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Showing posts from November, 2009

Labour gives £12million for new permanent primary classrooms

Some good news for the primary school places campaign - the Labour Government has announced that Southwark will be given over £12 million for new permanent primary classrooms.

This year dozens of parents were left without an offer of a local school in East Dulwich and Peckham Rye as the number of applications outstripped the Lib Dem executive’s expectations.

Together with Southwark’s Labour councillors we are now calling for details of how and where the money will be spent so that the classrooms are built by the government’s deadline of September 2011 and so that the lion's share of this cash is spent in our area.

Southwark Labour’s Education spokesperson Cllr Veronica Ward has welcomed this much needed cash boost:

“The Government has recognised that there’s a long-term shortage of school places in the borough, despite the Lib Dem Council Leader’s complacent claims that we ‘coped relatively well this year’.

“This is great news and a serious amount of money, which will go a long way to …

The co-ordination of road works? Surely not?

For anyone frustrated by the same roads being dug up over and over again to do different jobs, help may be at hand.

Val Shawcross' report on a new scheme that would enable the highways authorities to coordinate road works shows that common sense may at last be coming to the fore. Our London Assembly member is right to encourage as many of London's local authorities as possible to participate in this scheme. It's clearly idiotic for the same road to be dug up twice, when all the work could be done in one go. It costs more money and causes more disruption.

But as of 16th November, Southwark Council was still one of 15 London Authrorities that hadn't signed up to the scheme. Peckham Rye Labour will be writing to the council to urge them to do so.

Demand action on climate change: Join The Wave on Sat 5th Dec

None of the great changes in our history have come without popular pressure, and action to tackle climate change will be no different. In the few days we have left before the Copenhagen climate talks it is vital that people and campaigners from all walks of life act at home and abroad to help build the momentum we need to get the right deal for the planet.

So what are you doing next Saturday? Why now join thousands of people in central London - for the UK's biggest ever climate demonstration - as we demand that political leaders commit to a fair and robust climate deal in Copenhagen that puts the world's poor at its heart.

The plan:
Assembly & rally: 12.00pm, Grosvenor Square
March sets off 1.00pm (please see route below)
Climax: 3.00pm Encircling of Parliament
Dress code: Blue! Please bring blue gloves if you have them, or paint your hands blue for the 3.00pm climax!
Lots more info is available from the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition.

I've volunteered to help steward and will b…

More on recycling

Firstly, sorry about the silence from Peckham Rye Labour over the last week. The combination of a trip away and a spot of flu has kept us uncharacteristically quiet.

We'll start up again with a reference to a Southwark News story which reiterates something we were blogging about last week: Southwark council's terrible recycling rate.

Take a look at the story for some further details on this issue, but the most interesting thing is the quote from the Council Spokesperson. They say that the increase in recycling achieved since 2002 is a "massive increase which we should be really proud of." Come again? We're the 6th worst council in England and we're supposed to be proud?

If every other local authority in the country had not increased their recycling rates over the last 7 1/2 years, they might have a point. But clearly this is not the case. Southwark needs to get real about just how far behind the rest of the pack they are when it comes to recycling.

Ivydale road works and traffic calming update

I posted about the Ivydale Road traffic calming last month and this is just a quick update.

Back in October the council told me that the work, initially planned for late spring/summer, would eventually begin in November. The first stage is the resurfacing of Ivydale Road from its junction with St Asaph's Road to its junction with Limesford Road (in Nunhead ward). This work was scheduled to start on 12th November but I understand that it actually started today. That bit of Ivydale Road is now closed with the P12 on diversion via St St Asaph's road and the Honor Oak estate before going back on route at Brenchley Gardens.

Stage two is the resurfacing of rest of Ivydale (this is the bit in Peckham Rye ward and is where I live). The start date I had was 23rd November but if things are a little behind, and I haven't heard anything, I suspect this means this might still be a week or two away. I'm waiting to hear what this means for the 343 and 484.

Stage three is the constructio…

Trying to do my bit to protect our environment...

We're now just days away from the UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen where political leaders really need to make some big and bold commitments about cutting emissions and making money available to fund mitigation of, and adaptation to, the impacts of climate change in developing countries, where some of the world's poorest people are already experiencing changing weather patterns.

It's a big challenge and despite the tireless work of Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband (come on, give them a break - you really can't knock them on this one..) it seems that the summit might not deliver all it needs to - but I'll blog more on this later.

However, what can we as individuals do? After all domestic emissions count for about 40% of all UK CO2 emissions.

I'll blog more about my campaign to recycle and compost as much as possible, insulate the loft, the recent installation of an energy efficient boiler and perhaps even my make-do-and-mend living room which features some lovely…

Recycling in Southwark - 6th worst in England

Under the control of Liberal Democrat councillors, Southwark council has officially become the 6th worst council in England for recycling it’s rubbish. New figures released by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs have brought the incredible news that Southwark has dropped in the national league table of councils from 10th worst to 6th worst. That means there are now 388 local authorities in England who do a better job of recycling than Southwark.

The council’s woeful performance on this issue is bringing national attentionto our part of south London. An inner London council with a population which is desperate to see more of their waste recycled is being seriously let down by the ruling parties.

When they took charge of Southwark in 2002, the Lib Dems promised to increase the borough’s recycling rate to 30% by 2010. Not only have they failed to meet that promise, but when compared to the rest of the country, they have actually taken the council backwards.

Recycling rates…

Primary school admissions in Southwark: What's the Story?

Victoria and Gavin with Cllr Fiona Colley, who chaired the meeting which looked into the council's handling of primary school admissions in our area.
Those of you who attended last month’s public meeting on primary school admissions in our area were treated a good deal of bluff from both Lib Dem councillors and council officers. At times they made it sound as if local parents were being positively rude for asking questions about the council’s administration of this year’s admissions.

But the proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the eating. We know the process has been poorly handled because of the huge levels of concern demonstrated by local parents. This didn’t happen in other boroughs, and it happened in Southwark for a reason.

Peckham Rye’s Labour Councillor Robert Smeath recently sought to get to the bottom of the situation in Southwark with a question at the last full council meeting. Councillor Smeath asked the Leader of the Council to:

“Please detail the percentage of new a…

Sad and shocking day

Just a short post about the sad news that the cafe on Peckham Rye Common suffered a fire last night. On the positive side, the fire was restricted to the office accommodation at the rear of the cafe. The building's fire doors prevented the fire from spreading and the alarm system alerted the fire brigade who responded promptly. Good and robust design are essential (sadly) for buildings such as this and it would seem that the cafe has been well built. Whether further preventative measures or CCTV can now be usefully installed is something we will raise with the council.

On an even more shocking note is the news that Delroy Grant, a resident of 'Brockley' was today charged with five rapes, six indecent assaults and 11 burglaries. From the media and police presence I came across on my way home this evening, it appears that Mr Grant lived just within the Southwark boundary, in Peckham Rye ward. My thoughts are with the victims of these crimes and local residents.

Val Shawcross joins us in Peckham Rye to talk buses

We braved the rain and wind earlier today to talk to people on St Aidan's Road, Marcus Garvey Mews and Dunstan's Road about local bus services.

We know that in Peckham Rye ward lots of people, including ourselves, are reliant on bus services. That’s why we’re particularly worried by the Mayor’s recent proposals to cut bus services and funding.

We were delighted that our London Assembly Member, Val Shawcross, who is also deputy chair of the Assembly’s Transport Committee and Labour Spokesperson for Transport was able to join us. You can read Val's response to the Mayor's proposals here.

Generally, people are pretty happy with bus services, particularly the 63 and 363. However, many shared our concerns that less buses could have a big impact. I don't have a car so comments about making sure that you give yourself an extra 10 or 15 minutes to get somewhere on the bus ring true. Often you get lucky and a bus turns up straight away, but sometimes you don't, meaning red…

Who runs your council?

John O’Farrell’s 1998 book Things Can Only Get Better describes local government as “Not exactly what the marketing boys call 'sexy'”. He has a point. The labyrinthine world of bureaucracy, committees and local politics doesn’t always make your local authority the most appealing subject for reflection and debate. In fairness to John O’Farrell, he does go on to write about the reasons why council services are so important, and why we should care about who is in charge of them. Nevertheless, the point remains, local government can be impenetrable to the people who pay for and rely on its services.

An unfortunate side-effect of this is that when issues of importance are debated locally (such as the hole in the housing repairs budget or the council’s poor handling of primary school admissions this year) the facts of the matter are sometimes lost. In particular, those in positions of political responsibility often attempt to hide behind the structure of local government to avoid bei…

School fairs and admissions criteria

Several weeks ago we attended the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting which was investigating admissions to primary schools and the provision of places in Dulwich and East Dulwich. The treatment of parents by Southwark’s admissions team and the action needed to ensure adequate primary school places available were, of course, the main topics discussed. Thanks to pressure from local parents and their Labour representatives, Southwark’s Lib Dem/Tory administration has been forced to add staff to their admissions teams and put in place plans for extra “bulge” classes in local schools to cope with possible extra demand in the future.

But in addition to these shorter term measures, there was also discussion about what else could be done to avoid this year’s debacle being repeated in the longer term. One telling contribution to this debate came from the headteacher of a local primary that was performing extremely well for its pupils, but which was still consistently undersubscribed. The s…

Peckham Rye Common central area: Changing facilities and children's provision, Public Consultation

I love Peckham Rye Common and Park. Whether it's a for a jog or a stroll with family both the Common and Park are beautiful in all seasons. The wonderful show of autumn colours over the last few weeks has been brilliant.

Readers may know that for some time there have been various proposals floating around about the improvement and possible expansion of facilities on the Common and possibly also in the Park.

The One O'Clock Club is currently housed in the old PoW hut and, although a fascinating historical relic, £200K of funding has now been secured to build a much needed new centre. Hopefully a further £200K will be secured in the coming weeks to ensure the best possible facilities are built. Further funding is available for a natural play facility which will include a water play area.

Although funding has not been secured for new changing room facilities both on the Common and at Homestall Road these are being planned.

Where do you think these facilities will be best located? All…

Update on Peckham Rye Residents Survey

I thought I'd give you a quick update on the responses we've been getting to our online survey which we began advertising last week. The response so far has been great, and there are still a more coming in. Here's a sneak preview of the results of the priorities and recycling questions so far. In response to the question "Which services does the council needs to improve most?", the results were:

Recycling and bins - 26.9
Crime prevention - 50.0
Housing - 7.7
Things for young people to do - 26.9
Other - 46.2
Respondents could pick more than one answer, which is why the percentages don't add up to 100%

Of the "other" issues, school places was by far the most common response, perhaps reflecting the anxiety created by the council's poor administration and communication over primary schools admissions this year.

In response to the question, "What do you think the council should do to make recycling easier?" the results were:

Recycle tetra pack carto…

The human cost of Southwark's housing repairs failure

For some, it's difficult to quantify the human cost of a £700 million black hole in Southwark's budget for bringing council homes up to a decent standard. It sounds like a big number, but does it have much of an impact on real people's lives? Isn't this just a game of political claim and counter claim?

For those unfortunate enought to be living in one of Southwark's 18,000 sub-standard homes, the impact is only too real. For those individuals and families it can mean a home which is cold, damp and without even the most basic of facilities. Southwark's Labour Councillors have recently published "No Way To Live", a document which attempts to put some pressure on the Liberal Administration which refuses to tackle this crisis through cross party co-operation. Take a look at just one of the examples given in the document:

"In February 2008, a woman living with her three young children in Peckham reported to the council that her toilet ceiling leaked wit…

Local transport improvements - Peckham Rye/East Dulwich Road/Nunhead Lane

Improvements to these roads have come up at the last few Nunhead and Peckham Rye Community councils.

Each year Transport for London (TfL) allocates money to the council to deliver local transport improvements. For the next financial year (2010/11) the system used to allocate this funding is changing and should mean that the council, together with the community, can have more say in deciding what kind of schemes are implemented.

Back at the July Community Council meeting, the Council’s transport planners presented five potential schemes for our area (this covers not just Peckham Rye ward but also Nunhead and Lane wards) and asked us to vote on them.

One of these schemes was called ‘Peckham Rye South’ and covers both the east and west branches of Peckham Rye from Scylla Road and Dewar Street in the north down to Barry Road and Somerton Road to the south. The council’s transport planners stated: “These busy streets carry significant amounts of through traffic and crossing them can be diff…

Take the Peckham Rye residents' survey online

Over the next week residents in Peckham Rye will recieve a letter from Victoria, Renata and I, introducing ourselves as the Labour candidates in our area and setting out the issues that we think are crucial to Peckham Rye.

But we don't just to tell you about ourselves, we will also be seeking your views on council services and asking what issues you think are most important. To help us get your views we have enclosed a survey form.

People will be able to fill the survey out in hard copy and send it straight back to us by freepost. But for those of you who would prefer to take the survey via the internet, we have have also prepared an online survey. If you'd like to e-mail the the survey to your neighbours and friends you can use this link:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=XNnUtcHFIR12ZMGMdsWPnQ_3d_3dI hope you can take the time to complete the survey to let us know what you think . . .

Nunhead Community Centre - some success but campaign continues

'Peckham Rye' ward covers the south east part of Nunhead so yesterday, we went along to the Nunhead Community Forum AGM. Renata has been involved with the Forum for some time and is on its executive committee. (Residents campaigning against the closure)
The meeting started with a discussion about the next steps for securing an adequate community centre for Nunhead residents. Many Nunhead residents will have been following the campaign for a proper and adequate community centre for Nunhead for some time.

It's well over two years ago that the current centre was closed after one of the residents who ran the centre contracted legionnaires disease (maybe from the centre, maybe not). It was expected that the centre would reopen after the water systems had been given the all clear. Instead the council said it couldn't reopen without some quite substantial work being done. An initial report suggested about £300K was needed so local residents set about raising that money, knowin…