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

£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


Trading places flyers

Are you living in the right size of social housing for you?

LEWISHAM Council is organising a home swapper event, helping Lewisham’s residents move to the right kind of property for them. Since this Tory-Liberal coalition government introduced the Bedroom Tax many people have been moved into rent poverty, as there aren’t enough properties to meet the changing needs of those already housed in social housing, forcing many – often on low incomes – stuck paying out for “spare bedrooms” when they have nowhere else to go. At the same time we have lots of families that are simply too big for the houses that they are in, living in over-crowded conditions, reducing their health and well being.

As such the Council in Lewisham is being proactive and helping organise a FREE event where you can get help to:

> sign up to mutual exchange sites
> look for matches online
> browse details of desirable properties within Lewisham

Download the flyer: Trading Places Flyer

Continue reading

Thames Water Freebies

BRILLIANT Freebies from Thames Water

Thames Water are giving away a range of freebies from shower heads to garden hoses, and all of which help us save water.

There are eight great freebies that you can order for free from Thames Water all designed to help us be more water efficient.

To get your Freebie just visit: http://freebies.thameswater.co.uk

Modular Housing

Meeting Londons 21st centurary housing needs

Bedroom with desk bedSocial media was aghast recently with news that there was a box room in Lewisham that was being rented for £74pw – it had a desk for a bed, broadband cabling dangling from the ceiling and not enough room to swing a cat.

I hope that we can agree the housing situation in London is desperate, when these kinds of (match)box rooms can command £320pcm. But I don’t want to dwell on just this one issue, I’d rather look for solutions to the problems – and despite what is said, there are solutions.

New innovative solutions need to our housing problems need to be developed. The ‘brick house’ has been around for centuries, but all the while technologies, materials, products & skills have changed so much, but little has changed much in our building designs, and where new “modern” highrises have been developed, they are, to my eye at least, ugly and soul-less.  We need to look at how we can achieve the positive aspects of traditional design but through using 21st century techniques.

On the continent modular homes are a key delivery mechanism to meet housing demand, even the UK has a history of much loved pre-fabs, and it would be amiss for me to not mention at this point the Catford Prefab Museum.

The words ‘modular buildings‘ may to some conjure images of converted cargo containers, or (the now beloved) low-rise porta-cabin of the mid 20th century, or page 352 of the Argos catalogue. But lets be clear, modular buildings to me simply means off-site factory built buildings that are assembled in situ. This method of construction is faster, and uses the principles first developed by the industrialist and motor car manufacturer who coined the phrase ” you can buy a Ford in any colour as long as its black”, and creating consistency drives up quality and speed, and through constructing buildings indoor its a better environment for builders that isn’t disrupted by bad weather.

I want to see a new generation of homes of high quality, that doesn’t compromise on sustainability, design or aesthetics but are designed and build differently. Modular buildings are typically a third quicker to build, and because of this, and the use of less labour, costs are around a third cheaper than standard construction methods. We need to see bold and brave initiatives in the UK to change the construction narrative, as at the moment no solely commercial provider will bother with this as the drivers aren’t there from them and it will take a stimulus from Government (both local and national) to try and learn the skills and change the attitude of the British public so as to be more open to non-traditional construction methods.

Modular apartments designed by: Architect: Group2 Architecture Interior Design Ltd | Structural Engineers: Halsall Associates