Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Application for travellers' site withdrawn

I've just been informed that the planning application to build a travellers' site in Dressington Avenue is being withdrawn.

The Deputy Mayor, Cllr Heidi Alexander has acknowledged that the council’s usual procedures were not been followed in relation to consultation with current users of the sports hall. Officers will now be working with them to "identify suitable alternatives".

This doesn't mean that the application won't be resubmitted in the future, but the Deputy Mayor has undertaken to consult with local residents prior to any new application being submitted.

As I'm on a planning committee I've not taken a position on this application, but Ute (Cllr Michel) has been liaising with the Deputy Mayor, local residents and users of the centre.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Ladywell Forum - did you get a flyer delivered?

Hopefully everyone in Ladywell ward will have received a flyer this weekend advertising the forthcoming forum. I know that Adelaide Avenue was done, as I got mine yesterday. It would be helpful if you could leave a comment saying if your street did/didn't get flyers delivered. Just in case, forum details again are:

Ladywell Ward Forum
Thursday 9th November
Crofton Park Baptist Church
Brockley Grove
7.00pm - 9.00pm

Focus is on youth provision and we hope this will be a chance for local people, youth services, the Safer Neighbourhood Police team, faith groups and us to share ideas about what youth provision is needed in the area.

Electoral services organised the flyer delivery for us, which was a big relief as we thought we were going to have to deliver them ourselves. We have a Green News which will be ready in a few weeks, but we were told we couldn't deliver a council leaflet at the same time, and as a small party we didn't have the people power to do two deliveries to the whole ward within the space of a month.

I'm not going to Iceland!

Fancy an easy bit of online eco-warrioring? Take a look at thisGreenpeace campaign against Iceland restarting commercial whaling. I genuinely would like to visit Iceland and see the hot springs etc, and have even got as far as the shall I take 3 days to get there by boat or fly dilemma, but it's definitely on hold for now.

Richmond's plans to charge gas guzzlers more for parking

Richmond council's plans to link the cost of resident's parking permits to the emissions their cars produce has received massive publicity over the last few days and is a brave move. While anything which makes people think twice before buying a 4x4 or some other ghastly gas guzzler is to be welcomed, drivers should be taxed more on how far they drive as well as how energy-efficient their vehicle is. There is also concern that charging more for cars to park on-road, may encourage more people to concrete over their front gardens. This has serious environmental consequences including drainage problems and depriving London's sparrows of a vital food source. (The more paved surfaces there are, the less rainfall is soaked into the ground and the more London’s dilapidated sewerage system struggles to cope. As for sparrows; less front gardens means less insects and sparrow chicks starve, according to RSPB-funded research.) Darren wrote a report on this last year as chair of the GLA environment committee.

So while I think Richmond-upon-Thames should be applauded for this, David Milliband and Gordon Brown better hurry up with getting some serious green taxes in places before it's too late.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Ladywell Station gets Secure Station Status

Ladywell Station has been given an award for safety improvements. There certainly have been some improvement with the station, and graffiti, in particular, is being cleaned off quickly. It's also noticeably cleaner than other stations in the area (Crofton Park springs to mind as one that is always strewn with litter), although I would like to see the clear plastic bin bags being used again - can't believe they would be that much of a security risk. I know that local residents and Ladywell Society have in the past called for a community noticeboard at the station and I have recently contacted South-Eastern trains to see if this is possible. In the meantime, the station manager let me tape a poster advertising our Ladywell Forum to the wall of the waiting room.

There are regular transport liaison committee meetings between the council and the transport companies, so if you have any train/bus issues you would like me to raise, please do let me know.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Busy busy

Busy couple of weeks, hence the lack of blogging on my part. Lots of meetings and casework, plus I've been trying to redecorate my mildew-ridden bathroom (have now given up and called in the experts - over a week without a bath in my flat, has, on the upside, meant that I have been using Ladywell Leisure Centre slightly more frequently than usual so I can shower!).

New School Site - Lewisham Bridge Primary School? D-Day 8th November
On Wednesday 11th October, Mike and I had a meeting with Sue Sarna, the headteacher at Lewisham Bridge Primary School, one of the three 'sites' being considered for the new secondary school (the others being Ladywell Leisure Centre and some land round the back of Lewisham Hospital). She is understandably concerned that by referring to it as a 'site', people are forgetting it is in fact a school of 300 odd pupils. While none of the proposed sites are perfect for the school (no rolling plain fields or site in Deptford or New Cross unfortunately), Lewisham Bridge looks the least worst option at the moment. Much will depend on how much of the land around the school, which hasn't yet been redeveloped, will be allocated to the school. Lewisham Bridge Primary School has quite a big site for a primary school, but it's difficult to see how a primary and secondary could be squeezed onto the existing site and leave enough space for playgrounds. Sue Sarna wasn't opposed to the idea of a rebuild, as the classrooms in the current Victorian building are rather small, but she doesn't want her school and all its history to be subsumed into a new 3-16 super school. Although the school is in Lewisham Central ward, it is very much a Ladywell issue, as many of its pupils live in Ladywell ward.

I await the Mayor's decision on November 8th with interest. We haven't taken a group stance on the Lewisham Bridge School site yet, but if it is chosen, I expect we will support the decision, with certain caveats and pledges to support the existing school and pupils during the transition, that the new school(s) would be community schools not academies, the need to use the adjoining land etc. If the Mayor does do a u-turn and the leisure centre gets a reprieve, it will be a significant victory for people power.

Last week I attended the inaugural meeting of Ladywell Pool Users Group, a large part of which was spent discussing plans for the new swimming pool and the Loampit Vale consultation. Concerns were raised over whether the new pool would have facilities to replace all those lost in the area over recent years, in particular the squash courts etc from Crofton Park Leisure Centre and the Turkish Baths and sauna from Ladywell Leisure Centre. If Lewisham Bridge is chosen as the site of the new school, potentially there could be a sports hall with shared use between the school and community.

I also attended the public meeting organised by the planning department on the Lewisham Gateway development. A lot of people at the meeting were sceptical about the scale of the scheme, in particular the size of the buildings, provisions for cyclists in the new road layout and the aesthetics of the buildings. I suspect the architects behind the scheme have gone away with considerable food for thought. The Green Party stance on the development is that we don't oppose high density development in that area in principle, as it is so close to the transport hub. However, the party does have concerns over the percentage of affordable housing proposed, cycling provision, the renewable energy targets, the number of proposed car parking spaces and the possible loss of green space, particularly along the river banks.

Last week I also had a meeting with Rev David Garlick, the vicar of St Mary's Church. Strictly speaking, St Mary's Centre is in Lewisham Central ward, but it is used by many Ladywell ward residents. He is keen to see a youth club started up there again, as is the council, apparently, so I'm hopeful we might get some progress there.

Talking of youth clubs etc, we have finally fixed a date for our first Ladywell Ward Forum, which will focus on youth provision:

Ladywell Ward Forum
Thursday 9th November
Crofton Park Baptist Church
Brockley Grove
7.00pm - 9.00pm

Hopefully, this will be a chance for local people, youth services, the Safer Neighbourhood Police team, faith groups and us to share ideas about what youth provision is needed in the area, and then work out what we can do. The PCSOs will also have the results of the surveys they have done with young people in the ward, asking them what they want. Ladywell, along with Catford South and Blackheath, has been recognised by the council as an area with a lack of youth provision and I am hopeful that there will be funds/grants available to get something started.

Other meetings last week: I went to the House of Lords for a meeting with the Green peer, Tim Beaumont, to discuss the Green Party's international policy, which is in urgent need of some updating. I've never done any national policy work before, and felt a little under-qualified alongside the others at the meeting, who all seemed to work for development NGOs or have loads of experience, but it was interesting, very plush surroundings, and I managed to resist the temptation to shout 'warmonger' or anything about veils when Jack Straw walked past.

I also went along to the consultation on the extension of St Mary's Conservation Area last week, which most people I've spoken to so far seem to be in favour of. I don't think all shopkeepers along Ladywell Road are aware of the consultation yet though, so I have asked for some more copies of the document to be sent to me to hand out.

Very busy surgery at the Old Bothy last week, with 9 people attending on various issues, followed by a very quiet street surgery this Saturday just gone, on Sandrock Rd, Undercliff Rd and Overcliff Rd. No one had put the flyer in their window for us to call, so we just reported the fly-tipping, pot holes and graffiti.

Oh, one more consultation coming up (seemingly endless round of them at the moment!): following on from the initial consulation which was carried out a couple of months ago, there will be an exhibition to show proposals for the Crofton Park / Ladywell South Exhibition 20mph schemes at the following times and locations:
Friday 2-8pm Sat - 10-2pm - 27 28 October (half term) Stillness School - Brockley Rise
Friday 2-8pm Sat - 10-2pm - 3 4 November Baptist Church - Brockley Grove

Reponses to the initial survey were as follows:
Over 10,000 leaflets were delivered to the area for the first stage consultation and over four hundred returned. 67% of responses experienced problems with vehicles travelling too fast. 58% of responses experienced problems from volume of traffic. 58% of responses experienced problems from volume of traffic. 40% said that vehicles used their road to avoid delays most of the delay and a further 31% in rush hour. 31% reported heavy vehicles using their road occasionally and 35% regularly.

Slightly quieter week this week (phew!), with any luck, just a training day on pensions (I'm on the pensions investment committee) and a possible meeting with the Ladywell Centre Users Committee.

Over and out.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Road Resurfacing

The highways team has just released its list of roads to be resurfaced over the next 12 months. Out of the 25 roads down for resurfacing, 3 are in Ladywell, and they are
Adelaide Avenue(Eastern Road to Ladywell Road), Chudleigh Road (Dressington Avenue to Bexhill Road) and Montague Avenue. Additional roads will be added if funding is available, apparently. Chudleigh and Adelaide are bus routes, so I guess they get priority. This could be opening a can of worms, but any comments?!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Street Vibes

Very concerned to find out last week that Street Vibes have been given notice to leave their premises by 20th October. They were only officially opened by the mayor a couple of months ago and now they are facing an uncertain future. I've been in contact with the mayor's office, the cabinet member for children and young people and youth services urging them to see if they can help find alternative accomodation for this popular and much-needed local youth project.

Lewisham Green Party AGM

Monday 9th October, 7.30pm, at Brockley Social Club, Brockley Road, SE4 (corner of Foxberry Road). All members and supporters welcome.

Formal business 7.30-8.45pm
Food for thought: 8.45-9.30pm "International Migration - a Green Party response"
Presentation by local expert and Green Party member Jill Rutter, who will give an overview of migration to the UK in general and outline the situation in Lewisham in particular, followed by discussion.

Lewisham Gateway: Meeting on 17th October

I have received the following from the planning dept re the Lewisham Gateway application: "In view of the level of neighbour response in respect of the Lewisham Gateway planning application, we have organised a local meeting for all those who have made representations (72 letters of invitation have just been sent out) to discuss the various planning issues. The date of the meeting is 17 October 2006 at Lewisham Methodist Church Hall, Albion Way (7pm-10pm). The applicant and agents will be present at the meeting and Councillor Andrew Milton has agreed to chair the Meeting."

If you sent an objection but have not received an invite, or you didn't send a letter but would like to attend, pls call the planning office on 020 8314 9219 or e-mail them to check.

Visible Difference

As I was cycling down Gillian Street on Friday morning, I saw the 'Visible Difference' graffiti clean-up team painting over the tagging on shutter of the off-licence on the corner. Delighted it has finally been cleaned - we'd delivered a number of permission cards for them to sign, but it took a while to get a signed one sent back. Next target: the tagging on the empty shop between Masons and the hairdressers (still waiting for the permission card to be signed).

I'm on the planning committee, get me out of here!

Probably the most difficult week as a councillor so far. Lots of residents in Slagrove Place and Dressington Avenue are angry about the plans to demolish the sports hall at Ladywell Day Centre and relocate the travellers' site there. As a member of planning committee A, I can't express opinions on planning applications before the meeting - I have to go there with an open mind. As Mike is also on a planning committee, Ute therefore does all the liaising with residents on planning issues. Most residents understand this, but others think you are just sitting on the fence!

Anyway, all three of us went to a residents' meeting on the issue last Wednesday, which was attended by about 50 residents. Mike and I listened to residents' concerns and could answer some factual questions, but some of the issues raised really needed to be answered by the officers involved in the project, or the cabinet member responsible. Ute is attending a further meeting with the residents' steering committee and the project officers tomorrow evening. Any further questions/queries re the application should be addressed to Ute.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Climate Change

Local Friends of the Earth activists are lobbying Joan Ruddock about the climate change bill at 4pm this Friday in Toad's Mouth Too. If you are a Lewisham Deptford constituent and would like to take part, pls go along on the day or let Ted Burke from Lewisham FoE know in advance.

She is generally supportive and has already signed the early day motion calling for the Climate Change Bill to be introduced in this session of parliament (EDM), but there is no harm in reminding her of the strength of local concern on the issue!

More info about the Big Ask Campaign here.

Also, other climate change campaign events coming up:
Wed 4th October: Public Mtg on Climate Change - George Monbiot speaking
7.00 pm in the Conway Hall, Red Lion Square (Holborn Tube).

Saturday 4th November, National Climate March, 12 noon, rally at US embassy. Organised by the Campaign Against Climate Change.

PS: Do go and see 'An Inconvenient Truth' - an excellent film!

Quercus Project for Ladywell Fields

Went to see the plans for the Quercus Project this evening. This is an EU-funded project to improve Ladywell Fields. Some info here, although I hope more detail will be posted up to the site soon.

Basically, the aim of the project is to improve access to the river to make it more of a feature of the park, rather than hiding it behind railings. The plans I saw today included adding a second channel to bring the river out across the section of the park nearest Ladywell Road, and incorporating a wildflower meadow and terracing. Difficult to explain without the pictures, but it sounded good.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Algernon Road

Algernon Road finally has its sign, which reads "Algernon Road, the best recycling street in Lewisham, 2006"! Hurray!

Black History Month

Black History month kicks off today, loads going on in Greenwich and Lewisham, see here for full programme.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

St Mary's Conservation Area

A consultation document has been sent out to local residents and businesses to extend St Mary's Conservation area to cover a larger area, including some of the shops on the Ladywell side of the railway bridge. If you haven't received the documents, but would like to comment, you can view them online here.

Sad day for Worcester

Royal Worcester ceased production in Worcester, my home town, this week, after more than 250 years. Production has been outsourced to Stoke and abroad. Only painting of porcelain will continue at the site. See BBC article.

It used to be one of the city's biggest employers and one of the things Worcester was famous for, alongside cricket, Edward Elgar, the cathedral and Lea & Perrins sauce. The factory site is due to be redeveloped into homes and shops. I fear this will be yet another clone town development, but I hope I'm wrong and some of the historic buildings will be preserved. Worcester bulldozed some of its Tudor buildings in the 60s to build a concrete hotel and multi-storey car park; I hope planners will be more sensitive towards its heritage this time. My dad spent most of his working life at neighbouring Diglis Basin, which is also being redeveloped at the moment. It certainly needs redeveloping, but I hope the pressure to squeeze as many homes as possible into the area doesn't completely destroy the place.