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Lewisham Labour Group

Welcome to the website for the group of elected Labour Councillors in the London Borough of Lewisham. Please take a look and feel free to get in touch if you you’d like any further information.
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Lewisham Labour make housing top priority in local elections

Lewisham Labour has pledged to build 500 new council homes and tackle rogue landlords and rip-off letting agents if Steve Bullock is re-elected as Mayor or Lewisham at the local elections on 22 May.

Steve, who is bidding for his fourth term, is standing alongside Labour Council Candidates in all 18 Lewisham Wards promising to:

  • Tackle the cost of living crisis, freeze council tax for at least two years and lead the way on fair pay and fight fuel poverty;
  • Deliver a minimum of 2,000 new affordable homes, building 500 council homes directly, tackle rogue landlords and rip-off letting agents;
  • Support the creation of 3,000 new jobs over the next seven years to ensure that the benefits of regeneration in Lewisham reach local people;
  • Help young people by increasing the number of apprenticeships to 1,000 by 2018 and ensure provision of quality vocational training;
  • Guarantee a primary school place at a good quality local school for every child and improve secondary school results by 10%.

Steve said:

“Housing is the biggest single issue across London and I’m determined to do something about it here in Lewisham. That’s why I’m pledging to build 500 council homes and will support the development of 2,000 affordable homes by 2018.”

“Backing our young people remains one of my top priorities. I will work alongside our local schools to improve secondary results by 10% and will deliver 1,000 apprenticeships by 2018.”

“The Coalition Government’s austerity policies have created a cost of living crisis for thousands of Lewisham residents. That’s why I will continue to keep Council Tax as low as possible and I promise to freeze it for at least two years.”

Lewisham Labour’s manifesto can be found on Steve’s new campaign website, www.steve4lewisham.co.uk.

Boris lets Deptford down at Convoys Wharf

Lewisham’s Labour Mayor Steve Bullock comments on Boris Johnson’s decision on the Convoys Wharf planning application:

“I am disappointed that Boris Johnson did not see fit to make more significant alterations to the Convoys Wharf scheme to better address the real concerns of the local community.

However, the Mayor’s supportive comments about the heritage projects proposed for this historic site were more encouraging. I welcome the undertaking to jointly commission an independent feasibility study of the use of the Olympia Warehouse and Wharf as locations to build the Lenox and to achieve the meaningful incorporation of the Sayes Court Garden project.

Lewisham Council will now be working hard to secure the best possible legal agreement that ensures the enduring legacy this site deserves and harnesses the energy and enthusiasm built up for the Lenox and Sayes Court projects.”

Steve spoke at yesterday’s hearing (31 March 2014) and set out the concerns of our community as follows:-

The importance of this site must not be underestimated – it is the largest development site in Lewisham occupying a prime riverside site of great historical significance. If we get this wrong now we will not have such an opportunity again in our lifetimes. We want to see this site developed but our concerns are not minor issues which we can resolve or fix at a later stage – we must get them right now.

I will begin with the scale, massing and relationship of the proposals to the historic buildings and spaces

The Olympia Warehouse is both a listed building and the only visible reminder within the site of its history. We feel that the scale and position of the proposed buildings around it dominate it and in fact detract from its setting; In particular they will limit views of the building from the river and of the river from the building.

The heights of new buildings should be reduced and their siting changed to give it a generous and respectful setting, safeguarding views of the building, and allowing its connection with the river to be celebrated.

Sayes Court has inspired two of important developments in the history of our relationship with the natural world. John Evelyn lived here and was one of the first to examine questions of the environment and sustainability – centuries later the National Trust came into being here.

As our school children know this was also the site of Henry VIII’s Dockyard – and shipbuilding continued on the site until the mid-19th century. There is now a unique opportunity to provide a real and visible link to that history through these projects.

The current scheme does not however provide either the space needed to deliver them or a commitment to ensure that they create an enduring legacy. We believe that minor changes are needed to the development parameters to allow for the meaningful incorporation of the Sayes Court Garden project. We welcome the undertaking to jointly commission an independent feasibility study of the use of the Olympia Warehouse and Wharf as locations to build the Lenox. We are, however, disappointed that the possibility of a permanent home for the Lenox is not included.

The risk remains that these community projects will be shut out and the energy and enthusiasm they have generated will be lost.

I now refer to Transport and Access. New King Street connects Convoys Wharf with Deptford High Street and its station and will be the main walking route for people living on, working at and visiting the site. A clear, direct and safe crossing of Evelyn Street that prioritises pedestrians is critical to creating a useable connection.

We have serious doubts about TfL’s current assessment of the scheme in the absence of detailed traffic modelling and the current proposals fail to prioritise this important north-south route. We urge that finding a solution which includes a pedestrian phase at this junction be prioritised

We have looked very carefully at what is proposed by way of Community Benefits and Sustainability because this is a £1bn project with commensurate impacts on the local area. Despite its history Deptford today is one of the most deprived parts of both Lewisham and London.

If the new Convoys Wharf is to become genuinely part of Deptford supporting social cohesion will be crucial and we look to the financial contributions through the s.106 agreement to make that possible. We believe that the current development is able to afford what are in any case modest increases in financial contributions of some £5m being proposed by the Council to match the commitments made by the previous owners of the site in 2005.

There is a great need in this area for affordable Housing and the scheme should be making a greater contribution – a financial review mechanism is essential to secure additional units as the viability improves.

We have the chance to develop a genuinely sustainable community at Convoys Wharf. A few simple changes now that will in no way undermine or detract from the overall vision for the site will go a long way to ensuring that this vision becomes a reality rather than something future generations will see as a missed opportunity. For that reason we urge you to take just a little more time to ensure that these issues can be addressed and resolved satisfactorily before giving your approval to the scheme.

Help us stop betting shops taking over our high streets

Labour’s Cllr Alan Hall, who represents Bellingham Ward, has written to the Government to raise concerns about the proliferation and clustering of betting shops in Lewisham. Lewisham Labour is supporting Hackney Council’s campaign to give councils genuine control over when and where betting shops can open. We’re urging people to sign Hackney’s online petition which would help to stop bookies from taking over our high street. Cllr Hall’s letter to the government is below:

Hon Stephen Williams, MP
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State
Department of Communities and Local Government

Dear Stephen,

As you will be aware there is a considerable amount of concern about the proliferation and clustering of betting shops on our local high streets.

Speaking from my own experience as a Lewisham Councillor, I am aware that Deptford and Lewisham have not been excluded from this trend. I believe that the regulations regarding Fixed Odds Betting Terminals are driving this. Please note, this is a regulated activity.

I am not opposed to betting per se. In fact, rows of betting shops in town centres give ample opportunity for a flutter on the dogs or horses . It is the unintended consequence of FOBT that makes this such a difficult matter and the inflexibility in the planning use class system that treats betting shops the same as banks.

I urge you to support Hackney Council’s proposals under the Sustainable Communities Act for a separate planning use class for betting shops to bring the proliferation of betting shops in the inner cities’ high streets under local democratic control.

Yours sincerely,

Alan

Cllr Alan Hall
London Borough of Lewisham

New Council homes get underway in Lewisham

82% of Londoners believe we are in the midst of a Housing Crisis and with prices and rents rising and the backlog of homes need getting bigger each year action is needed. One of the things London Councils including Lewisham are doing is building new homes themselves.

Yesterday, Labour Mayor Steve Bullock handed over a site where the first six new homes will be built. It is a run down garage site which has been a long term problem. Building new homes on it solves that problem as well as providing accommodation for six families at genuinely affordable rents.

These six are the first of 250 new homes the Council will deliver by 2017. We’re able to do this thanks to reforms which began under John Healey, the last Labour Housing Minister. By building them directly, we’re able to deliver the larger family homes that are most needed by those on the housing waiting list.

A Labour Lewisham Council will aim to build many more new homes than 250. If re-elected in May, you Labour Mayor and Councillors will be focused on building more homes, tackling rogue landlords and rip off letting agents, and creating jobs and apprenticeships in the building industry. This will be done despite the policies of a Tory-led Government and Tory Mayor of London.

Tory Housing Crisis

The Tories are out of touch, and you’re out of pocket. The Tories have caused a housing crisis in London.

  • House building is at the lowest level since 1924
  • London rents are rising at 10% a year
  • Home ownership in London is falling
  • The average age of a first time buyer is now 38
  • The average London rent is now more than half of the average London income
  • More than 200,000 Londoners have been hit by the Bedroom Tax
  • The Tory Mayor of London is missing his own targets for building new affordable homes

Labour Councils will tackle London’s Housing Crisis. Collectively, we have pledged to:

  • Build more genuinely affordable homes
  • Tackle rogue landlords and rip-off letting agencies
  • Build more homes for London’s growing population
  • Bring empty homes back into use
  • Create jobs and apprenticeships in the building industry
  • Labour will repeal the Bedroom Tax

Sign our petition and support our campaign, visit www.londonhousingcrisis.com.

Lewisham Labour exposes Lib Dem hypocrisy … again

Lewisham Councillors met last night (22 January) for another meeting where Labour raised the consequences of Tory & Lib Dem policies and the dreadful impact they were having on communities across Lewisham.

The motions highlighted how out-of-touch Boris Johnson is with the needs of Londoners having pushed through fire station closures including Downham and above-inflation fare increases at a time when services were being cut.

The meeting also had a full debate on air pollution and passed a Labour motion which called on Boris Johnson to take urgent action to improve air quality and monitor the impact of pollution in the Capital.

Labour also exposed Lib Dem hypocrisy in locally proposing a motion on Fixed Odds Betting Machines, when their Parliamentary colleagues had voted with their coalition partners on 8th Jan to defeat a Labour motion calling for greater planning and licensing powers to address the rise of betting shops and FOBMs.

Lewisham’s Cllr. Alan Hall said:

“Our communities have seen their quality of life eroded since 2010, not just dramatic falls in their standards of living but a real cuts in public services which have now resulted in the closure on our fire station in Downham. Only the Labour Party can stand up for our communities as we have again exposed Lib Dem hypocrisy in arguing for things locally which their Coalition colleagues reject in Parliament. ”

Downham Fire Station to close following High Court challenge

Mr Justice Foskett handed down his judgement on 20th December 2013 following a High Court Challenge from Lewisham Council and six other inner London local authorities.

The legal challenge against the Mayor London’s decision to cut London’s fire services and close ten fire stations including Downham was the subject of a Judicial Review. In a lengthy judgement, Mr Justice Foskett dismissed the Judicial Review and this will lead to the implementation of the fire service reductions – including the closure of Downham fire station – agreed by Boris Johnson earlier this year.

Councillor Janet Daby, Cabinet member for Community Safety said: “We have fought as hard as possible to save Downham and the other fire stations. We’re naturally disappointed with today’s result, but far more worrying is that the cuts will now go ahead, and these fire stations, and the protection they provide, will soon be lost forever. I remain deeply concerned that these cuts will make many of our residents less safe, and there will be longer response times for many of our communities in serious incidents.”

Councillor Alan Hall for Lewisham Labour said: “As we have said all along the cuts to the fire service will make Lewisham less safe. It is hugely disappointing as the first duty of the Mayor of London is to keep Londoners safe.”

High Court rules Hunt did not have power to make Lewisham Hospital decision

Lewisham Council’s Judicial Review into the decision of Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, to downgrade Lewisham Hospital has been quashed by a high court judge.

The decision means that the proposed closure of Lewisham Hospital’s A&E and Maternity unit will not go ahead.

Mayor of Lewisham, Sir Steve Bullock, said: “Justice has been delivered. I am delighted for the thousands of people in Lewisham who fought so hard to have their voices heard and applaud all those who dared to hope and believe that together we could make a difference. This is a real victory for Lewisham residents, for Londoners and everyone who remains committed to our National Health Service.

“Lewisham Hospital is well-managed, highly-respected and financially solvent. The Special Administrator should never have been allowed to make recommendations outside his remit, the Secretary of State should never have adopted his recommendations and this case should never have had to come to the High Court.

“Lewisham Council, Lewisham Hospital and our local doctors work very successfully together to provide health and social care that works for our local community. We know that some changes will need to be made. What we expect is that together we can shape those changes and ensure that our local health services continue to meet the needs of our local communities.”

Can you help us develop the manifesto for 2014?

We’re currently preparing for next year’s local elections and we want your input into our manifesto. That’s why we’ve set up Lewisham Together – the Lewisham Labour Policy Consultation for 2014.

We want your ideas about what should be in next year’s manifesto. We want to know what you think our priorities should be on everything from housing to recycling and parks to adult social care.

The Lewisham Together website provides a space for us to collect and debate your ideas as we develop our manifesto. Simply fill in one of the submission forms on the website have your say.

Every idea submitted will be read and responded to. Popular ideas will be posted to the Get Involved page to encourage more debate. All the ideas posted by 31 July 2013 will feed into the manifesto process and discussed in detail. Submissions after that date will be read, but we cannot guarantee a response.

All of the ideas submitted to Lewisham Together will be collated over the summer and an outline manifesto will be prepared by Lewisham Labour Councillors and Candidates. Lewisham Labour Party members will be invited to discuss this at a Policy Consultation in the early Autumn.

Visit the Lewisham Together website now to have your say and help us return a Labour Mayor and Council in 2014.

Trust Special Administrator shows little regard to community strength of feeling about Lewisham Hospital

The letter below appeared in today’s (14 June 2013) South London Press following comments made by Caroline Taylor, the recently appointed Trust Special Administrator for South London Healthcare Trust.

Dear Editor,

We were disappointed but not surprised with the comments made by Caroline Taylor, recently appointed Trust Special Administrator for South London Healthcare Trust.

Ms Taylor’s starting point appears to be that she is going ahead with the current proposals to downgrade Lewisham Hospital before the outcome of judicial hearings scheduled for July are known. This suggests she neither understands nor cares about the strength of feeling in Lewisham which have led to thousands of people taking to the streets to show their support for local health services or that she understands the strength of our legal challenge.

Based on her public comments Ms Taylor appears to share the same arrogance that Mr Kershaw – her predecessor – displayed and to have as just little regard for the health needs of the residents of Lewisham. Her comments about Maternity provision display a worrying complacency about the situation that mums to be would face if Lewisham’s service is downgraded. It would seem that she is unaware that Kings College Hospital which is the next nearest maternity unit for many Lewisham residents regularly turns away mothers in labour.

Ms Taylor says that the changes will make little difference to local people other than that they will simply have to travel a bit further. This trivialises residents’ genuine concerns and does nothing to reassure us that she is even considering this.

However, Lewisham Council is taking the Secretary of State for Health to court and working hard with our local NHS including Lewisham Hospital during this uncertain time to protect and safeguard our health services and we will continue this dialogue at our Health & Well-being Board.

Yours sincerely,

Sir Steve Bullock
Mayor of Lewisham

Cllr Alan Hall
Chair of Scrutiny & Overview Committee

Cllr Vicky Foxcroft
Chair Lewisham Labour Group

Lewisham Labour defends communities against fire cuts

Lewisham Labour group fully supports the campaign against fire station closures which will endanger lives. The Labour Group fully endorses the Council’s official response which was published today in advance of the Lewisham Mayor & Cabinet meeting on 19th June.

Cllr. Alan Hall said:

“Lewisham Council opposes the closure of Downham and New Cross fire stations because this will put lives at risk”

“As the response says: ‘We believe that the proposals to close New Cross and Downham Fire Stations will have a disproportionate impact on the Borough, losing two of the five fire stations and a third of all appliances.’”

The public consultation closes on 17th June. Lewisham Labour group challenges Tory Mayor Boris Johnson to listen to Lewisham’s clear view which are included in the Council’s response.

The excellent work done by the London Fire Brigade in recent years to improve fire safety has significantly reduced the number of serious incidents. However when there is an incident seconds matter and the increased response times which are now being proposed mean that lives will be at risk.

Given the current climate and diversity of the borough we have real concerns about these closures and will fight them every step of the way.

A full copy of the response can be found on the Council’s website.

SOS: Save Our Services Downham and New Cross Fire Station

Next Public meeting

22nd April 13 6.30pm

Downham Leisure Centre

With Mayor Boris Johnson threatening to axe 520 jobs,12 fire stations and 18 engines in London, including Downham, New Cross and Woolwich, alarm at the proposed cuts is spreading quickly in Downham and Catford with hundreds of residents concerned about their local fire station being shut.

Labour Councillors for Whitefoot Ward Janet Daby and Mark Ingleby have been speaking to residents and pulling together local opposition to the proposals, with petitions and public events.

Cllr Daby, who is also the Cabinet member for Community Safety on Lewisham Council, states:

“Here in Downham & Whitefoot local residents are on the front line of danger, as Boris Johnson threatens local homes and businesses with cuts that will jeopardise public safety. Closing Downham fire station will lengthen fire service arrival times in the area, especially during rush hour, and will place the community at unacceptable risk. The local community is standing together with the Fire Brigade union to oppose these Tory cuts.”

“Whoever came up with the idea of closing Downham Fire Station knows nothing of the local traffic bottlenecks in this area at rush hour”, said Cllr Ingleby. “ And with people suffering further with their bills from cuts and the mis-handled economy, residents round here who are tempted to use their fire-places again without access to spark-guards and the fire prevention and protection services of the local station will be particularly at risk.”

Labour London Assembly Fire Spokesperson, Navin Shah AM said:

“Boris has been forced to take stock and delay his cuts which are too far and too fast. We will now hear what ordinary Londoners think about his plans and this will guide us in our battle to save our much needed frontline fire services. The men and women of the London Fire Brigade do a fantastic job protecting us when we need them most. Now it is our turn to stand up for them and the people they protect every day.”

PICTURED: Cllr Janet Daby and Cllr Mark Ingleby were joined by local residents, Lewisham East MP Heidi Alexander and London Assembly Member Len Duval to mark the strength of opposition to these plans.

Evelyn By-election results

Evelyn ward in Lewisham elected a new Labour Councillor at the by-election on March 28th.

Our candidate, Olufunke Abidoye received 978 votes (55%) at the poll held after Cllr. Folorunso had to step down to take a more active role in his orphanage project in Togo.

Olufunke thanked the electorate and all those who campaigned for a Labour victory. Lewisham Labour is looking forward to working with Olufunke.

Letter from our Evelyn candidate

Olufunke Abidoye, Labour’s candidate in the Evelyn By-election has written an open letter to all residents. This has been delivered across the ward over the past few days.

Dear Resident,

I wanted to write to you to introduce myself. I am Olufunke Abidoye, I am a trained and qualified nurse and I have lived in the area for 13 years. I am standing as your Labour Candidate in the election being held here on Thursday 28th March.

Joan Ruddock is supporting my campaign and I would like to thank all the local residents who have come forward to offer their support so far.

It is the Labour Party who have been the leading voice against the Government’s cuts to services in our local community. The Government are proposing to close New Cross fire station and leave us with only one 24 hour police station. Lewisham A&E and maternity services are set to be downgraded; our Labour Lewisham Mayor Sir Steve Bullock is currently fighting this decision through the courts.

If you elect me to be your new local Councillor my priorities will be to;

– Continue Labour’s fight to protect local emergency services, including Lewisham A&E, in our area.

– Use my position on the local Council to stand up against the increase in betting shops on our high streets.

– Continue the campaign against the Thames ‘Super Sewer’ being dumped on Deptford.

– Making sure more high quality and affordable homes are available for local families.

Please take the time to fill in my survey on the back of this letter. I would be delighted to hear from you.

Yours ever,

Olufunke Abidoye
Your choice in Evelyn

Labour Council backs Financial Transaction Tax

At a Full Council meeting held on 27th February Lewisham Council called on the Tory-Lib Dem Coalition to implement a Financial Transaction Tax. If carried out the Government could raise up to £20 Billion in revenue that could be used, among other things, to reverse cuts in the central grant to local government. 11 European countries have already pledged to introduce a transaction tax.

Chair of the Labour Group, Cllr. Vicky Foxcroft said; “On an evening when we were forced into a corner, by this Tory/Lib Dem Government, to make cuts to local services we are in need of a fresh approach to raising the new revenue needed to fill the hole.”

The tax amounts to a small percentage (up to 0.05%) on each financial transaction a bank carries out, like stocks, derivatives, foreign currency and bonds. The tax is aimed at large banking operations and ordinary members of the public will not be affected, but they will benefit from reduced national debt, investment in local services and support for those in poverty.

Lewisham is amongst the first councils in the UK to support this transaction tax and the debate came at the same meeting as the budget was set for 2013-14. The Labour Group has worked tirelessly to minimise any severe impact on services that local people hold dear.

Olympic Start to “Healthy Bellingham”

Healthy Bellingham was launched at Christ Church, Bellingham Green on Saturday 2nd March. The event was opened by British Olympian 400 metre runner Conrad Williams.

Local Labour Councillor Alan Hall and chair of Bellingham’s Health Forum said: “It is a fantastic start to improving the life chances of residents on the Bellingham Estate to have Conrad Williams supporting our event.

Bellingham has recognised health needs and we have a varied programme to address problems such as cancer, heart disease and mental wellbeing over the next three years.”

Over 200 people attended events in Christ Church, St Dunstan’s Church, Bellingham Green and Bellingham’s Gateway Youth Centre.

Healthy Bellingham is part of the Well London initiative and received additional support from Lewisham’s Public Health Directorate. The launch event was organised by Bellingham Community Project, Phoenix Community Housing and the Co-operative (the co-op) all brought together by the Bellingham Health Forum with a budget of £300,000 dedicated to improving health on the Bellingham Estate over three years.

By Election in Evelyn Ward, Deptford after Local Councillor Resigns

There will be a by election in Evelyn Ward which includes the Deptford riverside following the resignation of Councillor Joseph Folorunso. In his resignation letter Cllr Joseph Folorunso has said that he resigned his position on Lewisham Council to focus his attention on the orphanage set up with his wife in Togo in 2008 who died recently.

Cllr Vicky Foxcroft, Chair Labour Group of councillors said:

“Joseph has taken an incredibly difficult but honourable personal decision to step down as a Councillor. I respect his decision and we wish him and the orphanage well.”

Cllrs Crada Onuegbu and Sam Owolabi-Oluyole continue to serve in Evelyn Ward.

The By-election will be held on Thursday 28th March 2013.

Cllr. Daby reports on public consultation with London Deputy Mayor (Policing)

Deputy London Mayor Stephen Greenhalgh and Metropolitan Police Services address Lewisham at a public meeting held at the Civic Centre, 28th January 2013.

The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) is currently in consultation on proposals to cut the number of police front counters, police stations and freeing up more officers for frontline policing.

Cllr Janet Daby, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, chaired the meeting that addressed the new policing plan proposals for Lewisham. She comments, “These proposals are not thought through and are rushed. To go about closing police stations and counter services will mean police officers have to meet with people at their homes or places of work. The SNT structure will be completely different. MOPAC need to consider whether residents will want this.

If many Police officers have no base and are meant to work from local community bases, what will they be and how will they function? If Police officers are to no longer specialise in working with certain criminals and support of victims, London will lose a great resource. “Will people from BAME communities want this? Will older people be able to travel further afield to access their nearest police station? There will be much more room for error and greater criticism of the police service.”

There are also issues around the number of police officers promised to areas. Recently mainstream news reported that the London Mayor has been accused of misleading figures for the number of police officers in the capital’s boroughs. So can these new policing numbers be trusted?

Cllr. Daby’s blog can be found here; http://janetdaby.blogspot.co.uk/

Response to Jeremy Hunt’s statement – 31st January 2013

Lewisham Labour Group has responded to Jeremy Hunt’s announcement today regarding services at Lewisham Hospital.

Cllr Vicky Foxcroft Chair, Lewisham Labour Group said:

“Jeremy Hunt did not listen. We will fight for Lewisham’s health services and we stand by the Mayor of Lewisham in continuing to challenge the proposals, in the hope that we can prevent these plans from becoming a reality.”

Council calls for an end to ‘Legal loan sharking’

Labour led Lewisham Council last night called for an end to ‘legal loan sharking’.

Hard working people and families are tightening their belts more than ever due to the recession and the Government’s austerity measures. Many people feel drawn to seemingly quick fix solutions like pay day loans which trap thousands in a spiral of debt.

Councillor John Muldoon speaking in the debate said;

“I am proud of the stand that Lewisham Labour has made on this important issue. Quite simply, people are being ripped off and household debt is rising across the borough.”

Councillor Susan Wise, Cabinet Member for Community Services said;

“Borrowing to pay off other debt is a clear sign that personal finance is out of control. Pay day loans are short term fix for some and they should not be seen as a solution for people with a genuine long term financial need.”

During the debate Councillor Mike Harris, himself a former borrower through this method, said;

“These companies use aggressive marketing strategies. Local residents have told me that leaflets are handed out by loan sharks outside Lewisham’s job centres whilst people collect their benefits.”

Lewisham Council pledges to promote credit unions in the borough, community based organisations that offer access to affordable credit and promote savings.

Lewisham Labour; “last line of defence of the NHS”

Labour controlled Lewisham Council last night made 5 pledges to protect the NHS in Lewisham. By calling on local NHS leaders to adopt these five principles, Labour is at the forefront of the fight against privatisation and Cameron and Clegg’s free market free-for-all.

The NHS is one of Britain’s best globally renowned assets and we must do all we can to protect it against reforms being implemented by Tories and Lib Dems nationally.

Councillor Alan Hall said;

“Labour is the last line of defence against moves towards privatisation being sought by the Tory & Lib Dem Government in Whitehall. As a Council we must do all we can to ensure we put patients first and keep the NHS in Lewisham free at the point of need.”

The debate was held at last night’s Council meeting (26th September).

Councillor Vicky Foxcroft, Chair of the Labour Group;

“The NHS is nationally recognised as great and locally it is amazing. I myself have been exceptionally fortunate in the care I have received from local health practitioners as have so many of the people I represent.”

Labour’s pledge for the NHS is designed to give clarity and focus across the borough when it comes to the health and well-being of the Lewisham community. Lewisham is fortunate to have such a highly performing health service with staff that are dedicated to providing a high quality service and care for patients.

Labour run Lewisham Council launch GCSE legal battle

In an Olympic and Paralympic summer when we have come together as a country to celebrate our core values of hard work and fair play, our young people have suffered an injustice. Thousands of them have seen friends and fellow pupils gain the grade they need in the gateway qualification of GCSE English sitting the exam in January; they have performed at the same level five months later, yet have been awarded a different grade. This, it is clear to see, is just not fair.

We teach our children and young people to stand up against injustice. Today, we are standing up for and with those young people who have suffered this injustice by launching a legal challenge against the exam boards AQA and Edexcel and the exams regulator Ofqual. Together, hundreds of schools, professional and subject associations, local authorities, representative bodies and, critically, young people themselves with their parents, are saying enough is enough. We are demanding an immediate re-grading of the exams sat in June. We know it can be done, and quickly; it has been done in Wales. We are giving notice that if this is not done now for all pupils in England, then we are prepared to pursue this through the courts.

Our young people are paying now, and will continue to pay into the future, for the mistakes of others. Some of our bright young scientists have had their entry into sixth forms jeopardised. Generous sixth forms which, all over the country, are agreeing to waive their rightly rigorous entry requirements are wondering how to cope with so many retakes, many of which are with Boards they haven’t taught before. And now, throughout the next few years those affected will be unfairly disadvantaged as they compete alongside their luckier friends for university places and jobs.

And now, we have descended into farce with Welsh students whose grades have been changed sitting in the same classroom as their English friends, who have taken the same exam with the same exam board but who haven’t had their results re-graded.

A new exam system has been announced. We will all work with the Government to ensure that it is fair and rigorous and commands confidence. But it is time to right the wrongs of the summer.

We teach our children that it is a strength to admit it when they make a mistake. Ofqual has admitted they made a mistake. They said they had to address that mistake by adjusting the June exams and making our young people suffer. We teach our children that they must bear the consequences of their mistakes themselves and that they must, where they can, put their mistakes right. It is time for Ofqual to put this right. Re-grade the June exams now.

Sir Steve Bullock
Mayor of Lewisham

Lewisham’s Lib Dems lack backbone and integrity

Over the summer, Lewisham’s Liberal Democrat Councillors have deluged the local letter pages with scurrilous claims and accusations against the Labour council that have already been answered in the council chamber and elsewhere by myself.

Rather than seeking to raise unwarranted concerns by deliberately misleading local residents, how about they turn their attention to their national colleagues who are implementing aggressive measures which threaten the livelihood and well-being of our community.

On housing finance reform, Councillor Maines has a selective memory. It was a Labour Government, that began reform in 2009 with John Healey, enabling Lewisham’s Mayor to build council homes now, so no acknowledgement of the Lib Dems is required. They have done little to support local services.

Local Lib Dems are conspicuously silent on the subjects of Welfare Reform, Universal Credit and Council Tax Support Reduction which will adversely affect many Lewisham residents, especially those in need and the vulnerable, while placing greater pressure on our local services.

Labour controlled Lewisham is leading the fight against these measures and are continuing to provide excellent services despite mounting coalition challenges. It would be appreciated if our Liberal Democrat colleagues could support us against these measures, rather than mislead the people we all represent.

Cllr Susan Wise
Cabinet Member for Customer Services

Cruel Cut in Council Tax Benefit –Cynical Move by Government

Dear Editor,

Councils have been told to set up a local scheme for Council Tax Benefit whilst at the same time the coalition government has slashed 10% from the current funding. Quite rightly pensioners have been protected as has the single persons discount which means that people working on low incomes will see a 20% (or one fifth) cut in their council tax benefit. In Lewisham this is £3.67 million in cash terms.

The same hard working families are being hit hard by tax credit and housing benefit changes.

It doesn’t take a financial whizz kid to work out that if you don’t have a lot of money in the first place then arrears will develop and chasing desperately poor people through the courts for small sums in council tax is inefficient and unsustainable in the longer term. I remember the poll tax and this system replicates the worst aspects of that: And, the poll tax came to an abrupt end as did Mrs Thatcher’s premiership.

I condemn the coalition government unequivocally for this cynical move to pass a straight political libdem tory cut as the Council’s choice. It isn’t.

I will lobby hard for Lewisham’s residents affected by this spiteful cut and I urge others to do the same.

Councillor Alan Hall
Leader Labour’s Non Executive Councillors
Lewisham Council

Stop The Stink – Thames Water Respond

Thames Water have ignored the views of local people and confirmed that they will be going ahead with plans for super sewer works near 2 primary schools.

Deputy Mayor Alan Smith said;

“This is a disappointing announcement from Thames Water that ignores the overwhelming views of local people against the use of this site and also legitimate engineering, traffic and noise concerns. Although Thames Water have announced that they are consulting further on 4 other sites across London, the people of Deptford are not being accorded the same treatment. I will be writing to Thames Water calling on them to add Crossfields to the list for further consultation and to consider fully the disruption the proposed works would cause to local people, businesses and schools.”

Tory Mayor cuts to police numbers

Tory Mayor Boris Johnson has admitted that he has cut police numbers on London’s streets. Despite promising to protect police numbers, he has already cut the number of officers by 1700.

Ken Livingstone set up neighbourhood police teams in every community but these are now under threat from Boris Johnson.

Len Duvall said; “We need more experienced officers on our streets not fewer. That’s why I’ll work with Ken to reverse Boris Johnson’s cuts to police numbers. We’ll cut crime – not police officers.”