Thursday, 29 March 2012

Candidates for Lambeth and Southwark announced and hustings update

The full list of candidates for Lambeth and Southwark has now been announced. What is interesting is that there are just 6, as opposed to previous years which have seen 10 or more.

A quick update on some hustings I will be doing during April:

17th April - Faiths Together in Lambeth Hustings at the Karibu Education Centre, 7 Gresham Road, Brixton, SW9 7PH, beginning at 6.00pm

18th April - Herne Hill Forum. Herne Hill Baptist Church, SE24 9HU, on the corner of Half Moon Lane and Winterbrook Road. 7pm.

19th April - Lambeth Forum for Older People and Lambeth Pan Disability Forum. 2.00 pm at Lambeth ACCORD 336 Brixton Road, London SW9 7AA (ground floor Conference Room)

24th April - Sustainable transport hustings, beginning at 7:30 (venue tbc) including Lambeth and Southwark cyclists. We launched our campaign in Lambeth and Southwark back in November around these issues and it's been good to see them increase in prominence since then.

I'll also be standing in for Jenny Jones on Friday 25th April at the London Faith's Forum Hustings

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Jen, then Ken: But not an endorsement for Labour

It's been announced this morning that the Green Party suggest voters give Ken Livingstone their second preference vote in the mayoral election, after our Green candidate Jenny Jones. This follows Ken Livingstone's own endorsement of Jenny Jones as his second preference.

I was at the meeting with Ken Livingstone on Monday night where this was decided, and what was interesting was that all parties agreed (including Ken) that this was not a second preference for the Labour party, but only for him personally. Indeed, he was quite openly scathing of the kind of New Labour politics being displayed by Lambeth Council and Streatham MP Chuka Umunna (who suggests that Blair was 85% right).

It is interesting to note that in 2008, Livingstone got 36% of first preference votes. However, when it came to voting for the Labour party, this dropped off significantly by around 10% when it came to vote for the Labour party list.

For the Greens, the reverse was true. The Green Party list got around 6% more votes than for our mayoral candidate, meaning that we got two London assembly members elected - Darren Johnson and Jenny Jones. It would seem that many people who vote for Ken, when given a preference where their vote will count under a proportional system, vote Green.

Putting the electoral maths to one side for a moment, what was very positive about the debate at the meeting on Monday was its level of political maturity. There was a feeling that the most important thing was values and policies, rather than tribal politics. There was an acknowledged risk that Labour might try and pretend that they were somehow being endorsed by the Greens, but it was also felt that this was a risk worth taking if we want a better, more grown-up type of politics and policy-making.

Having a pasty on Streatham High Road

With all that's going on today around the pasty tax, and with it being the Streatham Food Festival, I thought I would stop in for a pasty at the local Greggs on Streatham High Road. (Actually its a place the kids and I often frequent on a Saturday morning!)

There is a serious side though, and that is the ongoing threat to local shops on the high road, particularly with the impending Tesco mega store soon to arrive with Lambeth Council's blessing as part of the new Streatham hub development. It is going to be even harder for many local shops to compete. (For how a supermarket like this impacts a local community see this helpful briefing here ).

Gimmicks, like those being proposed by local MP Chuka Umunna aren't going to help either.

What will help are policies like those being proposed in our small business manifesto to support a renaissance of micro, small and medium-sized businesses and protect and re-develop the traditional “high street”. We have also produced a specific manifesto for the high street.

Youth workers say Lambeth council failing on gangs

Having visited two projects involving young people in Lambeth yesterday - one at Livity in Brixton, and another involving the arts in ten Lambeth schools on display at the Festival Hall, it was alarming to hear the comments of Youth Workers in Lambeth yesterday.

Youth workers have come out publicly and criticised Lambeth council for their failures around gangs.

The particular comments - made to James O'Brien on LBC 97.3 - referred to the shooting of a five year old girl in Stockwell. They said it exposed serious failings in the way Lambeth is trying to tackle gang crime.

Youth workers point out that millions in funding has been cut for services that were helping to address the issue – and this has been one of the direct causes of the spread of gang crime.

This is what one Youth Worker said:

“There are parts of Lambeth they refer to as Gaza Strip or so forth. So the young people recognise that they live in a war zone and they join gangs for protection, because they are not getting protection from the police or the local authority.

“Lambeth [Council] withdrew critical funding for these workers – and these are amongst the best workers that you can get to work with these gang members.”

This is an issue that has been raised by many people. I went down to Knight's Youth Centre in Streatham, which has faced cuts, recently to find out what the impact has been. I have also stayed in touch since then, and it was confirmed that they have seen a big surge in knife crime in particular, usually between gangs and sometimes within gangs, in recent months.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Visit to Livity in Brixton with Jenny Jones

I went with our mayoral candidate Jenny Jones this morning, to visit an inspiring project in Brixton called Livity.

We spent an hour or so with half a dozen young people who work there, talking about Jenny's campaign, Green policies and proposals for London. We seemed to cover everything from ideas to tackle youth crime, through to campaigning to restore the EMA, transport, congestion, pollution, sustainable energy and the increasing price of food. This was more a testament to their own formidable knowledge and breadth of questioning than anything else.

The initiative which they are part of is also impressive.

One of their projects is to produce Live magazine, written by and for young people, with a circulation of around 50,000.

Livity itself, is a youth engagement agency which works with young people to co-create campaigns, content and communities. They have experienced cuts in their funding from Lambeth amongst others, but despite this, have come up with a very creative model to try and move themselves towards a more sustainable footing. As part of this they have engaged clients including Google, PlayStation, 02, even the BBC and the Home Office.

There are some paid employees, but also young people who come in from all over London, and received training, equipment, support and opportunities to plan and build for their future.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Lambeth Council's approach to housing - a working single mum tells her story

Further to the concerns raised about Lambeth's u-turn on co-operative housing, and our own housing manifesto launch, I was sent an interesting post on MumsNet which highlights well why Green policies are needed in the borough.

This is what the poster - a working single mother - writes about the impact of Lambeth's housing policy:

"Rent rises in Lambeth of approximately 17% 9% 9% 9% over the past four years (not to mention previous increases), mean in real terms my rent has doubled in under 10 years, I am a working single mother on a low income, not low enough to claim housing benefit and no desire to do so, although financially it would seem we would be better off.

"When I complained in the past over the 17% rise along with many other tenants, I was told by Lib Peck herself that it was due to all kitchens and bathrooms being replaced.

"More and more onus has been placed on the tenant for repairs, Lambeth does no decoration, has scrapped promise to improve kitchens and bathrooms, yet we're extorted with rent increases every year.

"With the money taken from us we may have been able to improve council properties for ourselves employing tradesmen who take pride in what they do and treat the tenant like a client, as it is, we are left with no money to improve our surroundings and receive poor customer service from every department.

"My kitchen sink unit fell apart whilst waiting to be included in aforementioned scrapped scheme, it took three appointments to get it replaced (including a revisit when my kitchen flooded as a result) and it has been done to a very poor standard.

"Who makes these arbitrary decisions? I have been expected to find an extra £60 per month, £40 per month, £40 per month £40 I'm now paying £180 more a month than 5 years ago......When will it end?"

This is the kind of thing that George Graham and Green councilor Rebecca Thackray encountered in constituency casework around housing in Lambeth.

You can read the Green Party's proposals on housing here.

Lack of transport accessibility highlighted in Stockwell

On Friday we launched our accessibility manifesto at Stockwell tube station - including our aim to make a third of the tube system step-free by 2018 (both Boris and Ken has failed to fulfill their promises on this).

Both our mayoral candidate Jenny Jones and Jean Lambert MEP came down. It was great to see so much interest, especially from the broadcast media.

I am trying to get hold of a copy of the ITN piece, but in the meantime you can read this on the BBC website.

The tube map we produced, which shows what the tube map looks like if you have a mobility impairment has also been a big hit on social media networks.

It’s been great to see the growing issue of accessibility in London being highlighted in the run up to the paralympics.

Lambeth and Southwark are particularly bad in this respect – something which we have wanted to highlight during the London Assembly election campaign. Last year we got the Guardian newspaper to make the trip from Lambeth to the site of the Paralympics with disabled travelers to draw attention to the issue.

Of the 8 tube stations in Lambeth only 1 (Brixton) is wheelchair accessible. A freedom of information request that I submitted uncovered that the lifts at Brixton station have been out of order for 164 days since 2006.

Eight out of eleven overground stations in Southwark could also be impacted by cuts leaving them unstaffed and “no go areas” for many travelers. This is likely to make it the hardest hit area in the whole country if the proposals go ahead.

Channel 4 are now also taking up the theme with their “no go Britain” campaign.

You can read our accessibility manifesto in full here

Friday, 23 March 2012

Power, Finance and Democracy: Is The City Good for London?

I stood in for Jenny Jones last night at an out-of-constituency hustings event in the City at the Bishopsgate Institute.

As with previous years, the Mayoral election is likely to be dominated by those issues which the Mayor’s Office has most direct control over: transport, crime, economic development, housing and the environment.

However, over the last four years the biggest political issue for many people has been the global financial crash and prolonged economic recession. Given that London and its financial services industry have been at the epicentre of this turmoil, the hustings was organised to focus on the role of its banking sector, on the impact it has on London’s economy and the influence it has had on the politics and governance of London – whether through the Corporation of London, the Mayor’s Office or national government.

Nicholas Shaxson, well known for his acclaimed investigative books Poisoned Wells and Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World. (2011) - introduced the event with a quick summary of the negative impact of the City on London, the UK and indeed the rest of the world. As well as representatives from the other three main political parties, Tamasin Cave (a Brixton resident) from SpinWatch the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency (ALT) was on the panel, along with Chris Cummings, TheCityUK's Chief Executive.

Howard Dawber, Strategic Advisor at the Canary Wharf Group since August 2004, Ken Livingstone’s ‘Business Advisor’ was there representing Labour.

Issues under discussion included the drain that the city exerts in terms of talented people, from other industries and the public sector as well as how to tackle growing inequality in London, and the way that credit can reach local communities and SMEs through credit unions and other more localised banking services. We also predictably covered the political influence of the City, the approach that a mayor could take to the Financial Services Industry and the need to abolish the City of London Corporation, and bring it to the same status as other London boroughs.

I drew quite a bit on what I have written for the Guardian around these issues. But what I was particular struck by was how the Green Party is the only party which seems to really be tackling these issues in terms of concrete policy proposals. For example, a Fair Pay Mark, to build on the London Living Wage which has had significant success getting £60m into the pockets of the lowest paid, and the GLA using its significant financial clout to consider the practices of banks and other financial services when considering tenders for its banking services and sponsorship.

The event was very well attended, with clearly lots of interest in the subject. A before-and-after-debate vote was held, which was extremely encouraging for those of us with a more critical approach to the City, showing that opinion had shifted that way during the evening. There was also a large amount of positive feedback after the event, with several people coming up to tell me they were now considering voting Green - including a number from Lambeth and Southwark.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The starting gun's been fired: 3 events in 3 days.

The starting gun was been fired for the London election race, and Lambeth Green Party will be swinging into action this weekend across the borough.

This year we have a great opportunity to increase our vote share in Lambeth & Southwark from the 11% we achieved in 2008. And because of the proportional voting system for the London Assembly every vote really counts. This is a real chance to increase the number of Greens on the London Assembly.

We have already had some solid local and national press, TV and radio coverage. We have also delivered around 25,000 copies of Green News in the last few months in Lambeth alone.

There are *three things* you can join in with in the next few days:

1. This Friday 23rd March Jean Lambert MEP and our mayoral candidate Jenny Jones will be coming to highlight issues of transport accessibility in Lambeth.

2. This Saturday 24th March we will be running a stall during the day on Clapham High Street.

3. This Sunday 25 March we will be having a joint Action Day in Herne Hill with Southwark Green Party. We are aiming, amongst other things to get around 10,000 copies of Green News out during the day.

Do come and join us. For more information get in touch: lambethgreens (at) or follow us on twitter:@lambethgp

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Boris snubs mayoral disability hustings

I attended a disability hustings today with our mayoral candidate Jenny Jones at Coin Street Community Centre in Waterloo, Lambeth.

It was organised by Transport for All and Inclusion London, two organisations that do excellent work on behalf of deaf and disabled people in London.

All the main mayoral candidates were there - with the exception of Boris Johnson, who sent instead London Assembly member Richard Tracey.

From the questions and comments from the floor, it was pretty clear that those present were unimpressed with Johnson and his messenger. Tracey tried to fob people off with the promise that Johnson would attend other events organised by charities working with disabled people. This however was also greeted with jeers. Tracey I don't think understood why. And this is part of the big underlying problem.

What Johnson, and indeed some of the other mayoral candidates didn't seem to grasp, was that these hustings were important because they were run by organisations led by disabled people. As was abundantly clear from the questions and points made from the floor, it is the voices of disabled people that actually have many of the answers to the access and inclusion problems that disabled Londoners face.

But for the last twelve years, policy in these areas has been "done" to disabled people, rather than being led by disabled people. And as a result, promises have been broken, or slipped down the agenda. For example, Ken Livingstone promised 90 out of 270 stations would be step-free by 2013. Boris Johnson made the promise of 68 step-free stations by the end of 2010. Neither promise has been fulfilled.

It must be deaf and disabled people who are setting the agenda in the future. I am pleased to say that the Green Party has embraced the proposals in the manifestos put forward by these organisations - Inclusion London and Transport for All - and a whole lot more. It is simply unacceptable that in this day and age we exclude so many Londoners from day to day life in the capital, from the lack of access at tube stations, to the poverty of accessible housing, through to the way the buses are run and operated.

More Greens on the London Assembly in the next four years will mean that more voices of disabled Londoners are heard.

Building peace in Lambeth

It was great hear that Anna Nolan ( @annapannalondon ) has been awarded £5,000 toward the Little Big Peace event which started in Streatham last year.

She won the money after entering a nationwide competition.

For the uninitiated, Little Big Peace (@littlebigpeace) is a festival that takes place in September. It celebrates peacemaking, and coincides with the International Day of Peace.

What is refreshing about the event is that is it seeks to engage with the reality of everyday life and explore difficult questions about what peace might mean in local communities, rather than being something untenable or ethereal.

Peacemaking raises tough questions of course, but they are ones that need to be asked. Neither are there simple answers. Peacemaking is messy. I know this from painful experience having been involved with a number of peacemaking initiatives both abroad and in the UK, including working with peacemakers taken hostage in Iraq.

But unless we are prepared to ask difficult questions and explore alternatives we will make little, in any, progress, in making our communities more peaceful.

There are however many examples from elsewhere in the UK, and indeed around the world that we can draw upon for our own local communities. There are restorative justice initiatives, for example, in policing, the criminal justice system and in school discipline, which pursue a more peaceful - and indeed more satisfactory outcome for the actors involved. (see for example: for a range of resources) They tend to reduce reoffending, and mean that the community play a bigger part in ensuring just outcomes.

International examples too, show that in order to tackle violence, we need to identify and be honest about the root causes. This is something being hampered by politicians who continue to insist that the recent riots were "just criminality". The local community can play a part in challenging that, and insisting that such responses are inadequate.

And then of course, it is about the local community learning to build peace. Peace is not the absence of conflict, but as practitioners will tell you, an active process which needs to be learned. This means among other things opportunities for dialogue, training people in nonviolent communication, and forums and spaces where people can overcome fear of others who they might not otherwise come into contact with. It means also that we need to equip people - particularly younger people in our schools - with skills of mediation and conflict prevention.

There's lots of possibilities to make Lambeth more peaceful. But it needs the political will to do it, as well as those who are willing to think creatively about it and pursue it. The Little Big Peace event is exactly the kind of initiative that can encourage us all in that direction.

Monday, 19 March 2012

How Lambeth Council is selling off its co-operative housing

The Lambeth United Housing Co-op are seeking to highlight a massive inconsistency between Lambeth Council's desire to become a "Co-operative Council" and the fact they are selling off Housing Co-ops.

Supporting people to build, refurbish and manage their own homes through co-ops can ensure homes meet the needs of existing local residents and build stronger communities. Self-help groups support people in need to bring empty homes back into use for themselves. They also provide a route into training and employment for volunteers.

However, in Lambeth, despite paying lip service to co-ops the council now appears to be turning its back on co-operative housing, seeing an opportunity instead to sell off property, as part of its programme of cuts. Concerns have been growing steadily over the last few years. Now the sell-off appears to be part of a wider programme in which the council is liquidating the community’s assets in order get cash. The council has form for selling off social housing when it overspends.

In this particular case, Lambeth used “Shortlife” (hard to let or run down property) to secure vulnerable housing stock without having to provide legal tenancies. This was invested in by residents. It is now being sold off, with the interests of those residents being disregarded. The action comes at a huge price to the people in the local community who have invested heavily in the co-operative schemes.

Below are some excerpts from a short briefing that Lambeth United Housing Co-op have produced tracing the history, and to highlight what Lambeth is doing now:

Late 1970s & early 1980s

Housing Co-ops established between Lambeth and people who had begun to maintain housing abandoned by the borough, people who were homeless and on the council's housing waiting list.

Lambeth recognises that Co-ops substantially reduce reliance on undesirable lodgings and house many “vulnerable” members of the community.

Early - Mid 1990s

Co-ops encouraged to become permanent; the promise of which disappears abruptly when Lambeth attempts transfer of its ‘Shortlife’ stock to Housing Associations. “Deals” evaporate due to Lambeth's frequent policy changes.

1997 onwards

Housing Co-operatives receive renewed threats of “recall” and eviction.

Consultations between Lambeth and Housing Co-ops a stated aim but none occur; suggestions that residents could remain in-situ, if their houses were not “under-occupied”, are not pursued.

Occupants are offered the “opportunity” to buy their homes based on vacant possession, at inflated and unrealistic prices.

2011 – present

Lambeth’s cabinet decrees all decisions regarding “Shortlife” will be private, made by a small group of council officers.

Despite interest from other social housing providers to manage stock, Lambeth deal exclusively with Notting Hill Housing Group (NHHG).

By end of 2011 the NHHG deal collapses but it takes months for Lambeth to acknowledge this. Lambeth continue to use this “deal” as reason for possession in the court cases they are bringing against “Shortlifers”.

Lambeth state NHHG deal was refused because too many houses would be sold off but, ironically, Sale By Auction is now their only disposal tool.

Vacated properties are deliberately damaged by council workers or by “vacant property managers” Camelot. Some ex-Coop homes are re-occupied, due to Camelot’s bizarre operation. In some cases serious anti-social behaviour occurs in buildings soon after stable Co-op communities have been vacated.

Meanwhile, in its legal proceedings, Lambeth engages in intimidation and coercion, threatening unreasonably high “unauthorised occupation” charges, removal of the offer to re-house, and imposition of full legal costs.

Offers to re-house residents (after first making them homeless) involve joining “Choice-Based Lettings”, a system already failing most people on Lambeth's waiting list. “Shortlife” residents report the lettings team is acting especially vindictively in their cases.


Those who brought empty properties back into use in the 1980s, on a budget and using labour from within the community, were completely in line with current government thinking as influenced by The Great British Property Scandal that is highlighting the current housing crisis.

Housing Co-ops have been praised by international management consultants Price Waterhouse as a housing model that offers the best value for money and "are a flexible model capable of delivering housing services which compare with the best of mainstream providers.”

However, Lambeth used “Shortlife” to secure their vulnerable housing stock without having to provide legal tenancies.

"Shortlife” residents invested time, effort and money on their houses, including carrying out major repairs. Their efforts have increased the value of housing stock originally bought via a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) for a couple of thousand pounds and then scheduled for demolition. These houses are now selling at auction for upwards of £575,000.

Housing Co-operative residents are largely low-waged, with little or no savings or outside financial support. Many are of pensionable age, others are disabled and housebound, dependent on their immediate neighbours.

These are the vulnerable people suffering whilst Lambeth uses “Shortlife” as a “piggy bank”, raiding it to offset the deficit accrued through mismanagement and internal fraud. This comes in the context of Lambeth spending £25m on new council offices.

Despite councillors declaring that Housing Coop communities have brought “a welcome permanence and continuity to the area”, Lambeth has instituted a de facto social and economic purge.

In Conclusion

The difference between the policy and attitude of the Lambeth c.1980 and the Lambeth of today is shocking in its disparity.

Lambeth recently published “The Co-operative Council” White Paper, trumpeting support of community and co-operative led housing. Yet Lambeth is simultaneously destabilising and destroying community led co-operative housing that has existed for the best part of half a century and was previously supported by them.

You can email lambethunitedhousingcoop (at) for more information.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Pollution on residential roads 90% of level on Brixton High Road

Air pollution in London hit record levels yesterday – which should be of particular concern to residents in Lambeth. We have already been drawing attention to the rising levels or air pollution in Brixton. But we have now discovered that the high pollution levels are also present in the residential areas far away from Brixton Road.

Last week, we invited Simon Birkett from Clean Air London to come down to Brixton with a portable air pollution monitor. We took a reading next to the Air monitoring station on Brixton Road. We then went and took readings in the residential streets a hundred years away. What we found was that even in the residential areas, pollution levels can be running at around 90% of levels on the High Road.

It comes as the OECD also warned yesterday air pollution will become the biggest killer globally.

The government and mayor already accept that in London alone, there are at least 4,300 deaths each year linked to air pollution. That makes it a bigger killer than road deaths, obesity and alcohol.

In Lambeth it is something which the Council is failing to address, despite the fact that many of Lambeth's schools lie close to its busiest streets. Lambeth Council has not published an annual air quality report since 2009, nor are they putting out alerts when air quality deteriorates.

Lambeth's work with young offenders found to be 'poor' in wake of wave of stabbings

There is a worrying piece in the Evening Standard concerning Lambeth Council's failures around monitoring of young offenders.

It concerns a report, published yesterday, by HM Inspectorate of Probation.

The report found that serious young offenders in Lambeth (which the article points out is currently being hit by a wave of stabbings) are not being properly monitored by council staff.

Recent stabbings include the fatal attack on 17-year-old student Kwame Ofosu-Asare who was chased and stabbed while walking through the Moorlands Estate in Brixton to visit a friend on March 2.

Among the problems highlighted by the Inspectorate report:

- a widespread failure to identify the “risk of harm” that violent teenagers, including gang members, pose to other members of the public.

- inadequate work to reduce the likelihood of juvenile criminals re-offending

- poor management supervision to ensure that they are dealt with properly after their release.

The report warns that risk of harm assessments are done inadequately in nearly six out of 10 cases, with many under-rating the danger posed by juvenile offenders. Work on reducing the risk of re-offending is also done well only 52 per cent of the time.

Announcing the findings, Chief Inspector of Probation Liz Calderbank said: “We found a number of areas where practice fell below what was needed. Overall, we consider this a poor set of findings.”

I recently talked with young workers in Lambeth, who are greatly concerned about the violence that they are now routinely seeing, including many incidents of knife crime. It seems that the poor performance by Lambeth in monitoring and working with young offenders mixed with Lambeth's severe cuts to youth services, is contributing to the creation of a lethal cocktail of violence in the borough.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Lambeth’s recycling spin (or how Lambeth's recycling claims are a load of rubbish)

Lambeth Council appear to be rehashing old news over recycling rates in an apparent attempt to spin a poor recycling performance.

Over the last few years Lambeth's recycling has fallen behind other London boroughs, and the London average. This has been attributed to a lack of political leadership. Lambeth currently lies in 28th place in the capital.

Last year it bowed to pressure and began to take some action. Campaigners pointed out that it would also save significant money if it increased recycling rates, which seems to have been a juicy carrot at a time of cuts.

Lambeth is now trying to claim credit for 'rocketing' recycling rates. Closer inspection reveals a rather different picture.

In a press release in July 2011 Lambeth claimed:

“The council is predicting that thanks to residents’ efforts, £900,000 is set to be saved this year through reduced waste collection and disposal costs, up on the original prediction of £600,000.”

Now, in March 2012 it is saying:

“The council’s target was to save £500,000 in the first year, but thanks to residents that saving has been doubled to over £1 million.”

The original target seems to suddenly have been lowered by £100,000. This is what has changed the projected saving, increasing it by £100,000.

What is even stranger is that the reported saving has gone up, whilst the actual projected amount recycled has gone down.

If Lambeth’s figures are correct, in July 2011 the recycling rate for kerbside properties was up by an average of 4.7% with the council collecting an average of 29 tonnes more recycling each week. But by March 2012 waste crews were actually collecting less - an extra 26 tonnes of recyclable materials (a 4.2% increase).

This all casts serious doubt over the claims Lambeth are making for the year 2011-2012.

But even the suggested increase in the (now lower than first suggested) recycling rate isn't a major achievement.

The reality is that recycling rates are going up across London. An increase in Lambeth should be expected just to keep pace with the general trend across the capital.

What is absolutely clear is that Lambeth recycling rates have not 'rocketed' at all, as is being claimed. The average London borough like Lambeth recycles around 5-600 tonnes of household waste a week. The increase of 26 tonnes – 4.2% a year - may even see Lambeth fall further behind other London boroughs. To get itself back on track - just to a London average - it would need to increase existing recycling by around 100-150 tonnes a week (25%). Even Lambeth's own spun figures suggest this is nowhere near being achieved.

London election hustings in Lambeth and Southwark

With less than eight weeks to go to the London Mayoral elections and elections to the London Assembly, hustings are being organised in Lambeth and Southwark for London Assembly candidates.

These include:

17th April - Faiths Together in Lambeth Hustings at the Karibu Education Centre, 7 Gresham Road, Brixton, SW9 7PH, beginning at 6.00pm

24th April - Sustainable transport hustings, beginning at 7:30 (venue tbc) including Lambeth and Southwark cyclists. We launched our campaign in Lambeth and Southwark back in November around these issues and it's been good to see them increase in prominence since then.

I'll be taking part in both. I'll also be accompanying our mayoral candidate Jenny Jones to the Inclusion London mayoral hustings next week on 20th March at Coin Street Community Builders, on the South Bank. As the organisation points out the mayor has a range of important powers that will directly affect the 1.4 million Deaf and disabled people living in London. There is still a huge amount to be done to overcome the transport apartheid which leaves the overwhelming majority of the tube system inaccessible, as well as tackling negative attitudes to disability and a range of other issues which exclude Londoners from full participation in the life of the capital.

I understand however that neither Ken Livingstone nor Boris Johnson will be attending the inclusion hustings. If this is true, it is shameful - particularly in the year that the paralympics comes to London. It will be seen by many as speaking volumes about the lack of priority being given by these two mayoral candidates to issues of accessibility and inclusion.