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.

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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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).

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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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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.

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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 [email protected] 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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Autumn Conference 2018

Southwark Greens were in Bristol from 5-7 October for the Green Party's 2018 autumn conference, with a schedule packed with training sessions (e.g. canvassing masterclasses, guidance on writing newsletters and leaflets), policy working groups (e.g. "Tackling period poverty in young people", "Animal sentience and the Animal Welfare Act") and fringe meetings ("What do we want for our schools?", "How Green is Corbynomics?" and much more).

ConfPanorama.jpg

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A people's vote

We support the campaign for a vote on the actual terms of Brexit - a chance for us all to say whether we prefer the deal that has been negotiated or to remain as we currently are.

We marched in June with the campaign for a People's Vote - and there will be even more of us on Saturday 20 October. Save the date, details to follow. www.peoples-vote.uk/march

Something you can do in the meantime is sign the European Citizens Initiative -  www.eucitizen2017.org/ - to retain EU citizenship in spite of Brexit. This is for all EU nationals - pass it on!

Have a look at the information compiled by Green MEP Molly Scott Cato about the people behind the push for Brexit https://badboysofbrexit.com/

 

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Canada Water Masterplan - Planning Application submitted

Just 8 days after the Council elections, British Land submitted its planning application for the Canada Water Masterplan – handily ensuring there was no opportunity to debate it during the election campaign.

Only three sites are set out in detail. Yet as the developer has submitted a “hybrid” planning application, British Land will not require any further planning applications provided they stay within these (very broad) outline plans.

Southwark Green Party has repeatedly raised serious concerns over the Canada Water Masterplan proposals, which have not been addressed.  We are now supporting 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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Call in the Elephant decision, says Sian Berry

Greens Shahrar Ali, Sian Berry, Rashid Nix, Liba Hoskin and Caroline Russell on a trip to meet members of the Latin American business community and Elephant Action Network in April 2016.Green London Assembly Member Sian Berry has written to Sadiq Khan about the redevelopment of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre and London College of Communication. She draws the Mayor's attention to serious failings in the developer's plan, including the lack of affordable housing, the loss of space for small businesses and the loss of affordable cultural and leisure space - and the serious implications for protected groups of each of these failings. These failings have been raised by local residents in campaigning and through the planning process.

She writes:

I urge you to take over the application and act as the Local Planning Authority. There is a very strong case for considering this scheme as a strategic and important development with London-wide significance on a number of grounds.

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No Heathrow Expansion

The decision of two out of Southwark's three Labour MPs to vote in favour of building a third runway at Heathrow airport is bitterly disappointing.
Neil Coyle (Bermondsey and Old Southwark) and Harriet Harman (Camberwell and Peckham) have failed to protect their constituents from increased plane noise and air pollution. Worse still, they have increased the chances of catastrophic global warming in years to come, because an expanded Heathrow will stop the UK from meeting its legally binding targets to avert climate change. 
We congratulate Helen Hayes (MP for Dulwich and West Norwood) on taking a principled and far-sighted stand. But our other elected representatives cannot defend their support for this disastrous project.
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