Letters to the editor: 09/11/17

(09 November, 2017) Letters

This week: a call to commemorate Walworth legend Charlie Chaplin; and a GP's opinion on proposed Bermondsey Cycle Super Highway

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Time for a Charlie Chaplin tribute

The Charlie Chaplin Pub, Coronet Theatre, and the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre will soon be at the mercy of the Wrecking Ball – ‘Charlie Chaplin pub to close in January’ Southwark News 26/10/17.

The pub was built as part of the shopping centre in 1965 in recognition of the ” Greatest English Comic Actor, Filmmaker, Composer, Producer & Editor, of all time”.

Charles Spencer Chaplin’s story of “Rags to Riches” is second to none. He is believed to have been born in East Street, Walworth, on 16th April 1889 in unbelievable poverty. His father was an alcoholic and his mother struggled to keep the family together financially so had to send Charlie to the workhouse.

Charlie’s mother was then committed to a the mental asylum at Cane Hill when he was just 14 years old.

At 19 he was signed to the famous Fred Karno company, which took him to America.

From a South London Workhouse at 14 years of age, Chaplin became one of the highest paid people in the entire world by the age of 26.

There are grandious plans for the redevelopment at Elephant & Castle as we all know, but surely a ‘Substantial Fitting Tribute’ to Charles Spencer Chaplin in some shape or form should be incorporated into the Masterplan for the new Elephant & Castle?

Perhaps interested people, and Chaplin enthusiasts, could meet and form a working group in the Charlie Chaplin Pub before it closes on 5th January 2018?

It will be the 40th anniversary of Charles Spencer Chaplin’s death on Christmas day this year. It’s only right and proper that we have something to commemorate this great man by.

Steve Cornish, Rotherhithe 

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Support the cycle superhighway

I’m a GP at Albion Street Group Practice in Rotherhithe, and I write, on behalf of our practice in support of the proposed CS4.

The current Jamaica Road situation is a nightmare for our patients, both in the problems of air pollution and obesity that you mention, but also in the ‘siege’ that the peninsula is placed under when the traffic inevitably clogs up on Jamaica Rd, preventing buses getting down the road, and patients missing their after-work appointments.

It does this because the road is poorly designed allowing (completely unnecessary) private vehicles to squeeze in and block the bus/cycle lane at junctions. There is insufficient pedestrian space at the Bermondsey tube station crossing and rat-running traffic still cuts through school and residential streets along the riverside.

All of these issues will be alleviated as a useful by-product of the scheme (individually signalled bus lanes, a filter for Rotherhithe-bound buses avoiding the tunnel queue, a wider pedestrian crossing at the tube station and no exit from Cathay Street.

We simply have to face the fact that there isn’t a place for polluting vehicle traffic in London, there are too many people and too little road space. The solution is to prioritise other road users by providing safer roads for cyclists and pedestrians, and better access for public transport (I don’t class Uber and black cabs as public transport).

So let’s turn to cycle safety on Jamaica Road. I have been cycling up and down that road commuting, and on home visits for 8 years. In that time, I’ve been ‘punishment passed’ and sworn at by a taxi driver, who, having passed me so close as to brush my sleeve at 30mph+, insisted I was a ‘pest’ for not riding in the potholed, glass-strewn kerb. I’ve been forced off my bike onto the pavement by a coach pulling in sharply at a traffic island he didn’t seem to notice when he started to overtake me.

I’ve also had to attend a seriously injured cyclist, hit straight on and bounced off a car windscreen at the roundabout, by a driver who didn’t see him, when he was coming directly from her right on the current badly placed cycle markings. When cyclists have to put up with this type of threat, danger and injury on a daily basis, it’s no wonder that people want to get in their cars or pack on the overcrowded Jubilee line.

Cycling is cheap, makes you lose weight, get fitter (giving you extra years of healthy life and saving resources in the NHS), doesn’t contribute to air pollution or global warming and makes you feel better.

We need to make the roads safe for the old, children, families and all the kind of people that you see cycling in the Netherlands. That means carefully thought through segregated space on major thoroughfares like CS4.

It will be better for all local residents to reduce the car traffic. Yes that means some people who currently drive through the area being discouraged from doing so. Yes, that means people getting on a bike or walking rather than taking a cab or an Uber. Maybe our less physically able patients will be able to rely on the bus for once? Maybe people will be encouraged to visit the local shops as the road will be less unpleasant?

Please support CS4. It’s the best thing to happen in the area for a generation.

Prof Brendan Delaney, Albion Street Group Practice, Rotherhithe    

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Macmillan coffee morning thanks

Thanks to my loyal supporters who come every year to my Macmillan coffee morning.

A special thank you to the Dickens Estate T&RA and the Speight family for their very generous donations.

To all my family and friends that helped on the day to make it such a success. We raised £1,200.

And I would like to say thank you to Tesco, Marks and Spencer, Co-op, and Boots the chemist for their help. And a very special thank you to Nancy from Green’s the florist.

Sheila Woolgar and family, Bermondsey

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Become a Scout Trustee

Trustees’ Week starts on the 13th November and what better time to celebrate the vital contribution of these fantastic volunteers?

Across the UK, there are over one million Trustees and in Southwark and the surrounding area there are over one hundred trustees working on behalf of Scouting. Each one has a special responsibility to provide the stability and good governance every charity needs in order to flourish.

As Chair of The Scout Association’s Board of Trustees, I ask myself, what difference do I make as a Trustee? For me, it comes down to five things: stewardship, scrutiny, strategy, support, and skills.

It’s about ensuring the right procedures and policies and are in place to create a safe and secure environment.  It’s our role to ensure there is a clear plan for the future and that there is the right level of challenge and accountability.

So this Trustees’ Week, I would like to say a huge thank you to all those who have already stepped up to the plate and are putting something back into their communities.

I would also like to encourage more young people to come forward and serve as Trustees – your energy and ideas are invaluable if we want to continue to help the next generation develop the skills to succeed in life. Charity boards benefit most when there is a range of ages and backgrounds and they are at their strongest when there is a healthy mix of experiences and perspectives. I urge you to join us.

Ann Limb, Chair of The Scout Association

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Litter louts

Responding to DEFRA’s announcement extending litter-tackling powers for councils.

The Local Government Association (LGA)? has long called for councils to have greater powers. Councils being able to issue increased fines to litter louts, who show no consideration for the community they live in, will send a strong message to those who think their laziness is more important than the environment in which they live.

Allowing councils to fine the owners of vehicles which litter is thrown from, rather than expecting councils to prove who exactly in the vehicle had thrown litter, is also something that the LGA has long called for. It is great that from April, councils will be able to get tough with the anti-social minority who think our roads are a repository for rubbish. We now need to see more detail in the forthcoming government guidance. Whilst recognising that any action must be proportionate, it must also be robust to deter abuse of the local environment.

Cllr Martin Tett, the LGA’s Environment spokesman

EricEatsPickles says:

I completely agree with Prof Brendan Delaney in his support for the proposed CS4. This is a route I often take from Chancery Lane to Rotherhithe Street. In the evening the road is so crammed with what appears to be mostly private vehicles heading for the tunnel entrance, that bus services are massively disrupted. The bus journey from Waterloo should take about 25 minutes, but in reality it’s more than an hour. Cycling, mostly along the bus lane, takes 20 or so minutes. Drivers mostly stay clear of the bus lane, but completely block junctions along Jamaica Road for both buses and people on bikes. TfL must make these awful road conditions a thing of the past by focusing on and investing in pollution and congestion free healthy modes of transport.

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