24 April 2009

Boris Johnson's First Year Report

A slight departure from me but a first year report on Boris Johnson prepared by the other Johnson in City Hall, local Councillor, Darren Johnson

"As Boris Johnson marks his first year anniversary as London Mayor, Green Assembly Members have reflected on his first year in office.

He says he wants a fairer London for those at the bottom of the pile while championing low taxes and high bonuses for the rich. His record on the environmental agenda has been equally confusing. In spite of promising a greener, cleaner London he has abandoned the next phase of the Low Emission Zone, scrapped the higher congestion charge for the most polluting vehicles, backed the expansion of City Airport, cut funding for the London Cycle Network and cancelled work on a whole swathe of new public transport projects.

It is true that he has planted more trees and campaigned against Heathrow expansion. But overall his first year has been marked by one depressing announcement after another as yet more green initiatives are cancelled, abandoned or cut back.

Give Boris your marks out of ten for his first year!

22 April 2009

Dog Fouling Stencils - The Official Answer

I have received the following comprehensive reply concerning the use of dog stencils to control dog fouling:-

"The graffiti team are instructed to apply stencils in areas that are not directly intrusive to individual properties, i.e. corners of the affected street or at locations in-between properties, next to lampposts and pillar boxes. They have been instructed not to apply stencils directly outside the gates of properties. Following a number of complaints from residents in Tyrwhitt Road regarding excessive dog fouling in the area, we carried out stencilling in this location.

As stencils are not permanent and only put down on a request basis, we have in general had very few complaints as to their use, especially if compared to the number of requests although the graffiti team have removed stencils in the past if a resident has felt they are intrusive.

With regards to the effectiveness of stencilling we will continue to use them and although we do not have any current data, we did see a drop in dog fouling following their introduction 9 years ago. This year we will be monitoring the levels of dog fouling in order that we can assess the effectiveness of the Dog Control Orders when they come into force.

In terms of new enforcement powers, these come under under the Clean Neighbourhood and Environment Act once we have officially adopted the borough wide Dog Control Order. Anyone who commits an offence under any of the provisions of the Dog Control Order may be liable on conviction in the Magistrates Court to a fine of up to £1,000. The Council will issue £75 Fixed Penalty Notices for Dog Control offences, including dog fouling and anyone who fails to pay a Fixed Penalty Notice may be prosecuted. The parks contractor and street wardens have been identified as officers that can deal with low level anti-social behaviour and will work alongside Environmental Enforcement Officers who are currently authorised to issue Fixed Penalty Notices. Section 62 extends the same powers to Police Community Support Officers and other persons accredited by Chief Police Officers under the Police Reform Act 2002."

17 April 2009

Listing for Lewisham Bridge School Site - Your Thoughts

Cllr Sue Luxton reported on her blog about the recent decision to grant the existing primary school at Lewisham Bridge grade II listing.

What this means for plans for the site at Lewisham Bridge is not clear. Additionally as a member of a planning committee that might be called upon to determine a formal planning application, I will need to review all the relevant evidence prepared by Lewisham's officers before I can reach a decision on the particular application.

However the Mayor has taken a somewhat more robust approach to the plans with his press release today:

Lewisham Council has vowed to use all available processes to get the project to provide a new secondary school in the north of the borough back on track.
The declaration has come after the shock decision by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), on the advice of English Heritage, to list Lewisham Bridge primary school. The Council had been about to demolish the school to make way for a brand new state-of-the-art all-age school providing 835 pupils with the best possible learning environment, the latest technology and inspiring new surroundings.
“This decision beggars belief,” said Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock. “It has been made by an undisclosed civil servant with no regard whatsoever for local need. The future prospects of our children and young people cannot be sacrificed for the sake of somebody’s fancy for Edwardian sinks, butterfly designs and tiling.
“Protecting our heritage is important, but while there must be hundreds of schools like this across London, the Lewisham Bridge site is uniquely suited to provide a desperately needed new school to serve the children, young people and families of this area. We know that from our exhaustive searches and consultation over recent years. We have looked at no less than 29 sites, this was the only possible realistic option.
“I will be doing everything I can to get this project back on track.”
The Council will be writing to the Secretary of State at the DCMS to object to the listing. It has until 6 May to do this.
Even if the building remains listed it may still be possible to get consent to demolish.
Lewisham needs additional secondary school capacity to meet current needs and its population is growing, with increased housing capacity on the Sundermead Estate, Heathside and in the Lewisham corridor of the Thames Gateway. The Lewisham Bridge site, close to all these new developments, is ideally located to meet the demand for new school places this will create.

The press release explains that Lewisham has 28 days to formally object to the listing - what do you think?

There's a poll on my blog.

7 April 2009

Cllr Darren Johnson puts on his Apron in Support of Pensions Action Day

See article below.

Crime Prevention Day in Brockley - 7th April

The Council and the Police will be working together in the Brockley ward on crime prevention.







Officially Endorsed Fly Tipping?

I was very dissappointed to notice that this mess on Vulcan Road has still not been cleared up - despite it clearly relating to the road resurfacing works that have been completed on Malpas Road some days ago. This small road has had a number of flytips in recent years and despite the barriers placed around this pile of rubble, it does nothing to reinforce the message that flytipping is simply not acceptable.

I have drawn the poor judgement of the contractors, Conway, to the attention of the Head of Transport and also the Head of Environmental Services (the man who runs the Love Lewisham website) and see what can be done. It will of course be interesting to see if Conway actually has a licence to dump this waste on the street.

2 April 2009

Make a Stand for a Decent Pension - Pensions Action Day 6 April 2009

Lewisham Pensioners' Forum are inviting local people to join them between 11:30 and 13:30 on Monday 6th April by the Age Concern offices, Catford Broadway to show your support your for a better state pension.

Report from Lewisham Council AGM & EGM

In a truly efficient manner, Lewisham Councillors steered themselves through the Annual General Meeting, followed by meetings of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Planning A, Planning B and then Planning C committees, then the Licensing Committee, then finally an Emergency General Meeting (EGM).

The EGM had three substantive issues to consider:

(1) Members' Allowances - as predicted we voted unaminously to a freeze in allowances this year.

(2) Housing Rents - following additional money from Central Government it has been possible to reduce Lewisham's rents slightly. However because of the late notice of the additional cash it has resulted in a lot of unnessary work for Lewisham at an estimated cost of about £6,500. Given that we'd agreed to set the rents at full Council about a month ago we need to suspend standing orders to permit us to look at that decision again - we did and rents will not increase as much as previously expected.

(3) Motion on the Lewisham Bridge School

In November 2006, Cllrs Flood and Page, along with every other Councillor present at that meeting voted for the following motion:

“This Council wholeheartedly endorses the decision by Mayor and Cabinet to select Lewisham Bridge as its preferred site for the new school to create an all-through 3-16 integrated school. This Council therefore agrees to work constructively with Mayor and Cabinet to minimise the risks associated with this project and overcome any potential obstacles in order to ensure the new school is delivered by the target date of 2010.

This Council also wishes to congratulate the long standing and vigorous campaign run by the Save Ladywell Campaign and The School for New Cross/Local Education by Parents groups. In particular this council commends the significant roles played by both Max Calo and former Councillor Helen Le Fevre”.

In April 2009, Cllrs Flood and Page proposed the following motion:

“This council notes that:
• Planning permission for the new school has not been given.
• The Environment Agency states that without further surveys the “proposed development poses unacceptable risks to the environment and we would object to the application”.
• The designs for the new school do not meet government recommendations for the provision of facilities across these age groups.
• Children are being disrupted just as they take their SATs by being decanted to the Mornington Centre.
• Concerns of the parents and local community have been consistently ignored.

This meeting calls on:
• Lewisham council to stop the decant and any changes to this site so long as all these issues are outstanding. Including a guarantee that the existing Lewisham Bridge building will not be demolished over the Easter period.
• Lewisham council and The Leathersellers Company to meet with parents and respond to their concerns.”

Following the formal proposal of the motion it was decided that the business be 'Not Put' - this was passed and as a result there was no formal vote on the actual motion proposed by Cllrs Page & Flood.


PS I was re-elected as Chair of Planning A!