Monday, 28 February 2011

New CCTV camera installed on Dorset Road

A temporary petard CCTV camera has been put up on Dorset Road. The camera offers clears views of the shops, parts of the South Lambeth Estate and the stretch of Dorset Road towards Clapham Road.

Although the area has been quieter in previous years, partly thanks to the action in implementing a dispersal zone, this camera will provide the opportunity to record behaviour and gather intelligence on problematic individuals for further action.

Please contact the CCTV suite if you witness anti-social behaviour or any activity you feel should be monitored and recorded in the area. You can leave a voicemail message which will be picked up by monitoring officer. The number is 020 7926 0494.

Car Club set to come to Stockwell

Following requests from local residents, a space for a car club is set to be installed in Stockwell Park Crescent. The scheme, which will be operated by Streetcar will allow residents access to a car when needed rather than keeping a vehicle permanently.

The changes will be implemented as part of a review to the Stockwell Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ), and will be offset by the introduction of new pay and display spaces, following consultation with local residents.

Friday, 25 February 2011

750 and counting - Follow us on Twitter

If you want to get the latest news in 140 characters or less, you can follow the Stockwell Labour Twitter feed - @labourstockwell. We are now up to 750 followers and rising...

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Anger spreads as Government cuts bite deep

Last night, an organised protest by various trade unions and left-wing activists disrupted the proceedings at Lambeth's budget-setting meeting. The noise from the protesters meant that the meeting couldn't be held in public - preventing deputations from the community having their say and councillors from taking their decisions in front of local residents. Details are here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/feb/23/protesters-occupy-lambeth-hall-cuts

Given that the meeting was sadly held being closed doors, I've decided to publish an edited version of what I would have said last night. The Liberal Democrats and Tories in government have cut Lambeth's budget by one third - which equates to £37 million this year. However, Labour took the decisions to reduce back office staff, so that only £1 million of that will be cut from frontline services.

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When the history of this borough is written, those who chronicle it may draw comparisons between the events of today and those that faced the leadership of Lambeth in the 1980s.

In the face of the government of Mrs Thatcher, who at least had the honesty to say she didn’t believe in society, the party of Ted Knight entered into an exercise in political grandstanding, which saw Lambeth get surcharged and become the basket case of local government.

Faced with the same kind of onslaught from Mr Pickles, this Labour council has made a different choice. Despite having our budget slashed by a third, we will protect the services that matter most, defend the most vulnerable residents and cut out waste and inefficiency wherever we find it. That is what I mean by responsible leadership.

So instead of simply passing the cuts on, we have saved more than £24 million by reducing back office staff. Of course, these are not pain free – and it is right that we pay tribute to the staff in Lambeth who are going through a period of uncertainty and fear.

The Conservative led government has made much of the fact that – to borrow a phrase from Thatcher, that there is no alternative. But is that true? Is it economic sense, or misplaced ideology to want to pare down the deficit over 4 years rather than 8? Would you want to pay off your mortgage in 15 years or 30, if it meant you couldn’t afford to pay for the other necessities in your life?

And if these cuts aren’t ideological, why is it in London, that boroughs like Lambeth, Tower Hamlets and Hackney have the highest levels of cuts while boroughs like Harrow, Kensington & Chelsea and Richmond upon Thames have the lowest. This government has hit the most deprived and vulnerable communities hardest.

And what about the Lib Dems? Their leader in Lambeth, Cllr Lumsden has frankly, failed to meet his responsibilities. He had the chance to sign a letter condemning the cuts along with his fellow Lib Dem council leads and failed to do so.

Instead, he has been travelling round to other councils, giving a presentation saying “do not be a constructive opposition” and when speaking about cuts in local services says “it is not our problem”. He urges his colleagues to be opportunistic and set traps for councils. That’s the kind of leadership we’ve come to expect from his party.

Labour is prepared to support this government where it is right – in its attempt to make public services work better for communities or to help people to break the cycle of worklessness. But we cannot support the kind of proposals the Lib Dems are advocating tonight.

Labour has put together a balanced and structurally sound budget. Where possible we have used funds from the balance sheet to protect frontline services. By contrast, the Lib Dems have conducted a smash and grab raid on our reserves - funds which must be protected by law. Lambeth's Section 151 financial officer - a non party figure said this was financially risky.

The last time the Lib Dems were in power they left Lambeth in financial chaos - with no reserves, a 40 per cent tax hike and cuts to key services. This is what would happen if they had the chance to put in place this set of proposals which only add up to poor financial management.

We have acted to protect services. While the government has taken away 1 pound in every 3 from our budget, we will focus resources on the frontline, so we can increase the number of neighbourhood police, protect street cleaning services, build new leisure facilities across the borough and maintain key services like children’s social care. All while freezing council tax.

That is a responsible budget, that responds to our residents' needs and protects our most vulnerable communities.

(Photo courtesy of Cllr Mark Bennett)

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The map that shames the Government

One of the most impressive pieces of propaganda that the Tory-led government has managed to perpetuate is the idea that cutting public services to this degree and this quickly is not ideological, but necessitated by economics. Of course, every party agrees there is a need to reduce the deficit, although I can never remember the Lib Dems or Tories telling the Labour government to reduce the amount we spent on hospitals, schools or police. If your bank gave you a choice of paying off your mortgage over 15 years or 30 years, and the monthly repayments for doing the former meant you couldn't afford your other bills, you wouldn't take the first option?

The idea that there are simply vast sums of money that were wasted by Labour, or continue to be wasted by councils is simply untrue. Eric Pickles, the Thatcherite minister for local government likes to lambast councils for spending money on keeping their residents informed about services, or paying their senior staff, as if saving a few thousand pounds would make up for cutting council's budgets by one third. In Lambeth we have made efficiency savings over the past four years, and will further reduce the number of staff at our budget meeting tonight. But while we will do our utmost to protect frontline services, making staff redundant is not pain free - not only does it damage morale within an organisation, but it can affect our ability to monitor the services we provide local residents.


The worst aspect of the cuts is not that they are front loaded, nor that they appear to be driven by ideology rather than good sense. It is that they are targeted at the most deprived communities in our country. The map above has been produced from figures compiled by The Guardian. It shows how our most vulnerable residents are being targeted - those boroughs with higher levels of child poverty, like Lambeth, Hackney and Haringey come off worse, while richer boroughs, often run by Lib Dem or Conservative administrations like Harrow, Kingston upon Thames or Kensington & Chelsea come off best.

It really is a map to shame Eric Pickles.

Monday, 21 February 2011

New Exhibition on Covent Garden Market Plans

The developers of the New Coven Garden Market site are holding a public exhibition on the plans for the area. The exhibition will be open to local residents and businesses with an opportunity to see updated plans for the redevelopment of The Garden.

This is the third exhibition on the plans, incorporating comments from the first two in 2009 and 2010. This will be the final time the plans go on display before the developers submit a planning application to Wandsworth Council.

The exhibition itself will be based in the Yvonne Carr Community Centre on Thessaly Road and will be open at the following times:

• Thursday 3 March, 4.00pm – 8.00pm
• Friday 4 March, 4.00pm – 8.00pm
• Saturday 5 March, 10.00am – 5.00pm

If you are unable to visit the exhibition but want to know more about the plans you can request a leaflet by emailing thegarden@cgma.co.uk or calling the dedicated hotline on 0800 977 8794. More information will also be available from Thursday 3 March on the New Covent Garden Market website - http://www.newcoventgardenmarket.com/.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

New Statue to celebrate ‘Queen of Tea Drinking’

A new statue has been gifted to Lambeth to celebrate Catherine of Braganza – the Portuguese consort of Charles II who made tea drinking popular in Britain. The statue is believe to be the first monument to a person of Portuguese origin in the UK.

The Horta Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Adiaspora.com have offered to present a bust of Catherine of Braganza as a gift from the Islands of the Azores to Lambeth and the Portuguese-speaking community in the borough.

Catherine of Braganza was the Portuguese Infanta, and the Queen consort of Charles II, who as part of her dowry brought Tangier and Bombay under British rule.

She is particularly renowned for introducing the custom of drinking tea in England which was popular with the Portuguese nobility at the time. The tea had been imported to Portugal from Portuguese colonies in Asia as well as through the trade Portuguese merchants maintained with China , India and Japan. Drinking "high tea" at 4pm was popularised by Catherine and is still a Portuguese tradition. Catherine is also said to have introduced the fork and tangerines to the dining tables of England.

The groups behind the initiative already have an Azorean-based Portuguese sculptor who is designing the statue which will be made out of basalt stone. This type of volcanic rock is iconic and the most connoted with the Azores because of the constant volcanic and seismic activity in the archipelago.

Lambeth Council have responded enthusiastically to the idea, with Stockwell Labour Councillor Alex Bigham saying: “This is a fantastic testament to the relationship between Britain and Portugal – the oldest of our alliances. Celebrating Catherine of Braganza reminds of us the shared history of our two nations which is reflected in the vibrant and thriving Portuguese community which we have in Stockwell and the rest of Lambeth.”

Adelina Pereira, a member of the Portuguese community who helped facilitate the gift said, “This artistic endeavour is something that is very close to the heart of the Portuguese people. Although Catherine was initially unpopular because of language difficulties and her Catholic religion, the British public warmed to her because of her decorum and loyalty to her adopted country.”

Lambeth Council officers are currently considering the proposal, and the statue is likely to be situated on Wilcox Road, near the area of Stockwell known as ‘Little Portugal’.

New bike racks in Crimsworth Road

Following consultation with local residents, Lambeth Council is planning to install new secure bike racks in Crimsworth Road.

The new racks will be outside 81/83 Crimsworth Road and at the side of No. 19 Crimsworth Road, and will mean the removal of car parking spaces.
This to provide secure bicycle parking for residents who do not have the space or ability to securely park bicycles in or within a reasonable distance of their residence.

Stockwell Councillor Imogen Walker who chairs Lambeth’s Environment and Community Safety Committee said, “This is good news for cyclists in Stockwell and reflects our commitment to become one of London’s greenest boroughs”.

Next Stockwell Forum meeting

The next meeting of the Stockwell Forum will take place on 1st March and will include updates from Cllr Sally Prentice on the Vauxhall Nine Elms scheme, Cllr Alex Bigham on Lambeth’s budget and Luis Ventura on the Portuguese Community Centre. The full agenda is below…

Tuesday 1 March 7.00 – 8.30pm in the Stockwell Community Resource Centre

Welcome
Steve Griffin, Stockwell Partnership

Vauxhall, Nine Elms and Battersea Area of Opportunity
Update by Cllr Sally Prentice

The Lambeth Budget – Impact on Services
Talk by Cllr Alex Bigham

‘Get to Know Your Community’ – #4: The Portuguese Community Centre
Luis Ventura, Development Project Manager

Break
Free Portuguese food / refreshments

Well London
Talk by Marie Clough

Local Planning Update – some key developments and planning applications which will – or might – affect the local neighbourhood – Ian Beever, local resident

Local Projects Update
Open session for Forum members to update others