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Lib Dems stand up for leaseholders and tenants of rogue landlords 14 April 2014

Posted by George Crozier in Housing, Uncategorized.
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This story appeared in the March – April 2014 Forest Hill Focus

Private tenants and leaseholders would be able to rely on Lewisham Council’s support to resolve problems with landlords and freeholders under proposals put forward by the Lewisham Liberal Democrat council group.

Rogue landlords providing sub-standard accommodation would be targeted, with the aim of improving their conduct and the quality of housing stock available.

National funds for Lewisham

Liberal Democrats in Government have made tackling rogue landlords a national priority. In addition to tough new legislation the Government has provided £6.5 million for local enforcement work. Lewisham will receive £125,000 to enable it to set up a programme to tackle rogue landlords, and employ a dedicated enforcement officer and paralegal, to increase the number of prosecutions.

“Supporting the many vulnerable tenants in private rented accommodation is an important role for the Council, ” says Lib Dem Forest Hill councillor Alex Feakes. “For years Lewisham’s Labour Council have failed to take it seriously enough. With this extra funding from national government they now have no excuse.”

Council leaseholders

Previous work on the council led by Cllr Feakes has seen a shift in Lewisham Council’s relationship with its many leaseholders, though there is still much more to do to ensure that those who own property in a block controlled by the Council are fairly treated.

“Decades of underinvestment and short-termism in repairs by the Council has left many leaseholders facing huge bills for communal works,” says Cllr Feakes. “No one disputes that leaseholders should pay their fair share, but concerns remain about quality, timeliness and payment mechanisms. There seems to be an assumption that anyone with a leasehold must be well-off and can pay any demand put to them!”

Abuses of rogue landlords

These include:
* Harassment of tenants
* Illegal evictions
* Illegal fees charged
* Overcrowding
* Boilers with no gas certificate
* Illegal electricity supplies
* Failure to make repairs
* Refusal to pay back deposits

‘Wipe out criminal landlords’ plea

Duwayne Brooks, Lib Dem candidate for Mayor of Lewisham, has vowed to be a champion of vulnerable tenants if he is elected as the borough’s Mayor in May.

“For 40 years Labour has failed to deal with rogue landlords behaving criminally,” said Duwayne. “We need a system that protects and supports our vulnerable tenants. If elected, I will introduce a mandatory borough-wide licensing scheme, similar to the one in place in Newham, to wipe out these rogue criminal landlords.”

Kirkdale crossing – the fight goes on 14 April 2014

Posted by George Crozier in Streets, Sydenham.
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This story appeared in the March – April 2014 Forest Hill Focus


Kirkdale on a Sunday – but try getting across at rush hour

Campaigners have vowed that the fight to get a pedestrian crossing on Kirkdale will continue, despite being told by Lewisham Council that it does not meet the Council’s ‘predetermined ratio’.

In 2012 local residents collected a 400 signature petition calling for a safe crossing near the junction with Thorpewood Avenue, which was handed to the Town Hall by Councillor Alex Feakes. While a speed indicator has now been placed on the downhill side of Kirkdale, many children from Eliot Bank and Kelvin Grove primary schools still need to cross Kirkdale every day without a zebra or pelican crossing.

Alex Feakes said: “It is very disappointing that the Council do not consider it worthwhile to put a pedestrian crossing or even a school crossing patrol officer on this busy stretch of road. We will continue making the case and campaigning for a safe crossing to be installed.”

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.”

Recycling – must do better 22 March 2014

Posted by George Crozier in Environment, Recycling & rubbish.
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This story appeared in the February – March 2014 Forest Hill Focus

Lib Dems are calling on Lewisham’s Labour Mayor to act after figures showing the council is bottom of London’s recycling league table for a second year in a row.

In 2012-13 just 20% of household waste was recycled in Lewisham, less than half as much as in most neighbouring boroughs (see map, right).

Duwayne Brooks, Lib Dem candidate for Mayor of Lewisham, said: “Over the last five years most London boroughs have increased their recycling rates, but in Lewisham they have fallen.

“Of course we all have a responsibility to recycle all we can. Everyone should take five minutes to ensure our empty bottles, plastics, cardboards and so on do not get thrown out with the general waste.

“But the main responsibility for Lewisham’s dreadful recycling rate rests with the Mayor and council. They make it too difficult for people to recycle some waste, and do not do enough to publicise what can be recycled.”

A recent survey by Lib Dems in Forest Hill found more than 90% of local residents want the council to do more to reduce and reuse food waste. Margot Wilson said: “Other boroughs such as Southwark collect food and garden waste every week. Why can’t we?”

Recycling rates by borough
Percentages of household waste recycled in Lewisham and neighbouring boroughs in 2012-13

Council’s £5.7 million tax collection fiasco 22 March 2014

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

Labour-run Lewisham Council have come under fire for having one of the worst records in the country for collecting council tax.

Last year (2012-13) the Council failed to collect a whopping £5.7 million of the council tax which was due. That is a sum larger than the council’s entire road maintenance budget.

Just 5 of England’s 326 councils have a worse record than Lewisham’s 5.8% non-collection rate.

Forest Hill Lib Dem Councillor Alex Feakes commented: “If Lewisham’s Labour administration were as efficient at collecting council tax as the average Lib Dem London borough we would have had an extra £4.5 million to spend this year. Labour need to get their act together and collect the money owed.”

The Council Tax Gap

Resurfacing of Dartmouth Road, #se23 13 March 2014

Posted by Alex Feakes in Forest Hill, Lewisham Council, Streets, Transport.
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Lewisham Council will be resurfacing Dartmouth Road, SE23 between Thursday 20th March and Wednesday 26th March (but no Saturday and Sunday).  The works will be carried out between 9pm and 5.30am, so there will be noise and traffic disruption for residents and businesses at night during that period.  The Council have asked that any parked cars be moved elsewhere before works start each evening.

For more details, please contact Bala Balaskanthan at LBL on 020 8314 2588.

Kirkdale #se26 20mph zone consultation 15 February 2012

Posted by Alex Feakes in Forest Hill, Lewisham Council, Streets, Sydenham.
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Lewisham council has recently conducted a residents’ consultation in the south Kirkdale area about introducing a 20mph zone to assist traffic calming.

The council report that they issued 693 questionnaires and received 100 replies, a response rate of 14%.  Only 62 respondents were in favour of the proposed traffic calming measures.

The highways team conclude: “it is felt that the numbers in support of the 20mph zone are not significant enough to justify its implementation.  Therefore that council will not be progressing with the proposal.”