Extending North Cross Road Market

We’re very lucky that our local Saturday market on North Cross Road is proving so successful.

As a local councillor I applied and obtained funding for electric points along the pavement for market stalls. No more noisy minim electric generators. We’ve also ensured the road was renewed. We also sought the junction with Lordship Lane being upgraded and closed Saturdays. Getting marked pitches took several years but avoids stallholders setting up at crazy early hours disturbing everyone.

What we need to do now is end the farce that the market operates on Fridays as well and release the parking restrictions associated with this.

Asking residents about extending the market to the junction with Fellbrigg Road. Many a small majority are in favour BUT not from people living on North Cross Road.

I think a compromise of extending it to Archdale Road BUT turning the market stalls into the closed road would make the most sense. If would potentially keep noises more contained. But it would mean Nutfield Road would be fully closed at its junction with North Cross Road.

What do you think?

Golden Goodbyes

Southwark Labour amazingly have just introduced Golden Goodbyes for their cabinet councillors. This is the first council to ever introduce these extra payments.

So when a Labour cabinet councillor loses an election, resigns or is sacked they will now get a pay-off. The pay-off will be one month of extra Special Responsibility Allowance and an extra week for each year of service unto a maximum of 13 weeks. This payment will be up to £12,791 and even more for the Southwark Labour leader decides to step down.

My initial thoughts were of sympathy for someone who might lose their post suddenly. People have to live. But then I started to think why someone would suddenly lose such a post.

In no other job, let alone a calling such as being a councillor, do people receive a pay-off wen they resign. So why do Labour councillors expect it?

If resigning would cause financial hardship then that person should plan ahead. They could resign with a few months’ notice. That’s how normal people in normal jobs would do it.

There is also a real concern that ‘resignations’ cover a range of situations. Examples of recent resignations such as former Labour councillors Friary and Garfield involving police or legal action would certainly not be appropriate for these kind of payments. So Southwark Labour have decided the Standards Committee would confirm or deny these payments. This means Labour councillors have to tow the Labour party line or they’ll be blocked from these payments.

With regard to the proposal for payments for Cabinet Members who are sacked by the Leader, again I would ask why? As per normal jobs, wouldn’t the strong leader give someone three months’ notice. Give plenty of warning via regular 121’s. This would again lessen any problem of financial insecurity.

Lastly, if the Southwark Labour party group elects a new Cabinet Member, why can’t the elections take place over three months in advance of the council AGM when new post holders are confirmed? This would allow better planning and a ‘notice period’ effectively for those who didn’t make the grade losing their roles.

So, overall, I can’t fathom any justification for these proposals to award new payments to Cabinet members IF people manage the situation better and consider SRA post holders’ financial insecurity. Unless of course this is all a big ruse to Southwark Labour a tool to keep their councillors under control…

Flawed Viability Statements

Southwark Council after resisting years of campaigning from the people at 35% and Lib Dem colleague Cllr Adele Morris have agreed a new policy of publishing viability reports about whether a developer can afford to provide 35% social housing in any proposed development, some reduced amount or none at all.

For years developers appeared to hood wink Southwark Council and the council appeared to collude by keeping everything secret. So it is a huge positive step forward to publish such statements in future.

These statements are produced as per Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors guidelines. But they’re flawed and the concept is flawed. They look at the viability of a proposed scheme but take no account of whether the developer is a UK or foreign investment company that won’t pay the same tax levels. So effectively it penalises any UK company and hugely encourages them to base themselves off shore.

What should happen is some kind of factoring to allow for whatever tax regime the developer is based in. It’s bad enough we have a global tax evasion industry but for our council to encourage it makes no sense.

It also means if people can prove a scheme un viable with social housing, social housing doesn’t proceed. It maximises the land value at the expense of providing social housing. IF developers HAD to provide 35% social housing then the value of land would fall enabling this. People wouldn’t buy land at a price they would make a loss on any development while providing 35% social housing.

So the whole concept of viability squeezes down the amount of social housing. And if we’re going to have such assessments then at least ensure they’re a level playing field for UK companies.

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?