31 May 2010

Sign up for the "Peckham Rye News" Facebook Group

We've set up a new Facebook Group which will make it easier for people living in Peckham Rye to find out about local news and keep tabs on their councillors.

You can join the group here by just clicking on "join group" at the top of the page.

Among other things, joining the group will allow you to find out the latest on the campaigns to:
- Extend the 63 bus to Honor Oak Park Station
- Deliver new facilities on Peckham Rye Park and Common
- Sorting out primary school place allocations in our area

Joining the group will also make it easier for you to let us know your views on local issues and to join in dicussions with other residents of Peckham Rye. Join now to make sure you're kept up to date with everything Peckham Rye.

28 May 2010

Community Council has a new Chair (and they live local!)

Your community council is a gathering of local people and councillors which takes place every six weeks somewhere in the area. Nunhead and Peckham Rye Community Council can refer issues to the council's cabinet and can allocate money from several pots of money to local projects. It is also a useful way of holding council officers to account on vrious issues including planning, licensing and regeneration.

Each year the Southwark council assembly elects the chairs of each of the community councils. And this year, I'm pleased to announce, one of your Peckham Rye Labour Councillors, Victoria, is taking the hot-seat. The chair has a crucial role to play in ensuring that local people are able to say what changes they want to see in this area and turning that into a plan which can be delivered. To make the community council more than a talking shop, a strong chair needs to ensure officers and cabinet members listen to what the commuity in Nunhead and Peckham Rye is saying. Last year Lane Ward councillor Mark Glover made a great job of being chair, and now it's Victoria's turn.

If you can make it, do come along to the next community council meeting on Monday 21st June at 7pm. The venue will be announced shortly.

21 May 2010

Our local police team...

Last night I went along to our local safer neighbourhood panel meeting. These meetings are held so that people living in Peckham Rye can get a chance to speak to our local police team, and provide them with feedback on issues relating to crime and anti-social behaviour. I was extremely impressed with the detailed knowledge that the local police team has built up from patrolling Peckham Rye on a daily basis. On issues as varied as burglary, anti-social behaviour on buses and dangerous dogs the police team were able to give us a detailed picture of the issues in Peckham Rye and how they have been dealing with them.

One issue which I had been asked to bring up at the meeting by several residents was that of dangerous dogs. On the doorstep during the election campaign it became clear that a number of parents with young children were concerned about the aggressive behaviour of dogs which were not on leads around the Park and Common. The local police team have already been taking action to deal with this issue which has lead to two people receiving convictions and having their dogs confiscated.

The advice that the police asked me to pass on was that in order to take action on this issue, the first thing they need is specific information. If you experience an incident in which you feel that a dog is not being kept under control and has the potential to endanger the public, make sure you keep a desciption of the dog and the owner, and the nature of the dog’s behaviour. The police were very clear that people simply walking their dog without a lead is not (and shouldn’t be) an offence. It is information about the aggressive behaviour of a dog and its potential to injure people which will help them to take action. The dog does not have to actually hurt someone before they can intervene, but they do need to know if it has been exhibiting behaviour that leads them to believe that it may be a danger to people. If you want to get in touch with them, take a look at the link above.

Of course, it goes without saying that if you should actually see an offence taking place your first action should be to dial 999. It's also important to say that although there obviously are some incidents with dogs with have caused concern, the vast majority of dog owners in Peckham Rye are behaving in a responsible way. It's the irresponsible few which the local police need information on.

Victoria, Renata and I are looking forward to working closely with the local police team, supporting their work where we can and providing feedback to them from local residents that we speak to.

18 May 2010

Council Assembly tomorrow - Labour formally take charge in Southwark

Tomorrow evening is Southwark Council Assembly AGM and will see Labour formally take control of the council. I'm proud that after 8 years of the failed Lib Dem and Tory rule the results of the 6 May elections saw residents decisively put Labour in charge.

The meeting will see Labour's leader Cllr Peter John appointed as Southwark council leader and the AGM will also appoint the new 'Cabinet'. Labour has opted to rename the 'council executive' to make it clear this is the political group running the council rather than a group of bureaucrats. I think this is a good move.

The meeting will go on the agree Southwark's new Mayor, establish scrutiny committees and also establish Community Councils. I'm delighted that Nunhead and Peckham Rye Community Council will continue to be made up of nine Labour councillors but even more delighted that with a Labour council we will get the input and attention needed from the leadership of the council. This is going to be a real opportunity to drive change in our area.

Members of the public are very welcome to attend Council Assembly - simply arrive at Peckham Town Hall by 7.00pm. As many residents will know, the Lib Dems and Tories reduced the number of Council Assembly meetings and also ended the tradition of members of the public being able to bring deputations to meetings. They were determined to keep politicians locked away in the Town Hall and ensure that the public had a limited say in things. I do hope that Labour can begin to reverse this and boost transparency and public engagement in Southwark.

14 May 2010

Week one as Peckham Rye Councillors

Councillor allowances to be cut

Our first week as councillors has been a mix of developing some of the right links with inside the council bureaucracy and getting to grips with various issues that people need our help with.

On Monday we attended the AGM of Southwark Labour Group where we elected several of the positions within the Group (including the Leader and Deputy Leader) and made some important early decisions to show how this administration is going to differ to the last. Labour councillors delivered on our first manifesto pledge by agreeing a 10% cut in the Special Responsibility Allowances for councillors. Victoria, Renata and I are all proud that we are taking a lead on this issue.

On Tuesday we went into the council offices on Tooley Street to officially sign up as councillors and get our e-mail and contact details sorted out.

Casework is now coming in thick and fast. All three of us are having to learn quickly who to contact and how to get the best results for residents. Luckily we have the assistance of one or two more experienced Labour councillors to help out when we need some advice. We've also been signing up to the various training sessions that all new councillors need to go on: Southwark IT systems, safeguarding, casework management etc etc.

But as we said time and again during the campaign, we're determined not be couped up in the Town Hall as councillors. As often as possible we want to be out talking to people living in our area and finding out how we can improve things. Tomorrow we're going to Nunhead Cemetery open day (on the boundary of our ward). Nunhead Cemetery is an fascinating place, and we want to show our support for the work of the Friends of Nunhead Cemetery.

13 May 2010

One O'clock Club update

Council officers involved in the applications for funding to deliver the new One O'Clock club on Peckham Rye have sent round an e-mail to people who've signed up to their mailing list. The email says that officers have just heard that the application for further funding has been given first round approval.

The second and final funding meeting is due to take place at the end of May. Apparently there have been a high number of applications for this funding and so officers are unsure of how successful the application will be.

This is a small step in the right direction. We now wait with bated breath for the outcome of the application...

11 May 2010

Contact details and surgery details

We're slowly but surely getting the basics in place as the new councillors for Peckham Rye. The first step is to let you know how you can get in touch with us if there is anything you think we might be able to help you with.

Our new contact details are as follows:

Gavin Edwards
Tel: 07956624529
e-mail: gavin.edwards@southwark.gov.uk

Renata Hamvas
Tel: TBC
e-mail: renata.hamvas@southwark.gov.uk

Victoria Mills
Tel: 07535932318
e-mail: victoria.mills@southwark.gov.uk

Our surgeries will take place on:

First Friday of every month, 6.30pm to 7.30pm at the Rye Hill Park Tenants and Residents Association, Rye Hill Estate, 191 Peckham Rye.

Second Saturday of every month, 10.00am to 11.00am, East Dulwich Community Centre, 46-64 Darrell Road, East Dulwich

Fourth Thursday of every month, 6.30pm to 7.30pm, Nunhead Library, Gordon Road.

We'll also be carrying out mobile surgeries (when we come to your street) over the coming months. Further details of these will follow shortly.

8 May 2010

Thank you

In case you haven't already heard the news, we're pleased to tell you that the people of Peckham Rye elected three Labour councillors on Thursday.

Victoria, Renata and I are incredibly grateful for the trust that's been placed in us. We know the real hard work starts now and we promise that we won't let you down. On a night of dramatic election results in Southwark, we are also delighted that Labour now has enough councillors to run the council.

Victoria, Renata and I would also like to thank the candidates from the other political parties in Peckham Rye for what was a very hard fought but honest campaign, giving people living in our area a real choice of strong candidates for their councillors. The overall turnout in our ward was high (67%). It was very pleasing to see so many people coming out to make their voice heard in the election.

If you'd like to see the full results you can see them here.

If you'd like to listen to a recording of the results being announced, click here.

Once again, thanks for your support. Please keep coming back the blog for more news on our activities as councillors for Peckham Rye.

4 May 2010

5 reasons to vote for Peckham Rye Labour on Thursday

1. We live here. Labour is the only one of the main parties standing candidates who actually live in Peckham Rye. We'll be around to pick up on local issues and campaign for our area after the elections, not hiding away in the town hall.

2. We'll extend the 63 Bus to Honor Oak Park. Having three councillors who have consistently campaigned for the extension of the 63 bus to Honor Oak Park will put more pressure on Boris and TfL. Also, if we have a Labour controlled council, Southwark can become an active supporter of the campaign, instead of sitting on its hands as it has done under the Lib Dems and Tories.

3. It will help improve Southwark Council services. If Labour gets enough councillors elected on Thursday, we can end the Lib Dem-Tory Alliance which has made Southwark officially the worst council in inner London. Southwark has the 3rd worst council tax collection in England and the 6th worst recycling rate. Labour has a positive plan to improve services and get Southwark back on track.

4. We'll deliver for Peckham Rye Park and Common: We have secured a commitment in Southwark Labour's Manifesto to "turn the plans for a new One O'Clock Club and changing rooms and pitches for local teams into a reality." This means that if the residents of Southwark elect a Labour council, we guarantee that this too-long-delayed redevelopment with actually be delivered

5. We're top quality candidates! Slightly big-headed I know, but the day before an election is no time for false modesty. We believe that the three Peckham Rye Labour candidates are simply the best people to do the job. Many local people have told us how impressed they are with our knowledge of local issues and our tireless campaigning. We've taken the time to learn the detail, and we have the abilities needed to be excellent councillors.

What more is there to say? For a better Peckham Rye, please cast all three votes for your three local Labour candidates on Thursday.

1 May 2010

Lew Evans House and the sad consequence of Lib Dem-Tory cuts to sheltered accomodation

Gavin, Renata and I were delighted to be invited to Lew Evans House (on Underhill Road) which is a block of sheltered accomodation flats.

We enjoyed tea and biscuits with the residents and shared our views on why Gordon Brown would do more than David Cameron for older voters.

However, our visit revealed some of the real human consequences of cuts made by Southwark's Lib Dem-Tory council.

Many of the residents have lived at Lew Evans House for 10 or 15 years and speak very warmly of their memories of when they first moved in. However, recent years have seen their full-time on-site wardens cut and other support cut back. Their wardens are much-loved and still provide an excellent service when they are around. However their hours have been cut back extensively and they must now work at several local homes rather than being based at Lew Evans full-time. This is something both the residents and wardens are unhappy about.

As a result of these cuts, the more vulnerable residents tend to only visit the communal areas every now and again rather than a couple of times a day. Meanwhile those residents that are more independent are left with less company and often find themselves having to watch out for the residents that really need more support.

Sadly, the residents we met say that, after attending many meetings and making their upset clear, they feel they are too old to keep up their fight. This is awful. Not only have these older residents 'paid-in' all their life in the hope they would get some help in old age, there has been no cut in rent as the quality of their sheltered housing has fallen.

The silly thing is that Southwark's cuts are a false economy. Good sheltered accomodation can actually help local authorities, health providers and social care services cut costs, whilst also ensuring a safe and happy environment for those who remain in good health but who need a little bit of support every now and again.

Research suggests that enabling vulnerable people to live independently with housing-related support services, at a cost of £198 million in sheltered housing across the UK, provides a net financial benefit of £647 million through reduced need for residential or nursing care, hospital admissions and home care.

Southwark Lib Dems have made some vicious cuts to social care with nearly 1000 residents who previously benefited from social care having that service removed. To scrap on-site wardens at sheltered accomodation alongside this is disgraceful and will inevitably add to demand on other public services in the long run.