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Latest news and views from Walworth Green Party
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.
Submit your response to the Walworth Town Hall proposals.
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."
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.
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!
Walworth Green Party candidates Liba Hoskin, Liam Hennessy and David Powell joined Lina Usma for a chat on her Latin American community podcast.
You can listen in at https://www.mixcloud.com/mujeresaldia/green-party-candidates-southwark/
The first minute is a Spanish-language introduction by Lina, before the other candidates are introduced in English.
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.
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.
Following ongoing community pressure, the planning application to demolish Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre and London College of Communication will now not be reconsidered by councillors until after the local election on 3rd May.
Southwark Labour pushed through the previous controversial demolition of the Heygate Estate two months after winning a council election.
Latin American community newspaper editor Lina Usma said:
Southwark Council leader Peter John stated there was “no alternative” to displacing existing communities and building only 3% social rented units throughout the Elephant & Castle Opportunity Area (OA). He was wrong in principle and in fact.
I would counter this regressive OA model with a Green Economic Zone. “We need local economies that put communities first, and provide opportunity, dignity and well-being. Whole rivers of wealth run through local places. We need to capture it, because it already belongs to us,” say progressive economic thinkers CLES.
Faraday Green News
Newington Green News
North Walworth Green News
Walworth local candidates
Below is information about the Green Party 2018 local election candidates for Walworth wards.
Faraday ward candidates
The Green Party candidates for the Walworth ward of Faraday in the Southwark Council elections on Thursday 3rd May 2018 are Ignas Galvelis, Liba Hoskin and Liam Hennessy.
Ignas Galvelis is a longtime supporter of the Green Party. He has participated in green campaigns in London, Southwark as well as Bristol. He is standing in Faraday ward to fight for the rights of Aylesbury Estate and other social tenants, local leaseholders and to address the local concerns of health, environmental pollution and social inequality. Ignas has built and maintained technologies to help solve medical and environmental challenges. He volunteered in environmental and technological non-profit Focus Fusion Society for more than a decade and helped raise money for critical research components to provide an alternative clean, green and plentiful energy source to address the social issue of energy poverty. Ignas profoundly cares about universal social and environmental equality and putting people before profits. [Read more...]
Liba Hoskin is a Walworth resident of 30 years, and coordinator of Walworth Green Party. She is a retired maths teacher, and mother to three adult children. A housing campaigner, she is active in Alvey TRA, Elephant Amenity Network and Southwark Defend Council Housing. She has volunteered in local parks to help improve local green spaces. Liba stands for investing in education, culture, sport, youth and adult care - as a means of saving on health and crime expenses, and increasing residents' quality of life. She supports cleanup and investment in public transport, secure cycling routes and quietways, planting and maintenance of trees to improve air quality. She wants to preserve and invest in good quality council housing stock, as a best means for providing secure and sustainable housing. She stands for rent control, and against socially and environmentally wasteful demolitions of council estates and the breaking up of communities. [Read more...]
Liam Hennessy is an architect with 30 years experience working in London. He is a strong supporter of social housing and improving London’s environment. Liam believes that the Aylesbury so-called regeneration scheme may be the most shameful scheme ever proposed in London, as it means the permanent loss of 778 council homes, and evicting 778 lower income families/households from their homes - evicting them off the Aylesbury Estate, and evicting them away from their community.
Newington ward candidates
The Green Party candidates for Newington in the Southwark Council elections on Thursday 3rd May 2018 are Betiel Mehari, David Powell and Ekaterina Belcheva.
Betiel Mehari is a single mother of two children. She works in retail on a zero-hours contract. Betiel became a housing activist to try to save her own home. Betiel's family lost their home in Brixton when her estate was completely demolished by her housing association Guinness in a "regeneration" scheme. She was forced to leave Brixton, losing the local community she strongly valued, with huge disruption to her family. Furthermore, Guinness whacked up the rent in the family's new flat, from a "social rent" of £109 per week to a so-called "affordable rent" of £265 per week. Betiel says: "'Affordable' rent is a con. It's set at 80% of market rents, not according to any measure of actual affordability. With two kids it requires an income of £35,000 - higher than the national average." Betiel is now fighting to stave off being evicted for a second time. If Betiel is evicted, she may have to accept rehousing outside London; if she refused to do so she could be classed as "intentionally homeless", losing her rehousing rights altogether. Betiel's own health has been affected and she describes her life as "totally ruined". [Read more...]
David Powell's area of interest and expertise is education. He has lived in Walworth and Kennington for over 30 years, and his sons went to a local primary school where he has been a Governor for over ten years. A performing musician, David does some teaching for Southwark Music Service, and has done instrumental teaching as well as short music projects in many Southwark primary schools. He is also Director of Music at a local Parish Church which contributes to a local Food Bank, and hosts projects for asylum-seekers and homeless people. David wants to bring about a change in local housing policy. He says: "Many people in this area feel powerless to influence decision-making by a remote Council, ignored and marginalised." [Read more...]
Walworth has been Ekaterina Belcheva's home since 2005, and "it is proving very difficult to leave. Now with two young children it becomes even more important to me that we take care that London and Southwark are greener than ever." Ekaterina's biggest concerns are reducing air pollution, the housing situation, and education. She says: "As a small business owner since 2007 I also deeply care about continuing the tradition of entrepreneurship, but sustainably, with great concern about the impact of all human activity on living nature and the climate." Originally from Bulgaria, Ekaterina started a cleaning business in London but with a difference, providing healthy, ethical and green cleaning services and products. She says: "We are educating our cleaners and clients about living an environmentally sound and more healthy lifestyle. I am constantly striving to learn about the world. I have great affinity for culture and the arts. Science is a complex matter but it is important to be aware of all new discoveries and research. I am particularly interested in medical research and technology."
North Walworth ward candidates
The Green Party candidates for North Walworth in the Southwark Council elections on Thursday 3rd May 2018 are Peter Baffoe, Guy Mannes-Abbott and Lina Usma.
Peter Baffoe is Southwark born and bred. He works as a community development officer for a small charity based in Bermondsey. He is husband to Winnie and they have three "adorable" children. Having grown up in the borough, through his work in a local charity and role as governor at a Southwark primary school, Peter sees the impact of decisions made by the government and local council on the vulnerable, young and old. He has witnessed the positive development in Southwark, but believes more sustainable and equitable approaches are required in matters which impact our communities such as housing, employment, education, recreation and the environment. [Read more...]
Guy Mannes-Abbott is a writer whose work often performs in visual arts contexts, and a former AA School of Architecture lecturer. He has lived on Balfour Street for 27 years, latterly with Sanna, a Swedish architect, and their two boys aged 17 and 5. Guy led what became a community campaign to force the Council and Lendlease to recognise the public welfare or commons value of the 458-tree urban forest on the old Heygate Estate, which produced planning precedents and saved 182 trees. Beyond that Lendlease are some 900 trees into 1600 mandated replacements planted through the neighbourhood. There were and are alternatives to Southwark’s approach to "regeneration", and Guy stood up for objectors to the Heygate Estate demolition at Planning Committee in 2013, in dramatic contrast to two of the sitting councillors who at the time were happy to support a 3% social rent scheme, with 20% car spaces in a car-free regeneration. He is a new school governor at Friars School. [Read more...]
Lina Usma, originally from Colombia, has been in the borough of Southwark for nearly 20 years. She is the director of Extra Media, a company based in Manor Place. Lina has been involved for many years with the local communities, as she was a Community Development Support Officer at CAS where she had the opportunity to be in touch with many local organisations. As a local tenant and a member of the Latin American Community, Lina is fighting to make sure that community businesses are protected and are not displaced. She is also a trustee in Su Mano Amiga, aiming to help victims of Domestic Violence in Southwark and Lambeth. She is keen to support any initiatives related to women, sustainability and community development as she knows women have so much to offer.
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