Town Hall Briefings
Since the local elections in May we have collated a monthly briefing for all local Labour members. This highlights the work we have been doing in the Council, in the Community, and the achievements we have made with help of local activists. We will be updating this page with the newest addition each month.
Welcome to the sixth and final of the year Lewisham Labour Town Hall Briefing – our monthly newsletter giving a snapshot of the highlights that our excellent Local Councillors and members have been getting up to for the benefit of the residents of Lewisham. We’ve had an exceptionally busy couple of months and our last Full Council was full of incredibly important Motions that we were proud to bring and pass, with the help of our campaigning members, unions and activists.
UNISON Ethical Care Charter
Following on from being passed at last month’s Full Council meeting Lewisham has formally signed UNISON’s Ethical Care Charter. The Charter guarantees working conditions for carers across the borough and ensures Care workers will get:
- The training and support that they need
- Fair pay, especially for anti-social hours and overnights
- Time to care for their clients.
Damien Egan, Mayor of Lewisham and Councillor Christ Best, Deputy Mayor of Lewisham, welcomed Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, to the formal signing. Speaking at the signing, Damien said:
‘We are proud to have signed the UNISON ethical care charter. Ensuring our residents receive the highest quality care is one of our important priorities. But we know that the high quality care our residents deserve only comes when those who deliver it are respected, well trained and well paid. UNISON’s Dave Prentis said: ‘By signing UNISON’s ethical care charter, Lewisham Council is showing its dedication to its most vulnerable residents.
White Ribbon Campaign
Following on from last month’s update whereby Lewisham Council was delighted to welcome the White Ribbon Status it was awarded from White Ribbon UK and was pleased to unanimously pass the Full Council motion recognising this. Lewisham Labour Group encourages all Members to take the White Ribbon Pledge, promote the White Ribbon principles. We pledge to stand up, and never standby and to end male violence against women, once and for all.
GMB: Protecting School Staff
We were proud to welcome to President of the GMB (as well as lifelong Lewisham resident) Barbara Plant to our Full Council meeting last week, speaking in support of the Protecting School Staff motion proposed by Cabinet Member for Schools Cllr Chris Barnham passed. We are proud to support the work the General Trade Union (GMB) has undertaken to raise awareness of the health and safety of children and adults in schools and the impact violence has on the wider community. We believe that that no worker should face violent or threatening behaviour in the workplace and that violence in schools is no difference to any other health and safety risk and should be treated accordingly. We are calling for a continued awareness in schools of the risks that both adults and children face and the appropriate mechanisms to be used when reporting violent behaviour.
Welcoming 100 Refugee Families
Here in Lewisham we’re proud to be delivering on our manifesto commitment to extend our Refugees Programme to welcome another 100 families. This will make us London’s leading borough for refugee resettlement. Unfortunately, the Home Office have only agreed to provide funding until 2020 for councils like Lewisham who have refugee resettlement programmes. Last month we wrote to Home Secretary Sajid Javid in support of Citizens UK’s campaign to extend funding beyond the next two years.
We continue to work hard to honour our commitment to doing all we can to reduce air pollution in Lewisham. This includes seven anti-idling events, funded by the GLA, at schools across the borough to educate and encourage residents to turn off their engines while outside some of our most polluted schools. This work is also helping spread the word about air pollution with many more residents becoming engaged with this important topic. In addition Cllr Louise Krupski, our Clean Air Champion, is visiting local assemblies to give a detailed report about what Lewisham is currently doing to combat the problem and helping residents understand what they can do themselves. We are particularly proud of the £4.3m new monitoring super-site which will be opening early next year in Honor Oak. This has been located in our borough, in part, due to the excellent working relationship we have had with Kings College London who are the leading experts in this field. This is only a snap-shot of some of the work we are doing and if you would like to hear more please do try and attend your assembly meeting when Louise will be giving her talk.
Welcome to the fifth Lewisham Labour Town Hall Briefing – our monthly newsletter giving a snapshot of the highlights that our excellent Local Councillors and members have been getting up to for the benefit of the residents of Lewisham.
London Living Wage Week
We are proud that Lewisham Council is one of the councils leading the way on the real living wage. In 2012, we were the first council in the UK, alongside Islington, to become an accredited living wage employer. As well as ensuring all our hard-working staff earn a real living wage, we also require our contractors to do the same for their employees.
Led by Cllr Joe Dromey, cabinet member for finance, skills and jobs, we’ve been working hard to encourage businesses to follow our example. Our manifesto for the local elections in May included a commitment to double the number of living wage employers in Lewisham, which we’ll achieve by rolling out our business rate discount for employers who pay fairly. The Mayor’s Business Awards celebrated the contributions of local businesses to our vibrant community, with a special award for living wage employers. Local MPs and councillors will be visiting living wage employers across the borough to show their appreciation, as well as encourage others to sign up.
Local Democracy Review
In this year’s Lewisham Labour manifesto Damien Egan made a number of personal pledges as Mayor including holding a review to make the Council even more democratic, open and transparent.
This has now been realised as Lewisham Council’s Local Democracy Review. A councillors’ working group has been tasked to make recommendations to enhance openness and transparency, increase public involvement and encourage effective decision-making. We are very keen for Labour members to discuss this too as part of a wide-ranging community conversation – working group councillors would be happy to attend branch meetings or events to facilitate this. Please email Kevin Bonavia at email@example.com for more info or visit www.lewishamdemocracy.com.
New Young Mayor 2018
Adam Abdullah has been declared Lewisham’s fifteenth young mayor following an election that attracted a turnout of 58.37%. The 15-year-old Addey and Stanhope School pupil won after taking 1,981 votes. Adam ran on a manifesto promising equality, accountability and support for refugees.
The new young mayor said: ‘Young people voted for change. I promised that change, and I will deliver change. I’m looking forward to working with others to deliver help to those who need it.’
Adam will be in office for one year and will have a budget of £25,000 to spend on priorities identified by young people.
Despite the heavy-handed Tory cuts inflicted on our borough, we were proud to once again host one of the largest (and only!) free-to-the-public Fireworks display and events in London. Blackheath welcomed almost 100,000 visitors to enjoy its annual fireworks event, a day and evening for Lewisham residents and beyond to take part in funfairs, games, and enjoy some of the finest local food & drink Lewisham has to offer! As you can imagine a display as large and inclusive as this one does not come cheap – so if you can help spare a few quid to keep this going for another year – we’d be super grateful!
People’s Vote Motion & March
As we wrote in a motion recently passed at Labour Group and then Full Council, “It is now two years since the Brexit vote and the Government still has no satisfactory Brexit plan. The Labour Party in Lewisham, and our current mayor, campaigned extensively for Remain locally during the Referendum campaign. Whilst the UK narrowly voted to leave the EU in the Referendum, approximately 70% of voters in the London Borough of Lewisham voted to remain. We believe that Labour Councils and the constituents they represent, already struggling as a result of the “austerity” policies of this Tory government, will be hit hardest by the detrimental economic effects of Brexit.”
As well as passing motions and committing to campaign for Remain in the event of a second referendum, Lewisham Labour Group – with a large number of our excellent members were out in force at the People’s Vote March representing Lewisham faithfully!
White Ribbon Campaign
Lewisham Council welcomes the White Ribbon Status that it has been awarded from White Ribbon UK. Lewisham Labour Group encourages all Members to take the White Ribbon Pledge, promote the White Ribbon principles, and pledge to stand up, and never standby.
Welcome to the fourth Lewisham Labour Town Hall Briefing – our monthly newsletter giving a snapshot of the highlights that our excellent Local Councillors and members have been getting up to for the benefit of the residents of Lewisham. As I’m sure our members would agree (having bumped into several of them!) Labour Conference in Liverpool this year was an incredibly enriching experience for Labour activists and politicians and great to hear the Labour’s radical socialist agenda for government. Much of it will give local government the power to deliver for the many, not the few. Examples include:
- Bringing water back into public ownership, which would be run by local authorities with workers, trade unions, environmental and community groups on their boards
- Investing in public services and reversing the detrimental cuts to Local Councils
- Giving local government the power to build schools
- Doubling council tax on holiday and second homes
And we’re sure you’re just as excited to make this happen as we are.
Former Councillor Solomon Brown RIP and Former Councillor Gurbahksh Garcha RIP. We at Lewisham Labour were incredibly saddened to hear of the passing of our two esteemed former colleagues. They contributed so much to politics in Lewisham and our thoughts are with the friends and families they leave behind.
UNISON’s Ethical Care Charter
Following on from Thursday 20th September’s Mayor & Cabinet meeting we are delighted to announce the unanimous passing of Lewisham Labour’s decision to accept and incorporate UNISON’s Ethical Care Charter. This is a simple way for councils to improve homecare for the vulnerable people they are responsible for. It is a set of commitments that councils make which fix minimum standards that will protect the dignity and quality of life for those people and the workers who care for them. The over-riding objective behind the Charter is to establish a minimum baseline for the safety, quality and dignity of care by ensuring employment conditions which a) do not routinely short change clients and b) ensure the recruitment and retention of a more stable workforce through more sustainable pay, conditions and training levels. We very much look forward to implementing this going forward, and continuing to provide a service that our residents can be proud of.
Refugee Resettlement Programme
At the same meeting the proposal to receive a further 100 refugee families was formally approved by unanimous decision– with Mayor Damien Egan highlighting the progress being made with not only another significant Manifesto commitment being met – but the continuation of Lewisham leading the way in London as the Borough for Refugee Resettlement.
Black History Month
We were delighted to introduce the start of Black History Month this October by raising the above flag outside the Civic Suite in Catford. Lewisham Labour will continue to champion fairness and equalities and celebrate diversity in our wonderful Borough.
Lewisham Council and their library services are hosting a wide array of events in celebration of this month, including multiple free film-screenings, theatre performances, arts & crafts, book events with their authors and even storytelling for children! For a full list of events and all corresponding details please go to the link below – we look forward to seeing you there.
Lewisham Labour have passed several motions this last month aimed at continuing our socialist vision for the community, with particular focus on those most vulnerable members, ensuring we further emphasise our strapline of “for the many, not the few”. A particular highlight of “democracy in action” arose from a motion passed in support of the striking Goldsmith’s cleaners.
The “Justice for Cleaners” campaign started after cleaning services at Goldsmith University were outsourced to ISS, a Danish “facility services provider,” which had made changes to shift patterns and shortened hours.
The Mayor, alongside fellow Lewisham Labour members, councillors and candidates joined the workers and students of Goldsmiths University on the picket line in Deptford. A motion was passed at Labour Group to show our solidarity with their struggle and support their “Justice for Cleaners” campaign in a bid to get them to insource their contracts, which currently leave them in precarious positions with regards to their jobs and livelihoods.
Following on from this we are delighted to announce that the university has now agreed to make the 100 Cleaners University staff, and bring the contracts in house. A spokesman said:
“The new plans will ensure that cleaners at Goldsmiths benefit from increased annual leave allowance, access to a better pension provision, and maternity, paternity and adoption leave and pay in line with other Goldsmiths staff.”
We’d like to welcome you back to the third Town Hall Briefing and hope you’ve all had a fantastic summer in this (mostly) incredible weather! Whilst the Parliamentary recess came into play for our MPs, that hasn’t stopped our local Councillors continuing their hard work in the community over the Summer; from joining picket lines against Staff & Wage Cuts in Schools and Hospitals, to volunteering with the People’s Day stall and even helping co-ordinate Deptford’s very own Pride Festival, everyone has been extremely busy!
We are really pleased and incredibly proud of all students in Lewisham receiving exam results this summer, and the statistics show we have reason to be! Overall, the percentage of pupils getting both English and maths GCSE at grade 4 or above has improved by 2%, four times the national improvement average of 0.5%, and almost all schools in Lewisham showed improvement. This reflects the positive impact of the Lewisham Secondary Challenge, the borough-wide school improvement programme. One of the initial areas the Secondary Challenge has been focusing on is improving attainment in maths and this is where the most significant improvements have been. On top of this, the borough-wide results improved by 4% which is a real achievement for our pupils. Cabinet Member for School Performance Cllr. Chris Barnham said “These are encouraging results. We have shown our determination to drive up secondary education attainment through our partnership with the schools. It’s great to see signs of this work paying off but we are not complacent. I know our hardworking teachers and school leaders will not be satisfied until every pupil in Lewisham gets the high-quality education which is increasingly the norm in our borough.”
A big thank you to all of you who helped out or visited our wonderful Lewisham Labour stall at People’s Day in July. Despite the heat and winds which threatened to blow our tent away – not to mention the World Cup clash – the stall was a success with lots of people coming to chat to us and sign up to help, so it was great that we had a presence there again this year.
Many of you will remember one of our 2018 Lewisham Labour manifesto commitments was to campaign for and increase the provision of water fountains in our parks, to reduce plastic waste and help save the environment. Cabinet Member with responsibility for Parks & Green Space Cllr. Sophie McGeevor was delighted to announce that following this commitment, three new water fountains funded by the OneLessBTL project will shortly be installed in: Ladywell fields, Beckenham Place Park & Horniman Museum and Gardens.
New homes & Tidemill Gardens update
We are making progress on delivery of 1,000 new homes with the Mayor and Cabinet agreement to proceed with the Deptford Southern Housing sites on Amersham Vale and Tidemill. Members will be aware that Tidemill Gardens have been in the local news recently and there has been a lot of hearsay and misinformation around the subject.
For reference, Peabody and their contracting partner will build 329 new homes in total including 104 net social rented homes on Tidemill and 24 net social homes on Amersham Vale. Through political negotiation with Peabody, an agreement has been reached that 117 (including the re-provision of the existing 13 Council homes) of the 209 new homes on the Tidemill site will be at lifetime tenancies and we have assurances on those carrying on in perpetuity. This is defined in the Development Agreement. The reason for proceeding is simply about housing as many of our fellow residents in secure, decent housing as quick as possible. As of the end of June 2018, there were 9,579 households on the housing waiting list and 2,001 households in temporary accommodation.
London Car Free Day
London Car Free Day is a celebration to encourage Londoners to cycle, walk, use public transport and hold street parties. Less car usage can lead to cleaner air, healthier lives and closer communities. Lewisham Council are organising some events in the run-up to London Car Free Day including:
- Learn to ride bike lessons
- Bike maintenance sessions
- Led bike rides into central London.
This will take place on Saturday 22nd September, see the #LondonCarFreeDay2018 hashtag on twitter for more information.
Open House London
Many of you will already be aware of the brilliant Open House London project which for one weekend a year opens up some of London’s most fascinating private buildings for total public consumption. The stunning Beckenham Place Park Mansion will be opening again on Saturday 22nd September alongside numerous other buildings in the borough. For all of the open houses taking part in Lewisham this year, please follow the link below:
The Budget Challenge
It is now conventional wisdom that the biggest challenge we face as a borough is Tory cuts. Our budget has been cut from £400 million to just £230 million. And the government now want to cut our budget by another £50 million pounds on top of everything we’ve already endured. We know this challenge isn’t just immense, it is plain wrong. Lewisham will be a campaigning, anti-austerity council. We will challenge government cuts, and find creative and imaginative ways to articulate the real story of austerity in our communities, including using legal challenges against the Government when we believe they’re acting illegally. We will continue to do this whilst simultaneously working to shift this austerity-obsessed Tory government and replace it with a socialist Labour government, working for the many, not the few.
JUNE / JULY 2018
Welcome to the second Town Hall Briefing, a report from Lewisham Labour each month updating members on the goings on in Lewisham and the work that your Labour Councillors (and Mayor!) are doing in the community.
As you know, at the Lewisham East by-election on 13th June 2018, residents of Lewisham voted overwhelmingly for Lewisham Labour’s own Janet Daby to be new MP for Lewisham East.
This is a huge testament to the incredible work Janet has done as a Councillor in Lewisham over the years and we look forward to working with her to shift this austerity-obsessed Tory government and replace it with a socialist Labour government, working for the many, not the few.
Whilst we are all undoubtedly sad to see Heidi leave us, we want to thank her for her years of commitment and wish her the absolute best in her new role as Deputy Mayor for Transport at City Hall. We look forward to her supporting us as we campaign for the Bakerloo Line extension.
The Mayor’s Charity
The Mayor is delighted to announce that the new Mayor’s Charity will be local homeless charity, the 999 Club. Based in Deptford, the 999 Club, with just 13 members of staff and over 50 regular volunteers, do huge amounts of work to help homeless people in Lewisham. Homelessness is an issue close to all of our hearts and we are delighted to be able to support their work. We will be working with the 999 Club to support Council run fundraising activities. Once we have a calendar of events these will be shared with all members who are of course welcome to join.
In the meantime if you would like to donate to support the 999 Club you can do so here.
Lewisham Southwark College
As we’re sure a lot of you will be aware, there is currently on ongoing industrial dispute between the teachers at Lewisham Southwark College – represented by the University and College Union (UCU) – and their employers, Newcastle College Group (NCG). A motion was taken to Lewisham Labour Group on the 25th June by Cllr. Stephen Penfold, and it was agreed that Group would “write to the UCU and LSC…stating that whilst we are not unsympathetic to NCG and LSC’s financial problems it is unacceptable for staff to receive only a 1% pay rise in the last 9 years and a resolution needs to be found as soon as possible and that we are happy to assist in any way possible to ensure a resolution is reached.”
Several of our Councillors have been joining staff on picket lines and we hope for a satisfactory resolution to the issue as soon as possible. We have also invited the UCU to speak at our next Labour Group meeting and give an update on the situation. The staff are very grateful for support from all members and we will keep you updated on this issue.
NHS 70th Birthday
After the success of the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign we were delighted to join over 50,000 others on Saturday to celebrate the 70th Birthday of our world-leading National Health Service on the 5th July.
We are incredibly proud of our NHS and will always fight for decent healthcare, as we must do in the words of the great Nye Bevan.
People’s Day – Saturday 7th July
We look forward to welcoming you all to Lewisham’s Annual People’s Day – and hope you’ll visit our Lewisham Labour stall in the big top! For those of you who have yet to experience the delights of Lewisham’s very own festival, it will be held from 12pm in Mountsfield Park, it will be FREE and there will be an array of local food, drink and entertainment on offer exhibiting all of Lewisham’s finest!
At the Lewisham Labour stall you will be able to pop by and say hello to a selection of your local Councillors – with an interactive “Guess where the Mayor is” game that should keep you on your toes! If you would like to help out on the day or volunteer, please contact our Group Secretary Cllr. Alex-Feis Bryce with your details, we hope to see as many of you there as possible!
Welcome to the first Town Hall Briefing, a report on Lewisham Council each month.
Local Election Results
As you know, at the local election on 3 May 2018 residents of Lewisham voted for Labour’s Damien Egan to be Mayor of Lewisham and voted for all of Labour’s 54 candidates to be councillors for the next four years.
This is a huge privilege and I want to thank the people of Lewisham for putting your trust in us. Our election result is testament to the record of Steve Bullock who led our Council for 16 years.
Delivering for Lewisham
We stood on a bold and radical manifesto to change our borough. Over the next four years, we will:
- Work together with our school heads, teachers, governors, teaching unions and parents to improve our secondary schools. Maintain the best early years education in the country and amongst the best primary schools in London
- Deliver 1,000 new social homes, build four new pop-up developments for homeless families like PLACE/Ladywell, and seek to deliver a borough-wide landlord licensing scheme for private renters.
- Resist any attempts to close Lewisham A&E or downgrade our hospital. Protect our home care staff by signing UNISON’s Ethical Care Charter this year. Fight to protect social care budgets which we know are going to be placed under huge pressure from government cuts.
- Work together with the police, our hospitals and our mental health services to develop a new public health approach to youth violence.
- Double the number of living wage employers in Lewisham and expand our apprenticeship programme offering our young people a route into the jobs and opportunities our city has to offer.
- Establish a new Greening Fund to enhance our green spaces, paid for by a levy on private developers. We will clean our air by making it easier to cycle in the borough and build a new segregated cycle superhighway connecting Downham to Deptford.
New Cabinet and council appointments
We have announced a new cabinet which for the first time includes job shares to promote flexible working:
- Councillor Chris Best, Deputy Mayor of Lewisham and Cabinet Member for Health & Adult Social Care
- Councillor Kevin Bonavia, Cabinet Member for Democracy, Refugees and Accountability
- Councillor Chris Barnham, Cabinet Member for School Performance
- Councillor Paul Bell, Cabinet Member for Housing
- Councillor Joani Reid, Cabinet Member for Safer Communities
- Councillor Jonathan Slater, Cabinet Member for the Community Sector
- Councillor Amanda de Ryk and Councillor Joe Dromey, Cabinet Member for Finance, Skills and Jobs (job share)
- Councillor Brenda Dacres and Councillor Sophie McGeevor, Cabinet Member for Parks, Neighbourhoods and Transport (job share)
We also have other new council appointments:
- Councillor Bill Brown, Chair of Overview and Scrutiny
- Councillor Joan Millbank, Chair of Labour Group
- Councillor Hilary Moore, Chief Whip
- Councillor Jacq Paschoud, Chair of Council
- Councillor Andre Bourne, Vice Chair of Council
Our work so far
We have hit the ground running delivering for residents. Since the election less than four weeks ago, we have:
- Announced we will bid for over £50 million from ‘Building Council Homes for Londoners’ a new £1.67 billion fund launched by Sadiq Khan to kick-start the delivery of 1,000 new social homes.
- Cancelled the sale of Saville Community Centre in Catford to a property developer. We will build council homes instead and if feasible a new community centre.
- Been awarded £440,000 from Sadiq Khan to plant thousands of new trees and support the restoration of the Georgian lake at Beckenham Place Park. We will create a new wildlife habitat and be used for open water swimming, the first of its kind in south London.
- Appointed Liane Segal as Mayoress of Lewisham. In 1939, when she was just seven years old, Liane fled her home with the Kindertransport to escape the Nazis. Liane’s appointment is one of a series of steps we are taking to redouble Lewisham’s commitment to equalities, including expanding our refugee resettlement programme so Lewisham will become a Sanctuary Borough.
- Announced public Mayor’s Question Time with the first session as part of the Perry Vale Assembly on Wednesday 6 June.
- Started the review of all agency staff employed by the Council for longer than six months with the aim of moving staffing in-house.
The Budget Challenge
The biggest challenge we face as a borough is Tory cuts. Our budget has been cut from £400 million to just £230 million. And the government now want to cut our budget by another £50 million pounds on top of everything we’ve already endured.
We know this challenge isn’t just immense, it’s plain wrong. Lewisham will be a campaigning, anti-austerity council. We will challenge government cuts, and find creative and imaginative ways to articulate the real story of austerity in our communities, including using legal challenges against the Government when we believe they’re acting illegally.