Friday, October 10, 2008

Ruskin Park House Update

A three hour meeting took place on Tuesday night to discuss the proposed works at Ruskin Park House on Champion Hill. Veronica and I were not able to attend as we are not shareholders, and the Committee did not choose to invite us. But as we were aware that many residents had concerns about how they are going to be able to meet the costs of the works we turned up at the start of the meeting to hand out our contact cards.

I cannot pretend to understand the politics of this situation - many residents appreciate and support the Committee in the hard work they are doing, but that old problem of communication seems to be contributing to the unease which some residents have expressed to us. So I hope that the meeting was at least successful in allaying some of the fears about how the works have been approached. Although I have not met the Chair or the influential Estate Manager, I know several Committee members and can vouch for their real commitment to Ruskin Park House.

Southwark Council is the freeholder for Ruskin Park House, but that is subject to a lease to RPH Limited until 2071. So there is nothing the Council can really do to influence what happens at Ruskin Park House at the present time. But both officers and councillors can offer advice about financial support which residents on fixed incomes can receive to meet the costs of the proposed works - and Veronica and I are committed to ensuring that this happens.

Gordon Brown in Bermondsey

One of the hats I wear is as a Director of the Beormund Community Centre in the north of the borough. Yesterday the Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Ed Balls visited the nursery at the centre to see some of the work that is going on there and to speak to some of the parents.

The centre was only notified of the visit the night before, so it was understandable that some of the parents were a bit taken aback to see the PM and the Schools Secretary in the nursery as they dropped their children off! I know we talk about highly qualified nursery staff but...!

Gordon Brown really seems to have turned his fortunes around in the last few weeks, and has shown a deft touch in dealing with the global financial crisis. The UK model unveiled on Wednesday to save the banks seems to be recognised as one that should be followed in other countries.

The visit went well. This is the link to the Number 10 video. I'm the one shuffling around and trying to be a distraction as the PM speaks to camera!!

Rotherhithe Ward Result

Congratulations to Wilma Nelson on her election last night as the new LibDem Councillor for Rotherhithe. A really positive and energetic campaign from Labour's Kath Whittam saw her increase the Labour share of the vote by 5.5% - a great result in the difficult economic circumstances.

I was disappointed that Wilma Nelson fought her campaign on the basis of promising to oppose Labour's secret plans to privatise council housing. It really does show again that after six years in power at the Town Hall the LibDems have got nothing positive to offer the people of Southwark. I should make it clear that Labour in Southwark has no plans, either secret or overt, to privatise council housing - and it was a silly bit of scaremongering by the Libs. 'Secret plans' stories are easy to stick on leaflets - if the opposition deny them you can say "well of course you would deny them, because the plans are secret"! But they represent immature politics when they are not based in a single element of fact.

In contrast Kath talked about the issues facing Rotherhithe and demonstrated what a strong grasp she has of the area. I have no doubt that she will be back!