Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Labour secures rent cut

The Leader of Lambeth, Steve Reed has just confirmed that council rents in Lambeth will be reduced by 3.1% as soon as possible. The Government has agreed to change the rules so the council will benefit from a national subsidy scheme we were originally excluded from. This good news follows months of intensive lobbying by Cllr Reed, the three Labour MPs for Lambeth - Kate Hoey, Keith Hill and Tessa Jowell, and Cllr Lib Peck.

Steve Reed went to see Housing Minister Margaret Beckett a few weeks ago. He explained that Lambeth’s rents had just gone up 17% to balance the books after the Lib Dems left a monstrous financial legacy with management costs 50% above the London average, £3m lost in fraud, an £8m overspend and £11m Government subsidy that they failed to claim. This would have been more than enough to cancel out the entire rent increase.

Labour has reined in the Lib Dem overspends and cut costs down to the London average, but the Lib Dems’ financial black hole was so enormous it has still resulted in this huge rent rise just to balance the books, costing the average tenant an extra £12 a week.

Cllr Reed asked the Minister why Lambeth’s tenants should be left to pay the price for Lib Dem failure. She agreed to step in and help. As a result, £2.12 a week will be shaved off the rents, but this is only the start. The rent rise is still higher than we want to see, so we will continue to push hard alongside tenants for more action to reduce rents further.

Council rents in Lambeth will go down by 3.1% thanks to successful Labour lobbying - but there's still more to go!

Monday, 25 May 2009

Milestone in rebuilding of Stockwell Park High School

Members of the community, our local councillors as well as parents and families recently celebrated the completion of the first phase of the rebuilding of Stockwell Park High School. The new building was made possible thanks to the Labour council and with funding from the Labour government's Building Schools for the Future programme.

The building, which cost £28 million was the first BSF building to receive an excellent rating by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment.

Stockwell Park High School was recently rated as an ‘outstanding’ school by Ofsted and is also a specialist Business and Enterprise College and Training School.

More details here:

There is also a blog about the construction of the new building:

By-election in Princes

Some non-Stockwell news now. There is currently a by-election happening in Prince's ward (which covers Kennington and most of SE11) as one of the Labour councillors is stepping down. The election will be on Thursday 4th June.

The Labour candidate is Mark Harrison, who lives on the Ethelred estate and is a community champion. Mark has lived in Prince's ward for nearly five years. He serves on the Board of the Ethelred Estate Tenant Management Organisation, the Kennington, Oval and Vauxhall Forum and the Friends of Vauxhall Spring Gardens. He is a member of the Kennington Association and attends meetings of the Safer Neighbourhoods Panel.

He's also been working closely with residents of the Vauxhall Gardens and Vauxhall Five Estates to campaign for much-needed improvements for their areas.

Mark wants to be a councillor who is active in the community, ready to campaign for improvements and stick up for Kennington, Vauxhall, and North Lambeth.

Since the election has been called, Mark has helped secure a rent reduction for local people, launched a crime action plan, worked on saving the old Lilian Baylis school site and pushed for repairs to local roads. I'm sure Mark would make an excellent councillor.

To get in touch with him, email or visit

As it's an election, I'm required to put this legal bit in:
Promoted by Alexis Darby on behalf of Mark Harrison and Prince's Branch Labour Party, both at 264 Rosendale Road, SE24 9DL

Tradescant Road rubbish problems...update

Andrew from the Tradescant Road blog has a good post about the action that local residents have been taking to try to sort out the persistent rubbish problem on their road (I wrote about this earlier - here).

Councillor Pete Bowyer met with a set of residents recently and is trying to help them get the problem sorted out. One of the residents' ideas is to set up a local residents' association. Seems like a good idea - I wish them the best of luck.

More details here:

Action for Brazil's Children Trust 10k run

London based charity 'Action for Brazil's Children Trust' is looking for people in the Stockwell area to take part in a 10K race in aid of raising much needed funds to help street children in Brazil.
It's not too late to fulfill your New Year's Resolutions - this is a great way to get fit, lose weight, have fun and help a great cause along the way.
ABC Trust patrons include football legend Pele, rock legends Jimmy Page and Brian May, among many others - if you are a fan, this is great way to help your hero's chosen charity.
The race will take place on Sunday 12th July 2009 in Hyde Park Corner.
To register or for more information contact Fatima Luna on 020 7287 3818 or email

Open Garden Squares in Durand Gardens

Durand Gardens is included in this year's Open Garden Squares weekend (13-14 June 2009). The scheme allows the public access to parks, squares and gardens not normally accessible.
A visit to a single garden in the scheme will cost you £3, but a weekend pass to any of the 190 gardens available costs £8 during the weekend or £6.75 if bought in advance.

More details on the Open Garden Squares website. Durand Gardens will be open from 10am to 5pm on both Saturday and Sunday. There will be refreshments and a small exhibition about the history of the Gardens.

Nearby gardens also in the scheme are:
* Harleyford Road Community Garden
* Bonnington Square (Vauxhall)
* Walworth Garden Farm (Manor Place/Braganza Road)
* Eden at St Paul's Community Garden (Clapham)

(hat-tip: Stockwell News)

Tragic murder of Seyi Ogunyemi

Most readers of this blog will be aware of the terrible stabbing in Larkhall Park at the end of April which resulted in the death of 16 year old Oluwaseyi Christopher Sunday Ogunyemi (known as Seyi).

More details of the incident are available here -

It will come as little surprise that this was as a result of gang violence, and a suspected revenge killing for earlier incidents on the Lansdowne Green estate and also in a neighbouring area.

The sad truth is that gang violence is something that affects a particular section of community - mainly young black men. We shouldn't be frightened to acknowledge that, and that means we need a new emphasis on tackling the root causes of gang violence - often it is the lack of alternative opportunities (such as in education or employment) that create the seeds for gangs to flourish.

But as important, we shouldn't shrug our shoulders and say it doesn't affect us if we aren't in that particular section of the community. It is the responsibility of everyone in our community to tackle this problem.

That can simply mean reporting any information you have to the police (you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111). It might mean trying to build bridges in our neighbourhood. We have some very active community groups in Stockwell - but they tend to be divided between wealthy street properties and estates. It would be great if some of these groups could build the kind of links that would share best practice and ideas that would benefit both. These ideas wouldn't solve gang violence on their own, but they might begin to break down some barriers of prejudice and fear.

Of course we mustn't be paralysed by fear. On the whole, Stockwell is a safe place to live and work, and has been getting safer in the past years. As a local police chief told Your Local Guardian, the police and Lambeth council have begun to work on initiatives to tackle the gang violence that led to so many murders in 2007.

Seyi's death was a tragedy, and it should never have happened. But hopefully if something positive can come out of this - it is not only that his killers will be brought to justice, but that our commuity can respond with something innovative and hopeful.

Sorry for the interruption

Have been very busy with work and travelling abroad without internet access. Normal service should resume now. Sorry for those that have missed SUFS (well Stockwell Toilet Watch mentioned it a few times).