Conference. This picture shows me with Gordon Brown at the Unite Reception on Wednesday evening.