19 December 2011

Labour delivers a London Living Wage for Southwark

Great news for anyone interested in the campaign to end poverty wages in London. Southwark's Labour run council has given a cast iron, fully funded commitment to pay all staff providing services on behalf of Southwark Council a London Living Wage. The pledge came in recently published Southwark Cabinet documents which can be found here (page 24).

The London Living Wage (LLW) was introduced in 2005 by Mayor Ken Livingstone to provide a voluntary marker, above the National Minimum Wage, to stop working Londoners from falling into poverty.  The level is set each year by the Mayor's Living Wage Unit.  The introduction of LLW followed a very long and determined campaign by numerous organisations, most notably London Citizens.

In November 2008 Southwark's Council Assembly passed a motion (with cross party support) to pay all staff the London Living Wage including, crucially, all contracted out staff.  A higher proportion of directly employed local authority staff in London are paid at or above LLW, not least because so many of the lowest paid jobs have been outsourced to private contractors.  However, despite confirming their intention to implement the plan, Southwark's previous Lib Dem lead administration did not put forward any detailed plans to actually deliver the LLW.  I don't think it would be unfair to say that they liked the idea of paying a LLW but, as on so many other issues, didn't have the political will to see it through.

Following the election of a Labour Council in May 2010 Southwark became one of a minority of councils in London to pay all its permanent employees at or above the £8.30 level of the London Living Wage.  But this was clearly not enough.  Labour Councillors felt strongly that no member of staff delivering services to people in our borough deserved to be paid poverty wages.  That meant fulfilling the pledge to deliver on a Living Wage for contracted out staff.

The recently published papers state "Cabinet members have now asked that officers plan to bring all contracted staff up to this level over the next three years. Future new contract procurements will
contain the requirement for contractors to pay employees the LLW."  It goes on:

"Additional resources to support low paid staff arising from commitment made by council  assembly in setting three year budget in February 2011 (£375k),a new commitment to  support agency worker directive requiring parity pay rates with Council staff and the  requirement for external contractors to pay London living wage in contracts to be let or re-let  by the council in the future (£1m). The commitment to london living wage in contracts will require annual increases in budget provision over the period to 2015/16"

There are other councils in London paying LLW on their contracts (Islington and Lewisham) but Southwark is the first to have plans ensure everyone providing services gets paid at this minimum level.  Apart from the obvious moral case for paying people a wage which keeps them above the poverty line, there is also a strong argument that paying these wages will boost service quality, particularly in areas such as care for the elderly and vulnerable.  I strongly believe Southwark Council taxpayers will get better value for money as a result of this decision.

A huge amount of credit should go to Southwark's Labour Cabinet members for seeing through this commitment.  In particular, Cabinet Member for Finance Richard Livingstone and the Leader of the Council  Peter John have ensured this important issue was given sufficient priority.  This is a significant step forward for the campaign against in-work poverty and I hope it will act as a spur to other London Council's to do the same thing.

11 December 2011

Report from One O'Clock Club Meeting

Below is the update from Renata on the One O'Clock Club Meeting posted by Renata on the East Dulwich Forum:

"Thank you to the parents who attended this morning's meeting at the One O clock Club.

To those of you unable to attend, local Councillors, myself (Peckham Rye) and Nick Dolezal (Lane) attended. Cabinet members Cllrs Catherine McDonald and Veronica Ward came and Catherine opened the meeting, talking about the severity of cuts to Southwark's budget from central goverment both to our core grant and to Child specific service funding. Council Officer Mike Smith explained where we currently are in terms of the club's future.

Southwark Children's Services will continue to operate the Club on its current stay and play basis until the current building is replaced. The One O Clock club uses a former POW hut, which is not fit for purpose and Capital has been allocated to build a new, for purpose facility for children's activities. Discussions are currently underway with Ivydale Children's Centre re the responsibility of managing the building. This has not yet been finalised, but if it is run by the Children's Centre, a much wider range of child-centred activities will be encouraged so that the new building is better utilised than the present one. Stay and play activities (ie One O Clock Club) would form part of the package. The council are also interested to hear from alternative providers such as community groups. One person has approached me and I forwarded their expression of interest in the Club."

7 December 2011

Reminder - One O'Clock Club Meeting tomorrow

There is a meeting at 9.30am at the One O'clock club tomorrow morning (Thursday 8th December) at 9.3Oam to discuss the future of the Club. Council Officers will be attending. This meeting follows on from the informal meeting which Renata held at the One O'Clock Club a couple of weeks ago.

Victoria, Renata and I have been working with council officers and Southwark Labour Cabinet members over the last year to find long-term funding for the Club. This meeting will, among other things, provide an update on that work. Funding for One O'Clock Clubs was cut following the Coalition Government's decision to cut Southwark council's funding by a third over four years.

29 November 2011

Victoria on Nunhead Radio Show

Victoria was a guest on the radio show of Nunhead resident Lewis Schaffer tonight. The show, was broadcast at 10.30pm on Monday night on Resonance FM. It covered such varied topics as a new name for south Nunhead, World War II, Margaret Thatcher's legacy, Athenlay FC and Bredinghurst School.

You can listen to the show here.

Gentle Warning: Lewis is a straight-talking comedian, the show is broadcast at 10.30pm. The humour and language is not for kids or the very easily offended.

12 November 2011

Cheltenham and Ivydale Road Resurfacing

Below is the text of a letter from the council that residents of Cheltenham and Ivydale Roads should have received today. Victoria, Renata and I are still working with officers to sort out the issues with the junction with Merttins Road - a more gentle profile on the raised junction to reduce vibration may be an option

"Dear Sir / Madam

Re: Advance notification of essential highway maintenance work
Ivydale Road / Cheltenham Road – carriageway resurfacing

As you may already be aware sections of Ivydale Road and Cheltenham Road carriageway are failing. The Council intends to carry out a full reconstruction of these stretches of carriageway. As part of these works the road cushions and raised humps within the pinch point will be removed.

The works are programmed to commence on Monday, 15 November 2011 and will be completed January 2012 subject to good weather and unforeseen events. The road works will be carried out between 08:00 hours and 15:30 hours Monday to Friday and on Saturdays if necessary.

We shall endeavour to keep any inconvenience to a minimum and would like to assure you of our best attention at all times. Your co-operation with regard to parking your vehicle elsewhere during the course of the work would be greatly appreciated. This will enable the work to progress as quickly as possible with minimum disruption to you and all concerned. The ‘No Waiting’ cones and signs will indicate the extent of parking restrictions. As the highway authority we may exercise our powers to relocate obstructing vehicles at the owners risk and cost.

Note: for the Duration of phase 1works (Cheltenham Road) London buses will be on diversion via Stuart Road, Borland Road and the diversion ends at Merttins Road.

F M Conway, our partnering contractor, will undertake the works. Should you have any queries regarding the execution of the works, please do not hesitate to contact Paul Padfield at their Head Office on telephone number 020 8636 8822.

11 November 2011

One O'Clock Club Meeting

There will be a meeting to discuss the future of the Peckham Rye One O'Clock Club on Wednesday 16th November at 2.15pm. The venue will be the One O'Clock Club itself.

Councillor Renata Hamvas will be representing Peckham Rye's Labour Councillors and the Cabinet member for Children's Services, Cllr Catherine McDonald will also be attending.

Victoria, Renata and I are focusing our efforts on making sure the One O'Clock club can stay open as a valued service for local parents. For a bit more background on the issues prompting the meeting, see this recent post.

30 October 2011

Friern Road and Peckham Rye Junction - Experimental Road Closure

The Council is intending to carry out a trial closure of Friern Road at the junction with Peckham Rye.

The trial is planned to last up to 12 months and comes as a result of concerns about excessive traffic on the north eastern section of Friern Road. These concerns have grown for a number of local resident following the opening of the Harris Boys Academy on Peckham Rye.

Traffic surveys undertaken on Friern Road, near the junction with Peckham Rye have shown a significant increase in traffic volume during peak periods. There is also concern about the higher than expected number of large vehicles using the route, including some articulated vehicles that are likely to have difficulty negotiating these roads. The closure will not include cycles and emergency vehicles and access to the road will be maintained via Barry Road.

There is currently a consultation being carried out on the experimental closure. The consultation form has been posted through the doors of homes on a number of surrounding roads. You can also download the form here. The consultation closes on the 18th November.

24 October 2011

One O’Clock Club Update

As some readers will know, there is a great deal of community interest in the future of Peckham Rye One O’Clock Club, partly as a result of the budget cuts which have hit Southwark Council and also as a result of rumours that the club was soon to close.

We’re not sure where the rumours have come from and we remain committed to keeping the club open. We’re now at the stage where we want to set up a community ‘steering group’ for the club to make sure that happens.

The cuts mean that the staffing budget for One O’Clock Clubs across the borough will be cut from next April – the budget to cover maintenance and running costs (heating, lighting etc.) remains. Two One O’Clock Clubs are pretty certain to be run by local children’s centres – i.e. they will take on the club and run the club without charging the council as they will benefit from the use of buildings at other times. We had hoped that this might be a possibility for Peckham Rye and negotiations continue with Rye Oak. However, at the moment there is no certainty that this will happen.

We have therefore been investigating exactly what responsibility the community would take on if a group of people came forward to run the club. On the face of it, it might be quite a big ask as parents would need to organise the club being open, cleaning it up at the end of the day and possibly managing bookings for other users. However, it looks like there would be no cost to community group and no charging for people who use the club. The council will offer some help in getting things set up and also investigate whether the council’s parks team whether they might be able to help out with a few things.

As there is money to rebuild the club, it’s also possible that the rebuild could be timed for April which would allow the community a little more time to get organised before it opened with a new club.

Lots of questions remain and we are a little frustrated that we still have some unanswered questions after having waited so long. However, we’re hoping we’ll have more answers very soon and would also like to hear what interest there is from the local community to help run the club. So we’re suggesting a meeting sometime in the week beginning 7 or 14 Nov. We need to check availability of a few council officers but it would be good to hear any thoughts about what time during the day or evening would be best for people to meet. We’ll then post a finalised date here asap.

13 October 2011

Lib Dems and the truth - a marriage of convenience?

Leave aside for a moment the betrayals, lies and right wing politics of the coalition. If you really want to know what Lib Dems are like, just take a very close look at the way they behave in your borough, Southwark. Sometimes I am left breathless at their behaviour. They will do and say simply anything if they think they can get a vote out of it.

Let me give you a recent example. In the neighbouring ward to our own is a Lib Dem Councillor, James Barber. He has recently written a blog post about what he calls Southwark Labour's "Wedding rip-off".

He is scathing in his criticism of the council for putting up wedding and civil parntership fees by 27%. He goes on: "Labour Southwark are penalising people for falling in love. Rather than saying 'I do' couples will be saying 'I’m sorry but I can’t afford it.' It is a heartless move from a mean spirited Labour Council ..."

First things first. It's clear to anyone who's been awake for the last 18 months, that the council is being forced to make savings it would never otherwise have made simply because of the precipitous, growth sapping cuts of a Lib Dem-Tory coalition Government. They, for example chose to cut funding far more harshly for boroughs like Southwark than for leafy Tory areas like Richmond.

But what is even more incredible about Cllr Barber's position is that the Liberal Democrats (who controlled Southwark Council up until May 2010) had an IDENTICAL policy when they were in power. Let me prove it to you.

Here is the Labour report and decision on Marriage Fees and Charges which Barber is referring to. As you will see Paragraph 6 of the report agrees to increase Fees and Charges for marriages and civil partnerships in line with the Medium Term Resource Strategy for 2010/11 -12/13. It states: "The (MTRS) 2010/11 – 2012/13 has been referenced as part of this review. In particular the report acknowledges that Fees and Charges should be set at a level, at a minimum, that is equal to the most appropriate London average except where this conflicts with council policy, would lead to adverse revenue implications or would impact adversely on vulnerable clients."

So far, so good. But now take a look at Southwark Lib Dems own Medium Term Resources Strategy 2009/10 to 2011/12 “Shaping Southwark Together”. This agrees: "To generally increase discretionary fees and charges by 2% above the current rate of inflation for the type of service being provided with the objective of ensuring Southwark’s fees and charges are at a minimum at least equal to most appropriate London average (e.g. inner London, family, groupings etc)..."

So, even without £34m of cuts the Lib Dems intended to increase marriage fees in line with other inner london boroughs which is precisely what Labour is having to do. I could give you many, many other examples of this kind of behaviour. It's the kind of dirty politics which drags everyone down with it.

5 October 2011

1 October 2011

Chart Breakthrough!

Exciting news for Peckham Rye Labour. This blog has has broken through into the national charts (err..sort of)

The Peckham Rye Labour Blog made it to the heady heights of number 28 in the top 35 Councillor Blogs in the country according to the Total Politics Website: http://www.totalpolitics.com/blog/258497/top-35-councillor-blogs-2011.thtml

Despite the superstardom that will inevitably follow, we promise not to let it go to our heads!

22 September 2011

Peckham and Nunhead Area Action Plan Meeting

Just a quick report from our very successful Community Council meeting on Monday 19 September. Over 90 people attended to have their say on the Peckham and Nunhead Area Action Plan (PNAAP) which the Council has been consulting on over the summer.

The plan will provide a planning framework that will help bring long lasting improvements to Peckham and Nunhead over the next 15 years. It will change the planning policies for Peckham and Nunhead to make sure that we get the right development needed to support a healthy, safe and prosperous community.

There are a number of stages in preparing the area action plan. The meeting on Monday was to help to Council develop some 'preferred options'. These will then come back to the community, possibly in early 2012.

The current consultation period will end on Friday 30 September 2011. So if you didn't attend on Monday and would still like to have your say and find out a bit more about what's going on, you can do so by clicking here.

2 September 2011

Peckham Rye Fete

Just in case anyone needed reminding: Tomorrow (Saturday) is the Peckham Rye Fete organised by the Friends of Peckham Rye. This is always a fantastic event with lots to see and do for all ages.
More details can be found here: http://www.foprp.org.uk/#/news/4543697140

A huge amount of work goes into organising this event from lots of local people.

Earlier this year, your three Labour Councillors for Peckham Rye allocated funding assistance to the 2011 Fete. Just thought I'd mention that. Subtle like!

20 August 2011

Southwark Labour - working hard for young people

There has understandably been lots of concern in recent weeks about the levels of help and support for young people in Southwark. I thought I’d post some information about what the Labour Council is doing in this area.

First things first, Southwark’s Labour Council believes in investing in our young people. That's why, despite receiving the worst government budget cuts in London, we are:

- keeping all our Children's Centres open and funded at last year's levels

- bringing in universal Free Healthy School Meals for our primary school pupils

- helping tackle child obesity and putting money in parents' pockets just when they need it most

- creating a new Youth Fund - investing £3m in helping young people stay on in education and get a foot on the jobs ladder.

There are three strands to the youth fund: support for further education, support for tuition fees for higher education and employment opportunities. The higher education tuition fees strand was launched this week. The other strands will launch in the next few weeks and months. You can find out a bit more about the youth fund in this Guardian article. Southwark Labour’s work for young people is led by Catherine McDonald.

The council is seeking to counteract the Lib Dem-Tory government’s policies which are moving in the opposite direction. In my view they have done more to close off opportunities to young people from deprived areas than any government in living memory. They have:

- scrapped the Education Maintenance Allowance (and replaced it with a scheme worth a third of the value and that only guarantees funding to 12,000 pupils across the country)

- hiked tuition fees to an average £8161

- allowed youth unemployment reach record highs.

Southwark Labour will keep young people at the top of the council's agenda so that they can make the most of their talents and fulfil their ambitions – it’s good for them and it’s good for our future economy.

I would encourage any interested residents to apply for the Youth Fund by clicking here.

9 August 2011


Victoria, Renata and I would just like to add our voice to the many others calling for calm after the recent outbreaks of rioting and criminal behaviour. We welcome the decision to put more police on our streets, as reassuring local residents and shop owners at this time has to be everyone's top priority.

The police have asked that people stay home tonight and encourage their children stay home as any disturbances will be easier to police as there will be less by-standers. If you encounter any disturbances yourself they have asked that these are reported to them by phoning 101. Obviously, if you consider the matter to be an emergency, dial 999.

We're very proud that the council street cleaners, accompanied by local volunteers, made sure that our street were cleaned first thing this morning. We hope to see our community come together in the same way over the coming days and weeks, and not spoiled my a minority intent on violence and destruction.

1 August 2011

Leaseholder charging review

Below is a news release from Southwark Labour which gives some details of a forthcoming review of leaseholder charging in the borough. My involvement comes from chairing the Council's Housing Scrutiny Committee. Leaseholders living in Peckham Rye may want to keep an eye on this. I'll post further updates as the review progresses.

The original release is here (with a pic of me looking even more grumpy than usual!)

Leaseholder charging review announced

The Labour Chair of Southwark’s Housing Scrutiny Committee has announced a review of leaseholder charging in the borough. The review will look into all aspects of leaseholder service charges - including customer service to leaseholders and the accuracy of billing arrangements – as well as charges for communal repairs and major works.

The review will also look at the progress being made in implementing the recommendations of the Grant Thornton audit of leaseholder service charges that was published in September 2009.

Southwark Council has responsibility for over 12,000 leasehold properties, 3,200 freehold properties and 40,000 tenants. Average leaseholder service charges in Southwark are: £1,130. Labour Councillors believe that efficiently administered leaseholder charges will benefit tenants and leaseholders alike – ensuring that money is not wasted on tribunal and court disputes.

Councillor Gavin Edwards, Chair of Southwark's Housing Scrutiny Committee said:

"We want to take a close look at leaseholder charging to see if improvements can be made. It’s in everybody’s interests for Southwark to have an accurate, fair and transparent system of charging leaseholders for the services they receive.

"Last year we showed what progress could be made when scrutiny and the cabinet work together to improve the repairs service. This year I hope we can do the same with leaseholder charging.”

The review comes at a key time for leaseholders – as Southwark’s Labour Cabinet announced last month its huge 5 year housing investment programme, leaseholders will be eager to know that any charges they incur through improvements to estates are clearly explained and accurate first-time.

Councillor Ian Wingfield, Southwark Labour’s Cabinet Member for Housing said:

“I welcome this review whole-heartedly. We have a responsibility to get these charges right and any recommendations which help us to improve our leaseholder operations must be seen as a good thing.”

“We will not be defensive. Unlike the last Lib Dem administration we will work with scrutiny to make sure that Housing Services in Southwark work for residents, not against them.”

30 July 2011

Peckham Rye Playground Opens

Gavin and I were delighted to open the new playground on Peckham Rye this morning - and to test out the equipment! The opening marked a long year of campaigning to get the playground built after many years of delay.

As locals and regular visitors to the Rye may know, the new playground has been in the pipeline for some time. To make matters worse, back in August 2010, the Tory-Lib Dem Government ‘clawed back’ most of the funding for the project, leaving its future in doubt. Following a lot of hard work we are really pleased that in the end we secured the funding and that the work has been completed - just in time for the school holidays.

During the election last year we made a firm promise that we would get the playground sorted-out. Today has been brilliant because, despite Government cuts we have kept our promise and local children have another great area for play.

23 July 2011

Cemetery Space in Southwark - Let the council hear your view

Just a quick post to encourage as many interested people as possible to contribute to the current consultation on the future of Southwark Cemeteries. We know that there has been concern locally about the future of Honor Oak Recreation Ground, and so it is important that as many people as possible make their voices heard.

On 19th April this year Southwark's Labour Cabinet responded to local concern and stated that using part of Honor Oak Recreation Ground for cemetery space is the least favoured option. You can let the council hear your views directly by clicking on the link below. The consultation goes on until the end of September.


15 July 2011

Nunhead Cemetery Film on 9th September

A date for the diaries of any film buffs in Peckham Rye is Friday 9th September. This is the date of the this year's Nunhead Cemetery Free Film. Last year, Victoria, Renata and I went to see "A Matter of Life And Death" there, and it was FANTASTIC! Great atmosphere and a great film.

Details of the 9th September event can be found here. If you are coming along, I recommend you arrive early because there were some very long queues last year.

More details of other events included in the Nunhead Free Film Festival can be found here.

29 June 2011

Playground campaign success!

After a long campaign to build a new playground on Peckham Rye, we are delighted that the new playground is about to open.

As regular visitors to the Rye will know, the new playground has been in the pipeline for some time. However, back in August 2010, the Tory-Lib Dem Government ‘clawed back’ most of the funding for the project, leaving its future in doubt.

Following a lot of campaigning, it's great news that the funding needed to allow the new playground to go ahead has been secured.

The new playground will be more 'natural' than the old playground and it will be similar to the new Goose Green playground. It will also feature ‘water play’.
Your Councillors will be opening the playground in July – just in time for the school holidays.

During the election last year we made a promise to local residents that we would get the delayed playground sorted-out. We are delighted that despite Government cuts we have kept our promise.

We are also pleased that the bid for better changing rooms for local football teams has passed the first stage of the ‘Olympic Legacy Fund’ bidding process. We hope that there will be more investment on the Rye soon.

26 June 2011

Athenlay FC prize-giving

From Renata:

Yesterday morning, even though a strong wind was blowing, many young players, families, and the Sunderland FC player, Anton Ferdinand turned out at Athenlay Road Football ground for their annual prize-giving and fun day.

The best footballers and those who had worked the hardest from each age group/team were presented with a trophy by the Deputy Mayor and Nunhead Councillor, Cllr Althea Smith. This was followed by a BBQ, beat the goalie and other games. The sun came out and I had the chance to talk to local residents and young footballers including new recruit Eseosa, aged 5.

25 June 2011

A map of our first year's work

We've not long passed the one year mark as Councillors for Peckham Rye Ward. It's been a challenging and enjoyable first year for Victoria, Renata and I. To give local residents a better idea of the kind of issues we've been working on, we've produced a map showing some of the places and people we've been helping. Click on the image above to see the full map.

5 June 2011

Exhibition at Peckham Rye Station

On Tuesday 7th June there will be an exhibition in ticket hall of Peckham Rye Station on improvements on improvements to the station. The exhibition is from 4.30pm - 6.30pm. It will include information on:

* Improvements to platform facilities - displays and reports on planned works, & discussion with Southern Rail project managers, see details below.

* Restoration of the Old Waiting Room & other historic parts of the station - latest news from Peckham Vision and the Peckham Society.

* Rail services to central London - latest news from SRUG on the ending of the South London Line, arrival of the East London Line, and the campaign to improve links into central London

For anyone that is interested in this it is a great chance find out more and give your views. With thanks to Peckham Residents Network for the information.

15 May 2011

Have your say - Met Police's 'Public Access Review'

I wanted to highlight with residents the chance to have your say on the Met Police's 'Public Access Review'.

Firstly, if you are wondering what 'Public Access Review' means, this is essentially a review into the way you can contact the police and access police services. This could mean on the telephone, going to a police station, meeting your safer neighbourhood team (SNT) or fixing an appointment.

The focus of the review is non-emergency access - in an emergency you should just ring 999 and you should still expect the police to come to you. There are no proposals to change this.

The review has come about because of pressure on police budgets but also because the police think that a more personal service is possible and would be better for many people. The latter is probably true. At Community Council last week it was clear that very few people know about how they could fix appointments to meet with their local SNTs and many felt if they could this it would be better than queuing at a police station.

Part of the review involved a discussion with Supertintendent Cheryl Burden who attended Community Council last week to hear views. She is attending many community groups and meetings in the coming month so if you are involved in a local group that would like to speak to her please do contact me and I can put you in touch.

Another part of the review is an anonymous online survey. You can complete the survey here. The deadline is 27 May 2011.

No decisions or proposals about changing our current services have been made yet - at the moment this is really 'pre-consultation, consultation'. The results of the surveys and the meetings will feed into any proposals. We will then have the chance to be consulted on these.

As background information, we have six police station service desks in Southwark - Peckham, Walworth and Borough are all 24 hour stations, East Dulwich is open 6.00am - 10.00pm every day, Camberwell is open 1.00pm - 5.00pm on Wednesdays and Fridays and Rotherhithe is open 7.00am - 9.30pm every day. There are also 22 SNTs, each one consisting of a Sergeant and two PCs who are dedicated to their local area. They are not an emergency response team but they are committed to responding to calls or emails within 24 hours.

6 May 2011

Lane Ward By-Election Result

Some Peckham Rye residents will be aware that there was a by-election yesterday in one of our neighbouring wards. The results were as follows:

Alex Berhanu, Liberal Democrat 471
Rowenna Davis, Labour Party, 2,670
Simon Fox, Tory, 423
Brian Kelly, TUSC, 107
Anna Plodowski, Green, 472

Many congratulations to Rowenna who will be a fantastic councillor for the Lane.

29 April 2011

Rye Hill Park Party

Just a quick post to say well done to everyone involved in organising today's Royal Wedding Party at the Tenant's Hall at the Rye Hill Park Estate.

Victoria and I popped down and it was clear people were having a fantastic time - particularly the kids. There was a bouncy castle, face-painting and a barbecue to keep everyone amused.

The committee members at Rye Hill Park TRA have been doing some fantastic work over the last year to boost the community atmosphere on the estate. They have put on a number of other events in addition to today's party. Today I spoke with the TRA secretary, Angela, who told me that the "Pull the Other One" comedy nights have now moved permanently to the Rye Hill Park Tenant's Hall. This is great news for the TRA because it will raise funds that can then be re-invested in developing other activities.

24 April 2011

Local Community Council meeting, 11th May 2011

Just a quick note to say that the next Nunhead and Peckham Rye Community Council meeting will now take place on 11th May (instead of 27th April). The meeting has been moved because there is currently a by-election taking place in Lane Ward and election rules mean that the meeting needed to be shifted. The meeting will take place at John Donne Primary School, Woods Road, London SE15 2SW and you can see further details here.

The agenda is packed and it promises to be a very interesting meeting. On the agenda is:

- Cllr Barrie Hargrove, Southwark Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport to answer questions on Environmental issues.

- An update from the Council's Environment Enforcement Team on issues such as waste collection and keeping streets clean.

- Superintendent Cheryl Burden is going to be taking the community safety slot (rather than the usual updates from our local police teams)

- More information about community council fund.

- A presentation on the application to turn the centre of Peckham into a conservation area

15 April 2011

Peckham Rye - new playground UPDATE

Back in February I posted an update on the long-awaited new playground on Peckham Rye next to the cafe and One O'Clock Club.

I had hoped that work was about to start and that the new playground would be ready by the end of March. However, as regular visitors to the Rye will know, the new playground has not yet materialised. The planning application was a little delayed and there have been problems trying to get a contractor on site. I have been promised that work has now started and that the playground will completed over the next six weeks.

The delay is frustrating and the timing of the works during the school holidays isn't ideal but I am pleased that we should soon have the new playground that we promised residents during the elections last year. It's also great that we managed to secure the last bit of Southwark Council's 'playbuilder' funding, much of which has been clawed-back by the Government.

As the picture above isn't very big you can download the full details (better quality/includes pictures of various bits of play equipment) by clicking here. The idea is that the playground is more 'natural' than the current one - a bit like the new Goose Green playground.

13 April 2011

Friends of Peckham Rye Park AGM

Victoria and I went to tonight's Friends of Peckham Rye Park AGM, so I thought I'd give a quick report on the meeting.

The Chair gave a report setting out the various achievements of FOPRP over the last year, including another very successful fete and securing funding (through the council and the Lottery) for the Wildlife Garden. The treasurer's report re-iterated the success of the fete and set out FOPR financial position.

Following the election of officers, Southwark's Parks and Open Spaces Manager gave a full and frank presentation on the re-structuring in her Department. The general approach is to ensure the availability of Park's staff at busy periods (particularly on the weekend) and make sure that there was enough back-office support to ensure the smooth running of the Park. Despite overall budget cuts to the department (Southwark has been hit hard by the coalition's cuts), it is expected that there will be no overall cut in resources dedicated to Peckham Rye. As local councillors, we think this is good news for our ward, given the great importance of the Park and Common to so many people in Peckham Rye.

The Friends of Peckham Rye Park do a huge amount of work which helps to make Peckham Rye such a beautiful and important amenity for local people. If you're interested in supporting FOPRP you can find out about joining at their newly revamped website here.

You can join by clicking on the link in the bottom left hand corner.

10 April 2011

Funding for community events

The 2011-12 'community council fund' is now open. If you are involved in a community group and wish to bid for money to help you put on an event or events then apply now.

The Nunhead and Peckham Rye Community Council has £15,000 to support activities run by local groups for local people. You can apply for funding to hold events such as fun days, festivals, outings or a series of activities to bring local people together. If you have a good idea but are not part of a 'formal' group you may still be able to apply, so please do get in touch (details below) to discuss this.

You can apply for £100 up to £1,000 by downloading and filling in this form by Monday 16 May. You'll need to give details of your plans and the event must be held by 31 March 2012. There are also other criteria you must meet - check out the full details here.

Last year we funded 26 different groups/events in our area including the Friends of Peckham Rye Park Fete, lots of singing from the Nunhead Choir, the open air film in Nunhead Cemetery and the Rye Oak summer play scheme to name just a few.

If you have any questions get in touch with your councillors or contact:
Nadine James
T: 020 7525 5503
Vikki at last year's Mundania Road Street Party - funded through the Community Council Fund

7 April 2011

Simon Hughes urged to support secure tenancies for Southwark Council tenants

Tenants living on the Rye Hill Park Estate, Brookestone Court, Priory Court and other social housing in Peckham Rye Ward may want to know that Southwark Labour is piling the pressure on Southwark MP Simon Hughes to vote against a Government proposal to end secure tenancies for council and housing association tenants.

Ian Wingfield, Southwark Labour's Cabinet Member for Housing, has written to Simon Hughes MP urging him vote the right way. This week Labour Councillors voted for a motion condemning Conservative/ Liberal Democrat Government’s Localism Bill that will allow Local Authorities to introduce “fixed-term tenancies” for new council tenants.

Proposals in the Localism Bill will allow local authorities and housing associations to offer fixed tenancies for a minimum of 2 years, rather than secure lifetime tenancies, which are the norm at the moment. The proposals could mean tenants in Southwark have to go through an assessment of their income and family circumstances after just eighteen months in their home. There are real concerns that these changes would act as a disincentive to tenants to get a better job or force couples to leave their family home once their children move out.

The Government had previously said that the plans will not affect existing tenants. However speaking in a debate on 8th March during the committee stage of the Localism Bill, Liberal Democrat Local Government Minister Andrew Stunell admitted “discretion [on whether or not to maintain security of tenure for existing tenants when they move home] should be available to the landlord”.

Ian Wingfield has issued a statement saying: "Southwark is the largest local authority social landlord in London with 45,000 tenants and homeowners in the borough and so it is really important that our elected representatives push for greater clarity from the Government regarding the rights of existing social tenants.”

“David Cameron first floated this idea last August. At the time Simon Hughes was very clear that he was against it. However we have seen with the vote on tuition fees and the Educational Maintenance Allowance that Simon Hughes is quite happy to say one thing and do another.”

“He cannot duck the issue this time – when this comes to a vote in parliament he has to vote against.”

Unlike on tuition fees, will he do the right thing?

1 April 2011

A council meeting that you'll want to go to..?

Changes to the way local council meetings are conducted are coming to Southwark. For too long Southwark Council Assembly meetings have lacked the kind of spark that would engage local people in the important decisions which are made at these meetings. It's hoped that some changes to the way they are run will get people more interested and provide an opportunity for a more direct say in what is discussed.
So from now on, Peckham Rye residents are able to have a more direct say in the agenda of these meetings which. The deadline for submitting questions to the 6th April council meeting has passed (I know, I should have posted this earlier) but there will be plenty of opportunities to submit questions to council meetings in the future.

We'll also be having "themed" meetings to try and get under the skin of some important local issues. Keep an eye on the council's democracy pages here for news on future meetings meeting and/or email democracy@southwark.gov.uk to find out more. There's also more news on this issue here.

The 6th April meeting starts at 7pm in Southwark Town Hall . The first theme is "the future for Southwark - rising to the community challenge." Anyone is welcome to come to the Town Hall from 6pm to see the meeting.

25 March 2011

Marching for an alternative and decision time for Southwark Lib Dems

Tomorrow tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people will be marching in central London to show their opposition to the Tory-Lib Dem government's ideological attack on public services. I'm proud to be joining them, along with hundreds of colleagues from Southwark Labour Party and, I'm sure, thousands of residents from our local area.

The havoc caused by the depth and speed of the cuts is already having a direct impact on the quality of life of many people living in Peckham Rye. Victoria, Renata and I are receiving lots of casework from people who are losing out on services, support and help because the cuts have been so deep, and so disproportionately targeted on inner city areas such as Southwark.

So Southwark Labour's position on the cuts is clear, but the same can't be said of the Lib Dems.

Of course, not all Liberal Democrats in the UK are in favour of the cuts. At least some have signed a public letter to voice their opposition to the Government's approach. Others have even marched with Labour Councillors through their own city centres. But it is very noticeable that Lib Dems in Peckham Rye and Southwark have failed to join them. If they were really interested in standing up for our area, surely they'd be joining us in supporting the march tomorrow.

So it's decision time for Lib Dems in Southwark. When it comes to the crunch, who do they really represent? Is it their own sectional interests in Westminster, or are they prepared to join the march for an alternative? Will they back a different approach to deficit reduction which prioritises jobs, growth and social justice and which is backed by the vast majority of people in this ward and this borough? Or will they do what Nick Clegg wants them to do? We shall wait and see.

17 March 2011

Community Speed Watch: Ivydale, Cheltenham and Merttins Roads

Do you live on Ivydale Road, Cheltenham Road or Merttins Road? Are you concerned about the speed of traffic (and in particular buses) on our residential roads? Then you now have the chance to get directly involved in sorting out the problem.

Back in February a number of residents of these roads came along to a local traffic sub group to voice their concern about the speed of buses travelling along their roads. (For the record, Victoria and I live on Ivydale Road too). The speed of the buses is a contributory factor in causing vibration to the homes of people living in this area. To be fair, the route the buses take, the quality of the road surfaces and traffic calming measures are also major concerns. But for now, let's stick with the speed of the buses...

One local campaigner suggested that we start a "Community Speed Watch" scheme to encourage drivers to stay within the speed limit. A scheme like this, I learned, involves the police lending residents speed monitoring equipment and local volunteers using the equipment. This information is then passed back to the police.

Since that meeting Renata and I have been in touch with the local police team, who have been very helpful. They've said they're prepared to lend us the equipment and take the time to train volunteers on how to use it.

The training would take place on a Saturday morning at a Police station in Southwark starting at 10am and lasting about two hours. The earliest the training could take place would be late April.

So, I'll finally get to the point: Can you help?

If live on these roads, and you're prepared to be one of the Community Speed Watch volunteers, let me know and I'll let you know what happens next. You can email me at gavin.edwards@southwark.gov.uk

PS: If you live in another part of Peckham Rye Ward and the speed of traffic is also a concern, get in touch. We may be able to help you get your own scheme going.

13 March 2011

TfL claim 63 extension would cost extra £525k per year

The letter above is the response to Val Shawcross (our Greater London Authority Representative) following questions that she had submitted regarding, among other things, the extension of the 63 Bus Route to Honor Oak Park.

As you will see, TfL are now saying that the extension of the bus route would cost £640,000 a year and would only generate 640 new journeys per day. These extra trips, Tfl say, would only generate £95,000 a year, meaning the extra money needed for an extension would be £525,000. Importantly they claim that this includes the impact of the opening of the East London Line at Honor Oak Park Station.

I am sure I am not the only person who believes that these figures look a bit odd. We are currently in the process of trying to find out exactly how that have been calculated. Our campaign to get this common sense extension needs to get under the skin of these figures before we can make any progress. Check back for updates on this soon.

We need to apply as much pressure as possible on TfL and Boris Johnson. He, particular needs to start showing some genuine commitment to a joined up and improved transport system in our area.

6 March 2011

'Pull the other one' comedy at Rye Hill TRA

As locals will know, 'Pull the other one' has been a long-standing monthly Nunhead comedy event at the Ivyhouse on Stuart Road. Last month (25 Feb) it shifted to the Rye Hill TRA and will be taking place there again on 25 March.

I was at Rye Hill for surgery on Friday and heard that the event had been a huge success in it's new venue and that residents were looking forward to the next one - which I think will feature some Edinburgh Fringe acts 'trying-out' new material.

If you fancy a local night out then maybe see you on 25 March, doors 7.00pm, show at 9.00pm. Tickets are £10 available from Roy Brooks and online www.kabodler.com/k/pulltheotherone

28 February 2011

Ivydale, Cheltenham and Merttins Road meeting report

Tonight we hosted a meeting of concerned local residents living on Ivydale, Cheltenham and Merttins Roads. Residents are very concerned about the shuddering caused to their homes by the 343 buses which drive (often too fast) down these residential roads. There are also major problems with the road surface and the quality of the traffic calming measures.

Below is a list of actions agreed at the meeting.


1. Setting up a community speed watch scheme to report speeding buses
Gavin has been in touch with the local police team to request Community Speed Watch Equipment. Currently awaiting a response from the police team Sergeant. A number of people at the meeting expressed their willingness to volunteer to help with the scheme when it is set up. Action: Gavin to update residents regarding to response to request. Action: Vikki to request from TfL/Abeillo information on what evidence is required in order for action to be taken against speeding bus drivers.

2. Letter to the Mayor, Boris Johnson, regarding buses concerns raised at the meeting. A draft of the letter was distributed. Various comments and suggested changes were made. This included additional community suggestions about changes to the bus services. Action: Gavin to make changes suggested and send letter to Boris Johnson.

3. Letter to the Southwark Council Cabinet Members for Transport and Environment, and Finance about the capital funding needed to improve roads. Vikki has already written to the two cabinet members making the case for funding the work. Action: Individual residents may also want to write individually to the Cabinet Members to make the case for re-surfacing. Contact details can be found here: http://moderngov.southwarksites.com/mgUserInfo.aspx?UID=149

4. Councillors to contact the Police Safer Neighbourhood Team about making reduction of speed on Ivydale, Cheltenham and Merttins Roads a priority. Renata gave an update from the last ward panel meeting. Police Officers had given a number of reasons why it was difficult for them to deal with this issue. Action: As many Ivydale, Merttins and Cheltenham Road residents as possible to attend the next ward Panel meeting on 19th May at 7.00pm at Rye Hill Park TRA.

5. London Assembly Member, Val Shawcross will circulate details of a forthcoming meeting on the 343 bus. Action: Gavin to chase

Other actions agreed:

- Gavin to ask Val Shawcross to request the information on the number of accidents/incidents caused by 343 buses on this stretch of the route.

- Gavin to ask 5 residents who gave their email addresses at last meeting if it’s OK to share them with others on the campaign

- Cllrs to look into existing 106 money that might exist following developments in the Ivydale area and also at how 106 money might be designated from forthcoming developments.

- Kirk circulated a draft survey (the aim of which is help get an agreed position on traffic calming and buses.) Various changes were suggested. Kirk to circulate the survey so that a final version can be agreed

- Dates and times for delivering surveys/knocking on doors to be suggested and agreed – probably best via the email group.

- David Wilson volunteered to be the link person for Cheltenham Road which will have a slightly different version of the survey.

- Following the meeting, Vikki spoke to former cllr Mick Barnard about some of the references to him made at the meeting. He confirmed that there had been plans to reroute the P12 down Kelvington and Ivydale Road but that the focus had been more the potential loss of any bus service to Brenchley Gardens Estate residents. As a result cllrs will use additional services for Brenchley Gardens as a ‘postive’ outcome when asking Boris/Tfl to investigate alternative options on bus services on Ivydale Road. Mick Barnard also confirmed that there had been, in his view, relatively firm commitments that Cheltenham Road would get resurfaced around 2002-2003. Vikki will chase details of this with officers and endeavour to find out why this promise wasn’t delievered on.

25 February 2011

Honor Oak Rec: The latest

There's been lots in the local media recently about the campaign to prevent Honor Oak Recreation Ground from being used as burial ground. As the local ward councillors we wanted to make it clear that we want the area to remain as recreation ground.

I think it's important to clarify two main issues:

- No decision has been made about using the Rec for burial space

- That a full and proper public consultation will take place before any decisions are made – and we will do all we can to make sure that local people's views are heard.

Southwark’s burial space is now very limited and a decision will need to be made in the next few months about the future of burial space provided by the council. Council officers have been asked to investigate the various options open to Southwark, these will be discussed by the Council Cabinet and then the public will be asked what they think and what their preferences might be.

As we feel very strongly about the Rec, and as it’s clear that many in the local community do too, we have met with the Cabinet Member to make clear the strength of feeling on this issue. It was a really encouraging meeting. We have received assurances that the council will properly investigate ALL possible options for the future of burial provision. This will mean consideration of a wide-range of options. Among them are: a full audit of the remaining unused burial space in our cemeteries, the council looking at other sites it could use or acquire for burial and the council investigating alternative burial methods that would use less space/be more sustainable.

The use of all or part of Honor Oak Rec is very likely to be one of the options the council will investigate as this land was acquired by the council for burial. We fully accept the argument that this was in 1901, that times change and that the Rec has become a valuable community asset. However, it would be dishonest to say the Rec will not be considered. Nevertheless, we are keen to stress that this is just one option. It’s simply not true, as some internet posts etc suggest, that Southwark ‘wants’ to turn the Rec into burial space.

Once all options have been investigated the public will be asked for their views. We have been given an assurance from the Cabinet Member that the decision will be led by residents – if it’s clear that the vast majority are against the use of Honor Oak Rec then the council will listen to that.

10 February 2011

Fly-tipping on Peckham Rye Common

A very quick post. Many of you will have seen the building debris that was fly-tipped outside the toilet block on Peckham Rye Common (facing Nunhead Lane). I'd reported it to officers when I saw it from the bus on Monday morning. I've just had an email from them telling me that it has been cleared away (though I've not been down that way yet today). Obviously this is an issue we'll need to keep a close eye on.

4 February 2011

Peckham Rye Playground - work about to start

We're delighted that work on the children's playground by the One O'Clock Club on Peckham Rye is about to start. Delivering this was one of our election pledges so it's great it should be all complete by 31 March, 11 months after becoming councillors.

This was a project that the Lib Dems and Tories failed to deliver whilst they were running the council and which was then at risk as the new Coalition Government clawed back some of the 'playbuilder' money (a Labour Government initiative) secured to deliver the scheme.

It's a bit difficult to provide a picture of the full plans but here goes -
And you can download the full details (better quality/includes pictures of various bits of play equipment) by clicking on the picture or here.
The idea is that the playground is more 'natural' than the current one - a bit like the new Goose Green playground.

Hopefully this is just the start of various improvements planned for Peckham Rye Common and Park.

19 January 2011

Harris Girls' new wing opening

The report below is from Renata:

I've just been to Harris Girl's Academy ED for the opening of their new wing by Lord Adonis. Lord Harris, Harriet Harman MP and Cllrs Peter John, Catherine McDonald and Althea Smith also attended. This school has fantastic facilities and under the Head Jane Fletcher is going from strength to strength. We heard that the school is performing above the national average at GCSE and it has a thriving mixed sixth form, with 50% of pupils joining from other schools. We listened the school choir sing and were dazzled by an array of outfits produced by year 7 to 13 students in their textiles classes. The latter included winning designs in a competition where pupils redesigned the school uniform. Well done Harris Girls!

15 January 2011

A report about housing repairs statistics - less boring than it sounds

I've mentioned my role as Chair of Southwark's Housing Scrutiny committee a couple of times on this blog. Since taking this on in May last year our biggest piece of work has been an investigation into the statistics used to measure performance in Southwark's housing repairs service. Sounds technical, remote and boring doesn't it? I will do my best to convince you otherwise.

Back in July 2010, the committee had to decide which housing issues we wanted to look into. Councillors on the committee (from all parties) had just been through an election campaign in which we'd knocked on lots and lots of doors. Among Southwark's tenants, by far the biggest concern was the quality of the contracted-out repairs service.

But there was a problem. All of the statistics used to measure the quality of the service showed not just good, but brilliant levels of performance. 99.9% of appointments made by contractors were kept. Satisfaction levels hovered around the 94% mark. 90%+ of repairs were completed on time. Even more striking was the fact that, based on these stats, Southwark had won a national award for its repairs service from Inside Housing magazine, describing Southwark's repairs service as "the best in London".

Faced with these contradictory messages, we decided to try and do something different. Instead of doing a general scrutiny of the repairs service, we chose to investigate how the stats were gathered and calculated. Even the most cynical of the committee members could not have imagined what we would find. The stats were not just flawed, but rotten to the core. Just a few of the things we discovered were:

- most of the stats come from the contractor operatives themselves via mobile PDA devices. This means they completely control the information for each job they had been asked to do.

- concrete evidence of mis-reporting of the completion of work and attendance at appointments by contractors, found during a "case-tracking" process.

- satisfaction levels are measured with a survey which excludes anyone who has an ongoing problem with a repair.

- Satisfaction is measured with a five number rating system which is rarely explained to tenants doing a phone survey, and which is weighted in favour of higher levels of satisfaction.

- the results from a new (and reliably conducted) survey which show dramatically lower levels of satisfaction (69% compared to 88.4%), appointments kept (78.9% compared to 99.9%) than are shown in the official stats.

- contractors themselves admit their performance doesn't live up to anything like levels shown in the stats. One representative said: “I don’t recognise the performance of my operatives in these statistics.”

The report, which is still in draft form, concludes: “Southwark’s housing repairs Key Performance Indicators currently provide little or no insight into the actual quality of service being provided by SBS and Morrisons” It goes on to make constructive proposals for the creation of a system that can be relied upon, including:-

- A new texting system that will enable customers to verify if a call is complete via their mobile phone

- A satisfaction survey which accurately measures real levels of satisfaction with the repairs service

- a recommendation that the council makes sure it is no longer paying multiple times for single repairs. This will save the council money.

Through this scrutiny we found that the stats which have so often been wheeled out to prove how good Southwark’s repairs service is, are inaccurate and unreliable. For tenants this has meant unattended appointments and incomplete repairs going unnoticed. I hope this draft report will serve as a catalyst for improving the repairs service which too often lets down tenants in Southwark.

The draft version of the report can be found here from page 7 onwards: http://moderngov.southwarksites.com/mgConvert2Pdf.aspx?ID=4339&T=9

This will now be subject to some minor changes following last Tueday's meeting and will then go before the full Overview and Scrutiny Committee. The sub-committee is optimistic that the report will eventually go before Southwark Cabinet and the recommendations will be implemented.

12 January 2011

You're recycling more!

Peckham Rye Residents will recall that during the 2010 election campaign the issue of recycling rates was a huge issue. People we spoke to on the doorstep simply could not believe that the Liberal Democrats who had run the council for 8 years had left Southwark as the 6th worst recycling authority in the country. In November 2009, official league tables showed that in Lib Dem Southwark less than 21% of household waste was recycled. In that year, the recycling rate had risen less than 1%.

Southwark Labour candidates made a pledge during that election campaign to double our borough's recycling rate. In order to meet that pledge Labour needed to prepare the ground for some big changes. The new Cabinet Member with responsibility for recycling, Barrie Hargrove, immediately took steps to introduce a pilot scheme in six wards, including Peckham Rye. In October the pilot started, introducing a weekly food and garden waste collections and supplying people with compostable bags to enable the recycling of food waste.

Well, the interim results of the recycling pilot are now in and it has boosted recycling rates to . . . wait for it . . . 50%. This is absolutely fantastic news!

When it started, instead of getting behind the pilot, Lib Dem Councillors carped from the sidelines and tried to play up concerns about the changes. They penned some rather intemperate letters to the press and posts on their blogs listing a variety of reasons why we should all be desperately concerned and worried that somebody was at last doing something about boosting recycling rates. My personal favourite was when one Lib Dem bemoaned that the pilot had "... lots of potential to go wrong." Well, so does stepping out of the door in morning. I hope they'll now join us in supporting this new approach.

When we were knocking on doors recently, I was struck by how many people said they liked the new system, and felt that it made it easier for them to recycle. Of course, with any change of this sort there will always be teething problems. That is why Southwark Council is now carrying out a consultation on how the pilot has gone from your point of view. To contribute your views to the consultation click here: http://www.southwark.gov.uk/foodwaste

8 January 2011

Ivydale/Cheltenham Road surface and bus issues - meeting on the 10th February

As mentioned in the post below, finding a solution to the issues the road surface and speed of buses on Cheltenham and Ivydale Roads is a top priority for people in that area. Numerous people have contacted us about this issue.

As you will see from posts here, here and here – this has been a long running issue.

This is now on the agenda for the Nunhead and Peckham Rye Traffic and Transport Sub-Committee meeting taking place at 6.30pm on the 10th February at Southwark Town Hall, 35 Peckham Road SE5 8UB, Room B.

If you're concerned about this issue, do come along to discuss it and help us to agree a way to resolve these issues.

In the interests of openness and clarity, I should declare a personal interest in this issue: I am a resident of Ivydale Road myself. As Chair of the Committee it may be that I will need to "stand down" for this item. I'll be consulting with council officers to clarify if I need to do this.

Bus and road surface issues on Cheltenham and Ivydale Road

Below is an anonymised version of an email from Victoria (one of my fellow Ward Councillors) to a resident of our ward who contacted us about their concerns regarding the road surface and speed of buses on Ivydale Road. This is also an ongoing issue for a number of people on Cheltenham Road too. The email gives a full and detailed account of this issue and sets out a way forward. Clearly it is now important that we move this issue on by putting together a firm set of actions at the forthcoming Nunhead and Peckham Rye Traffic and Transport sub-committee meeting on the 10th February. More details on this to follow.

Read on to find out more:


Dear ------

I understand that you have also contacted my fellow councillors about this matter - I am cc'ing them in so that they are aware of the latest progress on this issue which I have been dealing with.

I live at 340 Ivydale so am very aware of the problematic road surface and also the impact the buses have.

I guess there are really three different issues with the road but all connected - the road surface, the traffic calming measures and the impact of the buses.

I'm not sure how long you have lived on Ivydale but it's probably two years ago now when residents were surveyed about changing the previous traffic calming measures to the current ones. About 70% voted in favour of change and as a result the old bumps were taken out and the pinch points were put in. The whole process was very delayed and communications with residents were consistently poor. I was torn about the new scheme but the old scheme didn't stop traffic driving over 20mph so on balance I thought we had to try something new. Work on the scheme suddenly ended in early April last year without works being completed. One key part of the scheme that wasn't delivered was the resurfacing of the road. From the letters I received from the council (last one dated March 2010) there was no indication (in fact every indication) that the work would be completed. After being elected in May I have chased to get these works done but there has not been any money remaining to finish the scheme or even resurface the road. The budget for the next financial year will be set in February so I'm now trying to push as hard as possible to get some money for Ivydale. I'm hoping that I will get some feedback next week.

In the meantime, we managed to get some temporary repairs to the speed ramps done a few days before Christmas and the ramps will need a more permanant fix to stop them subsiding/disintegrating. Test holes should be dug very soon so the council can work out how best to repair them. This week I have also reported the new pot hole [on this part of Ivydale Road] and also the holes on the raised ramp with Merttins Road.

Just to quickly say that we managed to secure funding for Cheltenham Road to be resurfaced in October and this work should happen in February or March.

It's clear that many residents are not supportive of the measures that have been put in place and this will be the case even if the pinch points are made 'good' in the coming weeks. I've asked officers to attend a community council meeting in February which I hope that residents will also attend. Once this is finalised I will let you know and would encourage you to attend. With three quarters of the council's highway spend dependent on the central government grant to Southwark (and you'll probably be aware that we received one of the worst financial settlements before Christmas) I think we need to be realistic about removong traffic calming measures that were installed less than a year ago on this wishes of the majority of residents. That's not to say residents who are unhappy won't be listened to but we may have to be realistic about what is possible. Your suggestion about 'redesigning' is probably something worth raising at the February meeting.

On the buses, we are in regular touch with the local Assembly Member Val Shawcross about the speed at which the drivers drive and about the frequency of the service. The 343 has huge capacity issues from Rye Lane onwards, through the Aylesbury etc. which is why the buses are double deckers and why there are so many. The solution might be cutting the route at Rye Lane/Nigel Road with only some double deckers coming this far and having additional single deckers - I don't know but I hope that Val will be at the February meeting to see what can be done. I know she met residents about the 343 service just yesterday evening but she came across very divergent views - people in Peckham and the Aylesbury desperate for more buses, people round here with concerns for the impact on the roads and the noise.

Hope that this is a good update for now - I'll be in touch again shortly and please visit www.peckhamryelabour.blogspot.com for more updates.


7 January 2011

Councillor's report - January 2011

Each month Victoria, Renata and I produce a written branch report for our local ward Labour Party. At last night's meeting we circulated a report which included an update on a number of local ward issues and news on campaigning. Councillors producing a written report like this for the branch is a long established convention, but for some reason we've never made it publicly available before. Well, we thought it was time to change that and to put the full report up on the blog on a regular basis. So, here is the January Councillors' report to our local branch. Get in touch if you have any views or comments on the issues raised:

Branch report

Forest Hill Road/Colyton Road Traffic Lights

Although the traffic lights here were put in on a ‘temporary’ basis we supported them remaining in place longer in the hope that the Council secured funding for improvement works along the length of Forest Hill Road. Approx. £560k has now been secured from TfL for improvements to FHR and some of the money will be brought forward and spent early to look at what the best options are for this junction and that any changes fit the plan for FHR as a ‘whole’.

Honor Oak Recreation Ground
Following substantial levels of theft and vandalism to Camberwell New Cemetery and Honor Oak Crematorium officers and police recommended that the pedestrian access to Honor Oak Rec be locked from approx. dust until dawn. We have been supportive of this idea as the levels of damage were so costly to the council and because the police believed this to be the best option. However, a number of local residents, particularly early morning dog walkers, have raised concerns about this and Vikki met with them and walked round the rec area prior to Christmas. We are now trying to see if a compromise can be found so that legitimate users of the rec are not inconvenienced.

Friern Road traffic problems
There have been problems with increased levels of traffic on the lower part of Friern Road as a result of the opening of the Harris Boys Academy. Gavin arranged a joint meeting between officers, representatives of the school and local residents to help sort out these problems. Various measures are being looked at and there will another update meeting in February.

Housing Repairs KPI Scrutiny
As Chair of Southwark’s Housing Scrutiny Committee Gavin has been leading an investigation into the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the repairs service. The KPIs show outstanding performance whilst anecdotal evidence suggests the service is poor.

Through the scrutiny process carried out over the last few months we have found:-

- The interim results from a newly commissioned repairs survey show dramatically different levels of satisfaction, appointments kept, etc, than are shown in the KPIs

- A high proportion of missed appointments were found during a listening in exercise on in-bound calls to the repairs hotline

- We also discovered during the the listening-in exercise that a significant proportion of repairs are being left incomplete, but reported by the contractors as complete.

- A significant proportion of respondents to the satisfaction survey (which is used to measure satisfaction with repairs) stated that their repair was not complete, even though the survey is supposed to only include those who have recently had a repair completed.

- Evidence of mis-reporting of the completion of work and attendance at appointments by contract operatives was found during a case-tracking process.

- The fact that officers have already made changes to two of the KPIs (overall satisfaction rating and appointments made and kept) pre-empting this report.

- Contractors themselves have admitted that their performance does not live up to the KPIs.

The draft report, which also makes reccomendations on how to improve the KPIs, will be discussed at next week’s scrutiny meeting. There may be a number of additions/changes to the report following that meeting. It will then go to Overview and Scrutiny Committee, and then, hopefully, before Southwark’s Cabinet.

Borough Wide Campaigning this weekend
We need as many local members as possible to come along to the borough wide campaigning weekend this Saturday and Sunday. If you can make it, come along at 11am or 2pm if you'd like to ensure you go out in a larger group. The place to come to is 340 Ivydale Road, Nunhead, SE15 3DG. Do give me a call or email if you need more information on 07866022825 or gavinhome@hotmail.com

1 January 2011

Southwark Labour comes to Peckham Rye - 8th and 9th Jan

A quick advert for Southwark Labour's campaigning weekend in our ward on the Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th January. Labour Councillors and members from across the borough will be coming to Peckham Rye to talk to local people about the issues that concern them.

Lots of people in our ward are concerned about the impact on local services coming from the coalition's draconian cuts - so it's really important that people know that there is a progressive alternative to the Lib Dem Tory approach. Talking to people face to face is best way of finding out what they're thinking and informing keeping them up to date about Southwark Labour's work in running the council. If you're one of the many new Labour Party members in Peckham Rye or just interested in getting involved in your local party, come along and join us. You don't need to be experienced in knocking on doors and talking to people. There will always be people on hand to help out, and nobody is left on their own.

If you're interested, we'll be going out between 11am and 5pm on both days. Arrive at 11am or 2pm if you'd like to ensure you go out in a larger group. The place to come to is 340 Ivydale Road, Nunhead, SE15 3DG. Do give me a call or email if you need more information on 07866022825 or gavinhome@hotmail.com.