Catford’s Road Realignment moves forward

Major changes to the South Circular in Catford, which will improve the quality of life for people who live and work in the area, have been agreed at a meeting of Lewisham Council’s Mayor and Cabinet which was held on 19 July 2017.

From 2020/21 the South Circular will be moved to the south of Laurence House on Catford Road (through the car and lorry park). The gyratory will also be removed to create a simpler road layout at the junction of the A21 and A205.

The benefits of moving the South Circular include:

  • Wider pavements and new road crossings to create safer space for people to walk around the town centre.
  • Safer spaces for cyclists with a fully segregated cycleway on the South Circular road and new cycle lanes on A21.
  • Major improvements to Catford town centre with the creation of new pedestrianised public spaces and business space. 
  • A simplified junction for cars and buses with two way traffic reinstated on the A205 and the A21.

The decision to change layout of the South Circular means the start of a major programme of development in Catford which will create new homes, new jobs and new open spaces.
Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham, said:

‘Moving the South Circular road will transform Catford and make the town centre a better place to live, work and visit. Our decision ends 50 years of uncertainty over the route of the South Circular road and the benefits will be felt for generations. The simplified road layout will make it easier for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers to travel by removing the gyratory.

‘The future for Catford is bright with hundreds of new homes being built, new businesses opening every month and major improvements planned for the shopping centre alongside the improvements to the route of the South Circular road.’

People who live and work in Catford are invited to have their say about the area and the changes they would like to see. Their comments will help Lewisham Council develop a plan to improve the town centre in 2018.

Grenfall Tower Tragedy

The tragic events of last Wednesday morning at Grenfall Tower couldn’t fail to move you, and my thoughts and best wishes are with both the victims, and the families of those who were hurt or killed in this national tragedy. Our thanks should also be given to those emergency services and volunteers who witnessed first hand this terrible story unfold, I hope they get all the aftercare and support they need.

As a local councillor, I and the rest of my colleagues in Lewisham Labour Group, are clear that we want to ensure the safety of our residents, either directly in Lewisham Homes or in partner Registered Social Landlords. Sir Steve Bullock – Mayor of Lewisham has been quick to task the relevant Executive Officers to move forward to ensure that we’re doing everything possible to mitigate risks. A letter detailing this actions is laid out below.


I and other councillors will be meeting with key Lewisham Council staff tonight to discuss further our response and to review any learning, as well as consider our political response — the UK needs to ensure that it upholds the highest standards of health and safety and in particular fire safety; there are going to be some serious questions from the public enquiry.

Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn wrote to the Prime Minister Theresa May last week setting out his and the Parliamentary Labour Party initial questions about the Public Enquiry, support for families, and outlining the Labour Party’s gratitude to those Emergency Services who dealt with the aftermath.

How Lewisham is helping

Lewisham Council also hasn’t been inwards looking during this horrific incident, we sent a number of officers to Kensington and Chelsea to help their staff in running rest centres and supporting residents made homeless by the fire, and stand ready to offer further support along with our fellow boroughs across London. 

How you can help

Lewisham Council are also encouraging those residents who want to help to donate to the Grenfell Tower Appeal set up by the Kensington and Chelsea Foundation.

https://thekandcfoundation.com/donate/
https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/kandcfoundation/grenfell-tower

🍻 The Catford Beer Festival 🍻

A joint endeavour between the Catford Bridge Tavern, Lewisham Council and SE London CAMRA, will be held at the Catford Bridge Tavern from 23 to 25 June.

Cask ale is at the heart of every Beer festival, and there will be plenty to try however, we also will be celebrating great beer in other forms, and so the festival will be a real mixture of cask, keg, bottled and canned beers, with an emphasis on local breweries. The beer list is still a work in progress, but we are proud to be showcasing offerings from the following:

🍺 Bexley | Bianca Road | Brew Buddies | Brockley | Bullfinch | Canopy | Clarkshaws | Hop Stuff | Ignition | Kent | Kissingate | Old Kent Road | Orbit| Southwark | Three Sods | Villages

🍎 Cider fans will also be well catered for, with ten or more real ciders on offer, including a number from South London producers rarely available elsewhere.

🍴 Food will be available each day 

🎤 We also have entertainment on hand – 

Champion Hillbillies will be playing from 8pm on Friday 23rd; 

Saturday night will feature a DJ with psych vs soul vinyl set and,

Sunday a live band

🛒 Limited edition festival glasses and t-shirts will be available to purchase.

🕰We’re open each day from 12 to 11pm and look forward to seeing you there.

🚓🚑🚒 If you work for any of the Emergency Services (w/ID) then the Catford Beer Festival Team want to offer you  Free Beer as a little ‘thank you’ for looking after us all. More info http://www.twitter.com/CatfordBeerFest

Briefing for Forest Hill School

The following is the briefing provided to me by the Mayor of Lewisham’s Office.
The Issue

Following the appointment of a new Head Teacher and a new chair of Governors this academic year a serious overspend was identified. If no action had been taken this would have escalated and given the school even more serious problems in the future. The Council has provided advice and a loan to the school so that changes can be made over a five year period. The school has already carried out a re-organisation of non teaching staff and the current dispute solely involves teachers. The dispute is between the Trade Unions and the management of the school not the council and has involved a number of days of strike action. The NUT is in dispute about changes to teacher’s workload and a single compulsory redundancy. The NASUWT was also in dispute about the workload changes but have accepted the concessions offered to all teaching staff and have now withdrawn their strike action.

Overall, this is a complex issue and it is not possible to provide detailed information about all aspects of it in a short briefing like this. What is provided is a Q&A covering some of the issues that might be raised. 

Tory Government planned cuts to London schools funding

The Tory Government is changing the way schools are financed from 2019. As a result Lewisham schools will lose 3% of their funding and across London 70% of schools will lose money. Labour Councils in London have worked together to oppose this and gained some concessions as the original losses proposed by Government were even larger.

A National Audit Office report showed that the cost pressures facing schools over the next three years amount to an 8% increase arising from pay awards, the Apprenticeship Levy, teachers’ pension Increase and inflation. The Tory Government is telling schools to meet these costs through efficiency savings.

Labour opposes these cuts but they are increasing the pressure on schools to eliminate any deficits now.

Q&A

Why doesn’t Lewisham Council make up the deficit?

Since 1988 the financial control of schools has been the responsibility of Governing Bodies and the amount of funding the schools receive from the Government is largely determined by the number of pupils. When a school gets into difficulties Councils can make loans to help manage the reduction in spending over five years for secondary schools and Lewisham has done this for Forest Hill.

Why isn’t Lewisham paying redundancy costs?

Other schools in Lewisham which have made staff redundant have met their own redundancy costs and this is the case in other London boroughs. The NUT is challenging this nationally and other Councils are facing the same issue. If Councils were forced to pay there is no funding available to meet these costs and cuts would have to be made in other services or money clawed back from other schools.

Why doesn’t the Council allow the school to pay back the deficit over a longer period?

The arrangements for how this is done are made by the Schools Forum which has representatives from schools on it not the Council. They have set 5 years as the maximum. But this will be monitored closely and reviewed annually so further assistance can be given if necessary.

Isn’t the deficit caused by the PFI?

All schools have to spend some of their funding on running their buildings and this cost between 9% and 10% in most cases. The Forest Hill PFI cost 10.2% but in future this will be limited to 10% so that school is in the same position as those without a PFI.

What other changes has Forest Hill made to save money?

19 non teaching staff have been made redundant and there have been changes to the schools management structure.

Why are teachers at Forest Hill being asked to work longer?

The statutory maximum amount of time teachers can spend in the classroom is 90%. Teachers at Forest Hill currently spend 77% of their time with pupils and it is proposed to move this to 88%. Other Lewisham schools and schools in other boroughs are also reviewing their arrangements

£40,000 to live alone in London, new research finds

The 2017 ‘Rent Affordability Index’ research, carried out by nested.com, shows that the average salary for a singleton to live alone in London has soared to more than £40,000/yr, and a family of four need an income of more than £75,000/yr

The research shows that London is the 11th most expensive city in the world to live in, based on a square footage alone, we however know utilities and goods and services tend to be much, much, higher in UK and London in particular.

The report continues to identify that an individual earning The London Living Wage of £9.75hr would need to work 12hrs, every day of the year to reach this income threshold. 

When looking at city comparators across the U.K.- London unsurprisingly takes the stop spot, but what is shocking is the difference between London’s first place (£39,876.84) and 2nd  (£20,737.20) places is £19,139.64, almost 50% variance. 

Update: some have written to say that they disagree with this average rents for their area. Consistently, but only anecdotally, said they’re higher, in London or otherwise. That aside, this blog is focussed more about the loss of the life stage of living by yourself, whether as a transition army between professional sharer and starting a family, but equally about the financial trap individuals, who may have had a relationship breakdown, but can not afford to live alone. This will disproportionately affect women, and those less economically active.

In January 2014, Land Registry figures showed average house prices across the whole of England and Wales were £168,536, but in London the average was £409,881 (143% higher than the England/Wales rate). This house price gap has been growing ever larger, with London experiencing 10.9% growth over the last year, compared to 4.2% across England and Wales.

The same picture is apparent in the private rented sector, with the the England rental rate runnings at £665 a month in January 2014, compared to £1,516 a month in London (128% higher than the England rate). The differential in local authority rented property is less exaggerated but still significant, with average rent across England running at £79 a week in 2012/13, compared to £99 in London (25% higher than the England average).

London Weighting is not the answerUnison’s Bargaining Support Unit undertook a review for 2013/14 into London Weighting across seven sectors, this ‘top up’ is pitiful compared to the cost differential.

But what can Lewisham do?

Next week I’ll be attending my new role on Lewisham’s Poverty Taskforce, alongside Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Trust for London, looking   This came off the back of work I undertook in my Lewisham Councillor Scrutiny role, 

The Committee will be pursuing the following issues:

  •  Tackling in-work poverty in the borough
  •  Tackling out-of-work poverty, namely for pensioners relying on state pensions
  •  Tackling poverty prevalent amongst young families struggling with a
    combination of housing and child care costs
  •  Ensuring residents are proactively informed about legislative changes that
    could impact both positively and negatively on their income and general
    financial welfare
  •  Staying up-to-date on legislative changes and advise on appropriate changes
    to the Council’s work accordingly.

2017 ‘Rent Affordability Index’

Table 1

Table 2


Lewisham’s Crime Survey

YOU can help make #Lewisham safer 
Visit: http://tinyurl.com/LewishamCrimeSurvey17

The Safer Lewisham Partnership wants to hear the views and experiences of crime and anti-social behaviour from communities right across Lewisham. The results of the Lewisham Crime Survey will be used by the partnership, which includes Lewisham Council, the police, probation and fire services, health, and voluntary groups, to help in setting its annual priorities and strategic action plan. 

My address to #Lewisham’s #HMD2017, @HolocaustUK

Retard.

Gypo .

Gay.

Bitch.

Jew.

…Words. 

We tell kids, ‘Sticks and stones may break our bones, but names will never hurt you‘. 

Sorry mum, Sorry dad — you were wrong, in fact this couldn’t be further from the truth. Words have power. They do hurt. 

They may not leave physical marks; but can leave scars much, much deeper. Their effects — are pernicious, with the ability to affect not just the one individual they’re aimed at, but they also have the power to polarise, 

objectify

 deny our differences 

… and even humanity.

We say things, in the playground, 

online, 

down the pub.

Thoughtless little comments,

– condemnations.

‘… it’s just banter though, innit’.

We need to be mindful, because what we choose to say and do, not only has power in that moment, but leaves a fingerprint on society, that adds — or diminishes. Words, are how we communicate and develop ideals as both individuals, and society.

The taking of power from one person, or people – all too often starts with words… then rapidly escalates: 

a shove, a push, a punch… 

a beating…

a murder…

a war….

genocide?

When we start, or let oppressive words and phrases slip unchecked and unchallenged in to the mainstream, it’s a first step – “chav”, “nasty little woman”, “extremist” — down a dark path.

“Locker room banter”, as one man recently called it, might seemingly get you ahead, but comes from pushing down on those around you, creating a culture of oppression and tyranny. But know this —

Donald,

its unsustainable. Good people exist everywhere, and we are the majority:

– good people when they realise what is going on, stand up for those who are being down trodden, and oppressed, 

– good people, and great leaders, don’t seek to oppress, they seek to raise others up, to enthuse, to inspire, to bring people together so we can collectively come up with solutions to humanities challenges.

We all have choices, we all have power. We can use our words, our actions, our power, to build a better world:

— a world where all its people can live side by side, ‘celebrating difference’

— a world where we commemorate lives lost in the atrocities of genocides, not by being passive observers in fine surroundings, 

but by honouring that memory, That loss, Through defending the good, by learning from the past, and by ensuring whenever we see oppression, we challenge it, and speak out.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Delivery may vary from text



 


Why the #WomensMarch was needed

It’s every mans responsibility to defend and extend the rights of women too

A picture of Cllr Walsh at the London Women's March holding a placard saying It’ll come to no surprise to anyone that I was supporting the Democratic Campaign for the White House, but Saturday’s #WomensMarch wasn’t “sore losers” grumbling around the world… it was feminists (of which I am one) saying – the newly elected leader of the free world has been shown to think, speak, act and behave, in a way that ‘oppresses’ women, but more crucially he hasn’t grown, he hasn’t learnt — and that’s not cool.

What he classes as ‘locker room banter’ – I and every sportsman I know, wouldn’t say. It’s vile & feral.

I think everyone had a story as to why they were moved to March over the weekend,and I summarised mine Ina quick little note to Facebook 


What I wasn’t expecting was the wave after wave of social media troll to come at me. The first of which was @OneBomb90 on twitter. I had never spoken to him before, they don’t know me, they simply chose to post this:


It’s this #everydaysexism that women and girls have to put up with, and the election of a misogynistic man to the most powerful job in the world has simply emboldened a vast swathe of hideous individuals to come out of the shadows. Men, like @OneBomb90 seem to think this kind of attitude and behaviour is now acceptable again, that the previous little furore into equality is now over; they’re back on top.

The taking of power from one person, all to often starts with words… then rapidly escalates, a shove, a push, a punch… a beating….a rape…..a murder…..genocide?

When we start, or let oppressive words (or interpretations) slip in to the mainstream, letting them go unchallenged, it’s a first step – “chav”, “gypo”, “gay”, “retard”- down a dark path.

If the Obama’s taught us anything, it was the best men and women, don’t take power, they give it. It was not the fact that Barack controlled the worlds largest super-power state that made them a powerful and a great Presidential couple… it was the fact he, and Michelle, had soft power, given not taken.  They didn’t use their influence to push people down, they actively sought to lift people up, enthuse, inspire and bring them on their journey. They understood the power of kindness, people wanted to be around them, and to give to them what they gave to others. The stark contrast between the leadership styles of these ‘back-to-back’ Presidents, is frankly ‘black and white’, (please forgive the obvious pun),  and in many ways exacerbates the issues of The 45th President of the United States. Women, The BAME Community/People’s of Color (the preferred American term) and LGBT+ Community were given a richer taste of equality under Obama, to snatch it back after its been given is going to be a bitter fight, and given the US changing demographics, if this remains a political battleground, it could be a while before the Republicans get another shot at the Presidency. 

So it seems like they’re going to be making the most of this one….The Trump Presidency has already picked a collection of Multi-Million and Billionaires to lead the Cabinet – and his response to criticism is:

“I want people that made a fortune!” Trump, Dec 2016

The result will most likely be the most neo-capitalist Government and policies the US has ever seen, unabated by House and Senate, both of which have Repulican majorities. And that raises concerns about whether fertility rights will come under attack in this new hard-right Government. Pro-Choice America reports he wants to completely ban abortions, save pregnancies through rape, incest and when a woman may die. To do it he’s going to nominate a pro-life Supreme Court Judge, whose affect will be felt long after a four or even eight year term.


Photos from #WomansMarch 

 

Apply for Community Chest Funding

£100,000 Community Chest funding each year for projects that will make a difference to the lives of Phoenix residents
Do you have an idea for a project that will help our community? Then the Community Chest could make it a reality.

Applications for 2017 funding are now open! Access your application form on the community chest web page here. Don’t forget to carefully read the criteria before completing your form.

Who can bid?

Anyone is welcome to bid. That includes Phoenix residents, local businesses and voluntary organisations. All you need to do is demonstrate that Phoenix residents support your idea and that the project will benefit people in our area.

Types of grant – There are two different types of grants to choose from:

•Smaller grants – up to £2,500

•Large grants – from £2,500 to a maximum of £20,000

Who decides?

All bids are taken to an evaluation panel which will include Phoenix residents, young people, Board members and external representatives from the local Ward Assemblies and Voluntary Sector.

The panel decides which small grant applications will be funded.

Large grants are awarded subject to a two stage process. At stage 1, the evaluation panel will review and score all applications. The highest scoring projects will proceed to stage 2 where they can promote their projects to residents, before tenants vote for their favourite projects to determine who will receive a share of the funding.

Find out more about our Community Chest 2016-17 projects.

Why is the Charing Cross-Hayes Train Line via #Catford / #Ladywell so bad? 

Ive been perplexed for a while… Why is the commute from Catford to Charing Cross so bad? …so I posed the following question to the operators:

The Hayes Line Service operated by South-Eastern, seems to be particularly susceptible to: cancellation, delays, technical failure, over- crowding, congestion, last minute platform changes (Waterloo East), inoperative on board announcement systems, & reductions in carriage numbers. Why is this? What performance measures are there of this services with regard to these issues and how well does the service fair against other routes.

Councillor Walsh, January 2017

Reply to Cllr Walsh’s Question Performance (delays and cancellations)
In brief, it’s fair to say that performance across all lines in the last quarter of 2017 has been nowhere near the standard we want to achieve or our passengers expect and the Hayes Line has been no exception.
Across all routes we have been affected by a series of infrastructure- related issues including signal and power circuit failure, landslips, weather and adhesion-related performance problems and over-running engineering works.
Over riding this are the on-going Thameslink related works at London Bridge we have reduced capacity at and on the approaches to the station by around 50%. This means that when things go wrong, our recovery options are limited meaning services have to be diverted to other London terminals.
However, while these issues are outside the train operator’s direct control a blame game is meaningless as passengers simply want a service they can rely upon and we and other train operators welcomed the Secretary of State’s announcement earlier this month requiring Network Rail to better integrate its operation with ours to improve efficiency.
A performance improvement plan is in place which from Southeastern’s side includes:
 Recruiting more conductors and onboard managers
 100 new drivers in training
 More resources at our control centre
 Focus on right time railway by eliminating the minutes lost that add up to
knock on delays
 Recruited more platform staff to help passengers
 Working with Network Rail to remove temporary speed restrictions
 Working with Brighton University on a live information flow to be fed
directly into our systems to provide more up to date information
 Educating passengers on the best course of action to take when a
passenger falls ill on the train
 Invested in fleet improvements by replacing components likely to fail

From Network Rail’s side:

From research it has undertaken, they have established that the first eight miles out of Cannon Street and Charing Cross heading out of London is where over 40% of all delays occur. Accordingly, Network Rail has begun a 12-18 month programme to renew, upgrade or enhance those track, electrification and signalling equipment assets which are the main causes of those delays.
Network Rail is also increasing coverage of their rapid response teams who in some cases are now able to call on dedicated BTP resources to allow the use emergency blue lights to get to sites quicker to fix infrastructure failures or respond to trespass, vandalism or fatality type incidents.
In addition, Network Rail have set up remote condition monitoring on all critical junctions in the London area so asset performance can be monitored in real time and proactive intervention measures can be undertaken before components fail. It is estimated that without the remote condition monitoring, 45% more failures to the infrastructure would occur.

Technical failure

This is one area we can claim some success. Due to changes in maintenance schedules and the introduction of diagnostic software ion trains (which allows engineers to identify and replace a part before it fails) unit reliability across our fleet of Class 456/466 networkers (the trains used on the Hayes Line and other metro routes) is the best it’s ever been.
However, I do not doubt your experience and if you could give me dates and times you travelled when services were delayed or cancelled due to train failure, I’ll investigate and give an explanation.

Congestion

Since we were first awarded the franchise in 2006, passenger numbers have increased by around 40%, the bulk of this growth being in peak commuter numbers. And it’s fair to say that growth on this scale was not predicted by the Department for Transport when it set our franchise specification in 2002/3. To meet the demand, we are operating around 300 additional services (and the same is true for other operators serving the London Bridge corridor and Victoria).
Unfortunately, the track and signalling capacity has not increased concomitantly. Trains are bunched very close together at intervals of just a few minutes and even a small delay to one train will have a domino effect on other lines and services as trains stack up behind one another waiting for a platform slot.
This explains why train punctuality is always better at weekends and Bank Holidays when fewer services operate and routes are clearer.
The position will improve once the Thameslink programme works are completed in 2018.

Over crowding/reductions in carriage numbers

As explained, passenger numbers have increased by around 40% over the past ten years. However, save for the high speed trains from Ashford serving St. Pancras, (which arguably are of no benefit to commuters travelling from the borough of Lewisham), we have had no new rolling stock. We have done everything possible to mitigate this. Thanks to revised maintenance techniques the engineering team has managed to put more trains in passenger service than ever before. And we match capacity with demand by taking units off the less busy trains and add them to the busier ones. There is no overall reduction in carriage numbers and all available units are in passenger service.
The need is for more rolling stock and around 18 months ago we put a business case to the Department for Transport for additional resources and we look forward to a positive decision. MPs in our franchise area, including Heidi Alexander have lobbied the DfT on our behalf and representations from other stakeholders including Lewisham Council would be very welcome. 

Inoperative on-board announcement systems

Before trains leave the depot in the morning all on board systems including the PA system operated from the driver cab will be tested to ensure they are in working order. Drivers are also required to make announcements and this is particularly true when services are delayed or disrupted. However, I’ll be honest and say that some drivers are better at this than others.
If you could let me have examples including dates and times where on- board train announcements were either non-existent or inadequate I will investigate.

Last minute platform changes, Waterloo East

As explained above due to our operating more peak services to meet growing passenger demand, routes to London terminals are increasingly busy. This is particularly true of services to Cannon Street and Charing Cross where, due to the Thameslink works, performance has been affected by the loss of half the capacity at London Bridge.
During peak periods trains are very tightly bunched and if one service is delayed this will have a knock-on impact on others meaning they lose their platform slot and have to be diverted to another. The control room will make long line announcements giving as much notice as possible to passengers, but I appreciate this is inconvenient to those so affected.

Full Papers here