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Honor Oak woodlands under threat from council bulldozers 24 July 2015

Posted by George Crozier in Environment.
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Camberwell Old Cemetery Plans

Camberwell Old Cemetery Plans – before and after

Plans to chop down hundreds of trees in two local cemeteries which form part of the Green Chain Walk close to Honor Oak and Forest Hill have provoked outrage in the community. But despite massive opposition and the signatures of more than 8,500 local residents, Labour-run Southwark Council are insisting that the plans must go ahead.

The two affected sites are on the boundary between Southwark and Lewisham boroughs at Camberwell Old Cemetery next to Wood Vale and Camberwell New Cemetery on One Tree Hill. The Council’s plans include the felling of over 30 mature trees and the destruction of a protected grade 1 site of borough importance for nature conservation to make way for a modern sterile cemetery.

Liberal Democrats have met with local residents and campaigners against the Council’s proposals on-site to see first-hand the impact the plans to build new graves would have on the woodlands, but you don’t have to walk through the woodland to feel the benefits and impact such woodlands have.

Local air quality is very poor and the importance of green spaces and trees on the environment is well known. Its destruction will affect everyone young and old.

An attempt by Lib Dem councillors in Southwark to stop the destruction of the woodlands was rejected by Labour councillors at a meeting on July 8th.

Southwark Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Councillor Anood Al-Samerai said:

“The Camberwell Old Cemetery woodland is a Grade 1 site of Borough Importance for Nature Conservation and councillors have a duty to protect to protect heritage and nature for future generations. Labour councillors should not be bulldozing through their plans for 2,000 new graves without a thought for the local environment.”

Southwark Liberal Democrat councillors have criticised the council’s 2011 consultation on its new burial strategy for a number of failings, including that it did not mention the impact on local woodlands and trees. They have suggested alternatives to Labour’s proposed strategy.

Lewisham Lib Dems, including the Forest Hill Focus Team, are strongly backing the efforts of our Southwark colleagues as well as the non-partisan community campaign, ‘Save Southwark Woods’, which is pursuing every avenue in an effort to persuade the council to back down.  We enjoy walking through these woods and know many other local residents do too.

The council appear determined to go ahead with the plans but we hope, even at this late stage, they’ll listen. Help us today, sign the petition online and tell the council they cannot destroy our precious local woodlands. https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-southwark-woods

Some other helpful links:

Southwark Council’s plans

Save Southwark Woods campaign

Forest Hill residents back human rights campaign 19 July 2015

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Forest Hill Lib Dems collecting signatures outside The Capitol in support of retaining the Human Rights Act

Forest Hill Lib Dems collecting signatures outside The Capitol in support of retaining the Human Rights Act

Hundreds of local people backed a Liberal Democrat campaign to save the Human Rights Act, when Forest Hill Lib Dems held a street stall as part of a national action day on June 27th.

South London Lib Dem MP Tom Brake, one of the leaders of the campaign nationally. explained:

By drawing up plans to scrap the Human Rights Act (HRA) and laying the groundwork to pull out of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) – the Tories are revealing their true colours.

“The HRA and ECHR are not some piffling pieces of legislation, dreamt up by bureaucrats in Brussels to tie us in red tape. These are British rights, drafted by British lawyers.

“They were forged in the aftermath of the atrocities of the Second World War and fought for by Winston Churchill.

“They are designed to place public authorities in the UK under a strict, non-negotiable obligation to treat people with fairness, equality and dignity.

“Frequently they have been all that has stood in the way of injustice, most usually inflicted on the individual by an over-powerful state.”

Forest Hill Lib Dem campaigner George Crozier said:

“The Human Rights Act has achieved a huge amount. It’s held the state to account for spying on us, supported peaceful protest, defended victims of rape and domestic violence and shielded press freedom.

“How could we seriously expect to persuade other countries to take human rights seriously if we are about to join the dictatorship of Belarus as the only countries in the whole of Europe not signed up to the ECHR. It would destroy every thread of moral authority we have.”

Campaigner Margot Wilson, who organised the street stall, said:

In Coalition, the Tories wanted to abolish the Human Rights Act, and to walk away from the ECHR, with no guarantee about what would come in its place. But the Liberal Democrats blocked them.

“Now the Tories have a majority they are trying again.

“But we are determined to fight them every step of the way and stop them from trampling on our hard-fought freedoms and rights.”

Anyone who hasn’t yet signed the petition to save the Human Rights Act can do so here.

For more information see this article by Tom Brake.

Pedestrians should not be sharing space with cars in Kirkdale 6 July 2015

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DSC01372We have objected to the idea of pedestrians, cyclists and cars sharing the space in Kirkdale. This is one of the proposals put forward in the recent consultation about improvements to Kirkdale and Dartmouth Road. We welcome parking bays, planting more street trees and improving the look of the ‘High Street’ area of Kirkdale.DSC01365

However the proposal to lower the kerb to create a ‘more shared space’ around the mini roundabout has been queried by Forest Hill Libdems. We have also asked the council to explain what evidence there is that this will make the road safer. Libdem campaigner, Margot Wilson, regularly uses this stretch of road while taking grandchildren to school. She points out that there are currently four Primary schools and one nursery in the area. It is helpful if children can be trained to stop and look for traffic at the kerb, so it needs to be clear where it is.

A report in the Independent on Saturday 4 July 2015,highlighted the unpopularity of a ‘shared-space scheme’ in Exhibition Road in Kensington. It quotes the survey done by the only member of the House of Lords who is blind. Paralympic swimmer, Lord Holmes, said that people feel terrified to go into such areas.

This is not what we want in revitalising the High Street part of Kirkdale.

Parliamentary hustings cancelled #se23 23 April 2015

Posted by Alex Feakes in Uncategorized.
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Unfortunately, the parliamentary hustings organised by the Forest Hill Society and the Sydenham Society organised for Friday 24th April has been cancelled. The reasons for cancellation are given here.

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Lewisham West & Penge, Alex Feakes, said: “I am disappointed that the hustings has been cancelled, as I think it is important for the public to meet and be able to question their parliamentary candidates. I would have been happy to proceed with the hustings in either of the line-ups suggested, but believe the original panel of five candidates suggested by the Forest Hill and Sydenham Societies was a reasonable plan.

Unlike the tremendous mess of the leaders’ TV debates, however, I believe it is up to the hosting organisations to make their own decisions about who to invite, as long as this meets Electoral Commission guidelines. Consequently, I respect the decision of the two Societies to cancel the hustings.”

There will be another opportunity to meet the candidates at the Penge Forum hustings next Wednesday 29th April.

Boost for local schools in bid to tackle inequality 6 April 2015

Posted by George Crozier in Education.
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SSchoolchildren (stock photo)chools in Forest Hill have received millions of pounds of extra funding to help children from less privileged backgrounds get a better start in life – thanks to the Liberal Democrats.

Learning mentors, one-to-one tuition and after school ‘booster groups’ are just a few of the ways that local schools are using the money.

The money is coming from the ‘Pupil Premium’, a key policy in the Lib Dem manifesto at the last election designed to tackle inequality by providing extra money to schools based on how many pupils they have from less well-off households. It is a response to the fact that children from poorer backgrounds consistently lag behind in their educational achievements.

Forest Hill campaigner Alex Feakes, who is Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Lewisham West and Penge at May’s general election, praised the Pupil Premium for delivering extra funding where it is needed:

“It is a sad state of affairs that, if a child’s parents are less well-off, by the time they start primary school they are more likely to be behind the other children; they’re more likely to leave primary school unable to read and write properly; they’re much less likely to go on to get five good GSCEs, to stay on for A-levels or go to university.

“Liberal Democrats are determined to change this. We want to level the playing field so that all children can flourish – not just the well-off. That’s why, even in some of the toughest spending rounds in living memory, we have fought to deliver our £2.5 billion a year pupil premium – additional money to help close the gap. And the great news is that we are beginning to see its effects already.”

An Ofsted report published in July last year concluded that: “The pupil premium is making a difference in many schools… [T]he concerted efforts of good leaders and teachers are helping to increase outcomes for pupils eligible for the pupil premium.”

Alex, who is himself a teacher at a girls’ comprehensive school, added: “Liberal Democrats are fighting in government for a fairer society where all children have opportunities to succeed in life. Through the pupil premium, we’re starting to win that fight.”

Pupil Premium figures for Forest Hill schoolsHow local schools are spending Pupil Premium money

Local schools have won awards for their effective use of Pupil Premium money.

Sydenham School‘s work includes one-to-one and small group tuition in Maths and English led by full time tutors, a full time Speech and Language Therapist and Learning Mentors. The school’s success gained them membership of the ‘Gold Club’ of London schools in 2013/14.

Eliot Bank Primary School have also won Gold Club awards and are among the top 250 schools in the country for educating disadvantaged pupils. They use their Pupil Premium money to fund reading buddies, small group support, subsidised school trips and school-run clubs.

All schools have webpages showing how they are using the Pupil Premium to help pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Forest Hill’s Cultural Quarter gets cash boost 6 April 2015

Posted by George Crozier in Streets.
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Further good news for Dartmouth Road has come from a successful funding bid by SEE3 – the high street innovation team for the Forest Hill, Sydenham and Kirkdale area: £113,000 has been awarded by the Greater London Authority to improve the public space by Forest Hill Library and Louise House.  The money comes on top of a £600,000 TfL grant for pedestrian improvements in the stretch up Dartmouth Road up to Forest Hill station.

“This extra funding to improve the public space of our heritage buildings is welcome news,” commented SEE3 treasurer Alex Feakes. “It’s essential we make the most of our cultural heritage in Forest Hill to not only support the local economy, but also to ensure the special character of our town centre has a sustainable future for all.”

Greenest Government Ever – thanks to Lib Dems 6 April 2015

Posted by George Crozier in Environment, Uncategorized.
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IoS ragout boxThe Liberal Democrats have won praise for delivering on environmental policies in government in the face of opposition from the Conservatives.

The Independent on Sunday newspaper, which has a strong record of campaigning on green issues, agreed with Edward Davey – the minister in charge of the Government’s policies to tackle climate change – that the Lib Dems have made this Government greener than its Labour predecessor.

With the Lib Dems in Government, investment in renewable energy has been more than double that under Labour, and for the past three years the highest of any country in Europe. The amount of renewable energy being generated has also more than doubled.

OffShoreWind-1The Independent on Sunday gave its verdict on the parties’ green policies. The Conservatives deserve “discredit for going back on their ‘vote blue, go green’ promise”, Labour “have downplayed greenery” while the Green Party “urgently needs to sort itself out”. The Lib Dems, by contrast, deserve credit for “keeping the low-carbon show on the road”.

Alex Feakes, Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Lewisham West & Penge, said: “Environmentalism has been at the core of our party’s DNA long before it fell in and out of fashion with other parties. We promised in 2010 to make the environment a priority and that is what we have done.”


Did you know?

  • Britain is now the world leader in offshore wind and tidal power (including the world’s 2 largest offshore windfarms)
  • Solar energy generation increased by 60% last year
  • Funding for cycling projects has been doubled since 2010
  • A million trees have been planted
  • A 5p charge to deter use of throwaway plastic bags comes in in October
  • The Government has beaten its target of getting a million homes more energy efficient in the past two years

GreenLawsFind out more about the Zero Waste Bill and other Lib Dem green policies for the next Parliament at: http://www.libdems.org.uk/environment

Alex Feakes: one of the ‘Top 10 PPCs to watch’ say @dodsmonitoring 2 April 2015

Posted by Alex Feakes in Uncategorized.
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DODS PPCs to watch 2015 - Alex Feakes

I’ve been picked out by @DODSmonitoring as one of the ‘Top 10 PPCs to watch’ in financial services at this General Election!  Let’s go #LWP http://www.dodsinformation.com/top-10-ppcs-watch-financial-services (sign-up needed)

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.”

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