News and Views

Select a topic from the menu(s) above, or keep reading for all our latest news and views. You can also download copies of our community newsletters, or read A Green Voice For Southwark, our blog about Southwark news and local issues, with a focus on Camberwell and Peckham.

Community Response to Covid-19

Interview with Claire Sheppard, Green Party candidate and community campaigner

Can you tell us a bit about Nunhead Knocks?

It was started by a handful of folks local to Nunhead who had skills in tech, community connections and backgrounds in organising who wanted to find a way to help the many people in our neighbourhood who have been affected by the virus.

How did you get the idea for Nunhead Knocks? Is it just you?

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London’s Recycling Chaos

A group of Southwark Green Party members joined friends from neighbouring Lambeth at City Hall a few weeks ago at Mayor’s Question Time. These take place through the year and it is when AMs (Assembly Members) get to quiz the Mayor and hold him to account on a range of issues.

A question handled by Siân Berry was simple: How will you reduce the amount of waste London generates? Missing from Mayor Khan’s answer was anything relating to concrete actions or targets for reducing London’s waste.

 

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Protect Burgess Park from overshadowing

Southwark Green Party objects to the proposal by Dolphin Living for the old Hunnex site at 35-39 Parkhouse Street, in Camberwell, just south of Burgess Park. This is for a 6-10 storey building with 100 flats.

This is one of several applications for tall buildings around the perimeter of Burgess Park, risking permanent destruction of the habitat and character of the park. (We have previously objected to the earlier Burgess Business Park proposal.) It is important not to set a precedent by approving this application.

Our key objections to this application are:

1) the buildings are too tall, in breach of Southwark Council policy

 

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Claire Sheppard for Camberwell and Peckham

Hello! I’m Claire Sheppard and I want to represent Camberwell and Peckham as your MP. I think it’s time for a change and for real action on the climate emergency.

Peckham has been my home for nearly 20 years. It’s where my husband and I chose to get married, start our own businesses and raise our family. I’m a local campaigner, volunteer and activist with a deep love and respect for the area.

Some of the community just got here, some have been here all their lives. What we all have in common is that we want to live in an area where the community is strong and united – and all of us want the best for each other.

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General Election 2019

New opportunities to make a Green vote count in Southwark

Uniting to Remain, Lib Dems step aside for the Green Party's co-leader Jonathan Bartley in Dulwich & West Norwood, while Hannah Graham of the Green Party steps aside in Bermondsey & Old Southwark.

The co-leader of the Green Party, Jonathan Bartley, has been selected to fight the seat of Dulwich and West Norwood in South London at the general election. The other Remain parties, the Lib Dems and Change UK, will not contest the seat as part of the 'Remain Alliance' organised by Unite to Remain. Voters in this constiituency have the opportunity to make history and elect London’s first Green Party MP.

The constituency of Dulwich & West Norwood is shared between the boroughs of Southwark and Lambeth. Both boroughs had high votes for 'Remain' in the 2016 referendum, with Lambeth polling at 78% and Southwark at 73%.

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Protect our trees

Protect our trees – and plant many more

Most of us feel a deep sense of loss when trees we're used to seeing every day are felled. Unfortunately, that's an experience all too familiar in Southwark, where many trees have come down over the past decade. The council's own figures show a net loss of around 1,400 street trees between 2013 and 2017 alone.

Southwark Transport Plan Annual Monitoring Report, 2016/17, p.45

Southwark Green Party has long campaigned to protect trees and green spaces. We welcomed the chance to reply to Southwark Council's recent consultation on its vision and objectives for tree management. The consultation has now closed, but you can read the draft Tree Management Policy on the council's consultation hub.

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Kick out developer's application to build on Green Dale

Southwark Green Party has submitted an objection to the planning application to build a new stadium on Metropolitan Open Land on Green Dale. This Site of Importance for Nature Conservation is in East Dulwich, roughly between the large branch of Sainsbury's on busy Dog Kennel Hill and the pedestrian and cycle-path between Champion Hill and Dulwich that's also - very confusingly - known as Green Dale.

Part of Green Dale. Photo: Friends of Dog Kennel Hill Woo

We support Dulwich Hamlet Football Club as a pillar of the local community, and celebrate its special character as inclusive and socially progressive. But we are not convinced that this plan is any more sustainable for the club than previous ones, and would rather see investment in the clubhouse, bar and sports centre to help support the club.

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Say no to airport expansion

The proposed expansion of Heathrow and London City airports would be an environmental catastrophe. It would mean more plane noise, more pollution, more congestion on our roads. Increases in greenhouse gas emissions would make it impossible for the UK to meet even its current, inadequate commitments to address the crisis of the global rise in temperatures.

The construction of a third runway at Heathrow (in effect, a new airport adjoining the existing one) would have the most damaging environmental impact of any new infrastructure project in Britain. It will result in 750 more flights a day (280,000 a year); the destruction of around 750 homes; two new car parks with 24,000 and 22,000 parking spaces; diversions of the M25 and A4; the rerouting of local rivers; and loss of habitats at wildlife areas including Staines Moor, a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Increased disturbance from flight paths will impact Southwark residents, along with millions of people across London, including many who are not currently overflown.

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Shadows loom over Burgess Park

View of St George's Church from Burgess Park

We have objected to the 10-storey development proposed for Burgess Business Park in Camberwell primarily because it is too tall, and will overshadow Burgess Park, harming the new wildlife area and the enjoyment of the park by local people. Burgess Park is both ecologically important and a vital breathing space for people living in densely built up areas of Southwark along the Walworth Road and Old Kent Road. This is only one of several schemes planned for Parkhouse Street. If passed, this development would set a precedent for other inappropriately tall buildings along the boundary of the park.

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Proposals for cutting carbon by changing Southwark streets

In March 2019, Southwark Council passed a motion to ‘do all it can to make the borough carbon neutral by 2030’. Transport is the biggest single source of carbon emissions in our borough, so  we need real leadership on transport to change the way we get around and deliver goods.

Here are some proposals from Southwark Green Party for the kind of interventions we will need to meet the target of going climate neutral by 2030.

1. Green our streets

Southwark's own reports show that the borough has lost 1,000 street trees in the last ten years.

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Moving on from Southwark's disappointing Movement Plan

The Movement Plan approved by Southwark Council in 2019 (download here) claims to be a bold vision to change how we get around the borough over the next 20 years. How does it measure up in the light of Southwark Council’s declaration of a climate emergency at the end of March 2019?

Let’s start with the good news. We’re told that 77% of Southwark people who were surveyed support reducing traffic. And there’s an  exciting sounding policy to introduce street closures to reallocate space for people.  But as we read on, what sounded like a commitment to deliver more healthy streets turns out to be a commitment to ‘explore’ acting – is this code for commissioning more studies from consultants? In fact the whole document falls down on a lack of detailed commitments and deadlines.

Will the Movement Plan really help us to walk and cycle more?

Many more people would like to cycle if only it felt safe, rather than having to jostle with drivers cutting through residential areas.. Similarly, many people hop on the bus for a short journey because the alternative – perhaps a noisy, polluted, grubby street with a pavement that’s a bit too narrow for comfort – just isn’t appealing. Imagine how different it would be if you positively chose to walk those ten minutes because it gave you a chance to go through a small park, pick up groceries or walk side by side, chatting with friends. (This is called, in the jargon, ‘suppressed demand’ for walking and cycling).

It’s cheering to see here a map of the full cycle network proposed in 2015 in the accompanying Local Implementation Plan (under 'Action 4'). But no quality standards, funding or delivery deadlines are proposed - so about as useful as a freshly painted cycle logo on a rat-run. Nor does it show TfL's proposed routes, including the flagship Rotherhithe Bridge. (The Mayor pulled the plug on the Rotherhithe Bridge in June - Caroline Russell has called for a free ferry crossing to be put in place quickly instead).

There’s a new walking network map, but it lacks routes, particularly in the southern half of borough and on the Rotherhithe peninsula. And with funding focused on 'fun' interventions and promotion, maybe this will be a 'virtual' network, something you will only see with an Augmented Reality app?

It’s great to see that the council plans again to allow contraflow cycling on all one-way streets. Initially proposed in 2015, the only thing that has happened since is that the council lost the money it had earmarked for this. But there are no actions related to equality in cycling – making it possible for all ages and abilities to cycle safely. And the text is far too vague when it comes to promises to extend 'the cycle hire schemes' across the borough. Maybe that’s because the clear commitment to do so in Southwark Labour’s 2014 manifesto still hasn’t been met. We all know there is a massive hole in the availability of Santander hire bikes in London – and that hole is in Southwark!

TfL map of docking stations showing red dots over north and west London but no stations south or east of Elephant and Castle

Transport for London map showing  hire bike docking stations in red. (Interactive version here)

So tell us, Southwark Council, will you invest in getting TfL hire bikes installed all the way to Rotherhithe and Camberwell? We don’t want another debacle like the Mobo and ofo bike hire schemes, which had to be abandoned after a less than a year. We want to be part of a reliable, London-wide scheme. Tell us where and by when we can expect them!

You’ll never miss a target if you never set one

When it comes to targets, the Movement Plan is seriously disappointing. There is still no target to reduce motor traffic before 2041. With Southwark Council having passed a motion to ‘do all it can to make the borough carbon neutral by 2030’, and emissions from the transport sector being the biggest single source,we need real leadership on the actions that will make that possible.

The Movement Plan does include a target to reduce 10% morning peak freight traffic by 2026. In other words taking seven years to reduce traffic by 3% for three hours per day! The Belgian city of Ghent reduced all rush hour motor traffic by 12% in just the first year of its 'filtered permeability' plan.

Progress in reducing collisions on Southwark streets has stalled since 2013 and has now gone into reverse. But there are no new actions proposed on road safety other than ‘working with the police’ and installing moped anchors to secure powered two wheelers safely’.

What would we do? Read our proposals for cutting carbon through changing the way we get around.

 

 

 

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Third Thursday Green Drinks

Are you wondering where to get started with Southwark Greens? Have you tried a Third Thursday social? Third Thursdays are a great way for a new member to meet fellow Greens, as I discovered last week.

A group of us gathered at The Remakery, a not-for-profit maker-space under a block of flats off Coldharbour Lane. Over coffee and nibbles we introduced ourselves and I was relieved to find that I wasn’t the only newbie. We were then welcomed by Dylan, a volunteer and resident maker, who gave us a brief history of the transformation from burnt out garages to creative community.

Then it was time for a tour the facilities – spaces for woodworking, metalwork and upholstery as well as a communal kitchen, fitted out with salvaged materials for just £45. Members can subscribe for 10, 20 or 30 hours a month - membership starts as low as £18 for 10 hours a month. (Full details here.) If you need advice or a helping hand, the resident makers like Dylan are there to guide you. If you want to learn new skills there are regular courses. Guitars from old tables, tables that began life as scaffolding planks, a menagerie of animals fashioned from old paint tins filled the corridor, ready for the upcoming open studio weekend.

The highlight for some of us was the Aladdin’s cave of donated, scavenged and salvaged materials at the far end of the space. Members can take their pick – anything from a high value piece of hardwood for a creative project to an offcut to practise drilling and sawing.

The conversation flowed, connections were made, ideas sparked. And this newcomer even found herself inspired to write about it!

Photos: Bartley Shaw

The next Third Thursday social will be a picnic in Burgess Park on Thursday 18 July, 6.30pm. All ages welcome.

 

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Vote for London's leading Remain party on 23 May

Supporters of the Green Party are out and about in Southwark delivering copies of this letter from Caroline Lucas. Sadly, we can't get round to every single door in Southwark, so if you want to deliver to your street/block of flats, drop us a line contact@southwark.greenparty.org.uk or check out our leafletting sessions here.

Below is the leaflet we're delivering.

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Reject the Canada Water Masterplan

Southwark Green Party submitted today its objections to the Canada Water Masterplan.  Despite further changes made by the developers in response to mounting local opposition, the vast majority of our serious concerns remain unaddressed, and we continue to support the wider community campaign opposing the planning application.

See our detailed feedback, and email response template:

https://www.southwarkgreenparty.org.uk/cwmp

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Ask Southwark Council to declare a climate emergency

We welcome action by the London Assembly, Lambeth Council, Bristol City Council and other city councils around the world declaring and committing resources to tackling the Climate Emergency and becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

Southwark Greens are petitioning Southwark Council to declare a Climate Emergency and review the council’s current carbon reduction plans to establish the actions needed to be compatible with 1.5 degrees warming and to bring the timescale forward from 2050 to 2030.

Further we ask the council to call on government and the Mayor of London to give Southwark Council the powers and funding to enable Southwark Council to become carbon neutral by 2030.

The IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, published in October 2018, describes the enormous harm that a 2°C rise is likely to cause compared with a 1.5°C rise, and confirms that limiting Global Warming to 1.5°C may still be possible with ambitious action from national and sub-national authorities and others.

Please sign the petition and pass the link on to friends and neighbours.

 

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Greens call for youth services and community access to Walworth Town Hall

Southwark Council is consulting on proposals for the redevelopment of Walworth Town Hall, following the fire that destroyed its roof in 2013. Responses are invited from individual members of the community, as well as neighbourhood groups. The deadline is Monday 21 January.

Two proposals are presented for consultation. Both would see the building leased to a private developer for 250 years.

Louise Young, coordinator of Southwark Green Party, said, "We're saying that the local community deserves a wider range of public-focused and community-led uses than is envisaged in either of the two proposals. These proposals put the emphasis on commerce, through private event hire and a restaurant, ahead of public uses that are part of the building's heritage. We support the Walworth Society's ideas to house the Newington Library, Cuming Museum, a reference library and archive space, as well as to provide a venue for community talks, meetings, films, performance. We want to see this historic building continue at the centre of public life, and don't want to see these resources pushed into lower quality buildings."

We are submitting a Southwark Green Party response to the five consultation questions, as outlined below. Please use this as a resource, where helpful, to build your own response.

Submit your response to the Walworth Town Hall proposals.

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North Peckham Healthy Streets

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 ...

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Labour Lets Southwark Down Over People's Vote

Caroline Lucas speaklng on People's Vote platformThe people of Southwark voted overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union (1). But at the final full Southwark Council meeting of 2018, we saw Southwark Labour toe the party line to come out against supporting a People’s Vote.

You would be forgiven for thinking it’d be a no-brainer. After all, alongside our residents’ vote, two of the three Southwark Labour MPs support a People’s Vote, and Southwark Greens and Lib Dem councillors have been calling for the Council’s support from the beginning.

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Call for London councils to act on idling

Along with over 400 Londoners, community groups and businesses, Southwark Green Party has signed a letter initiated by campaigning group Mums for Lungs to unite local councils in the fight for clean air.

The letter urges local councils to apply for the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund in a bid to protect children from illegal levels of air pollution by working collaboratively to address 'idling' – stationary cars with their engines running. The letter was sent to Lambeth, Southwark, Richmond, Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Waltham Forest, Islington, Camden, Wandsworth, Hammersmith and Fulham, Bromley, Barnet, Lewisham, Ealing, Hounslow, Haringey, Croydon and Merton councils.

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Caroline Russell - an inspiring London Assembly Member

When Caroline Russell first became a transport campaigner in the early 1990s, she was courted by both Labour and the Lib Dems to stand in local elections. But, she says: “I knew I always trusted what the Greens said on transport.” 

Twenty-five years on, Caroline is a councillor in Highbury East ward, Islington – the only Green on a council that is otherwise 100% Labour. With Sian Berry, she is also one of two Green members of the London Assembly and chair of the assembly’s environment committee, holding mayor Sadiq Khan to account to ensure he delivers on promises to reduce air pollution and make travelling around London safer for pedestrians and cyclists. 

Caroline works tirelessly for environmental and social justice, and we were delighted to welcome her as our guest speaker at Southwark Green Party’s AGM, held on 15 November at the Albrighton Centre, SE22.

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