Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Decision on the Aylesbury and a Warning to Boris!

Last night's Council Assembly saw us take an important decision about the future of the Aylesbury Estate, and issue a cross-party warning to Boris Johnson that he had better not mess with the Cross-River Tram!

It's difficult to know what I can say about the Aylesbury decision, as the debate was conducted in private and related to commercially sensitive issues. Suffice to say that a small but significant step was taken along the path of regenerating this Estate which is home to over 8000 residents. I criticised the LibDem/Tory administration for "dither and delay" over the Aylesbury regeneration - a point which seemed to excite Cllrs Stanton and Thomas who reflected on their ceaseless action since 2005. I am not quite sure what happened between 2002 - 2005 when they were also in charge of the Council?!

There is a general fear that Boris Johnson will shelve the proposals for the Cross River Tram; which will run between Peckham and Kings Cross via the Elephant & Castle. So last night's debate re-affirming the commitment of every councillor in Southwark to the proposal was welcome, and should hopefully have some impact on the Mayor when he comes to prioritise his transport policies for his administration. Having slashed more than £50 million off his budget already (by abandonning the £25 congestion charge proposal) there are significant holes which he will need to meet, or make cuts. Although the capital costs for the CRT will be large and are not presently available, it would be bad news for Southwark if the Mayor decided to shelve the proposal at the moment. Once a major capital project loses its place in the queue it can be years before that project finds its way back onto any agenda.

As I predicted, a Labour motion calling for an independent review of the fiasco surrounding disabled residents freedom passes was defeated by the ruling Administration. In their Soviet-style approach to issues which involve potential criticism of their regime, the LibDems and Tories chose to air-brush out of history the queues of disabled residents waiting for their passes on the Walworth Road because of a major mistake by the Administration, and silenced all dissenters. The Leader of the Council passed so many bucks there can't have been any bucks left for anyone else to pass! It's a shame that the opportunity to learn valuable lessons from this exclusively Southwark problem was not taken.

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