Latest Camberwell & Peckham news and views
We've just responded to Southwark Council's consultation on proposed changes to streets between Burgess Park and Commercial Way. Some of our members took part in the three public walkabouts and workshops last year to identify problems in the area.
Eleanor said: 'It was the first really integrated transport consultation process I'd taken part in - thinking about walking, cycling and parking together. There was also valuable input from Dutch transport consultants who brought a very positive attitude and some new ideas.'
Problems identified included:
- the dangerous crossing of Peckham Road from Kelly Avenue to Lyndhurst Way, where cyclists get no clue as to when it's safe to cross,
- the hostile atmosphere for cyclists on Commercial Way - especially noticeable when other sections of the route (Kelly Avenue, Chandler Way) are pleasant for walking and cycling because there's access for residents and deliveries in motor vehicles but no through traffic,
- lack of capacity for an increase in the number of people cycling via Burgess Park - and thus the need for safe routes on the parallel roads (East-West on St George's Way and North-South on Wells Way),
- the need for cycle routes that are safe 24 hours a day, i.e. benefitting from the 'eyes on the street', rather than being directed through Burgess Park,
- commuters parking on St George's Way early in the morning before heading into central London, with vehicles blocking parking for local residents,
- vehicles for sale parked up on Wells Way.
It's really good to see how the proposals have taken on board the observations made by people on those walkabouts.
What's more, the council is making use of an 'experimental' approach with its suggestion for changes to St George's Way. The changes will be open for public comments for 18 months before a decision is made whether to make a permanent change. This is a really welcome approach. Local residents can experience the difference, rather than having to make a decision based on drawings.
You've got till Friday 11 January to respond - do send in your comments if you live in this area or walk/cycle through (or would, if only it was safer). It doesn't take long, and you can choose just to answer on sections relevant to you.
Read on for details of our response ...
Today, Thursday 3rd May, there is a Southwark Council election. You will choose two or three councillors to serve you for four years.
Who to vote for is an important decision. Here is some useful information before voting.
When you vote, you will be given one ballot paper and told how many votes you have (three in most wards, two in a handful of smaller wards). Mark your preferred candidates. You can vote for all three (or two) candidates from one party or for a mixture of parties.
Southwark Council is currently run by Southwark Labour, with a huge majority of 48 out of 63 councillors. Labour will probably run Southwark Council again in 2018.
This election is not for an MP, or about the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. This is to choose local councillors to work hard and speak up for you on Southwark Council.
Councils dominated by one party, no matter which party it is, provide worse value for money for taxpayers. If people here choose to elect Green Party councillors, it will ensure balance and scrutiny.
Council elections are also about choosing people who will work hard to make the area better. Green Party councillors will:
- defend and improve council homes
- work for more truly affordable, secure housing
- protect local businesses, parks and trees
- make streets safe for walking and cycling
- clean up the air we breathe.
Last time around, in the 2014 council elections, the Green Party came second in one-third of Southwark wards: Camberwell Green, Champion Hill, Faraday, Nunhead & Queen's Road, Peckham, Peckham Rye, Rye Lane and St Giles.
You can vote if you’re on the register (and over 18). In these council elections, qualifying Commonwealth citizens and EU citizens resident in the UK can vote.
Polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm.
Find your polling station: wheredoivote.co.uk
You don’t need your polling card to vote.
Live in St Giles ward, Camberwell? Extra local info
In Camberwell's St Giles ward you have three votes.
This is the Southwark ward where Green candidates have the best chance of getting elected. You can use your vote to add to Southwark Labour's majority on the council, or you can elect three independent, hard-working Green women: Eleanor Margolies, Paula Orr and Susie Wheeldon.
At the last election in 2014, St Giles elected Labour Party councillors. The Green Party was in second place. Votes for other parties are very unlikely to decide the winner.
People in St Giles have the power to put a Green voice on to Southwark Council for the first time since 2010. If you choose to give just one vote to the Green Party, it is the "lead Green Party candidate" Eleanor Margolies who has the best chance of being elected.
Greens taking direct action to improve our area
Some of the work Green activists have done locally:
put up air pollution monitors near schools in Peckham, Camberwell and Dulwich
- petitioned the Mayor for cleaner buses through our area
- run a free Travel Clinic at Brunswick Park summer fete
- reported flytipping
chased Thames Water on 4 water leaks, speeding up the repair of a leak that had been gushing for weeks over a pavement on Dalwood Street
- reported 3 abandoned bikes for reuse by charity
- got protection for damaged trees on McNeil Road
- planted a pollution screen round a school playground
- asked the Mayor to challenge the council’s plans to demolish Peckham Arch – we want it to stay.
Left out in the cold by Southwark Council
Homes on the D’Eynsford Estate in Camberwell were left without any heating for days in freezing weather earlier this year. What really upset residents was that no one answered the emergency helpline at Southwark Council. One resident reported that it was only when they took to Twitter that they got a response from councillors - and then from Southwark Council. A heater was produced for them - but nothing for those who weren't so active on social media. The council demonstrated little care for the many elderly people living on the D'Eynsford on their own.
Reassurance, information about the repair schedule, and practical action like the loan of a portable heater is the minimum tenants should expect. The council’s communication with Southwark residents must improve.
Why do councillors ignore residents' views?
Last year, Southwark Council ran a consultation on its proposed 'Southwark Spine' cycle route. Local people and road safety experts said the designs would make cycling more dangerous, especially around Bellenden Road. In fact, 63% of people who replied opposed it.
But just before the election was called, one of the Labour councillors for this area, Ian Wingfield, signed off the scheme.
Eleanor Margolies says: "This makes a mockery of the idea of consultation. The Southwark Spine was meant to make cycling safe for all ages, from 8-80. Hundreds of people took the time to write in with their concerns. I can’t believe Cllr Wingfield has ignored us all. I will listen to residents and fight for a better scheme that reduces motor traffic and is safer for everyone."
Southwark Green Party congratulates local community activist Mark Webb on his recently awarded 'Freedom of the Borough of Camberwell', awarded by Southwark Council.
Mark is chair of the Camberwell Green Safer Neighbourhood Team ward panel. He's well known locally, often seen staffing the SE5 Forum stall at Camberwell Farmer's Market on a Sunday morning. He has recently been involved in tackling knife crime through leafletting and working with the police to sweep the neighbourhood for concealed weapons.
Last year, Mark was nominated for the Metropolitan Police 'Citizen of the Year' and was a finalist at the ceremony at the Park Lane Hotel.
Congratulations Mark - we look forward to seeing you herding sheep on Camberwell Green (or whatever it is your new Freedom of the Borough entitles you to do!)
Making an impact at the neighbourhood level
A few months ago, a group of neighbours in Nunhead met up to see how we we might act collectively encourage environmentally friendly initiatives. I took responsibility for setting up a bulk buying scheme. We wanted to see how small initiatives such as this could deliver a reduction in waste including fuel and single-use plastic plus encourage positive community action on a neighbourhood level. In addition, it would also make buying ecologically friendly products easier and more affordable than would be the case individually.
The first task was to gauge interest via an online poll on the community’s social media page. Fifteen neighbours expressed an interest and a week or so later we placed the first order for the most popular items (washing up liquid, laundry detergent, dishwasher tablets, handwash and shower gel). The weekend after delivery from a single ethical online retailer we ‘set up shop’ and neighbours called by to collect their choice of products.
Members of the Wells Way Triangle Residents Association have organised informal workshops to help local people look at the plans for redevelopment of Burgess Business Park on Parkhouse Street. The proposal, dubbed 'Camberwell Union' by the developers, would create 505 residential units. The developers claim that with target profit margins of of 17.5% for private residential, 16.67% on commercial, and 6.0% on affordable units - agreed as 'reasonable' by the council's 'viability consultant' - they would not be able to provide 35% affordable housing.
We asked Southwark Greens what they've been up to to keep the streets tidy...
What do you do when you see a bike rusting away on the street or on a council estate?
Eleanor: It's sad to see an unloved bike! I do a quick check that it really is abandoned. Rusty chains and missing wheels are a good clue. Then I report abandoned bikes on the Southwark Council website. The council cleaning team puts a note on the bike, giving a week or two for it to be claimed by its owner.
What happens next?
Eleanor: After a further month in storage to allow owners to get in touch, unclaimed bikes are passed on to local charities like the brilliant Bike Project on Champion Hill. They refurbish old bikes and donate them to refugees. Someone gets a bike of their own and the freedom to get around locally. A bike parking space is freed up for other people who need to use it. And we all get rid of a trip hazard and eyesore. It’s win-win-win!
Eleanor Margolies slams council inaction on Camberwell house
A four-bedroom house in Camberwell has been left unoccupied for 20 years.
Local resident Eleanor Margolies said, "In 2002, I contacted Southwark Council about this house. I was told that the council was “in negotiations” with the owner. It's a scandal that the house is still empty and rotting away 15 years later. This is a shocking waste when so many in Southwark are in need of a home."
Local councils can make a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) of unoccupied buildings. Or they can use an Empty Dwelling Management Order — they have to pay to refurbish the building but keep the rental income afterwards.
Camberwell & Peckham Green News
Local Green Party volunteers hand-deliver copies of our printed newsletter Camberwell & Peckham Green News to nearly 7,000 local letterboxes. You can download issues of Camberwell & Peckham Green News as PDF files here:
Camberwell and Peckham local candidates
Below is information about the Green Party 2018 local election candidates for Camberwell and Peckham wards. Southwark Green Party's lead candidate is Eleanor Margolies in St Giles ward.
St Giles ward candidates
The Green Party candidates for Camberwell & Peckham's St Giles ward in the Southwark Council elections on Thursday 3rd May 2018 are Eleanor Margolies, Paula Orr and Susie Wheeldon.
Dr Eleanor Margolies, a South Londoner who has lived in Camberwell since 2002, is a writer, researcher, and well-known local campaigner. She was chair of her estate’s Regeneration Project Team for five years, fundraising for a community garden and the estate's first cycle lockers, helping to organise two Big Lunch street parties, and successfully advocating for residents over recycling bins and road safety. In 2014, Eleanor led a citizen science project to study air pollution with pupils at Dog Kennel Hill School and scientists from King’s College London: "Children and the elderly are most at risk but we’re all affected." Eleanor loves discovering local history, quiet streets and new cafes by walking. She created a guide to Camberwell art and parks and has led walks for the public. She is a member of the Cycle Joint Steering Group on Southwark Council and campaigns for safe cycle routes and secure bike parking. In her spare time she volunteers with Wheels for Wellbeing at the Herne Hill Velodrome. [Read more...] [Eleanor's blog...]
Paula Orr has lived in the Peckham area for 18 years and is active in protecting green space and giving people a voice in decisions that affect them. Some of the campaigns she has worked on are the successful protection of the Peckham Multi Storey Car Park (home of the Peckhamplex cinema and Peckham Levels) and opposition to unaffordable and inappropriate housing developments in Peckham town centre. Before coming to Peckham, Paula lived and worked for 15 years in Chile where she set up and ran an environmental not for profit company working on recycling and the development of green enterprises at the community level. Paula currently works for a London-based environmental consultancy.
Susie Wheeldon has worked as Campaigns Manager at SolarAid, the international solar power charity, and also in the City of London. She has established energy efficiency initiatives and cycled round the world’s deserts to promote the potential of solar energy. She holds an MSc in Environmental Technology from Imperial College. Susie says: "The Green Party champions not only a truly sustainable future, but a fairer future for all. The passion and determination of our candidates will be used to improve local services, fight for fair wages and defend our green spaces."
Camberwell Green ward candidates
The Green Party candidates for Camberwell Green ward in the Southwark Council elections on Thursday 3rd May 2018 are Tracey Beresford, Paul Ingram, and Alexis Fidgett.
Tracey Beresford has lived in Camberwell for 10 years, and works in one of the town centre’s small independent shops. A long-time Green voter, she decided to join the Green Party in 2014 after becoming involved in the campaign - supported by Green peer Jenny Jones - against Southwark Labour’s destruction of Camberwell community orchard. As secretary of the Friends of Camberwell Green, Tracey continues to work for the protection and enhancement of green spaces. She is also a committee member of her local tenants and residents association, which she represents at meetings of the Southwark Group of Tenant Organisations. She is strongly opposed to the sell-off of public housing by Southwark Council.
Paul Ingram lives in Camberwell and runs an international NGO working with governments to achieve nuclear disarmament. He believes passionately in political approaches that recognise the depth of our dependency on healthy ecosystems and communities, locally and internationally. He has been an elected Green City Councillor in Oxford, and was co-leader of the Council there from 2000-02.
has lived and worked in Camberwell for 8 years.
In that time, he has grown to love the area and can't imagine moving away. He says, "One of the reasons I support the Green party is my desire to see the local Labour council held to account for their regeneration plans - which have priced out people who have lived here their whole lives
and deprived others of the option I had when I chose to move here. The Green Party believes in a fairer future for all, and that's what I am working for."
Peckham ward candidates
The Green Party candidates for Peckham ward in the Southwark Council elections on Thursday 3rd May 2018 are Anthony Griffiths and Chris Henderson.
Chris Henderson is a postgrad at London South Bank University, studying psychology and psychotherapy. For 7 years Chris worked for inner-city London councils, successfully slashing bureaucracy for charities seeking funding. Chris is now a media activist supporting peace and anti-militarist groups, anti-Tory social media, and the Green Party. A passionate opponent of austerity, Chris says: "Good mental health depends on basic material security, dignity, community and connectedness, leisure and culture, and a liveable environment - human needs not well served by Southwark's aloof 'regeneration' agenda. Power needs to be radically returned to diverse local grass-roots forums, harnessing digital participation and empathic, non-violent, truly respectful community dialogue and negotiation." Chris would also be an advocate for recognition of trans and non-binary residents, sex worker rights, and for public health approaches to people who use drugs to replace criminal justice involvement.
Peckham Rye ward candidate
The Green Party candidate for Peckham Rye ward in the Southwark Council elections on Thursday 3rd May 2018 is Gerard Bennett.
Originally from Ireland, Gerard Bennett has been living in Southwark since the mid 1980s, and for the last 19 years in the Peckham Rye Ward. Having worked for much of his career in computer systems management at the University of Westminster (where he was also UNISON branch secretary and active in many green initiatives), he has now changed direction and is teaching English to refugees and working as a freelance translator. He has been an active member of the local Green Party for the last 9 years. This is the third occasion he has stood in the local elections in this ward. He has been especially active in the campaign to tackle the air pollution crisis and in Green Party work to improve cycling provision and local food growing.
Rye Lane ward candidates
The Green Party candidates for Rye Lane ward in the Southwark Council elections on Thursday 3rd May 2018 are David Evans, Jagan Deveraj and Kirsty Lothian.
Joseph Jagan Deveraj has a long history of working with young people in community development projects. He volunteers as an IT trainer, helping young people in local communities, encouraging them to take leadership roles and get job ready with IT skills. He was Country Director for Raleigh International, running DfID's International Citizen Service Programme. Jagan is proud to be resident in this vibrant and inclusive borough and is active in the community. He has helped fundraise and organise events in the local school. He is a keen cyclist and beekeeper. His greatest achievement however, is two incredibly strong, vivacious twin daughters.
Kirsty Lothian has lived in Southwark since 2003, working in the arts and cultural activism. She wants to support tight knit, inclusive communities, and has organised several Big Lunch neighbourhood parties, as well as volunteering in her local playgroup, running an under-fives group for Italian speaking families, and on the management committee of the block of flats she lived in.
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