Council budgets

This week the council executive of eight Lib Dem and two Tory executive councillors finalised budget recommendations for the next three years.  Considerable debate has taken place and several months of hard work by council officers and coalition councillors to reach this point.

The council leader Cllr Nick Stanton has done an exemplary job in keeping all the coalition councillors informed and involved.

It’s worth reminding ourselves that 70% of council revenues are provided by central government. That the Labour government has decided to use 2004 population figures and not more recent figures. As the population is dramatically rising in London and South East, 2004 population fugures results in less money for Southwark but benefits Labour heartlands up the M1. Councils with signifcant deprivation (Southwark is the 20th most deprived council in UK) are getting real term cuts from the Labour government for the next three years as opposed to councils such as Rotherham (the 50th most deprived) which is seeing dramatic real terms increased.

Considerable savings will be made by centralising many council offices into a new office on Tooley street. God knows where we’d be if this wasn’t already in progress.

Social care is being consulted on to stop providing care for those with moderate needs. Community Warden services will have fewer wardens and manager. Meals on wheels where Southwark is the cheapest in London will see price increases. Livesey childrens museum will close. A review of all three historic town halls will take place. Some council funded events will see cuts or no more funding. A whole host of other cuts will be made.

No one likes or wants cuts. Considering the dreadful hand of cards dealt by the government I think the residents of Southwark have had the best possible result.

East Dulwich crime

The latest crime stat for London are available on the Metropolitan Police website. It shows that reported crime in East Dulwich has taken a sharp dip. Some of this is due to the Police more accurately showing East Dulwich political ward boundaries. But most of the dip can’t be explained in this way.

Much of the dip is due to the hard decisions the three Liberal Democrat councillors have taken to spend local Cleaner, Greener, Safer money in ways suggested by the local Crime Prevention Officer. Things like Alertboxes and gating alleyways. We’ve also been following up our promise to ensure all East dulwich streets have good modern street lighting levels.

So 2006 East Dulwich has 99.72 crime per thousand population. During 2007 this dropped to 86.16 crimes per thousand. This means we’ve gone from being the 3rd to 2nd best ward for lowest reported crime levels in Southwark. The next round of Cleaner, Greener, Safer applications has opened with a closing date of 31 March for applications.

Again we’ll be taking extra heed of what the evidence tells us will reduce crime when deciding between schemes. In one years time I expect to be able to say that East Dulwich is no.1 for lowest reported crime in Southwark. Watch this space….

UK tops Endemic surveillance league

The latest annual report by the UK based Privacy International advocacy group tells us that an increase in survelliance and decline in privacy safeguards globally has occurred during the last year.

The UK earned top place for having the most endemic surveillance due to having the biggest network of CCTV in the world + Labour plans for a national compulsory ID card rich with personal and biometric information, and minimal comeback for citizens when the government looses this information. And you know they will loose that information.

The report states that the UK Labour government “has access to its people and technology that China doesn’t”. We seem to have runaway adoption of such technologies with little or no progress in safeguards to ensure fair play for you and me as private citizens.

The latest cost estimate by the London School of Economics of the Labour governments ID card plan is £12 to £18 billion during the next ten years. Think how many Police officers that could pay for. Or how fantastic the reabilitation of prisoners could be, dramatically reducing reoffending rates.

The Youth Justice Board, which runs the Labour flagship Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme, said the re-offending rate was “very high” or in plain english 91% re-offended within two years!

What do you think the Labour government should spend our tax money on – ID cards, more Police or getting criminals rehabilitated?

Alert boxes

In October the three East Dulwich Liberal Democrat Councillors Cllr Richard Thomas, Jonathan Mitchell and I allocated £25,000 to help fight shop crime in East Dulwich. This was the number one priority for investment from the local Crime Prevention Officer.

Just before Christmas another 100 traders in East Dulwich signed up for Alert boxes – a proven method to reduce shop crime by typically 57%. The Alert Boxes have been programmed and will be delivered during mid January.

Big thanks to the East Dulwich Safer Neighbourhood Team and council officers nad project managers for making this happen – Andrea Allen, Sarah De Souza and all the traders who have joined in the scheme.

Riverside new councillor – déjà vu

A by election in the Riverside Ward in Southwark gave me a huge de jevu feeling. While canvassing for the excellent Liberal Democrat candidate Anood Al-Samerai I kept coming across Labour leaflets with covers identical to those used in East Dulwich in 2006. Same broken windows on estates not located in Southwark. Same Police officers in uniforms that the Metropolitan Police have never used – looked like West Midlands Police officers. All stating that Liberal Democrats are soft on crime. Err, that would be Southwark with crime down ahead of tough targets set by central government through hard work of Liberal Democrat run Southwark Council working with the Police.

I also had the same de jevu that voters in Riverside would see straight through such rubbish. They duly did and Anood virtually received 50% of the votes – 1,114 out of 2,248 and extended the majority over Labour.

Well done Anood.


Last year I applied for 32 Alertboxes costing £5,000 – little boxes that send alerts to neighbouring businesses who can rush to help resolve a problem. Really useful at getting people to talk to neighbouring shops and offices and has a happy benefit of building up a community feelingh. They were installed in Lordship Lane and Northcross Road. If you look carefully in shop doors and windows you’ll see little stickers telling you shops that have them. During the first year the Crime Prevention Officer reported a 57% reduction in crime where these Alertboxes have been installed. WOW!

On this basis the East Dulwich coucillors – Richard Thomas, Joanthan Mitchell and myself – have allocated £25,000 to saturate East dulwich with this technology before March.

If only fighting all crime was this obvious and straightforward.