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East Dulwich Double Yellow Lines

Southwark Labour proposed earlier this year to have 10m of double yellow lines added to East Dulwich junctions. So for a 4 way junction 10m on each side of each junction would result in 80m of double yellow lines. We have a lot of junctions WOW circa 10km of parking would be removed across Dulwich.

We’ve objected and finally had agreement that ward councillors will review all such junctions and make our counter proposals. This is what I’ve proposed to my ward colleagues – maximum of 2m of double yellow lines from the apex of each corner. Cllr Rosie Shimell has confirmed she agrees so we’re now just waiting for the Labour councillor to agree or make alternate proposals for us to consider

East Dulwich double yelllow lines Sheet1

What do you think?

Denmark Hill Extra Ticket Machine

After 18months of campaigning we’ve managed to get a second ticket machine at Denmark Hill station. I’ve chased the required planning permissions through. Caroline Pidgeon GLA AM has been super supportive nudging the train company. We met on site,  with our new Lib Dem Dulwich and West Norwood parliamentary candidate, to see the new machine which is currently undergoing final testing before going live soon…IMG_0984

Southwark Eviscerate Community Councils

Community councils were set-up by Lib Dems when they led the council in 2002. Simple idea that power should be exercised as close to residents as possible. Community councils decided local planning applications, traffic schemes, devolved budgets around investing in local areas, devolved revenue spending to help create new projects, and generally gave local residents the power to directly influence local councillors in decisions about their neighbourhood.

Sadly not everyone wants to make local decisions. Community councils were stripped of making local planning decisions when Labour took control of Southwark council. They then dramatically reduced the number of meeting down from 10 a year to 5 each year. and the number of community councils from 8 to 5 making them much less local outside of the Dulwich area.

I’ve sat on the main planning committee deciding on local planning applications where all local Labour councillors had refused to be involved in a local planning decision because it was contentious. So clearly hiding such decisions behind a town hall in Tooley Street suits such councillors purposes.

Labour are now saying they want to centralise traffic scheme decision making to a single Labour councillor in the councils Tooley Street ivory towers.The fig leaf of saving money has been given. That a council officer attending a meeting is too expensive. With 5 meetings per year for 5 community councils at  4 hours (including travel time) the saving will amount to around £2,500 each year of officer time. But we’ve been given the option of talking about traffic schemes but with no expert officer present to explain what they’re trying to do and their ideas should work and we can only ask the Labour traffic tsar to consider issues and concerns we raise.

Academic research shows more people involved in decisions the more likely they are to catch problems and make good decisions. Three ward councillors, 6 fellow councillors on the community council, neighbouring residents and an expert council officer – I’ve seen this work really well. I’ve seen it save money; of daft schemes be canned, or tweaked to actually work. I’ve seen proposed scheme forget about pedestrians which we corrected for example.

If you think centralising traffic schemes, only discussing local issues 5 times a year, not deciding local planning schemes locally is a bad idea please respond to the councils consultation and tell them what you think.

Denmark Hill Station Over Crowding

Local users of Denmark Hill station asked me how the chaos that has become Denmark Hill station could be allowed to happen.

After digging…. The coalition government agree to fund making the station Access for All. When Network Rail contacted Southwark Council the Labour council insisted that as the existing walkway was part of the overall station listing it couldn’t be touched. The planners refused to discuss widening the walkway sufficiently to support station growth and adding lifts. Instead they insisted upon a new bridge and structures to link the platforms. This then meant a new ticket office and blew the budget. It also meant the funds didn’t stretch to expand capacity for more people coming and going and forecast growth. This broken scheme was built. London Overground opened. It is now clear the wrong scheme was built and Southwark Council are equally to blame as Network Rail.

At rush hour it feels decidedly dangerous due to extreme over crowding.

We need a station fit to work properly with so many more passengers. In just one year 10% growth in users:

1415 Entries & Exits 1314 Entries & Exits
5,631,008 5,166,040


Fixing East Dulwich Roads

Some good news. Wednesday night East Dulwich councillors allocated our devolved road maintenance budget as per my proposals. All this maintenance is long over due and completes partially completed work funded by Southwark Council – we’re having to use our devolved budget to finish these incomplete works,

Rodwell Road  – £29,870 to resurface parts of Rodwell Road not resurfaced previously. Not enough to do the pavements as well. Another year.

Landcroft Road – £20,000 to resurface middle third of Landcroft Road not previously resurfaced.

Landells road – £47,250 to replace half of all the pavements of Landells Road.

The works should take place between November and March 2017. When we have more details of exactly when the work will take place we’ll let everyone know.

School Food Hygiene

All children should attend great schools. But they and their parents shouldn’t need to be concerned about basic food hygiene of school kitchens.

When I first raised the issue of poor school hygiene in Southwark in 2013 12 of our schools had only 3 star ratings. A year ago July 2015 it had broadly improved with the lowest ratings with 2 schools with 3 stars but 2 x 1 stars Major Improvement Necessary.

Currently no Southwark school has 3 stars and one has only 1 star. So big improvement needed.

1 star



But the Southwark website listing all Southwark school ratings was updated in June 2013.

But can we trust these ratings? of the 119 ratings 69 were inspected over 18 months ago – way past the recommended re inspection rate for schools. The oldest inspection recorded was 5 year 10 months ago!

Come on Southwark – do what’s right by the boroughs children and parents

Bakerloo Line Extension Short Changed

This week Transport for London have announced they are proposing two new Bakerloo Line stations in Southwark as part of extending it to the south east to Lewisham and beyond. It should drastically reduce traffic providing a much better alternative for people travelling into the centre of London.

This sounds good until you start looking into it. This part of the extension, from Elephant & Castle to New Cross Gate, will be about 4.5km long. But the existing Bakerloo Line is 23.2km long with 25 stations. So a station near enough ever kilometre on the current Bakerloo Line.

So why aren’t TfL proposing at least three stations along this section?

That would be a station every 1.125km. So a station at the Bricklayers Arms Roundabout, Burgess Park/Albany Road, Ilderton Road junction.

Come on TfL don’t short change the people of Bermondsey or Southwark. We want three stations not two.

Liberal Family Courts

The London Family Drug and Alcohol Courts (FDA) are now a well established step improvement in how charged people are dealt with. A welcome improvement in the courts approach to children in care cases. Southwark has been part of the scheme for over 2 years now. During that time there has been 18 cases, involving 24 children through the FDA court.

The impact that we are seeing through this court process is that fewer children are remaining in care and children are more likely to remain with a birth parent or an extended family member.

The FDA court has been externally evaluated as more successful than conventional family courts and as a result they now being extended beyond London.


Tree Root Subsidence Claims

Southwark Council with so many tens of thousands of trees receives a number of lciams for subsidence caused by those trees routes every year.

The latest stats I have after submitting a Freedom of Information request:
2010   69 claims
2011   70
2012   47
2013   41
2014   34 claims – but residents have up to 6 years to make a tree subsidence claim

Average time to resolve – 12-18 months to resolve a subsidence claim which is apparently is pretty average for councils. The council logs when a claim is raised and when the claim file is ultimately closed. However this does not measure how long a claim takes to resolve. For instance, a building insurer may raise a claim, ask for initial pruning to be introduced and then the claims handlers hear nothing further from the claimant. However they are required to keep the claim open for a significant period of time in case further communication from the claimant is received.

Tree root liability claims take longer to resolve than most other types of public liability claims as various sets of technical data are generally required along with a period of movement monitoring through a growing cycle, normally 12 months.

Top 3 Reasons cases take longer than the industry average/ best practice:
1. Technical data is not complete or provided – the council must ensure that the technical data is sufficient to show the cause of the subsidence before it moves to take remedial action, especially if it relates to a tree removal. People get very upset when well loved trees have to be removed. Occasionally a further period of monitoring may be required if the monitoring results did not show significant movement or the nature of movement was inconclusive requiring additional period of monitoring. There may be another cause to subsidence movement such as leaking drains, or unusually wet or dry periods.
2. Receipt of arboriculture reports – speeding up this process would in particular improve the average time to resolve the smaller less complex claims such as boundary walls and driveways.
3. Challenge to proposed tree removal – once the process begins to fell trees, delays can arise when challenges are received to the proposed felling. In addition this can also impact the speed at which arboriculture reports can be finalised.

Fire Deaths

The London Fire Brigade does an amazing job especially considering the severe cuts it has had over the last few years.

Across the UK 1979-2007 we’ve seen a huge reduction in fire deaths per million population of 69.5%. Since then it’s fallen even further. Truly amazing. Of western countries only Canada has seen a larger decrease. Brilliant performances from fire services. This has resulted from better building regulations, better work place regulations, changes to products to make things like sofas less flammable, fewer people smoking.

Despite that our absolute UK fire deaths per million was 7.6. The best is Switzerland with 2.0 fire deaths per million population followed closely by Austria at 2.6. Both countries have huge numbers of volunteer fire fighters. So across our UK 65 million population that means we have around 122 avoidable fire deaths each year.

In the UK we have a very high ratio of professional full time fire fighters. Many other countries have the reverse with volunteer fire fighters being the most numerous. Some have suggested that in such countries, where volunteers often start in their early teens, has created a culture in society that takes fire prevention much more seriously. To provide the same cover they have a factor more of volunteers so If something does happen the chances are a volunteer is at the scene of any incident much more quickly.

In the UK 2012 we had a ratio of one fire fighter, whether full-time (28,166) or part-time (11,703), to every 1,630 other citizens. In Austria its 1 volunteer to 27 citizens. The total spend is also less relying even on so many volunteer fire fighters.

Personally knowing someone who is a serving firefighter means you’re likely to be influenced positively towards fire prevention.
That raises interesting questions about fire risk awareness, and the effectiveness of using personal influence rather than investing as we have in the UK on broadcast media and educational programmes.

Should we become an Austria or Switzerland in our approach to Fire service and prevention to reduce fire deaths?