Lewisham Labour on the TUC protest Comments Off
As 853 blog reports, Nationwide plan to close branches across South-East London including all of the branches in our borough.
Damien, Mike and Stella have all signed this open letter to the government asking them to reconsider the huge cuts made to the budgets of London Councils.
Following the Local Government Finance Settlement it’s clear London has suffered a raw deal, with its councils facing average cuts of 11.25 per cent. The average for the rest of England is 9.93 per cent.
“So much for Conservative Mayor Boris Johnson’s claim to have mounted a ‘Stalingrad like defence’ of funding for London.
“We must be clear – the size and the speed of these cuts are a choice the Conservative-led government is making. Councils in London are being forced into making the heaviest cuts in the next year because of the decisions taken by George Osborne and Eric Pickles, damaging frontline services and putting jobs and the recovery at risk.
“Our first responsibility is to protect the communities we serve, pressing the government to abandon its course and minimising the pain of the government’s cuts for residents. However the scale of the cuts in funding for councils is so big that in many cases this will not be enough to protect many vital services.
“There is little doubt that local government cuts of this size, imposed this quickly and frontloaded in the first year will hit many of the important frontline services families and communities rely on. Roads already damaged last winter could go unrepaired this year too. Potholes could go unfixed, pavements unswept. Streetlights will be turned off. Youth clubs will close. Libraries will shut down. As more people than ever need help with social care, fewer will find their local council able to help.
“Whether from local government, Parliament, City Hall, the trade unions or local Labour parties, London Labour’s approach will be based on uniting everyone in London opposed to the way the government has handed these cuts to councils and focusing our campaign where it deserves to be focused – on the government.
“We urge the government to carefully reconsider the serious impact of policies on the quality of life of millions of Londoners, rethink the settlement and give the capital a fair deal.”
Ken Livingstone, Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London
Harriet Harman MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
Tessa Jowell MP, Shadow Minister for the Olympics
Jules Pipe, Mayor of Hackney
Linda Perks, UNISON Regional Secretary
Steve Hart, UNITE Regional Secretary London and Eastern
Paul Hayes, GMB London regional secretary
Richard Ascough, GMB Southern regional secretary
Alan Tate, CWU London Regional Political Secretary
Len Duvall AM, Leader of London Assembly Labour Group
Claude Moraes MEP
Nicky Gavron AM
Val Shawcross AM
Murad Qureshi AM
John Biggs AM
Joanne McCartney AM
Navin Shah AM
Jennette Arnold AM
Diane Abbott MP
Heidi Alexander MP
Rushanara Ali MP
Karen Buck MP
Lyn Brown MP
Jon Cruddas MP
John Cryer MP
Jim Dowd MP
Clive Efford MP
Mike Gapes MP
Meg Hillier MP
Jim Fitzpatrick MP
Margaret Hodge MP
David Lammy MP
Siobhan McDonagh MP
Andy Love MP
Stephen Pound MP
Teresa Pearce MP
Nick Raynsford MP
Joan Ruddock MP
Virendra Sharma MP
Andy Slaughter MP
Stephen Timms MP
Gareth Thomas MP
Emily Thornberry MP
Malcolm Wicks MP
Cllr Liam Smith, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council
Cllr Ann John, Leader of Brent Council
Cllr Nasim Ali, Leader of Camden Council
Cllr Julian Bell, Leader of Ealing Council
Cllr Doug Taylor, Leader of Enfield Council
Cllr Chris Roberts, Leader of Greenwich Council
Cllr Jagdish Sharma, Leader of Hounslow Council
Cllr Claire Kober, Leader of Haringey Council
Cllr Bill Stephenson, Leader of Harrow Council
Cllr Catherine West, Leader of Islington Council
Cllr Steve Reed, Leader of Lambeth Council
Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham
Cllr Stephen Alambritis, Leader of Merton Council
Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham
Cllr Peter John, Leader of Southwark Council
Cllr Chris Robbins, Leader of Waltham Forest Council
Many residents have written to us with concerns over the level of street-drinking in the Hither Green area, and also on Lewisham High Street. There has also been a discussion on the excellent Original Hither Green Website.
On 8 July, I met with Alan D’Arcy, St. Mungo’s Area Manager along with Stella to discuss some of the concerns of local people. We asked about the facilities and resources St. Mungo’s were putting into the care of its residents and questioned the efforts they make to rehabilite long-term alcoholics and drug users. It’s clear that the charity does work hard to try and help its clients. The facilities on site were fantastic and the team are really committed. It is also worth noting that many of those who are street drinkers come from other hostels in the local area.
This isn’t to say all is well and dandy though. Working with St. Mungo’s, Joanne Hall, the Chair of the Lewisham Central Safer Neighbourhood Police Panel, the police and community groups, efforts will be made to tackle this problem.
Firstly, local businesses need to stop selling super-strength alcohol. So far every local business, except the Co-op on Hither Green Lane, have agreed to stop selling super-high volume ciders and lagers. We will be putting pressure on the Co-op to change their vending policy.
Secondly, at the Lewisham Central Safer Neighbourhood Police Panel which I attended last Wednesday, the panel agreed that it would become a local policing priority to tackle the anti-social behaviour that is a consequence of heavy drinking. The police said they would increase patrols in the Hither Green area and make it clear to street-drinkers that they ought to drink in their hostels, or face arrest. This was made easier by our Mayor Steve Bullock, bringing in a borough-wide policy to stop nuisance street-drinkers last week, whilst allowing residents who wish to enjoy a glass of wine in the park to continue to do so.
It is worth noting that there is a planning application here for an new block at the St. Mungo’s hostel with an additional 24 one bedroom self-contained flats.
For comments on any of the above, please feel free to email me.
Labour launch their manifesto for Lewisham’s future Comments Off
Labour representatives working with Lewisham’s strong community have achieved a lot. From children’s centres to improved social housing to reduced crime to apprenticeships, Lewisham looks better, more prosperous and more confident than it did in 1997.
This year we are freezing council tax, creating 150 new jobs for young people, and making sure the council helps people by paying the London Living Wage so that work pays.
The Tories don’t understand Lewisham and they never will. Labour are the only party who will fight for the best opportunities and facilities for our young people and the only party that will give older people in our borough the tools they need to do things for themselves.
We have put forward an honest and ambitious manifesto. We will treat you with the respect you deserve and not pretend that there are easy answers to some of the problems we face. The manifesto below will set out what we will do if elected to power in Lewisham.
You can download the manifesto here.
Dear local resident,
Lewisham and Hither Green is a good place to live – we want to make it a great place with opportunities for all.
New and improved housing has attracted people to the area bringing energy and vibrancy. Our local businesses have been resilient and new enterprises have recently opened with the Council’s support. Our Labour Council has delivered 150 new jobs for young people in Lewisham in the last 6 months alone.
Local parks have been revitalised winning top awards and encouraging people of all ages to use them. Our schools in Lewisham are reporting some of the most improved results in London.
Our Lewisham Central Assembly, pioneered by Lewisham’s Labour Council, has enabled local people to decide on priorities and funding for community schemes such as a local cinema project, a clear-up around Hither Green Station and help for a youth group’s premises. We want to strengthen the Assembly and encourage more people to become involved in its discussions.
We will continue our campaign for better bus routes and improved train services, making them more responsive to the needs of working people in bad weather.
We recognise that the next four years will not be easy and there will be tough times ahead but we are determined to get the best for our area as the heart of the borough of Lewisham. Freezing the Council tax this year, and our boost for businesses and young people the year before, are just some of the measures you can count on Labour to deliver. We believe in fairness, Lewisham was also one of the first Councils to do the right thing and pay the London living wage to all employees and contractors.
If elected, we will be active campaigners holding regular surgeries throughout the ward, listening to your concerns and ensuring that your voice is heard at the Town Hall.
Don’t forget, vote LABOUR on May 6!
Damien Egan, Mike Harris, Stella Jeffrey
Fairtrade Fortnight: 22 February – 7 March 2010 Comments Off
Slightly tired… so enjoying a refreshing brew
Lewisham is a Fairtrade borough, which means that the Council does all it can to stock Fairtrade products on its premises and encourage local businesses to do the same.
Now, our Labour Council is asking local residents to try Fairtrade products if they haven’t done so yet. Everyone borrowing a book or DVD from any of Lewisham’s libraries will receive a free fair trade tea-bag!
What’s more there are a series of local events to encourage people to buy Fairtrade including:
The Fairtrade tea dance
Manor House Library will be hosting a Fairtrade tea dance from 2pm-4pm on Monday 1 March.
Fairtrade tea and cakes will be provided.
Call 020 8852 0357 to book your place.
Find out more here.
Sign our petition to Southeastern Trains Comments Off
During the recent wintry weather, Southeastern Trains provided a poor service to the people of Lewisham.
In addition to a poor train service, they failed to provide an adequate service in terms of informing passengers of delays and cancellations, which added to local residents’ frustations.
Labour are calling upon Southeastern Railways to take the following actions to prevent similar problems occurring during any future periods of snow and ice;
1) Provide extra bandwidth for their website to ensure that the site can cope with a large number of people attempting to access it over a short period.
2) Improve communications with front line staff so that they are better able to assist customers.
3) Ensure LED board displays at stations are informative and up to date.
Recently, we wrote to Southeastern Trains, the letter is below:
Dear Mr. Gibson,
Re: Services During Wintry Weather
I have a number of concerns relating to the service provided by South Eastern Railways from Hither Green Station during the recent period of wintry weather.
I fully understand that there are often insurmountable difficulties faced by Train Operating Companies when faced with adverse weather conditions but I feel that there are a number of ways in which South Eastern could have provided a better service to passengers in circumstances such as these.
Firstly, when there is severe weather, many passengers’ first port of call is to check your website for information. On this occasion your website was unavailable or, when loaded, simply displayed a page directing passengers to the overloaded National Rail website. Reliable information was consequently not available and passengers were forced to go to the station in person. I’d be grateful if you could tell me if there is a contingency plan in place for your web operations to ensure consistent service at peak use times. Could you also tell me if there are any plans for South Eastern to invest in more bandwidth to avoid this problem in the future?
The second issue is that when passengers arrived at Hither Green station there no information relating to train delays displayed on the LED screens or any indication that trains would be arriving full. Could you investigate how you can improve communication to your ground staff so that they can keep passengers up to date enabling them to make other travel arrangements if needed.
Lastly, as Hither Green is one of the last stations into London, trains would arrive full when the reduced service was running meaning that the majority of passengers travelling between 7am-9am were unable to board trains. As we have a train depot at Hither Green could you please investigate the possibility of running an additional hourly service from Hither Green into London during the morning peak hours as this would go a long way in alleviating the boarding difficulty that is unique to stations like Hither Station.
I hope you can provide some action on these matters and I look forward to hearing from you with regards to how you plan to improve your rail services from Hither Green during periods of severe weather.
Damien Egan and Mike Harris
Lewisham Central Labour Party Action Team
Labour are helping out Lewisham’s pensioners Comments Off
The Winter Fuel Payment for over 60s is designed to help older people with their heating bills over the winter period. Older people, who meet the criteria, can get between £125 and £400 depending on their circumstances.
In the 1980’s Tory Minister Edwina Currie told pensioners just to “Wear woolly hats and long johns” in cold weather. In 1997 the Tories spent less than £60m a year helping pensioners meet their fuel bills – Labour now spend around £2.7bn a year.
At last week’s Council meeting, Councillors discussed how to make sure residents in the borough were aware of how they could get help with fuel payments. Lewisham’s Mayor Steve Bullock has written to all residents to tell them how they can get information about how they or other people they know can claim.
Many people worry about their heating bills and keeping warm over the cold winter months. This year already we’ve seen heavy snowfall which undoubtedly means higher heating bills for many. For older people living on a pension it can be a real concern. Anyone over 60 should check their eligibility, and claim their winter fuel payment.
As well as the Winter Fuel Payment for older people there is a range of help available to all residents to reduce their heating costs, such as:
· funding to help improve energy efficiency in the home
· help for people having trouble paying their fuel bills and
· advice on practical steps people can take to avoid wasting energy in the home.
For more information about the Winter Fuel Payment for over 60s go to www.direct.gov.uk and search on ‘Winter Fuel Payment’ or call the Helpline on 0845 915 1515.
Energy information and advice is also available from Lewisham Council – call 020 8314 6339 to find out more about energy efficiency grants, get practical information to reduce energy use at home and help getting specialist advice with fuel bills.
Labour-run Lewisham Council is one of the only Councils in the UK to have a cabinet member for Older People. It’s important that we value and appreciate the contribution that older people can make to our borough. That’s why Labour will be spending over £13 billion extra on pensioners in 2009/10 than we would have done if we had continued the policies we inherited from the Tories in 1997. Around half of this spending will go to the poorest third of pensioner households.
This means that pensioner households will on average be around £1,500 a year better off in 2009/10 due to the Government’s personal tax and benefit changes than they would have been under the 1997 system. The poorest third of pensioner households will on average be around £2,100 a year better off.