Four percent

This year 52% of secondary school place applicants have been successful in getting their first choice – 4% up on last year.
This still leaves so many disappointed people.
It will take years to get the three extra secondary schools we need in Southwark. Southwark schools are rapidly improving but it will take several more years before on average we meet the national average as a local authority.

This will never happen soon enough.
The Liberal Democrats started running Southwark Council in 2002. Every year since 2002 education results have been recorded as improving. How annoying that they had become so bad prior to 2002.

How angry does this make you feel?

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.

Heber School

Heber School is a good, increasingly successful school. During the last year it completely renovated the ground floor toilets that had been in a disgusting state for over a decade. The buildings are old so this work was extremely overdue. However, this still leaves the first floor toilets in a dire, smelly state. Not somewhere we can all be proud of.

The schools governors asked for support from the Dulwich Community Council Cleaner, Greener, Safer funding. This didn’t seem right as that funding is meant for works that make the community Safer or Greener or Cleaner.

So started over six months of discussions and badgering on how to find nearly £80,000.

Just before Christmas the finances were finally sorted out. Southwark Council Education Department will fund 50% directly and the other 50% will be funded by Heber school yearly devolved capital fund. As Heber have been busy improving the school this will have to be an advance, from Southwakr Council Education Department, on its 08_09 devolved capital allocation.

The work is so major it will need a whole summer holiday to complete.

I’m really chuffed that everyone has pulled together to be creative and flexible with the finances and make this happen at the earliest possible time.

New Grove Vale library – Dulwich Garden Centre

Southwark Council Planning Officers are currently preparing a report on this scheme. They will decide early next week whether to recommend this planning application be Granted or Refused. Since 19 November, when I last posted about this new Grove Vale library, the scheme has been revised. Unfortunately the library height proposed has been reduced. The top floor is now proposed to be set back and overall the building will appear less bulky. It also has lost much of its copper banding and wont be as striking. Shame.

If you want more details, want to support or oppose the scheme, then please get in touch with me.

The final decision by the full Planning Committee is expected to be taken 7pm 22 January at the Town Hall. These meeting have very long agendas so be prepared to wait some time and bring a book, snack, drink.