Sunday, July 30, 2006

Full Council Meeting 26th July 2006

Wednesday was the second full council mtg since being elected.

The deputy mayor proposed a motion saying how good Lewisham is on sustainable energy, but accepted an amendment submitted by us pointing out that while the council has been good on procurement of green energy, it has lagged behind other boroughs when it comes to on-site generation of renewable energy. The final motion, which was passed unanimously, “calls for the council’s commitment to renewable energy to be taken further with energy action zones, the establishment of ambitious renewable energy targets for new developments in the Local Development Framework, the installation of at least 1,000 renewable energy devices across the borough, the integration of renewable energy into the Decent Homes programme and the Building Schools for the Future programme, and initiatives to make it easier for everyone to improve energy use and energy efficiency in their homes.” Yippee! This bodes very well for getting good renewable energy targets into the Local Development Framework when it is up for review soon.

However, the deputy mayor did somewhat tarnish her green halo when she watered down a motion Romayne proposed, calling on local MPs to support the Climate Change (Contraction and Convergence) bill (a bill originally tabled by Labour MP Colin Challen, it ran out of time before the summer recess but should return to the house in the Autumn). We thought that this would be a straightforward motion that would get all-party support, but the deputy mayor tabled an amendment removing endorsement of contraction and convergence and simply stating that “there are a number of international models for future actions on climate change, including the Contraction and Convergence Model, the Brazilian Historical Responsibility Proposal and the use of Sustainable Development Policies and measures in the framework of the Climate Change Convention”. There is broad consensus in the environmental movement and with development charities that contraction and convergence is the fairest way to reduce carbon emissions globally. The Tories supported the Labour amendment, meaning that the amended, watered down motion was what was passed rather than the original. The deputy mayor also laid into Romayne for copying and pasting from the internet, seemingly failing to grasp that this was the point, it wasn’t our original motion, it was a motion being put to numerous councils across the country to try and bolster support for this all-important bill. Once again, vote red or blue, don’t expect to go green.

Lib Dems proposed a motion on giving more power to area forums, a concept that we are also committed to, but there was some confusion over amendments which had/hadn’t been circulated and a rather flustered chair proposed that it be brought back to the next mtg. The Socialists proposed a motion calling for council tenants in the area due to become an ALMO (arms-length management organisation) to be balloted about whether or not they wanted to proceed. We supported them, but Lib Dems, Lab and Tories got an amendment through reducing the requirement for a ballot to if the ALMO decides to have new powers in the future.

Questions to the Mayor and Cabinet
Each councillor is allowed to ask 3 written questions to the mayor and cabinet, submitted 10 days before the full council meeting.

My questions were:
Cabinet Member for regeneration: Can you confirm whether there are plans to demolish the sports hall at Ladywell Centre in Slagrove Place to make way for a travellers' site to replace that being lost on Thurston Road?
Cabinet member for children and young people: Are you aware that some primary schools in the borough are introducing finger print ID to borrow books from their libraries?
How many schools are planning to introduce this and do you think it is an appropriate system for primary school libraries? Do you share the concerns of parents in thinking this is unduly intrusive and would you encourage schools to adopt an alternative system, eg involving swipe cards?
Cabinet member for regeneration: Would the council consider expanding the shop improvement grant scheme to include Ladywell, which suffers from an ongoing problem of graffiti on solid shop shutters? I understand that, funding permitting, you plan to expand the scheme to Brockley - can you confirm whether this might include the parts of Brockley Road and Loampit Vale which fall in Ladywell ward, but are geographically in Brockley?

The responses I got were: yes, there are plans to demolish the sports hall at Ladywell Centre in Slagrove Place to make way for a travellers' site to replace that being lost on Thurston Road, no the cabinet member for Children and Young People didn’t know about the plans some primary schools in the borough may have to fingerprint pupils to borrow library books (informally after the mtg he confirmed he thought it was ridiculous) and no, the shop improvement scheme can’t be extended to include Ladywell, but some of Brockley Road which is in Ladywell ward may fall within the Brockley scheme.

The plan to demolish the sports hall at Ladywell Day Centre is controversial. Clearly the travellers need a new site as their existing one is going to be part of the new town centre development, and the proposed site would be a better place to bring up kids than in the current site underneath Lewisham Station. Yet the trade-off is to demolish a sports hall that is currently used by various disability groups, including a disabled girl guide company. The argument is that the sports hall is currently underused and not cost-effective. Whether the solution is to demolish the hall is debatable. In an area crying out for better youth provision, uses could always be found for a sports hall.

I'm also concerned at what the impact of reducing the overall number of spaces for travellers from the current 16 to the planned 7 will be. The council is only planning a site for the 7 families that have asked to be relocated from Thurston Road. Although the council no longer has any legal obligation to provide travellers' sites, it is not clear what provision there will be should any more travellers move into Lewisham. Tomorrow (Monday), Mike, Ute and I are having a briefing with council officers on the application when I hope some of our concerns will be addressed. At the moment, promises of photovoltaics on the roof of the outbuilding for the travellers are not sufficient to convince me of the scheme's merits.


Anonymous said...

my mother goes to ladywell day centre, she finds the centre a life line as so do many users. i believe there are 40 users a day that attend the centre and the thought of them losing the sports hall is devastating, if these plans go ahead the current activites that are held in the sports will have to be moved in to thier dinning hall this will take away activity time by at least 20 mins due to all the tables and chairs being moved, this means we will not be receiving the full service that we are paying for! if the sports hall was known to people that it was there i know it would be greatly used. the sports hall would be more beneficail to us standing than being knocked down!

Mark said...

Gypsies are not always the greatest of neighbours. But Where they were in Thurston Rd was a pretty good site - secure and free from potential neighbour problems.

Reducing the number of places from 16 familes to 7 is particularly dispicable. And its claimed this development scheme is all about helping get homes for people - ROT!