Bringing council services in house, 50 agency staff give permanent contracts, £37 million secured to deliver 284 new council homes, 28 new sites identified for social housing, publishing our first annual Modern Slavery statement. These are just some of the things Lewisham Council’s Labour administration has done in its first year in office to build a Lewisham for the many.
Last year, residents elected the Mayor of Lewisham, Damien Egan, and 54 Labour councillors who stood on a bold and radical manifesto that made over 100 pledges. One year on from its first day in office, the new Council administration has made significant progress.
Almost a decade of Conservative austerity has hit local government hard but Lewisham Council is still making a difference for residents. As well as delivering on our manifesto pledges, Damien Egan has led a campaigning council that has challenged damaging Conservative Government cuts and policies; from demanding a People’s Vote on any Brexit deal to successfully calling for the abolition of no fault evictions.
Lewisham is one of the most diverse boroughs in the world and is home to people from all backgrounds. We have a proud history of embracing new communities and those fleeing violence, which is why we are becoming a Sanctuary Borough, protecting the rights of all migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. Lewisham has expanded its refugee resettlement programme and we are expecting the first of 100 new refugee families to arrive by summer.
Lewisham, like the rest of the country, is facing the effects of a severe housing crisis. That’s why delivering 1,000 new social homes is a top priority for the Labour council administration. It has identified 28 new sites for social homes and, following the success of PLACE/Ladywell, confirmed three more innovative pop-up housing developments. This will lift 112 homeless families out of emergency accommodation.
Lewisham has among the country’s best Early Years Services and among London’s leading primary schools, and now our secondary schools are beginning to see improvements. The Council is spear-heading Lewisham Learning, a borough-wide schools partnership, funded by schools and the Council coming together, and we are already seeing results. Lewisham’s GCSE results are improving faster than the national average and more parents are choosing a Lewisham school as the first choice for the children.
Lewisham Council has also been focussing on local growth that benefits residents. It recently celebrated giving 50 agency staff permanent contracts, and is working to get that number up. It has also signed up 23 new London Living Wage employers in the borough and enrolled 35 new apprentices on the Mayor’s Apprenticeship scheme.
Like many other poorer areas of the country, childhood obesity rates are a challenge in Lewisham. By becoming the first council to ban junk food advertising and signing up 10,000 children to the Daily Mile challenge, we are supporting residents to make healthier choices.
Last year, Lewisham’s parks were ranked best in the capital by ‘Parks for London’. We are incredibly proud of our parks and the Council has invested in the regeneration of Beckenham Place Park, South East London’s largest park, so it becomes a thriving green space for current and future generations. It will also be home to South London’s first wild swimming pond from this summer.
Air pollution is a significant health risk across London and Lewisham Council has been working hard to clean up its air and push for national action. It has successfully campaigned for the Ultra Low Emission Zone to be extended to Lewisham, declared a climate emergency and welcomed over 3,000 clean buses as part of the Mayor of London’s Low Emissions Bus Zones.
The Conservatives have overseen huge cuts to police budgets and youth services, and crime is an increasing concern for communities. Lewisham Council has supported four local youth projects in their £282,000 bid from the Greater London Authority and is campaigning vocally against damaging Conservative cuts.
Swinging Conservative Government cuts are hitting communities and residents hard. However, despite its reduced funding, Labour-led Lewisham Council is working hard to build a Lewisham for the many. Ultimately, we need a Labour Government that will properly invest in local services that matter to residents.
To join our campaigns and help us deliver a Lewisham for the many, get in touch here.