Cllr Crada Onuegbu

I was extremely sorry to learn recently of the death of Cllr Crada Onuegbu after a long illness.  Crada served with me on Lewisham Council for many years.  She was the Cabinet member for Community Safety and later for Young People.  She also served as a member of the London Fire and Civil Defence Authority and at the time of her death she was chair of the national organisation Local Authority Action for Southern Africa.

She made an outstanding contribution to our borough in many ways and only stood down as a cabinet member due to ill health.  Her understanding of the issues which faced our community in the context of dealing with crime and safety was outstanding and her commitment to our young people was unstinting.

I am proud to have had Crada as a colleague and a friend and I know that we lost a great servant of our borough.  Our thoughts are with her family at this sad time.

My South London Press column, 09/09/2016

The description of London’s green spaces as “The Lungs of London” goes back to the 18th century and is attributed to William Pitt, the Elder, who served as Prime Minister. Lewisham certainly has some great parks that act as its lungs from Blackheath to Blythe Hill fields and many more. However the opening of a brand new park isn’t something that happens very often but last weekend in Deptford I was able to do just that when Charlottenburg Park was officially launched. There is a little history to this and to the name of the park. Deptford Green Secondary School suffered from being spread cross two sites and a few years ago it was rebuilt on one of the sites by using some of the land that had been part of Fordham Park.

The new school is a great building and works much better than the old ones but in a city as crowded as London green spaces are important and the decision was made that the parkland lost – should be replaced. The second school site which was released following the completion of the new building will eventually provide much needed housing but it was agreed with the developers of the site that they would provide the new park there as well. It will be some time before the housing begins to be built but the developers kindly agreed to do the park before anything happens.

This new open space has things for all ages with play equipment and spaces to simply sit and watch the world go by – and some “stepping stones” which are great fun for young and old! The local community were consulted about what the name should be and I was delighted that they chose “Charlottenburg Park”. In 1968 Lewisham “twinned” with Charlottenburg” and there have been many links made between the two towns since, involving local residents, and cultural and sporting exchanges. At the launch we were joined by the DUCK Cycle Club – a family friendly club based in Lewisham. Some of the club members recently cycled all the way to Charlottenburg from Lewisham.

Lewishamstrasse is a wide avenue leading off the main shopping street in Charlottenburg and while there was an area near our town centre known as “Charlottenburg Gardens” it wasn’t easy to find and has now disappeared with the new road layout there. The new park is very different and we will be proud to take future visitors from Charlottenburg to see it. We may be leaving the EU at some point very soon but those links of friendship which extend across Europe will continue.

As summer comes to an end we will all be getting ready to deal with the very significant challenges that continue to face our borough and our city but seeing a lovely new green space coming into use was a very positive way to start.