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Showing posts from 2014

Southwark Council's first live webcast - Monday 10th November, 7pm

Southwark Council's Tooley Street Offices
On Monday night Southwark will show its first ever live webcast of a council meeting. True, it's won't be challenging Game of Thrones or Downton Abbey in the ratings but it is an important step in opening up the democratic procedures of your council.

The meeting will be of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee which will be debating the borough's cycling strategy (which is currently being consulted on) and procurement. We will also be questioning Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Planning and Transport about issues across his remit.

The papers for the meeting are here.  I don't have the link for the webcast page just yet but will publish it here and Tweet it as soon as I do.

My view is that the more people who can see what goes on in Southwark Council's meetings, the more they will reflect what is important to people in the borough.  Many people simply don't have the time to come to Tooley Street to sit in on a meet…

Dulwich Hospital Site, interview with the Council Leader, Peckham Rye Station and Contracting-Out

OSC is scrutinising council procurement
Our latest Southwark Overview and Scrutiny (OSC) meeting took place on Monday night.The meeting covered the prospects for a new secondary school on the Dulwich Hospital site, an interview of the Leader of the Council, a briefing from officers on the regeneration of the area around Peckham Rye Station and finally, a session to discuss how and why certain council services are contracted out.  

Dulwich Hospital Site
The Committee heard from representatives of two groups interested in running a secondary school from the Dulwich Hospital Site. Charter School Educational Trust and Haberdashers’ Aske’s Federation are sponsoring Free School bids to run a new secondary school from the site. The council is assisting and facilitating the bids. Projected figures on pupil numbers show a real need for more secondary places in the area in coming years. 

The mess created by the anarchic free school system, has resulted in the Department for Education approving a …

School places scrutiny update

On Monday night we held our second Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) meeting since the election. Our work programme this year includes analysing the provision of school places across the borough. So as one of the main agenda items for this meeting we invited the council officers responsible to explain how demand is being met. 
Officers said that Southwark is facing a number of challenges regarding school places. Demand, both primary and secondary places continues to rise.  The council is co-ordinating the expansion of a number of existing schools to address this and there are also several free school proposals which are being progressed.  Further details of this programme can be found in the newly published School Places Strategy Update” .   This programme is being looked at as part of our scrutiny.  One particular issue of concern is the uncertainty over the future use of theDulwich Hospital site.  The council has committed to opening a new secondary school there but the DfE and…

Update on Overview and Scrutiny

Last night we had our first Overview & Scrutiny Committee (OSC) meeting since the election. This is an update on how the meeting went.  I blogged last week about how I wanted to improve OSC by producing more real recommendations for improving services and making the proceedings of the committee more open.

We agreed a number of changes (including making progress on streaming meetings live online) and then set out our work programme for the coming year.  OSC will start by taking an in-depth look at the following:

-  School places across the borough
-  The implementation of free gym use and swimming
-  The council's procurement strategy (what services are contracted out and how is this done)
-  The detail of how Southwark Council will deliver on the pledge to build 11,000 new council homes
-  The quality and speed of responses to casework raised on behalf of residents.

We will also be looking at numerous other issues as and when they arise.  For example, next month we will be sp…

Overview and Scrutiny in Southwark - a new approach

Since the election last month I've taken on a new role as Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC).  As the name suggests, this is the committee which has primary responsibility for scrutinising how the council is being run and looking into various issues of interest and concern.

Some parties on the council are less than happy to see a Labour Councillor taking on this role. But the real problem is that most people couldn't care less who the Chair of OSC is or which party they're a member of. To the vast majority, council committees are irrelevant to their lives which is why people rarely turn up to them. 
Having been a member of the committee for the past 4 years, I'd have to say that people weren't missing much.  In four years this supposedly powerful committee achieved very little either in terms of changing council policy or developing new ideas for delivering services.  There were some meetings where we made progress, but that was the exception rath…

A big "thank you" from Peckham Rye Labour

In case you haven't heard already, the results for the council elections in Southwark came in on Friday. I'm really pleased that Renata, Victoria and I have been re-elected to represent Peckham Rye Ward for another four years.  Across the borough Labour made significant gains from the Liberal Democrats meaning that Southwark continues to have a Labour run council.

We'd like to say a huge "thank you" to everyone who voted, and especially to those who supported us.  We are very proud that you have given us the opportunity to continue our work for the ward and on the council.

I'll try not to bore you with too many statistics, but the short version of the vote in Peckham Rye is that Labour significantly increased its support whilst the Lib Dem vote almost completely collapsed compared to the previous election. 56% of total votes cast went to Labour, that's up 15% on 2010.  You can see the full results here.  It's also worth noting that Labour has finally…

Your Labour Candidates for Peckham Rye Ward 2014

Local people endorsing Peckham Rye Labour...

Click on the image to enlarge...

Delivering the goods for Peckham Rye...

A quick update on some of the issues Victoria, Renata and I have been working on around the ward.
Click on the image to enlarge...

The 2014 Southwark Labour Manifesto

Just a quick note to highlight the Southwark Labour Manifesto ahead of the Council Elections on 22nd May. It's really important that the people running your council have clear vision of how to improve Southwark and the values that underpin that approach. This manifesto shows that Southwark Labour Party is all about making our borough a better, fairer place for the people who live here.   

Amongst Southwark Labour councillors, this document is seen as very important and will guide everything we do over the next four years (if elected!)  It is our opportunity to put in front of people a programme for change and to ask for endorsement.  That's why we were so determined to deliver on our manifesto from 2010, and why we will do so again.  

Since 2010 Southwark Labour Councillors have delivered on our promises.  This includes:
Free healthy school meals for all primary school childrenA £1million-a-year Youth Fund to help young people with education, training and employmentHelping 1,500 …

New Peckham Rye tree carving unveiled

This morning we saw the new Peckham Rye tree carving being unveiled.  Huge credit to Morganico, the artist who created this wonderful landmark for our area.  Well done also to the local residents who had the idea and campaigned for it to go ahead.  As the local Councillors who voted through the funding for this project, Vikki, Renata and I are over the moon that it has turned out so well.

Here are some pics:


Councillor Barrie Hargrove unveils the carving




Classic councillor photo!
By the way...the wings at the top are a reference to poet and artist William Blake who, whilst on the Common, had visions  of "...a tree filled with angels, bright angelic wings bespangling every bough like stars"