Southwark Council IT Chaos

At a recent Southwark Council Audit, Governance and Standards Committee we heard what external auditors had found during various audits including one on IT Network Security.

For the first time ever in my 10 year of chairing or vice charing these committees we heard that an area of the council had “No Assurance”. This means the area is in a complete pickle and no confidence it will get sorted out any time soon.

Please see page 45 of the agenda pack:

The area is IT Network Security. The key findings stated were:

  • The council has deployed and is using operating systems that are no longer supported by the developer.
  • There are not adequate arrangements in place to apply operating system security and firmware patches to its IT servers.
  • The council’s corporate risk register does not accurately record the risk of an information security breach or the consequences.
  • A disproportionately high number of users have been granted elevated access rights, which includes domain administrator access.
  • The Council does not have procedures in place to identify unusual or suspicious activity, nor are existing network perimeter security controls reviewed on a routine basis.
  • Vulnerabilities, including the absence of a de-militarized zone between the Council’s IT network and the PSN, have been included within the design of the council’s IT network.
  • Firewall rules, both internal and external, are not subject to a routine review in order to determine their adequacy.
  • Anti-malware signatures are not updated on all Council devices.
  • The design and configuration of the council’s IT network perimeter security controls are inherently insecure and do not meet the requirements of either the PSN or of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS). A prolonged lack of effective management has only served to undermine the existing controls, such as they are, and require that the council will need to take drastic action in order to secure its IT network.

Utter IT security chaos placing Direct debits, employee ban accounts details, etc at risk.

Burglary Prevention

I’ve spent some time trying to find one definitive place for burglary prevention advice – the best I’ve found so far is this website and its Home Security Survey.

You can also ask your Police Safer Neighbourhood Team for a free crime prevention visit but they wont give you such a comprehensive survey of your home.

Locally we still have free SeletaDNA Property marking kits. The Police promote Smartwater but it has a shelf life so far from ideal.

Banham locks and alarms have a good reputation I love the fact we just have one key for all external locks both the yale equivalent and deadlocks. You need both on front and rear door. Classic is rear door forced entry.
Also ensure hinge bolts, Manchester and London bars to protect the door frame week points where the hinges and locks are – easy DIY jobs that even I’ve done.

Double or even triple glazing is best. In SE22 we have real issue of single pane sash windows being forced or smashed. If you need to keep single glazing sash then good window locks and a laminate or plastic coating can be added so that the pane can’t be smashed easily.

If you have any side or rear access make sure it is gated and locked.

The Met Police also have a book of scams that is a useful read –

Where Is 20MPH Not Working In Southwark?

Council officials after the latest batch of speed surveys and crash reports have come up with the 12 roads where 20mph is being exceeded the most across Southwark:


Sadly many of these roads in in East Dulwich.

They will now review what measures could be taken to bring vehicles down to the speed limit of 20mph. The most effective has been shown to be average speed cameras. Close to 100% adherence where installed. But camera enforcement is a cross London enforcement via the London Camera Partnership – so we need TfL to agree as well as the Met Police.

While we wait if you’d like to try enforcing the speed limit please join us on the local Community Speed Watch – contact me directly for more details.


Free Motorbike Ground Anchors

For some time we’ve had a worrying amount of motorbike and scooter thefts. Often they’re used to undertake further crimes.

To deter this Lib Dems in East Dulwich ward have organised funding for free motorbike ground anchors to be installed in front gardens and side returns.

If you would like a free motorbike ground anchor to really deter your precious motorbike or scooter being stolen contact me via

I send you a consent form to get an initial site survey and assuming no snags you get a free ground anchor.

Over to you – if you don’t have a motorbike but a neighbour or friend does please tell them about this.

Fighting for EU Residents’ Rights

Southwark’s political parties have come together to demand that the Government guarantees the rights of EU residents living in Southwark via a motion I tabled at the recent full council assembly. This is aimed to help reassure residents by calling on the Councils Cabinet to lobby the Government and the borough’s MPs to secure the right to remain for EU citizens living in the borough.

Southwark Council in its role as a community leader, should join in fighting the corner of all our residents, so I’m pleased the Liberal Democrat motion received unanimous support from all councillors and parties. Thank you.

This contrasts with the complete lack of action at a national level. Conservative Party ministers are instead using the right to remain as a crude bargaining chip in its Brexit negotiations with the EU. This is playing with millions of people’s lives and is unacceptable. As a professional negotiator the UK would also gain significantly more leverage by offering these rights straight off. It would show compassion and realism. It would be hard for thE EU to not respond in kind.

Since the referendum vote to leave the European Union on 23 June, the lack of any Government response on the future rights of EU citizens already living in the country has created huge uncertainty. There are 22,000 registered EU voters in Southwark and the EU referendum result has made many people nervous about their future here. 

There has been a rise in the number of hate crimes and incidents of racial abuse being reported against EU citizens with a 52% increase reported in London by the Police.

Liberal Democrat councillors also seconded a motion on hate crime that called on the Council to work with the police and local organisations to tackle all reported incidents of racism and xenophobia in Southwark, as well as support victims of hate crimes.

Nationally, the Liberal Democrats are calling for existing EU citizens to be given the right-to-remain with London MP Tom Brake introducing a Bill in Parliament earlier this month urging the Government to commit to this policy. The Party has also launched an online petition on EU citizen rights:

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.


Face Fear

New Scientist has reported a fascinating study.

The theory is that people who recognise fear in people are less likely to be violent towards them. Very disappointingly anti bullying programmes and monitoring young offenders have not been found to be effective.

Birmingham University researchers divided a group of 50 boys convicted of a crime. One half were a control group. The other half completed 7-9 hours of computer based traning to better recognise facial expressions. This training resulted in significant improvements in the boys involved ability to recognise fear, anger and sadness.

This transferred into significantly less violent and severe crimes afterwards than the control group. Clearly this was only a small study but the implications are massive if further research confirms this initial finding.

Hopefully it wont be long before this experiment is scaled up to confirm the initial findings. It a real effect it could one day see a profound reduction in Southwark violent crime…

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?

Fighting Dodgy Local Employer

I’ve just had the third piece of casework about an alleged dodgy employer on Lordship Lane.

The employer apparently hates paying their staff wages. Suggestion they employ illegal immigrants, and other allegations. To ensure when leaving you get paid your wages staff book holidays and then have to fight for their holiday pay. One’s not taking this approach owed many hundred of pounds. Generally not rich teenagers being exploited. This is exactly the sort of dodgy business behaviour that gives free enterprise a bad name.

I’ve contacted the local “dodgy” business person about one case and been blanked. They’ve always been very vocal to me about issues that bother them but suddenly silent. No response. The silence feels damning.

If you find yourself in this position – tell me. If I get more casework I will feel obliged to go public.

You can also follow this step by step guide, amending things with your details, to try and resolve things if you have this problem:

Send the following letter to the employer by recorded delivery.

“Dear Ms xxx

Re: Letter before action for non payment of wages

As you are aware I was employed by yyyyyyyyyy from xx to xx.
My last working day was xx
Despite numerous efforts to converse with you I have yet to receive a response as to why you have failed to pay my outstanding wages and holiday pay as follows:

– detail wages owed
– detail holiday pay owed.

This may well be an oversight on your behalf.

Please can you pay the outstanding amounts within the next 7 days.

If you do not pay the outstanding amount within the seven days I will commence proceedings against you in the employment tribunal.

I look forward to your response.

Yours faithfully ”

If you get no response after seven days you need to start the employment tribunal process

Three points regarding the employment tribunals:
1. Needs to be within 3 months of the last day of employment.
2. First stage is to contact ACAS for early resolution mediation which may resolve the issue if not they will provide a certificate. Need for next stage.
3. Fees – whilst employment tribunals require a fee of £160 to lodge a claim it is possible that as a student or low wage earner you could be below the monthly income threshold and exempt from paying.

If it gets this far you may want to seek Southwark Citizens Advice Bureau help.

Either way never let a rogue business person rip you of.

New London Lorries

I’m really chuffed to see that the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) campaign for a new lorry design they started two years ago to minimise crashes with cyclists is coming good.


Construction lorries are involved in around 75% of all cyclists deaths in London each year. The cabs of these lorries are high, they have turning movements that many aren’t used to and they weigh so much that if they do run you down you are literally squished. A very dear friend had this happen over and she died.

So LCC came up with a concept from their lorry expert Charlie Lloyd ideas with a much lower cab. This gives much great vision and fewer dead zones where the lorry driver hasn’t a clue what s going on. But with a lower profile it reduces drag for the lorry saving fuel. And fuel is major expense for companies running any commercial vehicles.

Mercedes have just launched a new line incorporating these ideas. I hope it becomes the new standard that other lorry manufactures adopt and literally many lives will be saved…

actual design