Mugs for Lewisham Hospital

Mugs for Lewisham Hospital

An old friend from Deptford City Challenge days sent me a mug today with a modern nursery rhyme on it making a pointed reference to one Jeremy Hunt. The mugs are on sale and for every one sold £2.50 goes to the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign. It is well worth a look and there is a rather nice Thatcher mug too!


Lewisham stands together against extremism

The proposed march by the BNP from Woolwich to the Lewisham Islamic Centre was clearly intended to create division in our community by exploiting the horror and revulsion we all feel about the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby.  The united response by Lewisham’s communities  to reject this has been very positive.

We have worked closely with the Police to ensure that our borough remained a safe and peaceful place this weekend and I applaud their decision to re-route the march away from Greenwich and Lewisham.

The citizens of Lewisham have views which differ on matters of politics, religion and many other things from climate change to football.  Those views are debated and when appropriate differences are settled through our democratic processes.  Sometimes we are forced to protest but as the campaign to save Lewisham Hospital has shown this can be done in calm, peaceful ways that make the point but do not turn neighbour against neighbour. 

I am sure their intention was the complete opposite but the BNP appear to have brought our community closer together as strongly held views have been put aside to say that we do not want their vile and extreme views polluting our borough.

Murder in Woolwich

The the brutal murder which happened yesterday in Woolwich was so appalling that it is hard to accept that such a thing could happen in the middle of the day just a few miles away.  My first thoughts were for the family and friends of the innocent young man who died.

Since then it has been clear that there is potential for significant community tension across London over the coming days and that Lewisham will inevitably be at risk. We are a neighbouring borough and we have both military installations and mosques in our borough.

I attach a statement from the Lewisham Islamic Centre which makes clear their horror at the events which took place yesterday.

LIC’S Press Release on the Tragic Events in Woolwich
“We are deeply shocked by the tragic and disturbing events which unfolded in Woolwich on Wednesday 22 of May. It is further disturbing to hear that these individuals were Muslims. From our perspective, we would like to clarify and confirm categorically, that these actions are in no way, shape or form from the teachings of Islam. Islam’s position on the sanctity of life, the concept of justice and the value of human life is such that the Quran equates the taking of one human life unjustly, with killing all of humanity – thus the Quran prohibits murder in clear terms [Glorious Quran, Ch 5, verse 32].

It is inevitable at times like these that various groups will seek to drive a wedge between communities. We believe our community in the London Borough of Lewisham (“LBL”) is an excellent one that has an outstanding record with respect to community cohesion within and beyond LBL. We sincerely hope that the heinous crime that has taken place will not lead to long term discord within the borough or beyond.”

I also attach a link to the Metropolitan Police statement

Council officials have been in contact since last evening and throughout the day with appropriate people and are monitoring the situation very closely so that we can take action if necessary.

I sincerely believe that the overwhelming majority of Lewisham residents will share not only absolute horror at what has happened but a determination not to let it destroy the harmony  of our community.


Haseltine nominated for Primary School of the Year

Congratulations to Haseltine Primary School in Sydenham who have been nominated for Primary School of the Year at the TES School Awards.

I’m delighted for the leadership team at Haseltine, and in particular the Executive Head Teacher Mark Wilson, who has done so much to transform the school into one of the best in Lewisham.

Last year, 92% of pupils achieved Level 4 or above in both English and mathematics, well above both the local and national averages. It was just a few short years ago that Haseltine was performing poorly, and I am delighted that such a turn around has been achieved so quickly.

Haseltine is just one of a number of excellent primary schools in Lewisham. It is no accident that our schools have achieved real improvements in recent years as the Council has dedicated significant time and effort to assist our schools to get better and better.

I wish the school and all those involved the best of luck for when the winners are announced on 5th July.

Raising the Capital – London Finance Commission Report

The London Finance Commission published a very interesting report, Raising the Capital, earlier today. The Finance Commission was set up by Boris with the involvement of London Council leaders and chaired by Tony Travers of the LSE. They have produced a very useful report which addresses many of the concerns Lewisham and other boroughs have.

The report makes a series of recommendations and picks up on a proposal made by an IPPR report last year to further devolve housing budgets to the Capital to promote a shift in public spending from housing benefit to investment in house building, as well as supporting calls for borough HRA borrowing caps to be removed.

It is worth reading in more detail and contains some interesting ideas about how to get the best deal for London from central government.

Discussing Brutalist Architecture with Phil Tufnell


Steve & Phil Tufnell

I was interviewed recently by former England Cricketer Phil Tufnell for a film to be shown on the One Show about Brutalist Architecture such as Milford Towers and the Catford Town Centre complex.

We discussed why the buildings, built in the 1960s, didn’t work for the people living there and what the Council has planned for the regeneration of Catford Town Centre.

The programme will be shown before the summer, it will be worth a watch.

Lewisham is a peaceful place to live

The claim from last week’s UK Peace Index that Lewisham was the least peaceful place in England and Wales came as a surprise. Having lived here for more than 30 years it is not a description that I recognise and I am pleased that many local people have come out in defence of our community.

I have some genuine concerns about the methodology behind the report and the Council is looking at how it can challenge the findings. In particular, I am unsure whether the five indicators they have selected are the most appropriate to judge the peacefulness of a particular locality. Some of the issues that Clare’s Diary, a local blog, has raised deserve to be read in detail.

However, this does not mean I am complacent about the issues facing Lewisham. I, along with Cllr Janet Daby, Cabinet member for Community Safety, am fully focused on making the borough a safer place. We work very closely with the Police to tackle the problems that exist. There is still work to be done but I am pleased to say that crime levels are falling across the board.

But it is not just the Council and the Police who are committed to making Lewisham safer. I’m delighted that community groups such as the Jimmy Mizen Foundation and Young Citizens, as well as young people like Camilla Yahaya are dedicating their time and efforts to promote the message of peace. I am fully supportive of the 10,000 hands campaign and would encourage as many young people as possible to get involved.