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!!!