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.

Spring conference and Global Greens congress

Did you know there is a Green Party of Mongolia? You do now! Greens from around the world, including a group of us from Southwark, were among delegates at the first joint congress of Global Greens and European Greens, held at the ACC, Liverpool. This really inspiring weekend – the biggest gathering of Greens ever – gave us the opportunity to learn more about the work going on across an amazingly rich mix of countries to promote environmental and social justice.

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Greens march to defend council housing

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On Saturday 25 March Southwark Greens, together with Tenant and Resident Associations from Rotherhithe, Bermondsey, Peckham and Walworth and many other local groups, took part in a march through the borough organized by Defend Council Housing to fight for an end to social cleansing.

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A vision for cycling

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Southwark Green Party put together a simple document on some of the steps Southwark Council could take to make cycling easier, safer and more attractive for everyone, age 8-80. Download it here. (Image credit: Adam Hypki)

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Green News March 2017

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Download the latest Green News from Southwark Green Party. Find out more about Southwark Council's 'regeneration' of council estates, new cycle routes and air pollution. There's also information on the work of Green London Assembly member Sian Berry to protect and extend the rights of renters. And our regular column on the things we love about Southwark celebrates Benhill Road Nature Garden.

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Air pollution news

Air pollution affects everyone, and we must take real steps to reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulates. This means steps like: fewer journeys by car, cleaner buses and taxis, insulation on homes to reduce the emissions from heating.

George Monbiot wrote a helpful summary of the damage that air pollution is doing to children's health and gave permission for others to reprint it. We have added some advice about how you can protect yourself by reducing your exposure, for example by taking back roads instead of main roads.

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Sadiq Khan: get real about making regeneration more accountable to communities

photo.jpgWhen Sadiq Khan launched his Good Practice Guide to Estate Regeneration in December, the mayor proclaimed he was putting Londoners first. Sadly the Guide fails to live up to this promise. In its response to the consultation, Southwark Green Party sides with London Assembly member Siân Berry (pictured right, with members of Southwark Green Party), who described the Guide as 'useless'.

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Defend Green Dale

Southwark Green Party has responded to the appeals made by 'Greendale Property Company' to the Planning Inspectorate over their two planning applications for Green Dale. The first relates to the fact that Southwark council have still not made a decision about their application to build a stadium on Green Dale and 155 flats on the current stadium. The second appeal is against the council’s decision to reject their application to remove the restrictive covenants on the stadium land. We're very glad that Southwark Council rejected the attempt to remove the protection that Green Dale enjoys as Metropolitan Open Land (MOL). 

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Greens defend the NHS

photo-42.JPG.pngOn Saturday 4 March, Southwark Greens joined around 200,000 other protesters for the #OurNHS national demonstration in central London. We marched to Parliament Square in support of a fully and publicly funded NHS, and to oppose spending cuts and privatisation. We also marched in support of the thousands of NHS workers who came to the UK as migrants. Speakers on the day included Larry Sanders, Green Party health spokesperson, and Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party. 

There was a strong Green Party presence on the march, with many different groups from across the country coming in their coach-loads. It was great to talk to Greens from places as diverse as East Sussex, Norwich and Stoke-on-Trent.

Larry Sanders's Guardian article on the NHS crisis can be read here.

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Be alert: noise and smog must be reduced

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Noise pollution from Heathrow already affects Southwark residents

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee has published its report. Though the report focuses on the Heathrow expansion plans, the Committee noted with concern the air pollution levels in London and the lack of action to tackle the problem.

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New area spokespeople

While many Southwark Green Party members are already working hard as community activists, getting councillors elected will give us a stronger voice and greater influence to improve the lives of all the borough's residents. We are delighted to announce the selection of our first five area spokespeople following our meeting at the Albrighton Centre, Dog Kennel Hill on 1 February. In alphabetical order, they are:

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Plans for the Elephant

Elephant___Castle_stock_image.jpgThis week Southwark Green Party submitted comments to Southwark Council on the planning application under consideration for the Elephant & Castle area. SGP objected to the application on a number of grounds and fear that the application could be another failure by Southwark Council to properly follow their own planning guidelines and consult communities on development in their areas.

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10% by 2020

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It was snowing at midday on 11 February, but despite the cold, Londoners came to demonstrate with 'Stop the Killing' outside the Treasury. It was the middle of a high air pollution episode, and this health emergency was uppermost in the mind of many. Some Southwark Green Party members joined Southwark Cyclists to ride to central London along a quiet back route through Burgess Park and Kennington. Others came on foot. In that week alone, three cyclists and one pedestrian had been killed on London roads. The assembled crowd lay down on the tarmac for a minute in memory of all those killed already this year. Speakers including Caroline Russell, Green member of the London Assembly, pointed out that failure to invest in active travel is deadly in many ways.

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You said ... will they do?

Southwark Council's slogan for reporting on their public consultations is 'We asked, you said, we did'. In this case, we asked members of the public to send us their comments on the council's latest air quality strategy, so we could share them with you. Now we urge Southwark Council officers and councillors to read these heartfelt and thoughtful responses carefully (along with all the others, including the Southwark Green Party response) and DO.

R (Bermondsey) writes:

I cannot see anything about (a) reducing the total volume of motorised traffic in the borough or (b) about developing a network of free/low pollution footpaths and cycleways for those of us (eg the elderly with heart conditions), who need to move around the borough [...] there is insufficient detail about geographical priorities eg Borough High Street, Rye Lane, Camberwell, Rotherhithe Tunnel.

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How can I protect myself from air pollution?

  1. two_coals.jpgWalk or cycle instead of driving – pollution levels can be higher inside a car than on the street because the ventilation intake is close to the exhaust of the cars in front and fumes build up inside a closed car.  And it helps cut emissions too.
  2. Choose a low pollution route. Back routes can have 50% less particulate pollution. Use sites like Breathe London to plan a route
  3. If your workplace or school is near a main road, ask the building supervisors how air pollution is minimised. If there’s air conditioning, are the filters effective ones?
  4. When shopping, close the door – it keeps the heat in and pollution out.
  5. At home, make sure gas boilers and heaters are serviced regularly. If you have fires in an open fireplace, check that you are buying ‘smokeless’ coal, not ‘traditional’ or ‘house’ coal. It’s illegal to burn house coal in London – and it’s bad for the health of people inside the room as well as outside. Check that any woodburners are approved for Smoke Control Areas. It’s also illegal to burn logs on open fires.

Picture: It's illegal to burn 'traditional' House Coal - 'smoke-free' briquettes are a happier choice

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SGP response to Southwark air quality plan

cycling_sign.jpgThe strategy acknowledges the severe impact of air pollution on the health of Southwark residents, noting in the introduction that ‘poor air quality disproportionately affects the young, old, ill and poor’ (page 5). But this recognition of the serious public health challenge is not matched by actions.

The plan is not strong or bold enough, and it does not provide enough detail of those actions the council does propose to take. We are dismayed that so many items lack clear targets, timescales, objectives and means of measuring success. This is particularly noticeable in comparison with Southwark’s previous plan which included timescales and indicators for each planned measure (Air Quality Improvement Strategy 2012-2017 and Action Plan 2012-2017 (AQIS 2012)).

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Respond to Southwark's air pollution plan

Our first thoughts on the plan are below and the full text of our submitted response is here. Below is some text you can borrow and adapt, along with some examples of actions for the council to take.

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Elmington - is this regeneration?

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The following letter from SGP member Tracey Beresford appears in the current (winter 2016/17) issue of the Camberwell Quarterly, and is published by kind permission of the Camberwell Society. The CQ is widely available at local newsagents. See also the Camberwell Society's Facebook page.

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Southwark - please do more to tackle air pollution!

Traffic on Dog Kennel Hill SE22.jpgAir pollution is a recognised public health emergency. Southwark Council needs to take action. Or rather, actions. There’s no one solution, but the actions taken need to be both immediate and substantial.

Southwark is consulting on its updated air quality plan. Responses need to be in by 31 January. Southwark Green Party will submit a detailed response and publish it here.  But in short – we think the plan talks a lot about meetings and monitoring and not enough about ideas and action!

We encourage you to respond individually. It’s a very simple form - the one question is quite open: ‘What do you have to say about the Air Quality Strategy and Action Plan?’ So why not use this space to explain to the council how air pollution affects you and why you want the council to do more? Please copy your response to us too at contact@southwark.greenparty.org.uk

Read on for some suggestions about what councils can do…

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Campaigning on air pollution in 2012

It should be ancient history... but it isn't yet!

In July 2012, Southwark Green Party members made a deputation to Southwark Council calling for urgent action on air pollution. Southwark News reported...

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Ask the Mayor to take action for clean air

Southwark Green Party has responded to the TfL consultation on measures like the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) to combat air pollution and improve health. Southwark residents are exposed to some of the highest levels of pollution in London - so this affects us all. What do we want the Mayor to do?

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