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A day on patrol with Southwark's Community Wardens

Out with the community Wardens on Wednesday

Yesterday I spent the day out and about with Southwark’s Community Wardens.  I think it’s fair to say that lots of people (including many councillors) know little about what our Community Wardens do each day.  I often hear people ask what wardens are doing and speculating whether or not we are getting full value for the money.  So, as Chair of Southwark Housing and Community Safety Scrutiny Sub-committee, I asked if I could spend the day on patrol with the wardens, talking to them about their role and to the Southwark residents they came into contact with.  There are 31 patrolling wardens and 6 team leaders, with teams focussing on three town centres Elephant and Castle, Camberwell Green and Peckham.  The teams also regularly patrol other areas, such as Peckham Rye, particularly when there have been reports of anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping.  On the 9.30am to 1pm patrol, I went out with two wardens around Elephant and Castle.  They kne…

Great news on Homestall Road Sports Ground

Back in 2010 when we first became Councillors, Southwark Labour committed £2million to build new sports facilities and improve existing ones. We wanted our borough to have a lasting legacy from London 2012 for our young people. 

One of the projects we fought for was £250,000 worth of improvements to the Homestall Road Sports Ground. The first stage was completed over the summer and saw new gates to improve security as well as all the great new grass pitches which reopened at the start of the football season.  

The volunteers who run Athenlay Football Club (who are based at Homestall Road) do a huge amount of work to run the teams for hundreds of kids in our area.  
The next stage is for the old artificial pitch to be brought back into use and work is expected to start in early 2014. Following that we hope that the changing rooms will also be replaced. We think it’s great that local young people will have this great new facility.  
Throughout this process we've kept in mind that the …

What the Lib Dems really think of free, healthy school meals in Southwark

(Click on the picture above to listen to the Southwark Lib Dem speech on free healthy school meals for primary school children.)

Last week Southwark Liberal Democrats got more than a little unwanted attention. They appeared on national TV a number of times and in pretty much every national newspaper because of their hypocrisy over Free Healthy School Meals.

Labour introduced free healthy school meals for all Primary School children in Southwark when we were elected in 2010, one of a tiny number of local authorities to do so. It has proved to be an incredibly successful policy, ensuring that every child is getting a healthy, hot meal inside them, boosting educational attainment, removing stigma and tackling childhood obesity.

Surprising then that Southwark Lib Dems have opposed it vehemently for the past three and a half years. Then, just before their national conference a few weeks ago they came up against a problem: Their national party was about to back the policy! This was particu…

Talking Free, Healthy School Meals at Francesca Cabrini Primary School

It was great to speak to so many parents at St Francesca Cabrini Primary School today.  We were letting people know about Southwark Labour's hugely successful Free, Healthy School Meals policy.  Since investing in this policy after we took control of the council in 2010, more and more evidence is showing that it is helping kids to concentrate at school and tackle obesity.  Most importantly, it ensures that every primary child at school in Southwark is getting a good quality, cooked meal in the middle of the school day.


This is a great policy which Victoria, Renata and I are very proud our Party has introduced (in the teeth of some vicious and misleading opposition from local Liberal Democrats).

You may also be interested in some national coverage on Southwark's school meals policy in the past week



Inaugural meeting of the Peckham Rye Responsible Dog Owners Association

On Saturday morning I went along to the first meeting of the Peckham Rye Responsible Dog Owners Association (PRRDOA).  This is a group set up by local dog owners who were concerned that their voice  was not being heard loud and clear.  Local residents Dave Hardy and Nick Simpson in particular have been leading the way in getting this group organised. In truth, the catalyst for this group hasn’t been a wholly positive issue.  The council recently launched a survey across the borough to collect residents views about dog related issues in parks and green spaces.  I think everyone now accepts that the wording of some of the questions could have been better.  As a result, dog owners in Peckham Rye clearly felt that there was a need to get their views across to the council via a new group.
But positive things often come out of these situations.  There were at least 50 dog owners in the Clock House Pub – an excellent turnout for a Saturday morning.  The meeting was really constructive and l…

BIG NEWS for Southwark: Your Labour Council will build 10,000 new homes

Southwark's Labour run Council will be making a really huge announcement at a council Cabinet meeting this afternoon.  Council leader Peter John will set out plans to build 10,000 new council homes over the next thirty years.

This will be one of the biggest home building programmes of its kind in the country and shows how politics really can make a positive difference.  Everyone knows that there is an acute shortage of affordable housing in our borough, and this bold move will make a big difference to the lives of thousands of local families.  Southwark Labour has made a decision to buck the national trend and invest in the most important thing to any family - good quality, affordable housing.  

The decision follows on from the hugely influential Independent Housing Commission Report, chaired by Jan Luba QC. The Commission set out different options for the council which involved maintaining current levels of council housing, or reducing the number of homes.

Having carefully considere…

Cherry Tree on Peckham Rye Park

A message from fellow Peckham Rye Labour Councillor, Renata Hamvas, about the proposed felling of the cherry tree on Peckham Rye Park (pictured above):

"Following this issue being raised by concerned residents, all tree felling has been suspended in Peckham Rye Park. Friends of Peckham Rye Park will be discussing each tree with Council Officers. The magnificent large cherry tree that unfortunately has white rot fungus is to be examined by sonic tomography (sort of tree ultrasound). This will enable the internal structure of the tree to be studied to see if it is possible to save the tree."

A Community Walking Event - Organised by Nunhead American Radio

An important announcement from American comedian, proud Nunheader and host of Nunhead American Radio ("the only Radio Programme for Americans living in Nunhead"), Lewis Schaffer.  

Lewis and his team are organising "Nunhead Beats the Bounds - A Community Walking Event".  The event details are:

Saturday, 20th July 2013 at 2PM
Meeting Place: Corner Peckham Rye East and East Dulwich Road / Nunhead Lane, the southern side.Ending at: 4PM Nunhead Green.

In characteristically modest style, Lewis states that "Just as Americans discovered the Moon on July 20, 1969, so to Americans will discover Nunhead on July 20th, 2013." Although, you'll be pleased to hear the event is not limited to Americans only. 

According to Lewis "'Beating the bounds' is an ancient British tradition where the local people would come together to celebrate and demarcate the boundary of their parish."

He goes on "This day-long event will promote cohesion, show that all of…

New burial area at Camberwell Old Cemetery

As residents will be aware, Southwark is short of space within its cemeteries. In April 2011 the Council decided to undertake a programme of works in the borough’s existing cemeteries to ensure that it could continue to provide a burial space for residents. It also under took a large consultation of residents about longer term options for burials. This consultation included identifying and prioritising plots in our cemeteries that could be brought back in to use.

Two parts of Camberwell Old Cemetery were identified in the initial programme to provide 'immediate' new burial provision. The first was a small area by the entrance to the cemetery (Site E) which is already back in use and the second area was a large area of common public burials along the cemetery's border with Wood Vale (Site F).

Earlier this week I went to visit the completed works at Site F. The old common graves (which were unmarked) have been topped up with extra soil and the area has been landscaped. New p…

Love Nunhead Website

As many local residents will know, Southwark's Labour Council has got on with securing the funding and coordinating a number of projects to improve the central area of Nunhead since 2010.  Though the focus is just outside our ward, there will be many Peckham Rye residents who will benefit from this scheme.

At our Community Council meeting earlier this week we saw a presentation from council officers which included information on a new website which has been set up to promote Nunhead.  You can see it at www.lovenunhead.co.uk

The council has secured funding from the Mayor's "Outer London Fund" and the "Pocket Parks Fund" which aims to improve high streets and parks across London by 2015.  This funding will help to deliver a programme of physical improvements, business support, community engagement and build upon the rich mix of festivals already taking place.

The programme has been running since 2012  and will bring more than £1m of investment into the Nunhe…

Homestall Road Sports Ground Olympic Legacy Project - Consultation meeting on 14th March

Here's a quick update on the Olympic Legacy Project to improve the sports facilities at Homestall Road Sports Ground, including news of a consultation meeting this Thursday.  This is a project aimed at improving facilities for kids wanting to get involved in football in the local area.  The funding has been arranged and allocated by Southwark's Labour Council, in consultation with Athenlay Football Club and the local community.

With regard to the grass pitches, the works to improve the drainage and quality of the grass pitches were completed in August 2012. The new grass has established well and which means that in September 2013 footballers will have a safe and level playing field. The upgrade of the grass pitches will mean that a much wider area can be used for football. 
One of the concerns raised with us by local residents was the closeness of one of the pitches to their garden fences.  To address this the pitches will be re-configured to ensure that they are marked out a…

Southwark's social housing - time for a 30 year plan

Southwark’s Housing Commission Report is that rarest of things – a report about local government housing policy which you will find readable and interesting.  The report, published back in October 2012, is a razor–sharp analysis of problems afflicting one of Britain’s largest social landlords.  It also offers up options (none of them painless) for how Southwark can confront these problems.
The fact that the report had to be commissioned at all* tells you something about the level of importance placed on this issue by Southwark’s ruling Labour administration.  Sadly, it also tells you something about the scale of the challenge facing the council. 
Southwark has 39,000 tenanted properties and 16,700 leasehold properties and far too many of these homes are in poor condition. This is in part the legacy of the council (and the old GLC) building homes on the cheap in the 1960s and 1970s. These problems have been compounded by decades of poor repairs and maintenance and long-term underinvestm…

Peckham Rye (West) / East Dulwich Road / Nunhead Lane road works

This post is something of a public information notice about road works which are taking place in Peckham Rye very shortly.

Work will begin on Monday 7th January at the junction of Peckham Rye (West) and East Dulwich Road.  As many of you will know, this junction has been the scene of numerous road traffic accidents over the years and the council recently consulted on making changes which will improve safety and traffic flow. Works will also be taking place at the junction of Peckham Rye (East) and Nunhead Lane on the opposite side of the Common. 

During the works, which will be completed by 29th February, there will be four-way traffic lights with a "pedestrian phase" in operation. Clearly, it is likely that during the works there will be traffic disruption at the junctions and the surrounding area.

The main features of the works are:

- The introduction of a new right turn filter for eastbound traffic on East Dulwich Road

- Improving both junctions by linking them togeth…