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Forest Hill residents back campaign to boost mental health services 14 March 2015

Posted by George Crozier in Uncategorized.
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Lib Dem campaigners outside The Capitol in Forest Hill highlighting the party's mental health services campaign on the national day of action on December 6th

Lib Dem campaigners Margot Wilson, Bill Town and George Crozier outside The Capitol in Forest Hill highlighting the party’s mental health services campaign on the national day of action on December 6th

This article originally appeared in the February 2015 Forest Hill Focus

Hundreds of local residents have given their support to the Liberal Democrat campaign for better support for mental health services and for these to have parity with the treatment of physical health within the NHS.

One in four people experience mental health problems at some point in their lives.

Lib Dems in government have made mental health a priority, introducing the first ever waiting time standards in 2015 and providing extra money for evidence-based psychological therapies and children’s mental health. In December’s Autumn Statement £150 million was announced to transform the support provided to people with eating disorders.

Forest Hill campaigner Margot Wilson said: “Mental health should not be ignored or stigmatised. It should be taken as seriously as physical health. We are making progress in government but there is a lot more still to do.”


November Infographic - mental healthFind out more about Lib Dem plans to improve mental health services at: http://www.libdems.org.uk/mental_health

Hamilton Lodge set to become hostel 14 March 2015

Posted by George Crozier in Education, Housing, Lewisham Council.
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Disappointment at council failure to take opportunity to tackle school places shortage

This article originally appeared in the February 2015 Forest Hill FocusFlashback: In April 2014 Forest Hill Lib Dems urged the Council to consider using Hamilton Lodge for schooling

Lewisham Council intend to use Hamilton Lodge on Honor Oak Road as a homeless hostel. The council confirmed to us that they have purchased the property, which was previously a care home, and are currently going through the planning process to change the building’s use. They are initially proposing to use it as a hostel for five years, reviewing its future use after that period.

This has come as a disappointment to local residents who had seen the Lodge as a possible answer to our area’s shortage of primary school places. This summer some children again failed to get places in popular local schools like Fairlawn and Horniman and have ended up commuting over a mile to a school elsewhere in the borough.

“Despite warnings about rising pupil numbers the council failed to plan ahead and we have ended up with the current shortage of school places in Honor Oak and Forest Hill,” said Forest Hill campaigner Alex Feakes.

“Hamilton Lodge is one of a very small number of sites locally that are suitable for new schools or classrooms. It is a shame that the council have not given serious consideration to using the site for schooling.”

“The council need to explain how they will cope with growing demand for local school places, especially with new development taking place, for example at Tyson Road.”

Alex Feakes re-selected to fight for Lewisham West and Penge 14 March 2015

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LIMG_2102rewisham Liberal Democrats have selected Forest Hill campaigner Alex Feakes to stand for the party in the Lewisham West and Penge parliamentary constituency (which includes Forest Hill) at May’s general election.

Alex has a strong record of campaigning locally. He was at the forefront of the successful campaign to get Forest Hill pools rebuilt, and has served as Forest Hill’s local councillor and governor of Sydenham School on Dartmouth Road. He is a board member of SEE3 Ltd, Sydenham and Forest Hill’s regeneration company.

Alex also stood to be our local MP at the 2005 and 2010 elections, coming second to Labour’s Jim Dowd on both occasions with the Conservatives back in third place each time.

Alex said: “I’m delighted to be selected as the Lib Dems’ parliamentary candidate for this area for the third time. I served the people of Forest Hill as their councillor for eight years and I would be honoured to represent them once again.

“The Lib Dems have some hard-won successes to celebrate from being in government – raising the Income Tax threshold so that lower paid working people can keep more of their money, directing more money to schools with the most needs, and promoting green investment in infrastructure and homes.  But I will also challenge Labour’s complacency about representing our community on so many issues – jobs and the economy, education and training, local autonomy and housing. Many people complain that their vote is taken for granted by Labour but they are not given a voice – it’s time for the people this constituency to get an MP that listens, and acts.”

About Alex

 Has lived in the Forest Hill area with his family for over 15 years
 Alex originally trained as an accountant and worked in a range of businesses, including as Finance Director of an art gallery
 Recently requalified as a teacher, and now teaches physics in a girls’ comprehensive school in Bromley
 As a councillor Alex chaired Lewisham’s Public Accounts scrutiny committee, scrutinising the Council’s inefficiencies

No trains to and from Forest Hill this weekend 26 February 2015

Posted by margotwilson in Uncategorized.
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Network Rail are doing track maintenance.

However, you can come by bus: the 122, 176, 197, 185 and 356 all serve Forest Hill.

Questions for Network Rail over London Bridge delays and overcrowding 18 January 2015

Posted by George Crozier in Transport.
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As travellers from Honor Oak Park (like me), Forest Hill and Sydenham will be only too painfully aware, services into London Bridge seem to have hit a new low since new year.

Lib Dem London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon – who chairs the London Assembly’s Transport Committee – has taken this up with Network Rail. She emailed us with this update:

Questions that Network Rail must now answer

The New Year has seen continued misery for passengers using London Bridge station.

As a passenger Caroline has had first-hand experience of the additional stress and pressure the constant overcrowding, cancellations and delays are having on commuters.

We were promised that after Christmas and the two week station closure everything would be sorted and yet the New Year has brought even more pain and fewer trains for passengers.

As Chair of the Transport Committee Caroline has written to Network Rail about this and the problems at King’s Cross, and will continue to press for improvements while these major works continue.

The London Bridge improvement works letter requests the following information and assurance to the Committee, regarding services delivered in the week commencing 4 January:

  • The number of unscheduled train cancellations on routes into and out of London Bridge Station from 4 January and the reasons for these cancellations.
  • The number of train delays of longer than 30 minutes, for services arriving and departing London Bridge.
  • Confirmation of whether the signalling problems experienced in the week commencing 4 January are linked to, or separate from, the Thameslink programme works, and what is being done to resolve these problems.
  • Further information on Network Rail’s policy for cancellation of trains with passengers on board.

The details of the correspondence can be seen here.

Dartmouth Road set to be spruced up? 11 January 2015

Posted by George Crozier in Environment, Local assembly, Streets.
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London Road - Dartmouth Road junction

London Road – Dartmouth Road junction

£600,000 of funding has been provided by Transport for London for the improvement of the ‘public realm environment’ on Dartmouth Road between Forest Hill station and the pools.

The money is being provided under TfL’s Local Implementation Plan (LIP) process. This funding – £300,000 for each of 2015-16 and 2016-17 – will be used to design, consult on and begin carrying out a programme of work. However it is expected that more money will be needed to carry out the lion’s share of the improvements in future years.

Ideas already put forward for improving this part of Forest Hill include turning the area in front of the station into a piazza, a new railway crossing between Perry Vale and Dartmouth Road, improving the pedestrian / cycle route next to the railway line, clearing away much of the ‘street clutter’ and opening up the space in front of the library and pools, maybe with greater use of public art. (Some of these were discussed at a workshop held by Forest Hill Society and SEE3 Ltd in July last year.)

“Bringing these improvements to Dartmouth Road and the station area is long overdue, said Forest Hill campaigner Alex Feakes. “These ideas are a welcome contribution to the work carried out to improve Forest Hill by local businesses, SEE3 Ltd and the Lib Dem team of Forest Hill councillors over the years. However, we could have been enjoying the benefits of these ideas for many years already if Lewisham Council had devolved real powers to local people and businesses rather than just provided talking shops.”

Fellow Lib Dem campaigner George Crozier added: “Any improvement to the town centre needs to address the junction of London Road and Dartmouth Road. We particularly need to find a way to make this junction more cyclist-friendly.”

The origins of the TfL bid lie in a report commissioned by the Forest Hill Ward Assembly under the chairmanship of Lib Dem councillor John Russell back in 2010. The report on the state of the high street and street clutter was presented to the Lewisham Mayor and Cabinet by John, along with a request from the Assembly for action to address the poor state of Dartmouth Road and London Road, including an Area Action Plan for Forest Hill Town Centre and a Local Implementation Plan bid to TfL.

John explained: “Five years ago we took our report to the Mayor and Cabinet to ask the council to back this application for funding so this is the result of our and the community’s work.

“Forest Hill will really benefit from these funds that will support all the other initiatives already in place to continue to regenerate the town centre and improve the look and feel of the place. Real change has happened in the town centre since 2010. SEE3 ‘Portas Pilot’ funds, the Forest Hill Society and the local community have all helped to transform the high street.

“Continued community involvement with the Local Implementation Plan is very important. Forest Hill still needs a new master plan from the Planning Department especially around the station!”

However it is still likely to be a while before substantial improvements actually happen. The Council told us:

“This project is in its early stages of development and the current budgets currently set aside are only provisional. The final cost of the works will only be ascertained once firm proposals have been developed and consultation has been carried out. At the present time it is not possible to give dates for the works on site as the scheme programme will be dependent on the development of proposals agreed with a number of stakeholders that may involve negotiation, possible legal agreements and also Traffic Management Orders.”

We’ll be keeping an eye on developments.

Forest Hill Assembly Funding 23 September 2014

Posted by margotwilson in Uncategorized.
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If you have an idea requiring a small amount of money and would improve our area, here’s how.
The Forest Hill Assembly fund was launched last Tuesday 16 September, follow the link for more information and to download an application form

http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/getinvolved/localassemblies/forest-hill-assembly/Pages/defa
ult.aspx

Honor Oak Road safety action 6 July 2014

Posted by George Crozier in Streets.
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This story appears in the July – August 2014 Forest Hill Focus

In a response to a petition raised by the Tewkesbury Lodge Residents’ Association in conjunction with Lib Dem campaigners Alex Feakes and Philip Peake and presented by them to Lewisham Council last year, the Council have agreed to introduce measures to make Honor Oak Road safer for pedestrians and traffic alike.

Many residents had raised concerns with Alex and Phil about the speed of traffic along the road, particularly the section between Canonbie Road and Forest Hill Road, which includes Fairlawn and Francesca Cabrini primary schools. “Action on this issue is long overdue, but it’s good news that the council is finally getting its act together,” commented Alex.

The proposed measures include extending ‘guard railing’ along the pavement to protect pedestrians, footway bollards to prevent obscurement caused by pavement parking, and reinstatement and enforcement of the ‘school zone’ markings outside Fairlawn school.

Separately, the council has added Honor Oak Road to this year’s carriageway resurfacing programme, and is also considering calls by Canonbie Road residents to reduce rat running through use of no entry signs and barriers at the junction with Honor Oak Road, though like the footway proposals this will depend upon available funding.

Wells Park Road murder – more needs to be done to tackle serious youth violence locally 6 July 2014

Posted by George Crozier in Police, Young people.
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This is an extended version of a story which appears in the July – August 2014 Forest Hill Focus

We offer our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of James Hunter, who was murdered in Wells Park Road, Sydenham, on May 31st. Residents told us of their worries about crime in precisely this area. It is really important that these concerns are taken seriously and, now that Sydenham Police Station is closed, that there is a local and well advertised place where people can talk to the police.

Lib Dem campaigner Margot Wilson said: “I have been in contact with the local police about what plans they have to patrol the area and what early intervention projects there are. They have told me that they are currently in discussion with the council about further events around youth engagement in the area following feedback from two meetings at the TNG in the days after the murder. I am concerned that while there are projects to counteract serious youth violence in others parts of London, there appear to be none in Lewisham.”

Duwayne Brooks, Lib Dem candidate in the election for Mayor of Lewisham, described his heartache at being told of another death among our young people and offered his condolences to the families:

“For years, I have been trying to highlight the issue of serious youth violence in our borough but it has been constantly denied and I have been continuously blocked. I tried to implement an early intervention procedure to help target those nine to thirteen year olds who get caught with the wrong groups. I was told it’s not needed. Now we have another unnecessary death where a number of families will be in pain for something that was and is preventable.”

The Focus Team had contacted Lewisham Homes about the possible gating of blocks on Wells Park Road earlier in May, after the issue was raised by a local resident we called on. Lewisham Homes told us that they do not currently have funding to install door entry systems. They can only repair and maintain existing systems. However they do intend to work more closely with residents through consultation to agree improvements to estates. This plan is in the very early stages and subject to approval and funding, but if it goes ahead residents will be invited to put forward their suggestions.

The Focus Team have written to Lewisham Council requesting a 24 hour monitored CCTV camera be placed on Wells Park Road. While this would be council-controlled and funded the police would also have access to it and it would provide a valuable supplement to their patrols in the area.

The police have been working on expanding neighbourhood watch schemes generally in and around Forest Hill. If you would be interested in getting involved let us know and we can pass your details on.

Residents in the Sydenham part of the ward should be aware that the Police have drop in centres at the Sainsbury’s Savacentre, Southend Lane, Sydenham, SE26 4PU, on Wednesday 7-8pm, Thursday 7-8pm and Saturday 2-3pm. They can otherwise be contacted at Catford Hill Police Station.

Extra buses on the way 6 July 2014

Posted by George Crozier in Transport.
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This story appears in the July – August 2014 Forest Hill Focus

George Crozier at a bus stop in Forest Hill

George Crozier has welcomed TfL’s promise of extra buses at peak times

Some good news from TfL for our campaign against bus overcrowding. They are laying on four extra services a day on the 176 route at peak times.

Focus Team member George Crozier asked Lib Dem London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon, who is Deputy Chair of the Assembly’s Transport Committee, to take up overcrowding on the 176 and the 185 with TfL, and whether there is a need for additional buses at peak times. This followed a survey which identified the two routes as among the ten most overcrowded in the whole of London.

Caroline and her office energetically took up the issue and we have now been told by TfL that they will be running additional services on the 176 towards central London during the morning rush hour and in the opposite direction in the evening rush hour. Buses will now be running every seven minutes rather than every eight minutes on during these peak times.

TfL told Caroline they could not “provide a precise timescale at present, but would like to assure Mr Crozier that we are working hard to implement this proposal as quickly as possible, subject to receipt of costs from the operator and approval.”

On the 185, TfL say they are still reviewing the data, and depending on the outcome will look at undertaking additional surveys or providing extra buses if required.

We will keep you informed of developments on both routes.

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