8 April 2009
CLLR JOHN FRIARY
Labour Camberwell Green ward
020 7564 8766 / 07960255330
From EDINBURGH via Birmingham, to collecting for miners outside Bermondsey Town Hall and then finally onto Camberwell, Cllr John Friary now couldn’t imagine himself living anywhere else.
“I’ve been a Camberwell councillor since 1994 and have always represented the ward I’ve lived in. Fifteen years - I can’t believe it myself!
“I got involved in politics during the miners’ strike when I was at university in Birmingham. I joined NALGO, a trade union that became UNISON and was working for Southwark Council, then collecting for the miners outside Bermondsey Town Hall in my spare time. We had adopted a pit down in Kent, where we’d send the money for the miners’ families, and in 1985 we were collecting £200 an hour.
“I joined the Labour party as a staff side rep straight after the ‘86 elections and then stood in 1994 - so hardly what you’d call a meteoric rise...”
Since then, in addition to his work as a health and safety advisor at the London Metropolitan University, Cllr Friary has proved one of the longest standing local councillors, throwing himself wholeheartedly into SE5 issues - and he admits he’s lost none of his enthusiasm for the area.
“Camberwell is one of those places that everyone says has so much potential - you always hear people saying how it’s up and coming. Whether that’s desirable or not is another question. It does need some changes, but not on the scale of Elephant or the Aylesbury Estate.
Now obviously isn’t a good time to encourage businesses to start up, but there are people in Butterfly Walk shopping centre who are interested in improving the businesses the area has. And I’m very interested in the idea of making Camberwell a real arts area - it doesn’t just have to be about art galleries, but more about public art and exhibitions.
“We’ve also got £100,000 of funds to improve the green, and we’ll look to implement much of the action plan we submitted for the Mayor’s park bid, which we unfortunately didn’t win.”
Ever the optimist, Cllr Friary nevertheless has concerns about the impact on Camberwell when most of Town Hall ups sticks and moves to Tooley Street. “Traders locally are really worried - especially restaurants. We asked for an environmental impact assessment and got half a page knocked out - it was a disgrace. Obviously the leisure centre is also a real issue for us locally.
The council has now pinned it all on a government funding bid and if it fails - there are 440 bids for £50m of funding - I fear that the council will use this as an excuse to drop any plans to refurbish it.
“Having said all that, the Chief Executive came to the last Community Council and said that once Elephant & Castle was done and dusted, Camberwell was top of her list.
“I didn’t know there was any such list - but I’m glad to hear we’re top of it!”
RAILTON ROAD SE24,
Leasehold, For Sale
TEA TRADE WHARF SE1, £1,295,000 , For Sale
TOWER BRIDGE WHARF E1W, £550 , per week, For Sale
PROVIDENCE SQUARE SE1, £1,600,000 , For Sale