Friday, March 26, 2010

Camberwell & Peckham Fundraiser

With Labour only 2 points behind the Conservatives in the latest opinion polls and a good budget from Alistair Darling on Wednesday, it was great to look forward to the coming elections and raise some money at the Sun and Doves last night.

Harriet Harman was on great form, and the guest speaker Peter Mandelson, reminded us why it is so important for the country to re-elect a Labour Government. On every major financial decision in the past 18 months Gordon Brown and Labour have been right, and George Osborne has been wrong. From saving Northern Rock and the other major banks to nvesting in public services, the effects of this recession have not been as painful as those in the 1980's and 1990's. Although there are tough times ahead I know who I'd prefer to carry on making the right decisions.

I was also pleased to launch our Southwark Labour manifesto - and our 7 key pledges for our borough. With the Lib Dems in Southwark refusing to debate their record and local issues and instead spending all their time calling for the election of a Tory government, I am confident that our local campaign and pledges will win widespread support.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cll Ade Lasaki joins Southwark Labour

South Bermondsey councillor Adedokun Lasaki yesterday quit the Lib Dems and joined Southwark Labour. Coming just 6 weeks ahead of the local elections this represents a real boost for us as Ade particularly cited his anger at the current administration's housing policies as a reason for his leaving the Lib Dems. He shared our incredulity at the fact that the Libs handed over control of one of our major departments to the Tories in 2006, and has become increasingly concerned at the fact that the Tory policies which have been pursued have made matters worse for many tenants and leaseholders right across Southwark.

Only yesterday evening I was talking to a council tenant in Coplestone Road who has experienced difficulties getting repairs done to her home, so all councillors know the reality of the frustration which Ade feels.

Ade Lasaki has been a councillor in South Bermondsey since 2006, and involved in the tenants movement in Southwark for 25 years, so he is a man of genuine experience and knowledge, and his decision to join Southwark Labour is all the more significant.

The current council leadership's ardour for the Tories continues, and tonight the Leader of the Lib Dems and the Leader of the Tories on the council will be proposing a motion which calls for the election of a Conservative Government. So whilst Nick Clegg might try and pretend he willwork with either of the major parties, there is no such pretence in Southwark where the true blue colours of the Lib Dem leadership are obvious.

But it is also this obsession with a right wing agenda which has driven Ade Lasaki away from the Lib Dems and drove Danny McCarthy away before him. No doubt many voters in Southwark will be having the same concerns that a vote for the Lib Dems is really a vote for the Tories.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Hamlet resurfaced - well nearly!

Modest fanfare - The Hamlet has been resurfaced!

Premature end of fanfare - part of The Hamlet has not been resurfaced!

I was staggered to learn yesterday that although the vast majority of The Hamlet had been resurfaced (after a particularly long-running campaign and over 40 years of deterioration) the section to the left of the entrance from Champion Hill had been ignored by the men with the asphalt last week! This means that those residents at numbers 1 to 8 of The Hamlet have still not seen the benefit of the decision taken by Camberwell Community Council at the end of last year to resurface the road.

After being alterted by local residents to this omission I have been in touch with the Council's roads team and am anxiously awaiting a response as to why this bit of road has been ignored! Hopefully it was just an oversight and this section of the road will be resurfaced this week!

The mystery of how Southwark Council operates continues!


This the text of a reply I have just received to my enquiry -

"Dear Councillor John,

From our pre works inspections we were concerned over the integrity of the existing carriageway which was badly spalled and coming loose in places. In a worst case scenario, if we were obliged to carry out a full depth reconstruction due to the poor condition of the sub strata then we might exceed our £80k budget, if all the roads in the Hamlet were to be treated

We therefore elected to proceed with caution and initially undertake the milling off / excavation and resurfacing of the section from the round about or round the circular route and back to Champion Hill. During the milling off / excavation the condition of the exposed sub strata proved to be in better condition than expected.

Once we had confirmation that the budget was sufficient for the remaining two side roads we instructed the contractor to programme the works, which we expect to be undertaken in April / May. We are intending to letter drop the residents informing them of the slight delay in completing the remaining work."

So it looks like the resurfacing celebrations can go ahead - but not for a few months yet!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Dulwich and West Norwood Fundraiser

Southwark will still include three wards from Tessa Jowell's constituency of Dulwich and West Norwood after the next General Election, and last night I was pleased to attend a fundraising dinner for the constituency Labour Party, where Aliastair Campbell was the guest speaker.

Alastair is devoting a huge amount of time and energy to the re-election of the Labour Government, and he is a compelling speaker. And Tessa reminded us to ask those people who are currently wavering between Labour and Tory whether they really want George Osborne as the next Chancellor. There is no doubt that he is a weak link among many on the Tory side.

Lambeth Leader Steve Reed and I said a few words at the end of the evening, which had proved hugely successful, and raised a great sum for the election campaigns.

Monday, March 01, 2010

What is the election about....?

All this weekend was spent in South Camberwell talking to residents about how they might vote on May 6th in local and national elections. Veronica, Stephen and I have been getting a good reaction from voters who seem to recognise the hard work we have been putting in - not only in the past few months, but since Veronica and I were first elected in 2002.

Local elections are about getting the right representatives for your local area - and in doing that there is a balance to achieve between making sure that you get the councillors who will do most for the area, and also ensuring that your political views are represented. But there is a third aspect which can sometimes get overlooked, and that is making sure that your vote makes a difference to the larger picture in the borough; that the councillors who represent you are going to make a difference to the strategic choices and direction which the council takes.

It has been very frustrating being in opposition since 2002, particularly as we have been powerless to change the structures which cause so many of the problems we experience day-to-day in our casework. For example, housing repairs on our council estates are incredibly frustrating. It seems that more often than not repairs are not completed adequately, and however loudly we protest the system for dealing with housing repairs fails to respond. So we need to change the system!

I suppose the point that I'm making is that it is incredibly frustrating working to improve peoples' lives when it has been impossible to change the structures which cause the problems which people experience.

The Lib Dems and Tories have been running Southwark since 2002. In that time I really do feel that there has been a lack of strategic or 'big picture' thinking. Yes, local politics is about my street or your street, but without a wider vision and ambition nothing can or will improve.

So I hope that voters have that third consideration in mind when they are deciding how to use their vote on May 6th.