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.