Council’s last chance to save Honor Oak woodlands 8 August 2015Posted by George Crozier in Environment.
Tags: HonorOak, trees
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Southwark’s Labour council has been offered a final chance to halt the felling of 60 trees and digging up of 60 graves as part of its plans for new burial space in two local cemeteries which form part of the Green Chain Walk close to Honor Oak and Forest Hill.
At the last meeting of the council, Southwark Liberal Democrat councillors tabled a motion calling on the ruling Labour administration to carry out a new consultation exercise on where new burial space for Southwark residents is located. Labour refused to support the proposal.
Following the council meeting, Liberal Democrat councillors have written to the Chair of the Council’s main scrutiny committee asking for the cemeteries strategy and proposals for Southwark Woods to be looked at in more detail with a proper analysis of costs, alternatives and environmental impact.
Southwark Liberal Democrat Leader, Councillor Anood Al-Samerai, said:
“The strength of feeling locally about the Labour council’s plans for Southwark Woods is clear with over 8,000 people signing the petition to save the trees, woodland and old graves. Yet again though, Labour councillors refused to listen to local residents and call a halt to their plans.
“There are alternatives that would allow Southwark residents to still be buried in the borough that should be looked at properly… I hope that Labour councillors will now listen at the last minute and agree that the plans should be put on hold to look at the issues in more detail. This is the Labour administration’s last chance to change their minds and save the woods for future generations.”
Forest Hill Lib Dems are strongly supporting the efforts of our Southwark colleagues to save these valuable local woodlands.
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Forest Hill Liberal Democrats have joined a chorus of anger over the new majority Conservative Government’s abandonment of environmental policies introduced and promoted by the previous Coalition Government.
In just three months since the general election the Conservatives have:
- Scrapped subsidies for onshore wind and commercial solar – the two cheapest forms of clean energy
- Slashed the energy efficiency budget and scrapped the Green Deal – a programme set up by the Liberal Democrats in Coalition to help people make their homes more energy efficient
- Ended the tax break for clean cars
- Abolished rules on zero carbon housing
- Lowered taxes on polluting firms
- Announced the part-privatisation of the Green Investment Bank
- Scrapped the exemption from the Climate Change Levy for renewable energy (described by Friends of the Earth as like putting an alcohol tax on apple juice!)
They have also:
- Lifted a ban on bee-slaying neonicotinoid pesticides
- Reversed a pledge to keep fracking out of nationally important nature sites
- Announced support for a ‘review’ of two key European wildlife laws, the Habitats Directive and the Birds Directive
The Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth has called it “a grotesque 90 days of ideological enviro-bashing”, observing “David Cameron’s Conservative Government took aim at anything green and shot to kill”. (You can read his full article here – he pulls no punches.)
The heads of 10 of Britain’s leading green groups, including National Trust, Greenpeace and the RSPB, have written to David Cameron calling the cutting or watering-down of 10 key environmental policies woeful and shocking.
Back in April we highlighted the success of the Lib Dems in delivering on environmental policies in the Coalition Government despite opposition from the Conservatives. With the Lib Dems in Government, investment in renewable energy was more than double that under the previous Labour administration, and for the past three years was the highest of any country in Europe. The amount of renewable energy being generated also more than doubled.
Forest Hill Lib Dem campaigner Margot Wilson said: “It is desperately sad to see the strong environmental policies and achievements of the Coalition Government, such as support for renewables and zero carbon housing, being dismantled by the Conservatives now that they are in government on their own.
“Perhaps the loopiest change of all is extending the Climate Change Levy – a tax specifically created to penalise and so reduce carbon pollution – to low and zero-carbon renewable energy, totally undermining its purpose. What was a green tax is being turned into a tax on all energy, dirty or clean.”
The green economy has been a British success story in recent years – it grew 5% a year during the recession – but these changes will undermine it and make businesses less likely to invest in green projects going forward.
For example, waste management firm Veolia invested £10m in a project which draws gas out of landfill sites – on the promise that they’d be getting a subsidy until 2023. But the incentives are to be cancelled eight years early. A company spokesman told the BBC: “We’re very angry that the Government have made a complete U-turn on subsidies that were agreed until 2023 with only 1 month’s notice. This isn’t the way to run a government and give business the confidence to invest.”
Swedish energy company Vattenfall has said it is scrapping a planned windfarm in Lincolnshire, blaming the government’s changes to planning laws for increasing risk to the project.
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said: “For five years we fought sceptical Tories to ensure we were the greenest Government ever by investing billions in renewables and setting out ambitious climate change targets. By quietly dumping the Green Deal, David Cameron has yet again shown how little he cares about the future of the planet.
“The Prime Minister has not so much hugged a husky as led it behind the coal shed, shot it in the head and told his Energy Secretary it has gone to live on a farm in the country.”
Former Friends of the Earth Director Tony Juniper has commented: “the last few months mark the worst period for environmental policy that I have seen in my 30 years’ work in this field.” He attributes it to “an anti-environment ideology based on the view that ecological goals interfere with the market, increase costs and are against the interests of people”.
More ‘looked after’ children going missing in Lewisham. 6 August 2015Posted by margotwilson in Uncategorized.
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Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for London, recently reported on the numbers of children going missing from care. By using the Freedom of Information Act, she was able to discover that, in Lewisham from 2013-2014 the number of children gong missing from care increased by 164% from 28 to 74.
Numbers of children going missing from placements within the borough had gone from 11 in 2013 to 36 in 2014. The number of children going missing from placements outside the borough had gone from 17 in 2013 to 38 in 2014. The number still missing was not disclosed.
Her report recommends
- the setting up of a Mayoral Task Force for vulnerable children who go missing,
- more transparency and consistency in the collection of data
- and training for councillors on this issue .
“A looked after child is already a vulnerable child” Caroline told the News Shopper, “If they go missing for 24 hours or more they are immediately at serious risk, such as being drawn into criminal activity or becoming a victim of sexual abuse. There are a number of criminal syndicates which target girls and boys for sexual abuse, often targeting runaway children.
“While I recognise Lewisham Council are at least being open about how serious the situation is, it is now time they acted and turned this situation around.”
Tags: Camberwell New Cemetery, Camberwell Old Cemetery, Green Chain Walk, HonorOak, One Tree Hill, trees, Wood Vale
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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:
Forest Hill residents back human rights campaign 19 July 2015Posted by George Crozier in Uncategorized.
Tags: Human Rights Act, street stalls
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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.
Tags: #foresthill, Kirkdale, Street trees
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We 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.
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 2015Posted 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 2015Posted by George Crozier in Education.
Tags: Eliot Bank Primary School, pupil premium, schools, Sydenham School
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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.”
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 2015Posted by George Crozier in Streets.
Tags: Dartmouth Road, Forest HIll Library, Louise House, SEE3
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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 2015Posted by George Crozier in Environment, Uncategorized.
Tags: cycling, energy, environment, renewable energy, trees
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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.
The 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
Find out more about the Zero Waste Bill and other Lib Dem green policies for the next Parliament at: http://www.libdems.org.uk/environment