Monday 31 March 2014

Lewisham Cycling see the cycling horror and Vote People before Profit in May to get something done about it.

VIDEO: Terrifying near misses for cyclist at Deptford 'nightmare' junction

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A "nightmare" section of Deptford road which has seen a string of serious cycling accidents has been forgotten about - along with the rest of south east London - by Boris Johnson, it is claimed.

·         'Crossrail charge is putting my Plumstead restaurant out of business'

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The owner of a new Plumstead Punjabi restaurant has warned it could close after being hit with a massive charge to help pay for Crossrail - and says other small businesses could follow.

·         UPDATE: Missing Plumstead 16-year-old could be in London, Derbyshire, Kent or Leicestershire

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A Plumstead 16-year-old has been missing from home for more than two weeks.
·         More stories below
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Friday 28 March 2014

Labours failure in human cost by selling off short life homes.

The Human Costs of Destroying Housing Cooperatives

The human cost of Lambeth Council’s ‘shortlife’ housing co-op evictions, that have affected communities established for up to 40 years, has been felt in numerous ways.
Stress, mental breakdown, and threatened bankruptcy are among the problems that the Labour council’s policy has caused to residents, many of whom are elderly and vulnerable.
There are two cases in particular that stand out because of their severity. Both of the people involved cannot be named because of their situations and their vulnerability.
Mr A, a long-standing, active co-op member collapsed 4 days before he was due at trial to defend against Lambeth’s possession of his co-op home last spring. Uncertainty over Legal Aid and mounting costs piled on by Lambeth’s lawyers, Devonshires, exacerbated his stress and his collapse was due to a heart attack and an epileptic seizure. This catastrophic situation has left the man immobile and hospitalised for nearly a year now, with greatly impaired hearing and specialists do not think he will ever re-gain proper hearing.
Now only able to communicate very simple words, the road back to health for this man is a long and uncertain one and his health has rendered him unfit to live in the home he loved – all because of the battle against his vindictive local council, an authority that his co-op once took housing nominations from!
Another man, Mr B, was also already vulnerable and the fight to keep his home of 14 years left him emotionally & physically exhausted.
Rather than face the bailiffs who came to claim his home recently, Mr B left his home an hour before they arrived.
Mr B is now living outside the borough in temporary accommodation and Lambeth are refusing to rehouse him.
He was told that being ‘shortlife’ and/or vulnerable meant nothing and he wouldn’t be entitled to re-housing anymore than anybody else would be.
Mr B is now in limbo with scant prospect of securing re-housing where he is now because Lambeth is refusing to help by providing a referral!
Mr B is not the only ‘shortlifer’ to have left their home before the bailiffs arrived – little wonder, as who wants to face the indignity and stress of being forced out of their long-term home by paid thugs?
Don’t forget the others who have been implicated in this eviction scandal – they include: 74-year-old Brixton Topcats coach Jimmy Rogers, still under threat; Andy Carstairs who was assured by both Cabinet member for housing Cllr Pete Robbins and his local Clapham Town Ward councillor Nigel Haselden, that he would not be evicted, only to return home one day to find bailiffs in his house and barring his entry! Only the bad publicity that came from this got Mr Carstairs satisfactorily rehoused.
Similarly, only an occupation of the town hall foyer and a petition meant that vulnerable resident Charmain Lodge was adequately rehoused.
Where will it all end?
It will only end with a change in council policy meaning that these communities are not sold off and residents stay in their homes – homes that should remain as a co-operative framework and add to the social housing stock in the borough.
There is an active campaign to stop further short life sell offs. Please contact us for details of how you can get involved
- See more at:

Tuesday 25 March 2014

UN report published on Bedroom tax.

Feb 032014
The UN Raquel Rolnik ‘s report is now out -she calls for an immediate suspension of the bedroom tax and for it to be fully evaluated in light of evidence of its negative impacts
The section on disabled people and those with long term health conditions lists the retrogression of rights and especially the impact on article 19 is copied below
1.   The plight of persons with disabilities deeply touched the Special Rapporteur. She learned from their strength and welcomed their active engagement in discussing adequate housing from their perspective, and in sharing their testimonies.
2.   At the root of many testimonies lies the threat to a hard-won right to live independently. For persons with physical and mental disabilities, as well as for the chronically ill, adequate housing means living in homes that are adapted to specific needs; close to services, care and facilities allowing them to carry out their daily routines; and in the vicinity of friends, relatives or a community essential to leading lives in dignity and freedom. Often, the compounded impact of an acute shortage of adapted and affordable accommodation, combined with other changes to the welfare system, has left them “between a rock and a hard place”: downsizing or facing rent arrears and eviction. Many testimonies refer to anxiety, stress and suicidal thoughts as a result, precisely the type of situations that should be avoided at all costs. Serious concerns about the direct impact of these reforms were already raised in 2012: “The range of reforms proposed to housing benefit, Disability Living Allowance, the Independent Living Fund, and changes to eligibility criteria risk interacting in a particularly harmful way for disabled people. … As a result, there seems to be a significant risk of retrogression of independent living and a breach of the UK’s Article 19 [CRPD] obligations.”[1] The Department for Work and Pensions has made available additional funding under the DHP scheme to assist those affected by this measure, but, as noted above, DHPs are time-bound and limited in scope.
3.   According to Inclusion Scotland, the government of Scotland estimated that 95,000 Scottish households will be affected by this measure in the first year. In Scotland, 79 per cent of the households expected to be affected (76,000) contain a disabled person. They will lose an average of 13 pounds in housing benefit. Inclusion Scotland noted with concern that persons with disabilities will be among those least able to continue to meet their rent payments.[2]
See also DPAC piece showing 87% of disabled people affected by the change to bedroom tax pre-1996 exemption 

 The full Rolnik report can be downloaded from A_HRC_25_54_Add.2_ENG

                     [1]   House of Lords and House of Commons, Joint Committee on Human Rights, Implementation of the Right of Disabled People to Independent Living (2012), para. 161.
                     [2]   Submission of Inclusion Scotland for this report.
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- See more at:

New Cross Forum..

The New Cross forum

2014-02-16 11.14.48Establishing a neighbourhood forum is a great way to mobilise people in New Cross, to liaise with external organisations and to create other opportunities for partnership and projects in the area, in addition to setting up a neighbourhood plan in order to steer local development.
Many of the things we would like to achieve through the neighbourhood plan can also be achieved through other means. For example, through setting up a business association, a community land trust and a social enterprise, as well as through seeking support from various bodies and funds. We may launch a three-month crowd funding account eventually to help raise funds for these initiatives. We also hope to tap into social enterprise funding, as well as neighbourhood plan grants through groups such as Locality.
Some possible aims are summarised in the table below – obviously this is just what John and I think and we are keen to get people’s input. All are welcome and we very much want to hear from as many people from the community as possible!
Forthcoming meetings / workshops
  • Monday 28 April, 7pm-8.30pm: Old Hall, All Saints Community Centre SE14 5DJ - forum meeting focused on: 1) understanding community needs 2) how to approach community-wide consultation, 3) Looking at other neighbourhood plans.
  • Sunday 11 May, 12pm to 4pm: Room One All Saints Community Centre – brainstorming workshop to develop a vision for New Cross and to explore opportunities and ideas for the area within sub-groups.
  • Wednesday 4 June, 7pm to 8.30pm: Kender Primary School – forum meeting focused on collating community consultation and research into needs so far, as well producing action plan for putting together first draft of neighbourhood plan and urban design guide throughout July / August / September.
Why we want to form a neighbourhood planMore information about why we want to form a neighbourhood plan in New Cross can be read here.
Notes from first forum meeting
  • Brief notes from the first forum meeting are here.
  • Presentation slides and full minutes from the first forum meeting are here.
Follow the official New Cross forum page at:
Steering development in New Cross

Community’s spirit, diverse character and arts cultureVibrancy and social integration between different groups in community
ThroughProviding truly affordable housing and workspace in perpetuity for local residents and practitioners, as well as emergency housing for Lewisham’s homelessImproving streetscapes, community facilities and permeability for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as boosting local economy
HowEstablish a Community Land Trust across multiple sites around New Cross and set up a an estate agent on the high street to run as a social enterprise (more info here) where all profits (after salaries and running costs) are re-invested in the Community Land Trust, as well as improving vibrancy and social integration in the area. Also apply for other sources of funding and support. Getting land/units for free or nominal amount from the council and other public bodies will be crucial to setting up the Community Land TrustCreate an Urban Design Guide to become a Supplementary Planning Document for development in area

Establish a local business association. Create a regular day/afternoon event to attract people to area & liaise with council to permit businesses to trade on streets in front of their shops on these occasions.

Fundraise, develop designs for, and liaise with Highways Agency to implement pro-active specific public realm improvements to improve pedestrian crossings & cycle facilities, as well as create inviting and accessible public gathering places, so people can interact with each other without having to spend money. This will also provide a space for public performances. There are a couple of spaces perfect for this at both ends of New Cross high street: outside New Cross Gate Post Office and on the wide pavement area before Pagnell Street. The space outside the Waldron Health Centre could also be better used. Forthcoming pedestrianised streets Laurie Grove, Dixon Road and St James’s (as part of Goldsmiths masterplan) could be great places to run weekend markets/events.

Liaise with Goldsmiths about: the implementation of their masterplan; making sure their public-facing buildings (and particularly their high street units) are always presentable and in use, whether as a gallery, bike workshop, community space, Students’ Union shop or as the estate agent social enterprise outlined above. It would also be great to increase dialogues between Goldsmiths and the community in general, as well as make it possible for groups to book rooms at Goldsmiths for free for meetings and events.

Liaise with the Venue owners. The Venue and its neighbouring bank building are focal points at the centre of the high street. We would like to see these buildings used for more than two/three club nights a week and storage. We would like to encourage an active frontage on the ground floor of the Venue and its neighbouring bank on a daily basis. It would also be great to see regular film and documentary nights return to this former cinema. This will be beneficial to the local economy and vibrancy in the area, as well as the Venue’s owners.

Create mixed use context in predominantly industrial/residential area in New Cross between: area of Watson’s St, Idonia St, & Payne St; New Cross Road; Surrey Canal Road, and the railway line that runs from Surrey Canal Road to New Cross Road through Bridge House Meadows.

Promote vacant units (such as Barclays bank building in New Cross Gate) to interesting businesses/organisations.


    • Pleased to hear it! The first meeting went really well but we need to focus on speaking to as many people in community as possible, even if they don’t want to come to forum meetings. John and I have both been snowed under with study since last meeting but we hope to pick up the pace and get things happening for this throughout April / May until late September. And then we’ll review where we’ve got to. We are hoping to set up sub-groups around the key areas shortly for people to research needs in community and to develop ideas for how to meet them.

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