Thursday, April 23, 2009

Jack Jones

I was very sorry to learn of the death of Jack Jones, the former TGWU leader once regarded as 'more powerful than the Prime Minister' of the day. Jack remained a stalwart member of the Labour Party right up to his death, and will be particularly remembered in South Camberwell where he lived in Ruskin Park House for many years.

I met Jack on a number of occasions since becoming a councillor in the ward in 2002, and throughtout that time he was always courteous, friendly and supportive of all that we did. He always made an effort to attend our Christmas social gatherings. He was always such a gentleman that it was hard to realise that this was the same man who was treated with such discourtesy by the press during the 1960's and 1970's - although that probably says a lot more about our press than it does about Jack.

Jack had a wonderful life and career, from his days fighting with the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War, right through his Union heyday, to his leadership of the National Association of Pensioners.

He was made a Freeman of Southwark in 2004, and I was delighted that he was able to attend that ceremony and speak there.

The photo is of Jack from 2006, which I took for use in a local election leaflet we produced then. He really will be missed by his many friends and admirers.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

44 Grove Park and Crossthwaite Avenue

Last night I chaired a meeting of Grove Park residents with a number of senior council officers to dicuss what might be done to improve the appearance of 44 Grove Park. Although in a conservation area the house is blighted by breeze blocks at its front, and an owner who appears to have no interest in how his property might impact on other people.

The discussion was useful and wide-ranging, and I think that we explored a number of future possibilities as to how the council might help. The best route would be for the council to exercise its powers and acquire the hoouse under a compulsory purchase order, but in these difficult economic times I am not sure that those resources will be available. So my role is to lobby for funds to follow this route! The residents of Grove Park should be congratulated on keeping this issue so high up the council's agenda, and also for putting up with an eyesore for far too long.

Afterwards I attended the Camberwell Community Council and was delighted to learn that £325,000 of business support grant is going to be invested in Crossthwaite Avenue, the parade of shops which Veronica and myself have been campaigning for throughout our time on the council. This money could make a real differece and revive this shopping area which is such a lifeline for so many residents. There are currently three empty shops in the parade, and it is hoped that this money might go some way to enticing new occupants into those shops.

So altogether a good news night for South Camberwell!