More on Tidemill

The Council (actually the Cabinet says No!), so does the Mayor of London. (Actually what they say is more complex, I was channeling Little Britain.) The Council says go ahead with the Developer’s current plans, so does the Mayor of London.

Len Duvall, the area’s London Assembly member, reports the Mayor of London’s decision in a press release called “Old Tidemill Garden could be lost for ever“. Crosswhatfields reports the lead up to the Council decision in an article called “Save Tidemill & Reginald House update“.

It would seem that the Cabinet want the houses now, are frightened that the developer will walk, or sue the council, and that grant support for the project will be lost through delay if they voted to instruct the developer to consider the alternate plan, which is designed to provide the same number of houses.

Here’s the alternative plan, which the developers have rejected, and the Council has not reviewed. It saves both the current council houses, and the Garden.

One of the increasingly powerful arguments for keeping the Garden is its role as ‘lung’. Given the amount of building work surrounding the area; its 3.3 thousand metres2 protects people from the shit created by the building works at Deptford Church,the Tidemill site itself, and the coming Creekside development.

 

 

I have been told that the Council believe they are replacing this capability, but if so it would be a departure from previous practice.  A friend writes,

There will NOT be an increase in ‘publicly accessible space’, as claimed by Council officers. The new public realm is said to be 3915sqm, but more than 50% of this (1973sqm) is private courtyards. 20% of the remainder is hard landscaping, leaving only 1565sqm of public green space. The current garden and the lawn on the corner are 3364sqm in total. What is offered is 1799sqm less, which represents a net loss (or deficit) of 53%.

, although see the comment below.

Here is a picture of some of the trees that’ll go, although they’d going both plans.

I wonder what the next steps are.

This is a missed opportunity for the new Labour Group.

ooOOOoo

Other articles on this blog are tagged “tidemill gardens” and I wrote up my notes during the initial planning consultation on my wiki, in an article called “Giffin Street Redevelopment“. …

Stand up to Racism

Lewisham has been the focus of some determined anti-fascist demonstrations over the last week provoked by the candidature of Ann Marie Waters of the current incarnation of the UK’s (or is it England’s) organised fascists. Yesterday, Lewisham’s anti-racist organisations led a picket of a so-called Hustings organised by John Hamilton once of Lewisham People before Profit but now organising as “Bring Back Democracy”. The reason for the picket was the proposed attendance of the fascist candidate.

SutR at Lewisham East (early)

The Janet Daby, Labour’s candidate rejected the invite as did the Tory candidate, although the latter claimed a diary conflict. This meant that the likely first two candidates were not attending; it’s not much of a hustings.

The Southern Press & Mercury report the event giving space to the Lib Dem candidate and Woman’s Equality Party complaining about a suppression of democracy, despite the fact that the Labour and the Tory candidates were not present. ( I am trying to find out what happened to the Greens.) The SPM does not report the early confrontation between demonstrators and a group of angry “For Britian” supporters.

They quote, Mandu Reid, the Women’s Equality Party candidate

“I wanted to go to the hustings to challenge the far-right’s hate-filled narrative and to expose their ugly ideology for what it is. Unfortunately, I was denied that opportunity and, more importantly, the residents of Lewisham East were denied the chance to question their future MP.

This is not true as the likely winner did not turn up.

It seemed the Police advised Ann-Marie Waters not to come; she didn’t.

The Hustings was a provocation, arguably designed to be. You can’t debate with Facists.

ooOOOoo

Many people argued with the event organisers to cancel it, and the hosting organisation had to change its branding several times. I believe that the final brand used was Lewisham’s “Bring Back Democracy”, which I have until recently supported as they sought to campaign for an end to the Executive Mayor system in Lewisham. I and  others will need to reconsider this.

In a private conversation, a correspondent of mine made the following comments, reproduced with permission.

[I have] … Spoken to many colleagues today who were lifted by the news of yesterday’s demo after the weekend. I think there are important discussions needed on the strategy and tactics of the labour movement in combatting the far right. The situation has to be weighed up each time…. There will be times where a different approach might have to be taken and decided upon democratically. I think “no platform” was a correct approach last night after what had happened at the weekend, the attempts by ANW to bring people to the borough off the back of it and the very low numbers of unaligned voters compared to a mobilisation of the organised far right.

On the far right’s social media response, had ANW been able to stroll into the hustings unchallenged they would’ve spun it in a different way, suggesting she was a strong, credible candidate with a broad base of support in the area. Obviously, in the heat of a demo like that some things will be said or done that we would do differently if we were able to reflect on it coolly from afar. There does need to be some consideration of what slogans can be used to counter the far right but also raise a positive working class alternative to racism. But the strategic task of the left in Lewisham has to be to pull the rug from underneath the far right by opposing austerity and fighting for better conditions so that disaffected working class people are not drawn to the right in any way. That means Labour councils not making cuts anymore. Damian’s speech on Saturday raised a very positive policy of the council housing 100 refugees. That needs to be coupled with a comprehensive council house building plan. It means the families in Milford Towers in Catford, many of them migrants, being guaranteed social housing in the regeneration scheme rather than being kept on short term contracts and a set % not being assigned for social housing because “it might scare developers away”. In 2011 the TUC demo was approx 750,000 and when UKIP called a demo in favour of cuts a few weeks later they mustered a couple hundred. That’s a sign of the balance of forces when the labour movement takes a lead.

On the issue of organising an independent hustings, my correspondent says,

On John ‘doyen of community cohesion’ Hamilton: he had it explained to him very clearly how he could’ve avoided having ANW on the platform by gaining agreement for parties to declare it as part of electoral expenses.  … To put on an event consciously requiring the police to facilitate and then calling 999 on the demonstration without reflecting about what others steps could be taken is reprehensible. To come out today and denounce ‘mob rule’ goes even lower. This is a man who used to lambast Bullock for the use of the ‘rent-a-mob’ line when there was a community demo or when the Council called in the riot police in 2010 or to get him off the roof of Lewisham Bridge.

 …

Lewisham Momentum

I have not written up my view as to what happened at the Lewisham Momentum AGM, but Rebecca & Jon have written to the officers elected by those who left and went down the pub.

 

Dear comrades,

Following your departure from the Lewisham Momentum AGM and the holding of a meeting to set up a new group at the Amersham Arms on 23 April, we are continuing to advocate a rescheduled, democratic AGM and for it to elect a broad, pluralist, united committee.

The split into two rival groups is weakening the left, in terms of wasted energy, duplication of efforts and most of all the bad blood it has caused on the Lewisham left. We should try to get unity. There is no good reason the two sides cannot be part of a united Labour left/Momentum in Lewisham.

We want to ensure that a united Momentum continues to provide an open, democratic, regularly meeting forum in which members can put forward and where necessary vote on proposals and policy, and decide the direction of the organisation.

We also want to deal with the slanders against us and our activists that have been made on social media and elsewhere in the course of all this, and re-establish normal, comradely labour movement standards of debate.

Some of you may disagree with some of these points. You may have your own issues you want to raise. That is all the more reason to open a dialogue, sit down and discuss.

Moreover this split, while it lasts, should not prevent us from finding ways to work together in the movement and in struggles.

There are lots of things on which can and should cooperate, even as separate groups: the Lewisham East by election; support for the Lewisham Southwark College pay strike and other struggles; opposing Trump’s visit; building stronger left caucuses in the three CLPs…

We therefore invite you to send representatives to sit down with ours (three officers from each side, say) to discuss things. If we can find ways to discuss moving towards unification, that’s good; but we should start by discussing cooperation in the struggle and how we can work together to build the movement. We owe it to the left and labour movement in Lewisham and beyond.

In addition to the immediate need to strengthen struggles and campaigning, no doubt both sides have things to learn from each other. Discussion can also help to dissipate some of the hostility and factionalism generated on the Lewisham left over recent months.

Get in touch and let us know what you think. We are, naturally, happy to discuss the specifics of how to move forward on this.

* Rebecca Lawrence and Jon Johnson, for Lewisham for Corbyn (Momentum) *

 …

Stitched

Today, my campaigning comrade, Rebecca Lawrence published her views as to what happened at the Lewisham Momentum AGM held at New Cross Learning & then allegedly at the Amersham Arms public bar. Important & accurate things to note from the account are that the 2nd half of the meeting was held in a pubic bar, which would not have held all those who wanted to attend, and no checks as to eligibility were performed. Some claim the majority in attendance at the Library went to the Pub, but no-one knows since they weren’t counted and no-one knows how many stayed in the Library.

The only beneficiary for this piece of sectarianism will be Labour’s right and a small number of self declared left careerists.

Momentum’s gift to the right in Lewisham

The incumbent committee, of which I was a member, have published a statement, together with two witness statements and the text of our complaint to the Momentum National Co-ordinating Group. I mirror them here.

The witness statements make no mention of the fact that the Amersham Arms would not have allowed under age members in the pub. …

Local Elections

I  usually comment on the elections I campaign in. The Lewisham results are in, or at least called by the BBC, we have a new Labour Mayor, Damien Egan, and every single councillor is also Labour. Now we need to learn how to listen beyond the Party, and how to scrutinise ourselves. It’s an honour and a responsibility. I hope we live up to it.

I campaigned in Deptford, Mottingham (Bromley) and Bromley North, which surprised me by being in Tower Hamlets. The Labour vote has gone up in London. I found little interest in politics, it’s become very tribal. The only exception is the issue of Housing. We’ve done well in Deptford, missed by 21 votes in Mottingham and I am still waiting for the Bromley North results. …

Housing

A campaigning comrade wrote recently to Lewisham Council to ask about the state of its Housing delivery programme, the reply included the following words,

Since the housing Strategy was adopted in 2015 we have been working to deliver on all 4 of the key objectives it sets out. We regularly report on the outcomes of this work to Lewisham’s Mayor and Cabinet, and those reports are probably the best updates on the Council’s progress.

The most recent report was presented on 6 December, and is available on the Council’s website here; New Homes Programme Update

I’ve set out the 4 key objectives of Lewisham’s Housing Strategy 2015-2020 below and noted a few key pieces of work that are  helping to achieve these objectives. This list isn’t exhaustive, but hopefully provides a bit more context on the work the Council is doing to provide and improve housing in the borough.

Key objective 1: Helping residents at times of severe and urgent housing need

 

–   Building new Temporary Accommodation
The Council is committed to delivering new temporary accommodation in Lewisham to provide high-quality places to live for families when they are in urgent housing need. This strand of work includes PLACE/Ladywell which provided 24 new homes, and will deliver 94 new homes to provide temporary accommodation by 2018.
 
–   Homelessness Prevention Trailblazer
The Council is deliver an innovative Homelessness Prevention scheme that will use service data to identify households at risk of homelessness, and will  develop a range of support interventions for households at risk of homelessness to enable prevention activities to happen sooner. This approach started in early 2017 and has already proven successful.
 
–   No First Night Out
Working with Bexley, Bromley and Greenwich, the Council is leading on delivering the GLA’s rough sleeping programme for a No First Night Out (NFNO) Shared Accommodation Scheme. The scheme works with boroughs’ housing services and voluntary sector agencies to identify single people at imminent risk of rough sleeping, referring them to support services and a new NFNO Shared Accommodation Scheme. This will comprise 180 units of shared accommodation and work with over 300 people at risk of rough sleeping in South East London.
 
Key objective 2: Building the homes our residents need
 
–   500 New Council Homes
The Council is delivering 500 new Council homes for social rent across the borough. This work was started when the 6 new Council Homes, the first built for a generation, were delivered at Mercator Road in 2015. Since then a further 86 have been completed, with 121 currently being built and 295 working their way through the design and planning process. Lots more detail on the programme, including details of the sites is included in the report linked to above. Of particular note is the project on the Somerville Estate, that will deliver 23 new Council Homes on the site of the former Extra Care scheme, which is in the planning process now, with a decision expected in early 2018.
 
–   Delivering more affordable homes through partnerships with Housing Associations
By working with different housing associations, to enable and coordinate development across the borough, the Council will be bringing about 2000 new affordable homes in Lewisham by 2018.
 
–   Providing new homes through Estate Redevelopment
The Council is providing direct support to partners on long term Estate Redevelopment projects at Heathside & Lethbridge, Excalibur, Amersham Vale and the Old Tidemill School. This will deliver 1,902 new homes over 15 years, of which 929 (49%) are affordable.
 
Key objective 3: Greater security and quality for private renters
 
–   Besson Street
This scheme will set a standard for how the private rented sector in Lewisham should work. The Council will be working in partnership with Grainger to develop around 232 homes, including 35% affordable homes to be let at the ‘London Living Rent’, on a site at Besson Street in New Cross. ‘London Living Rent’ is a rent linked to median local incomes so that it remains genuinely affordable in perpetuity. In addition to the 232 new homes, the partnership will also develop a health centre for the local community, new office space for the New Cross Gate Trust and an outdoor gym.
 
–   Rogue Landlords and
Whereas Besson Street will set a gold standard for how renting will work the Rogue Landlords team targets the worst offenders in the private rented sector, and brings forward prosecutions against them to drive up standards.
 
–   Landlord Licensing
We support accredited landlords through our landlord events and through discounts to licensing fees if they are accredited. We also run landlord forums where all of the London accreditation schemes are promoted.
 
 Key objective 4: Promoting health and wellbeing by improving our residents’ homes
 
–   Decent Homes Programme
The decent homes programme has been improving the standard of all Council Homes within the borough across the last years, and will be completed in 2018. Meaning that every Council Home will meet modern standards.
 
–   Disabled Facilities Grants
The Council provides grants for residents to convert their properties to allow them to carrying on leading independent lives within their own homes.

  …

Tidemill

I am proposing the following motion to the Lewisham Deptford Labour Party General Committee.

This CLP resolves to send the following motion to London Regional Conference

“This Conference notes

1. The passing of Composite 5 on Housing at Labour Conference 2017
2. Jeremy Corbyn’s leader’s speech in which he stated “Regeneration under a Labour government will be for the benefit of the local people, not private developers, not property speculators … [&]… councils will have to win a ballot of existing tenants and leaseholders before any redevelopment scheme can take place.”
3. That Lewisham Council Strategic Planning committee approved planning permission to redevelop the Old Tidemills School site involving the redevelopment (destruction) of 16 council houses and the loss of Tidemills Community Gardens.
4. That further planning permissions involving the loss of council houses in Lewisham Deptford have been prepared.
5. That Councils have a duty to follow the direction of the Mayor’s Housing Plan

This Conference calls on the Mayor of London to call in planning permissions granted which involve the destruction of social housing”

This CLP instructs the Secretary to write to the Mayor of London informing him of this motion calling on him to “call in” the Tidemills Planning Application.

 …

Deliberation

Here’s a little diary on last nights Labour Party General Committee for Lewisham Deptford, its main purpose was to prepare for Conference by submitting a “Contemporary Motion”and hopefully to begin to clear the motions backlog. There were seven motions waiting to be debated, some having being proposed last year. (It’s one of the contentions between the current CLP leadership and its opposition that their poor management of time is deliberate and designed to frustrate members making and developing policy. There hasn’t been a single ordinary motion debated this year ) .

Youth Violence

One classic trick to is to ask a guest speaker, and yet again, this was done. It was a pleasant surprise to here Jonathan Toy speak on youth violence. He has published a book “Silent Voices”, several years ago it would seem. He started by arguing that the central problem is trauma and he had stories to back this up. One sound bite, that I tweeted due to its resonance was that,

Kids carry knives because they’re scared.

Toy spoke of the discrimination, the loss of hope and the turn to criminality, mainly drugs and the inappropriate policing strategies focused solely, or largely, on enforcement. He told stories about the way in which ‘decapitating’ the gangs merely creates an updraught.

The presentation was interesting and the clearly based on deep experience and knowledge, some of it gained by his own admission on failure. Delegates to the meeting in a Question & Answer session contributed their knowledge on cuts in programmes exacerbating the problems, and reducing the care young people need. Bill Jefferies, said

…the good work of individuals can ameliorate the circumstances of other individuals, but those good works are not a solution to the problem. As the problem is not individual but social and so needs a social, collective solution.

In questioning, he was asked about the political will in the electorate for more understanding and less punishment, suggesting that strong enforcement is not just based on weak will and police management doing what they know. Toy is hopeful that the Lammy Review will be a starting point for change in programmes and approach. My concern is that this will take money and that is unlikely to be forthcoming under this government.

5 minutes about Parliament

The decision to invite a guest speaker meant that Vicky’s MP Report was truncated to 5 minutes. This is unfortunate as it was the first GC after the summer break and the 2nd Reading of the “EU Withdrawal Bill” had taken place earlier in the week with a small Labour rebellion leading to a comfortable Tory majority, as had the Tory stitch up of the parliamentary committee seats and Angela Rayner’s successful motion to stop the increase in Tuition fees.  MPs reports, where a CLP is lucky enough to have one, are important parts of the agenda and a critical piece of relationship building between the MP and their party. Five minutes is not enough time. I should add that Youth Violence is an issue of great concern to the constituency and its neighbours and one that Vicky has invested time and effort in.

#lab17

Three motions were proposed, one opposing military exports to Saudi Arabia, to work to improve human rights in Saudi Arabia and that Labour establish a shadow Defence Diversification Agency to plan for the civilian reuse of Britain’s military engineering capabilities. A motion supporting the UK’s remaining in the single market & customs union, written in response to Corbyn’s Marr interview was also put to the meeting. There are some who believe that arguments for Labour to support the single market are designed by the Blairite rump in the PLP to weaken the leadership; I am of the view that what’s right is right and that the UK should remain in both and that if the Leadership have doubts then they should be told by the membership what it thinks. The final of the three motions was based on the Labour Campaign for Free Movement’s model motion . The mover of the last of these motions concentrated on the Government’s squeeze and tightening of the no recourse to funds and Lewisham Council’s role in immigration raids and deportations. These three motions were all carried with very heavy majorities.

The meeting then voted,  by a very small majority, to send the motion on the single market/customs union to Conference, as we are only permitted one.

Talking to first time attenders who had been warned about the bad atmosphere that can occur, they said it had been a good and interesting meeting and the warnings unwarranted. I wonder if that was due to the absence of Dromey, Cooper and Lord Roy Kennedy. …