Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Thoughts and Prayers with the people of Madeira

Up to 40 people are now reported dead in the Portuguese island of Madeira following severe flooding. Flash floods sent tonnes of mud and stones cascading into towns and villages across the island. Lambeth is home to a large population of Madeirans based around Stockwell, and the borough regularly hosts an annual Day of Madeira celebration after local Labour councillors backed community demands for the event to be held.

Stockwell Labour councillor Imogen Walker expressed her sorrow at the events in Madeira. She said: “My heart goes out to those who have died or lost loved ones in the floods in Madeira. We are asking the British Government to give all practical support to the Government of Portugal as they mount a rescue operation in Madeira. We are also in touch with the Portuguese Embassy in London to express our deepest condolences and to ask where donations should be made. I know many people living in Stockwell will want to join their Labour councillors in making a financial donation to help those who have suffered.”

Photo: Reuters

Monday, 22 February 2010

Out and About on the South Lambeth Estate - Campaigning on Crime

Your local Labour councillors and activists were joined on Saturday by Lambeth Leader Steve Reed to speak to residents on the South Lambeth Estate.

We were collecting signatures for a petition calling for new secure entrances to be installed on the estate to help tackle crime and antisocial behaviour. A large number of residents signed up to the campaign, with many telling us that there is a problem with gangs of youths hanging around on the stairwells on the estate, intimidating local people.

Your Stockwell Labour Action Team doesn't think anyone should be intimidated in their own community, and we are strongly backing residents request for greater security.

The petition will be presented to the housing association – Presentation which runs the estate. If you support our campaign, you can let us know by contacting one of the team.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Labour calls on the Lib Dems to cut the deceit and come clean on their budget plans

In response to the announcement by the Liberal Democrats of their 'alternative' council budget, Labour in Lambeth have dismissed the announcment as 'naked deception'.

When the Lib Dems were running Lambeth Council before 2006 they closed services such as the Kennington Day Care Centre, abandoned young people to the worst funded youth services in London, and left the council with zero financial reserves while forcing council tax up 40%.  And yet in opposition they are pretending they can do the opposite of what they did in power. 

Lib Dem spending pledges over the next four years, and their opposition to Labour's efficiency savings, would mean an immediate 10% council tax increase - in line with the average annual increase they imposed while their current leader was in charge of the council's finances. 

Council Leader Steve Reed called on the Lib Dems to cut the deceit and come clean.

He said: "The Lib Dems need to level with the people of Lambeth about where their secret cuts would really fall.  Their spending pledges would mean a 10% tax rise straight after an election, while their record in power shows they would cut services like community safety, youth activities and job training.   If Lib Dems really believe in tax cuts, why did they do the opposite and impose record-breaking tax hikes when they were in power? "

Mayor of Lambeth visits Stockwell's Chicken Cottage

Councillor Christopher Wellbelove, the extremely active Mayor of Lambeth braved the recent fowl weather to wing his way toward the newly opened 'Chicken Cottage' on Clapham Road, near Stockwell tube station.

It certainly wasn't a poultry turn out with managers, staff and customers posing for a photo outside the new take away, which has created five new jobs (hopefully the pay is not chicken feed).

While the Mayor opted for a veggie burger, locals tucked into some finger-lickin food.

The Mayor said, "I was welcomed by Syed from the Sun Star Group, which runs several businesses in Lambeth including the Costcutter around the corner, and he was clearly delighted by the new store."

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Lambeth announces new co-operative model to protect services

Labour councillors in Lambeth have announced plans, detailed on the front page of today’s Guardian to create the first ever cooperatively run local council in Britain. The news comes in stark contrast to Conservative plans to create a so called ‘Easy-council’ in Barnet which would slash the amount of services provided to local residents along the lines of a low-cost airline. 

The idea of a ‘cooperative council’ draws on the values of fairness, accountability and responsibility that are at the heart of the modern Labour party. The model will be key to shaping a new settlement between the citizen and public services that will be necessary to protect frontline provision.

With the potential for widespread cuts to local government budgets of up to 20% expected over the next few years, Labour is taking action to protect services that matter to residents such as in health and education.

Labour's Leader in Lambeth, Cllr Steve Reed said "We can do that by empowering citizens and communities to take more responsibility for running some services themselves, freeing up resources to guarantee services for the most vulnerable."
Lambeth has already made a start toward becoming a cooperative council through a number of projects:
  • We are a national leader in transferring assets to the community, including: Raleigh Hall, Weir Link, Old Lilian Baylis School, Beaufoy Institute, the proposed Brixton Green Community Land Trust, Portuguese Community Centre
  • We are developing new community-led environmental projects, including Community Freshview, and Community Green Champions.
  • We are a national leader on personalising care budgets – this allocates the care budget to the user to spend as they see fit with appropriate guidance and advice.
  • Key services are delivered by not-for-profit social enterprises, such as Greenwich Leisure who run Lambeth’s leisure services.
  • We have the highest number of tenant-managed estates of any council – this is a co-operative form of management.
  • We are already home to Coin Street Community Builders – one of the country’s most high profile and successful co-ops. 
  • We recently opened the country’s only parent promoted secondary school, a community-led alternative to the academy model.

What other ideas could the cooperative council model include?
We will explore a range of ideas and ways of taking things forward.  These are not set in stone but may include:
  • An ‘active citizens’ dividend’ that could reward residents who are involved with organisations that help deliver community-based services with a council tax rebate.
  • Neighbourhood cooperatives – allowing residents in a given ward or neighbourhood to run local community facilities
  • Citizen-led services – allowing service users or local residents to hold a ballot on turning certain local services into local cooperatives, such as children’s centres or youth centres.
  • Supporting more housing cooperatives under residents’ control and ownership
  • How we break down the barriers with partner organisations to deliver more jointly commissioned services offering better value for money.

What happens next?
We are working on a consultation document that will go out to the council’s partners in March.  We will also set up a Citizens Commission to involve residents and service users in discussions about this new way of delivering public services.  The Commission will report back in April.

Mayor of Lambeth hosts reception for Portuguese Community

The Mayor of Lambeth, Cllr Christopher Wellbelove held a reception on Tuesday night to honour community representatives from the Portuguese and Spanish speaking communities, including representatives from Portugal, Madeira, Latin America and Africa.

Around 100 guests attended from across Lambeth and the rest of the capital to discuss how the diverse communities who speak Portuguese and Spanish can best be represented in Lambeth.

Discussions included plans for a new Portuguese community centre, which Lambeth has allocated £0.5 million to fund and will be established by community leaders.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Labour keeps rent rise to a minimum

Lambeth's Labour Cabinet has approved a rent increase of 3.14% (£2.60 extra per week) and a 5.75% rise in tenant service charges. Both of these figures are in line with the government's recommended figures.

Lambeth housing tenants will also see the repairs budget increase with a further £3.3 million going forward into providing repairs and new windows to help enable all Lambeth residents a comfortable property to live in.

Labour will continue to work with Lambeth Living to find the most effective way of finding savings and help to reduce the deficit left by the previous Liberal Democrat and Conservative administration. There is still a lot of hard to work to do to help get Lambeth tenants into suitable housing as well as complete the extensive repairs project.

Cllr Lib Peck, cabinet member for housing and regeneration said: 'We have listened to what our tenants have said – that is why we are working to secure the smallest possible increase of £2.60 per week. This is in line with Government guidelines.

I am pleased that we have managed to secure an extra investment of £3.3 million into repairs; and to freeze any increases in hot water and heating charges.

'We remain firmly committed to working closely with Lambeth Living in the next few weeks to agree a workable and reasonable housing management fee for them to provide housing services for Lambeth tenants.'

Pictured: tenants on the Mursell Estate will be pleased that the rent increase has been kept to a minimum.

Police appeal for Billy Cox murder information

The Met has issued a press release appealing for information on the murder of 15-year-old Billy Cox at his home in Fenwick Place, near Clapham North tube station on 14 February 2007, writes Stockwell News

They hope that with the passing of time, someone will now feel able to tell police the name of the suspect for the shooting of the teenager.

There were no signs of forced entry and it is possible Billy knew his attacker. His sister, then aged 12, returned to their home and as she neared the door, she heard a 'bang'. Inside, she found her brother dying. A friend turned up at the premises and helped her to give first aid whilst they waited for an ambulance. A paramedic also treated Billy but he was pronounced dead at the scene. A post-mortem gave cause of death as a gunshot wound to the chest.

Detective Inspector Russell Duke said: "We retraced Billy's steps that day leading up to the shooting. We know he left Acre Lane, Brixton, SW2 at 14:36 hrs and made his way home to Fenwick Place.
"Did you see him on that journey, either on a bus or underground train or even walking? Please let us know.

"Were you in or around Fenwick Place that afternoon? Billy's home backs on to Cottage Grove. Did you see or hear anyone, either in front or at the rear of the property between 14.30 and 15.30?

"After three years, we believe that anyone who knows who killed Billy Cox should feel that they can tell police what they know. We will treat all calls in the utmost confidence and urge you to pick up the phone, for the sake of Billy's family."

Anyone who can assist should call the incident room on 020 8247 4553 or to remain anonymous call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

In June 2007, officers arrested five men at an address near Clapham High Street. Four were arrested on suspicion of possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply and were later released without charge.
A fifth man, then aged 20, was arrested on suspicion of the murder of Billy Cox. He was also released without charge in 2008.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Great news as council tax frozen for second year

Labour councillors in Lambeth last night voted through budget proposals which will freeze council tax – for the second year running.

The pledge comes along with plans to increase funding to frontline services.

The announcement comes in stark contrast to the last administration, run by a coalition of Lib Dems and Tories, who increased council tax by 40% - putting up bills on average by around £1,000.

The council release its budget for 2010 which will include more investment in services such as noise nuisance teams, community support officers and the council's antisocial behaviour team.

The news comes thanks to the prudent financial management of the Labour administration, which has targeted town hall waste, and frozen councillor’s pay – generating savings of £3 million.

Council leader Steve Reed said: "Labour has targeted waste to make the council more efficient. That approach has saved millions of pounds and now residents are seeing the benefit with the second year of a council tax freeze and investment in new services at the same time.

“Labour's new investment includes lunch clubs for older people in all Lambeth’s town centres, extra investment in youth services, and action against crime with new measures targeting drug dealers, dangerous dogs and people responsible for antisocial behaviour."

Cllr Imogen Walker said, “This is great news for residents that they won’t be spending a penny more for council services this year – at a time when things are not easy for hard working families.”

Monday, 8 February 2010

Stockwell Park High School Building

Here are some pictures from the new Stockwell Park High School building taken last week. The school is the first in the ‘Building Schools for the Future’ programme to receive an ‘Excellent’ rating for architecture and build environment from the Committee for Architecture and Build Environment (CABE).
Phase 1 of the building is now open and the remainder of the building will be in use by Summer 2010. The new features include a new amphitheatre for drama, new gardens with allotments, a revamped dining room, a new sports hall and ICT suites.
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.
GCSE results at the school were up by a staggering 21% in the last set of results, with the school the most improved in Lambeth.
Headteacher Judette Tapper said: "This has been a wonderful journey and the new building is a central part of our school's vision. It provides us with an opportunity for continuing to develop outstanding learning for the children at Stockwell Park High School."
Cllr Pete Bowyer, who represents Stockwell said “It’s fantastic to see a building that truly reflects the ambition, hard work and determination of the kids who study in it, the teachers who inspire learning and the community who are supporting them.”

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Free home security upgrades

If you live in Lambeth, you can apply for a free home security improvement thanks to £100,000 of funding from the Labour government.

The upgrades, which include window locks, door chains and spy holes are part of a programme run by the Clapham Park Project to tackle burglary in our community.

First call will be for older residents, those who are on low incomes and those living in burglary hotspots, but any resident can apply to have their home's security assessed.

Work will be carried out by Age UK, and anyone who feels their property needs additional security to help reduce the risk of burglary can apply by calling Clapham Park Project by 19 March on 0800 085 2378.

You can also visit http://www.metbumblebee.org/ for home security tips.

February is LGBT History Month

Lambeth launched LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) history month at the beginning of February with an event at Brixton Library.

The keynote speaker was author and theatre director Stella Duffy. Stella has written seven literary novels – the latest 'The Room of Lost Things' set in a dry cleaner's on Coldharbour Lane – five crime novels, 35 short stories and eight plays.

Mayor of Lambeth, Councillor Christopher Wellbelove, said: "LGBT History month is an excellent opportunity for us to celebrate the valuable contribution that this community has and continues to make to life in Lambeth."

Events planned for the month in Lambeth libraries include a Valentine's poetry night on Friday February 12 at 7pm at Clapham library. L'Amour Plated Poets, Aoife Mannix, Sophia Blackwell, Keith Jarrett and Dean Atta will lead the evening of love in the Library.

"Falling in love again" at the Nettlefold Hall, West Norwood Library on Tuesday 23 February, will feature a version of one of Marlene Dietrich’s last filmed UK performances. All are invited to join LGBT elders for tea and cakes, followed by the screening.

The event will also invite the community to register interest in the re-launch of the LGBT community forums.

For more information on LGBT history month visit http://www.lgbthistorymonth.org.uk/.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Labour talks to residents on Lansdowne Green

I attended a recent meeting of the Lansdowne Green Residents Association on behalf of the Labour councillors for Stockwell. The chair of the TRA, Julie Tatnell is doing an amazing job chairing the association and keeping the estate together in difficult times.

A resident on the estate came to say that her nephew had recently been stabbed. This was an extremely distressing incident, which has deeply disturbed the local community. Working with the TRA, Labour councillors are arranging a meeting with the police to discuss ways in which the community can move forward.

Many at the meeting had a number of ideas for improvements which could help tackle crime even if they couldn’t eliminate such terrible incidents. They include new CCTV cameras on the Wandsworth Road and outside the Cavendish Arms pub. It also includes organising more activities on the estate for youths (i.e. 11-16 year olds) and reinvigorating the ‘fun day’ which used to happen on the estate.

We will work with residents to try to deliver these improvements, and welcome any creative ideas for cutting crime and tackling gangs. There are a number of important activities on the estate aimed at a younger audience – the In Harmony programme which provides music classes for youngsters had a major investment of £0.5million.

Picture © Copyright Danny Robinson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

More Northern Line Misery

Your Stockwell Labour Councillors are spitting with rage at the prospect that the Northern Line could be affected by closures for 65 weekends.

Tube Lines wants early closures between Stockwell and Morden from July until November 2011.

A spokesperson from Tube Lines has said: "We requested a mixture of extended engineering hours (EEH) from 11.30pm until start of traffic and 52-hour part line weekend closures.

There is confusion as to whether the lines will close at 11.30pm, or at the even earlier time at 8.30pm, but either way it looks likely that there will be a much reduced service in the evenings and weekends.

Alex Bigham , Labour Action Team Member for Stockwell said “This is another blow to commuters who have suffered long enough on London’s misery line. The northern line is already overcrowded and subject to delays. It is time that the Conservative Mayor took some leadership and improved the service for Londoners.”

Labour Councillors in Lambeth are campaigning for a new bus service to run from Clapham to Bank - to take pressure off the Northern Line. You can read more and join the many who've already signed the petition here.