Posts Tagged ‘social ills’

Labour keeps democracy out of Council

November 27, 2009

I sat through the whole of last Full Council meeting last Wednesday and frankly, it was one of the worst meetings I ever saw. Due to the absence of a couple of opposition Councillors Labour had the majority and used it to vote to re-write the order of business, so that the first motion to be discussed was a sickeningly Stalinist Labour motion praising the Mayor for his balanced decisions!

I am not joking, they forced the Council to discuss this spectacularly ludicrous matter, end even worse, made sure to occupy all the time left available in the meeting with the discussion on this motion, so that when 10 pm came there wasn’t any time left to discuss anything else. A vote was asked to extend the meeting so that the rest of the Agenda could be discussed, all Labour Councillors voted against.

One of the points that were so effectively barred from discussion, and far more serious than what was discussed, was the motion proposed by Libdem Councillor Chris Maines and seconded by Cllr Brian Robson (read his excellent post on the subject here) about one of the matters where Lewisham Labour has an abysmal record, housing, obviously the motion was not allowed to be discussed.
Thank you Labour, this week you reminded me why I’m running for the Libdems.

Sock puppetting wave hits Lewisham

November 11, 2009

A few days ago it was Darryl’s turn, yesterday it was my turn, only that this one is actually a bit worse.

The unadorned truth is that besides those that do it for the good reasons local politics is also the playground of a lot of big morons.

Sock-Puppet-1

Sock-Puppet-2

The last two commenters on this blog may have looked to the untrained eye just a strange mixture of naivity and odd information and misinformation but to me they looked more than that, and when I looked at the IP address and discovered they were coming from the same address, 62.49.122.51 I thought that it was really a bit too much of a coincidence. An IP lookup showed to be the registered IP of Free Word Centre, a conference and meeting centre with Cafe and wireless connection in Farringdon.

I can’t know who this person was exactly but I have a justified suspicion about where this is coming from, I may be wrong but what a coincidence, just last Saturday a Labour activist told me:

“You won’t attack us personally, won’t you… we could say that Edgerton voted for the conversion of the Kids Korner into flats… but we rather not.”

As explained in these comments here.

So, Cllr Edgerton is on record as member of the committe that 2 years ago unanimously agreed to convert the Kids Korner into flats with a shop on the front (conversion that never happened because probably would not make much money), this after 2 unsuccessful planning applications were scaled down, the final application didn’t have much ground for rejection and following officers’ advice the committee voted in favour of conversion within the existing walls, after all it was a request for a change of use for a private property within planning policies and guidelines and back then there wasn’t anyone else around trying to rescue the building, so one could say why not?.

This is the planning application the trolling moron was talking about and my fellow Libdem Cllr Edgerton is the only committee member mentioned in the officers’ report because he declared an interest as a Councillor for the area.

Now someone in the Labour Party thought that this was a big deal and that it was worth mentioning it to me so that I keep quiet. The smoking gun!

Look how quiet I kept! Now choke on your peace pipe.

Armed police deployed without senior order

October 23, 2009

One of the things that I always loved about this country is that the police don’t carry guns. It defuses tension and avoids unnecessary danger and escalations. But now someone thinks differently. Or do they? Because alarmingly it looks like armed police has been ordered out but no senior officer or political counterpart was involved in the decision.

As today’s Times tells us :

You’d think that a decision as important as putting armed police patrols into gun crime hotspots in London might have been discussed between the top brass at the Yard and the tiller-handlers at City Hall.

But when we contacted Bojo’s office for a comment on the deployment yesterday neither the Mayor nor his staff had heard a word about it. Kit Malthouse, deputy mayor for policing, was away but it wasn’t a case that he had forgot to tell the Mayor – no-one had bothered to mention it to him either.

Meanwhile there was flat-spin pandemonium at Scotland Yard as the story emerged in Police Review and a hasty response had to be put together. Of course, we thought, this is Sir Paul Stephenson making a major operational decision without talking to the Mayor and therefore putting on a display of police independence.

Er no. SPS (as he is apparently known at the Yard) wasn’t around and neither was Tim Godwin, the Deputy Commissioner.

So if Boris and Kit haven’t got their hands on the tiller, and neither the Commissioner nor his deputy are steering the ship – just who is making these decisions?

I tend to agree with Brian Paddick that in an interview with the Today Programme makes the very sensible point that where these armed patrols are deployed police officers are more at risk because criminals won’t know if a policeman is carrying a gun or doesn’t and since most of the police around are community support officers these would be exposed to great risks, and they are neither trained for that or paid enough.

Listen to Brian Paddick here.

Today armed patrols have been deployed in various parts or London and this measure doesn’t look part of a strategy that’s been thought through well enough. Tomorrow we could have the same armed patrols around the streets of Lewisham and if Paddick’s fears were justified it could put us all in more danger rather than less.

Remember what Bob Marley used to sing?

I shot the sheriff,
but I didn’t shoot no deputy , oh no, no!
I shot the sheriff,
but I didn’t shoot no deputy , oh no, no!

Reflexes had got the better of me
And what is to be must be…

As Dave Hill reports:

Claudia Webbe, chair of the Operation Trident Advisory Group has released a letter she’s written to the Met in which she expresses her “deepest shock and horror” at the decision without consultation or notification. The letter continues:


The failure of the MPS to consult and the instigation of this deployment of armed patrols in targeted areas of London damages the trust and confidence developed over a significant period of time and the investment that we have made to develop an intelligence based, community led policing response to tackle the disproportionate effects of gun crime on Black communities.

We distance ourselves from this decision and cannot support this action by the MPS. It is unjust, unwarranted and unfair and like the random use of ‘stop and search’ will seriously damage relationships between the police and black communities.

Furthermore, this knee-jerk reaction by the MPS does not appear to be based on any common sense approach to policing and/or intelligence and works against the whole notion of “policing by consent” and will only serve to further distance communities from the police.

In the previous post I reported how our Safer Neighbourhood Team is understaffed and likely to remain so and quite possibly we’re not an exception. Looks like the much trumpeted project of substantial community based policing in London has only been implemented half way and now guns will be used to deal with the consequences.

The crime statistics for Lewisham Central are sobering, we have a well above average share of crime and today’s news should alarm us. We don’t have enough community based police to make that policing as effective as it was supposed to be and when situations deteriorate the only answer appears to be that of deploying heavily armed police on our streets without even explaining how that would make things better.
That’s not what I want for my neighbourhood, I don’t want to walk past checkpoints of armed police. This is an option that must be rejected, we need more investment for recruitment of community officers so that crime is detected early and dealt with before it goes out of hand.

We must stop dogfighting (with poll!)

October 21, 2009

dogfight
I read in the South London Press that my friend Peter Richardson is raising the issue of dogfights in parks, this time in his neck of the wood, Manor Park. Well done Peter, we must tackle this scourge and keep on raising the issue again until something serious is done about it.

A few months ago I drew this little cartoon for the Libdem newsletter Focus as a commentary to an article about the growing population of aggressive and dangerous dogs and the effect that they have on our environment. This is a serious matter that affects everybody and the result of one of the most stupid fashions ever to appear on our streets. Dangerous dogs hardly under control intimidate people and diminish the enjoyment of public spaces, especially parks, and the dogfights that are organized at night in our parks are a cruel and primitive form of entertainment that must be stopped.

But I fear that there’s little room for reasoning with the owners of these dogs, these are idiots of the lowest form and quite possibly until licensing is introduced it will be difficult to eradicate this shameful practice.
If that was in place unsuitable owners could be detected and prevented from owning dogs unless authorities were satisfied that they were fit for ownership and the dogs were appropriately looked after. I know it’s an unnecessary inconvenient for the overwhelming majority of dog owners that are indeed responsible but the problem is real and is big and there’s nothing in place to stop it.

A few months ago I met with the Council officer that deals with dogs to report how the rubber seats of the swings of the playground in the local park had all been chewed up out of shape. What I heard from him is that the current toolkit to deal with this matter is inadequate and that the problem is much bigger than what we normally think.
He told me of a figure of 15 dogs a week rescued in Lewisham alone, puppies abandoned because although bred for aggressiveness didn’t come out as aggressive as they were supposed to be and are therefore abandoned.

So, let me run the first poll of this blog. What do you think? Should we introduce licensing for dog ownership?

Savings and pressures

October 21, 2009

There’s a big item discussed at Overview and Scrutiny committee tonight, it’s about over £4 of savings in the Council’s budget and some arising extra expenditures not considered at the time of the last budget.
In the Pressures document one item struck me:

Homeless Accommodation 16/17 year olds (Budget Pressure Risk of £800k)
5.2.4

The consequence of the Southwark judgement and how it should be applied is still being assessed. However, 16/17 year olds in Homeless Accommodation will have to be reassessed under the looked after children criteria. There are about 50 of these children. At this stage it is difficult to identify how many of this group will fall under Looked after Children and become the financial responsibility of children’s social care rather than housing. With one case costing around £50k the impact could be considerable and be as much as a £1m. A number of London Boroughs are indicating the costs will be between £800k and £1m. Some of the costs of the judgement are currently being borne by the Customer Services Directorate. The figure above reflects that the judgement requires care expenditure to be undertaken that was previously not required and there will be a net pressure on the Council’s overall budget.

Reading this made me want to understand what this Southwark Judgement is and here it is.
It’s a landmark judgement about a 17 year old who Southwark Council assisted with housing support but nothing else. As the Community Care website summarizes:

The ruling could mean that many more homeless 16 and 17-year-olds receive social care support, and not just accommodation, from councils, and a number of 18- to 21-year-olds become entitled to leaving care support.

Some fundamental questions about the level of support that a lot of young people in need receive arise.
The young person at the centre of this ruling was evicted by his mother at 17, a gigantic personal tragedy, as such he was in need of care, not old enough and lacking the stability that would allow him to make considered choices about his life. Obviously in great need of comprehensive support to surrogate his non existent family. Only that he didn’t find support other than housing. Important as it is in cases like this it’s surely not enough.
I think that savings on these kind of care are false economies, only if the person in question becomes a successful adult then social care costs will cease, but a lack of support at this stage is quite likely to inflict a damage to those chances of success.

In the post before this I mentioned the homeless hostel, its guests are a very visible component of this neck of the wood and on a daily basis the thought “what happened to you that made you like this” comes to my mind. For some of them part of the answer may be found in the Southwark Judgement and the document on discussion at tomorrow’s O&S tells us that probably in the past few years in Lewisham alone there always were about 50 young people in big need that were not supported enough.

Objection to 24 hour off-license application

October 20, 2009

I just sent this objection to an application for a 24 hours off-licence, you can also write in objection to licensing@lewisham.gov.uk.


Dear officer,

I here write in objection to the request of a 24 hour license to sell alcoholic beverages for the supermarket at 258-260 Hither Green Lane.
The area is home to St Mungo, a very large hostel for the homeless and such an establishment would have a very disruptive effect on all the work done by those residents of the hostel that are trying to overcome their addiction and improve their lives.
I therefore ask you to reject this request for license.

Kind Regards

Many thanks to Joanne Hall for raising the issue.