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.
Southwark has more than 14,000 households on the waiting list for a council home and 3,000 in temporary accommodation.(1) The Labour-led council’s plan to tackle its housing crisis includes building new homes on green spaces and other communal areas on its council estates, a practice known as “infilling”.Read more
In a guest post, Guy Mannes-Abbott celebrates Tree Week with stories of the Foxglove tree (Paulina tormentosa), one of many species that make up the Heygate Legacy. He led what became a community campaign to force Southwark Council and developers Lendlease to recognise the public welfare or commons value of the urban forest of 458 trees on the old Heygate Estate at Elephant and Castle.
Early in the first lockdown this year I decided to tweet a Tree of the Day from my account @leaftoleaf; images and notes about a new network of trees that I had an intimate relation with in my neighbourhood. Those trees included Persian ironwood and silk trees, Indian bean and horse-chestnut trees, hornbeams and field maples, black pines and poplars, and the trusty London plane in estates, streets and parks centring on the Elephant and Castle.
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.Read more
Below is a video and transcript of the powerful statement read by Anthony Comber-Badu on behalf of the Aylesbury Leaseholder Action Group.
Southwark Green Party stand fully behind these words and alongside everyone fighting for fair treatment by the council.
Video credit to Southwark Council
"As leaseholders and residents of the Aylesbury estate, and we are making this public statement because Southwark Council, the developers Notting Hill Housing Association, central government and those profiting from the housing crisis would prefer that we didn’t."Read more
Build more council housing - not unaffordable luxury flats
Temporary tenants need to be able to obtain secure tenancies rather than being shuffled about from one address to another, and so relieving Southwark Council from providing secure tenancies. Secure tenants need to be able to retain their secure tenancies, rather than losing them by being forced to change to a housing association lease.
Leaseholders demand like-for-like replacements for their flats, in the local area – so they can remain with their community, and have no increase in commute to work. They reject any invasion of their privacy with financial assessments, and financial restrictions like the £16k rule. They demand the right to transfer any mortgages at the same repayment level. They should be able to pass on their homes to their children, make alterations, and let out the property if they so wish.Read more
Labour claim they have built 535 new council homes, while on the Heygate Estate they have already destroyed 941 council homes and they are in the process of destroying 778 council homes on the Aylesbury Estate – a total loss of 1,719 council homes. Architect Liam Hennessy says: “When it comes to social housing Southwark Labour is a total loss. The right to return’ on the Aylesbury cannot be taken seriously because the number of council homes to be demolished is 778 greater than being provided on the ‘regenerated’ estate.”
According to the most recent independent monitoring of Southwark Labour Council’s record on council homes, they built a grand total of 13 council homes in the three years 2014, 2015, 2016! (London Plan Annual Monitoring Report 2015-2016, pages 108-109)
Southwark Labour claim they will build 11,000 new council homes by 2043. At the rate of 4.33 council homes per year – from the most recent independent audit of new council homes - it will take Southwark Labour 2,540 years to build their target of 11,000 council homes!Read more
Nearly 20% of Southwark’s 63 councillors work as lobbyists, found 2013 research by journalist Anna Minton.
One of these is East Walworth Labour councillor Rebecca Lury, who works as a managing director for public relations (PR) firm GK Strategy. Her firm has a specialism in advising development corporations seeking contentious planning permission from local councils. Councillor Lury volunteered support for planning permission for Trafalgar Place (Elephant Park phase 1) with social housing quotas slashed in favour of fat profits.
Two former leaders of Southwark Council, Jeremy Fraser (Labour) and Nick Stanton (Lib Dem) went on to similar lobbying/PR careers. Independent local campaign group The 35% Campaign has collated numerous similar examples at 35percent.org/revolving-doors.
Private Eye magazine reported that many companies have wined and dined Peter John, current Labour leader of Southwark Council. Freebies accepted from developers Lend Lease include two £1,600 tickets to the London Olympics opening ceremony, and an expenses-paid trip to Cannes for a property show. Lend Lease are building £2.5m penthouses on the site of the demolished Heygate Estate.Read more
It's Labour or Greens here
The London Borough of Southwark is divided into 23 "wards". Each ward of Southwark will have its own election on 3rd May 2018, with the top three ward candidates elected to Southwark Council as your ward councillors.
In the previous Southwark Council elections in 2014, in which the Labour Party won the Faraday seats, the Green Party came second in the ward - comfortably ahead of the third-placed Conservatives. The All People's Party, further back in fourth, pushed the Liberal Democrats into fifth place. (The All People's Party are not on the ballot paper in 2018.)
The Green Party also came second here behind the Labour Party in the 2012 and 2016 London Assembly elections, on both ballots both times.Read more