Liberal Democrat leader’s column: Southwark Council is just ignoring petitions

News Desk (04 November, 2020)

'We call on Labour to do proper transport studies on traffic change impacts including air quality - and fix what is broke when residents tell them'

38876Cllr Nick Johnson, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition group at Southwark Council

Yes, dear reader, it’s that time of the month again. Time for my monthly column to entertain and outrage you….and what a month it’s been.

We’ve had Marcus Rashford show the government up over school meal vouchers for half-term. Who’d have thought that a Premier League footballer would prove to be a better leader than Boris Johnson (actually hang on, that’s probably not that hard)? I was very pleased when Southwark Council announced that, even if the government wouldn’t, the council would be covering the cost of meal vouchers for Southwark families. A society shows its true values by how it looks after its own – especially those most in need.

We’ve had kids riding round on bikes across Bermondsey, Rotherhithe and Surrey Docks, literally launching fireworks at people.

We’ve had the residents of Dulwich deliver nearly 2,500 signatures on a petition asking the council to reconsider the design of the ‘COVID road closures’ (aka LTNs) because, whilst the fortunate ‘few’ living on the newly closed streets are enjoying pollution free air now, the ‘many’ living on the other streets taking the significant additional traffic burden are more polluted than ever and suffering vastly increased congestion at various different times of day.…..guess what? The council completely ignored the petition.

What to do about it all? Well, here are some things:

When kids on bikes try to steal your phone and set a firework off at you I’m pleased that the Met have deployed the Territorial Support Group to the Bermondsey area. I hope to hear news of some arrests. It is also a reminder of what happens when the council decides to cut youth services by 50 per cent – bored kids get into mischief and things quickly escalate. As Liberal Democrats, we have always known the value of proper youth provision and as we face a possible COVID induced recession, it will be vital for the council to maintain funding for youth services

When thousands of local residents sign a petition, and the council, as usual ignores them

What’s the point of petitions if they never change anything? This Labour-led council should be willing to listen to its residents and when enough of them raise an issue, they should be properly listened to. The views of local residents need to be respected and Liberal Democrat councillors across Southwark will always fight hard to ensure residents’ voices are heard. We call on Labour to do proper transport studies on traffic change impacts including air quality and fix what is broke when residents tell them instead of ignoring.

Oh, and because I always like to say something that we can all do, don’t forget, Remembrance Sunday is not far off, so buy a poppy if you can. Thousands of brave Southwark hearts never came back from war. The least we can do is respect their sacrifice.

That’s all for now, I’m off for a G&T.

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