Wednesday, October 29, 2008

In a quiter than usual Council week I did recieve disapointing news from English Heritage to say that they would not be recommending the listing of Southwark Town Hall as it was not of enough merit, apart from the front elevation that is!
It is a disappointment although the imminent risk of sale and demolition has been put off I dont trust the Tory/Lib Dem Administration and forsee another fight to save the Town Hall in the future!

I spent a sunny but very windy weekend in Broadstairs with my friend "Alderman" Ian Driver and visited Whitstable for a pub crawl and walked to Ramsgate on the Saturday which was an impressive place!

Hibs went down 4-2 to Celtic at Parkhead on Saturday but played very well coming back from 2-0 down to 2-2 before losing a couple of late goals.
Our attack of Nish, Fletcher and Riordan, as Gordon Strachan said after the match, are the best in the coutry and a real threat to every team. Unfortunatley our defence is leaking goals, even with Keeper Ma-Kalambay on form, and we need someone like Keenan to really take command in the midfield. Murray and Riordan had fantastic games again and are back to their best and must be due international call- ups.
Still we are looking like a third place team and certainly good to watch!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"Enough Campaign" Launch, Lib Dem/Tories at it again!, a weekend in Broadstairs and Hibs take on the "Lesser Greens"!

Tonight the ENOUGH! campaign, made up of organisations from Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark, will launch an appeal for hundreds of Londoners to form a new ‘volunteer army’ to reinforce and extend the work of London’s existing community organisations working with young people.
The ENOUGH! campaign will be formally launched this evening at the Royal Festival Hall. It is a campaign driven and inspired by young people, and friends and families of victims. It aims to:

- Bolster support for existing community organisations
Inspire new volunteers to work to end youth violence
Secure funding from central and local government, charities, companies and individuals
Keep the danger of youth violence on the agenda and promote positive images of young people

This sounds like another excellent initiative which must be supported to encourage those who are trying to tackle the scourge of youth violent crime.

The Lib Dem/Tory Coalition are putting a silly and unnecessary motion to the next Council Assembly back slapping themselves on what they are doing to tackling violent crime and praising the Exec. Member for Community Safety for organising a Summit!
Whilst a lot of positive initiatives are underway there has been no real positive results to show for it with Southwark's rate of fall in violent crime numbers much less than neighbouring boroughs so this motion is self-indulgent and totally misplaced and ill-judged.
The Lib Dems ask for cross-party support and then put this dross on the Agenda hoping we will meekly support well I am afraid it does not work like that!! We will praise actions not words and outcomes and not sound bites!

I am off to Broadstairs for the weekend to see Ian Driver and family and hope to do a bit of babysitting and of course hostelry visiting over the weekend and hope that the weather is not too rough!
The donkeys pictured have retired and a motion was passed by Thanet Council wishing them a long and happy retirement! Well Done Thanet!!

Hibs play Celtic at Parkhead this weekend and maybe a good game after they were soundly beaten by Man U. at Old Trafford... but again maybe not?
Hope Riordinho teaches them a lesson anyway!!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Scrutiny A tonight on Burgess Park, the Executive meets and Hibs and Hearts share the points!

I am Chairing Scrutiny A tonight in the Aylesbury Day Centre and hopefully we can agree the Peckham Rye Park Report and start the larger Burgess Park scrutiny which is focusing more on the future use of the Park rather than the current arrangements.

The Executive meet tonight in the Town Hall to make decisions on the Camberwell Leisure Centre and Town Halls Reports . My views are as stated in my last Blog but the Southwark News takes a more positive line as can be seen from their cartoon. I dont believe or trust the Lib Dem/Tory Executive on either of these issues and am clear that we have a lot of work to do to protect them in the future especially beyond 2010 so we need to get control of the Council to save them long term!
Southwark News did print my letter about Violent Crime which you can read through the link below:,news,12510,5452,00.htm

I watched Hibs vs Hearts on Setanta yesterday and it was a really fantastic game with both sides going full out for a win! (I even have to give credit to Hearts for that!). Even in the 93rd minute they were both going for a win!
Hibs were denied a stonewall penalty when Riordan was brought down which would have given us a winning 2-0 lead but a draw was probably fair!
Riordan and Murray are excellent and must be due a call to the Scotland Squad from the watching George Burley! All in all a good team performance and a really excellent match to watch (apart from the nerves of course!).

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Camberwell Leisure Centre and Southwark Town Hall futures, Death of Len Walker, Fundraising and Hibs take on the Jam Tarts!!

It has been an extremely busy few days for me with T&RA AGM and Meetings, OSC and CCC Meetings not to mention a week of deadlines in the day job!
I attended T@RA meetings at Poets Corner, D'Eynesford and Castlemead in the week and am really pleased to be involved with three very active and engaged tenants groups!
The real tragedy in the week was the very sad death of long time Castlemead T&RA Member and unofficial Estates gardener Len Walker, who died of his injuries on Monday night after being hit by a vehicle on Camberwell Road just in front of the Estate. I had to walk around the cordoned off area to get to the meeting in Monday unaware that Len had been the victim. He will be sadly missed and I intend to nominate him for a posthumous award at next year's Southwark Council Civic Awards.

OSC on Monday discussed the 2 key Camberwell Reports going to Exec next week on the future of the Camberwell Leisure Centre and the future of the Southwark Town Hall.
Despite Lewis Robinson's assurances the tone of the report was lukewarm with apparently all riding on a Government bid for upto £2M pounds from a £50M pot where already 200 local authorities have expressed an interest! If unsuccessful all options are back on the table including closure, an argument that I have thought we had won long time ago! Interesting after being told that the capital "cupboard was bare" the very next item committed to spending more on the three Town Halls than would be required to completely refurbish the Centre and I reminded them that this is a mater of political priorities and these can change! All in all a disappointing report and it brought us back to earth with a bump that the future survival of the Leisure Centre in Camberwell is along way from certain and I still feel that the support from the Lib Dem/Tory Executive (accepting Lewis Robinson's sincerity in it all) is lukewarm to say the least!
The next report on the 3 Town Hall's promised to keep them all, Walworth Town Hall as the new Civic Centre, Southwark Town Hall as the Democratic Centre and Bermondsey Town Hall as cos it's in Bermondsey! Interestingly the only building to have any sort of use review is surprise surprise the Southwark Town Hall so dont be surprised to see it sold off if the Lib Dems and Tories run the council after 2010, I am sure that it will be top of their list, with Camberwell Leisure Centre second top no doubt!
All in all very disappointing with a lot of reading between the lines required and clearly a fight on our hands to retain any of Camberwell's and Southwark's heritage!!!

I just got out of CCC Planning Meeting at the Town Hall last night to get to the tail end of another successful Camberwell & Peckahm CLP Fundraising Night with Alan Johnston MP as the Guest of Honour.
I did miss the dinner and the speeches but just made it to buy some raffle tickts and see Peter and Alison make the draw! Guess what I won a bottle of Champers!"!!

Big match for Hibs at Easter Road on Sunday with Hearts coming to us for the first derby of the season! Dad will be there and I will be watching on Setanta so we are hoping for a good Hibs win! Hibs current form is good with Hearts struggling after a good start (also struggling to pay the players apparently!! Wonder if the Kaunas bank of Lithuania is struggling? If so Hearts very survival may be at risk! Shame!!)
Hibs need to put them to the sword and make it clear who is boss this season! Come on Hibs!
I am also off to see Arsenal versus Spurs in a few weeks with Tsui, never been to a North London Derby so looking for a nice Hibs/Arsenal Win Double (not as if I bet of course!!)

Monday, October 13, 2008

A busy week in the Town Hall and around Camberwell this week , AGM's at the Blue Elephant Theatre and Poets Corner, T&RA's on Brandon, Castlemead and the D'Eynesford and a daytime OSC and a CCC Planning Committee to boot! Sadly I will miss the Camberwell & Peckham Fundraising Dinner with Alan Johnston MP as I will be at the Planning Meeting but hope to join them for a drink and hopefully another succesful fundraising night!
Big decsions on the future of Camberwell Leisure Centre and the Town Hall loom so lots to get on with and tomorrow morning I am running through the draft Scrutiny Report on Peckham Rye Park which I think will be helpful and have some useful things to say about Parks Management in general.
It was another frustrating day at Hampden on Saturday with a 0-0 draw against Norway with poor old Chris Iwelumo who possibly missed the worst "sitter" of all time! It is a real shame because I think that if we had scored we would have won! Not too bad a performance really but our key players like Brown,McFadden and Darren Fletcher looked off key and we cant afford that. Stephen Fletcher looked good when he came on and I think will be a regular feature in the team from now on.
Disappointed that Kris Boyd had withdrawn from playing under Burley as we will miss him, an over reaction on his part but probably no way back judging from Burley's reaction to the news!
Qualification is now only possible as a runner up and we need to pick up points including against Holland at home as only 8 of the runners-up get through to the play offs! A hard task but not impossible!

Friday, October 10, 2008

In Rotherhithe with Kath, no "War of Words" on Violent Crime!, decisions on Camberwell Leisure Centre and the Town Hall and Come on Scotland!!!!

My legs are still aching from campaigning yesterday in the Rotherhithe By-Election and it was really a fantastic day, working hard with dedicated people and a brilliant candidate! Obviously not enough to kick out the tired and dishonest Lib Dems eg. "Local Lib Dems against Gordon Brown's Labour Party!" (they really are a class act are n't they!!)
It was a real honour to work with Kath Whittam and those sort of days really make me proud to be in the Southwark Labour Party!!

This week's Southwark News carried a big piece on violent crime in the borough and declared that there was a "war of words" between the Lib Dem/Tory Administration and the Labour Group! I felt it important to clarify and have submitted this letter for next week:

"Dear Southwark News, I was grateful for your full coverage of the current discussions taking place in the Town Hall regarding the scourge of violent crime in Southwark.
Whilst most of your report was spot on I would like to make it cleat that there really is no “war of words” between the political parties of the key objective of reducing the levels and fear of violent crime.
I have always had a good working relationship with the previous and current Executive Member for Community Safety and have the upmost confidence in Jonathon Toy, Head of Community Safety and the Metropolitan Police, from Malcolm Tillyer, Victor Olisa
through to the excellent Safer Neighbourhood Teams. In fact, as Paul Kyriacou said last week, there are many examples of good practice in Southwark that are being looked at across London and nationally!
The concern that I and my Labour Group colleagues have had since this present Lib Dem/Tory Administration cam
e to power is the apparent lack of any strategic approach to tackling violent crime and we asked for such an approach to be considered no fewer that four time sat Council Assembly without success. It is right that we point this out as we fear that two years potential progress has been lost!
I was very happy to meet Paul recently when he told me of a proposed
Violent Crime Summit with our other partner boroughs and I was pleased to commit to cross-party support on this and on moving this forward more strategically by targeting some key priorities which will hopefully arise from the Summit. Coincidentally the recent Southwark Labour Group Conference workshop that I Chaired suggested something very similar and when I was Cabinet Member for Community Safety in the past we did hold such a Summit ahead of producing our Community Safety Strategy so we are all thinking along very similar lines!
I am hopeful that from this we can use the extra Government money, £700K, to further develop the good practice that we already have and invest in new ways learned from our partner boroughs.

Paul is right when he says that this is a matter too important for party politics to get in the way but of course Community Safety is “political” priority for most residents of the borough and we need to shop joined up coherent working across all agencies to tackle it head on

If we can get this out of the Summit and subsequent strategy then we will be extremely happy to work cooperatively and cross-party in the future. That does not mean to say that we will not disagree at times but we will be clear to ensure that any differences that we have in no way compromise the Council and the Police’s ability to deal with and significantly reduce violent crime in our communities as this is an objective that all political parties share!

Councillor John J. Friary Labour Group Spokesperson for Community Safety
The upcoming Executive on the 20th October will have a couple of Camberwell relevant decisons on the redevelopment of the Camberwell Leisure Centre and the Town Hall.
I am hopefully that they will decide to go with a redevelopment plan which keeps a pool at the heart of it and that the Town Hall will be kept as the Civic Centre for Southwark!
Scotland take on Norway at Hampden on Saturday in a "must win" game! With a long beak til the next games we need to get the home 3 points or else we cn probably kiss the World Cup 2010 goodbye!! COME ON SCOTLAND!!!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

By-Election looms, a Violent Crime Strategy, City Hall visit and Hibs win again!

On the wider politician front Peter "Mandy" Mandelson is back and clearly the Press love it as the man they love to hate is back in the front line.
I was surprised by the decision but peter is a good organiser and motivator and will be very helpful to Gordon Brown and to the Labour Government is keeping us on track up to the next Election.
Talking about Elections we have the Rotherhithe By-Election on Thursday and I will be up there on the day. I hope that loyal Simon Hughes voters there will think twice now that the Lib Dems and Tories have been become an indistinguishable lump both at local and now national levels and think about the consequences of having the Tories running the Town Hall, City Hall and No. 10! A truly frightening thought for anyone!! Kath Whittam is a great candidate and would be a great Councillor representing Rotherhithe so good luck to her!
I met Lib Dem Exec Member for Community Safety, Paul Kyriacou on Wednesday at his request to talk about a cross party approach to violent crime. I have a lot of time for Paul and he suggested a Summit before Christmas to come up with some clear objectives. Strangely enough we came up with the same idea at our Southwark Labour Party Conference last month where I Chaired a workshop on Community Safety. I have to say I was a bit surprised when he suggested that this would lead to the development of a violent Crime Strategy for Southwark, something we have repeatedly called for at Council Assembly(4 times!) and which has been rejected by the Lib Dems and Tories!
We will of course support a cross party position on violent crime as it is too important or party politics to get in the way off but I think can justifying point out that this should have started 2 years ago as we suggested!
Some recent good news on the Community Safety front with 55 new Police Officers for the Borough and £700K extra money given to Southwark from the Government. If we can work cross party on this then hopefully we can ensure that these extra resources are used to their best effect!
Some good news on the Camberwell regeneration front with money from English Heritage being agreed over the next 3 years with match funding (could mean £200K each year!) to improve the shop frontages and the overall appearance of the Town centre. Also significant money from TfL to spend in the Town Centre and a £400K bid to the Mayor of London to improve Camberwell Green. If this all comes through we could make significant improvements in Camberwell over the next 3 years, this alongside the potential redevelopment of Camberwell Leisure Centre, further development plans for Butterfly Walk and the Community Council's continuing CGS Projects there is a lot to be positive about. It also comes during a major Scrutiny looking at Camberwell Regeneration so I feel very positive about the future of Camberwell and that all of our efforts over the past 15 years may be starting to pay off!
On Thursday Val Shawcross hosted a Camberwell Community event in City Hall which was extremely successful and we must make it a regular event! I even spotted Boris on his bike leaving City Hall at 7.30pm! I was impressed that he was working late but he had just "sacked" Sir Ian Blair so probably had quiet a busy day! It was a crass politically motivated decision and is a clear indication of what we can expect from Boris and his "Tory Boy" gang who are now terrorising everyone at City Hall!!
Great result for Hibs yesterday with Derek "Riordinho" Riordan scoring twice to beat Aberdeen 1-2 at Pittodrie! He is still not fully match fit but really showing his quality and he may be the best Hibs buy for some years! It was also a brilliant performance from Yves Ma-Kalamby who made 4 outstanding saves to keep us in the match so things are picking up at Easter Road and we are now up to 4th place in the SLP! Next Week it is Scotland against Norway at Hampden in a vital World Cup Qualifier, we need a win!
Finally I am up in Edinburgh and mum is recovering well after getting out of Hospital on Wednesday. Many thanks for the best wishes and I will be back in harness on Wednesday!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Time on the Wyndham and Comber Estate, Freshers Fair and Hibs lose to Rangers

I spent a fair bit of time on the Wyndham and Comber Estate in the Ward this week. Starting with a Fun Day on Saturday to open the new Basketball court and to consult on the CGS Project to change the frontage of the Tenants Hall.
On the Monday I went on an early morning Estate Walkabout with Harriet on the Estate and afterwards met local residents to discuss their concerns locally and nationally!
Last night I attended the Wyndham and Comber T&RA AGM so they cant say that they only see me at election time!!!

This model of an Estate walkabout with a meeting afterwards is a really positive initiative that we plan to repeat across all of the Estates in Camberwell Green hopefully with Harriet as she is a very positive asset for us!

Good news on the home front with mum likely to get out of hospital on Friday so I shall be going up for the weekend to help dad out when she gets home. I am relieved that she is geting better!

The New Academic Year at London Met is underway and I was manning the Freshers Fair Stand as usual this week at City with the second one tomorrow at North.
I really enjoy meeting the new students although a bit tiring on the knees after being on my feet all day!
Hibs lost 0-3 to a very good Rangers team at home on Saturday and I watched it on Setanta. The score flattered Rangers and Hibs midfield and attack played well for most of the game but our defence still looks vulnerable and at times we looked very slow and flat!! Still not a bad performance but we play Celtic next!