I’m Peter, and I am Southwark born and bred. I work as a community development officer for a small charity based in Bermondsey. I’m husband to Winnie and we have three “adorable” children.
Having grown up in the borough, through my work in a local charity and role as governor at a Southwark primary school I see the impact of decisions made by the government and local council to the vulnerable, young and old.
I have witnessed the positive development in Southwark, but more sustainable and equitable approaches are required in matters which impact our communities such as housing, employment, education, recreation and the environment.
Peter Baffoe, Green candidate for North Walworth, and Lina Usma, Green candidate for Newington, represented Southwark Green Party at local election hustings held at Peckham Levels.
The event was organized by Southwark Latin American Network and Southwark's Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Heritage (R.E.A.C.H) Alliance, organisations campaigning for Latin American and black communities in Southwark.
Peter spoke about the Green Party’s long-standing and continuing support for the traders at Elephant and Castle. Southwark Green Party supports the efforts of the Latin American community to develop an official Latin Quarter at Elephant and Castle as a cultural hub for the community, and support the official recognition of Latin Americans as a separate ethnic group. It is estimated that more than 8,000 Latin Americans live in Southwark. It is a young community (two thirds are under 40) with many “highly skilled individuals with large numbers in work, but unable to obtain jobs in line with their professional skills” (Trust for London, Towards Visibility report).
Peter said the Green Party would actively involve minoritised communities in the design of council programmes and policies, and use council resources to support the work of local 'by and for' Black, minority ethnic and Latin American organisations.
His responses to questions from the public were very well received, not least a commitment to reinstate the Carnaval Del Pueblo, a Latin-American festival held in Burgess Park. Peter said: “We will do everything we can do to ensure the celebration can continue.”
Discussion after the formal part of the evening continued in both Spanish and English. Lina emphasised the Green Party's progressive policies, such as the universal basic income, four-day week and protection for tenants, and its commitment to work hard for and with local communities.
Hear from Lina at the Peckham Levels hustings in this lively video en Español.
Peter Baffoe grew up, and lives in Southwark. He is currently the Interim Director of South London Mission, providing strategic leadership and vision for the charity which provides support to those who are in extreme poverty or are marginalised and vulnerable in other ways. Prior to his work in community development, Peter managed a patient complaints and liaison service in the NHS. He has been a school governor and is now a non-executive director of Peabody Housing Association, a trustee of the Peabody Community Foundation, and trustee of the Maudsley Charity.
Lina Usma was born in Colombia and moved to London with her husband and young daughter in 1996. She runs Extra International, the largest largest newspaper in London for the Spanish-speaking Latin American community. Lina studied business management in Colombia and then Media and Journalism at the University of East London.
After the 2014 local elections, Southwark's Labour-run council promised they would build 1,500 new council homes by the end of 2018. Now Councillor Mark Williams, lead for regeneration and new homes, has admitted "we will not be meeting this target".
Only 400 new homes will have been built - less than one-third of the local Labour promise. Southwark Labour's 2014 manifesto had promised 11,000 new homes, but it didn't say how long they would need to meet this pledge. It has since emerged that the Labour-dominated Council's official homebuilding targets stretch to the year 2043 - 25 years away from now.
Southwark 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:
Part 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.