Letters to the editor: 30/11/17

(30 November, 2017)

This week: points on Dulwich Hamlet coverage; an unimpressed take on the Queen's wedding cake; and a thanks for the coverage of the New Southwark Plan


Well done objectors

Well done to the all who opposed the cycle superhighway through Bermondsey and Rotherhithe, ‘Council and Lib Dems oppose cycle superhighway plans’, Southwark News, November 23, 2017.

Let’s hope common sense prevails.

If you look at the computer images of Jamaica Road of what it will be like when finished, like me did you wonder where the traffic had gone ?  Looks great in the pic, but the reality is it’s not like that now, so how do they expect it to be less when they take more road space away?

It will just cause even more pollution as vehicles will take longer to get through. Maybe that’s why the council want to fine cars for idling!

In Jamaica Road they will earn a fortune because nothing will be moving. And as for Simon Munk’s comments that the pollution levels are down on Tavistok Place and the Embankment – how can they be? Either he’s been told porkies or the machines are faulty. The traffic there crawls because of the cycle lane designs. Going from Blackfriars Bridge to Tower Bridge you can’t tell me that air is cleaner than it was before the cycle lane was put in, you could do that journey in 5 minutes now at least 20 minutes even very late at night because of stationary traffic.

Richard Haughney, via email


Ledbury Towers

I want to correct the assertion made in your article last week about Ledbury Towers, which claimed in the headline that they could become vulnerable to high winds, ‘Ledbury towers ‘need strengthening’ or could become vulnerable to ‘execptionally strong winds’ says report’, Southwark News, November 23, 2017.

Whilst the Arup report does recommend that strengthening work takes place to bring the towers up to the standards referenced in the BRE and DCLG Guidance from 2012, this is to ensure the towers can stand up to the impact of an event such as a gas explosion without it causing a disproportionate collapse. We have already mitigated against the main risk of a gas explosion by removing the gas supply from the property and banning the use of gas or oxygen cylinders in the towers.

The report does not suggest the buildings can become vulnerable to high winds, in fact the report states categorically that the structure of the buildings meets wind load requirements as defined by current building codes.

The suggestion is made that materials in joints are inspected to check wind resistance but that these should be replaced if necessary – not that they need replacing.

I would like to reassure residents that the towers are structurally sound and we have put in the right measures to keep them safe while we work through the next steps.

Cllr Stephanie Cryan, Southwark Council cabinet member for housing

Editor’s note: we are happy that our report was correct, and that the council was given an opportunity to respond to these specific excerpts from the report.


What the future holds

Thank you for reporting that the Council is consulting until 12th February on the New Southwark Plan (NSP), the important planning policy document for the next 15 years until the 2030s.

It’s true that this version is the final one before the Public Examination in 2018, but it is much more than a formality. This is a significant civic opportunity for local people to influence these policies by sending in their written comments and getting the right to speak at the Public Examination Hearings later in 2018. This is why local residents active in planning matters sought successfully through Community Southwark and Southwark Law Centre for an extension of the very short timetable originally set at 12th January.

We urge all local people with an interest in or concerns about topics relating to council’s policies on eg tall buildings, housing, families and children, vulnerable people, local industry and town centres, heritage and conservation, health and public wellbeing, open spaces and biodiversity, jobs, transport, or development sites in their own neighbourhood, to have a look at the Plan.

Local people are working with each other to help respond to this different kind of consultation. For information on how to take part please contact: southwarkplanningnetwork@gmail.com

Eileen Conn, Peckham Vision coordinator.


Let them eat cake

In reference to your article ‘A wedding cake fit for the Queen!, Southwark News, November 23, 2017.

Makes me wonder where to start with this letter, maybe my order of priorities is wrong or all things revole round a few individuals who for hundreds of years have taken hold of our attention by being known as the Royal family.

Who up until the first World War were known as Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, German.What people would say, I didn’t know that? Well, it was changed to Windsor because of the people’s attitude towards the Germans during the first World War.

So what’s this got to with a wedding cake of all things?

Well for a start, it won’t be going to a food bank.

 Why do we still have a feudal mentality in this day and age towards an autocracy that does not give tuppence to its subjects and  still think they have a right to do what they want?

People are going through one of the worst periods since the Second World War, what comes down from the Royal brigade? Bugger all!

We have a government that does not have a clue for the future of this country.

Let’s get our priorities in order, for the low paid, unemployed, the sick and disabled who are persecuted by multinational companies who make hundreds of millions out of people’s misery.

I could go on, but if this just makes people think it’s worth it. Enjoy your cake!

J. Barry, Blackheath


Points on Hamlet

Your report ‘Council leader to back Hamlet fans’, Southwark News, November 23, 2017 about Dulwich Hamlet’s future needs a couple of small but important clarifications.

First, you state that, “The planning application was scuppered when the council refused to release a section of land on Greendale Fields, classed as protected Metropolitan Open Land” and that the developers have asked the council to “restore the club’s lease on the [Green Dale] astroturf pitch”.

In fact, the already-expired lease covers the whole of Green Dale fields, all of which (including the astroturf pitch) is protected Metropolitan Open Land.

Southwark Council rightly refused to chip away at this valuable space by just offering a lease on the astroturf and, as the freeholder, has taken back control of Green Dale.

Secondly, even if the developers had had a lease on the astroturf, it wouldn’t have been anywhere near large enough for the planned stadium, as revealed by calculations at the time of their original planning application.

The Friends of Green Dale are keen for the football club’s future to be secured but we repeat our strong opposition to any planning application that involves building on Metropolitan Open Land.

Guy Haslam, Friends of Green Dale – www.friendsofgreendale.org.uk


Advice before bailiffs

Responding to the Money Advice Trust’s report on councils using bailiffs.

No council wants to ask people on the lowest incomes to pay more, but councils have a duty to their residents to collect taxes – these fund crucial services, such as caring for the elderly, protecting vulnerable children, keeping roads maintained and collecting bins. With councils facing a £5.8 billion funding shortfall by 2020, it’s essential that these funds are collected so these vital services can be protected.

As the report indicates, councils will take steps, where possible, to make sure that people in financial difficulty are supported, whether that’s through signposting to free debt advice, or through the joint Council Tax Protocol, which the LGA has developed alongside Citizens Advice to support those who are struggling.

Before councils use bailiffs, which are only ever used as a last resort, people will have been encouraged to apply for monetary support and efforts will have been made to either attach the debt to a salary or arrange new payment plans.

Anyone who is having trouble paying their council tax or bills should contact their local authority as soon as possible, for financial help and advice, and to discuss the options available.

Cllr Claire Kober, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Resources Board


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