Tuesday, November 11, 2008

East Dulwich Estate and Ruskin Park House

On Sunday I spent time on the East Dulwich Estate carrying out a mobile surgery. Although the regeneration is having a visible impact on the Estate and improving many homes, there are still a number of residents who are bing left to live in appalling conditions until the regeneration reaches them. I spoke to a resident who has had no light in her bathroom for two months because of water leaks from above, and who has not got an effective heating system in her flat. Add on top of this a boiler which barely works and you can understand her real misery at the Council's failure to sort her repairs issues out. With so many void flats on the Estate I wonder whether it would not be simpler to move her and her son to a renovated flat. At the moment I am not sure that her home is fit for human habitation.

Last night Veronica and I met with a number of residents from Ruskin Park House who remain concerned about the works which are due to take place on their Estate over the next few years. Two real issues emerged which I hope will be explored further. Firstly, I am not sure that the company which manages RPH have fully explored all of the funding options for the works, which may be of real assistance to some of the residents of the Estate. If those options have been explored residents need to be given full details. Secondly, the issue of residents views concerning sub-letting on the Estate also needs to be explored. During the present economic difficulties everyone needs to be mindful of the financial problems many of their neighbours may be facing and strictly controlled sub-letting may provide a short-term workable answer.

I have no strong views on the issues facing RPH, but with Veronica I am anxious that residents know that every option is being explored on their behalf. It was a very constructive meeting and I was pleased to play a small part in it. In the longer term RPH residents may have to recognise that the problems arising from the management of a fairly large Estate may benefit from greater professional assistance.

Friday, November 07, 2008

LibDems are Mayor's Biggest Fans!

An extraordinary vote on Wednesday night at Council Assembly saw the LibDems standing up for Mayor Johnson with a simpering amendment supporting all that he has done over the past 6 months, whilst the Tories voted against! It really is laughable to see the LibDems on every side of every issue - trying to be to the left of Labour yet out-Torying the Tories in support of Boris. I simply don't understand where they are coming from and it seems that they don't either!

Given that Boris has done Southwark no favours, particularly with his devastating decision to cancel the Cross-River Tram, the LibDems are demonstrating that they really have lost touch with the residents of our borough.

This was evident again in a debate on the Heyagte Estate at the Elephant and Castle. The Heygate is currently being emptied of residents prior to its demolition. Some 1100 families are being forced out of their homes. Nobody denies that the Heygate needs regeneration. The only problem is that there are currently no plans to rebuild on the site, so there is a real risk that we will have a flattened pile of rubble in the centre of the borough for many years to come. I am afraid that there has been a real failure of political leadership on the Elephant and Castle regeneration over the past 6 1/2 years, and this was summed up by the LibDem Leader of the Council's attempts to blame the Government for the problems at the Heyagte. He seems to have forgotten that the regeneration of the Elephant and Castle is a Southwark Council policy being delivered (supposedly) by Southwark Council. Cllr Stanton's default mode is to blame the Government whenever anything looks like it might be going wrong in Southwark. It really is time he started taking responsibility for the choices and decisions he and his colleagues have been making since 2002.

Boris Cancels Cross-River Tram

Disastrous news for Southwark yesterday with the announcement by Mayor Johnson that he has cancelled the Cross-River Tram. The tram would have linked Peckham and other parts of Southwark with central London and would have represented a major improvement in public transport in our area.

This really does demonstrate two points. Firstly, Boris Johnson does not care about South London. If he did he would have given his full support to the tram, which was going to be a major element in the regeneration of the Aylesbury Estate. Secondly, he does not care about public transport. Our part of London is badly served by public transport, and the tram would have provided a step change in improving links into the centre of the city.

Following his pathetic proposals on tackling youth crime and public transport generally Mayor Johnson is showing himself to be incapable of doing the job to which he was elected. It's not good enough to have a Mayor of London who is "a bit of a laugh", bumbling about and saying "cripes". It needs a serious politician who will make decisions in the interest of all Londoners. He should be condemned in the strongest terms for failing to deliver the tram.