Friday, 29 January 2010

Mayors for Peace

I mentioned the Mayors for Peace presentation the other day and thought I'd post up a pic of Lewisham CND presenting Mayor Bullock with a very delicate thin clay sculpture.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Crofton Park Ward Assembly this Saturday

Crofton Park Assembly,
Saturday January 30th,
2pm - 4pm

St Saviours Church Hall
Brockley Rise, SE23 1JB

Priorities for Crofton Park are: improving streetscape, youth provision, improving open spaces, access for all in the ward and community cohesion

The meeting will include:

- a presentation and film by the Crofton Park Youth Forum
- information about Crofton Park’s new Town Centre Manager
- community notice board consultation
- updates from your Safer Neighbourhoods Team

Come along and give us your views… refreshments and crèche provided please notify Sarah in advance if you would like to use the crèche For more information call 07525 401245, or email Sarah Cooper.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Web Casting Council Meetings

Back from the last full council meeting of this four year period (only a budget meeting to go) and it was an interesting experience. There's lots of unrelated things going on so, for instance, I took part in a presentation with Lewisham CND to the Mayor for being part of the Mayors for Peace movement where the Mayor graciously thanked Darren Johnson for helping make this happen.

Then you have a whole heap of correspondence some of which seems utterly unintelligible or irrelevant and others of which seems extremely important and are passed over in far too little detail. Then there was a closed session on the Catford Centre where we were all kicked out for half an hour then invited back in.

And so it goes on. But despite the fact that council proceedings are probably rather difficult to follow I still think it's a great thing that the council agreed to begin web-casting their meetings to allow accessibility for those who can't make the meetings, or have issues with disability.

We could also hope that it might improve the way councillors relate to each other, although it should be sad it was all very polite and businesslike tonight. Having councillors on record in this way would help electors and the press hold them to account for their actions at meetings that few of them would have otherwise attended.

The Greens moved the motion, having accepted a sensible amendment from the Lib Dems, and the motion slipped through uncontroversially - which just goes to show the parties can work together when they try.

Appeal for Simon Nundy?

Over the next few months you'll hear a number of people tell you this election is all about the Tories vs Labour. To think you have any other kinds of choices in front of you is just messy thinking (also known as political choices). Just to hammer home this point I thought I'd flag up the campaign for Simon Nundy, Tory candidate for Mayor of Lewisham.

As you can see from this screen shot from MyConservatives he definitely feels he's the man for the job and who am I to disagree? He's got the kind of business brain that will get Lewisham moving it appears if only he'd apply that brain to his campaign which has been taking a bit of time to get off the ground.

He's just three pounds fifty more away from printing a few leaflets. Who knows what he might do if you donate a tenner! Proof read his statement perhaps.

Remember donating "is simple, speedy and secure". Well, it's simple and secure anyway... maybe some of the bigger donations have got backed up in the pipeline.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

School places

As I mentioned yesterday I wanted to say a few words about this post on Brockley Central about school places in Lewisham.

For some time now there has been a real problem with school places in the borough. This goes right through from nursery places, primary and secondary school places.

BC highlights how more than one in four kids are being sent to school outside of the borough and I know from personal acquaintances that getting a nursery school place can be a real nightmare.

Personally I think it's really important for kids to be able to go to a school as near to their home as possible, which ideally means a network of smaller, community schools rather than some of the mega-schools that cater to children from miles around.

I'd add that this needs to be publicly owned and run, without the experiments of private companies 'delivering' maintenance and repairs for instance.

It's difficult, of course, in an area like Lewisham where new buildings are difficult to create when there's a lack of appropriate spaces and developing existing sites can be fraught with difficulties.

However, no matter how difficult or knotty the problem we need to address this because it really is not good enough that hundreds of kids are spending their entire school career travelling large distances going to schools that have little connection with their community.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Fear of crime is a real problem

At the risk of looking as if I'm sucking up there are two really excellent posts on Brockley Central today. I'll talk about schools tomorrow.

The other article is where they point to the reduction in the crime rate in Lewisham. This is something that is well worth highlighting to counteract some sections of the press and political parties who try to whip up fear of crime for their own short term gain (readers or voters respectively).

Lewisham (and Crofton Park specifically) is not a high crime area. There are problems, of course there are, mainly low level anti-social behaviour but more serious crimes too. It's important that we don't try to make political capital out of these events which are thankfully, still, rare.

There's nothing more nauseating than a would be politician excitedly salivating at a local incident, using somebodies personal tragedy to try to paint an unrealistic picture of what society looks like.

Last month I had someone on the doorstep who said to me "Was it the Greens or the Lib Dems who put out that leaflet that really annoyed me?" I knew the answer to that one, looked him straight in the eye, and said "Sir, that was the Liberal Democrats."

It turned out it was (whew!) as they've been pumping out literature that really focuses on crime, making people feel there's a crime wave going on. There isn't, and thankfully many residents can see that.

It's serious because the solution to crime is a strong community that looks after each other. The fear of crime, where people look on each other with suspicion, undermines that leaving everyone more vulnerable. The only long term solution to social problems is a more social society. A sensationalist approach turns every group of lads chatting on the corner into potential muggers when really they are far more likely to be potential neighbours.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Making the Transition

The Transition Town movement hopes to help move us to a low carbon economy. It has gained a lot of strength over the last few years, starting in Totnes it has spread out across the country with people ganging together to take practical steps, no matter how small, to achieving a more sustainable society.

Lewisham is no exception to this movement and I attended my first Transition Brockley meeting tonight which was really excellent. A great hub of different initiatives and ideas that people can get involved with in the area.

One example was the 9 carrot scheme (I stil have no idea why it's called that) where local businesses have made a commitment to spend a portion of their profits on making ecological improvements. Customers go into participating shops/cafes/bars and ask for a green receipt when you pay as normal. The business then invests 10% of that payment making eco-changes.

It's a neat idea where you lose nothing and they spend what you pay on making themselves more energy efficient. Mr Lawrence wine bar, Royal Tandoori and EXP Chinese, all in the same patch of Brockley Road, are participating. Try it out for yourself!

There were other discussions about community orchards, spreading info about grants available for insulation and solar panels, permaculture course and all sorts of other lovely things. Something for everyone in fact whether you're a fully paid up eco-warrior or just want to do a little something.

these kinds of 'hubs' where activists get together and share what they're doing are really inspiring because it reminds you how many people care about their community and are willing to do something to make it better. Sometimes people can feel a bit isolated, like it's only them, and to be reminded that you're part of a movement can be a real boost!

Mail picks up Lewisham 'No Fry Zone' story

Lewisham council has the dubious honour of being mentioned in the Daily Mail today. The Mail says that Green councillor Ute Michel, pictured, is proposing a 'No fry zone' (good pun) around schools to ensure that kids can't get their greasy hands on burgers and chips during the school day.

Some of the comments at the site ask why councillors don't know that primary schools don't let their kids out at lunchtime and other such 'political correctness gone mad' comments. Sadly not many of the comments question whether the story itself is accurate, which is surprising as it appears in the Daily Mail.

If you want an accurate version of the story you can always go direct to Lewisham Green Party's press release here which explains that far from being on the brink of some sort draconian measure shutting down local businesses we are rather more modestly *talking* to the Mayor about whether it would be inappropriate to allow *new* junk food outlets to set up shop next door to schools as a measure against childhood obesity.

I know a 'no fry zone' sounds really exciting, kudos to the person who thought of it, as "writing a special town planning policy" is a bit less funky but when you have commentators screaming that the council wants to 'ban frying' or 'Don't ban food. Ban the nanny state instead.' I wonder how helpful this Mail article has been.

Councils make zoning decisions all the time about what kind of premises is appropriate where, and schools are an important factor in that. It might be nice to have some kind of local diversity rather than a host of new chicken places to cater for the school break rush, however, I'm not quite sure it's the equivalent of banning food though.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Introducing your Crofton Park team

Introducing your Crofton Park team;
Roger Sedley, Hatice Gunes and Jim Jepps.

A former member of the Labour Party, Roger (left) joined the Greens four years ago. Concerned initially with climate change, he soon realised that the Greens offered the policies he wanted to see in a number of areas. These include creating a new industrial base and providing work through investment in renewable energy technology, giving people a fair wage, a living wage and ending child poverty.

He is also passionate about keeping the NHS in the public realm and finding non-violent solutions to conflict situations. Roger has worked as an architect for 30 years and has built buildings he is very proud of. He now wants to spend the next stage of his life putting something back into society, which is why he is putting himself forward as a councillor. He understand the planning system, has good knowledge of the housing situation and the NHS locally.

Hatice (centre) has campaigned strongly to raise awareness on Violence Against Women. She has campaigned for equal rights for Kurdish people all her life. As a Kurdish woman from Turkey, who has lived most of her life and been educated in Britain she is passionate about the environment, women’s issues and social justice.

She has lived in Lewisham for some time now and made the borough her home. She loves its finds it a very dynamic borough with huge potential. For Lewisham to build on its achievements, she believes local government needs to be very careful in establishing and maintaining the balance between development and conservation, as well as maintaining the balance between striving for equality and promoting respect for difference between its residents.

As a councillor she is keen to promote cultural diversity, tolerance and creativity, and to further ensure that Lewisham continues to be a green place where everyone would like to live.

Jim (right) has been an active political campaigner for fifteen years, and was a UNISON shop steward in the NHS for eight years. Jim has campaigned to defend council housing, protect public services, organised against New Labour's wars and the arms trade as well as being heavily involved in opposing the BNP and racism.

Jim joined the Green Party four years ago having been inspired by the example of many Green Party councillors up and down the country who have been able to make a real difference even when in a minority. He hopes to put his wealth of community campaigning to good use inside the council chamber giving a voice to the people of Crofton Park."

Sunday, 17 January 2010

The St Pancras to Crofton Park Ghost Train

When I discovered there was a train straight from Crofton Park to St. Pancras (and back) I cannot express how happy it made me. It seems to be some sort of semi-secret that plenty of people just don't seem to know anything about, probably because it's too useful.

Of course nothing is so simple.

So whilst it is theoretically so, so useful the fact is that it never seems to be running when I actually need it. First it was the weekends. Nothing. Then it was the snow, delay, cancellation and just plain disappearing act. Third, on a snow free weekday, gone again.

I'm not sure whether it's actually worse to have a phantom train or just get it simply removed from the timetable. Certainly transport for London does not seem to be a 100% reliable guide as to whether it's running or not.

A few days ago I was waiting on the platform at St Pancras and the announcement came that the train had been cancelled. I'm now so convinced of the company's incompetence I actually decided to stay where I was. What happens? Yes, it actually turned up, after everyone on the platform had been told to find an alternative route about five minutes before.

This cannot go on. If the train companies cannot run a reliable service where do they get off increasing the fares at a time when inflation is below zero? Time to stop messing about and renationalise the lot. Well, that's my view anyway.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Good odds on Darren

The bookies are taking bets on the various parties chances at the General Election and the News Shopper reports that the Greens are doing well in the Lewisham Deptford constituency.

They state that;

Labour are also the favourites in the Lewisham Deptford constituency with odds of 1/66 followed by the Green Party with 12/1.

Odds of a Lib Dem victory are 33/1 while Conservatives fall behind at 100/1, which is the same odds as Crystal Palace winning the FA cup this year.

That might even be worth a flutter. It's good to see the bookmakers think that Lewisham Greens will come a strong second but I'd like us to do one better if we can.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

In politics timing is everything

Not a reference to the bizarre coup attempt against the Prime Minister this week but Crofton Park Green Party's decision to deliver our January leaflets in the middle of a blizzard.

However, we're hardy folk and although I was concerned we might end the day with broken limbs or bruised bottoms we managed to deliver thousands of newsletters, and drop off bundles for those doing their own streets, without injury.

Natalie here demonstrates the latest Green Party winter fashion where only the minimum of skin is exposed to the elements and her backpack is stuffed with newsletters providing much needed ballast.

The rest of the team were equally well wrapped up. Here I'm modeling a very stylish hood/cap combo (far left) that I fully expect to be taken up the length and breadth of Lewisham by the end of winter.

Jim, Hati, Roger, and Anne: well protected against the elements (pic taken between the worst squalls)

We certainly weren't the only ones outside. It was great to see parents and kids pitching in to sweep up the snow outside their primary school on Brockley Rise. I was also impressed by the number of snow sculptures I saw out and about, although most people were far too sensible to go out in the worst of the weather.

Kudos also has to go to the woman I saw teetering along in her stiletto heels on the very icy pavements - I hope she got home alright!

A few new residents of Crofton Park

Out and about this weekend I spotted a few new residents in the area.

There was also this wonderful sculpture on Riseldine Road, complete with note saying "Please do not touch. It is a university project. Thank you." I wonder what degree they are doing (cue jokes about 'below zero' degrees, etc.)