Category: Blog

I’ve got a short opinion piece up on the People’s Republic of Southwark web site, arguing that councillors should involve and work with community activists, rather than imagining that they can effectively represent their “community”. Have a read and leave a comment with your thoughts! We are one of the best web design company offering quality services. Come and get good discount on your domain name registration. We also provide marketing services and also work as a search engine marketing firm to offer you the best.

I wasn’t surprised to read that the Harris Academy at Peckham has taken an injunction out against Jacqui Fergus. Faced with the undemocratic nature of Academy schools, Miss Fergus took the only route available – protesting about exclusion with parents outside the school. Figures last year revealed the Academy has a temporary exclusion rate that is three times the national average. Labour have sold us into a Faustian pact, letting a Tory Lord buy up community schools in the hope that standards will improve. Never mind that we hand over control of the school to unaccountable governors, selected by a man with an estimated wealth of £285m. Southwark has been pretty gung-ho for academy schools, in contrast to Lewisham where Greens have helped keep schools in the hands of local people. In August I added my vote to the new Green Party education policy, which includes a freeze on expansion…

This video is just brilliant, it’s great to see ORG’s campaign against Labour’s absurd “three strikes” proposal picking up steam. When I was more involved with the free culture movement I wrote my Masters thesis on a Lockean argument against Lily Allen’s view of copyright. The thing I love about the video is that it doesn’t just argue on the economics, as this brilliant essay on Liberal Conspiracy does quite effectively. No, he plays with – and demonstrates – the claim that culture should be something we all enjoy consuming, producing, sharing and learning from. He bought Lily Allen’s CD for his mum, which she loves, but that shouldn’t be the end of the story.

This one is a no-brainer for blog action day. The UK’s Committee for Climate Change has called for it, Boris Johnson of all people includes it in his air quality strategy, and it will help people save money as energy bills rise. The Government should set-up a boiler scrappage scheme (and you should sign the petition). Let people trade in old, inefficient boilers for new ones, or at least to get a massive discount. They did it for cars to help an ailing industry, why not do it with boilers to promote jobs across the country, cut carbon and help vulnerable households? This fun little gimmick is of course one small piece of the unprecedented housing puzzle. How exactly do we cut emissions from heating, cooling and electricity by 90-100% across all the nation’s buildings in the next twenty to thirty years? The technical challenges are big enough, and with…

Dave Hill writes in his Guardian blog about Boris Johnson’s housing plans for London. What could be more important to Londoners than housing that is affordable for all, of a decent quality, energy efficient and in the place they want to live? He has done great work on this topic, but he misses some basic facts and figures that expose just what Boris’ priorities are. All the evidence shows that London needs a mix of new social, intermediate and market (private) housing that is evenly spread around the city – much like this photo, which I took in south Camberwell. The most pressing need is for social housing, and to end “segregation by tenure”, where your income determines which ghettoised community you can live in. Thankfully my patch is pretty integrated, but go down into Dulwich or up to Elephant & Castle and you quickly enter predominantly rich and poor…

Way back in July – goodness, that seems a long time ago! – I went on holiday near Kircudbright in Dumries and Galloway, which is in south west Scotland (I had no idea either). The landscape is actually quite beautiful. Not breathtaking like the higher Scottish peaks, but almost deserted beaches with warm seas for swimming and really gentle hills for walks. We went for a hike up one and I put some basic details into OpenStreetMap when I got back. But now somebody has scanned in a set of OS 7th series one inch maps from the 1950s and the results are very clear. Maps go out of copyright after 50 years so it’s fair game. I’ve spent a few evenings winding down from work by tracing streams, forest, woods, salt marshes and correcting the coastline. Given that the “no names” map style is currently very out of date,…

Over the summer a few fantastic initiatives have started to grow from the grassroots. I’ve been going along to meetings of Transition Town Peckham and Growing Southwark, full of local people who share my hopes to grow more food in the area and fix up our homes with the Peckham Power Company. This year I managed to get the last of the blackberries on One Tree Hill and grew plenty of tomatoes, salads and herbs with my partner. But living in a flat means my options are pretty limited, and allotments are a big commitment. Walking around Peckham you can’t help notice lots of underused green spaces just begging to be used for communal food growing, and beautiful parks with barely a handful of fruit trees for the public. We’re busy pushing forward the food strategy Green councillor Jenny Jones introduced through Southwark Council, and I’m exploring ways to connect…

A discussion with two friends on the back of my post about the cuts agenda brought up some interesting figures about benefit and tax fraud. There’s nothing the Tories and right-wing media pundits like more than a good old attack on benefit fraud. Lazy good-for-nothings scamming our taxes! Get ’em! But how big a problem is benefit fraud, and how does it compare to the rich ripping us off with offshore tax havens and the like? Benefit fraud in 07-08 cost us around £800m out of a budget totalling £125bn. Tax evasio by the rich cost us around £18.5bn and a tax avoidance is estimated at around £100bn compared to a government budget totalling £589bn. Tax evasion  is harder to tackle, involving international negotiations, but it says a lot about your priorities. Tory plans to bail out a few thousand rich families through inheritance tax changes would cost considerably more…

The Government raised the national minimum wage today to £5.80 per hour, a welcome 7p extra for Britain’s working poor. But here in London, and in many other expensive parts of the country, it’s still far too low. The London Living Wage, calculated by GLA Economics to meet basic living costs, currently stands at £7.60 per hour, almost £2 an hour more! Just imagine earning 23% less than the amount you’d need just to get by. Or imagine working an extra 12 hours per week to make ends meet. Working poverty accounts for almost half of all child poverty in this city, and one fifth of all London workers – almost 400,000 people – earn less than the Living Wage. That goes up to 47% for part time workers. Until everyone – especially public bodies and the Government itself – pays the Living Wage or above, we’re failing people and…

Weekends that begin with 8.29am trains back to London for Green Party meetings are never going to end with a relaxed glow! Still, in amongst it all I came across two real surprises. First was Bounce’s breathtaking Insane in the Brain show at the Peacock Theatre. If you get the chance to see this, go! I can’t pretend I understand most contemporary dance, I’m not really partial to ballet and I’ve never liked dancing myself either. But this Hip Hop interpretation of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was witty, very cool and it kept my my tired brain’s attention throughout! Here’s a sample clip: After a welcome lie in, Rachel and I met up with Kathryn on Sunday afternoon for a stroll in the surprisingly wild Sydenham Hill Wood. A little nature spotting (we just about identified oak, hornbeam, sycamore, hawthorne, beech and silver birch trees) was rounded off…