Dulwich Community Solar – when ?

Chase Community Solar, working alongside Cannock Chase District Council has what appears a ground-breaking initiative. They’ve created a Community Benefit Society to install PV solar panels on the roofs of council properties.

The council tenants or leaseholders will receive £100-£200 of their electric bills for hosting PV solar panels on their roofs.

This is funded by people investing a minimum of £100 with a 7% projected rate of return for 20 years from selling electricity generated by the solar panels to pay this interest and expenses. Bit better than 0.5% with any money sitting in the bank. The capital raised pays for PV cells to be bought and installed. Additionally community shares are eligible for 30% tax relief through the Enterprise Investment Scheme. So this appears a cracking deal for local investors as well.

Solar energy can play a key part improving energy efficiency, as well as helping the environment by reducing carbon emissions, but the cost of installing panels is a deterrent. Community share issues such as this may be an ideal solution. Those who put up their cash not only help to improve their community but may also get a decent rate of return. The project is also very attractive to councils as it helps both their tenants and their carbon footprint.

When will we create Dulwich Community Solar?

2015 Secondary School Admissions

Today is secondary school admissions being announcement day – from 5pm online and letters overnight. 2,637 on time secondary scghool place applications, 42 higher than last year.

Summary of preferences allocated to Southwark residents Secondary 09-15

Slight reduction in people being offered their first preference 59.6% (61.4% in 2014), first three preference 86.5% (88.5% in 2014), 93.2% first 6 preferences (94.4% in 2014), 6.8% none of their choices (5.7% 2014). So 179 children not allocated any school their parents and they wished for and 355 families didn’t get one of their first three choices.

If anyone needs help please get in touch. It is amazing how much of s shake down happens and families ultimately getting acceptable school places.
Secondary Transfer 2015 QA Information Pack

All going well the following year families will have an extra local secondary school to choose from.

Reduce The Strength


Some UK councils led by Ipswich and then Portsmouth have introduced Reduce The Strength campaigns to reduce alcohol misuse. In Portsmouth alone they’ve calculated alcohol abuse costs £74m annually across the NHS, Police, criminal justice system and council alone. In Ipswich they report a 31% drop in crime.

The idea of Reducing The Strength is to ask off-licences to volunteer to NOT sell beer or cider over 6.5% proof. Shops supporting the scheme are given a sticker to show how responsible they’re being for their local community.

One shop owner said “when we stopped selling high-strength lager there was an immediate change, and the staff say they now feel a lot safer”. As of last summer over 40 councils have introduced this scheme.

One street in Portsmouth has seen a 50% reduction in violent crime.

Do you think such a scheme should be introduced in Lambeth and/or Southwark ?

Green Coverage

Some considerable time ago Lib Dems in Southwark ensured that the Southwark Plan encouraged developers to include green roofs and green walls into their plans. They’re even mentioned on the checklist for major developments but pigeon holed into Landscaping.

Paris green wall

Green walls and roofs can be amazing. Green walls for example can reduce daily temperature fluctuations of external walls by 50%by shading walls and insulating them. With ever hotter temperatures this is booming really significant reducing the need for air conditioning and where needed the amount of energy they consume. If deciduous climbers are chosen then they can also reduce wind chill of external walls by 75% which in turn reduces winter cooling by 25%. They also capture dust making air cleaner but also can house wildlife.


So why have we not seen a real surge in green walls and roofs across new Southwark buildings?


Making Local Stations More Passenger Friendly

Calculations of local station passenger numbers show that East Dulwich and West Norwood are each handling over 2 million people using them each year. East Dulwich station in just one year has seen growth of 5% in passenger numbers and West Norwood 2% :

Station Name District or Unitary Authority Station Facility Owner 1314 Entries & Exits 1213 Entries & Exits
Brixton Lambeth Southeastern 942,548 896,848
Denmark Hill Southwark Southeastern 5,166,040 3,935,776
East Dulwich Southwark Southern 2,119,018 2,104,766
Gipsy Hill Lambeth Southern 1,992,136 1,943,522
Herne Hill Lambeth Southeastern 3,308,970 2,918,610
Loughborough Junction Lambeth First Capital Connect 1,386,290 1,182,914
North Dulwich Southwark Southern 869,276 839,378
Sydenham Hill Southwark Southeastern 643,928 585,176
Tulse Hill Lambeth Southern 2,442,126 2,145,064
West Dulwich Southwark Southeastern 1,025,312 949,754
West Norwood Lambeth Southern 2,118,260 2,073,698

Weirdly, neither have in station shops or caffe’s or newsagents. The journeys can be pretty tough these days and having concessions could improve people’s journey. Neither are that friendly. East Dulwich the platforms are really low compared to the train doors. The platforms aren’t well covered to keep passengers dry.

Would a concession selling coffee and snacks on the platforms facing into London make your journey a little more bearable?

Should we get the platforms raised at East Dulwich and more platform covered from the elements?

(Between all the above listed stations they now see 22 million people enter and leave shooting up 12.5% in just one year)

Metal Theft Plummets

Just over three years ago I urged people to sign a petition supporting a bill to licence all Scrap Metal Dealers. Thank you to those who helped push for this change.

The Act was passed with support from the government and came into force October 2013. All scrap metal dealers had to obtain a licence from local council to trade. Near 8,000 have been issued across England & Wales.

Already a dramatic reduction in metal thefts down from 59,788 2012/13 to 40,680 in 2013/14. As the new system settles down I expect the level of theft to decline further. WELL DONE to those who made it possible.

If you have metal that could be stolen – please do also consider property marking it. Either SelectaDNA or Smartwater. Please do make it even harder for thieves.

Green Investment Bank

One of the big green developments of the Lib Dems in government has been the creation of the Green Investment Bank. It starts with £3.8bn to lend to promote green investment.

Some councils have taken green loans to upgrade all their street lighting to LED lights. Savings of 80% in electricity and all the commensurate CO2 reductions are not to be sniffed at. The LED lights also produce a much brighter white light in the process.

TfL plan to replace 35,000 of its street lights by 2016.

So lets get Southwark Council and Lambeth Council to do the same. Borrow the money to replace them now from the Green Investment Bank, save lots of CO2 and in the process fund the loan and still have save lots of money. Win, win, win.

I’ve suggested this to the cabinet member for Environment…we await hopefully a positive response….

Bike Hangers Coming To East Dulwich

2013/14 several East Dulwich residents applied for Cleaner, greener, Safer Capital funding for secure Bike Hangers cycle parking in East Dulwich. An initiative pushed by Southwark Cyclists and one I whole heartedly support. Each hanger can store up to 6 adult bicycles taking the space of less than one car space. Ideal for streets with flats and people have little or no space to park a bicycle securely.







Several were approved for funding – 30 Heber Road, 24 Matham Grove, 50 Ulverscroft Road.

Shortly residents are going to be consulted about them being deployed outside the homes of the applicants. I’ve asked that the Matham Grove one be moved from being proposed outside no.24 when the applicant lives at no.26. But apart from that I hope residents will fully support this cycle parking.

What do you think – for or against please let me know cllrjamesbarber@gmail.com and the relevant officer chris.durban@southwark.gov.uk ?

Would you like one outside your home to making owning and riding your bicycle easier?




Lasers To Replace Spark Plugs

December 2014 Lib Dem Nick Clegg helped lead the UK government persuading the EU to agree 40% carbon reduction by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. An amazing achievement.

40% many think amazingly hard to achieve. We actually need an 80 or 90% reduction to avoid irreversible climate change. Either way 40% felt amazing.

This week it was announced that tests replacing regular spark plugs with laser ignition in a normal combustion engine had been successful. Not only does it work but in the first ever tests of the idea they had a 27% boost in combustion efficiency. That is a huge leap. Not only that they found fewer pollutants such as NOx which causes smog from incomplete combustion. This could benefit cars, lorries, ships, generators. In the US transportation engines account for 28% of all CO2 emissions.

The scientists involved are saying that a laser can be much more finely tuned to cause ignition at the best possible moment. That it could occur multiple times in one RPM of an engine. That unlike spark plugs which cause ignition at one end of the chamber it can be focused for the middle or edges or both. So 27% is probably just the start of boosting combustion efficiency.

40% could actually turn into a rather pedestrian target – he says hopefully.

Solar Eclipse Alert

In exactly four weeks time Friday 20 March there will be a total eclipse of the Sun visible from East Dulwich.


The eclipse will begin at 8.30am and reach its maximum by 9.30am and finish around 10.40am.

What will we see – 95% coverage of the Sun by the Moon. Pretty spectacular.

WARNING you can not look at this astronomic event without proper CE approved eclipse glasses. Do be very careful especially with children who probably don’t fully appreciate the risks of losing their eye sight if they look directly even at a partially eclipsed Sun.

So do organise eclipse glasses ASAP to take advantage of this amazing event.

The next eclipse in London after this will be 21 August 2017 but only a very very partial one in comparison. So this is quite possible a chance in a life time for such an event.

I’ve ordered family pack of glasses from Harrison Telescopes - I have no connection with them other than a customer but do get some glasses.