COUNCIL MOTION: Tackling Modern Slavery (speech)

Modern Slavery is one of the great evils of our time and be under no illusion, it’s happening right under our noses.

Some think of slavery as an injustice from long ago. But the reality is, there are more people in conditions of slavery today than ever before. Estimates suggest that 40 million people worldwide are victims of modern slavery –  and here in the U.K., in nail bars, car washes, construction sites, factories, restaurants & take aways, the official figure for modern slavery stands at 13,000 in the Britain, however Kevin Hyland, the UKs independent anti-slavery commissioner, said this figure was probably far lower than the true picture which probably runs in to the tens of thousands, other estimates from 2016 estimated it could be as high as 136,000. Whatever figure you use the number means there is likely to be victims in almost every major town and city across the U.K. including here, in Lewisham.

But what is modern slavery, well the term captures a whole range of types of exploitation, many of which occur together. These include but are not limited to: Sexual exploitation; Debt bondage; Domestic servitude; Forced labour; Criminal exploitation. Other forms of exploitation include: forced ‘begging, benefit fraud and marriage’, illegal adoption, and in extremis organ removal.

Modern slavery is a cold, calculated and abusive business model, where costs are cut by depriving liberty, often with victims beaten, abused and humiliated to boot.. In short, Modern Slavery is where traffickers and slave masters use whatever means they have at their disposal to coerce, deceive and force individuals into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment.

Modern Slavery can affect adults and children, and last year 51% of victims were female and 49% male. 15% of victims were referred for domestic servitude; and there are now more victims exploited for labour than those who had been trafficked for sex.

It affects foreign nationals, but many of those exploited are from the UK and exploited within this country. In 2016 the third largest victim group were British.

Tonight Council, this motion sets out our expectations that we ensure that there’s nowhere to hide for modern slavery in our council’s supply chain, through both direct and indirect purchasing. 

The Co-operative Party’s Charter Against Modern slavery, which this motion urges Mayor & Cabinet to adopt, goes further than existing law and guidance, committing councils to proactively vetting their own supply chain to ensure no instances of modern slavery are taking place.

Collectively, local authorities in England spend more than £40bn per year procuring goods and services on our behalf.

From ‘cleaning to construction’ to ‘caring to catering’ and everything between and beyond, councils do business with literally thousands of different suppliers–both big and small every day. Many of those firms in turn have contractors and suppliers of their own too. Through harnessing that spending power, setting out our redlines as a local authority and guarding against supplier abuse, we can systematically seek to remove those who can’t assure us they are ‘slavery free’ from doing business with us.

The Charter is a series of simple and low-cost actions that councils can take to ensure their supply chains are not contributing to modern slavery. Awareness is very important, in recognising and acting on the signs of slavery, that is why training of officers is key as well as informing suppliers of their obligations. Key rights for workers such as freedom to join a trade union and whistleblowing help ensure an environment where modern slavery can’t thrive.

By joining the growing number of local authorities such as those in London including Brent, Barking & Dagenham, Islington, Hackney, Lambeth, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, and Waltham Forest who have signed up to this charter we’ll be both systematically and cooperatively working to eradicate Modern Slavery both in Lewisham & Beyond, for good. 

But for this to be effective, we must not just pay this motion lip service…

We must ensure in every corner of the council, in every penny we spend, From town centre regenerations to pencils, that we work to drive out modern slavery and ensure not a single Lewisham Pound ends up in the pocket of a trafficker. 

Chair, I move.


Congratulations to Janet Daby, MP for Lewisham East

CONGRATULATIONS to JANET DABY MP a hard working community activist who has worked for years in our community.

I’m thrilled that tomorrow morning #Lewisham’s children (particularly girls, Black, Asian and mixed race young people) will wake up to a great role model they can relate to

#forthemanynotthefew UK Labour

Changes to CAMHS Halted 🤚🏼

TONIGHT at #Lewisham Council Mayor & Cabinet: Labour Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock directed Officers to halt planned savings to #CAMHS Children & Adolescent Mental Health Services in the Borough.

Against a background of more than 60% of the Council’s budget being cut by Government, yet soaring needs of children, and a growing national crisis, I’m glad Sir Steve is stopping and looking for alternatives.

Most of CAMHS funding comes from the NHS, but they too have seen growing pressure as a result of the longest squeeze in health spending since the NHS was created

Be under no disillusionment, it’s Tory austerity that has exacerbated the child mental health crisis. Perversely, Tory cuts are also reducing support available to young people. If we are to stop the cuts to local government and the cuts to our NHS, if we are to give young people the support they need, we need a Labour Government🌹


£20Million to move #Catford’s South Circular to rejuvenate town centre & build new homes in Lewisham

We have been awarded £20million by the Government to build new homes in Catford and Lewisham town centres.

The £20 million grant was awarded by the Housing Infrastructure Fund  on 1 February. We will use it to:

  • move the South Circular in Catford, which will provide more land for housing and transform the town centre with new homes, new jobs and new open spaces
  • fund new affordable homes in Lewisham town centre.

James-J Walsh, Local Councilor, said: ‘We have achieved a significant milestone in the development and regeneration for Rushey Green, Catford. For decades the ambition has been to remove the South Circular from dividing the town centre in two and rejuvenate the civic heart of the Borough; we’ve progressed more in the last four year’s of this administration towards that goal, than the last four decades’.

Bloomin’ Marvellous

When GOOD people 👼🏼 have GREAT ideas💡, and a community works TOGETHER ✊🏽, you end up with some •BLOOMIN’• marvellous things.

I’m always happy to play my part for those in #Lewisham & #Catford trying to make things BETTER!

Well done Bloom Bakers very HAPPY for you❗️& very touched to have received such a lovely note 📝

Catford Crumble Competition


Sign up to be an entry in the first inaugural Catford Crumble Competition!

Next Saturday 20th January starting at 2.30PM in the Catford Bridge Tavern, SE6 4RE.

As part of your entry, alongside your Crumble and optional accompaniment (Custard, Ice-cream, compote), you should print off and fill in the attached Crumble Competition Card.

We’d encourage all entrants to tell the World they’re taking part on social media using #CatfordCrumbleComp – pictures and videos of you baking at home, as well as participating are welcome!

When you get to the venue there will be an entrants table – you should ask a member of staff for an entrant number to complete your form, and be told next steps.

Feel free to bring friends, family, supporters and Fritz with you! This is a community event and everyone is welcome!

We will have a number of entries to judge across the four categories, and this may take a little time… as such we’d recommend you sample the hospitality of our venue sponsors Catford Bridge Tavern.


The following rules must be adhered to if you wish to enter into this year’s competition

  • All entries must be edible and fit for human consumption (obviously)
  • All entries must be homemade… no sneaking off to Tesco and throwing some icing sugar on top!
  • Be accompanied by a completed Crumble card – bonus points for decoration!
  • We want to ensure everyone has a safe and fun day, and as such we ask that you are ‘allergen aware’ in your entries. Take a look at the guide below
  • Current or former Cooks, Chefs, Patissiers or anyone else who has a pro-background may only enter the professionals league.
  • For “juniors” we’d like to know the ages of the Children submitting and how much grown up help they got.
  • All entrants agree and/or their guardians agree to us taking photos of them for future non-commercial use.
  • Judges decision is final.

List of Allergens

We want everyone to have a safe and fun Crumble competition – so if your crumble includes any of the following make a note on your Crumbles Name Card.

Find Out More

See you soon – and thanks for making Catford’s Community the greatest,

Cllr James-J Walsh


Happy New Year


On this, the last evening of 2017, I look back and I am thankful for all 2017 brought, the laughter, the successes, but also, in hindsight, the challenges too.

As we enter into 2018, I have renewed hope for how I can continue to influence and achieve for Rushey Green and Lewisham, despite what the future holds. I’m looking forward to the challenges of fighting my second Local Election #LewishamElects2018 and bringing Louise Krupski onto the Council as my new co-Councillor alongside John Muldoon; but I also know 2018 will be difficult for many Lewisham Families, but with a renewed vigour, a strong team of Labour Councillors and Activists around me, and working alongside Damien Egan as our new Labour Mayor for Lewisham I know we can come up with the solutions to meet the •absurd• challenges that a Tory Austerity & Brexit Britain is bringing.


If you make one resolution this year let it be this, get involved in the Labour Party, either join or get more active. Britain needs a Labour Government more now than in any other time I can remember.


I fervently believe that together we can put Britain back on track, the damage whilst deep, is not yet permanent, but we can only do it together.

WATCH: Peace of Cake’s great NEW video

Peace of Cake has been on a great journey… and I’m glad to have helped out with their Campaign here ‘n’ there. In this NEW campaign video, you may even spot a cameo from me.

>> Now it’s YOUR turn to help out, with your own Peace of Cake 🍰 event <<<<<<<<<<

Whether in #Catford #Lewisham or beyond….


Share | LikeClick to watch video

Mayor chooses Living Wage accredited Cinema for Ladywell Playtower

A double win for Lewisham happened yesterday evening when Sir Steve Bullock (Labour), Mayor of Lewisham, chose BAFTA winning, Living-wage Foundation accredited Curzon Cinemas to take forward their proposals to bring back into operation The Ladywell Playtower site.

The proposal which will now be subject to further work, including requiring full planning permission, will see a three screen cinema and café-exhibition space open up on the site, creating over 25 new living-wage jobs and giving Lewisham back a cinema.

I look forward to the proposals being fully worked up and delivered.