Archive for May, 2010

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May 8, 2010

It’s the day after elections, and despite the fact that my wife and daughter came out as the biggest winners it’s no time to rest. In all frankness I hate elections and I’m glad it’s finished, we can go back to think about real issues.

As I already wrote Lewisham Council is tendering a major contract for the running of most of our leisure centres. I write it here again to avoid it being buried under the electoral posts.

Because this is really important, it’s an opportunity that comes round only every few years, we must set up our local social enterprise to run the centres, just like other boroughs did. Local talents working for the local community and re-investing all receipts in our community assets.

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Not elected

May 8, 2010

A very bad night for my political side and I believe for Lewisham politics in general too.

Thankfully I have a full life besides politics and plenty of things to keep me occupied, even too many.

I have no regrets, I remained myself throughout the election. People showed support and went out to vote for me, thanks to you all.

Unfortunately with the general elections on the same day many more people came out and voted for Labour, that’s Lewisham Central.

Labour is back in full control with over 40 Councillors, Lib Dems fortunately retained 12 out of 17  Councillors. The Greens were nearly wiped out, they lost five and go back to Darren Johnson alone. The Socialists of Telegraph Hill were instead completely wiped out and as I left they were recounting the votes of Grove Park, where one Tory may have won, but maybe not.

The wait, the signs

May 7, 2010

The general election results for Lewisham are in and there are no great surprises there.

Let’s start with some heart-felt congratulations to Heidi Alexander for winning in Lewisham East. Commiserations to our candidate Pete Pattison that did put up a great fight and would have made an excellent MP as well. The residents of Lewisham East were really spoilt for choice between two strong candidates of great quality.

The numbers are of great comfort and a great hope for the Council’s count that will start later today. In Lewisham East the swing was 6.4% from Labour to the Liberal Democrats.

But Lewisham Central is not anymore part of that constituency, we’re now in Lewisham Deptford and our MP is Joan Ruddock, re-elected with a smaller but still sizable majority.

Still, even here in Lewisham Deptford the vote swings 3.6% from Labour to Lib Dems.

Well done to Tam Langley for her sharp campaigning and this result, that given the national squeeze of Lib Dem vote crushed between the Labour and Tories tribes, and given the limited number of target wards within the constituency, is truly remarkable.

In Lewisham East Jim Dowd MP is also re-elected, again with a swing of the vote towards us Lib Dems, here this is 3.1%.

What does this mean for the Council and Mayoral result? That it’ll be very tight.

The count starts later on today and the full results will only be known later on tonight.

Thanks to all those that voted for us and those heroic volunteers that helped us fight this campaign, we truly worked you out, keep your fingers crossed.

Vote Lib Dem today!

May 6, 2010

It’s polling day, and in Lewisham Central there is an excellent Lib Dem team to vote.

Max Calò (me), Ingrid Chetram & Dave Edgerton.

For Parliament vote Tam Langley for Lewisham Deptford.

For mayor vote for Chris Maines, the real opportunity to change Lewisham for the better.

I’ll be out knocking on doors all day, I may see you at some point today.

Last minute hustings

May 5, 2010

Haven’t yet made up your mind about how to vote?

Come tonight Wednesday 5th May at Lewisham Bridge Primary School, Elmira Street, SE13 for the hustings organized by Action for Lewisham.

The event starts at 5:30pm and ends at 7pm.

Confirmed participants are:

– Richard Proctor (Lewisham People Before Profit)
– Paul Oakley (Conservatives)
– Ute Michel (Greens)
– Max Calò (Liberal Democrats)

Lewisham Leisure mega-contract needs fresh re-thinking

May 5, 2010

Two contracts with leisure operators to run almost all the leisure centres of the borough are to expire soon and Lewisham Council is now advertising a major long term contract to run them all on a long term basis.

The London Borough of Lewisham is seeking a partner to enter into a contract to manage, operate and maintain a number of existing leisure facilities (“the existing facilities”) together with 2 possible new facilities (“the proposed facilities”). The existing facilities comprise of the following leisure facilities : The BridgeLeisure Centre and Indoor Bowls Hall (Kangley Bridge Road, Lower Sydenham, London SE26 5AQ, UNITED KINGDOM); Ladywell Leisure Centre (261 Lewisham High Street, London SE13 6NJ, UNITED KINGDOM); Wavelengths Leisure Centre (Giffin Street, Deptford, London SE8 4RJ, UNITED KINGDOM). The proposed facilities are Forest Hill Pools (Dartmouth Road, Forest Hill, London SE23 3HZ, UNITED KINGDOM) designed to replace the formerForest Hill Pools on the same site, and a new leisure facility development at Loampit Vale designed to replace the existing Ladywell Leisure Centre.

The Council proposes to award a 10-15 year contract in relation to managing, operating and maintaining the Existing Facilities with options (exercisable by the Council during this term) to require the partner to manage, operate and maintain the Proposed Facilities (such additional requirements to be performed within the 10-15 year term). It is estimated that the services in respect of the Proposed Facilities (if the option is exercised) will commence in the second year of the 10-15 year term.

Having watched closely how the leisure centres work in Lewisham I can surely say that there is a need of a serious re-thinking before committing to something like this.

The way this works now is a complete muddle, with results like the legionella bacteria crisis, when following discovery of the bacteria in the showers at Ladywell these were shut down by the contractor following an order from the Council (but allegedly without the knowledge of the Cabinet Member for Community). The result of this decision was that people couldn’t shower before swimming and therefore the water of the pool was becoming infested with other equally harmful bacteria.

The root cause was of course neglect, and at the root of that lack of funding for repair and maintenance.

This is a unique opportunity to re-organize these services so that they are maintained to the level they should be. It is also an opportunity to involve the local sport talents and clubs and develop a long term plan of sport development for the borough to make use the current local infrastructure to its full potential.

The first question to ask ourselves is how can we use these facilities at their best, and then look for the best way to run the centres to serve that plan.

Maybe Lewisham can set up its own social enterprise, 4 centres are already an economy of scale, that’s how Greenich Leisure started, they now run 70 leisure centres. Why provide profits for shareholders when we could be reinvesting in our community assets?

Because as the tender tells us there are money to reinvest, almost £2m per year:

Historic third party income levels in operating the existing facilities has been in the region of 1 940 000 GBP per annum (excluding VAT and the Council’s management fee). It is projected that income may not meet expenditure to manage, operate and maintain the facilities, thus, the contract awarded may involve a level of management fee payable by the Council. Further financial details will be provided in the tender pack and other procurement documents.

It can also be the way to keep services going and dodge those cuts that no doubt will soon hit our budgets.

Clegg boost to Lewisham Lib Dems campaign

May 4, 2010

Possibly the greatest Liberal gathering in Blackheath since Gladstone, yesterday’s visit of Nick Clegg was a very busy affair. Despite a miserable looking weather the people of Lewisham came out for Clegg, eventually outnumbering the members of the press of a factor of 4 to 1.

But instead of writing a full report I’ll just link to more impartial commentators that wrote about it soon after the event, when I was back on the road, knocking on doors.

The Blackheath Bugle explains why Clegg was in Lewisham, Dave Hill spoke with the man himself.

For posterity. The moment Nick Clegg comes face to face with the Lewisham Central Lib Dems. Councillor Dave Edgerton shakes hands with Clegg, Ingrid Chetram feels the energy, I took the photo.