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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.”

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

Posted by George Crozier in Uncategorized.
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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.

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