Welcome back to the ninth Lewisham Labour Town Hall Briefing – our monthly newsletter giving our members an update on the work we are undertaking in the Council and in the Community to deliver on Lewisham’s Manifesto. At our Full Council meeting at the end of last month we passed several incredibly important motions, as well as officially putting our Manifesto into action in the form of a new Corporate Strategy adopted as Council Policy. On top of that we’ve got some great events going on this month, and have just completed the launch of the brand new Council website which aims to be as intuitive as possible and help residents get in contact or receive advice on any issue which may be a problem. Check it out now @ www.lewisham.gov.uk

Spring Conference: SAVE THE DATE!
On Saturday 11th May Lewisham Labour will host our inaugural Borough Conference. Over 500 of you joined us at our Manifesto Workshops last year prior to the Local Elections (more on that below) and we’d be delighted if you could save the above date (formal invitation to follow) to expand on the work we’ve all done so far! The day will include campaigning workshops, as well as many Guest Speakers including the one and only Rt Hon Diane Abbott MP! Watch this space for more information, and please do get in touch if you’d like to lend a hand on the day.

Manifesto manifesting into Corporate Strategy
As highlighted above, we were proud to formally implement our radical 2018 manifesto pledges into council policy for this administration. Many of you will remember the Manifesto workshops we ran last year in each CLP, with Local MPs as well as Shadow Cabinet members attending to take part. Thanks to over 500 of you who attended and fed in some incredible ideas – we were able to develop the manifesto every one of our 54 Councillors (and of course, the Mayor!) were so proud to stand on last May. That’s why it gives us great pleasure to have put these pledges into action, and we are excited to keep you updated with what a radical Labour Local Government can achieve.

Tory Austerity & Lewisham Council’s Budget
As Lewisham enters the tenth year of a Tory government, the impact of austerity is being felt more than ever. It is widely known that austerity has impacted on council spending and now, after almost a decade of cuts to our budget, councils are having to make even more cuts. We are absolutely clear that in order to balance our budget, it is vital that the agreed cuts are delivered on. Unless we can secure a Labour government that values the public sector and local authorities, and a Labour government that funds us fairly, we will need to continue to plan for cuts in future years too. Whatever the Prime Minister says, austerity is definitely not over. Local authorities are required by law to set a balanced budget. It is also Labour Party policy and has been reiterated by Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell. As a result of central government cuts to Lewisham’s funding, Lewisham Council has been forced both to increase Council Tax, and to make cuts worth £165million in real terms since 2010/11. We hope you will join us in the only way to combat this – campaigning to kick this torrid Tory Government out of office.

PrEP on the NHS & LGBT persecution in Chechnya
Following on from LGBT history month, we passed two hugely important motions at our last Full Council meeting in support of the LGBT Community. The first was in support of making PrEP – a ground-breaking preventative treatment for HIV – available on the NHS (as it is already in Scotland), brought by our colleague Cllr Tom Copley, who gave a very passionate speech on the subject.

The second was from Cllr James Walsh, who gave an impassioned presentation on sending a message to Russia to end the persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya. Some of the examples were utterly horrifying, and Lewisham Labour believe that in our aspiration to act as a borough of sanctuary, we should not only house those dispossessed by natural disaster, war or persecution, but should also shine a light on those that create regimes that force those to flee their country.

Climate Change Declaration of Emergency
We are proud to be one of the first Boroughs in the UK to declare a Climate Emergency. A huge amount of credit is due to both Cllrs Tauseef Anwar and Louise Krupski for bringing this crucial motion to Full Council – made even more appropriate by occurring on a day when primary schools across London were advised to keep the children inside at break times due to the overwhelming Air Pollution on that day. Our Clean Air Champion Louise spoke passionately on this topic alongside Tauseef. We believe that actions are even more important than words – and so are pleased to task an Executive Director with responsibility for reducing the carbon emissions resulting from the Council’s activities, and ensuring a coordinated approach across housing, our corporate estate, transport, regeneration, planning and other services.

International Women’s Day
On Friday 8 March, we will celebrate International Women’s Day 2019 with a number of events and activities at the Civic Suite in Catford. This all-day event will give you the opportunity to listen, learn and reflect on the role of women and gender equality across the world through talks, film, spoken word performances and a photo exhibition. Most events are run by young people, for young people, but all are welcome to attend.

We warmly welcome constructive feedback from our colleagues and members. If you have any queries, questions or suggestions please get in contact with our Group Secretary Cllr. Alex Feis-Bryce on Alex.feisbryce@gmail.com

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