Betiel Mehari David Powell Ekaterina Belcheva

Latest articles about Newington

Betiel Mahari campaigning in the streets with her \Betiel Mehari is a single mother who became a housing activist to try to save her own home.

Betiel works in retail on a zero-hours contract. She lived on the Loughborough Park Estate in Brixton for 11 years, until her family lost their home when the estate was completely demolished by housing association Guinness Partnership in a £75m "regeneration" scheme. She was forced to leave Brixton, losing her much valued local community, with huge disruption to her family. ("That's what regeneration does," she says.) Rehoused in a smaller flat in Newington with no balcony, her two children (aged 11 and 10) are now commuting the lengthy distance from Newington to Brixton in order to maintain their educational stability and friends.

Furthermore, Guinness whacked up the rent in the family's new flat, from a "social rent" of £109 per week to a so-called "affordable rent" of £265 per week. Although Betiel had been a Guinness tenant for 11 years, Guinness claimed that demolishing her flat and rehousing her had created "a new tenancy".

Betiel says: "'Affordable' rent is a con. You'd assume it's based on wages, but it's not. It's set at 80% of market rents, not according to any measure of actual affordability. With two kids it requires an income of £35,000, which is higher than the national average. This measure puts us at the mercy of the housing market - it's absolute madness."

Ekaterina Belcheva - eco-friendly cleaning entrepreneurEco-friendly cleaning business owner Ekaterina Belcheva recently appeared on Sky News to showcase sustainable cleaning techniques.

New research suggests that lung function decline in women working as cleaners or regularly using cleaning products at home was comparable to smoking 20 cigarettes a day over 10 to 20 years.

The researchers speculated chemicals in cleaning products irritate the fragile mucous membranes lining the lungs, which over time leads to lasting damage and “remodelling” of the airways. 

"When you think of inhaling small particles from cleaning agents that are meant for cleaning the floor and not your lungs, maybe it is not so surprising after all," said Øistein Svanes, a doctoral student who led the study.

David Powell and Ekaterina Belcheva outside Newington Town HallThe historic Walworth Town Hall building on Walworth Road, and the Newington Library next door which houses the Cuming Museum, suffered significant damage in a fire in 2013. In 2015 plans were drawn up for the comprehensive redevelopment of the buildings, but Southwark Council has now paused these plans. They were costed at around £40 million, almost twice as much as the original budget. Evidently there was no adequate fire insurance policy despite the fact that both these Edwardian buildings are Grade 2 listed.

Labour-run Southwark Council has never published the results of its last public consultation on the future of the building. Instead, it has published a glossy website proclaiming an "opportunity" for "investors, developers, businesses, organisations or other consortia" to express their interest in "play[ing] their part in reviving this historic gem". The council proclaims its willingness to consider "ancillary and complementary commercial uses" alongside arts and culture uses retaining "some genuine public access to... parts of the site".

A governor of a local primary school has spoken of his great concern about the impact of budget cuts on our local schools.

More and more school tests, more and more stress on pupils and teachers alike

David Powell, who is also a visiting instrumental tutor in several Southwark primary schools, said: "It seems very likely that there will be a big reduction in Southwark this year, and possibly further cuts in future years. Despite some careful budgeting by schools aiming to protect excellence in teaching and learning, with the likely decrease in Pupil Premium it looks likely that children from poorer families are going to lose much-needed support. Many schools are already finding it difficult to cater for the significant rise in Special Educational Needs, particularly autism.

Newington ward candidates

The Green Party candidates for Newington in the Southwark Council elections on Thursday 3rd May 2018 are Betiel Mehari, David Powell and Ekaterina Belcheva.


Betiel Mehari is a single mother of two children. She works in retail on a zero-hours contract. Betiel became a housing activist to try to save her own home. Betiel's family lost their home in Brixton when her estate was completely demolished by her housing association Guinness in a "regeneration" scheme. She was forced to leave Brixton, losing the local community she strongly valued, with huge disruption to her family. Furthermore, Guinness whacked up the rent in the family's new flat, from a "social rent" of £109 per week to a so-called "affordable rent" of £265 per week. Betiel says: "'Affordable' rent is a con. It's set at 80% of market rents, not according to any measure of actual affordability. With two kids it requires an income of £35,000 - higher than the national average." Betiel is now fighting to stave off being evicted for a second time. If Betiel is evicted, she may have to accept rehousing outside London; if she refused to do so she could be classed as "intentionally homeless", losing her rehousing rights altogether. Betiel's own health has been affected and she describes her life as "totally ruined". [Read more...]  Twitter_bird_logo_2012.svg.png

David_Powell.pngDavid Powell's area of interest and expertise is education. He has lived in Walworth and Kennington for over 30 years, and his sons went to a local primary school where he has been a Governor for over ten years. A performing musician, David does some teaching for Southwark Music Service, and has done instrumental teaching as well as short music projects in many Southwark primary schools. He is also Director of Music at a local Parish Church which contributes to a local Food Bank, and hosts projects for asylum-seekers and homeless people. David wants to bring about a change in local housing policy. He says: "Many people in this area feel powerless to influence decision-making by a remote Council, ignored and marginalised.[Read more...] download.png

Ekaterina BelchevaWalworth has been Ekaterina Belcheva's home since 2005, and "it is proving very difficult to leave. Now with two young children it becomes even more important to me that we take care that London and Southwark are greener than ever." Ekaterina's biggest concerns are reducing air pollution, the housing situation, and education. She says: "As a small business owner since 2007 I also deeply care about continuing the tradition of entrepreneurship, but sustainably, with great concern about the impact of all human activity on living nature and the climate." Originally from Bulgaria, Ekaterina started a cleaning business in London but with a difference, providing healthy, ethical and green cleaning services and products. She says: "We are educating our cleaners and clients about living an environmentally sound and more healthy lifestyle. I am constantly striving to learn about the world. I have great affinity for culture and the arts. Science is a complex matter but it is important to be aware of all new discoveries and research. I am particularly interested in medical research and technology." 

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  • Chris Henderson
    published this page in Walworth 2018-02-27 04:16:06 +0000