On Saturday 25 March Southwark Greens, together with Tenant and Resident Associations from Rotherhithe, Bermondsey, Peckham and Walworth and many other local groups, took part in a march through the borough organized by Defend Council Housing to fight for an end to social cleansing.
When Sadiq Khan launched his Good Practice Guide to Estate Regeneration in December, the mayor proclaimed he was putting Londoners first. Sadly the Guide fails to live up to this promise. In its response to the consultation, Southwark Green Party sides with London Assembly member Siân Berry (pictured right, with members of Southwark Green Party), who described the Guide as 'useless'.
Southwark Greens want to keep Sadiq Khan to his promises. We've seen the damage that can be done when residents are ignored. In Southwark, council homes have been demolished, an urban forest of 300 trees felled and a community dispersed on the Heygate Estate at the Elephant and Castle. The Heygate had 1,194 council flats at the time of its demolition, but the new Elephant Park of will have just 74 'socially rented' flats with the majority of the 2,500 flats for sale. Those offered at 'affordable' rent are at 80% of commercial rent in the area, around a third higher than social rent. Promises that former residents could return to live in the new development sound empty when it's revealed that the cheapest one-bed 'shared ownership' flat requires a minimum household income of £57,500.
A similar process is being repeated with the Aylesbury Estate, off the Walworth Road. Residents who had bought council properties through 'Right to Buy' have been made very low offers for their homes - sums that would not allow them to find a new home in the area. The Planning Inspector said this would breach their human rights but Southwark Council is now attempting to have this decision overruled.
Greens recognise and support the incredible work of local residents in community groups in Southwark and Lambeth. Find out more about the 35% Campaign and Elephant Amenity Network, Save Cressingham Gardens and the campaign to save the Central Hill Estate. Read on below the line to see the comments that Southwark Green Party have today sent to the mayor on why his Guide is not good enough.
Southwark Green Party has responded to the appeals made by 'Greendale Property Company' to the Planning Inspectorate over their two planning applications for Green Dale. The first relates to the fact that Southwark council have still not made a decision about their application to build a stadium on Green Dale and 155 flats on the current stadium. The second appeal is against the council’s decision to reject their application to remove the restrictive covenants on the stadium land. We're very glad that Southwark Council rejected the attempt to remove the protection that Green Dale enjoys as Metropolitan Open Land (MOL).
We support the work of local community organisations, the Friends of Green Dale and the Friends of Dog Kennel Hill Wood. Their volunteers do amazing practical work to protect and enrich these special places, vitally important for the local ecosystem: they clear rubbish, plant trees and maintain meadows.
This article gives a flavour of why Green Dale is such an important community resource - and desperately needed in this dense part of inner London. This page explains more about the background to the planning applications. You can read an account of an earlier attempt to question the developer's plans here and our full response to the Planning Inspectorate after the fold.
On Saturday 4 March, Southwark Greens joined around 200,000 other protesters for the #OurNHS national demonstration in central London. We marched to Parliament Square in support of a fully and publicly funded NHS, and to oppose spending cuts and privatisation. We also marched in support of the thousands of NHS workers who came to the UK as migrants. Speakers on the day included Larry Sanders, Green Party health spokesperson, and Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party.
There was a strong Green Party presence on the march, with many different groups from across the country coming in their coach-loads. It was great to talk to Greens from places as diverse as East Sussex, Norwich and Stoke-on-Trent.
Larry Sanders's Guardian article on the NHS crisis can be read here.
Noise pollution from Heathrow already affects Southwark residents
The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee has published its report The Airports Commission Report Follow-up: Carbon Emissions, Air Quality and Noise. Though the report focuses on the Heathrow expansion plans, the Committee noted with concern the air pollution levels in London and the lack of action to tackle the problem.
While many Southwark Green Party members are already working hard as community activists, getting councillors elected will give us a stronger voice and greater influence to improve the lives of all the borough's residents. We are delighted to announce the selection of our first five area spokespeople following our meeting at the Albrighton Centre, Dog Kennel Hill on 1 February. In alphabetical order, they are:
This week Southwark Green Party submitted comments to Southwark Council on the planning application under consideration for the Elephant & Castle area. SGP objected to the application on a number of grounds and fear that the application could be another failure by Southwark Council to properly follow their own planning guidelines and consult communities on development in their areas.
It was snowing at midday on 11 February, but despite the cold, Londoners came to demonstrate with 'Stop the Killing' outside the Treasury. It was the middle of a high air pollution episode, and this health emergency was uppermost in the mind of many. Some Southwark Green Party members joined Southwark Cyclists to ride to central London along a quiet back route through Burgess Park and Kennington. Others came on foot. In that week alone, three cyclists and one pedestrian had been killed on London roads. The assembled crowd lay down on the tarmac for a minute in memory of all those killed already this year. Speakers including Caroline Russell, Green member of the London Assembly, pointed out that failure to invest in active travel is deadly in many ways.
Southwark Council's slogan for reporting on their public consultations is 'We asked, you said, we did'. In this case, we asked members of the public to send us their comments on the council's latest air quality strategy, so we could share them with you. Now we urge Southwark Council officers and councillors to read these heartfelt and thoughtful responses carefully (along with all the others, including the Southwark Green Party response) and DO.
R (Bermondsey) writes:
I cannot see anything about (a) reducing the total volume of motorised traffic in the borough or (b) about developing a network of free/low pollution footpaths and cycleways for those of us (eg the elderly with heart conditions), who need to move around the borough [...] there is insufficient detail about geographical priorities eg Borough High Street, Rye Lane, Camberwell, Rotherhithe Tunnel.
T (Camberwell) writes:
The council needs to outline the steps it intends to take – the current plan lacks any details of its targets or programme of action.
This is a public health emergency. High levels of pollution in the borough are particularly damaging to children's health, affecting lung development and potentially leading to serious health problems in later life. With obesity on the rise, it is unacceptable for the council to advise that children should be discouraged from physical activity.
On a personal level - as someone who has been diagnosed with mild persistent asthma since living in Southwark - I would like the council to act now to reduce vehicle emissions, by installing free charging points for electric vehicles, launching a public information campaign to promote the use of car clubs, creating more car-club parking, and ending any provision of additional parking for private, non-commercial use (except for disabled drivers).
Developers (for example, at Elephant Park) should not have been allowed to add new car-parking spaces in breach of the council's own planning policies - the council needs to learn from past mistakes.
L (Elephant and Castle) writes:
The plan is rather too general & timid, lacking details, timetable, imagination and commitment.
I would like to see:
- wider provision of protected cycle lanes and quiet-way routes throughout Southwark,
- offering cycle training for all primary school children,
- phasing out diesel,
- increasing speed of eliminating diesel by converting council fleet to Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and by providing full/partial grants to conversion to LPG for cars bought by qualifying borough users during last 3-5 years
- enforcing no-idling,
- more street trees, shrubs, green walls and roofs,
- insulating all council properties including schools and estates and promoting the use of renewable energy by installing renewable energy technologies
- insisting that all new buildings and constructions are carbon neutral and equipped with renewable energy technologies,
Thanks to everyone who took the time to respond.
The following letter from SGP member Tracey Beresford appears in the current (winter 2016/17) issue of the Camberwell Quarterly, and is published by kind permission of the Camberwell Society. The CQ is widely available at local newsagents. See also the Camberwell Society's Facebook page.