Monstrous Tory Human Right Act Destruction

The Tories are proposing to replace the Human Right Act and block British citizens from being protected by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Winston Churchill led the UK’s and Commonwealth in winning help;ing win World War 2. He then tirelessly pushed for the ECHR. He considered it critical to winning the peace. So the irony of a Tory government, whilst we have the disaster of Russia in all but name invading Ukraine i.e. European peace crumbling, destroying Winston Churchill’s arguably equally important legacy to European peace as winning the war is quite simply monstrous.

If you can;t bare the thought of such barbarism please support our campaign to save the Human Rights Act.


London Taffic Casualties Up

Crashes involving people being injured are up. They’re up 13% on last year.

Killed and serious injuries are down for all categories except motorcyclists. But overall casualties are up due to slight injuries which have been rising since 2007.

One line of inquiry for TfL is that the rising London population and resulting journeys is to cause this. So effectively the rate of crashes involving injuries would be down. I hope they reach a conclusion soon. Those slight injuries could preclude a rapid rise in more serious injuries.

Save Southwark Woods

We have the ridiculous situation where our graveyards don’t have sinking funds to pay for their upkeep. So we have to have new burials to fund their maintenance.

But new burials – and Southwark Labour are planning for 4,500 new burial plots – mean that what have become nature enclaves for residents to seek refuge from frenetic lives have to have that atmosphere destroyed. Bad for these 100 acres of woodland and residents.

An alternative would be to buy commercial burial plots for Southwark residents just 5 miles away. Kemnal Park is a no brainer. Also to make cremation cheaper to encourage more to use this service.

The Southwark Labour councillor responsible has said he wants poor relatives to be able to visit their deceased love ones. But for most Southwark residents our Southwark graveyards are several miles away tucked into the very SE corner of the borough. Not many live round the corner.

We can then concentrate on making our historic cemeteries into much more loved nature reserves.

If you agree please sign the petition – we need to make the lives of the living better in Southwark.


Aylesbury Estate

In April the main Planning committee agreed to the demolition of the 2758 homes that form the Aylesbury estate. The vast majority being social rented council homes, all 2,249 of them + 509 leasehold homes.

The replacement will be 2,745 new residential units in tower blocks up to 20 storeys high with only 37.5% social rent and 12.5% shared ownership with the remaining 50% private homes. So a huge decrease in social housing.

I sat on that planning committee and we heard much contradictory evidence. Assertions such as the estate had high levels of crime, ill health and low employment levels. But after 20 years of low investment is this surprising. The crime rate was an odd one as past years when they had their own Police Safer Neighbourhood Team they reported record lower levels of crime compared to the surrounding areas. We heard the heating was unreliable. But we also heard how for long periods it hadn’t been maintained properly. Much of the ill health is probably from poverty rather than the homes they live in.

Several times residents have been asked how they would like to see the future of council housing. Overwhelmingly they’ve said they want to live in council homes rather than Housing Associations homes.
Other consultations people have said they like the vision for the Aylesbury estate but we heard from a number who didn’t agree. No one attended to support the application which I found telling.
For leaseholders it was suggested years of agony arguing over the value of their properties with offers falling woefully short of the replacement cost. From the heygate debacle it looks like social cleansing of leaseholders from the area.

From an environmental perspective it didn’t feel good.
The plans will see more than a one third reduction in open space. From 4.8 hectares down to 3ha. No segregated cycle paths. Routes within the park don’t all align with paths in Burgess Park.
The target is to only reduce CO2 emissions by 30% when we know the planet needs 80% reduction. But this will be more than swallowed up by the huge loss of embedded carbon in the current structures. We heard and I’ve visited a number of blocks that could be kept and urgent residential leaseholders
Could be decanted to them over time. But the applicant rejected this out of hand.

We heard that the building weren’t safe and could collapse like a pack of cards. Objectors pointed out it was the same design as the Heygate estate which didn’t fall down like a pack of cards during demolition. So the expert evidence just did;t come across as credible compared to real world experience in Southwark.


So I found myself unable to support these plans and no longer supportive of the general Aylesbury plans. They appear wrong headed on so many levels now that the detail has been fleshed out. Problems could be fixed through helping people find work to boost their incomes. Through long-term proper maintenance. And yes I have visited homes on the estate. AS a minimum many blocks are perfectly sound.

So I voted against the plans and application which I was surprised at as I had anticipated before reading the report that it would have been well thought through and convincing

Protecting Our Most Vulnerable Children

I was shocked to hear that Lambeth Council has been judged as “inadequate” about how our children in care are looked after. Things like taking an average of 1,081 days – very nearly 3 years – versus the UK average of 453 days for Lambeth children in care to be adopted. it describes across the board failures. Lambeth has lamely stated it has started to address the issues – but the report effectively contradicts these. Only 3 years ago the service was rated as “outstanding” so an incredible deteriation of this crucial service for our most vulnerable children.

Lambeth Council has vowed to fix the problem within one year. As important is creating mechanisms where such a service can’t implode again.

How does this compare with Southwark. They were also last inspected in 2008. Southwark was rated as “good”. Hopefully Southwark will be shortly inspected to reassure us that we don’t have a systemic SE London issue across more than just Lambeth Council.

Children only get one chance at a decent childhood. Councils and their councillors must ensure they’re are decent childhoods. Lambeth is very nearly a one party state. So Labour councillors must sort this problem out quickly without fear or favour.

Confidence in the Police

Crime is falling – both recorded and from the National Crime Survey – but for many they still can’t trust the Police. At community meetings Stop and Search is causing real understandable angst.

A 2013 commission found that black people were six times more likely to be stopped and search than white people, and in some areas this was as high as 29 times more likely.. No wonder for a large proportion of our community the Police are an annoyance rather than the sign of crime busters.

Some years ago locally we funded hand held metal detectors for our Safer Neighbourhood Team Police in East Dulwich. It means patting down isn’t quite so intrusive for people being searched and gives warning of metal objects such as needles for Police officers. We’ve been talking to local officers about how we can help them get body cameras.

So I’m delighted that Lib Dems have committed to making body cameras mandatory for all Police officers in ‘Section 60’ stop and search areas, officers carrying firearms and officers in Territorial Support Groups. But ideally all Police and enforcement officers would wear body cams as a matter of course.

Body cams mean that people interacting with the Police are assured everything is recorded and for the Police it gives evidence to refute any unfounded accusations. They’re a win win for everyone. The Met Police have started to trial their use – but this needs to be accelerated and made countrywide as a minimum standard.

Do you agree?


Action For Warm Homes

I’ve been approached by Action for Warm Homes. They are great Manifesto for Warmth which I fully endorse and support.

Insulating our homes, public buildings and businesses must be a strategic priority. In Dulwich & West Norwood it’s estimated that 3,514 homes or 7.9% suffer from fuel poverty. Although this is a smaller proportion than the London average in the 21st century no one should be living in fuel poverty.

It’s calculated that this fuel poverty has led to 30% of the 27 excess winter deaths in our area.

Lib Dems in government have ensured a million homes have been insulated so many more clearly need  to be insulated. And just because a family isn’t in fuel poverty doesn’t mean they don’t have huge energy bills.

We must fight this for peoples health, social cohesion – people sacrificing other family budgets to pay for heating, environmental – we must reduce our CO2 emissions. But it is also a strategic priority. We don’t want to import more energy than we absolutely must.

Is your home fully insulated. You can also save money with climbers.

For ideas and a checklist or here.


Drugs Reform – Long Overdue

The Deputy Prime Minister has confirmed that the Liberal Democrat manifesto will contain the most far-reaching drug reform policies ever put forward by a major political party. At long last.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg made the commitment at an event alongside entrepreneur Richard Branson, a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy.

The manifesto will include commitments to:

Adopt the approach used in Portugal, where those arrested for possession of drugs for personal use are diverted into treatment, education or civil penalties that do not attract a criminal record.

Legislate to end the use of imprisonment for possession of drugs for personal use, diverting resources towards tackling organised drug crime instead, as a first step towards reforming the system.

Continue to apply severe penalties to those who manufacture, import or deal in illegal drugs, and clamp down on those who produce and sell unregulated chemical highs.

Establish a review to assess the effectiveness of the cannabis legalisation experiments in the United States and Uruguay, in relation to public health and criminal activity.

Legislate to make the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs independent in setting the classification of drugs, while remaining accountable to Parliament and the wider public.

Enable doctors to prescribe cannabis for medicinal use.

Put the Department of Health rather than the Home Office in charge of drug policy.

I am anti-drugs, but as a society we have a responsibility to look at the evidence of what actually works to reduce drug harm.

At the moment, the level of harm to individuals and communities – here and around the world – is still unacceptably high. We need to practically solve this problem. So, if you’re anti-drugs, you should be pro-reform like me. Brave political leadership to openly acknowledge that new ways of controlling illegal drug markets and discouraging use are required.

We need to accept the overwhelming evidence that things are not working, the war on drugs has been a failure, that politicians are letting down the victims of the drugs trade by failing to engage with the evidence.

Talking tough while acting weak may be tempting, but it no longer fools anyone. It is time to commit to a radically smarter approach to tackle this problem head-on.

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 ?