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.

#SaveHarkersStudio

Harkers_cropped.jpgThe Walworth community is fighting to save one of the last surviving Victorian scene-painting studios, based at 'Flints' at the Queens Row. Harkers Studio housed a local business which served both the theatre industry and the wider arts community. Labour-run Southwark Council has granted planning permission to redevelop the building into flats and office space, without much consultation.

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Tell the Mayor we need clean air

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It’s crucial the Mayor knows that we care about breathing clean healthy air. His plans for the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) leave Londoners in the outer boroughs with the weakest protections against air pollution from vehicles. And the current area proposed for the ULEZ (in red on the right - click to enlarge) doesn’t even include all of Southwark! 

The plans could make the roads around the South Circular even more polluted and congested as people try to avoid paying by skirting around the ULEZ. We are replying to the consultation on behalf of Southwark Green Party, and you can add your voice to show the Mayor that Londoners want him to take strong action on air pollution.

Please ask the Mayor to:

  1. Make the expanded ULEZ London-wide
  2. Apply the standards to all vehicles not just lorries, buses and coaches
  3. Introduce the ULEZ by 2020.

[Take the 5-min survey...] If you prefer, you can write with your comments c/o Freepost TfL Consultations. Deadline: 28 February 2018.

(Question 5 is the most important - say that the area MUST be larger. In question 6, ask that this comes in sooner.)

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John Tyson on Elephant & Castle regeneration plans: this is social cleansing

John Tyson of Southwark Green Party speaks at tonight's large community demonstration against the Elephant & Castle "regeneration" plans - outside the Southwark Council Planning Committee meeting due to decide whether or not they can go ahead.

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Aylesbury demolition - not a good deal for Southwark

Estate demolition: it’s not a good deal, it’s not a done deal

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Southwark Greens are taking a keen interest in the Aylesbury estate inquiry which opened today (Tuesday 9 January). The inquiry will hear evidence about whether Southwark Council should be allowed to make compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) for flats on the Aylesbury Estate, ‘for the purpose of redevelopment and regeneration’. The Inspector will report back to the Secretary of State  -  Sajid Javid of the recently renamed Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

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High rise surprise for Camberwell and Peckham

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Many people have expressed surprise about the way that Labour councillors have slipped a new sentence into the council’s ‘Area Vision' for Camberwell, Peckham and the Old Kent Road.

The new sentence reads: ‘The Camberwell (Peckham/Old Kent Road) Area Vision will provide as many homes as possible, while respecting the local character of the area. There may be opportunities for taller buildings on key development sites in appropriate locations.’

Wells Way resident Donnachadh McCarthy said the new phrasing 'means we would have ZERO legal grounds to oppose ANY skyscraper in future in Camberwell & Peckham, no matter what the height or where the location'.

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Speed bumps too bumpy?

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Southwark Council has received funds from Transport for London to create Quietway 7 from Elephant and Castle to Dulwich. The Quietways are designed to be safe and pleasant for people aged 8-80, of all abilities, for trips to school, work and shops. No lycra required! The changes will also improve the streets for people on foot, including new crossings along the route, and wider pavements outside Brunswick Park on Benhill Road.

But contractors working for Notting Hill Housing on Edmund Street put in two new humps along the Quietway route – and made them the wrong shape!

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Southwark Green Party calls for railways to be brought into public hands as fares rise

train_leaflet_cover.jpgAs train fares go up, the Green Party is calling for railways to be brought back into public ownership. Rail fares rose by 3.4 per cent on January 1, 2018, costing many people up to an additional £150 a year.

This week, Southwark campaigners are protesting against the increases at Denmark Hill and Peckham Rye stations. They are sharing the Green Party petition to bring the railways back into public ownership and asking Southwark residents to write to Harriet Harman, Helen Hayes and Neil Coyle to find out what solutions they support.

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Elephant & Castle regeneration: These plans are not good enough

Elephant___Castle_stock_image.jpgSouthwark Council is due to decide on Tuesday 16th January on permission for demolition and redevelopment of Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre, plus the London College of Communication (LCC) site. If permission is granted, property company Delancey plans to begin demolition work in September 2019.

200 objections have been lodged by the local community to Delancey’s current redevelopment plans. The Green Party’s submissions highlighted numerous features which many local people find unacceptable:

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Elephant & Castle regeneration: Vibrant local Latin community fears devastation

Adriana_with_Latin_community_members.JPGThe cluster of around 100 Latin American businesses in the Elephant & Castle area continues to fear for its future. The Latin community has been here for decades, adding hugely to local cultural and community life. There are many Latin businesses in Elephant Shopping Centre, most of them family-run.

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"Did somebody say regeneration?"

Elephant Park construction site: Photo by Guy Mannes-AbbottNorth Walworth has been subjected to years of “regeneration”, resulting in very scarce public benefits but staggering profits for Lendlease. The next phase of “regeneration” at the Shopping Centre only acknowledged the existing traders and community after the offshore developers submitted their planning application. Is there really no alternative?

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Victory Park: No repair till 2019

Peter at the Victory Park boardwalkPart of the only proper pedestrian route through Victory Community Park will remain sealed out of use until 2019, Southwark Council has admitted in an answer to Green activist Peter Baffoe.

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Tower block safety: John Tyson and Sian Berry present 100,000 signature petition to Home Office

Sian_Berry_and_John_Tyson_hand_in_petition.jpgThe Grenfell Tower disaster left the whole nation in shock, but the similarities to Southwark’s own tragic fire in 2009 at Lakanal House, Camberwell, where six died, were startling.

Green activist John Tyson and Green London Assembly member Sian Berry presented a petition with over 100,000 signatures to the Home Office calling on the Government to implement recommendations from the Lakanal inquest. Proposals such as retro-fitting sprinklers, made by the coroner in a letter sent to government ministers in 2013, were largely ignored.

The Council’s response to fire safety has been heavy handed, and caused distress to some residents. Some have raised concerns that the zero tolerance to all outside furniture is too reminiscent of what came in after Lakanal. What about reviews of compartment breaches?

John says, ‘A key lesson from Grenfell was that we need to listen to people. Residents raised concerns that weren’t heard. Our response needs to be to find fire safety measures that are practical, ensure safety, but recognise individual needs.’

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A safe, secure home is a precious thing

John_Tyson_Ledbury_Estate.jpgAs Greens we believe our homes are a fundamental basic right. Whether you own or rent, you want to know you and your loved ones have somewhere to live. And there’s no more important time than over winter.

Green activist John Tyson worked throughout the summer with the Ledbury Action Group to get the Council to commit to rehousing residents and safeguarding their estate, in Peckham. Successive councils had ignored residents’ concerns over building safety, and an engineers’ report finally commissioned this year found that the four blocks were at risk of collapse from a gas explosion.

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Chaucer ward roundup: Working to make sure everyone has a voice

Greens in Southwark campaign with businesses and communities to protect and improve

Across Southwark regeneration has brought significant change, but who really benefits? The Green Party is committed to making sure locals are given the opportunity to make their areas work for them. Local voices have an expert knowledge of their area, of what needs to be preserved, and what needs to be changed.

  • Our activists are helping traders and locals worried about the proposed demolition of the Elephant & Castle shopping centre, which has been a vital community asset for decades
  • John Tyson started a petition to save bingo at the shopping centre. Older residents are being discriminated against under current regeneration plans.
  • We're supporting locals opposing proposed development on Tam Street until it's shown how it will benefit the community.
  • Whilst the Council is proposing to spend £1.2m on Dickens Square park regeneration, we’re asking why they’ve cut their parks teams from 5 to 2.
  • Southwark Greens joined local businesses in a cross-party campaign calling on TfL to add a tube station at Bricklayers roundabout to their proposed Bakerloo extension.
  • We’re engaging with the amazing Vital OKR, who are working to stop the demolition of crucial businesses and industry on the Old Kent Road.
  • Southwark Greens are helping Lokma Restaurant, who want the Council to help preserve Bermondsey Abbey ruins beneath their floor.
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Guest speaker Anna Minton on the Southwark demolitions and London's housing crisis

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Why are council estates in London being demolished at a time of housing crisis, replaced by luxury flats that most Londoners cannot afford to live in? This question is central to the work of writer Anna Minton.

Anna, whom we were delighted to welcome as guest speaker at our AGM on 9 November, is reader in architecture at the University of East London and the author of the acclaimed study Big Capital: Who Is London For?, published this year by Penguin. Speaking to an audience of Green Party members and supporters at Camberwell Library, Anna gave a powerful presentation, looking at the impact of the huge sums of money from overseas that have washed up in our city since the financial crisis. For these foreign investors, property is the commodity asset of choice, and London is, in effect, their tax haven.

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A tube station at Bricklayers' Arms

Southwark Greens support the cross-party local campaign for a tube station at the Bricklayers' Arms.

At a well-supported demonstration on Saturday 4 November, Peter Wright from Living Streets demolished the claim that it would be ‘too close’ to other tube stations – it’s farther to any of the nearby stations than the average distance on the Bakerloo line. Simon Hughes pointed out that the original plans for the Jubilee line didn’t include a stop at Southwark – now a very busy station. Caroline Pidgeon pointed out that major investment and disruption are already proposed for the construction of a ventilation shaft - constructing a station would be a relatively small additional cost. And a tube station need not be a large building, since most of the business happens below ground – Bermondsey tube station is a good example of this.

Eleanor Margolies from Southwark Green Party affirmed the local party’s support for a station at Bricklayers' Arms and asked for it to be set in the context of local travel needs.

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Implement the recommendations of the Lakanal Report

lakanal_fire.jpgThe terrible loss of life in the Grenfell Tower disaster was something many people thought could never happen in Britain. But Grenfell was not an isolated tragedy. In 2009, six people died in a fire at Lakanal House in Camberwell, which highlighted issues that could have prevented Grenfell.

John Tyson, the Green Party’s parliamentary candidate for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, has drawn up a petition calling for the immediate implementation of the 2013 report on the Lakanal fire. The petition now has more than 80,000 signatures – you can sign it here.

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A Quietway via Camberwell Grove

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Southwark Council is consulting on the status of Camberwell Grove. The road goes over the railway via a bridge, just south of the junction with McNeil Road. This bridge has been closed to all motor traffic since October 2016, due to structural failure.

The council website says: 'Repairs to the bridge will soon be completed by Network Rail, which will allow it to be reopened for small motor vehicles (under 3 tonne) with traffic lights allowing alternate one-way flows to cater for both north and south-bound traffic'. The council wants to hear your views before taking a final decision on reopening the bridge. The consultation page is here (closing Monday 30 October).

We encourage Southwark residents to respond. Read on for our comments.

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The Green Party Autumn Conference 2017, Harrogate

Southwark Green Party at the Greens’ autumn conference in Harrogate, 7-10 October 2017

This was an occasion that injected a new spring into the steps of all those who were there, and we left with a fresh sense of purpose. Here is my personal view.

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Southwark Council is failing on social housing

Council's plans continue to push out poorest

Campaigning_for_housing_in_Elephant.jpgLondon Assembly estimates predict Southwark will lose 2,051 social rented homes as a result of current property schemes, and that across London 80% of building will only be affordable by 8% of the population. Southwark is in the bottom 3 boroughs for affordable housing.

So rather than creating a “fairer” Southwark, both current and previous councils have delivered a deal that is pushing our communities to the breaking point.

As Southwark Green Party, our candidates would call for:

  • Residents to be balloted on proposed demolition
  • Refurbishment over demolition (where it doesn’t put residents at risk)
  • Improved resident consultations, taking into account local needs
  • Supporting local community groups wishing to manage community assets
  • Supporting community land trusts wishing to build homes
  • Enforcing agreed social and affordable commitments by developers
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