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Three Thousand Not Represented

Southwark Council pays for its employees union reps to have time off to undertake their duties properly. Holding an employer to account for H&S, fair treatment of members, etc. is a critical union function. Wage rates are set centrally.

Roughly1,500 union members work for Southwark Council:

Union Mar-13 Mar-14 Nov-15
Unite/Amicus Sect 35 35 22
GMB/Apex 74 67 94
GMB/ATU 40 33 32
TGWU 1 0
UCATT 99 94 112
Unison 1459 1481 1240
Grand Total 1707 1711 1500

The council funds union representatives by £142,901 FY14/15. Compared to the wage bill this seems good value.

It does beg the question who represents the other 3,000 council employees to the councils management. No staff council, employee consultative forum, or similar exists as many modern organisations have. I personally think it’s a shame the remaining 3,000 employees don’t have direct representation about the changes Southwark Council goes through. That the only choice they have is joining a union or not being represented.

Fracking Madness

Amazingly the Tory government didn’t only give a green light to fracking it is still sticking to this policy.

The science is clear that we must leave carbon fuels underground. That climate change will go beyond any acceptable limits if we extract all possible fossil fuels and burn them. Fracking is part of the fossil fuels we must not recover and burn. To know this and ignore the science is either truly cynical, destroying our children and grandchildren’s futures, or plain stupid.

To make matters worse renewable energy without subsidies is now cheaper than fracked gas. Truly stupid policy making.

So for the UK government on the one hand agree to sign up to the Paris agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C of warming and on the other ensure we breach this critical agreement by allowing fracking .

To compound things the local council in Lancashire gets it. They refused planning permission because they do understand the pickle our planet is in with fossil fuels.

In fact the government has stated “The projects represent a positive contribution towards the reduction of carbon”. The shameful politics of Trump have arrived in the UK where facts are ignored and lies are presented as Tory facts. So this leaves rational law abiding people feeling they have no obvious route but to work outside of politics. I hope protesters can stop this fracking from taking place – lobbying pensions funds to not invest, lobbying and boycotting to not trade with companies supporting this fracking.

North Cross Road Market 3.0

After some time it was finally agreed earlier this year in principle to extend North Cross Road Market from its currently 30 pitches to 50. Hooray.

This has not deflected us from fixing the problems associated with the market setting up way too early, the amount of rubbish and getting it cleared away. Also the needless restricted car parking on Fridays when no market is present. All these issues and a number of others have largely been fixed. I’ve visited market set-up a couple of times to witness these problems but we must be super vigilant they don’t return. From November this year finally the Friday parking restrictions have been 90% fixed – five market pitches are still available on Fridays but that’s so much less than the previous 30.

North Cross Road is now closed to traffic from its junction with Lordship Lane to just before reaching Archdale Road. Eventually we’ll get electricity to all the 20 new pitches but for now they’ll be unpowered. We need the new pitches to face into the road to minimise the noise to immediate neighbours. This has not yet been agreed but Cllr Rosie Shimell and I are working on this.

My biggest concern is the current market where most customers are on the southern pavement with market stalls protecting them to customers being in the road. With the horrific Marseille, Berlin, Sweden and London truck, van and car attacks I am working with council officers and specialist Police to try and get physical protection for the market in the form of manually operated rising bollards designed to stop dead any such attack. I will be meeting them on site later today. While this is being researched and agreed market stall holders are placing their vehicles as protective barriers – not ideal.

What do you think is needed to make North Cross Road market even better?

Ticket Price Rises

The price of railway tickets is sky rocketing. The next ticket price hike in early January on average will be 3.4% higher and locally 3.3%.

East Dulwich -> London Bridge rail ticket alone rises from £728 to £752 for an annual season ticket or 3.3% higher.

East Dulwich -> London Bridge + zones 1 & 2 rises from £1,320 to £1,364 or 3.33% higher – weirdly the London Mayors promise of zero TfL price rises doesn’t include suburban commuters from SE22.

What is driving these prices rises?

Nationally the UK has the lowest proportion of electrification. Electric trains are lighter so cause much less wear and tear on the tracks. They accelerate and decelerate faster meaning you need proportionally fewer trains. And the maintenance of electric trains is significantly less. All these factors mean electrified train systems operating costs are significantly lower. But Network Rail has proven an inability to forecast the cost of electrification and stick to this price. The price keep ballooning. Hence the government back peddling on electrification.

Locally having drivers and guards operating trains means two sets of wages for every train. Many UK trains run safely without guards. This is the norm for much of the rest of the world. Solving this one issue in favour of passengers would avoid one of these above inflation price rises.


Fog Spikes

Talking to London Fire Fighters they highlighted that they felt they didn’t have all the best possible kit to fight fires in London. Specifically they don’t have fog spikes…
Kent Fire Brigade have introduced Fog Spikes – short video long video
The fire fighters I know lamented that they don’t have this kit. That they thought it would really help fight a variety of fires better.
Kent Fire Brigade summaries it as:
“Fog spike is used to punch holes into a structure and deliver water into the inside of compartments, rooms, or voids within a building, creating a super-fine misting effect that can dramatically reduce the temperature and spread of a fire.

Being able to tackle a fire in this way means property can be preserved more effectively, firefighting time is dramatically cut and firefighters are safer while carrying out their duties, as the risk of backdraughts and flashovers are also reduced.”

Helpfully GLA Assembly Member has asked the London Mayor about this…

London Fire Brigade – Fog Spike – Question No: 2017/3837 Caroline Pidgeon

Kent Fire Brigade has introduced fog spike, a tool used to punch holes into a structure and deliver water into the inside, which dramatically reduces the spread of a fire.  Will you look at introducing this kit for all London firefighters?  If so, what would be the timeframe for its introduction?

Written response from the Mayor

London Fire Brigade (LFB) recognises the safety benefits that fog spikes and other water misting technologies can provide firefighters as an additional tool during operational response. Work is already underway to identify funding to explore how these types of technologies could be trailed and utilised within London’s complex built environment to assist in minimising the disruption and financial impact fires have on the community and business.



Southwark Council Most £100k Pay Packets In Britain


I was stunned to hear that Southwark Council has the highest number of staff on pay packages above £100,000 of any local authority across Britain.

The list, complied by the campaign group TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA), also revealed that Southwark has increased the number of staff who received remuneration in excess of £100,000 by over 26 in the past year, again more than any other council in Britain.

With tough decisions currently being made on where to prioritise limited resources in Southwark this is a contentious decision to pay out such packages.

Further questioning revealed that the of the 12 most senior staff at Southwark 7 went up pay grades so had pay rises in the year of over 3%. Most staff have 1% pay rises. Of the remaining 5 several ere at the top of their spine pay scales.

Mountainous New BT Phone Boxes

BT have applied for 48 x 2.9m(8’8″) high advertising hoardings dressed partially as phone kiosks across Southwark. Three of these are proposed in East Dulwich.

Southwark should charge rent as they do for similar 90 such installations by JCDecaux free standing advertising hoardings and Southwark taxpayers benefit.  But only where it is safe to do so.

Ironic that we’ve spent so much time reducing street clutter for BT to propose this. Clearly their phone kiosks aren’t being used hence proposal to replace them with advertising hoardings. The idea of free phone calls from phone outdoors next to main roads is at best fanciful.

17/AP/0805 157 Lordship Lane – outside Franklins.
The new Harris East Dulwich Primary Academy, with the support of the local Police inspector, have requested that the bus stop outside its front door on Lordship Lane be swapped with the Pelican crossing nearly outside Franklins.
So this applications assumptions about the pavement are wrong and the schools/Police proposal will require the current phone box be removed. This alone should be reason enough to refuse permission.
Additionally the idea of prominent advertising being so close to a bus stop or pelican crossing is contrary to TfL guidance about the placing of advertising where extra cognitive lading occurs (tfL guidance section 2.4-2.6).

17/AP/0882 junction East Dulwich Road on Lordship Lane
This junction is notorious to local residents for crashes and fear of crashes. The reported crash data for this junction is 10 crashes for 2012-16 inclusive. i.e. 2 crashes pa. The classification of slight crashes has included a lady with multiple fractures still undergoing re constructive surgery.
Placing prominent screen advertising at this junction would make the junction more dangerous from cognitive overloading.

17/AP/0883 junction Crawthew Road on Lordship Lane – outside Foxtons.
Half the pavement width is owned by freeholders of 29-35 Lordship Lane. The current and proposed phone kiosks are reliant upon this to work. If the building is redeveloped the pavement would be blocking the pavement.
Equally the more prominent advertising hoarding proposed will distract drivers who must turn right exiting from Matham Grove onto Lordship Lane.

Generic issues for all these applications:
– these applications are being made to replace phone kiosks placed under Telecoms Apparatus applications. For telecomms apparatus the bulk of income and primary use would need be telecoms. But the vast bulk of use and revenues will be from advertising. On this basis telecoms rules and strategies should be secondary to following advertising consent rules for planning applications.
– the locations of the existing kiosks was motivated by being prominent for people to spot. But that same prominence makes these locations dangerous for much greater advertising prominence causing cognitive overload for people driving past. These advertising hoardings would be significantly safer on straight sections of roads that are not close to junctions or crossings.
– national planning policing encouraging telecomms and IT are aimed at broadband roll out, mobile mast roll-out and deploying fibre optics. These application are clearly advertising hoarding dressed as phone kiosks and these national, regional and borough strategies for telecomms/IT should not be applied to promote this advertising.
– The specs states the screens can operate from 0 to 50 degrees C. Temperatures regularly fall in winter locally below this temperature range.
Are the screens safe below their safe operating temperatures?
– poor urban design with the proposed new free standing advertising/phone kiosks being much more dominant in the street scape at 2.9m high. This is significantly higher than the 2.2 and 2.4m phone kiosks they replace.
– Protection of amenity. The free phone call offer. The applications give no details about how to ensure unrestricted free phones in the public domain won’t be abused and used to make malicious calls and how these will be stopped.
– un enclosed phones replacing enclosed phone kiosks. At all three sites these proposed free phones are overlooked by victorian flats with single glazing. What measures will be made to avoid these phones ringing and being nuisance – will BT fund double glazing for these flats? Make them outgoing only – especially to avoid use by drug dealers? Have Southwark Police been consulted about potential issues of drug dealing?
– they will bring at best only a very negligible benefit to the area far outweighed by the advertising.
Why hasn’t the applicant stated how important these phone boxes are by stating current revenue per phone box to demonstrate their importance to remain occupying such valuable public highway?
– other advertising companies pay Southwark annual rental to place such advertising hoardings on Southwark pavements.
Why are BT not required to do so?
– no detailed policy of what restrictions and controls on what would be advertised are stated. All are very close to primary and imminently secondary schools for the protection of minors.

Ministers “hypocrites” EU Workers In Parliament

Would you believe it.  It has been revealed that parliament employs almost 200 EU nationals – who might now have to return to their country of origin after Theresa May refused to guarantee their right to remain.

The figures, obtained through Freedom of Information requests by Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon, reveal that 5.7% of parliamentary staff face an uncertain future due to Brexit.

Every MP or peer who fails to recognise the importance of EU workers should take a very careful look at their own workplace. EU citizens are playing a key role in the daily running of parliament.

It is crass hypocrisy for MP’s to vote against EU citizens being guaranteed the right to remain in the UK, and then spend the rest of the evening in a Commons’ bar staffed by EU citizens.


East Dulwich Benches

We have a small project to install some benches around East Dulwich.

I’ve proposed the following locations:
– Lordship Lane across the road from the Coop on the built out kerb.
– Lordship Lane outside Karavan eco shop area of kerb build out.
– Barry Road junction with Etherow Street – again the kerb build out area.
– North Cross Road
– Lordship Lane close to junction with North Cross Road.

What I’d also like to suggest after a walkabout are;
– Lordship Lane outside Sainsburys
– Lordship Lane outside Foxtons
– Outside East Dulwich station

Where would you like to see a bench in East Dulwich

Denmark Hill Station Passenger Flows

I’ve just obtained a copy of a study undertaken by Network Rail at Denmark Hill station over two days in July 2015, approximately two weeks before the start of state school holidays. So the many local private schools would have already started their summer school holidays. Video cameras captured the tops of all stairs to the platforms and also the gateline. Counts were completed for the AM (07:00 – 10:00) and PM (16:00 – 19:00) peaks and were classified by person type (i.e. person with large luggage, bicycle etc).

Counts were provided in 5 minute intervals and showed that flows were slightly higher in the AM on Wednesday at 10,700 (10,400 on Tuesday) and in the PM on Tuesday at 9,200 (8,800 on Wednesday). On both days the AM peak was considerably busier than the PM peak.

The AM flows were very balanced with similar numbers of passengers entering and exiting the station (52/48 in favour of exits).

The Access for All footbridge is used by approximately 30% of passengers in the AM peak, the remaining 70% using the original overbridge. So the decision by Southwark Planners to block widening the original footbridge is causing much of the congestion problem. This resulted in a new ticket office entrance which already isn’t wide enough exacerbated by stairs to reach it

Platform 4 (towards Bromley) only accounts for 7% of flows in the AM peak but 26% of flows in the PM peak.

The PM peak has a more tidal flow with station entries making up 60% of gateline movements. The Access for All overbridge is used by 32% of passengers in the PM peak, slightly more (2%) than in the AM peak.

We need to find out when the extra Windsor Walk station entrance can happen. The congestions for passengers feels decidedly dangerous.

Annual footfall at Denmark Hill station

The latest ORR footfall figure for Denmark Hill station is shown below. As mentioned on Friday, some of the difference between the 2015-16 and 2014-15 figure “is due to changes to the methodology” associated with the London Travelcard. The leap in passenger numbers in 2013-14 reflected the first full year of operation of the south-western branch of the London Overground network.