Reshaping Southwark Political Boundaries

Currently the Local Government Boundary Commission for England is deciding how to reshape Southwark Council ward boundaries.

They’ve already confirmed that they agree the borough needs to keep its representation via 63 councillors. But the current ward boundaries due to huge changes in local populations mean different councillors have increasingly different numbers of voters they represent.

I also submitted evidence which in summary I’ve suggested East Dulwich remain but add the area bounded by Towny Road – Green Dale – railway line. For Village ward I suggested it relinquish the Herne Hill part in a new 1 councillors ward bounded by Herne Hill – Norwood Road – Crofted Road – Railway line. That the remaining part of Dulwich Village become a 1 councillor ward. That College ward change its name to South Dulwich to reflect that Dulwich College isn’t the dominant political force in the area and become a 2 councillor ward.

But what do you think should happen locally in Dulwich?


Corporate Tax Avoidance

For too long UK corporations have dogged their taxation duties. Corporations want stable successful societies and the successful economies that result. This relies on taxation to fund key parts that ensure we have a civilised caring successful society. But they want everyone else to pay taxes to make this possible.

As a Lib Dem I’m clear that our policies to ensure everyone takes their rightful place in funding public services by:

  • Introducing a general anti-avoidance rule outlying contrived structures of companies designed purely or largely to avoid tax.
  • Implementing the planned new offence of corporate failure to present economic crime, including tax evasions with penalties for directors up to and including custodial sentences.
  • Levying penalties on firms proven to facilitate tax evasion, equivalent to the amount of tax evading by their clients.
  • Setting a target for HM Revenue & customers to reduce the tax gap and continuing to invest in staff to enable them to meet it.

These measures would create the environment for a step improvement in tax collection and ensuring we all pay our fair share of taxation.

What else should we do?


TfL Please Takeover Dulwich Trains

London Overground has been a huge success. Real investment in new trains, upgraded staffed stations, increased train frequency of trains and really easy frequent timetabling has unsurprisingly caused this success.

Whereas, the train services serving East Dulwich station are desperately over crowded and offer a very poor service compared to the London Overground.

So I entirely support TfL’s suggestion they take over this and other railway lines. We need a significant upgrade to our train services and TfL appear the only route to obtain this.

Cycle Deaths Failed Investigations

For many many years cyclists killed and seriously injured on our roads have been systematically been denied justice. The Police appear to consider cycling a dangerous activity and assume somehow they’re guilty of any crash rather than motor vehicles around them having a duty of care to more vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians.

The Police have failed and keep failing cyclists and their families.

Whereas for animal welfare the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) separately investigate crimes against animals. They decide whether to prosecute and frankly do a far better job than if the Police were to carry out this role.

Is it time for vulnerable roads users to have that type of separate more professional investigating body to properly investigate crashes involving cyclists or pedestrians?

I would say yes. How we’d fund it then becomes the issue and creating the laws to make this happen.

Do you agree? Or do you prefer motorists to be keep crashing into cyclists with relative impunity?

Reading Challenge

This year’s summer holiday children’s reading challenge was again a success this year. Across Southwark we had 5,321 participants compared to 5,217 last year.

Dulwich Library had the highest number of participants with 1,048 (5% up on last year) and Grove Vale Library also did well with 170 participants (13% up on last year).

Library staff visit schools before the summer begins to tell the children about the summer holiday reading challenge and also do promotion in shopping centres, and other community venues to maximise participation.

The challenge is created by the Reading Agency who co-ordinate the scheme nationally and produce all the materials – log sheets, medals, etc. It’s aimed at 4-11 years olds to read six books during the long summer holidays.

Did your children take part?

East Dulwich Road CLOSED 3-5 November

East Dulwich Road will be resurfaced 3->5 November each night between 8pm and 5am between Grove Vale and Crystal Palace Road. This assumes no surprises or bad weather.

Noisy work will be, as much as possible, contained 8pm to midnight each evening.

I’ve asked what the diversions for bus route 37 & 484 will be and other traffic. I’ve also had an extended dialogue with council officials over the summer about taking this closure as an opportunity to renew all the road marking and zebra crossings at Goose Green roundabout. Fingers crossed this all goes to plan as well.

Importantly if you park your car of off East Dulwich Road you’ll find access harder and may wish to park elsewhere for these two nights.

If you have any problems or concerns please let me know.


Cycle Green Wave – not coming to London…

Copenhagen the main routes in and out of the centre have traffic lights working to encourage cyclists to go at a consistent 20km/h or 13mph. They do this by all the lights going green in a coordinated wave. Too slow and you keep missing green lights. Too fast and you keep coming up to red lights. Some lights have count down green LED’s in the road for cyclists to encourage them to catch the green light.

They do this partly to support people cycling. But partly to make cyclists more predictable for other road users.

Transport for London say they can’t introduce this in London. They say to do so they’d have to remove Bus Priority that triggers traffic lights to go green for buses. They also say it would limited their ability to doctor traffic lights to support extra demand. Considering the prize at stake- potentially seeing a leap in cyclist numbers and safety this seems very negative.

Anyone out there who can do the maths to analyse this properly?


Term Times

I read with amazement how the Local Government Association – the national trade body for councils – have suggested families should find it easier to take their children out of school and on holidays during school term times.
Local councils have nothing to stop them changing term times so that families can go on holiday outside the normal holiday times when holidays can be so very expensive.
The LGA and London councils are the ideal bodies to help facilitate all councils coordinating term times around in a manner so all families have the chance for cheaper holidays without causing other knock on impacts. But instead they’re telling us families should legitimately be able to bunk off school!
In Southwark we now have good attendance record for school children. This has taken a lot of hard work from teachers and families. Let’s not wreck all this great progress by a knee jerk avoidance of councils taking responsibility for when schools are on holidays.
If you think Southwark Council should move term time dates or not – please tell me.

Tax credit changes hammer local families

4,600 families in Dulwich & West Norwood will lose out under Conservative plans to cut tax credits.

Figures produced by the House of Commons Library show over three million low-income working families currently in receipt of tax credits will see their entitlement reduced, as part of the Government’s proposals.

The change will mean a total loss of over £6 million to families in Dulwich & west Norwood, with the average local family losing £750 a year.

Despite claims from the Conservatives that those affected will benefit from plans to increase the minimum wage, the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies has said Tory figures just don’t stack up.

IFS analysis shows a £750 average loss will only be offset by £200 as a result of the new minimum wage leaving working families so much worse off.

Liberal Democrats have opposed this move and said it undermines the work of the Coalition Government, to make sure it always pays more to be in work than on benefits.

These changes to tax credits will hammer our local families in and undermines any claim the Tories have of being on the side of working families.

“What makes this even worse is that just over 7,300 local children in our area will now be forced to live in poorer households, reducing their life chances and making it harder for their parents to make ends meet.

So many studies have shown that the Conservative’s claim to be supporting low income families through a minimum wage increase nowhere near make up for these drastic unfair cuts. They really need to come clean about this ideological change and be honest with those doing the right thing and going out to work

The only ray of sunshine is how hard Lib Dems are opposing these measures. We worked hard in Coalition to ensure that work would always pay more than choosing to remain on benefits. Go on Lib Dem Lords sock it to them…

New East Dulwich Secondary School

This project we started as East Dulwich Lib Dems in 2012 is really coming to life.

Last week the first two areas of Dulwich Hospital land were transferred to the Education finance Agency. Areas 1 & 2 with combined 2 acres or 0.80 hectares. This represents 9.6% of the whole sitesl and – so still a long way to go and Area 3 is planned to be handed over in 2019. Please see this map:

Dulwich Disposal site map

This letter confirms this happening – I almost need to pinch myself:

Dulwich Hospital trasfer letter FINAL

We now all need to work with the Charter East Dulwich project team and NHS to make this all happen smoothly for local residents, patients, and school community.