Category: Blog

Every time I hear someone say “nobody likes paying taxes”, I want to shout: I do! My taxes pay for a civilised society, for schools and roads we all need, and for support to those who face hard times. Tax dodgers aren’t just depriving the public purse, they are also shirking their moral duty.

One of the most overused, but least acted, on sayings is that the treatment of the most vulnerable is the test of a society’s greatness and civilisation. But homeless people are routinely turned away in London with little or no help at all.

One of my favourite subjects at school was geography. I remember learning about acid rain, the hole in the ozone layer, and global warming. It wasn’t until I got involved as a Greenpeace activist that it struck me: why hadn’t we sorted the third one out, yet?

In all the fuss about Natalie Bennett’s unfortunate media interviews, for which she has penned this very strong and courageous apology, we have seen this idea talking hold that governments can cost policies down to the last penny. The Green Party always puts forward broadly costed proposals, but the direction of travel is equally important and needs more attention.

Peckham was my first port of call when I moved into London. So it was nice to return there to talk to Southwark Green Party about housing last night.

Anerley Town Hall is one of those Victorian projects that provide some of the few civic spaces left for local people. I’ve written to Bromley Council making clear that they need to secure its future, rather than continuing the neglect or flogging it off for a one-off lump of cash. Here is my letter: Dear Mr Thompson, I am writing as a local resident and occasional Anerley Town Hall user to feed in my views on the four options you have circulated regarding the building’s future. Regrettably, the council took the damaging decision to close the library service. This decision was the council’s, in view of funding cuts and the view – wrong in my opinion – that the new library in Penge made this facility unnecessary. But the library’s closure should not be taken as any indication of the building failing to provide value to the local community. While…

Since it came to power, this government has delighted in cutting great big holes in our welfare safety net. Conservative, Liberal and Labour politicians have jostled to “get tough” on welfare, buying into the idea that most benefit claimants are either cheating the system or sitting on their bums not looking for work, or possibly both. So they have cut and capped the amount of housing that tenants can claim to cover their rents. But these cuts have taken their toll, making it increasingly difficult to find somewhere you can afford. So more and more people have had to move somewhere cheaper. First, this hit central London, and then inner London, and in the past couple of years it has started to hit my constituency of Lewisham West & Penge. This chart shows the relative change in the number of private tenants claiming housing benefit since January 2011. Westminister started…

I’m not a very regular cinema-goer, so I’ve never felt particularly passionate about the campaign to bring one to Crystal Palace. But I do fully support the Picture Palace campaign in trying to keep 25 Church Road as an assembly/leisure building for the local community, in the face of repeated attempts to turn it into a church. We have planning rules that designate the building a certain “use class”. This one is D2, which means it is protected for uses like a cinema, dance, concert or bingo hall, gym or skating rink. It’s the only facility of its kind in an area already blessed with lots of fantastic places of worship. This area of planning policy exists to ensure we have a good mix of facilities in the local area, and can be used by councils to prevent communities being overrun with cafes and takeaways, or losing valuable office space. I hope…

Today I helped unveil a new manifesto pledge from the Green Party – we will cut public transport fares by 10 per cent, and bring our railways back into public ownership. We believe that the railways should be run for the benefit of the people who use them, not for the private profit of people that happen to own them. We need affordable and reliable public transport to help reduce car usage, so reducing our carbon footprint and reducing air pollution that blights most main roads in London. Here I am introducing our policy at London Bridge, thanks to Let Me Look TV: This cut in fares would save a commuter in Crystal Palace or Bellingham who bought a zone 1-4 travelcard more than £200 per year, and a bus pass user in Penge or Forest Hill about £75 per year. We can pay for a 10 per cent cut in fares by…