Tuesday, 27 October 2009

3 community campaigners chosen to represent Labour in Stockwell

Local Labour party members have chosen 3 experienced community campaigners to represent Labour in Stockwell at the next council elections. Councillors Pete Bowyer and Imogen Walker will be restanding for Labour, and they will be joined by local resident Alex Bigham, after Cllr Akhtar decided to stand down at the next election. All three are pictured here near the Oasis play centre in Stockwell.

Pete Bowyer has represented Stockwell residents since winning a by-election in 2003, when the Lib Dem councillor was forced to resign after being found guilty of criminal charges. Since then, Pete helped establish a drinking ban around the tube station, secured a grant for the Dorset Road Community Centre and is fighting for a better concierge service for residents.

Imogen Walker has been your Stockwell Labour councillor since 2006, and lives just off Lansdowne Way. She has helped secure funding for a half million pound community centre for Portuguese residents, has worked with police to get more visible patrols across the area and secured extra funding for youth services at the Oasis centre.

Alex Bigham has lived in Stockwell for over 7 years, and his family for nearly 3 decades. He is a board member of a local housing association. He would like to see the Stockwell war memorial cleaned up and restored to its former glory, and is campaigning for a new bus route to run through Stockwell.

Cllr Steve Reed, Leader of Lambeth Council said “It is great news for the Labour party, for the Portuguese community, and above all for Stockwell residents that we have such a strong Labour action team in place in Stockwell. These are three local campaigners, who truly understand their local community and will stand up for Stockwell – to bring the kind of changes and improvements we all want to see.”

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Out and about on the South Lambeth estate

Local Labour councillors Imogen Walker, Raj Patil and Pete Robbins were out and about on the South Lambeth Estate today along with community campaigner Alex Bigham. This is for the second week in a row, and last week they were also joined by Cllr Pete Bowyer.

They were talking to residents about how the new dispersal zone (which Labour councillors and the police introduced) is working along the Dorset Road, along with other issues including housing, anti-social behaviour, and even one resident who is suffering from a plague of ladybirds outside her house! (Incidentally, this is a national problem – http://tinyurl.com/3lol97)

Although some of the gang problems in the area have now been resolved, residents are concerned about youths congregating in stairwells, smoking and taking/dealing drugs as well as generally intimidating people. These issues are being reported to the local police.

Stockwell’s Labour team are delighted though that work is now complete in Wimborne house (pictured) and residents can now fully enjoy the benefits. The £4.5 million refit, approved by Lambeth Labour councillors has paid for new kitchens, more efficient boilers, redecoration, new lifts and double glazing.

Last week, the team noticed some dumped rubbish (also pictured) outside Wimborne House and reported it to the council. This has now thankfully been sorted.

We hope things are working well, but do get in touch with your Labour team if there are any issues we can help with at all.

Portuguese community centre – an update

At Wednesday’s meeting of Lambeth council there was an update on progress to establish a Portuguese community centre for Lambeth’s many Portuguese speaking residents. Labour’s Stockwell councillors have been campaigning and working with the community to establish the centre. Labour has guaranteed half a million pounds worth of funding to establish the centre, which should be set up soon, when the community has found a suitable site.

Lambeth consulted with 150 Portuguese people, of whom 93% support the idea of a community centre. The community are now looking at 3 options for a centre that will best meet their needs.

The proposals will provide a centre where the community may gather for cultural activities, social support, and public information and access community services. The centre will be owned by a charity in the form of a company limited by guarantee and run by a management committee formed of representatives from the Portuguese community.

Sadly, the Lib Dems seem to want to hijack the project. At a speech in the town hall, a Lib Dem councillor who doesn’t even represent Stockwell said he wanted to force the community to set up the centre by next April, come what may. Well Labour disagrees – the Portuguese community, not Lib Dems should have the final say when the centre is established and where. Surely that’s the point of such a centre – empowering people, not bossing them around? Sadly, the Lib Dems have still not said that they would fund such a centre if they ever sneaked back into power in Lambeth after April next year. How committed are they?

A full report on Lambeth’s work with the Portuguese community is here:

Stockwell History Initiatives

Jason Cobb, who writes the popular local onionbagblog has set up a Stockwell Oral History Project. It seems to be a fantastic initiative, and he writes:
“The area that I have called home for the past fifteen years is rich in characters and stories. It is also extremely transient, with new communities coming and going over a short period of time.

If you would like to be interviewed as part of the Stockwell Oral History project, then please get in touch. The format is open ended, simply having a chat about anything and everything that has a Stockwell strand running through it."

In addition, over on Stockwell News, Bathsheba writes that:

"I don't know if you've noticed but, unlike Vauxhall and Brixton, Stockwell has no historical society. Ruth Miller is keen to put this right and is looking for people to help set up a local history society for Stockwell, focusing on getting the stories of the area - ancient and recent - written down and eventually published.

Please contact her at r_l_miller@hotmail.com if you are interested."

Good luck to both of them!

The Picture is of the Swan Pub from the 1780s.

Fireworks Night!

For an exciting and safe Guy Fawkes night, bring all the family along to the Lambeth fireworks display at Brockwell Park, Streatham Common or Clapham Common.

The fun starts at all three venues at 7.30pm on Thursday 5 November.

Find out about travel details and firework safety on Lambeth council’s fireworks page.

Black history month – still more activities happening

Black history month, which is held every October across Britain, is going strong in Lambeth. This year’s activities in Lambeth have been crammed full of inspirational, fun and thought provoking events, which are still going on. On behalf of the Stockwell team, we’d like to congratulate all the organisers of the 2009 programme. The picture is of the Bronze woman monument in Stockwell.

Some upcoming events:
Wednesday 28 October: 10th Anniversary of the Caine Prize for African writing with Brian Chikwava. 7pm Brixton Library
Wednesday 28 October: Storytelling: African and Caribbean Tales, 2.30pm Durning Library Ages 5 – 11 years
Friday 30 October: Nzinga Dance - African puppets/dolls workshops, 2.30pm Carnegie Library

A full list of events and attendance details are here: http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/Services/LeisureCulture/Libraries/Black+History+Month+brochure+2009.htm

Issues around the Hemans estate – reported

Your Local Labour action team has been out and about on the Hemans Estate and surrounding roads talking to residents. Residents tell us they are backing Labour to get things sorted in their area. Amongst the issues raised included graffiti, dumped rubbish, vermin, broken lighting and broken paving and bollards.

We are also aware of problems, including flooding in the Hemans Tenants Hall, where your local Labour team hold their regular monthly surgery for residents (details here).

Community campaigner Alex Bigham has written to the local police about antisocial behaviour concerns on the estate, and they plan a visit soon. Labour councillors are also maintaining a watch on the icensing committee for reports that Stockers pub is applying for a licence to 4.30am. Local residents have been concerned about this plan because of some anti-social behaviour by drinkers, though the pub is, for now, closed.

Your Labour team has reported all of the issues, and we hope they are sorted soon, pictured includes graffiti on Crimsworth Road, broken bollards on Fount Street and rubble from a broken wall on Clapham Road.

We will be keeping an eye on things to ensure progress.

Monument celebrates Stockwell heroine, Violette Szabo

Pictured is the recently opened memorial on the South Bank which commemorates Violette Szabo and other members of the Special Operations Executive who fought during the Second World War. The monument was unveiled by World War Two veterans, the Duke of Wellington and the Mayor of Lambeth, Christopher Wellbelove.

Szabo was a single mother (her husband was killed at El Alamein) who grew up in Stockwell. She ran undercover operations against the Nazis from offices in Baker Street. There is a blue plaque on Burnley Road, Stockwell, where Szabo lived. Tragically, she died aged just 23 after being captured and killed in a concentration camp.

Her work is celebrated in the film, ‘Carve her name with pride’.

Fire safety checks in progress

Tenants and leaseholders living in Lambeth have been told that fire safety assessments will be carried out on all high rise homes by March 2010 as planned. Many will be complete before the end of 2009.

It follows a fatal blaze at Lakanal House in Southwark this July which brought the need for the fire safety assessments into focus. Six people died in that fire, which was started by a faulty television. Lambeth’s own safety assessments were under way at the time of the tragic fire, and some 16,000 homes have so far been visited.

However the majority of the borough’s tower blocks had not been assessed and that work is now continuing, with housing chiefs promising that the deadline of March will be met. All tower blocks (like the Rundell Tower on the Mursell estate, pictured) five storeys and over will have a completed fire safety assessment by the end of March 2010.

At the same time as the assessments are taking place, Lambeth Living has stepped up its daily, weekly and fortnightly inspections by concierge, cleaners and estate services officers. Lambeth Living looks after the borough’s housing stock and its Chief Executive Cathy Deplessis said: “The safety of our tenants and residents is a top priority and we have been working closely with the London Fire Brigade on a robust programme of safety measures, including an action plan for fire risk assessments across every council home. Separate internal home fire checks have already been completed on over 16,000 homes and is underway on the remaining properties.”

(Story from Lambeth Life)

Thousands of Lambeth Living residents will be getting a rent reduction from November

The reduction will be backdated to April of this year and follows a lobbying campaign by the council to have a Government funded rent cut implemented. This year’s rent increases in the borough had been amongst the highest in the country at around 17 percent, but the reduction will bring it down to around 14 percent.

Because of historically low rents tenants are now paying roughly average rents compared to other inner city London boroughs. Councillor Lib Peck, the borough’s cabinet member for housing and regeneration, said: “We are continuing to work hard to improve our housing service and we are pleased that we have been able to achieve this rent reduction. We know there is still a lot more to do, but we are committed to delivering better housing in Lambeth.”

(Story from Lambeth Life)

Green fingered group rescue barren land and get national award!

Four gardens that had been untouched for the past 20 years have been transformed from an overgrown mess into a public garden the whole of the South Lambeth estate can enjoy. The Bolney Meadow Group has now been handed an award from the Britain in Bloom organisers.

The gardening group worked with the council’s Community Freshview team to clear the land and create the space to make the garden a reality. The gardeners have been recognised with a Royal Horticultural Society Britain in Bloom Neighbourhood award.

Charlie Clark, who helped set up the scheme on behalf of the residents, and is pictured with Mayor Christopher Wellbelove said: “We have come a long way and there is lots moreto do but it’s given us all a real sense of achievement to see this part of our neighbourhood transformed and it’s been a great experience for everyone involved.”

As part of the Community Freshview programme Lambeth council’s waste team from Veolia provided assistance, along with offenders from the community payback scheme. Councillor Sally Prentice, Lambeth’s cabinet member for environment, said: “This is such a fantastic example of what can be achieved when residents and the council work together, and together they have made a huge difference to the area. Credit must go to the residents who have pulled together and put in so much hard work.

“Community Freshview is a fantastic  scheme that has helped community groups from across Lambeth make a difference to run down parts of the borough . Whether you want to brighten up an area of green space, give a facelift to a disused area of land or any other activity that improves your local environment, Community Fresh view can help you do it.”

To find out how Community Freshview can help your community call 020 7926 0524 or email Freshview@lambeth.gov.uk

(Story from Lambeth Life)