23 December 2010

Ivydale Road cats say Meowy Christmas and Happy New Year!

It's been a very hectic first year for the Peckham Rye Labour and the blog is going from strength to strength. There's been lots of news about our area from your local councillors, but we have to admit that over the last 12 months we have not been the star attraction. Oh no.
Unsurprisingly, in a sea of council and election related updates, one of the most popular posts on this blog over the last 12 months had very little to do with local government. Top of the pops was when the Ivydale cats - Noel and Liam - wished everyone a happy new year.

So, we'll try the trick once again. A big merry Christmas from Victoria, Renata and I, but more importantly, Happy New Year from Noel (right) and Liam (left). They will do weddings, bar mitzvahs and any other social gatherings for three cans of Sheba and pinch of cat nip!

19 December 2010

Well done to Bredinghurst School!

Congratulations to all the staff and students at Bredinghurst School on Stuart Road, Nunhead on their Ofsted Report. They are a "rapidly improving school".

I'm a governor at Bredinghurst which is a special community school for boys aged 11-16. All the students have a statement of special educational needs for social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. The vast majority also have further special educational needs and/or disabilities including dyslexia, attention deficit disorders, autistic spectrum disorders and a variety of medical issues. This means that the school can be a challenging place. We welcomed a new Headteacher in July and if that wasn't change enough, the school is about to be rebuilt under Building School for the Future.

You can read the full report here but here's a bit of an idea of how well the school did:

"This is a satisfactory and rapidly improving school. It has undergone several significant changes in recent years including changes in headship, senior leadership, staffing and organisation. Recently appointed leaders are providing new drive and direction and the school is well placed to become even more stable and effective. Progress has improved over recent years because, despite some continuing inconsistencies, teaching and the curriculum are increasingly appropriate for all students. Nearly all of the students speak positively about the school and really appreciate the high levels of support they are given. One said, 'The school is there for me, there are so many teachers to care for us,' and a parent said, 'It is a happy school. A caring school with kind teachers.'

...Improvement since the last inspection is good. The track record of recent developments has been particularly strong. Nearly all the staff are supportive and insightful partnerships are contributing to accurate self-evaluation and clear direction for the future. These good features mean that the school's capacity for sustained improvement is also good."

12 December 2010

What do your Peckham Rye Councillors do? 2

A while ago I posted a short case study giving an example of the kind of work we do in Peckham Rye as your local councillors. Well, I thought it was time for another example...

Residents from the lower part of Friern Road recently approached me about consistent traffic and parking problems outside their homes, partly as a result of the opening of the Harris Boys Academy nearby. Among other things they were finding parking spaces outside their homes were being taken up and that some pupils crossing Friern Road were not seeing cars turning right from Peckham Rye, raising the possibility of an accident. They were also worried about the general level of traffic on their road.

Since hearing of their concerns I set up a joint meeting between the relevant traffic and parking officers from the council, representatives from the school and the Friern Road residents themselves. Last Thursday night we held the meeting at the school and started to get to the bottom of some of these problems.

Officers are now going to do another traffic count on the road to gather evidence of the problems with "rat-running" on Friern Road. A survey done back in May showed there was higher than usual levels of traffic, even before the school opened. They are also going to look at introducing a weight restriction on the road.

One measure that Friern Road residents have suggested is introducing a physical barrier to traffic entering and exiting Friern Road from Peckham Rye. Officers have said that before considering this they will need to look closely at the results of the new traffic survey and modelling on the potential impact of introducing the barrier. However, they are not ruling it out. Officers from Parking also gave a commitment to step up enforcement action in the area.

Also attending the meeting was the Police Liasion Officer for both Harris Boys and Girls school who was very helpful in explaining the various issues which arise at school opening and closing times.

We agreed to meet again in January/early February to get an update on the actions taken and the result of the survey. These problems are by no means solved, but I think we are starting to make some progress. Obviously this is a very small example of helping people in Peckham Rye but, to the people living on lower Friern Road, these are important issues which need to get sorted out.

8 December 2010

Simon Hughes tuition fees update

Simon Hughes has just appeared on Newsnight to say that he is now undecided on whether he will abstain or vote against the government's tuition fees policy.

Abstaining on a policy which will do so much to prevent young people from less privileged backgrounds from attending university is clearly not enough. Hughes has always presented himself as a progressive politician: now he needs to live up to that image.

Anyone tempted by Nick Clegg's rhetoric about how "progressive" this policy is should consider these facts and figures from universities Think Tank million+

"...The Coalition has set out a very narrow vision of 'social mobility'. Social mobility through higher education is about enabling students from disadvantaged backgrounds to enter higher socio-economic occupations and improve their earnings compared with their backgrounds, whichever university they study at. The real risk from the current proposals is that they will damage participation by students who are more debt and risk averse. They are also likely to risk the participation of older students, many of whom are from widening participation backgrounds and who progress to university in their twenties and thirties rather than straight from school.

A recent Ipsos MORI survey of 11-16 year olds found that the prospect of increases in tuition fees had significant deterrent effect on participation. One in six (17%) said they were unlikely to go to university if tuition fees increased to £5,000 and almost half (46%) if fees increased to £10,000 a year. Students with less family and financial support are more debt and risk averse and the survey found that fee increases had a greater deterrent effect amongst 11-16 year old from more disadvantaged backgrounds"
If you want to urge Simon Hughes to vote against tomorrow, write to him now by clicking here .

Do the right thing Simon, vote against this regressive, unjust policy.


Update: As I'm sure most people already know, Simon Hughes abstained on this vote, letting down countless young people in his own constituency and across the country. It puts this video from the Lib Dem You Tube Channel in perspective...

7 December 2010

Southwark's Labour MPs urge Hughes to do the right thing

An issue that I know will be of concern to many young people living in Peckham Rye, and their parents, will be the forthcoming vote on the Coalition plans to triple tuition fees for university students. Southwark's Labour MPs, Harriet Harman and Tessa Jowell, have written to Liberal Democrat Simon Hughes to insist that he keeps to the pledge he made before the election that he would not vote to raise fees. The text of the letter is below.


7th December 2010

Dear Simon,

One of the most important changes over the last 10 years is the big increase in the number of young people from Southwark going to university. University used to be just for people from better off families. But that was changed by the last government. Nearly three times as many Southwark young people now go on to university compared to 1997 - and that means opportunities for people from Southwark that they never had before.

When you asked for the votes of people in Southwark to get elected as an MP earlier this year, your Lib Dem manifesto not only promised to vote against any fee increase, you promised to scrap tuition fees altogether. You said “We will scrap unfair university tuition fees”. Now the government you are supporting, as part of the coalition, is planning to increase tuition fees. The increase in tuition fees cannot go through if Lib Dem MPs vote against it. You are deputy leader of your party. All the Lib Dem MPs signed the pledge to vote against tuition fees. As someone who signed the pledge and as someone with a leading role in your party, we are calling on you to vote against and keep your promise to the people of Southwark.

Tessa and I will be voting against it. You must keep your promises and vote with us to protect the future of young people in Southwark. This is not just the vitally important matter of the opportunities of young people in Southwark, it is also a question of trust in politics. People need to be able to trust their MPs but no-one will ever be able to trust your promises again if you break it on tuition fees.

Best wishes

Rt. Hon. Harriet Harman QC MP

Rt. Hon. Tessa Jowell MP

4 December 2010

Southwark Council submission on 343 buses

Click on the letter below to see the letter which Southwark council has submitted to Transport for London (TfL) regarding, among other things, the 343 bus route. Some readers will recall our submission to the consultation on changes to the bus route. Whilst welcoming the increase in frequency of the buses we wanted the council to make it clear to TfL that 343 buses need to slow down when they go through residential areas.

The letter above is from the Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, Barrie Hargrove to Gary Murphy at the Consultation and Engagement Centre at Transport for London. Councillor Hargrove concludes his letter by writing: "I would be grateful for
an assurance that the timetable acknowledges this and that there is no imperative for drivers to exceed this speed in order to maintain timetabled headways."

I've asked Cllr Hargrove to keep me updated on whether or not he gets the assurance he asks for. We hope that the message will start to get through to TfL that there is problem with speeding 343 buses and it needs to get sorted out.

26 November 2010

'Peckham's Future' - Meetings on Sat 27 Nov & Tues 30 Nov

Despite the tough economic outlook Southwark is facing, the Council and local Councillors remain committed to bringing regeneration to Peckham - a key Labour promise made during the local elections earlier this year.

The next stage of our planning is beginning and in preparation for a 'formal' consultation in February there are two meetings in the next few days to allow residents the chance to give some early feedback.

The first is taking place TOMORROW, Saturday 27 November, 12.30pm to 3.30pm, at the Bussey Building, 133 Rye Lane.

The second will also be at the Bussey Building on Tuesday 30 November 2010, 6.00pm to 9.00pm.

There will be displays and information on the emerging 'preferred options' for the Peckham and Nunhead area action plan. Come along and have your say on how we can ensure the future commercial success of Peckham town centre, restore our historic buildings and even how we might redesign the street scene.

22 November 2010

Aylesbury Estate Shock

We don't often stray far beyond our Ward boundaries on the Peckham Rye Labour Blog, but today we've had some shocking news about the regeneration of the Aylesbury Estate (east of Walworth Road, and north of Burgess Park) which I thought might interest our readers, wherever in Southwark you live.

For more than a decade, the powers that be at Southwark Council (of all political persuasions) have been seeking funding from government to regenerate this huge estate populated by 7,500 people. Tony Blair famously made his first speech as Prime Minister on the Estate. Everyone would admit that there have been far too many broken promises and false dawns for the people living on the Aylesbury.

In 2005, work finally began on "phase 1a" of a project that, it was hoped, would lead to the demolition and replacement of the poorly designed 1960's blocks. The Aylesbury regeneration is a huge and complex programme which relies on a number of different funding streams to push it forward. A Private Finance Initiative (PFI) was set to deliver 360 homes and then provide the catalyst for a further 583 homes to be built. Eventually the entire programme would have delivered 4,200 homes.

Today, the £180m PFI funding promised for the Aylesbury has been withdrawn by the government. (In total the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has withdrawn £1.9bn of funding across 13 planned Private Finance Initiative housing projects).

Cllr Fiona Colley, Southwark's Cabinet Member for Regeneration today wrote to all Southwark Councillors setting out her, and Southwark Labour's determination to overcome this blow. She wrote:

"Despite this setback, we have to press ahead with our regeneration plans on behalf of residents, who will always be our main priority. We are seeking to arrange urgent meetings with the government and swiftly following up the HCA’s [Homes and Communities Agency's] offer to consider future options. Aside from this, we will continue to explore every option available to us and will in no way be defeated by this decision. We do not yet know what the overall impact of this decision will mean but Southwark Council is experienced in seeing large-scale regeneration projects come to fruition and we remain committed to Aylesbury’s successful regeneration."

18 November 2010

Do you have what it takes to be a Southwark Foster Carer?

One of my roles as a councillor is to sit on the Council's Fostering Panel which reviews our borough's foster carers. I find this an immensely rewarding role.

In Southwark we have up to 350 children placed with Southwark foster carers at any one time and the borough is always on the look out for those who might be interested in becoming carers. We need foster carers for both long and short term fostering and respite fostering. We are looking for people from all backgrounds so that we are able to place as many children as possible with families who live in and near to the borough.

The council considers every inquiry from a potential fosterer important so if you think you might have the skills to foster them you should seriously consider it. You can read more about how to become a foster carer here and answers to a whole host of questions you might have here.

Community Council - Wednesday 8 December

Just a quick post to get 8 December in your diaries as the next Nunhead and Peckham Rye Community Council meeting. This is your chance to meet local councillors and quiz them on any local issues you might have. There will also be updates from members of the council cabinet and our Police safer neighbourhood team.

The meeting starts at 7.00pm although if you come at 6.30pm you can speak to the Community Wardens beforehand. The December meeting is at Rye Oak Primary, use the Old James Street entrance just off Nunhead Lane.

16 November 2010

Crime and Community Safety in Peckham Rye

I'm grateful to a local resident I spoke to at a recent community council meeting for pointing me in the direction of these figures from the Metropolitan Police Website. It gives a very useful comparison of crime figures in Peckham Rye Ward with the rest of Southwark and the rest of London.

A very quick analysis shows that we are, on the whole, a pretty low crime area. I'm certain that part of the reason for this is our excellent local police team. Many local people are very concerned that cuts to public spending will include cutting Peckham Rye Safer Neighbourhood Team, along with their crime prevention work. This is certainly an issue for us to keep a very close eye on.

If you'd like to know more about community safety in Peckham Rye, a good place to start is the Ward Panel meeting. The next one will be held at 7pm on 25th November at Harris Girls Academy.

14 November 2010

Another Bog Standard Update

Many local residents may well be wondering what is happening with the previously proposed development of the toilet block near the junction of Peckham Rye and East Dulwich Road. Before Renata, Victoria and I were even elected as councillors, this had become quite a lively issue. I recently asked officers at the council what is going on, because nothing appeared to be happening with the block.

Well, since the last update, this is what has happened:

1. The last proposed tenant - a not-for-profit gallery offering outreach programmes to local schools and groups - dropped out of the process without having made the required planning application.

2. The property is now under offer to a new proposed tenant. They run a children's nursery and wish to expand.

3. They have already made a planning application for a change of use.

4. We are currently waiting for a formal decision from development control so that the lease can proceed.

I'll update again here as soon as I have further news.

Speaking to local residents most people have told us that they support the building having a community use, being used by a local group or it being returned to use as a toilet - as long as it doesn't encroach on the green space around it.

11 November 2010

Ryedale and Cheltenham Road - smoother surfaces are on the way

At Monday night's Community Council meeting Coucillors had the opportunity to vote on how to allocate a pot of money for road resurfacing improvements in our area.

Residents of Cheltenham Road and Ryedale in Peckham Rye Ward will be pleased to hear that their roads were among the three we agreed to resurface. These two roads were highlighted in the condition survey as being in very poor condition. In particular, residents of Cheltenham Road have suffered more than most because of buses travelling too fast down their street, causing vibration in their homes. We hope that the resurfacing will go some way to addressing this problem. We also managed to secure money to replace some of lamps on St Aiden’s Road which are in poor condition.

Watch this space for more information on when that work will be carried out.

PS. If you're interested in attending the next Nunhead and Peckham Rye Community Council meeting, it will take place on Wednesday 8th December at 7.00 pm. Further details on the agenda and location will appear here shortly.

5 November 2010

South London Press Story on 63 Campaign

Just a quick note to point you in the direction of this Friday's edition of the South London Press. The SLP have reported on the growing popularity of the campaign to extend the 63 Bus Route to Honor Oak Park and on our recent joint letter to Boris Johnson.

You'll need to buy a copy to see the story straightaway as parts of the online edition of the SLP are restricted to subscribers. We're on page 24. Thanks to Val Shawcross (our London Assembly Member) for her continued support for the campaign and her quote in the story.

One particularly interesting section of the story is the quote given by TfL regarding the extension. It was more encouraging than the wording of a previous letter which had claimed that the extension would not be financially viable, speaking of "keeping services under review." Light at the end of the tunnel perhaps?

31 October 2010

Welcome for more 343s - but they must slow down

A consultation is currently underway on proposed changes to the 343 bus route (see the letters above). For residents of the Nunhead part of Peckham Rye the good news is that the frequency of buses may be increased. However, local residents are constantly telling us that they are concerned about the speed at which many 343 buses travel through residential parts of its route. I've pasted my response to the consultation below, welcoming the increase in frequency, but asking TfL to take decisive action to deal with this issue.


Dear Sir/Madam

What follows is my personal response to the consultation to the proposals for the 343bus route. I'm not sure if I need to "declare an interest" regarding consultations of this nature, but in the interests of clarity and openness I should say that I live at 340 Ivydale Road, which is serviced by the 343 bus.

I'd like to give my qualified support for the proposal to increase the the frequency of the service on weekdays between 7am and 7pm to one every 6 mins. The 343 bus is very well used by residents of our ward and the increase in frequency will relieve overcrowding, particularly during the busy morning and after-work periods.

The qualification that I would like to add relates to the speed at which buses travel, particularly through the largely residential part of the route taking in Cheltenham Road, Ivydale Road and Mertins Road. Many residents that I and my ward colleagues have spoken to on this part of the route have voiced their concern about the noise and vibration caused in their homes by buses travelling at excessive speeds. This area is part of a controlled 20 MPH zone. When these double decker buses pass over speed humps and potholes at high speeds they can cause houses in the area to shake. When buses slow down to the speed limit, the level of vibration is perfectly acceptable.

I understand that the issue of vibrations from the buses is not entirely related to their speed. There are ongoing issues with road resurfacing which are still to be resolved, but which are not directly related to this consultation.

Some residents are also concerned about road safety, particularly for children, because of the speed that some 343 bus drivers drive through this residential area. At times I have been shocked at the speed that some bus drivers travel, far in excess of the 20mph speed limit. I have even been told of bus drivers "chasing" one another whilst driving buses. Obviously, this increases the chances of an accident.

If the issue of 343 buses speeding remains untackled, an increase in their frequency might increase these problems. Consequently, I would support the proposal but would ask that TfL (and their contract holders) take decisive action to ensure that bus drivers drive within the speed limit.

Best Wishes,

Gavin Edwards

28 October 2010

Joint Letter to Boris on the 63 extension

Prior to the local elections in May, one of the promises we made to residents of Peckham Rye was that we, if elected as your local councillors, would campaign hard to extend the 63 bus route to Honor Oak Park Station. We said we would get Southwark council to put its weight behind the campaign and seek to force TfL to look again at this issue. The extension would link up local bus users with the East London Line which now travels from Honor Oak Park. It is small change that would make a big difference.

Since the election we have pushed the issue forward in a number of ways. At the last Nunhead and Peckham Rye Community Council Traffic and Transport Sub Group (or NPRCCTTSG as it is catchily and affectionately known by all!) we decided to ask our local Assembly Member, our local Member of Parliament and the Leader of Southwark Council to write to Boris Johnson about extending the 63.

Specifically we wanted them to write to him to demand that TfL look again at the financial assumptions on which they are basing their refusal to extend the route. Their current position is that the extension would not pay for itself because not enough extra people would use the service to get to Honor Oak. We think this assumption is based on pre-East London Line passenger numbers.

I am very pleased to say that your representatives, Val Shawcross, Harriet Harman and Peter John have all agreed to sign the joint letter, the text of which is below. We'll let you know as soon as they get a reply...


Dear Boris,

We’re writing to ask for your assistance in improving transport links in our part of London. For many months now residents in the East Dulwich, Forest Hill and Honor Oak parts of Southwark have been contacting their local representatives to find out if the 63 Bus route could be extended by just a few stops to Honor Oak Park Train Station.

As you know, Honor Oak Park Station is now serviced by the East London Line. As a result, many local residents wish to travel to the station via the 63 bus and continue their journey by train. The route currently finishes quite close to the station, but not quite within a reasonable walking distance, particularly as the route is over a steep hill.

As you will see from the attached letters, correspondence between Southwark Council and TfL has so far proved fruitless. TfL is claiming that it would not be financially viable to extend the route because the additional costs would not be covered by additional bus use. We believe that TfL’s position is based on an analysis of demand prior to the opening of the East London Line.

We would be grateful if you could ask TfL to look again at this issue and analyse demand for this extension in the light of the opening of the East London Line. We feel confident that, if this analysis is done, the financial case for extending the 63 Bus route will become irrefutable.

Local people are extremely eager for this extension to be put in place without reducing the regularity of the existing service. We hope you will look into this issue and we look forward to your response.

Yours Sincerely,

Harriet Harman MP (Member of Parliament for Camberwell and Peckham)
Val Shawcross AM (London Assembly Member for Lambeth and Southwark)
Cllr Peter John (Leader of Southwark Council)

23 October 2010

One O'Clock Club: The official position

For any readers wanting to know EXACTLY what the situation is with the new One'Clock Club, changing rooms and pitches on Peckham Rye Common, the following may be of interest.

I submitted a question to the relevant Cabinet Member for last Wednesday's Council Assembly meeting. The response can be found here in the official council papers, but I've also pasted it below:-

What progress has been made on delivering Southwark Labour's manifesto commitment to turn the plans for a new One O'Clock Club and changing rooms and pitches for local sports teams into reality?

A development plan for Peckham Rye was completed earlier this year defining sporting facilities and the future development of the cafe area of Peckham Rye Common. This plan has support from the community. The total estimated cost to realise this plan for the Homestall Road Sports Facilities and the Park Central Area Development Plan is £2.1m.

This is broken down into the following:

Homestall Road Sports Facilities and works to park pitches £1,100,000
New one o’clock club buildings £500,000
Replacing the temporary changing rooms with a permanent
facility on the maintenance area £100,000
New play area including water play £100,000
Landscaping and relocating car park to Peckham Rye Common £300,000
Total £2,100,000

To date £209,000 has been secured from the cleaner greener safer capital programme. The council has also sought a further £300,000 from Sure Start and £100,000 from the play builder programme. However since the election of the coalition government the Sure Start programme has been cancelled and play builder has been suspended and is unlikely to be available.

Over the last few months officers have been negotiating with the Harris Boys Academy which is willing to invest £400,000 to improve drainage and refurbish the grasses pitches in exchange for exclusive use of the Homestall Road site at specific times.

A meeting is being held on 20 October to confirm details. This funding would also be able the council to apply for Football Association (FA) funding in the region of £250,000.

Possible funding for this project is therefore as follows;
Homestall Road Sports Facilities
Harris Boys Academy contribution £400,000
FA contribution £250,000
Peckham Rye Park and Common
Current CGS funding £209,000
Total identified funding £959,000

If FA funding and Harris Academy funding is granted, the project is still left with a shortfall of £1,141,000 to complete the entire project. Officers have submitted a bid for a further capital funding for this amount and this will be considered by the cabinet in November as part of the wider council capital programme."

So, decisions are due to be made in November and we will continue to keep a very close eye on this issue.

16 October 2010

Recycling pilot in Peckham Rye

Here's me with my newly arrived kitchen caddy for food waste. If you are taking part in the new food waste recycling pilot you can order a caddy by emailing environment@southwark.gov.uk

So far I'm finding the scheme pretty easy to negociate. Separating food is easy enough, everything else that can be recycled goes in the blue box and we're actually left with very little in our rubbish bin - in fact I think the current bag has lasted 11 days!

There is lots more information about the scheme here and the letters and leaflets we have received have been really helpful. The leaflet has a handy timetable of collection dates on the back of it. If you've lost your's then you can look up your collection dates here.

I've been contacted by a few people asking whether or not they are in the pilot. I'm always happy to check but the collection date search also tells you whether you are included or not. Just to be clear, although many properties in Peckham Rye ward are in the pilot, it's not everyone.

9 October 2010

"Your Councillor" leaflet on its way to your door

In an effort to keep local people up to date with ouir work and council related issues in Peckham Rye, we've produced the first of what we hope will be a fairly regular "Your Councillor" leaflet. A copy will be delivered to every door in Peckham Rye over the next week or so. You can also see the first edition here by clicking on the images below.

30 September 2010

Ed's no mug

We don't ordinarily give much coverage to national politics on the Peckham Rye Labour Blog. Parochial to the last, you'll find more on this website about the Clock House pub than the House of Commons. That said, we thought we'd make an exception following the election of Ed Miliband as the new Leader of the Labour Party.

It's been a difficult time for supporters of the Labour Party watching a supposedly left-of-centre Liberal Democrat Party form a Coalition with the Tories, providing cover for cuts which are clearly too early and too deep for our recovering economy. In very testing circumstances our local MP Harriet Harman has done a fantastic job as the Acting Leader of the Labour Party, holding the Government to account every step of the way. Nevertheless, the people we've been talking to on the doorstep have been very curious to know who would be the new Leader of the Labour Party.

Victoria, Renata and I are delighted that Ed Miliband is now in the hot-seat. Rightly or wrongly some people judge a political party based on their view of its leader. We can do our best locally to show what the Labour Party is all about, but that task is made much easier when a permanent leader is in place, arguing for Labour values day in and day out in the national media and in Parliament.

There was one part of Ed Miliband's Party Conference speech which struck a chord with me and the issues that we are facing in Peckham Rye. He said:

"But what we should not do as a country is make a bad situation worse by embarking on deficit reduction at a pace and in a way that endangers our recovery. The starting point for a responsible plan is to halve the deficit over four years, but growth is our priority and we must remain vigilant against a downturn.

You see, it's obvious really, when you cancel thousands of new school buildings at a stroke, it isn't just bad for our kids, it's bad for construction companies at a time when their order books are empty. It's not responsible, it's irresponsible.

And nor should we reduce the deficit without learning the basic lessons of fairness. We must protect those on middle and low incomes. They did nothing to cause the crisis but are suffering the consequences"

The savagery and the timing of the cuts which the Lib Dems and Tories are imposing on local councils will inevitably damage services and regeneration projects in our area. Southwark's Labour run council is totally committed to protecting the most vulnerable from the severity of these cuts, but there will inevitably be difficulties ahead. It helps then to have a Labour Leader elected who is willing and capable of making the case for sane deficit reduction. We can only hope that the message will get through to the Lib Dems.

Perhaps some of Southwark's Lib Dem Councillors could have a word with local MP Simon Hughes (in his own words, a "rock solid" supporter of the coalition) and suggest that he might want to rethink the depth, pace and timing of these ideological cuts. Former Lib Dem supporters across the country now know that there is a credible and progressive alternative to the Coalition in Ed Miliband's Labour Party. Our local party has seen a dramatic rise in the number of members since the election. If you believe in a building a fairer society both locally and nationally, think about joining up.

23 September 2010

Extending the 63 - Next step is to gather the evidence that an extension is needed

I thought I’d give a slightly overdue update on how things went at the last Traffic and Travel Community Council 'Sub Group' when we discussed how to take forward the campaign to extend the 63 bus.

I gave a bit of the background and informed the sub-committee that TFL are claiming that extending the route would cost £470,000. Val Shawcross, our London Assembly Member was attending the meeting to give us her view on what the next steps in the campaign should be.

Val explained that the contract for the route was renewed a year ago and contracts get re-let every 5 yrs. Transport for London can tweak a bus route mid-contract but it needs demonstration of a clear demand. Considering the current climate, the picture is not optimistic, however if there is a case it needs to made and be persistent.

One suggestion is that since all the passenger number studies are pre-east London extension, post-East London line data might demonstrate a need so the council might ask for more data regarding the East Line effect.

Councillor Barrie Hargrove, the Southwark Council Cabinet member with responsibility for Transport, said that the Labour administration would be happy to support the campaign even if it’s for the long haul. He also said that the council would also help with getting the necessary surveys done.

Residents attending the meeting also suggested the possibility of running the bus for a few weeks as a trial run with Val Shawcross explaining that they can do that sometimes and sometimes councils and/or developers can subsidise trial runs, so this may be an option we could look at.

Residents were also concerned that a new school with 950 kids was opening soon and the 63 was the only bus for it. The school will be at full capacity by 2014, the time when the next contract is due.

All in all it was an extremely constructive discussion. We concluded by agreeing that I would, as a next step, speak to all of the local Members of Parliament to see if they would be able to sign a joint letter asking TfL to look again at extending the route. I also agreed to look into what additional survey work could be done to support the case for the extension following the opening of the East London Line and the Harris Boys Academy. I’ll report back soon on how I get on.

18 September 2010

Mundania Road Street Party

Victoria, Renata and I today attended the Mundania Road Street Party. This was a fantastic event entirely organised by people living on Mundania Road. Thankfully the summer held out for another day to allow people to enjoy themselves. There were bookstalls, face-painting, football and lots of cake for people to enjoy.

Some of the funding for the event came from the Nunhead and Peckham Rye Community Fund, which is allocated by local councillors. I think this kind of event is a superb way of building community spirit. Though there are many great things about living in London, life in a big city can all too easily isolate people from their neighbours. But today on Mundania Road the atmosphere was more like a village fete than a street in a city 7.5 million people.

Congratulations to everyone involved in the event.

14 September 2010

How Labour is making a difference in Southwark

I've said before on this blog that the nuts and bolts of local authority politics can squeeze the enthusiasm out of even the most hardened campaigners. But it is crucially important that all those leaflets, all the time talking to you on your doorstep, and all those votes actually achieves something for the people of this borough. It's been just over four months since the people of Southwark voted for a change in who runs their council. So, has it made any difference?

Southwark Labour was elected on a manifesto of creating a fairer, more equal borough and giving people a council that provided good quality services. Whilst doing this Southwark Labour is also having to contend with 25% + cuts to our budget made by the Coalition Government.

Given this context, I've listed below Labour's top 10 achievements in Southwark since 6th May. Labour has:

1. Entered a Regeneration Agreement for the £1.5 billion redevelopment of the Elephant and Castle - a deal which includes a minimum guarantee of 25% of affordable housing - following eight years of Lib Dem dither and delay;

2. Taken steps to pilot (in November) our pledge to provide every primary school pupil with a free healthy school meal;

3. Published Fire Risk Assessments for all council blocks in the borough following the tragic Lakanal fire in July 2009, in order to provide reassurance to worried residents;

4. Cut councillors allowances in order to save over £70,000 for use on front-line services;

5. Agreed a set of principles which will guide our budget-making decisions and ensure that we deliver on our manifesto commitments, rather than becoming overwhelmed by the Government's cuts. This includes given residents and backbench councillors more say over how decisions will be made.

6. Established a Democracy Commission to produce a report on how we make our council meetings and procedures more open and accessible;

7. Introduced tough new measures to limit the amount the Council spends on external consultants;

8. Commenced work on plans to regenerate Camberwell, Nunhead and Peckham – areas ignored for the past eight years;

9. Taken steps to prevent any development on vital green spaces in the borough at Nursery Row and Brayard’s Green in Nunhead;

10. Agreed to pilot food waste recycling across the borough – five years ahead of the Lib Dem’s timetabled introduction.

None of these achievements would have occurred if thousands of people in Southwark hadn't chosen to vote Labour on 6th May. It's become fashionable to say that politics doesn't make a difference. The list above shows that, even in these early days, Labour in Southwark has been able to make some really worthwhile changes.

There is another important difference which a Labour administration has brought to Southwark which isn't as easy to spot over a short period but which, in the long-term, is going to be incredibly important. Southwark now has a group of Cabinet members and councillors in control who aren't afraid to take responsibility for their actions and to make difficult (sometimes very difficult) decisions. As a new councillor it's been striking to see the Liberal Democrat Opposition consistently duck out of taking a firm position on a whole range of issues. It is partly this approach which lead to so many important decisions being kicked into the bureaucratic long grass during their eight years of running the council. So, of course, there are differences of policy and values in how Labour runs the council, but perhaps just as importantly, there is a difference in competence.

9 September 2010

Boosting Recycling in Southwark

In October 2010 your newly elected Labour Administration in Southwark will start to deliver on our manifesto commitment to expand the variety of materials that can be recycled in order to boost the recycling rate in the borough. One of the major failings of the Lib Dem-Tory Administration which we have replaced was their refusal to prioritise recycling - leave Southwark with the 6th worst recycling rate in the country. Labour is determined to change this.

In October, parts of six wards, including Peckham Rye, will take part in a six month pilot. The most significant change will be the introduction of weekly food and garden waste collections. As part of the pilot you will be supplied with compostable bags which will allow you to collect all food waste. Food waste can then be put into your brown garden waste bin. The council will then collect your food and garden waste each week. If you don’t have a brown bin, the council will supply you with one, in a size suitable for the space available.

The council will continue to collect blue box recycling on a weekly basis, but you won't need to separate the items. To help you to recycle more you can also order an extra blue box.

This new system will enable residents of Peckham Rye to recycle more than two thirds of waste, all of which will be removed on a weekly basis. The remaining, currently non-recyclable waste, will be picked up once every other week. Full details of the scheme are contained in a letter sent to all those residents who will be part of the pilot - I got mine this week!

Obviously this is just a pilot scheme at this stage but it is hoped that, based on the results, it will form the basis of a scheme that will be rolled out across the whole borough in the future. I think we will find that some things work well but equally I know it will be a challenge for all residents to recycle two thirds of their waste. However, I think the pilot is a good way to test what's possible.

If you'd like to know more about the pilot, take a look at this webpage.

4 September 2010

Update from Community Safety Ward Panel meeting

A local resident recently posted on our "Peckham Rye News" Facebook Page asking for an update from the latest Community Safety ward panel meeting. I thought our blog readers might also like to see the response, so I've copied and pasted it below:

"The local police team gave an update on their work. They have been particularly focusing on the crime and anti-social behaviour being committed by a small number of individuals in the Peckham Rye area. Their work on this over the summer seems to have been very succesful.

There was also some discussion on the issue of dangerous dogs. The police explained that they will act whenever they have reports of people failing to control their dogs or of dogs posing a danger to the public.

There have been a small number of burglaries in the area over the last month or so, and the police gave their view that these were opportunistic. They emphasised the importance of locking doors and windows to avoid this kind of break in. On the whole though, they said crime and anti-social behaviour in Peckham Rye is generally low. Finally, there was some discussion of the threat to having a local police team at all.

Due to Government cuts there is a possibility that their area may be extended, which means that they will be less able to do the kind of preventative work that has been so successful in Peckham Rye. I should stress there are no firm plans to make changes yet. I have offered the assistance of all the Peckham Rye Councillors if we need to run a campaign to protect our local police team."

PS: The Peckham Rye News Facebook Group is a quick and easy way of getting in touch with us. Join up here if you're interested.

29 August 2010

Friends of Peckham Rye Summer Fete

This year's Friends of Peckham Rye Summer Fete will take place on Saturday 4th September. This is a superb event which includes lots of fun activities and stalls. It starts at 12 noon and goes on until 5pm.

The FOPR are currently asking for help with serveral parts of the event:

- They are looking for book donations for the book stall. Please call 0208 299 2680 if you've got some books spare.

- If you can donate a plant or seedlings to the plant stall please call 07968 416108

- If you're a talented baker and can donate a cake for the Tea Tent please ring 07704463614

If you would like to help out on the day, please call 0208 299 2680.

24 August 2010

What do your local councillors do? A case study from Brenchley Gardens

Brenchley Gardens estate is in the southern part of Peckham Rye Ward, opposite Camberwell New Cemetery. By common consent it is a pleasant and quiet place to live with a strong sense of community. People living in Brenchley Gardens are a mixture of tenants, leaseholders and freeholders.

Following our election in May, members of the tenant management organisation (TMO) approached us to ask for our help with some problems they were having with various charges, repairs and a dispute with the council over the ownership status of a fence on the estate. The problem seemed to be that communication had broken down between the TMO and officers at the council over these issues. Both sides had taken up entrenched positions and meaningful discussion seemed to have completely stopped.

As local councillors we were able to talk to both officers and the TMO in a constructive way to see if there was a way we could resolve these issues. After much persuading and several meetings we were able to get everyone round the same table last night. I'm really pleased to say that the TMO and the officers were able to agree a way forward on all the outstanding issues. The TMO didn't get its way on all the issues it was concerned about, but the members present were able to get an honest, face to face explanation and no longer felt their views were being ignored or dismissed. The officers for their part agreed to take action on many of the concerns residents had been raising.

When council officers had left one of the board members of the TMO said something to me which I think summed the whole thing up. He said, "What pleases me is that, at last, someone was prepared to come and speak to us like we're human beings."

20 August 2010

Transport meeting papers now available online

Quick update on the local transport meeting taking place on Thursday 2nd September. The papers for the meeting are now available here. Worth taking a look for anyone interested in local transport issues.

17 August 2010

Councillor Fiona Colley says, "We won't forget about SE15."

The following news item has just appeared on the Southwark Council website:

"The council can confirm that consultation on the Peckham and Nunhead Area Action Plan is to begin in January and planning applications have been submitted for refurbishment in Nunhead this week.

Over the past weeks, the headlines have been all about Elephant and Castle as the deal with Lend Lease was finally signed, paving the way to the £1.5 billion regeneration of the area.

But if residents live further south in the borough, they may be asking when it's their turn? Peckham and Nunhead are known for their vibrant streets with independent shops and places to go for great food and leisure activities, as well as being a hub for the arts.

Today, the council can confirm that in a matter of months, the focus will be on Peckham and Nunhead to enhance what residents already love about them. As a planning application went in this week for new shop frontages on Gibbon road, it won't be long before the rest of Nunhead and Peckham gets its turn for something new. Already, huge improvements to the street layout have been completed to make improved access and cycle routes. Plans to ask residents about the wider area are just around the corner.

Councillor Fiona Colley, cabinet member for regeneration said, "I know and love this area, and know that both Peckham and Nunhead have their own charm which I'm keen to enhance. Regeneration goes far further than just buildings. It's about local people, the independent shops and businesses that they love and the atmosphere of these places - that's what's important. The area action plan is all about asking Peckham and Nunhead people what they want to see change - and what they want to preserve and restore for future generations."

15 August 2010

Local transport meeting - including campaign to extend the 63 bus route

One of the additional roles that I've taken on in recent months is to be Chair of the local community council group on traffic and transport. This is an open, local forum for anyone living in the Nunhead and Peckham Rye area to contribute to debate over local transport policy.

At our first meeting following the election I've sought to focus the work of this committee on the priorities that so many local people spoke to their candidates and councillors about during the campaign. So at the next meeting we will be following up on a number of issues raised at previous meetings, but also looking at how we can take the campaign for the extension of the 63 bus route to Honor Oak Park Station forward. Southwark Council's Cabinet Member for Transport, Environment and Recycling, Cllr Barrie Hargrove will be attending to discuss this issue.

The meeting will take place on Thursday 2nd September 2010 at 6.30 pm in Room D of Southwark Town Hall, 35 Peckham Road SE5 8UB. Other items on the agenda for discussion are:

- Improvements to Rye Lane (including enforcement measures on issues such as shopkeepers putting produce and waste on pavements, car parking and deliveries during rush hours).

- Update on the traffic scheme being put in place to deal with the opening of the Harris Boys Academy.

- Update on the Peckham Rye South Scheme.

If you're interested in these, or any other local transport issues, come along and you will have the chance to discuss them with local councillors and council officers dealing with these issues.

9 August 2010

Details of events in August and September funded through the Nunhead and Peckham Rye Community Council Fund

Below is a table showing a list of events that will be taking place in the Nunhead and Peckham Rye area thanks to funding from the community fund. If you're interested in any of the event and you want further details, please e-mail the contact addresses given in the table.

If you're having trouble reading the table, click on it to make it bigger.

30 July 2010

New Peckham Rye Councillors Poster

This new poster showing our contact and ward surgery details will be put up in locations across the ward. Apologies in advance for any children who are frightened by the slightly odd facial expressions in our photos!

26 July 2010

Labour keeps free swimming over summer holidays despite Tory-Lib cuts

Great news that children will still be able to swim for free in Southwark despite Government cuts. In even better news this will be at no extra cost to the council and council tax payers after the new Labour administration managed to get Fusion (our local leisure provider) to cover the costs.

Southwark Council introduced free swimming in April 2009 with funding from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Since its introduction there have been 2000 free visits each month at our local pools. Sadly, it looked like this would all come to an end when this funding was one of the things cut in June by the new Tory-Lib Dem Government.

The timing could hardly have been worse with school holiday just about to start. So it's a real testiment to the lobbying of the new Labour Council that we managed to secure this agreement with Fusion.

From September the council will introduce a 60p swims for under-16s and over-60s. It's disappointing that this isn't quite the same cheap day out families and older residents but hopefully still affordable for many.

17 July 2010

What your Peckham Rye Councillors are up to...

I thought it was about time for a general update on our activities as ward councillors for Peckham Rye. Having been a councillor for more than two months I think we can say that Victoria, Renata and I are starting to get our feet firmly under the table. From my point of view, the work seems to break down into three distinct areas.

1. Casework – These are individual issues which residents living in our ward approach us about because they need some help. Casework can be picked up at our regular surgeries, via e-mail, telephone calls and even just passing people in the street. It is can be particularly rewarding to be able to help people in this way because it’s clear when you’ve got a result. Examples of casework we’ve dealt with so far include: complaints about the housing repairs service, problems with the collection of recycling and a noise nuisance issue in the Nunhead part of our ward. Casework can often put us at odds with the council bureaucracy (which can sometimes also be the source of the problem). As a result we’ve had to learn very quickly what questions to ask and which council officers are likely to assist us promptly.

2. Longer term campaigns – The three of us have set ourselves certain priorities among the bigger issues affecting Peckham Rye Ward. These are things like the extension of the 63 bus route, the delivery of the new One O’clock Club on Peckham Rye and “Decent Homes” improvements for certain poorly served estates. This work involves a great deal of lobbying and negotiating, not just with council officers but also with councillors who are in Southwark’s Cabinet. On all of these issues we feel we are making progress, but we know we need to keep up working on all fronts.

3. Council meetings and internal council work - This involves preparation for and attendance at the various committees that we serve on at the council. In my case, I am on the Standards Committee, Nunhead and Peckham Rye Community Council, Overview and Scrutiny and Chairing the Council’s Sub-Committee on Housing and Community Safety. I enjoy parts of all of these commitments but currently I think my role on Scrutiny is the most interesting. The Housing Scrutiny Sub-Committee is able to investigate whatever aspects of the council’s housing operations we see fit. We recently took the decision to investigate performance management of the housing repairs service. I’m sure to some people this sounds like a very dry topic but it has turned out to be fascinating. At the heart of the matter is a large gap between how satisfied council officers say people are with the service (around 90% are said to be happy with it) and a huge amount of anecdotal evidence from coucillors casework which says that the service is in a very poor state. What we’ve decided to do is find out if the council is measuring its performance in this area accurately and comprehensively. Eventually after a number of meetings and a lot of investigation we hope to be able to make recommendations for action which will give a more accurate picture of the service, helping managers see where the weaknesses are. On the one-hand this sounds a very technocratic , but on the other , getting to the bottom of this issue could help improve a service which is used on a daily basis by thousands of Southwark residents.

So in very general terms that’s what I (and we) are up to at the moment. If you’ve got any issues or problems that you think we should be picking up on – contact us and let us know.

7 July 2010

Peckham Rye Park Community Wildlife Garden

I was delighted to be shown round what will be the community wildlife garden in Peckham Rye Park today. This is a project that has been driven forward by the Friends of Peckham Rye Park. Not far from the park toilets is a fenced off area that I confess I had never noticed before today. Behind the gates is a substantial area that, once transformed, will include a pond, some beehives, a summer and winter garden and a pergola. It's marked on the plan below:

Despite the Friends of Peckham Rye Park successfully bidding for several pots of money, only work on the pathway in the garden is complete. Sadly, this project was let down by the previous Lib Dem-Tory administration which failed to make as much progress as it might have done. The Friends are now determined to have one final push to get the wildlife garden completed in time for their September 2011 fete.

As well as committing some of their own funds to the project, they are also bidding for National Lottery funding. As a result of today's meeting I'm delighted that Gavin, Renata and I will be doing all that we can to support this bid.

29 June 2010

Community Council report back

Last monday Victoria, Renata and I attended our first Nunhead and Peckham Rye Community Council meeting since becoming councillors. We want this blog to be a source of local news and views, not just for people who can come along these kinds of meetings, but also for those who can't. In that spirit, this post is a summary of the decisions and issues which were discussed at the meeting

Victoria was chairing the meeting for the first time and with a packed agenda she had her work cut out. After the introductions and other formalities we moved onto the community safety update from our local police team. The police informed us that in recent weeks they had been concentrating their efforts a small number of individuals in the Peckham Rye/Nunhead area who were responsible for a significant proportion of local crime and anti-social behaviour. There were then several questions from the floor about other community safety concerns.

The next item on the agenda was "Introduction to Community Councils". There were many new faces at the meeting and so it was good to hear from the Southwark Neighbourhood Co-ordinator for Nunhead and Peckham Rye who explained the remit and purpose of commuity council meetings. Community Council meetings are a forum for consulting local people and provide an opportunity for residents to influence how council services are delivered. They are also the body which allow your local councillors to allocate pots of money for local projects (more of that later).

Next, everyone at the meeting broke up into ward groups and we discussed the kind of practices that make community council work well and those that don't. In my group, People liked the opportunity to discuss controversial issues and the chance to hold council officers (and councillors) to account for the decisions they make. The things people were less keen on were that sometimes meetings seemed too formal and council officers sometimes failed to provide information promised at previous meetings. These were just a few of the numerous suggestions that were made.

All of the ward groups reported back to the Community Council as a whole and the suggestions made will now be used to improve the conduct of future meetings.

Next came the Community Council Fund allocations. Before announcing which projects would recieve money from the Community Council Fund there was a presentation from the Friends of Peckham Rye Park to explain how they had spent a previous allocation of money on helping to organise the increasingly popular Peckham Rye Fete. the full list of projects funded by this round of allocations will soon be available on the Southwark Council website via the minutes. They should be available here soon.

The remainder of the meeting included a presentation on the various technicalities of recycling in Southwark (something that the Labour Administration is determined to to take a close look at in order to boost recycling), an update on Peckham Space and questions from the floor. All in all it was a very succesful meeting and we look forward to getting more done for the Nunhead and Peckham Rye area at the Community Council over the coming months and years.

19 June 2010

Community Council this Monday

Just a reminder about the Nunhead and Peckham Rye Community Council meeting taking place this Monday at 7.00pm at St Mary Magdalene Primary School, 48 Brayard's Road, London, SE15 3RA.

To see the meeting agenda click here.

Among a number of other important issues being discussed at the meeting is the latest round of allocations from the Community Council Fund . To see the list of applications for funding for local projects click here. The Community Council Fund is a pot of money which local people and projects can apply for revenue funding for events, festivals, community days, sports days and the like.

9 June 2010

Peckham Rye Common Development - Important update

Victoria met with officers from Southwark Council's Park's Team last Friday to talk about the children's facilities planned for Peckham Rye Common. Readers may be aware that the council has £100,000 to spend on a new natural water play area next to the One O'clock Club. Parks officers are already consulting local children about what they want, with a view to start constructing the new play area in the early autumn of this year.

The One O'clock Club on Peckham Rye Common is also due to be rebuilt. The previous Labour Councillors for Peckham Rye had, through the community council and over a number of years, allocated £200,000 of "cleaner, greener safer" money towards the rebuild. Sadly, this is well short of the £400,000-£500,000 that is really needed to deliver an adequate, new One O'clock club. The previous Lib Dem-Tory council had failed to allocate any further funding and there was a real risk that this project would continue to be delayed.

However, a bidding process is currently underway which may deliver the necessary further funding. A bid has been submitted to a larger Sure Start budget which had already been allocated to Southwark Council by central government. In the next few weeks we'll be doing all we can to ensure this bid is succesful. If it is, and if the proposals get through the appropriate planning processes, the new build could start in March 2011. If not, we'll keep fighting until we deliver on our promise to get this long overdue development built.

Watch this space for further updates.

6 June 2010

World Cup Football and Shakespeare at the Cafe on the Rye

Football fans can watch all the England games plus the quarter finals, semis and final at the Cafe on Peckham Rye. There will be a 7ft screen, beer and burgers. Sounds good!

Luckily there isn't a game on Sunday 4 July when the Festival Players Theatre Company will be doing an outdoor performing of The Tempest at 7.30pm.

Tickets are £12.50 / £9.00 concessions and you can purchase tickets at the cafe or by ringing 02086939431. The cafe will be barbequing burgers and will be open for drinks. You'll need to bring along something to sit on.

2 June 2010

A day in the life of a Peckham Rye councillor...

As a new councillor I'm just about starting to get into a routine of council work and meetings and my ongoing life working at South Bank university and as a Peckham Rye resident.

I've just got back from a Community Council planning meeting and similar meeting seem to take place about once a week - sometimes it will be council assembly other times a scrutiny committee (I'm on Health and Social Care) or tomorrow morning I've got a meeting with officers to agree the agenda for the Community Council meeting taking place on 21 June.

There is also a whole host of training sessions for new councillors to attend from planning to IT to a chance to meet the Corporate Management Team (all these have been done in the last few days).

I've also submitted a whole host of queries to officers in the last week on primary school places, Ivydale traffic calming, a variety of planning and licensing applications and I'm finally getting to grips with who I should contact about what.

I'm also delighted that we will get a briefing from officers on the Peckham Rye Park and Common development in the next week.

Finally we are making plans for 'mobile' surgeries in Peckham Rye ward (more on this to follow...) but in the mean time you can pop along to the Rye Hill Park Tenants' Hall this Friday from 6.30pm until 7.30pm to speak to your councillors about any concerns or problems you have.

31 May 2010

Sign up for the "Peckham Rye News" Facebook Group

We've set up a new Facebook Group which will make it easier for people living in Peckham Rye to find out about local news and keep tabs on their councillors.

You can join the group here by just clicking on "join group" at the top of the page.

Among other things, joining the group will allow you to find out the latest on the campaigns to:
- Extend the 63 bus to Honor Oak Park Station
- Deliver new facilities on Peckham Rye Park and Common
- Sorting out primary school place allocations in our area

Joining the group will also make it easier for you to let us know your views on local issues and to join in dicussions with other residents of Peckham Rye. Join now to make sure you're kept up to date with everything Peckham Rye.

28 May 2010

Community Council has a new Chair (and they live local!)

Your community council is a gathering of local people and councillors which takes place every six weeks somewhere in the area. Nunhead and Peckham Rye Community Council can refer issues to the council's cabinet and can allocate money from several pots of money to local projects. It is also a useful way of holding council officers to account on vrious issues including planning, licensing and regeneration.

Each year the Southwark council assembly elects the chairs of each of the community councils. And this year, I'm pleased to announce, one of your Peckham Rye Labour Councillors, Victoria, is taking the hot-seat. The chair has a crucial role to play in ensuring that local people are able to say what changes they want to see in this area and turning that into a plan which can be delivered. To make the community council more than a talking shop, a strong chair needs to ensure officers and cabinet members listen to what the commuity in Nunhead and Peckham Rye is saying. Last year Lane Ward councillor Mark Glover made a great job of being chair, and now it's Victoria's turn.

If you can make it, do come along to the next community council meeting on Monday 21st June at 7pm. The venue will be announced shortly.

21 May 2010

Our local police team...

Last night I went along to our local safer neighbourhood panel meeting. These meetings are held so that people living in Peckham Rye can get a chance to speak to our local police team, and provide them with feedback on issues relating to crime and anti-social behaviour. I was extremely impressed with the detailed knowledge that the local police team has built up from patrolling Peckham Rye on a daily basis. On issues as varied as burglary, anti-social behaviour on buses and dangerous dogs the police team were able to give us a detailed picture of the issues in Peckham Rye and how they have been dealing with them.

One issue which I had been asked to bring up at the meeting by several residents was that of dangerous dogs. On the doorstep during the election campaign it became clear that a number of parents with young children were concerned about the aggressive behaviour of dogs which were not on leads around the Park and Common. The local police team have already been taking action to deal with this issue which has lead to two people receiving convictions and having their dogs confiscated.

The advice that the police asked me to pass on was that in order to take action on this issue, the first thing they need is specific information. If you experience an incident in which you feel that a dog is not being kept under control and has the potential to endanger the public, make sure you keep a desciption of the dog and the owner, and the nature of the dog’s behaviour. The police were very clear that people simply walking their dog without a lead is not (and shouldn’t be) an offence. It is information about the aggressive behaviour of a dog and its potential to injure people which will help them to take action. The dog does not have to actually hurt someone before they can intervene, but they do need to know if it has been exhibiting behaviour that leads them to believe that it may be a danger to people. If you want to get in touch with them, take a look at the link above.

Of course, it goes without saying that if you should actually see an offence taking place your first action should be to dial 999. It's also important to say that although there obviously are some incidents with dogs with have caused concern, the vast majority of dog owners in Peckham Rye are behaving in a responsible way. It's the irresponsible few which the local police need information on.

Victoria, Renata and I are looking forward to working closely with the local police team, supporting their work where we can and providing feedback to them from local residents that we speak to.

18 May 2010

Council Assembly tomorrow - Labour formally take charge in Southwark

Tomorrow evening is Southwark Council Assembly AGM and will see Labour formally take control of the council. I'm proud that after 8 years of the failed Lib Dem and Tory rule the results of the 6 May elections saw residents decisively put Labour in charge.

The meeting will see Labour's leader Cllr Peter John appointed as Southwark council leader and the AGM will also appoint the new 'Cabinet'. Labour has opted to rename the 'council executive' to make it clear this is the political group running the council rather than a group of bureaucrats. I think this is a good move.

The meeting will go on the agree Southwark's new Mayor, establish scrutiny committees and also establish Community Councils. I'm delighted that Nunhead and Peckham Rye Community Council will continue to be made up of nine Labour councillors but even more delighted that with a Labour council we will get the input and attention needed from the leadership of the council. This is going to be a real opportunity to drive change in our area.

Members of the public are very welcome to attend Council Assembly - simply arrive at Peckham Town Hall by 7.00pm. As many residents will know, the Lib Dems and Tories reduced the number of Council Assembly meetings and also ended the tradition of members of the public being able to bring deputations to meetings. They were determined to keep politicians locked away in the Town Hall and ensure that the public had a limited say in things. I do hope that Labour can begin to reverse this and boost transparency and public engagement in Southwark.

14 May 2010

Week one as Peckham Rye Councillors

Councillor allowances to be cut

Our first week as councillors has been a mix of developing some of the right links with inside the council bureaucracy and getting to grips with various issues that people need our help with.

On Monday we attended the AGM of Southwark Labour Group where we elected several of the positions within the Group (including the Leader and Deputy Leader) and made some important early decisions to show how this administration is going to differ to the last. Labour councillors delivered on our first manifesto pledge by agreeing a 10% cut in the Special Responsibility Allowances for councillors. Victoria, Renata and I are all proud that we are taking a lead on this issue.

On Tuesday we went into the council offices on Tooley Street to officially sign up as councillors and get our e-mail and contact details sorted out.

Casework is now coming in thick and fast. All three of us are having to learn quickly who to contact and how to get the best results for residents. Luckily we have the assistance of one or two more experienced Labour councillors to help out when we need some advice. We've also been signing up to the various training sessions that all new councillors need to go on: Southwark IT systems, safeguarding, casework management etc etc.

But as we said time and again during the campaign, we're determined not be couped up in the Town Hall as councillors. As often as possible we want to be out talking to people living in our area and finding out how we can improve things. Tomorrow we're going to Nunhead Cemetery open day (on the boundary of our ward). Nunhead Cemetery is an fascinating place, and we want to show our support for the work of the Friends of Nunhead Cemetery.

13 May 2010

One O'clock Club update

Council officers involved in the applications for funding to deliver the new One O'Clock club on Peckham Rye have sent round an e-mail to people who've signed up to their mailing list. The email says that officers have just heard that the application for further funding has been given first round approval.

The second and final funding meeting is due to take place at the end of May. Apparently there have been a high number of applications for this funding and so officers are unsure of how successful the application will be.

This is a small step in the right direction. We now wait with bated breath for the outcome of the application...

11 May 2010

Contact details and surgery details

We're slowly but surely getting the basics in place as the new councillors for Peckham Rye. The first step is to let you know how you can get in touch with us if there is anything you think we might be able to help you with.

Our new contact details are as follows:

Gavin Edwards
Tel: 07956624529
e-mail: gavin.edwards@southwark.gov.uk

Renata Hamvas
Tel: TBC
e-mail: renata.hamvas@southwark.gov.uk

Victoria Mills
Tel: 07535932318
e-mail: victoria.mills@southwark.gov.uk

Our surgeries will take place on:

First Friday of every month, 6.30pm to 7.30pm at the Rye Hill Park Tenants and Residents Association, Rye Hill Estate, 191 Peckham Rye.

Second Saturday of every month, 10.00am to 11.00am, East Dulwich Community Centre, 46-64 Darrell Road, East Dulwich

Fourth Thursday of every month, 6.30pm to 7.30pm, Nunhead Library, Gordon Road.

We'll also be carrying out mobile surgeries (when we come to your street) over the coming months. Further details of these will follow shortly.

8 May 2010

Thank you

In case you haven't already heard the news, we're pleased to tell you that the people of Peckham Rye elected three Labour councillors on Thursday.

Victoria, Renata and I are incredibly grateful for the trust that's been placed in us. We know the real hard work starts now and we promise that we won't let you down. On a night of dramatic election results in Southwark, we are also delighted that Labour now has enough councillors to run the council.

Victoria, Renata and I would also like to thank the candidates from the other political parties in Peckham Rye for what was a very hard fought but honest campaign, giving people living in our area a real choice of strong candidates for their councillors. The overall turnout in our ward was high (67%). It was very pleasing to see so many people coming out to make their voice heard in the election.

If you'd like to see the full results you can see them here.

If you'd like to listen to a recording of the results being announced, click here.

Once again, thanks for your support. Please keep coming back the blog for more news on our activities as councillors for Peckham Rye.

4 May 2010

5 reasons to vote for Peckham Rye Labour on Thursday

1. We live here. Labour is the only one of the main parties standing candidates who actually live in Peckham Rye. We'll be around to pick up on local issues and campaign for our area after the elections, not hiding away in the town hall.

2. We'll extend the 63 Bus to Honor Oak Park. Having three councillors who have consistently campaigned for the extension of the 63 bus to Honor Oak Park will put more pressure on Boris and TfL. Also, if we have a Labour controlled council, Southwark can become an active supporter of the campaign, instead of sitting on its hands as it has done under the Lib Dems and Tories.

3. It will help improve Southwark Council services. If Labour gets enough councillors elected on Thursday, we can end the Lib Dem-Tory Alliance which has made Southwark officially the worst council in inner London. Southwark has the 3rd worst council tax collection in England and the 6th worst recycling rate. Labour has a positive plan to improve services and get Southwark back on track.

4. We'll deliver for Peckham Rye Park and Common: We have secured a commitment in Southwark Labour's Manifesto to "turn the plans for a new One O'Clock Club and changing rooms and pitches for local teams into a reality." This means that if the residents of Southwark elect a Labour council, we guarantee that this too-long-delayed redevelopment with actually be delivered

5. We're top quality candidates! Slightly big-headed I know, but the day before an election is no time for false modesty. We believe that the three Peckham Rye Labour candidates are simply the best people to do the job. Many local people have told us how impressed they are with our knowledge of local issues and our tireless campaigning. We've taken the time to learn the detail, and we have the abilities needed to be excellent councillors.

What more is there to say? For a better Peckham Rye, please cast all three votes for your three local Labour candidates on Thursday.