This week’s letters

(12 November, 2015)

November 12, 2015

Cycle Superhighway will benefit us all in the end

As a 50-something lady who wobbles round Rotherhithe and beyond on a bicycle, I was delighted to read that we might be getting a superhighway on Jamaica Road (‘Proposed Cycle Superhighway’ – The Final Nail In The Coffin’, Southwark News, November 15, 2015).

But it was a shame that your article had a negative headline, and that you only quoted people who are against the idea, such as Dave from Downtown Cars.

Just to put the views quoted in perspective, a recent big nationwide survey showed that attitudes are changing – these days three quarters of us want to see improved safety for bikes.

And while we’re talking statistics, less than half the households in Southwark actually own a car.

Am I the only one who is getting a bit fed up of having my life shortened by breathing in the fumes from other people’s exhausts?

So, Dave from Downtown Cars, yes, the traffic is worse than it was five years ago. And that is why we need safe bike lanes.

Look at Holland. Fifty years ago cities in Holland were gridlocked by motor traffic as we are now. And then they started to build safe bike paths. Now it’s safe and pleasant to ride a bike there, whether you’re five or 95. So half the school children ride to school.

Imagine if that happened in London, if people rode bikes to school, to work, and to the shops, as three quarters of the people surveyed said they would like to, if they felt safe. What would that do to the traffic volumes you worry about Dave? There would actually be more room, not less, on the road for you.

Those of us on bikes are on your side, Dave. We want less traffic too.

OK, short-term, a new superhighway would cause some traffic jams. But long-term, we’d end up with less traffic, cleaner air, healthier people.  And isn’t that what we all want really?

Jane Dent,?Bermondsey

 

Council homes are still under threat

Southwark Defend Council Housing is pleased that the threat of demolition has been lifted from large areas of council housing in Camberwell and Peckham (‘No more wholesale estate demolition says housing boss’, Southwark News Thursday 5 November).

We would like to thank those thousands of people who supported our campaign to stop these demolitions by signing our petitions, attending our public meetings, and joining our lobbies of the council.

It is a huge relief that more communities will not be blighted by the kind of ‘redevelopment’ underway on the Heygate Estate which will see 1,100 council houses replaced with homes that only the super-rich can afford, and are often left empty as investments.

While Cllr Livingstone’s “new approach” is most welcome, it is not too late to save much of the Aylesbury Estate from the “old approach”. Here, it is still planned to spend 20 years demolishing  2,400 council homes to be replaced mostly with homes for sale or rent at market prices. The 1300 ‘social rent’ properties will be housing association homes at much higher rents and with insecure tenancies.

We call upon Cllr Livingstone to review these plans and save the Aylesbury so that it can provide genuinely affordable housing for another generation of Southwark people.

At the same time we all need to join together to defeat the pernicious Housing Bill that the Conservative Party are putting through Parliament at the moment. Far from doing anything to solve the housing crisis it will force ordinary people out of Southwark and leave millions in expensive, insecure and badly-maintained housing by:

  • removing altogether the requirement for affordable housing in new developments, replacing it with ‘Starter Homes’ for sale for up to £450,000
  • reducing the availability of housing association homes by selling them off at huge discounts
  • forcing councils to sell a third of their properties becoming vacant to pay for these discounts meaning no more council lets in large parts of the borough
  • forcing households in social housing earning £40,000 a year (equivalent to a couple both earning the London Living Wage) to pay full market rent
  • prevent councils from letting properties on long-term secure tenancies so people won’t be able to think of them as a home for life

George Grime, Secretary Southwark Defend Council Housing

 

Empty spaces must benefit community

We are glad that Southwark Council is bringing the empty spaces in the Peckham Multi Storey Car Park back into use, but disappointed that the  process for considering the proposals has not been transparent.

In spite of helping to create the opportunity, the local community were not  involved in identifying the priorities for uses or the criteria for assessing bids.

We note the promises being made by the Council and Pop Community Ltd for community benefits. We can only hope their plans meet community aspirations, and also show why the Peckham Multi Storey should  be saved for the long term. See:http://www.peckhamvision.org/wiki/Multi-Storey_Car_Park

Eileen Conn, Peckham Vision

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