Friday, September 29, 2006

Lewisham Pride Awards

Went to Catford Broadway Theatre tonight for the Lewisham Pride Awards, which is when council staff who have made an outstanding contribution or shown extra dedication are recognised for their work. A great event which reminded me how many hard-working council staff there are, even if as councillors you often only get to hear when things have gone wrong.

Particularly pleased to see Julie Ball from the graffiti team and the Environment and Community Development team get awards. Julie's team are largely responsible for the improved state of shop shutters on Ladywell Road - her team goes out at 6am in the morning to clean up shutters before shops open. Some of the ones along Ladywell Road have now been coated with a special anti-graffiti coating which means they can be easily wiped-clean by shopkeepers if they get tagged again. If there's a shop which still has graffiti on its shutter, it's generally because they haven't filled in the consent form which is necessary for it to be removed. I'm always happy to provide more forms if required, just let me know.

Planning Application: Dressington Avenue

A planning application has been lodged to demolish the sports hall at Ladywell Day Centre in Dressington Avenue, and build a travellers site for 7 families. Further details can be viewed here. Residents who wish to comment on the application should write to Chris Brodie, Planning Service, Laurence House, 1 Catford Road, London, SE6 4SW, or e-mail him at by 13th October.

Ladywell Leisure Centre: Mayor & Cabinet Mtg

Yesterday saw the meeting of mayor and cabinet to consider the report of the independent consultants into sites for the new secondary school.

Basically, the situation now is that in addition to Ladywell Leisure Centre, two other sites are in the running; Lewisham Bridge Primary School and the land around it, and part of the Lewisham Hospital Site. My initial thoughts are that Lewisham Hospital is not ideally located, but that Lewisham Bridge School is better for pupils travelling from the north of the borough. So the battle is neither won not lost yet, but everything still to play for. See Save Ladywell Pool site for further info.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Decision on Ladywell Pool due tomorrow

Tomorrow evening is the mayor and cabinet meeting at which the review of alternative sites for the new school will be discussed. Some of the meeting will be closed to the public, but the Mayor is expected to take the decision in public. Pool campaigners are meeting outside Catford Town Hall at 5:30 pm. I am quietly optimistic but will have all fingers crossed. Figures released this week at the request of Cllr Mark Morris show that use of Ladywell Leisure Centre has risen considerably year on year (Forest Hill Pools closure, free summer swimming etc).

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

Went to see "An Inconvenient Truth", Al Gore's climate change at Greenwich Picture House yesterday evening. Very good, but chairs in screening room are so comfy I fell asleep and missed the end. Everyone should see this film, then take action to curb their carbon emissions and call on their elected representative to do likewise, and quickly. 60 million lives are at stake.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Back from Conference

Well I'm back from conference, and more or less recovered. A good conference overall, well-attended, lots of interesting fringes and debates and great to meet up with lots of other greenies. Rather a lot of arguing over procedure on the first day, which was unfortunately what Newsnight chose to focus on, though interview with Caroline Lucas was, as always, good. Good policy discussions on prostitution, social enterprises and education, we sorted out some inconsistencies in our smoking policy and I've agreed to join a policy group reviewing our international policy. I won't go into loads of detail here, as it's other green bloggers including jimjay , Peter and Philobiblon have already done so admirably.

Apparently the Lib Dems conference was sponsored by TESCO, while Labour delegates are wearing passes with 'Sky News' advertised on the straps. Green Party conference remains reassuringly free of such corporate sponsorship (and thus on a v tight budget!), though there were lots of good stalls this time such as Fair Pensions, Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Gossypium. Also great discussion on environmental justice with Maria Adebowale from Capacity Global and Steve Trent from the the Environmental Justice Foundation. Steve focussed on links between human rights abuses and environmental damage, looking at devastating impact of cotton production in Uzbekistan. Interesting fact: it takes 6 pints of water to make 1 cotton bud.

Also found out some interesting stuff about sustainability in Swansea schools - the Welsh constitution has sustainability written into it and apparently they are streets ahead of us in incorporating issues of sustainability into the education system. Would like to find out more.

Forthcoming blockade of Faslane and opposition to the replacement of Trident also featured prominently.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Conference Blog

Sian Berry, candidate for Green Party Female Principal speaker is blogging her experiences at conference for the New Statesman. Green Party Conference kicks off in Hove tomorrow. Lots of the sessions are open to observers and supporters, not just members. Take a look at Green Berry.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Been busy on both work and council front for the last couple of weeks and haven't posted much on here, but have a couple of days off from the day job this week so I can catch up on a few other things. Have been getting a few quotes for some work on my flat, which has been v neglected of late and I've got a new table made by local company Chunk Originals. All the furniture Steve makes is made from wood he has salvaged from skips, flytips etc. My table is made from old floorboards and looks great. The plan is that it is to be kept free of council paperwork as it is the replacement for our dining table which has turned into my council desk, but we'll have to see how long that lasts ;).

Surgeries and ward issues
Hilly Fields Surgery is proving far more popular than the St Andrews one at the moment, with 8 people coming along to the last one. We also held a street surgery in Somerset Gardens, Elswick Road, Grover Court and Sunninghill Road, but no one put the flyer in their window asking us to call :(, so we ended up spending some time chatting to the shopkeepers on Loampit Hill and handing out graffiti removal forms instead. The street surgery flyers seem to attract a bit of casework by e-mail in the following weeks as much as stuff on the doorstep. I've asked if the graffiti team can come along and put some anti-graffiti paint on the shop shutters on Loampit Hill like they have on Ladywell Road, which has worked well, but we need to get the shopkeepers' signed forms back first . . I've also requested for the chewing gum to be cleaned off the pavement on Loampit Hill - it's decent paving along there, but covered in black splodges of chewing gum.

Loads of flytipping in a few areas of the ward in the last few days - Elswick Rd, Foxborough Gardens, Malyons Rd - have been reporting to lovelewisham but really wish we could catch a few more of those responsible. A 'no fly-posting' sign has also gone up in Algiers Rd at my request, though it remains to be seen what effect, if any, this will have.

Empowering Communities and Neighbourhoods
I am on the Mayoral Commission on Empowering Communities and Neighbourhoods, although unfortunately the inaugural meeting this Thursday clashes with Green Party conference and I will be down in Hove. From what I can make out, the purpose of the commission is to look at ways of improving links and communication between local communities and the council. I'm hoping part of the remit will be to look at ways of devolving some decision-making down to local forums and ways of giving them a bit more clout. It sounds very green . . .

Ladywell Forum
We are provisionally looking at Wednesday 8th November for our first Ladywell Area Forum, although this has still tbc. I would welcome residents' views on what issues they want to discuss. Current possibilities we are considering are youth provision in the ward (or lack thereof) and the town centre development. Similarly, your views on ways of 'empowering communities and neighbourhoods' for me to feed through to the commission would be welcome.

Youth Provision in Ladywell
Mike, Ute and I had a very useful meeting with officers from the Youth Services team last week. We wanted to find out what plans, if any there were for further youth provision in the ward as we share residents' concerns that there isn't a huge amount going on at the moment. Besides Street Vibes and the skate park, which strictly speaking are just outside the ward, St Andrews Church on Brockley Road has a youth club, and Crofton Park Baptist Church on Brockley Grove does too, but I'm not aware of anything else. In the past there were also youth clubs at Crofton Leisure Centre and St Mary's Centre, but these are both no more. There doesn't seem to be as much in the way of clubs locally as you might hope, eg Brownies, Guides etc. I guess it's the usual story of not having enough volunteers, people working longer hours etc etc.

The lack of provision in Ladywell was recognised by the youth team and we spent some time brainstorming various options, sites and funding, and there are a few things to follow up on, but nothing definite just yet. The existing budget for youth provision in the north of the borough is very tight, but there are a number of grants available at the moment for young people interested in setting up some kind of project and sometimes match funding is available. We're looking into it, but again, your suggestions welcome.

(Un)ethical pensions
Last week was another meeting of the Pensions Investment Committee, which I am on. We were supposed to be reviewing the statement of investment principles and I was very keen to push for us to exclude investments in arms and tobacco, but in the end we ran out of time and have deferred it to the next meeting. Lib Dems have passed a motion on clean and ethical investment at their conference today, so I'm hoping they may support this, though they were rather quiet at the meeting.

Arms and tobacco only represent a tiny amount of the total investment portfolio, approx 1%, so I don't think excluding them would excessively limit the diversity of investments. Our current policy is one of constructive engagement with companies on ethical issues. I am willing to see how you can 'positively engage' with most companies, but can't see how you can do so with arms and tobacco.

We are legally obliged as trustees of the pensions fund to put fiduciary interest above all other considerations, but aren't prohibited from taking into account ethical issues as long as it is not financially detrimental to the fund. We can also argue for the exclusion of investments in a particular sector on financial grounds. For example, Newham Council have barred investments in tobacco, citing concerns over possible lawsuits. I did think of arguing that there would be potential downside for arms stocks if peace broke out, if the war on terror is won, etc, but maybe that isn't so likely . . .

Car Free Day
On Sunday I went to the open house event at the wonderful Creekside Centre and then popped into Greenwich to see their Car Free Day event. They get funding to close their high street to traffic and put sand and deckchairs there for the day and have various performers. Great idea, would be good if we could do smthg similar in Lewisham and I have asked a question to this effect for this month's full council mtg (which is this Wednesday, 20th Sept, btw). That said, Lewisham is doing some kind of promotion to encourage council staff to walk/cycles to work this Friday for In town without my car, and various events for staff as part of goodgoing week. There are also lots of events taking place in Greenwich, Lewisham and Bexley for the Green Chain Festival (16-24 September).

Real Nappies for London
Today I went to City Hall for the launch of the Real Nappies for London launch. The idea is for boroughs to work together to share expertise in promoting the use of real nappies. I'm hoping that Lewisham will join the scheme and again, am hoping for a positive response to a question I have asked Heidi Alexander, the deputy mayor, on this very subject at full council tomorrow.

Healthy Brockley
Blimey, this is a long post and it's getting late. I'm off to Green Party Conference in Hove this Thursday, so will sadly not be at Healthy Brockley this Sunday. The last one back in May was great, well worth a visit.

Lewisham Green Party Meetings
Finally, we have a new venue for local Green Party meetings, which is Brockley Social Club. The next meeting is at 7.30pm on Monday 9th October. New members/supporters always welcome.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

London bucks the national spiral of congestion and pollution

From London Assembly Green Group press release:

New Government statistics show that London has started to reverse many of the worse national trends on growing car ownership and the decline in environmental forms of transport. Jenny Jones, a Green Party member of the London Assembly has welcomed three crucial differences between London and the rest of the UK, which are making London a healthier and less polluted city.

Car ownership per household has increased dramatically in the UK, but has declined in London. The proportion of households in Great Britain with access to a car has risen to 75%. Whilst in London it has fallen to 61% of households without access to a car, up from a low point of 65% in the late nineties.

In the UK, the number of trips by bicycle has fallen between 1995/7 and 2005, by just over 20 per cent. This contrasts with the rapid growth of 50% in the number of journeys made by bike in London since 2001.

The number of trips by bus in London per person per year increased by 28 per cent while trips by bus outside London fell by 13 per cent (between 1995/7 and 2005)

Jenny Jones, the Mayor of London’s green transport adviser, said:

“London is a far from perfect city, but these Government statistics show how others have failed and London are starting to succeed. London’s transport system and its environment have both started to improve as a result of the congestion charge being introduced and increased investment in buses and cycling. Traffic stopped growing in London five years ago, but has continued growing in the rest of the country. Car ownership per household is rising fast throughout the UK, but is actually falling in London. People have begun to realise that car dominated streets and neighbourhoods don’t work. Congestion costs business and pollution costs people’s lives.”

Monday, September 04, 2006

Bus stop seat
You may have noticed a seat has been installed at the bus stop on Ladywell Road, opposite the car wash. Mike pushed for this at the request of a local resident. It took longer than we expected though as amongst other things it apparently involved purchasing a bit of pavement to compensate for the space the seat took up.

Bike Racks
We should soon be getting bike racks installed outside some of the shops on Ladywell Road and Brockley Road. My hope is that kids may be less inclined to leave their bikes lying right across the pavement when going into the shops, but maybe I'm being naive in thinking this! We have an excellent council cycling officer who is keen to get more bike racks installed outside local shops. A rack has also recently been installed outside Sheel Pharmacy on Lewisham Hill at my request.

Grants for youth groups
Article in Newsshopper about grants available for youth projects from the Jack Petchey Foundation, local groups encouraged to apply.

Lewisham in Bloom DVDs available
Just before I went away on holiday, Ute and I had a really useful meeting with officers from the council environment team and discussed all sorts of issues ranging from recycling and flytipping to dog poo. It was good to finally meet some of the people I have been e-mailing about various issues since May. I was also given some DVDs that the council had specially made to give residents information about Lewisham in Bloom. If you would like a copy of the DVD, or are interested in your street entering Lewisham in Bloom, please contact me. I haven't watched the DVD myself yet, but plan to soon.

Licensing Application: Morleys, 313 Brockley Road

Residents who live on or near Brockley Road may like to know that Morleys take-away have applied for an extension to their opening hours under the Licensing Act 2003.

313 Brockley Road

Applied for late night refreshment Monday – Thursday until 02:00 and Friday – Saturday until 03:00.

The four criteria under which you can support or object to this application are:

1. Prevention of Crime and Disorder.
2. Protection of Children from Harm
3. Public Safety
4. Prevention of Public Nuisance

You can email the Licensing Team or write to:
The Licensing Team, 2nd Floor Laurence House 1 Catford Road, London SE6 4RU

Please could you ensure that any representations either for or against this application reach the Licensing Team by 29th September 2006.

Back from holiday

I've just come back from a week in Ilfracombe, Devon. We had lots of family holidays there when we used to live on a boat, but I was only a baby, so couldn't remember it. Had a great week - did lots of walking, hired a bike and went on the excellent Tarka Trail, stopping off at Tapeley Park, a stately home near Instow that the current owner is trying to make 'sustainable' and includes a permaculture garden and solar water heating. Went on a day trip to Lundy (was sea-sick so clearly haven't inherited the family sea legs), swam in the sea at the Tunnel Beaches.

Anyway, it's back to work now and September is looking like it's going to be a busy month. More training on overview and scrutiny issues tomorrow, I'm going to the Sustainable Development Committee meeting on Tuesday and the rest of the week will hopefully be catching up on casework, preparing for forthcoming meetings etc. Saturday is Lewisham Peace Fair on Ladywell Fields, from 3pm-7pm, which I will attend.