Sunday, 28 February 2010

20's Plenty for Lambeth

Over the past few months we've been conducting a survey of households across Herne Hill Ward. One of the most consistent findings has been local concern about speeding traffic on residential roads.

As a follow-up, we've invited Rod King of the 20s Plenty campaign to give a talk on Tuesday 2nd March upstairs in the Prince Regent on Dulwich Road. It'll be a short event - 20 minutes or so from Rod and then a Q&A.

20's Plenty is a national movement to get 20 mph limits set up in residential areas across the country. There's been lots of research on the impact of speeding on safety and noise. Lowering urban speed limits to 20 mph has been found to decrease child pedestrian accidents by 70%.

Slower cars on residential roads also mean less noise and a more pleasant environment in which to live.

Come along at 7:30 on 2nd March to find out more!

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Lambeth's housing scandal

Lambeth’s Labour-run council is failing some of the most vulnerable people in the borough. Tenants are facing another rent hike - possibly 5%, but the final amount is to be confirmed - just one year after stomaching the biggest rent rise in the UK (an amazing 17%).

Sure, we all have to tighten our belts in the recession, but there's something more important going on here. This isn't the first time that the current Council administration (a Labour administration, in case that means anything these days) has leaned on the borough's poorest people to make cost savings - last time it was the social care budget that took a battering, driving up costs for people who are already living at the very margins, scraping to get by.

And then there's the bigger picture in housing. Labour promised to get all local authority housing up to the so-called Decent Homes standard by 2010. Well they're clearly failing to meet this pledge. In fact, in Lambeth we're seeing cutbacks in repairs and I understand that the programme to provide homes with proper insulation has been put on hold.

I've been helping our one Green councillor, Becca Thackray, with some of her casework. The stories from some tenants - often with young children - who are having to live in squalid, damp and mouldy conditions are really shocking. This sort of thing should not be acceptable in a modern and still enormously wealthy city.

To add insult to injury, around 1,500 homes are sitting empty, costing the council £8 million in lost rental income. And don't even get me started on the enormous sums that have been spent on consultants and the shambles that is Lambeth Living, the so-called Arms-Length Management Organisation that was supposed to fix the mess that was, and sadly very much still is, Lambeth's housing.