Letters to the editor: 04/05/17

(04 May, 2017)

A call to arms from the Wendover Community TRA; a ticked off response to pubs' swearing ban; and what to do when politicians come canvasing

Open letter to get TRA hall back

We oppose the tendering out of Thurlow Lodge Community Hall on the Aylesbury Estate.

Thurlow Lodge is a tenants’ and residents’ (TRA) hall located on the ground floor of Wendover block. It was previously run by a management committee of three Aylesbury TRAs and Creation Trust. The management committee decided last year to give up the running of the hall and close it down, handing the keys to the council.

In January, the council tried to lock the hall up and evict homeless charity Divine Rescue which is based at Thurlow Lodge.  Divine Rescue and their supporters, including tenants and residents of the Aylesbury Estate occupied the hall and prevented the closure. Wendover Community TRA (WCTRA) was set up to ensure the continued use of the hall as a TRA hall and to protect the interests of the residents Wendover block.

Now the council is refusing to allow WCTRA to manage the hall and is instead going through a tender process to invite other operators. WCTRA should have the right to manage its own TRA hall. Where there are TRA halls on other estates in Southwark, the local TRA manages them. It is not right to treat the residents of the Aylesbury Estate less favourably than other residents in the borough, especially when they are facing the destruction of their homes and dispersal of their community.

This is effectively a privatisation of the hall. The tender document does not preclude a private company bidding for the contract, although it is supposed to be run “not for profit”. The contract does not provide for the TRA to have more than two general meetings in a year in the hall, and the hall will be allowed to be subdivided. This shows that the council has no real commitment to supporting the TRA to provide events, meetings and activities through their own democratic self-organised structure. There is also no acknowledgement that Divine Rescue use the main hall and the kitchen to provide lunches for the homeless, or that Divine Rescue holds a business lease for the premises.

Seventeen Southwark TRA reps signed an open letter to the council in January to withdraw the threat of tendering the hall. They received no response. Eleven Southwark community groups wrote to the council in February to express support for WCTRA and said that they were willing to work with WCTRA to ensure the hall is used as a fully functioning TRA hall with all the appropriate community events and activities. Again, they received no response.

We now call on Southwark Council to stop this tender process and immediately transfer Thurlow Lodge from the regeneration department to the housing department where it can be looked after in the same way as every other TRA hall in the borough.  We call on the council to hand the keys to Thurlow Lodge to the tenants and residents of Wendover and support WCTRA in their efforts to manage their own TRA hall on their own estate.

Tanya Murat, Committee member, on behalf of Wendover Community TRA

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What to ask when the politicians knock

In the run up to the General Election, you are going to get people knocking on your door begging for you to vote for them.

One of the things that they will promise is something called “Affordable housing”.

Please please please, ask them what defines “Affordable housing”.

I can absolutely guarantee that they won’t be able give you an answer.

I have recently seen two adverts for properties in Spa Road. One is for a 1 bedroom flat that is up for sale for just under half a million quid. The other is for a 2 bedroom flat in The Old Town Hall for £840,000.

I would love to know how much Southwark Council sold off the Old Town Hall in Spa Road for.

Affordable housing in Bermondsey for local people?

Well yes. It’s affordable if you just happen to be a multimillionaire!

But how many of you old Bermondsey people, or how many old Bermondsey people do you know who are multimillionaires?

Tony Moorcroft, Bermondsey

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Swearing under new age of gentrification

By the way “who the !@#$ are Sam Smiths”?, ‘Drinkers must swear to be good,  Southwark News, April 27, 2017

The days were when there was, Watneys, Courage, Truman, Charrington, Taylor Walker etc. There wasn’t this stuck up attitude about swearing, but don’t forget pubs were where working class men came back from the docks and let off a bit of steam.

Also before ‘the politically correct brigade’ come along, the pubs had the Public Bar, Saloon Bar and even a Private Bar in some boozers. Maybe that saying will be eradicated under this system we live under, the main question is all those people who are taking over a WORKING CLASS area and making it THEIR OWN. They was the Yuppies, now we have the ‘Gentrification of the area’.

It’s the same with Millwall – what Bob Crow said, it was about the only working class club left in London.

But back to swearing, after 9 0’ Clock on the TV there is swearing left right n’centre in films, not a thing is said?

So all I got to say to those who think they are ‘Something Special’ from the rest of us is ..!+@×#÷$=%

Kevin Barry, Blackheath

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Holes in Brexit cheerleaders’ view

Two letters in last week’s Southwark News amply demonstrate the hole that Brexit cheerleaders find themselves in.

Firstly, Will Podmore attempts to avoid the fact that a majority now think that, in hindsight, handing control to zealots intent on sabotaging the British economy isn’t such a good idea (The Times You Gov April 27). In London, and Southwark in particular, he’s on the wrong side of popular sentiment.

Then there’s Walworth stalwart Reg O’Donoghue’s regular missives from the brextremist front line. These are the direct result of conformity to tabloid disinformation campaigns over the last 40 years, so complaining about it now is rather disingenuous.

A better response is to ask yourself who benefits from the bonfire of worker’s rights, environmental protection and holding hands with dodgy allies like Trump, Erdogan and, god help us, Le Pen? The answer is, not the likes of us. And why the enforced, divisive patriotism for an offshore, casino economy where schools and the NHS are finally privatised, and inequality is set in stone between generations?

Just take a look at May’s dismal voting record in parliament to see what she really believes in.

The reality that Hard Brexit at Any Cost will steadily lose votes has triggered a cynical U turn from the voter shy prime minister. London and the other major cities voted strongly to remain, and like Scotland and Northern Island, can’t be so contemptuously dismissed by a haughty and disturbingly autocratic government.

It’s time for those in the remaining Brexitlands of England and Wales to find some backbone, see through the hollow promises of an Empire 2.0. (soon to be advertised on the side of a big red bus) and resist May’s attempted ‘coronation’.

Paula Star, Herne Hill

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