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

Noise Leads To Obesity

Swedish scientists have found what appears a link before road and jet noise and obesity.

Apparently living near a busy noisy road or under a noisy flight path can cause obesity. The mechanism isn’t clear yet but this could partly explain why poorer people suffer from obesity – they generally can’t afford to live on quieter streets.

One suggested mechanism for this is that noise exposure could be an important physiological stressor increasing cortisol production. High levels of cortisol have a role in depositing fat around the middle of the body.

Apparently all noise production – whether motor vehicles trains or aircraft have this impact but aircraft noise was found to have the highest association with increase weight.

Short term I hop this will be the final nail in the Heathrow airport expansion. On so many levels and now this it shouldn’t proceed. But it also suggests Gatwick shouldn’t happen which is almost as bad an idea as Heathrow.

But medium to longer-term we need to make where we all live so much quieter.

How do you think this can be achieved?

Aircraft noise – steeper landing and takeoffs would cut noise, banning the noises aircrafts, working internationally on a replacement for Chapter 3.

Train noise – ends diesel trains coming into London, noise baffle walls along noisy train routes and end noisy platform PA’s that can be hard outside stations.

Traffic noise – get more people cycling and walking, make the London low emissions zone low pollution AND a low noise zone. Add noise pollution cameras along our busier roads to enforce this.


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

Dulwich & West Norwood – my local priorities

If elected as your MP this Thursday my local priorities – above and beyond the Lib Dem national manifesto are:

  • Helping solve the local schools crisis through opening new schools, building in the right places. I have already ensured an extra 3,100 primary and secondary schools places locally. But we need at least another 1,500 school places.
  • Saving local libraries. Lambeth Council is planning to close 5 libraries and downsize two others. We have shown through building new libraries such as John Harvard Library that if you build better libraries more people use them more. I’ve persuaded developers to give us a brand new Grove Vale Library in 2016. I will work to persuade Lambeth Labour to reverse these avoidable cuts.
  • Creating more apprenticeships and jobs. Local unemployment claiming benefits has fallen to 3.5% but the UK average is 2.5%. Apprenticeships have more than doubled under the coalition government – they’re a Lib Dem priority – but we can all do better at creating them helping to ensure lower unemployment and higher incomes over the longer-term.


GOOD LUCK – Gipsy Hill Federation New Secondary School Application

In the last Labour government over 250,000 schools places were removed from the system. They must have thought this a sensible plan. But it has contributed to the massive shortage of school places building up since 2009/10.

Locally I have initiated and led new free school campaign that bring an extra 3,100 school places to Dulwich & West Norwood. Not a free school in the area has not had lots of local Lib Dem involvement. Some of these have been directly opposed by Labour councils.

But we still have a looming shortage of secondary school places in West Norwood/Gipsy Hill area. That’s why I support the Gipsy Hill Federation of primary schools to create a new secondary school. They made an earlier application that didn’t succeed. They’re about to submit their second application – GOOD LUCK. We’re all rooting for you to succeed and bring outstanding secondary school places to the area.

Harris Nunhead Primary School – proposal withdrawn

Today the Harris Federation requested that the proposal for a new Harris Nunhead Primary School be withdrawn.

Please see the letter here: Proposed Harris Primary Academy Nunhead 2

It seems unlikely that the Education Finance Agency will refuse this request.

The proposal had generated much opposition from people concerned it would reduce the amount of space for a new secondary school on the Dulwich Hospital site but also people not surprisingly unwilling to send their children the 1-2 miles from the Nunhead/east East Dulwich area to a new primary school at the Dulwich Hospital site. Harris Federation have listened to the consultation and acted accoridngly in good faith.

I am still unconvinced that we will have sufficient primary school places for local families – and am seeking to meet Southwark COuncil forecasters to review the numbers.

We now need to ensure that blocking this new primary school does result in the largest possible secondary school – without compromising any new health centre facilities.

What do you think?

Ending Generation Rent

Under Lib Dem manifesto plans announced today, young people will be able to buy their own home without needing a deposit.

The Rent to Own scheme will help first-time buyers onto the housing ladder by allowing them to build up a share in their home through renting without the need for a deposit.

This is a revolutionary shift in housing policy that will give young people caught in ‘generation rent’ a chance at home ownership

During the last decade home ownership for those under 35 years has plummeted. The percentage owning a home has gone down from 59% to 36%.

I was able to buy my first flat – or at least get a mortgage on my first flat – when I was 28. I could not do that now as prices and salaries stand.

So the Lib Dems in the next government partnering with housing associations and other providers would launch a Rent to Own scheme.

Rather than being trapped in rental accommodation forever, working young people who are unable to afford a deposit would be able to become home owners.

Rent to Own will see first-time buyers steadily build up a share in their home through monthly payments equivalent to rent until they own the property outright after 30 years, just like a normal mortgage. with monthly payments no higher than market rent.

This is forms part of Liberal Democrat plans to deliver 300,000 new homes each year, with the government bridging the gap between private sector building and demand.

It is only fair that working young people also have the dream of home ownership. Prices are so high now that renters cannot afford to even save for a deposit, which means they can never take that first step onto the housing ladder. Young people deserve better. Rent to Own will mean, regardless of their background and family circumstance, they will be able to make this a dream a reality. They will have the same opportunity I had.

This is about building a stronger economy and fairer society, and making sure Generation Rent has the same opportunity to get on in life as their parents and grandparents before them. Roll on the Lib Dems in the next government.


Green Coverage

Some considerable time ago Lib Dems in Southwark ensured that the Southwark Plan encouraged developers to include green roofs and green walls into their plans. They’re even mentioned on the checklist for major developments but pigeon holed into Landscaping.

Paris green wall

Green walls and roofs can be amazing. Green walls for example can reduce daily temperature fluctuations of external walls by 50%by shading walls and insulating them. With ever hotter temperatures this is booming really significant reducing the need for air conditioning and where needed the amount of energy they consume. If deciduous climbers are chosen then they can also reduce wind chill of external walls by 75% which in turn reduces winter cooling by 25%. They also capture dust making air cleaner but also can house wildlife.


So why have we not seen a real surge in green walls and roofs across new Southwark buildings?


Bike Hangers Coming To East Dulwich

2013/14 several East Dulwich residents applied for Cleaner, greener, Safer Capital funding for secure Bike Hangers cycle parking in East Dulwich. An initiative pushed by Southwark Cyclists and one I whole heartedly support. Each hanger can store up to 6 adult bicycles taking the space of less than one car space. Ideal for streets with flats and people have little or no space to park a bicycle securely.







Several were approved for funding – 30 Heber Road, 24 Matham Grove, 50 Ulverscroft Road.

Shortly residents are going to be consulted about them being deployed outside the homes of the applicants. I’ve asked that the Matham Grove one be moved from being proposed outside no.24 when the applicant lives at no.26. But apart from that I hope residents will fully support this cycle parking.

What do you think – for or against please let me know and the relevant officer ?

Would you like one outside your home to making owning and riding your bicycle easier?