30 November 2006

A busy night

Is this a record - four meetings end to end in one night.

First some preparation for the Stronger Safer Communities Scrutiny Committee (see below for a bit more information);

Next one of the few meetings of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee (that is all Councillors who are not members of the Cabinet). The meeting was called to set up an ad-hoc committee looking into the issues raised by the Audit Commission damning report into housing repairs and allied issues in the Lewisham Homes Almo (see post on housing below for a link). Labour brought an amendment to the meeting verbally...that the amendment was 'verbal' rather than 'written' was condemned by the leader of the Lib Dems...however seeing that this was indeed a useful tool in the circumstances the Lib Dem Chair sought later to do the very same...the humour of the situation was not lost. The committee will be made up of 11 members (5 Labour, 3 Lib Dems, and 1 each of the Greens, Conservatives & Socialists - thus ensuring a wide range of views and inputs are fed into the review...oh and the opposition parties have a majority - if they can work together!)

After, chance to catch my breath and attend the Stronger Safer Communities Scrutiny Panel. We're looking at the operation of the Safer Neighbourhood Teams across Lewisham. My particular concern is how well the Ward Panels are working - what role there is for Ward Councillors (well no-one else is speaking up for us politicians!) and how well the Ward Panels have been in reaching beyond the 'usual suspects' for their make-up and engagement.

Unfortunately I have to leave that meeting early to attend the Strategic Planning Committee. As the name suggests this considers applications that are 'Strategic'. Tonight's meeting was preceded by a legal briefing from the Head of Law on members' responsibilities. However, the main business was to consider an application for 270ish studio, 1 bedroom & 2 bedroom flats on the site of an industrial unit very close to Tesco in Lewisham (take a look at the Lewisham Planning Website for 72-78 Conington Road for the details). After a long series of presentations, discussions and comments the application was passed. The application as originally set up, insisted that the site provide 50 car spaces and space for 270 bikes. However TfL and the Highways Officer described the site as having the potential to be car-free. Following on from this, I successfully proposed that the conditions be amended so that the provision of 50 car parking spaces was a maximum rather than a requirement. I will be honest that the spaces were being provided in a basement so it is unlikely that any alternative use for these spaces will be found in this particular development at this stage...however I think it is important to set out that Lewisham is willing to go 'car-free'. The development has a lot of other 'green' features - an efficient district heating scheme with solar thermal water panels which was said to have the chance to reduce CO2 emissions by 10% (in line with current GLA plans but less than I'd like to see), a green roof, rain harvesting, on site handling of some construction & demolition waste, timber from sustainable managed forests. There may be more. However, it appeared that the applicants were very keen to show how 'green' they were...unlike others which simply described 'green' as being 'too expensive' (have you seen how they ripped out the eco-features in the Dome - boycott O2 now!).

In addition the development should provide for a much needed supply of new affordable housing - both flats in this development and much needed family houses on Jerningham Road.

It's now past midnight...off to bed now...the Christmas tree is being lit in Brockley at about 17:30 this evening...it's our first and should add a lovely festive feel to the area.


kate said...

you say that no one is looking out for politicians, i think you all need more publicity and to really get out amongst the people. ( im not saying you dont.) i didnt know anything about the councillors for lewisham or their political preference until by accident i discoverd blogging and andrew brown.(who has given me advice). i have struggled with housing problems for twelve years and within two or three weeks of blogging have found there are lots more things i can do that might help. and information about councillors is limited. i could hjave contacted somebody years ago had i been aware that it was an option.

Derek Wall said...

Hi Dean,

welcome to the blogsphere!

busy day today for me with the West Papua Freedom movement!

all the best