Monday, April 28, 2008

Vote Green on the Peach Paper this Thursday!

Hopefully there are very few people living in London who are unaware that we have elections on Thursday. However, while many are aware of the London Mayor elections, there has been far less media attention given to the London Assembly elections.

The London Assembly is a 25-member body that is supposed to scrutinise and hold to account the Mayor of London, though with the exception of the annual budget it has very little teeth to do so.

Greens currently have two members on the London Assembly, Brockley councillor Darren Johnson and Jenny Jones, who have worked hard to see many of our manifesto pledges from 2004 put into effect. Labour have needed the votes of the Greens on the assembly over the last 4 years in order to get their budget through, and Greens have driven a very hard bargain in exchange for that support. I very much hope that they will be re-elected and joined by Noel Lynch and Green Mayoral candidate Sian Berry.

On Thursday Londoners have 4 votes - first and second choice for Mayor and two for the assembly - one for your constituency candidate and one for the top-up, London-wide list. Obviously, I hope that you will give Sian Berry your first vote for Mayor and me your vote for Greenwich & Lewisham Constituency.

However, the most important vote for us and the one where you can help to elect more Greens to the London Assembly, is the
peach ballot paper, which is under a system of proportional representation.

London Greens' recommendation that Green supporters vote Sian 1 and Ken 2 for Mayor has also been quite widely publicised and is a position that I fully support. I'm not a huge fan of Ken and I loathe much about New Labour, but I am a pragmatist and I do believe that out of the three main parties' candidates, Ken's policies, particularly on transport, affordable housing, the London Living Wage and tackling climate change are the closest to those of the Greens. I also believe that his commitment to London and Londoners is indisputable, which I don't feel can be said for Oxfordshire MP Boris Johnson.

While Ken Livingstone as a Labour Mayor is unlikely to have enough votes to get through his budget without working with other parties on the assembly, Boris Johnson as Mayor would be likely to have the necessary third of London Assembly members' to drive through whatever budget he wanted, without any co-operation or discussion with other parties, due to the fact that many of the assembly constituency seats are safe Tory ones. So if you want to have a London Assembly with any power over the Mayor of London whatsover, there is a strong argument for giving your second vote to Ken Livingstone and voting Green on the peach ballot paper on May 1st.

Whoever you plan to vote for on May 1st, it is important that all Londoners who support a diverse, multicultural London and oppose the policies of racist, far-right parties, get out and vote on Thursday. Just as Greens only need 5% to get a seat, so do the BNP, and they came frighteningly close to it last time, with 4.8%. However, the higher the turnout and the more people vote for parties other than the BNP, the lower the danger of this happening.

For a discussion on why voting Green on the peach ballot paper might be the most effective way for voters to stop the BNP, see here. London Strategic Voter also discusses this in some depth.

Need more info?
For more on our policies for London, take a look at Sian's website, or see our full manifesto. The Observer article leader on Sunday argues the case for voting Sian 1, Ken 2. BBC article on Greens and the London Assembly. For more local discussion on the elections, see Brockley Central or Bob from Brockley. And finally, the Independent on Sunday's feature on Sian, in which I am embarassingly (but fortunately anonymously) quoted in relation to chipmunks!

Compost Workshop: 6 May

(From the Council's Media Team)

Do you want to know more about how to make your own compost for your garden or allotment?

As part of Compost Awareness Week, which runs from 5 to 10 May, Lewisham Council is holding a compost workshop for residents.

When: Monday 6 May, Time: 5.00pm to 7.00pm, Location: Civic Suite, Catford.

Compost Awareness Week aims to encourage more people to recognise the benefits of home composting and the great results that can be achieved by using peat-free compost containing recycled material.

Did you know that as a nation we produce around 300 million tonnes of rubbish a year and over half of this waste can be easily recycled. Over one third of the contents of an average UK household bin can be home composted, not to mention all the garden waste that can be added to a compost bin.

As well as learning how to successfully get your own compost started, we also have a limited number of free compost bins available. If you would like to attend this or other compost workshops held during Compost Awareness Week, or get a free compost bin contact Beth Sowden on 020 8314 2053.

For further info about home composting see here or here.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Loampit Vale Development

Nicked this from Lewisham Central councillor Andrew Milton's blog: a website has been set up by the developers behind the Loampit Vale development (new leisure centre and housing on the corner of Elmira Street/Loampit Vale. They are asking for your views, prior to the planning application being submitted (which is much better than asking after the planning application has been submitted) and they are also organising a public exhibition in mid-May, details to be confirmed. This development will potentially have a significant impact on parts of Ladywell ward (particularly Ellerdale Road, Marsala Road and I am keen to see what they are proposing in terms of highways and parking, as well as affordable housing provision, the sustainability aspect and of course the pool itself.

Brockley Fun Run

Well done to all those who took part in today's Brockley Fun Run, on Hilly Fields. Around 300 people took part, with many more cheering people on. Special congratulations and thanks should go to Erin from Cafe Broca, Des, Jill and everyone else from Brockley Cross Action Group who helped to organise the event. Hopefully it will become an annual institution, along with Brockley Max Festival, Hilly Fields Fayre and Brockley Open Studios. As Dean mentions, it was partly funded by the Brockley localities fund.

Local bloggers were well represented on the race, with Tom first to finish in impressive time, followed (some time later) by Dean and bouncing along shortly afterwards were Jonathon on his powerizers (pictured) and Howard. I tried to take photos, but lots of runners opted for a sprint finish so they are rather blurry!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Real Nappies Teddy Bears' Picnic

Further to my post last week, I went along to a very well-attended and enjoyable nappucino/Teddy Bear's Picnic at Ladywell Children's Centre on Tuesday. I had the great honour of awarding the prizes for the best dressed teddy bear in a cloth nappy! Lots of mums and mums-to-be there, some of whom had children in cloth nappies, some who were contemplating it. For more info about Lewisham's Real Nappies voucher scheme see here. For further information about the excellent Ladywell Children's Centre, see here.

(I believe I got the permission of all the mums to put this photo on my blog, but if anyone has any objections, just let me know.)

Greens Mean Business

Meet my new psychedlic snake draught excluder, which is now blocking the draught from my cellar door. I bought it from REFAB, who run a stall in Greenwich Market and are one of a number of local businesses which feature in a new online Green Business Directory. Other local businesses in the directory include Chunk Originals, UK5 Organics, Shop on the Hill and DAGE Furniture Shop.

The Greens Mean Business website has also been set up to highlight the Green Party's policies for small businesses in London. In brief, these include:
  • Requiring all new commercial developments to make 50% of their office, workshop or retail space available to small businesses at affordable rents.
  • Increasing the advertising space on the Underground, and giving priority to local business and free space to community groups.
  • Closing London City Airport and using the land as a new Green Industries Park to encourage new enterprise in the growing environmental sector, especially manufacturing.
  • Free insulation for every home that needs it, massively expanding the market for manufacturing and fitting energy-saving materials and products.
  • Investing more London Development Agency funds in developing the skills we will need for a green economy.
  • Introducing new procurement policies in the GLA so the administration buys more goods and services from within London.
  • Expanding the Green Homes Service, including the low-cost ‘concierge’ scheme, which offers a comprehensive consultancy and planning service for people wanting to make their homes greener and more energy-efficient.
  • Have solar panels up and running on 100,000 roofs by 2015. Interest-free loans will be available to householders, community groups and businesses to make use of new, clean energy technology.
See here for further details.

Ladywell Survey - headline results

The new Ladywell Village Improvements Group (still provisional name!) have now analysed and summarised the results of their recent survey of residents' views of shops and services along Ladywell Road. They received an impressive 251 responses to their survey, which in many cases confirmed what we expected, though the high percentage of residents who feel safe in Ladywell was a welcome surprise:
  • 93% of respondents lived in Ladywell
  • 82% of respondents use the shops on a regular basis
  • §
  • §Respondents want better provisions for Fruit & Veg
  • §
  • §Coffee Shop, Butchers and Deli also feature for new business to open
  • §
  • §
    47% of respondents would like to see the General Appearance of Ladywell improved
  • 80% of respondents replied they feel either fairly safe or very safe in Ladywell, with 20% of respondents not feeling safe.
  • Most respondants gave the existing shops in Ladywell a score of 3 out of 5
This is valuable market research which a couple of potential new businesses to the area are already making use of, and which the group intends to feed back to existing businesses and the Council. The steering group are putting together a draft constitution for the new group and will soon be calling for nominations for committee posts and advertising the date of the AGM. Details to follow.

With many thanks to Hellen, Cynthia and Debbie for all their hard work in putting this together.

82% of all 251 respondents use the shops in Ladywell regularly.

With a focus on existing businesses in Ladywell, 48% of respondents would like to see them sell largely fruit and vegetables.

In terms of new businesses that respondents would like to see, Fruit and Veg, Coffee
Shop, Deli and Butchers were all popular.
Potential new businesses could strengthen their business plan by combining business categories.

47% of respondents would like to see the General Appearance of Ladywell improved.
* Other includes: litter, cleanliness, police patrolling, less take-away’s, less hairdressers, paving renovation, speed bumps…)

80% of respondents replied they feel either fairly safe or very safe, with 20% of respondents not feeling safe.

Overall assessment of provision of shops and services in Ladywell.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Stop Da Violence

Evening of poetry, drama, rap etc at the Tabernacle (end of Algernon Road), 6.30pm this Saturday, on the theme of tackling violent crime. Free entry. Thanks to Michael for forwarding details of this to me.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

4 Somerset Gardens: Planning application and Listed Building Consent

Applications have been submitted for the conversion of 4 Somerset Gardens into flats and also for listed building consent for the work. I can't picture which house that is and didn't know it was a listed building, so will pop and take a look at some point. Anyway, details below for those interested:

DC 08/68485
The alteration and conversion of 4 Somerset Gardens SE13, together with the construction of a single storey extension to the rear at basement level and the provision of new window openings at basement level on the front and side elevations and a lightwell at the front to provide 1, two bedroom self-contained flat and 1, three bedroom self-contained maisonette" and also .

DC 08/68663
Listed Building Consent for the alteration and conversion of 4 Somerset Gardens SE13, together with the construction of a single storey extension to the rear at basement level and the provision of new window openings at basement level on the front and side elevations of the building and a lightwell at the front, to provide 1 two bedroom self-contained flat and 1 three bedroom self-contained maisonette.

Ladywell Fields Fun Day

There's going to be a Ladywell Fields Fun Day on Saturday 10th May, to celebrate the completion of the QUERCUS projects physical works in Ladywell Fields. There are going to be guided walks, stalls, displays' and activities to do throughout the day. The event is going to be held in the Northern field of Ladywell Fields from 11am to 4pm. More details to follow!

New Council Greener Homes Guide

The Sustainable Resources team within the Council have today published a Greener Homes guide for Lewisham residents. Just had a quick glance, and it looks very good - lots of useful information not just about what you can do, but also details of local schemes and advice numbers to help you. It doesn't mention the London Green Homes Concierge Service that I'm signed up to, but hopefully that will be added in future editions. On that note, I am still getting quotes on double-glazing and considering the options on underfloor insulation - will start getting the work done once the elections are out of the way - any suggestions welcome.

Teddy Bears' Picnic and Real Nappies!

Real Nappies Week is next week (21-27 April) and there are a variety of events on in the borough to promote real nappies, including a 'Teddy Bears' Picnic Nappucino' at Ladywell Childrens' Centre:

Teddy Bears Picnic Nappuccino
Tuesday 22 April, 10am-midday, Ladywell Children's Centre, 30 Rushey Mead, London, SE4 1JJ. Come along to find out more about Real Nappies over coffee and cake. All ages welcome. 'Best Real Nappy Dressed Teddybear' prize! If you would like to attend contact Lewisham's Real Nappy Officer Vivienne Thomson .

Real Nappy Stall

Friday 25 April
Womens' Health Centre, Lewisham Hospital
10am onwards

Greenwich Market Real Nappy Event
Saturday 26 April
Greenwich Market, London SE10 9HZ
10am onwards

The Real Nappies for London scheme has run in Lewisham since 2007, when the Mayor accepted the Green Party's proposal to take part in and help fund the scheme. The service was threatened by council cuts this year, but Greens managed to secure further funding for 2008/09, despite the Lib Dems proposal to scrap the scheme (funny that, when the Lib Dems up in Camden were outraged when Barnet Tories tried to do the same, but I digress).

Lewisham offers a £30 voucher to parents towards the costs of buying real nappies, as incentive to encourage their use over disposables and to and reduce the amount of money the Council has to spend collecting and incinerating disposable nappies.

Last time I blogged about Real Nappies, there was a heated debate over on Brockley Central about whether the Council should be signed up to the scheme, but the latest figures have shown that Lewisham is one of London's most enthusiastic boroughs for 'real nappies', with parents' take-up of the vouchers' scheme being the third highest in London.

Yes, the scheme costs money to run, and at the moment it costs more than it saves in waste disposal costs, but longer-term, as more parents take up the voucher offer, this won't necessarily be the case. There is also a wider issue about waste reduction, reducing carbon emissions by transporting less waste around the borough and raising awareness of environmental issues. It also costs more to collect and process recycling than sending all our waste to the incinerator, but I think most people would agree that we shouldn't scrap our recycling service.

It costs the Council £52.31 per household per year to collect domestic waste and municipal waste disposal costs per tonne are £40.60. Disposable nappies comprise 4% of the waste stream in Lewisham, and for a family with a child in disposable nappies, they can comprise as much as 50% of the waste in their wheelie bin. So, giving families a £30 voucher to reduce their waste by half for approx 2 years (more if they go on to have more than one child) can save £52.31 in waste disposal costs. The more people who join the scheme, the more cost-efficient it becomes once administration costs are factored in.

Parents are estimated to save as much as £500 per child by using real nappies. To kit out a baby in real nappies can cost under £50. The same amount of money would only buy seven weeks of disposables. And of course the savings are greater for any subsequent children you may have.

Updating my blogroll

Probably not quite what I should be doing two weeks before the elections, but I've just spent a few minutes adding a load of Lewisham blogs to my blogroll, including a fellow Ladywell blogger, possibly Lewisham's most cynical blogger , a couple of political opponents (shock, horror!) and a fair few more. If I've overlooked you, please let me know!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Green Party London Election Broadcast.

Our election broadcast, which went out tonight. I like it, though it reminds me a bit of those Creature Comforts adverts from a few years back. The blurb on our website says that the film was "produced by Contaminant Media and animated by sought-after Shroom Studios, uses no actors; instead real people were invited to discuss their concerns, making a compelling argument for Green solutions for a more affordable and fairer society". So there you go - what do you think?

Recent Licensing and Planning applications

I don't post details of every single planning application in the ward on here, because there are way too many; just the occasional one that I think might be of interest. You can however always do a search for recent planning applications on the Council's planning site, or sign up to receive planning alerts in your area.

27 Vicars Hill, London, SE13 7JB:
The construction of a three storey, three bedroom house to the rear of 27 Vicars Hill SE13, fronting Veda Road with landscaping, provision of bin/bicycle stores and incorporating a new home office at basement level, ancillary to the existing dwelling. (This is an application that was first lodged last year and revised plans and description have now been submitted.) Any comments should be submitted to planning by April 21st.

Newsagents at 311 Brockley Road applies for a licence to sell alcohol:
Please be advised that the following premise has applied for a NEW / VARIATION Premises licence under the Licensing Act 2003.

Matheeswary Newsagency
311 Brockley Road


Applied for the sale of alcohol Monday – Sunday 60:00 -24:00.
Any representations need to reach the licensing team by 2nd May 2008.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Launch of Green Party's Waste Manifesto at Pepys Community Recycling Project

Green candidates 'get down and dirty with hot, steamy compost' (or something like that!)

Berry, Green candidate for Mayor of London joined London Assembly member and local councillor Darren Johnson and me at the Pepys Community Recycling Project in Deptford on Friday to launch the Green Party’s waste manifesto for London. Also in the picture is Nico Quiqerel who runs the project, which is based on Grove Street.

Pepys Community Recyling Project is a social enterprise which collects food waste door-to-door from 1,250 homes on the Pepys Estate. Until funding ran out in December it was also collecting dry recyclables door-to-door. Their participation rates are an impressive 30% for food waste, and (until the funding stopped in December) an amazing 50% for dry recyclables, way above Lewisham’s average recycling rates.

I’ve posted before about how being green should be made the easy option, not something that involves lots of sacrifices and the Pepys Community Recycling Scheme is an excellent example of just this. It’s asking a lot to expect people living on the 15th floor of a tower block to lug their recycling down to the green bins outside rather than shove it all down the chute.

As well as encouraging greater recycling participation, the scheme also creates local employment and, by composting the food waste locally, reduces the carbon emissions in transporting waste. The food waste is processed by an accelerated composter and enriched with green waste. The resulting compost is used in the community allotment, the cafe garden and local households.

I would love to see every estate in Lewisham have a composting scheme like this and think we would quickly hit 50% recycling rates if we did. The flipside of course is that it costs more to collect waste door-to-door than just providing estate recycling bins, but Pepys Community Recycling is currently looking at a range of ways to make themselves more financially, as well as environmentally 'sustainable'. They receive a small amount of funding from housing associations and Berkeley Homes (the scheme collects from Aragon Tower), but need more investment to survive and expand.

I think it’s high time that London had a single waste authority so we could look strategically, across the capital, at the best ways of dealing with our waste. We need to think big, in terms of plants to reprocess recyclable materials, to avoid the ridiculous situation we are now in where Greenwich & Lewisham's plastic bottles are sold to China, our paper and cardboard to Malaysia and the only thing that gets properly recycled in the UK is our tin cans. However, we also need a strategy that supports and encourages small, community-focussed schemes like this, rather than transporting our food waste for miles.

Anyway, below is a summary of the Green Party’s waste manifesto for Londoners.

The Green Party’s Waste Plan for London

London to become a Zero Waste city, eliminating waste by:

  • treating “waste” as a valuable resource for reuse, recycling or composting;
  • investing properly in modern local recycling and composting facilities so as to do away with harmful incineration and landfill;
  • favouring products designed for long life and recycling;
  • setting challenging targets to increase household recycling and composting to reach European levels of 80% by 2015.
Only by adopting a radical zero waste approach can London phase out dependence on landfill, as required by law, without resorting to a new generation of incinerators.

London needs, above all, a coherent city-wide strategy for managing its waste, coordinated by a proper regional waste authority. Without this, individual boroughs will not be able to solve London’s waste problems by acting individually and in an uncoordinated way.

Reducing waste
1. “Money-back” schemes for the return of glass bottles and other reusable containers to be introduced.
2. Producers to be responsible for their products (and packaging) at end of life.
3. All London public bodies (including borough councils, GLA, police, schools and hospitals), to use buying power to bulk buy refurbished and recycled goods.

4. By 2012 all London households to get a weekly doorstep recycling collection which covers the full range of recyclable products, including paper, card, glass, cans, foil, textiles and shoes, plastic, batteries, motor oil, aerosols, mobile phones and toner and ink cartridges.
5. All flats to receive a similar quality home-based recycling service.
6. All litter bins in London’s public places to have separate compartments for paper, glass, cans and plastic.

7. All London households to be offered home composting bins (and instructions) for green and kitchen waste, with communal composting schemes to be set up on housing estates. Households to receive a weekly collection of green and organic kitchen waste as an alternative to home composting. By 2012 all households to be covered by composting service.
8. London parks to offer local composting services for garden waste (bring garden waste, collect compost for garden).

New building developments
9. All new developments, including commercial and public buildings, to be designed with facilities for storing separated waste until collection.

Reuse and recycling industries
10. Land and investment to be provided to support reprocessing plants in London for the main recyclable materials, to avoid long distance transportation and provide local jobs. London plastics reprocessing plants to be established urgently.
11. Reuse and refurbishment centres, for furniture and electrical goods, such as cookers and washing machines, to be open in each London locality.
12. Local ‘swap’ days to be held regularly.

Handling and transportation of waste
13. London’s future needs for reuse, recycling and composting centres to be assessed urgently so that suitable sites can be protected now from development.
14. Waste to be handled locally, with London becoming self-sufficient.
15. Water and rail transport (for waste) to have financial advantage over road. Much greater use to be made of London’s waterways, and adjacent land, for waste transport and management.

Hazardous waste
16. Transport of nuclear waste through London to end.
17. London boroughs to provide all households with clear instructions and simple arrangements for hazardous waste e.g. paints and solvents.

18. No new or replacement incinerators and a strict timetable to be set for phasing out existing incineration.

Public information
19. Public awareness campaigns to expand, with public bodies setting far better example. All boroughs to give telephone information on how to recycle a large variety of items, from Lego bricks to metal hangers to computers.

Of course, if you want this to happen, you need to vote Green on May 1st. Find out more about the voting system here, read our manifesto in full here, or take a look at our London Green Party website or the Sian for Mayor site.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Margarets Road - cyclist access improved

At my request and in response to a local resident's enquiry, the gap in the 'barrier' on Margarets Road has now been given a kerb flush with the road, to improve disabled access and to make it easier for cyclists to go through without having to dismount. This means cyclists now have a quiet cut through from Brockley Road to Adelaide Avenue without having to deal with the junction by Moonbow Jakes. As the picture shows and as another resident pointed out at surgery yesterday, whoever carried out the work could have swept the road a bit better afterwards, but hey.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Spring Holiday Activities for Young People in Ladywell

Slagrove Partnership (L&Q and Family Mosaic Housing Associations) are running a programme of events for young people during the Spring holidays at Ladywell Day Centre in Dressington Avenue. There is also stuff going on at Felix School of Rock at Prendergast School and the popular Lewisham Community Sports events on Hilly Fields again, so a number of things to keep your offspring occupied. More details in the most recent Lewisham Life.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Public Meeting on Heathrow Expansion

HACAN are organising a public meeting in Blackheath on Heathrow Expansion. Unfortunately it clashes with full council so I won't be able to go. John Stewart is a good speaker and I would recommend it to anyone concerned about the impact of airport expansion, wanting to know more or get involved in the Heathrow campaign.

Wednesday 23rd April, 7.30 pm, Recital Room, Blackheath Halls, 23 Lee Rd, SE3 9RQ. Speaker: John Stewart, Chair HACAN

What the Government’s proposals could mean for South East London :

  • All flights will land over South East London if Heathrow Expansion plans go ahead
  • Introduction of ‘Mixed-Mode’ at Heathrow 730 flights a day
  • Third Runway 950 flights a day
  • ‘Mixed-Mode and a Third Runway 1100 flights a day
  • The maps produced by the Department during its recent consultation on Heathrow expansion show that all aircraft landing over London will join their final landing path as far east as Woolwich and Bexley and then fly in two parallel paths to Heathrow.
  • The northern flight path: Greenwich – Peckham – Camberwell – Vauxhall
  • The southern flight path: Blackheath – Deptford – Dulwich – Stockwell/Brixton