I am originally from Colombia. I have been in the borough of Southwark for nearly 20 years. I am the director of Extra Media, a company based in Manor Place. I have been involved for many years with the local communities, as I was a Community Development Support Officer at CAS where I had the opportunity to be in touch with many local organisations. As a local tenant and a member of the Latin American Community, I am fighting to make sure that community businesses are protected and are not displaced. I am also a trustee in Su Mano Amiga, aiming to help victims of Domestic Violence in Southwark and Lambeth. I am keen to support any initiatives related to women, sustainability and community development as I know women have so much to offer!
Peter Baffoe, Green candidate for North Walworth, and Lina Usma, Green candidate for Newington, represented Southwark Green Party at local election hustings held at Peckham Levels.
The event was organized by Southwark Latin American Network and Southwark's Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Heritage (R.E.A.C.H) Alliance, organisations campaigning for Latin American and black communities in Southwark.
Peter spoke about the Green Party’s long-standing and continuing support for the traders at Elephant and Castle. Southwark Green Party supports the efforts of the Latin American community to develop an official Latin Quarter at Elephant and Castle as a cultural hub for the community, and support the official recognition of Latin Americans as a separate ethnic group. It is estimated that more than 8,000 Latin Americans live in Southwark. It is a young community (two thirds are under 40) with many “highly skilled individuals with large numbers in work, but unable to obtain jobs in line with their professional skills” (Trust for London, Towards Visibility report).
Peter said the Green Party would actively involve minoritised communities in the design of council programmes and policies, and use council resources to support the work of local 'by and for' Black, minority ethnic and Latin American organisations.
His responses to questions from the public were very well received, not least a commitment to reinstate the Carnaval Del Pueblo, a Latin-American festival held in Burgess Park. Peter said: “We will do everything we can do to ensure the celebration can continue.”
Discussion after the formal part of the evening continued in both Spanish and English. Lina emphasised the Green Party's progressive policies, such as the universal basic income, four-day week and protection for tenants, and its commitment to work hard for and with local communities.
Hear from Lina at the Peckham Levels hustings in this lively video en Español.
Peter Baffoe grew up, and lives in Southwark. He is currently the Interim Director of South London Mission, providing strategic leadership and vision for the charity which provides support to those who are in extreme poverty or are marginalised and vulnerable in other ways. Prior to his work in community development, Peter managed a patient complaints and liaison service in the NHS. He has been a school governor and is now a non-executive director of Peabody Housing Association, a trustee of the Peabody Community Foundation, and trustee of the Maudsley Charity.
Lina Usma was born in Colombia and moved to London with her husband and young daughter in 1996. She runs Extra International, the largest largest newspaper in London for the Spanish-speaking Latin American community. Lina studied business management in Colombia and then Media and Journalism at the University of East London.
Following ongoing community pressure, the planning application to demolish Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre and London College of Communication will now not be reconsidered by councillors until after the local election on 3rd May.
Southwark Labour pushed through the previous controversial demolition of the Heygate Estate two months after winning a council election.
Latin American community newspaper editor Lina Usma said:
Historic Walworth Town Hall, and Newington Library next door which houses the Cuming Museum, suffered significant damage in a fire in 2013. In 2015 plans were drawn up for redevelopment of the buildings, but Southwark Council has now paused these plans. They were costed at around £40 million, almost twice the original budget. Evidently there was no adequate fire insurance policy despite both these Edwardian buildings being Grade 2 listed.
Labour-run Southwark Council has published a glossy website walworthtownhall.com proclaiming an “opportunity” for “investors, developers, businesses, organisations or other consortia” to express interest in “play[ing] their part in reviving this historic gem”. The council proclaims willingness to consider “ancillary and complementary commercial uses” alongside arts and culture uses retaining “some genuine public access to... parts of the site”.
Candidata por el Partido Verde (Green Party) en el area de North Walworth.