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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.

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Government jobs boost for Forest Hill 22 March 2014

Posted by George Crozier in Forest Hill, Young people.
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This story appeared in the February – March 2014 Forest Hill Focus

Unemployment in Forest Hill has fallen by a third in less than two years, from 647 to 421. This is in line with the national trend which shows that, for the first time, 30 million people are now in employment in the UK.

Unemployment among young people is falling even faster. It is down by more than 30% across Lewisham borough during 2013.

This follows a range of measures from the Lib Dems in Government to promote jobs and growth, including:

  • Massive expansion of apprenticeships (4,200 new starts since 2010 in Lewisham alone)
  • £100 billion of infrastructure projects (road, rail, etc.)
  • Building more affordable homes in each year than at any point under the last Labour government (including £30m of central government money to build homes in Lewisham)

Forest Hill campaigner George Crozier welcomed the figures: “The coalition inherited a car crash of an economy from Labour. It has been a tough few years but things are being turned around. The deficit has been reduced by a third, interest rates have been kept down and a million jobs have been created.

He added: “This recovery would not be happening without the Lib Dems. We are delivering more infrastructure investment, and support for jobs and apprenticeships, than a majority Conservative or Labour Government would have.”

After 40 years of Labour rule Lewisham has one of the worst records in London for jobs. Fewer small businesses are growing here than anywhere else in London. For years our borough has had some of the highest unemployment in the country amongst 18-24 year olds.

But Lewisham needs to do better

Vince Cable and Duwayne Brooks

Business Secretary Vince Cable and Lewisham Mayoral Candidate Duwayne Brooks are working to bring jobs to our area

Duwayne Brooks, Lib Dem candidate for Mayor of Lewisham, says the high level of youth unemployment in Lewisham is due to a decade of failed leadership at the Council, which has stifled entrepreneurship and job creation in the borough.

Duwayne believes it is the job of the Mayor and local council to drive the process of attracting business and jobs to the area.

“I want to create new jobs in the borough by encouraging and supporting new business start-ups,” says Duwayne. “I will create youth hubs where life skills will be taught, subsidised meals offered and where young people will be able to meet employers and prepare for the world of work.”

FH Assembly boost for youngsters, traders and nature reserve 4 January 2014

Posted by George Crozier in Community, Environment, Local assembly, Uncategorized, Young people.
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This article appears in the December 2013 / January 2014 Forest Hill Focus

Local residents who attended October’s meeting of the Forest Hill Assembly decided the allocation of the £12,500 Assembly Fund for the year ahead. Seven of the ten organisations that put in a bid were awarded funding.

The successful projects are:

Garden Power Supply – Friends of Devonshire Road Nature Reserve

£1,600 was awarded to lay a fixed electricity supply from the existing visitor centre to the two volunteer built green oak buildings in the garden

Planting in Forest Hill Town Centre – Forest Hill Society

£280 for replacement of plants at Forest Hill station (forecourt and platform planters) and beneath the trees at the Job Centre

Re-Connect @ Platform 1

£3,000 for a youth project including drama and music workshops targeted at 8-13 year olds

Garden project – Rockbourne Youth Club

£1,987.75 to build a garden space accessible to schools, nurseries and community groups, and to buy tools to maintain it

Forest Hill’s map of hidden treasure – Forest Hill Traders Association

£2,500 for a ‘graffiti’ style map of London Road, Dartmouth Road and Perry Vale to be located by Welsh Smiths’

Kelvin Grove Activities – Kelvin Grove Primary School

£2,250 for a project to help raise aspirations and change behaviour among a targeted group of 10-11 year olds

The remaining £882 is being offered to the next placed project which was SFH (Sydenham Forest Hill) Performing Arts Academy, involving dance, drama, music and sport workshops for 9-12 year olds at Sydenham School.

Councillor Alex Feakes, chair of the Forest Hill Assembly, commented: “I am delighted that local people have once again voted to support some really worthwhile projects, which will make our area greener, more attractive to shoppers and other visitors, and will help local youngsters.”

Amir Khan visits DoubleJab 9 April 2010

Posted by Philip in Community, Local assembly, Young people.
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I was really pleased to be able to join the team at the DoubleJab boxing gym on Davids Road the other week to welcome World Champion and Olympic silver medallist boxer, Amir Khan.

Mr Khan came to lend his support to the work the gym does in pulling the community together to keep kids out of trouble and cut crime. He commented: “Clubs like this one keep kids out of trouble… It’s wicked to see all these kids so enthusiastic – hopefully this gym can produce a world champion, there’s no reason why not.” DoubleJab is now one of the best attended youth clubs in the borough.

The boxing gym was saved from closure by a lot of hard work led by my colleague Cllr John Russell (second from left in photo) and has been funded by the Forest Hill Ward Assembly and Lewisham Council’s Youth Opportunities fund.