Tag: Southwark

Can a local community pay for its own regeneration instead of relying on developers with tall blocks of flats and massive government grants? I got thinking about this again after reading a jargon-fuelled paper on urban rights and renewal sent my way by local hero Eileen Conn. The author writes about communities owning, or controlling, their urban environment, and being able to determine how to spend “surplus value” (Marxist terminology for capital that rich people and governments accumulate off our backs). How could local people in Peckham, for example, decide how money is spent in the area? Here are two quick steps that are decidely practical compared to the ivory tower academic paper. First, give people more control over the property and land in Peckham. At the moment you either buy a home and the land it sits on, or you rent from a landlord, or you rent from the…

Read More Can the community regenerate Peckham?

One of the London Mayor’s favourite tactics is to totally confuse an issue, joking around to avoid anything sticking. With an issue like the South London Line he’s in his element. Except that residents of south London might prefer if he used his wit to help save public transport services, rather than trying to deny any responsibility. To recap very quickly, the excellent train service (which I use daily) is due to be axed in 2012. Boris has tried to claim it’s the government’s responsibility; that it is purely a technical decision which he can’t reverse; and that he is fighting our corner (only when his hand is forced, of course). In fact, we can be pretty sure that it all comes down to money, and that Boris won’t stump up the measly £2.4m per year for two years out of a massive central Government grant to save the line…

Read More Boris scuppers the South London Line

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.

Read More Who represents community activists?

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…

Read More Democracy in Peckham’s schools

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…

Read More Growing communities in Southwark

Last night’s Growing Southwark meeting was graced by British-Armenian designer Vahakn Matossian, who explained his Fruit City project and his beautiful picking tools. When I first got involved with OpenStreetMap I started to make my own private map of apple trees and blackberry brambles in public places. I spent one or two summers eating about four fruit crumbles a week! I love his map, and although it might lead to some sources drying up due to demand, that will hopefully just lend weight to public calls for more fruit trees and bushes to be deliberately planted in our streets and parks. I’ve started to enquire about the chances of getting some fruit trees in small parks like Warwick Gardens and Holly Grove in The Lane part of Peckham/Bellenden/Camberwell. Jenny Jones has been doing the same in her ward – South Camberwell. Maybe Vahakn will get the production line going for…

Read More Urban fruit freebies in Southwark

I took some time out of my brief in-between-jobs holiday to speak to some students from Alleyn’s School in East Dulwich. The Geography Society invited me to talk about climate change and the Green Party. What do you say in 25 minutes to young people who are  amongst the highest consumers in Southwark, but also potentially dedicated citizens who can do a lot to tackle the problem? I think my talk got a bit confused, but perhaps that’s OK because I really wanted to help them understand just how complicated the whole topic is. Beware the doomsayers who claim there’s nothing we can do, but also beware optimists who offer the solution in the form of ten easy steps! On reflection, these would be my two main messages to young people. First, recognise that climate change fundamentally changes the way we think about politics and our personal lives. Just as…

Read More Climate change in 25 minutes

Sustainable Communities Act coverWhen we got together to discuss the Act at the Peckham Settlement back in April, I got quite excited. I’d lobbied for this back in the day, and now a previously dispirate bunch of activists from around the Borough were discussing its implementation with Southwark Council, supported by the Active Citizens Hub. What happened in the next few months showed just how low the Council’s opinion of its electorate is, but also offers a chance for activists to set the agenda over the next year. Read More Southwark fudges the Sustainable Communities Act

In preparation for the Peckham Mapping Party this Wednesday evening (3rd June) I tried out the house numbering system in OpenStreetMap known as the Karlsruhe Schema around the south east corner of The Lane area of Peckham. Well, mapping and leafletting again with the all-important Euro elections on Thursday. With all the buildings, points of interest and house numbers it’s getting pretty crowded! It will be good if this is picked up by the search function on the OpenStreetMap homepage, so one could search for “15 East Dulwich Road” and get at least the right end of that rather long road. All that time in the sun left me completely wiped out, though. I’ll be glad when the elections are over so I can spend a few consecutive weekends and evenings with no leafletting on the horizon. Just the Exec meeting in June, and lots of local events to do…

Read More Addressing Peckham

What a bank holiday! Saturday morning out leafletting for the European elections with Jenny Jones, followed by an afternoon in the wonderful Bussey Building with the Peckham Power Company. Never mind the sandwiches, the sun brought out a great mix of people, including a policy expert from DECC no less. Anna from the PPC took us through the mix of energy we currently use — nice to see people quite so shocked by the proportion of energy ’embodied’ in the stuff we buy; next, the mix of energy we could physically generate in the UK; and finally some realisation of the challenge both for the UK and for Peckham in responding to the triple crunch of the recession, climate change and peaking fossil fuel reserves. The recipe for Peckham and The Lane area? That’ll be lots of refurb, solar thermal & PV, a ground-source heat pump system under Peckham Rye…

Read More Power for Peckham