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.Read more
Council's plans continue to push out poorest
London 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
Challenging Southwark Council's repairs service
Ever needed a repair from the council? How long did you have to wait? Was it done to a decent standard?
Following our own walkabout, we reported 11 communal repairs on the Rockingham Estate in one day. We believe our council, and their contractors, are failing to keep our homes safe and secure.
Chaucer Green candidate, John Tyson, says, “As a resident of 6 years on the Rockingham, I know first hand the terrible repairs service we have: weeks and months to get repairs done, poor quality, lack of follow up. As councillor, I’d ensure there was a thorough review, particularly focused on finding failing contractors, and reducing wait times.”
John wrote the petition with the Southwark Group of Tenants Organisations that kept the telephone repair line free to call.
Transport for London has published plans for changes to the junction at Camberwell Green. Full details and drawings can be found here.
Some of the proposals are genuinely useful. Much needed changes include: a new pedestrian crossing between Camberwell Passage and the Green, and the repositioning of the St Giles bus stop, setting it a few metres back from Vicarage Grove, to improve sight-lines.
But the plans offer far too little to improve safety.
Southwark Green Party has serious concerns about the escalating situation for residents on the Ledbury Estate in Peckham.
Safety issues on the estate were first raised over 30 years ago, and the blocks have since been the subject of reports by industry experts. While we recognise that control of the council has changed over the years, and mistakes made in the past are not the responsibility of the current leadership, it should not have taken the tragedy of Grenfell Tower for Council leaders to acknowledge problems on the Ledbury.
Residents have been without hot water and proper cooking facilities since 10 August. They should not have to heat water on a stove or with kettles to have a bath, or travel to a sports centre to use showers.Read more
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)
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.
The 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)).Read more