Monday, January 13, 2014

2014 - A New Year!

Someone sent me a message on Twitter a couple of weeks ago pointing out that I had not updated my blog for months.  So here is an update on a few issues, with a commitment to try and keep my blog a little more up-to-date.

Labour's Team for South Camberwell 2014
I am delighted to be standing again on May 22nd as a Labour candidate for South Camberwell.  I have been a councillor in the area since 2002 and it would be a great privilege to be given the opportunity to serve this part of Southwark for another 4 years.

My colleague in South Camberwell since 2002 has been Veronica Ward.   Veronica is not seeking re-election this year.  She has been an amazing ward councillor and I know so many people have been helped by her over the past 12 years.  But I have two great new candidate colleagues in Sarah King and Chris Gonde.  They have both been getting to know the area better over the past few months and I know that they will be great champions for South Camberwell when they are elected.

This year's local elections in London are on the same day as the elections to the European Parliament - May 22nd.

Cycling in Southwark
Before Christmas I wrote to Mayor Boris Johnson asking him to hold a summit of London Council Leaders with himself and colleagues in the GLA to explore ways to make cycling safer for all in our capital.  Last Autumn I proposed that there should be a rush-hour ban on HGVs entering central London - a "Cycle Safe Hour".  This still needs to be explored urgently and I hope that any summit will consider this option.

However, following the tragic death on Albany Road of Richard Muzira it became clearer that cyclists need to be and to feel safe at all hours of the day and night.  So I will be pressing for there to be a comprehensive route of cycleways right across Southwark and London - providing cyclists with effectively dedicated routes which will minimise any interaction with motorised traffic.

Dog Kennel Hill School & a new Primary School for the area
On 21st November I went to the opening of the new nursery classrooms at Dog Kennel Hill School.  The classrooms are a great new modern facility for the school - which already provides an excellent education to children from across South Camberwell.  DKH is also looking after increased pupil numbers due to the pressure which we have across Southwark and London for additional school places.  It is no surprise that so many of our outstanding primary schools are the first choice for so many parents and children.

In order to cope with the particular pressures in our area I have been working with Dulwich Hamlet School on their plans to open a new primary free school on the site of the former Bellenden School, at the junction of Bellenden Road and Maxted Road.  Dulwich Hamlet is an outstanding school and under the leadership of Sonia Case is doing a wonderful job for residents in Dulwich.  So I am confident that bringing that blend of outstanding leadership and achievement onto the Bellenden site from 2015 will be great news for local parents and children.  I hope that the Department for Education gets behind this proposal, and doesn't try to take the site for any alternative proposal.

But this Dulwich Hamlet proposal is a model which needs to be replicated further across Southwark - taking an existing good or outstanding school and supporting them to take their education to new locations where there is a shortage of places.  I think that there is also a role for the independent sector in the borough to demonstrate that they are putting something back into the community by becoming free school sponsors.

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