Saturday, June 17, 2006

Council mtg, get cycling, hanging baskets, freecycle Lewisham

Went to my first proper meeting of full council on Wednesday. Main item on the agenda was the motion proposed by Darren urging the mayor to reconsider alternative sites for the new school and to accept the minority report written about the whole school/pool fiasco. Quite a lengthy debate with lots of heckling of the mayor and Labour members from the public gallery ;). The motion was passed, with all opposition members supporting it and every Labour member opposing it (predictably). Unfortunately, the mayor isn't obliged to do as the motion says, but hopefully he will at least consider it. It was the first time in donkeys years that Labour lost a vote in Lewisham Council. so quite a momentous occasion.

I also got a motion through calling on the council to redouble its recycling efforts. Not particularly controversial, though Labour did put an amendment asking me to remove the sentence about Lewisham having one of the poorest recycling rates in the country. It does have one of the lowest recycling rates in the country, but I was willing to accept the rewording to get a unanimous vote on the motion.

I also asked questions to the mayor and cabinet about Gordonbrock School, car pools and business recycling. Can post further details if you are interested.

We had our first street surgery on Saturday, on Adelaide Avenue and Brockley Rd. Have also been busy delivering our newsletters - keen to get our surgery and contact details out to everyone asap.

Went to the council-organised 'Get cycling' event at Wearside depot on Saturday - very well-attended and successful event, I thought. This week is bike week.

Also did an hour leafletting in Bromley on Saturday, helping out Green candidate Ann Garrett in her parliamentary by-election campaign.

The long-awaited hanging baskets were put up in Ladywell Rd on Friday - they look good, I hope we can have some on Brockley Rd and Loampit Vale next year too, but they don't come cheap. I think it would be nice to do some kind of community planting days next year, like FUSS do in Staplehurst Road. Maybe we could really go for it and enter Lewisham in Bloom? let me know what you think. Really pleased with the effort they have gone to at the car wash on Ladywell Rd to make it look nice. Spoke to Tony who runs it the other day and he also has plans to open a small sandwich bar in the shop for people waiting to have their cars washed. They've also applied to extend their licensing hours and to open 10-4pm on Sundays - doesn't seem controversial to me - but let me know if you disagree.

Glad to see some of the hoardings come down on Ladywell Rd, though loads of rubbish behind them to clear away.

Freecycle have now got a Lewisham group, as well as the London-wide list. The London-wide one has over 28,000 members and the number of e-mails per day is vast, so I'm glad there is now a separate Lewisham list. The idea behind freecycle is to give away things you no longer need to someone else who wants it, thus reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfill (or incinerator!). I've used it to get rid of a couple of bookshelves I no longer needed, and would recommend it. It also makes you feel all warm and virtuous!E-mail:
Lewisham Freecycle Group to join.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Oops, a week's gone by since my last entry.

Had my first planning mtg on Thursday, which was quite daunting as there is a lot to take in and I quickly realised that it's the kind of thing where you won't be able to please everybody all the time. Full training for new councillors on planning issues isn't until this Wednesday, but we did have a short training beforehand. A bit frustrating that none of the applications included any renewable energy schemes. There's an urgent need to add this as a planning requirement when the local development plan is revised, glad to see that housing minister Yvette Cooper supports this, though it's something that should have happened years back and that the government should insist upon, not simply urge.

Had a surgery at the Old Bothy on Saturday, to coincide with the farmers' market. Will certainly be a good location for a surgery over the summer months, and I guess we'll see how it goes in the winter! Met lots of people, handed out flyers with our contact details and picked up a few bits of casework to deal with. Also spent a while looking round Art in the Park, which was part of the Brockley Max Festival. Loads of things for kids to do, ranging from drumming to woodwork.

Our post-election newsletter is finally back from the printers and we started delivering it on Saturday. If you are willing to deliver to your street please let me know. Any offers of help most welcome.

Went to the closing night of the Brockley Max Festival at the Wickham Arms on Saturday evening and saw Brockley band 'The Hands' who were excellent.

Monday 12th is the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting, at which we will reconsider the minority report report on the decision making process in relation to the establishment of a new secondary school, aka the Ladywell Pool fiasco. Darren is proposing a motion to the full council meeting this Wednesday, calling on the mayor to reconsider the sites previously proposed by the opposition councillors. I'm proposing a motion calling on the council to redouble its efforts to increase the currently pretty dismal recycling and composting rates (11.98% in 2005/6).

Article on being green and saving money in the observer today which quotes Green Party member Noel Lynch:,,1794647,00.html

Unbelievably cynical response by the US to the news that three of the Guantanamo prisoners committed suicide, calling them a PR move.It really does beggar belief. These men might have been terrorists, they could equally have been innocent but as they were never even charged with any crime, let alone given a trial, I guess we'll never know. Meantime hundreds of others remained imprisoned without trial.

7 members of one family were killed while relaxing on a beach in Gaza, seemingly by stray Israeli rockets. Again and again innocent bystanders are being caught up in Israel's attacks on suspected militants, which only seems to act as a recruiting sergeant for more militants.

To end on a more positive note, I want to give a plug for the following event, which is to raise money for young people from Balata Refugee camp in Palestine to work with youth groups in London and create drama and dance together: Balata London Link Benefit Concert at Rivoli Ballroom on Thursday 29 June at 7.30pm. Attila the Stockbroker, David Rovics and Strawberry Thieves Socialist Choir. Fair traded Palestinian produce and handicrafts for sale. Tickets in advance £10 (£7 unwaged), on the door £12 (unwaged £10). Tickets and further information: or 07723 015926.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

London Sustainability Weeks and World Environment Day

Today marks the start of London Sustainability Weeks (4-18 June), and tomorrow is the UN World Environment Day. Lots of stuff going on, including a Green Gym on Hilly Fields (12th June), a cycling event (June 17th) and a composting day (June 14th) at Wearside depot. See London Sustainability Weeks website for further info, and search by borough.

Stag Beetle in my back garden!

Just spotted a stag beetle in my back garden. Unfortunately so did the ginger cat from next door. Tragedy was only narrowly averted due to eco-warrior action on my part. I think the beetle must have only just emerged from larvae status as it didn't seem to be able to fly yet. It will need to learn pronto if it wants to survive in my garden with all the feline visitors.

Lewisham is a bit of a hotspot for stag beetles, although they are very rare nationally. English Nature and the People's Trust for endangered species are doing a survey of stag beetle sightings, so if you see any, you can let them know here.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Surgery times and contact details, whinge about BT

One of the things that's been frustratingly slow in the first few weeks as councillor is the time it's taken to get the technological stuff sorted, ie e-mail and phone line. We wanted to hit the ground running and get our surgery and contact details out asap after the election, but have had to wait ages for access to council e-mail and to get the phone lines installed. Obviously council officers weren't able to order anything until after May 4th, then it takes an annoying length of time for everything to fall into place. I collected the laptop from council on Thursday and was finally able to access my e-mail (with a few casework e-mails I hadn't been able to access), but BT didn't turn up to install the ADSL line at home on Friday as arranged (having turned up unannounced a couple of weeks ago when I was at work!). V irritating because we have leaflets ready to deliver and it makes us look like we are slacking off post-election, whereas we're at the mercy of BT. Ute and Mike are supposed to get their lines installed tomorrow, so fingers crossed that the engineer turns up, no idea yet when they'll come to do mine.

Anyway, end of whinge, here are our surgery details:
2nd Saturday of the month, 11am – 12.30pm
The Old Bothy, Hilly Fields (next to the bowling green)

4th Saturday of the month, 11am – 12.30pm
St Andrew’s Church, corner of Brockley Road and Wickham Road

In addition, we will be holding area based street surgeries on the 3rd Saturday of every month. The idea behind the surgery in the Old Bothy is that it coincides with the farmers' market.

Our e-mail and tel nos, although not yet fully up and running, will be:
Cllr Mike Keogh tel: 020 8690 6130
Cllr Sue Luxton tel: 020 8690 0905
e-mail: cllr_sue.luxton@
Cllr Ute Michel tel: 020 8691 5212

Went to the opening night of the Brockley Max festival on Friday, where my friend from work, James D was playing in his band the Blinis. V good, hope to go to a few other events over the next week.

T-mobile have lodged another planning application to put a mobile mast on the water tower on Dressington Avenue. Mike and I are both on planning committees so all planning enquiries re this or other applications should be addressed to Ute, as Mike and I can't comment.

Newsshopper are running a feature on councillors who blog and their photographer Jo came round to take photos of me plus laptop on Friday, so I may be in the paper next week. Felt sorry for Jo, who has the task of getting photos of every new councillor in Lewisham, Greenwich, Bromley, Bexley, Lambeth and Southwark for their photo archive!