Archive for April, 2010

Nick Clegg in Lewisham this Monday

April 30, 2010

This Monday 3rd May – 10 am – Montpelier Vale, Blackheath, Lewisham, SE3 0TJ.

Come and meet Nick Clegg with the Lewisham Lib Dems.


Fantasy school places found!

April 28, 2010

The primary school places shortage is starting to hit.

From the News Shopper:

by Kelly Smale
A COUNCIL is doubling the amount of reception children at a school despite it not having room for them.

Brindishe Community School, in Wantage Road, Lee, is being forced to take on 60 reception children in September rather than the usual 30.

Lewisham Council sent letters to parents offering places at the school even though the headteacher told the council it would not be possible to find room for them.

Read the rest of the article.

The article also mentions that the Council has “created” 510 such extra places, that’s 33 short of the extra need identified in February, a number that Council officers assumed was going to increase due to late submissions.

This Labour administration has failed to plan for the increase in numbers of primary school places. There was advance warning, there was an economic upturn, there were vacant sites that were potential opportunities for new schools.

Lewisham Labour wasted all these opportunities and now is inventing school places out of thin air.

Ruddock’s war update – lambasted and exposed

April 28, 2010

In the US, we call this “Kabuki”. Vote for the meaningless amendment or bill that you know won’t pass in order to build a record so that you can claim that you voted against the war, for single payer health care, against FISA, whatever, and then go south when the vote that really matters comes up.

The LibDems have this one 100% right, and, apparently, the voters in the UK are beginning to understand Kabuki as well as those of us here in the states.

This above is one of the 60 comments left under Joan Ruddock’s article in Sunday’s Guardian Cif written in response to mine of Friday, they’re well worth a read (link).
Poor Joan, she really shot herself in the foot with a big gun.

And yesterday the issue was taken up by the South London Press that on page 3 featured this article.

Rattled Ruddock replies in the Guardian

April 25, 2010

In the thick of it!

“it is standard parliamentary practice to abstain when negotiating in private with your own leadership in an attempt to get them to change their minds.”

Quite a difference from what she wrote in her letter to Lewisham Central residents only a month ago:

“I have always acted with integrity and stuck to my principles – voting against the government going to war in Iraq.”

Read more.

Ruddock’s dodgy claim exposed in the Guardian CiF

April 23, 2010

I finally have some time today to write a blogpost, it’s been a truly intensive and eventful day, a non-stop that started bright and early with leafleting to commuters outside Hither Green Station, followed by work, followed by a gruelling session of hand-delivering of letters to postal voters up and down the ward.

This afternoon, as I touched home to pick up letters, I discovered that my post for Comment is Free was finally up there.
Oh emotions! Finally! Finally I managed to say this story the way it deserves to be told.
I am truly thankful to the Guardian for allowing me to say it from that platform.
Because I believe that Joan Ruddock did a true enormity by claiming that she voted “against the Government going to war in Iraq” when she didn’t take part to that vote at all.

I’m actually even inclined to believe that she broke the parliamentary code of conduct that on this is quite clear on what’s expected:

Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.

This story doesn’t end here.

Click here to read my piece on Comment is Free.

Ferocious at hustings

April 22, 2010

Many thanks to LVIG for organizing yesterday’s hustings meeting, it was very well attended and the questions raised from the floor were excellent, I was very glad to be there representing the Lib Dems and explain what our plans for the future of Lewisham are.

I found myself surprisingly ferocious against the Lewisham Labour administration, but surely people could appreciate that there is some real distance between us and them and we’re not “all the same” at all.

A great day for campaigning

April 19, 2010

Good morning!
Another wonderful day without the noise of air traffic above our heads has just started.

I think that now that we savoured what life is without that constant noise we’ll be more careful before agreeing to more planes to fly above us next time new routes are proposed.
I find that quality of life has improved, in fact, as you may gather by the tone of my writing, I’m in a very good mood today.

I’m also of such mood because I’m enjoying canvassing, especially when the Lib Dems are so much on the up and people responds so well to our knocking on their doors. And this is quite visible in the amount of window posters and stakeboards that are going up in the ward.
Do you support us? Do you want a window poster or a garden stakeboard delivered to you? Just email me.

And if you want to help with leaflets and canvassing then join us, this week we are meeting every day from Monday to Friday outside the Kids Corner (corner between George Lane and Hither Green Lane). The appointment is for 6pm on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. It’s instead for 5pm on Thursday.

It’s time for the final push to move Labour out and help in a new Lib Dem administration for Lewisham.
With your help it can be done.

Secretive and authoritarian

April 18, 2010

The excellent website Liberal Democrat Voice has selected 10 key Parliamentary votes to help the public understand how liberal or authoritarian your MP has been during the last Parliament.

Now, if you enter Joan Ruddock MP you’ll find that she’s “only” 90% authoritarian, and this because despite backing government on each and every authoritarian proposal from ID cards to trial without jury, in 2007 she was absent on the vote to exempt Parliament from the Freedom of Information Act.

Only that despite missing the vote she’s on record as a ringleader of that proposal.

The bill was indeed approved at the Commons but failed at the House of Lords, if it hadn’t one of the things we wouldn’t have known anything about would have been our MPs expenses.

So, despite missing the vote we cannot at all say that she didn’t support it, because she did. Her 90% authoritarian score on the Lib Dem Voice Rank is only an appearance, she’s 100%.

Ladywell Hustings – Wednesday 21st April

April 15, 2010

The Ladywell Village Improvement Group (LVIG) is hosting a hustings for Council hopefuls, and since part of Ladywell falls within the borders of Lewisham Central there I will be.

The meeting takes place at 7.30pm on Wednesday 21 April at the St.Mary’s Centre on Ladywell Road, SE13 (also within Lewisham Central borders).

People are invited to submit questions in advance by emailing by midday of Tuesday 20th April.
At that point the submitted questions will be forwarded to the candidates so that they can prepare answers.

This electoral debate will follow a strict format with 5 minutes for each party to make a presentation speech and 2 minutes to answer to each of the questions, please note that the organizers want to focus on Ladywell and the Borough, not on national politics.
To make sure that your question is put forward please be also present at the meeting to read it aloud, submitting it in advance but missing the meeting may end up with the question being relegated down the agenda and possibly not being asked.
The event closes at 9pm and adjourns at the award winning Ladywell Tavern for further discussions.

For those more interested in national politics the Deptford Dame has also details of a parliamentary hustings for Lewisham Deptford taking place this Saturday April 17, 5pm, at the Utrophia Arts Project at Tanners Hill, SE8 4QD (entrance opposite the Royal George pub).
Our Lib Dem candidate Tam Langley will be there to impress you.


April 13, 2010

The letters in the South London Press are getting increasingly interesting, I’m preparing to some kind of response to my one that was published in the paper version of the SLP last Friday.

Complacency led to schools crisis

LEWISHAM Mayor Steve Bullock came to power promising a new secondary school for the north of the borough.

Eight years have passed and this mayor has not only been unable to deliver on that promise, he also created an even worse gap at primary school level for the whole of the borough!

The news that this year there are 543 more applications for reception at Lewisham’s primary schools than available places is just shocking (“‘Crisis’ after applications for reception places soar”, South London Press, March 26).

All of our primaries will be overcrowded and hundreds of children will have to be crammed into portable buildings, music rooms and who knows what other unsuitable venue.

This was avoidable. The number of children in a borough varies over the years but we always know exactly how many are born in each year and can therefore make a fairly accurate ballpark estimate of the needs five years ahead.

Warnings about sharp increases in numbers had indeed been issued and decisive action was therefore required.

Reading the council’s schools strategy papers, one can find no trace of any meaningful effort to try to provide enough school places for those numbers of children.

That’s why we are where we are.


As a community campaigner who has been long aware of the shortcomings of this administration I am not surprised, but as a father of a child about to start school in Lewisham I feel a special kind of anger at this news.

Max Calò

Lewisham Central candidate

Liberal Democrats

Joan Ruddock’s War

April 6, 2010

I’ve been forwarded this letter that Joan Ruddock MP has sent to a selection of Lewisham Central residents.

I read it and gulped, again, the claim that Joan Ruddock voted “against” the war, only in a much clearer and unequivocal phrasing.

“I have always acted with integrity and stuck to my principles – voting against the government going to war in Iraq.”

Now, let’s be clear, Joan Ruddock is on record as absent on the crucial occasion of the Government’s motion to authorize the use of force against Iraq. That’s a fact.

(Click here for her record on the vote for the use of force)

She was also absent for every other vote on the main motions about Iraq.

What she did vote for were proposals to amend those motions on Iraq by inserting clauses saying that the case for war was yet unproven, but those attempts were always defeated, and following those failed votes for amendments the main motions went to vote, and on each and every occasion about Iraq she was absent.

(Click here for her voting record on Iraq)

So, I don’t think she’s being straight at all by saying that she voted against the government going to war in Iraq. She didn’t do  a Robin Cook or even a Diane Abbott, at the crucial moment she wasn’t in the room.

Something that voters should know, and that can potentially affect her chances for the forthcoming elections since it’s not just an embarrassing statement but also a great way to remind people of the clear position that Lib Dems took against the Iraq war.

She’s the incumbent with a large majority, but the debate is just starting. Lib Dems were the second party in Lewisham Deptford in 2005 and with the redrawing of the constituency boundary to include Lewisham Central ward (where Lib Dems are the first party) our chances have increased.

A Countdown Bus Stop for Hither Green

April 5, 2010

Transport for London (TfL) is currently consulting on the location for 2500 new countdown displays for bus stops to be rolled out across London next year.
The map of the locations for Lewisham has been published, unfortunately not one of these displays has been allocated to Hither Green Lane (click on map to enlarge).

We Lewisham Central Liberal Democrats think that there is a strong case for one of these displays to be placed on Hither Green Lane, we also think that we fit well one of the criteria chosen by TfL for eligibility, that of interchange value, especially when including walking as an alternative, a mode of transport that’s often only praised but not actually promoted through transport strategies.

In fact many waits for the bus on Hither Green Lane are either made to go to Lewisham Station for the DLR or to Lewisham Market, both places that are in reach by walk and a decision to walk could often be made if the time for the wait was known.
What instead currently happens is that people dithers in indecision indefinitely, until, often much later, the bus arrives, and many times when it does it’s overcrowded.

We also have a train station, which obviously increases the interchange value even further, as many people do take a bus after the train and this means that a countdown display would be of value also to people living beyond the immediate vicinity of the bus stop.

In both these cases a known wait would often result in reduced overcrowding on buses and an increase in pedestrian journeys, both very positive results from the point of view of transport planning, and it’s with this argument that we ask for a countdown display for Hither Green. Our proposed locations are Hither Green Lane and Springbank Road.

TfL is consulting with Councils, not individuals (click here for the consultation documents pack), but we decided that we will make a representation anyway and we also found a powerful advocate in Caroline Pidgeon AM, who is the Chair of the Transport Committee at the Greater London Assembly and will support our case.

Please add your name to our petition, and if your personal experience is one where a countdown display would clearly be of benefit then please tell us about it in the comment box so we can submit it as a sample case.

Train strike timetable for Southeastern services

April 1, 2010

The national Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) have announced strike action for four days, from Tuesday 6 to Friday 9 April.

This means that Network Rail signallers and maintenance union members will not be working during this period. This will have a significant affect on the services Southeastern are able to run.

Click here to read the revised timetable.

I asked Cllr Andrew Milton to enquire with Southeastern about the length of the 2 trains per hour that will pass through Lewisham and Hither Green Station during the strike period, and here’s the reply he received from Southeastern:

As you know the strike is the result of industrial action by signal workers belonging to the RMT union employed by Network Rail. The revised timetable is based on Network Rail’s estimate of the number of non-union members and trained managers able available to work on strike days. Trains will be of maximum length in accordance with the infrastructure available.

We are very sorry for the obvious inconvenience that will be suffered by our passengers and hope that a resolution can be reached. At the time of writing I understand that Network Rail has gone to court in a bid to have the strike declared unlawful on the grounds that they there may have been discrepancies in how the ballot was conducted.

Update #2 – Breaking News: The strike is called off.

What’s cooking?

April 1, 2010

Totally unannounced Jon Jacob walked in, he was holding a camera.
Why are you doing this?
He kept asking, over and over again.
I was evasive.

Read more on Thoroughly Good.