Labour’s ‘Right to Remain’ shambles is terrible for the NHS

The Labour party has recently had one of its biggest meltdowns yet. They voted for, then against the amendment to protect the rights of EU citizens who already live in the UK to stay here. Unreal.

Nobody knows where Labour stand on Brexit, they’re trying desperately to play both sides. People in this country are wise to it and people cannot respect a party that will not stand up for what it believes in – or have something it believes in.

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said Labour had the chance to block Theresa May’s hard Brexit, but chose to sit on their hands. There will now be families fearful that they are going to be torn apart and feeling they are no longer welcome in Britain. Shame on the government for using people as bargaining chips, and shame on Labour for letting them.

Locally the NHS relies on many many hundreds of EU nationals, both doctors and nurses, to sure up an already underfunded service. This is a huge problem for every person in our country but especially the Dulwich area, and we shouldn’t let hard working EU nationals and their families be treated as second class citizens.

As Lib Dems we believe in an open, tolerant and united future for our country. We want them to stay, they’re part of our country and our community. We will do all we can to fight for their rights and make them feel welcome. Join the Lib Dems.  If you agree please join us.</a></strong>

MPs voted down the amendment on EU nationalsí rights by 335 to 287, a majority of 48, with peers later accepting the decision by 274 to 135. The second amendment on whether to hold a meaningful final vote on any deal after the conclusion of Brexit talks was voted down by 331 to 286, a majority of 45, in the Commons band only possible with Labour colluding with the Tories.

London National Park City

A great charity is trying to make London a greener place to live, work and study. The idea is to use U National Park methodologies to promote the greening of our great city. To make it happen they need to get two-thirds of london councillors to support them scheme. If they dontreach this target by Summer 2018 they have to start again after new local election for London.

As you can imagine Lib Dem councillors are fully signed-up to support this. Both Cllr Rosie Shimell and myself pledged our support several years ago as East Dulwich councillors when we first heard about it. But try as we may we can’t get Labour councillors in Southwark to sign-up to this.

How can we break this deadlock? Why would the East Dulwich Labour councillor in East Dulwich not support this?


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.

Ward of Nation

Terrorist attacks often leave children without parents and real economic struggle on top of all the emotional turmoil and pain.

France’s minister for the family, Laurence Rossignol, has encouraged the families of children who lost a parent in the 13 November attacks to request the status of “ward of the nation”, which dates back to World War One and could entitle the child to grants and subsidies for their education and early adult life. It;s a small compensation for their loss and the sacrifices they have given for their country.

Why don’t we do that in the UK?

This would send an incredibly strong message that we all society supports them.


Making Lordship Shops All Shops

20-22 Lordship Lane were originally shops with flats above them. For a very long time they’ve bene used as offices for one of Southwark’s Community Mental Health Teams (CMHT).

Since 2005 we’ve been asking what are the plans for these offices. Breaking up the line of shops with two non shops with blank frontages doesn’t help keep Lordship Lane vibrant.

I’ve now had a Freedom of Information response back. Previously I had Southwark Council officers saying they were awaiting Maudsley people to respond. I’ve Maudsley people saying thy’ve been waiting for Southwark Council officers. You could not make this up.

So I’ve now escalated this to the Chief Executive Of Southwark Council in the hope they can resolve this. If they can’t then I’ll use my last resort of a Councillor Call for Action. Yes, Minister have nothing on this!

London One Hour Bus Tickets Coming

Sadiq Khan as Mayor of London has made his first big transport announcement, one hour Hopper bus ticket.

This isn’t an original idea from the new London Mayor. Lib Dem Caroline Pidgeon has been campaigning for this since 2009. This photo was taken in 2009 in tandem with this article in the Standard and the policy was in the 2012 and 2016 Lib Dem London manifesto.

Boris blithely dismissed it in the same way Cameron dismissed the raising of the tax threshold policy, saying it was too complicated and costly.

His successor has seen the sense in it and used Caroline’s idea in his manifesto.

Is this the start of more collegiate politics in London? Hopefully Sadiq will hopefully go further and also implement Lib Dem policy for half price travel for journeys on the transport network before 7:30 am.

Southwark By Elections

What a busy five years we’ve had outside of the normal elections.

Amazingly in the last five years we’ve had 9 by-elections. This is when a councillor resigns whether voluntarily or because they’ve committed a misdemeanour, or passing away. Eight of the nine have been completely avoidable. We’ve seen everything from a wife beater resigning, disquiet and resigning due to Labour housing policies, finding being a councillor hard work, the list goes on. And up to now they’ve all been Labour councillors. A weird record!

Sadly a Lib Dem councillor has now had to resign. In my personal opinion one of the best councillors from any political party – Lisa Rajan. This does make me sad. She is a principled, hard working councillor. But with 3 young children, working full-time and a husband now working weekdays in Manchester I completely understand being a councillor is that final straw too much.

Before becoming a councillor I was always cynical when politicians said they were standing down due to family pressures. Now with children and a family plus demanding day time job I finally get it.

So good luck Lisa for life after being a fab Southwark Councillor – you will be missed.

PS. Cllr Richard Livingstone thoughtfully reminded me that one of the nine Labour councillors passed away. Former Mayor Situ. Clearly this was tragic and even after five years his loss is keenly felt by many.

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.

Tax credit changes hammer local families

4,600 families in Dulwich & West Norwood will lose out under Conservative plans to cut tax credits.

Figures produced by the House of Commons Library show over three million low-income working families currently in receipt of tax credits will see their entitlement reduced, as part of the Government’s proposals.

The change will mean a total loss of over £6 million to families in Dulwich & west Norwood, with the average local family losing £750 a year.

Despite claims from the Conservatives that those affected will benefit from plans to increase the minimum wage, the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies has said Tory figures just don’t stack up.

IFS analysis shows a £750 average loss will only be offset by £200 as a result of the new minimum wage leaving working families so much worse off.

Liberal Democrats have opposed this move and said it undermines the work of the Coalition Government, to make sure it always pays more to be in work than on benefits.

These changes to tax credits will hammer our local families in and undermines any claim the Tories have of being on the side of working families.

“What makes this even worse is that just over 7,300 local children in our area will now be forced to live in poorer households, reducing their life chances and making it harder for their parents to make ends meet.

So many studies have shown that the Conservative’s claim to be supporting low income families through a minimum wage increase nowhere near make up for these drastic unfair cuts. They really need to come clean about this ideological change and be honest with those doing the right thing and going out to work

The only ray of sunshine is how hard Lib Dems are opposing these measures. We worked hard in Coalition to ensure that work would always pay more than choosing to remain on benefits. Go on Lib Dem Lords sock it to them…