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Green Party claims are 'blatant scaremongering'

Green Party claims that fracking could take place in Streatham have been described as “blatant scaremongering” by Lambeth Labour councillor, Imogen Walker.
 
A license for exploratory drilling was granted in December 2012. However, Streatham Greens fail to mention that a license for drilling remains essentially meaningless as holders must fulfil strict requirements from the Department for Energy and Climate Change, the Environment and the Health and Safety Executive.
 
And most importantly, the local authority – Lambeth Council has the final say and Lambeth Labour has confirmed there would be no circumstances where fracking would be allowed in Streatham, or anywhere else in the borough.
 
The Green Party are not being straight with the electorate. Instead of saying what they’d do to tackle the cost of living or create more affordable housing, they’re scaremongering about fracking in a bid to generate pre-election publicity.
 
Sadly for them the position couldn’t be clearer – under Labour there will be no fracking in Streatham
 
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Lambeth does not have the final say. Any decision can be appealed and therefore the council could lose. Where is Labour's honesty in not declaring this?
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The Great Tory Train Robbery

Londoners face another year of fare hikes thanks to the Tory Mayor of London.

Ticket prices are up £509 on a zone 1-6 travelcard since 2008. At the same time the number of station staff is down 953. London’s commuters are getting a raw deal.

This week Lambeth Labour activists braved the cold to hand out leaflets at stations across Lambeth.

500,000 flyers were given out at 250 stations across London. The vast majority of commuters agreed with us that by hiking fares at the same time as closing down ticket offices, Boris Johnson is letting down Londoners.

You can add your name to the campaign here: http://action.labour.org.uk/page/s/freeze-fares-boris
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It's here! New Streatham Leisure Centre Opens Its Doors

The new Streatham Hub development opened its doors today.

Lambeth Labour promised local people a major expansion of sports and leisure facilities – and we’re delivering with new swimming pools and leisure facilities across the borough. As well as the Streatham Hub, last year  a new council leisure centre in Clapham was opened with state of the art swimming pool and gym facilities – all at no cost to the public. And in Spring 2014 a new leisure centre in West Norwood will also open with a pool, gym, community meeting room.

Ahead of the formal opening next month, the Streathm Hub swimming pool will be open to invited swimmers for testing during the first week of opening and it will be open to the public on 25 November. The Gym opened its doors at 6.30am today and the ice rink is available for clubs and training and will be open to the public following the Redskins’ first game at the new centre, which takes place on 24 November.

Sports facilities at the Hub include:

-An ice rink with 1,000 rink-side seats for spectators, skaters, ice
hockey players and officials

- A six-lane, 25-metre swimming pool

- A four court sports hall

- A 13-metre teaching pool

- 100 gym stations

The leisure centre is part of a wider development bringing the construction of 200 homes and the creation of almost 1,000 jobs during the construction phase and after.
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Looks amazing!
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Real choices expose real tensions but ultimately strengthen local decision making and local democracy

By Jack Hopkins

Our Neighbourhood Enhancement Programme (NEP) is giving real choices to local communities. But in doing so it has the potential to create tensions between neighbours and across neighbourhoods. The NEP puts Councillors front and centre of arbitrating between them, and puts ‘representation’ on the agenda for everyone.

Councillors’ time is often dominated resolving the problems of individual constituents let down by a system. This is our bread and butter and helps individual constituents as well as showing us where the system needs to change, but it doesn’t engage proactively with our huge electorates or help the system rectify itself.

In Lambeth we are pushing decisions down to street level over public realm, cycling and greening improvements. Improvements are identified, developed and prioritised by community groups with Councillors deciding which get delivered when budgetary constraints or clashes of local opinion do not make it straight forward.

See more at www.lambeth.gov.uk/nep or my blog post at http://jackhopkins.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/resident-decision-making-and-participatory-budgeting-nearly/

Typically most residents accept what is being proposed by the council. Occasionally however an unhappy minority will challenge the Council’s proposals with Councillors having to adopt the role as arbiter between both parties. Usually this is on the side of residents against the organisation they are a member of (the Council) but can struggle to influence.

With the Neighbourhood Enhancement Programme we are seeing community and resident groups going through a process of arbitration internally, collaborating at the design phase to get something which everyone can agree on, or clashing when there are genuine differences of opinion. The process also allows them to learn more about and then to question their unofficial neighbourhood representatives, as well as reflect on the diverse neighbourhoods in which they live but with whom they may not interact.

What happens when some residents want secure cycle shelters at the expense of parking spaces? What about the pedestrianisation of a stretch of road which forces traffic into neighbouring streets? It also raises wider issues about whether people who walk or journey through neighbouring streets should get a say over how they look and feel? Should cyclists get some sort of mandate if they don’t live somewhere? What about school kids who want their walk to school to be safe, pleasant and enjoyable?

Of course it was ever thus – the vocal minority dominating an agenda, with time, expertise, inclination and experience of how the system works. But with all residents very clearly having a say and the council being transparent about who are the decision makers at various stages, people have become more interested and feel more confident about how much they can influence what goes on.

At a strategic level for Councillors, as well as communities, it puts into real focus questions over the legitimacy of whom the Council engages with and how representative those individuals are? Middle class or sectoral capture which already exist become much plainer as proposals come through from some areas and not others.

These are tensions and stresses which exist already, and sadly we are sometimes guilty of ignoring them because it is often too complicated and difficult to widen the franchise and have rows about things. But ultimately I am convinced that this will strengthen civic infrastructure and decision making. If your local community group is starting to make decisions on your behalf because it has been empowered you are going to begin to make sure that you have your say and that the people on them are not the ‘usual suspects’ who may just want a platform to push their own agendas.

And you will be damn certain that your Councillors have considered the points of views of everyone when making decisions which are going to affect your street and neighbourhood.
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Seeing is believing: Why working together is a better way to solve the troubles in our neighbourhood

By Jack Hopkins
 
Last week I spent a day with local residents, the police and other partners like Job Centre Plus, the Fire Brigade and youth organisations taking part in a day of action to crack down on crime and anti-social behaviour in Brixton.
 
The levels of robbery, theft, begging and violence are unacceptable and residents tell us all the time that crime and anti-social behaviour is the issue they are most concerned about.  It’s not right that people feel unable to walk freely in their area without threat or intimidation.
 
But tackling the problem isn’t just an issue for the police and council, and we will never be able to solve them on our own. Communities themselves need to pull together to say enough is enough. Communities need to have the skills and tools to help tackle these issues, and most importantly they need to know they are not on their own – that their friends and neighbours, as well as the police, the council, councillors and the voluntary sector are there to help. We need to work hard together to get on top of the problem.
 
Residents know the problems in their neighbourhoods, they see them, hear them and experience them, but too often they do not see the work being done by the council or the police to tackle them. So getting them involved shows them that we do take their priorities seriously and are serious about solving them, and I am confident that it will give confidence to communities to be part of the solution too.
 
Gang violence in some parts of Lambeth is a particular concern. Local gangs have been known to hide weapons in public places to avoid being arrested for carrying them in the streets. So one of the things we did - for the first time ever in London - was arrange for Trident officers to give local residents training in carrying out weapons sweeps. We want them to know what to look for, what to do if a weapon is found and the importance of preserving evidence.
 
As well as weapons sweeps, knife test purchasing, mobile CCTV, car number plate checks and a knife amnesty were all in operation during the day of action. We sent out a clear message that anti-social behaviour, drug dealing and robbery will not be tolerated in our town.
 
But we also wanted to send out another message to people in gangs: there is a way out. That’s why we arranged for the Job Centre and local charities like Options 4 Change and Word 4 Weapons to come down and offer help and advice to young people on job hunting and the opportunities that are available to them.
 
Lambeth’s Labour Council is working hard to support young people in the borough, running a range of initiatives including mentoring schemes, outreach and apprenticeships for disaffected youngsters. Despite the huge financial pressures we’re under, we’re determined to protect these sorts of services to ensure youngsters can climb as high as their hard work, talent and potential can carry them. 
 
Because the truth is, the most effective way to tackle crime in the long run is not through knife sweeps or number plate checks, but to make sure that young people believe there is a genuine alternative to joining a gang.
 
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Lambeth schools are top of the class

More Lambeth pupils than ever are getting five or more good GCSEs.

This year's GCSE results show that the number of pupils in the borough getting five or more A* to C-grade GSCEs, including English and Maths rating has gone up from 62.8 per cent in 2012 to 65.7 per cent. 

Bishop Thomas Grant  is the top performing school with 85% of pupils achieving 5 good GCSEs. The school saw a 12% rise in the number of pupils  achieving top grades.

Cllr Rachel Heywood, cabinet member for Children and Families, said: “I know students, teachers and parents in Lambeth have worked incredibly hard to get the best possible GCSE results. These results are just reward for their efforts.

“GCSE’s are a critical step on the path towards college, university or an apprenticeship and eventually a career. On behalf of Lambeth I wish every student the best of luck today and promise we will do everything we can to help them to fulfil their potential in the future.”

Secondary school provisional results show that Lambeth LA performance has increased by three per cent in the main Department for Education indicator of success – five or more A* to C-grade GSCEs, including English and Maths.

#gcse  
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Fantastic news!
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Lambeth council helps residents to a better energy deal

It might be getting hotter this summer but you can still take action to reduce your energy costs.

Lambeth council is helping residents get a better deal on their household fuel bills through the power of collective bargaining.

The Big London Energy Switch sees 21 councils negotiate with energy suppliers through an auction process with the aim of getting a better deal for all participating residents.

It was first was carried out in April and included 2,213 Lambeth households from a total of 26,400 in London.

As a result, nearly 20,000 households in the capital have received an offer that would save them an average of £122 on their gas and electricity bills.

As well as saving cash, residents are spared the hassle of having to shop around for a better tariff themselves.

Lambeth council cabinet member for the environment Councillor +Imogen Walker said: “This is an excellent and hassle-free way for residents to get a better deal and the council is glad to be able to help people at a time of rising living costs.”

Energy bills are likely to continue to rise significantly over the coming years, putting many more thousands of people across London into fuel poverty.

The more people who sign up, the better bargaining power the council has with suppliers. 

Registering an interest does not mean residents are obliged to accept the new offer.

Residents should visit www.biglondonenergyswitch.org.uk to register or call Lambeth council on 020 7926 1000 and ask to speak to someone about The Big London Energy Switch.
Tapping into consumer power to help get you a better deal on your gas and electricity.
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10 fire stations close

Although we successfully fought the Mayor’s plans to close Clapham Fire Station, 10 fire stations close their doors across London today.

The Mayor’s cuts will lead to significantly increased response times to incidents across London. In some areas it will now take nearly two minutes longer for a fire engine to arrive on scene. Every second counts and the recent theatre collapse in Soho demonstrates the importance of maintaining current provision. Three of the eight appliances that attended the incident will be cut.

Demonstrations were held this morning at Clerkenwell (Islington), Belsize (Camden), Kingsland (Hackney), Southwark, Bow (Tower Hamlets), Downham (Lewisham) and Woolwich (Greenwich)

The Mayor’s plans originally included over 18 fire stations and 32 fire engines. As a result of efforts working with community groups, residents and the Fire Brigades Union, the cuts have been reduced considerably and Boris Johnson has been forced to commit to protecting the Fire Brigade budget for the remainder of his term.

The 999 SOS campaign now moves to a new phase and we will be monitoring the impact of the cuts to London’s emergency services.

Please get in touch with Labour AM Fiona Twycross on fiona@fionatwycross.org.uk to let her know of any examples of the impact of the cuts locally so we can hold Boris Johnson to account for his failure to stand up for Londoners.
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The Council of 2043

Council Leader Lib Peck looks into her crystal ball and sees a rejuvenated local democracy with residents at the heart of decision-making

Councillors of 2043 look back on 2013 as a seminal moment in the evolution of local authorities. Starved of funding all councils faced a dramatic choice about their future direction.

Many decided that wholesale outsourcing was the only and cheapest way to deliver a shrunken menu of services. For other councils, such as the pioneering then London borough of Lambeth (now part of the South London authority) the dire financial situation added impetus to the cooperative approach that the Council had adopted several years earlier: putting residents at the heart of decision making. It meant identifying strengths and skills in the community and building on those; it meant that decisions were made on a social as well as financial basis. In doing so, the cooperative approach generated a wealth of innovative ways and means to deliver activities – with the council providing a platform to make things happen rather than delivering itself.

By 2043 it was generally agreed that the councils taking this cooperative approach had called it right, that it helped build and support strong resilient communities.

The councils of 2043 had become the connectors and enablers of local society: assessing local needs; joining up the right people and right organisations; enabling the most creative and socially productive projects; and critically, acting as the custodian of the peoples values.

As a result, the class of 2043 councillors were more reflective and representative of the local communities they served. They were more likely to host an online discussion forum than to deliver a leaflet. And, of course, the change in the electorate, which meant that 15 year olds had a full vote and any young person from the age of 11 had half a vote, had brought fresh political ideas to the fore.

In London the radical Social Mix Movement of 2020s re-emphasised the importance of politics. Tired of the increasing homogenisation of London culture brought about by high land prices and welfare cuts, SMM had been successful in its demand for policies to ensure London returned to having a genuine mix of people from different backgrounds and cultures. This prompted a renaissance in political thinking and action, which encouraged many to participate in local politics for the first time and helped to re-establish local councillors as a much respected profession!

Taken from LGIU’s 30th Birthday special edition: http://t.co/L7X3PEnIYD
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How the Brixton Ice Rink has become a home from home for the Streatham Redskins
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Latest figures show why we need 100 more police

With falling officer numbers and fewer crimes being solved Lambeth Labour is continuing to fight for more police officers to keep our streets safe.

By the time of the next general election the number of Police Officers and Community Police Officers (PCSOs) in London will have reduced by nearly 4,000 compared to March 2010 and the latest figures show that 600,000 crimes went unsolved in London last year – a detection rate of just 22%.

That is unacceptable and Boris Johnson should explain what he is doing to tackle the problem and ensure that criminals are brought to justice.

Local residents are telling us that crime is too high. We brought in neighbourhood police teams that put bobbies back on the beat – they made our streets safer and helped restore community confidence.
But now the Mayor of London has slashed policing in Lambeth by 20% – the biggest in London.

We’re campaigning to win back some of the police officers that we have lost. We’re calling for a fairer deal for the borough with 100 more police.
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Cooperative Council in Action

How we're empowering local communities and councillors through the Neighbourhood Enhancement Programme

This week and over the coming weeks Lambeth’s Cooperative Council will be taking another huge step toward giving greater decision making powers to local residents.

“Ballot” papers like the one on the right will be dropping through people’s doors across the north of the borough from Kennington Lane down to Clapham, from Camberwell New Road across to Union Grove, asking local residents what they think of proposals to improve their walk to school, create increased cycle provision or provide more green space and safer streets.

But this is consultation with a difference as all of the improvements have been suggested and developed by the local community, with the council acting as a supporter – offering technical support on more complicated and complex schemes, giving advice on how traffic can be slowed, facilitating walk to school projects in local primaries and designing and printing leaflets for local community groups. Residents groups have drummed up support, held their own public meetings and undertaken community consultation.

I am incredibly proud of what we are trying to do with this policy and it is a first in Lambeth. It has been more complicated in some areas than others where there are no existing community groups to engage with or where residents on the same streets disagree about what is needed and what they want.

But this is local dialogue and decision making in action. Residents know there won’t be enough money for every scheme. They are told the total budget, the cost of each scheme and then asked to rank them in order of priority.  Once residents have fed back their views on what they like and don’t like, local councillors will weigh up the results, taking into consideration other factors such as safety data or the geographical spread of improvements so that one area doesn’t take a lion’s share of the budget, before deciding which get the go ahead, which don’t and which will be put into a project bank for the future.

We will be undertaking an evaluation of how the project has fared, why it was successful or where it could have been better. But the facts so far are positive: it has proved popular with residents, is shifting how the council at various levels engages and works with the public and giving a greater role for democratically elected local councillors.

Councillor Jack Hopkins

For more information on the Neighbourhood Enhancement programme visit  http://lambeth.gov.uk/nep & http://www.haibat.com/oval/oval.php

Consultation meetings will be taking place on the following dates:
 
 
Larkhall
Springfield Community Centre110 Union Road, London SW8 2SH
Tuesday 17 September, 15:30-19:30

Ferndale
Car Free DayLandor Road, London SW9,
Sunday 22 September, 12:00-16:00

Clapham Town
Clapham Library91 Clapham High Street, London SW4 7DB
Wednesday 25 September, 15:30-19:30

Vassall
St. John the Divine Community Centre21 Frederick Crescent, London SW9 6XN, Thursday 26 September, 15:30-20:30

Ferndale
Papa’s Park, 10-17 Pulross Road, London SW9 8AF
Saturday 28 September, 09:00-13:00

Coldharbour
Loughborough Centre, Angell Road, London SW9 7PD
Tuesday 1 October, 16:30-20:30

Oval
Wheatsheaf Community Centre, Wheatsheaf Lane, London SW8 2UP
Tuesday 1 October, 17:00-21:00

Oval
Wheatsheaf Community Centre, Wheatsheaf Lane, London SW8 2UP
Saturday 5 October
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Have them in circles
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News from Lambeth Labour Group. Information and news from the South London Council that is leading the way in developing the Coop Council model
Introduction
News from Lambeth Labour Group
Information, news and comment from the London Borough of Lambeth's Labour Group, lead by Councillor Lib Peck