Lewisham Liberal Democrats

TfL consultation on the Bakerloo Line extension – results available

TfL has published the results of its recent consultation about the proposed southern extension of the Bakerloo Line via Lewisham. The full results are available here.

According to Brockley Central, it found that:

– The vast majority of South East Londoners want it to happen (96% of respondents)

– There is an overwhelming consensus that South East London is relatively poorly served by public transport

– That the route proposed for the more populated, more middle-class area (Camberwell / Peckham Rye – 64%) received more public support than the route through a designated regeneration area, currently populated by warehouses and car lots (Old Kent Road – 49%)

“A useful exercise, we can surely all agree.

“In amongst the statements of the obvious, there are one or two interesting findings, including that there is marginally more support for the line to stop in Bromley than in Beckenham and Hayes and little appetite for it to end in Lewisham.

“The most telling result was that this consultation produced one of the highest turnouts in TfL history, despite the project’s modest scope, underlining how much of a no-brainer this is.”

Julia Fletcher, Lib Dem candidate for Lewisham East, commented “I am really delighted that the consultation has shown such strong support for the proposed Bakerloo Line extension via New Cross and Catford. I hope this means that funding for the project can be secured as soon as possible so that the much needed investment, job opportunities and improved accessibility for our area will come sooner rather than later.”

Dartmouth Road to be spruced up

£600,000 of funding has been provided by Transport for London for the improvement of the ‘public realm environment’ on Dartmouth Road between Forest Hill station and the pools.

The money is being provided under TfL’s Local Implementation Plan (LIP) process. This funding – £300,000 for each of 2015-16 and 2016-17 – will be used to design, consult on and begin carrying out a programme of work. However it is expected that more money will be needed to carry out the lion’s share of the improvements in future years.

Ideas already put forward for improving this part of Forest Hill include turning the area in front of the station into a piazza, a new railway crossing between Perry Vale and Dartmouth Road, improving the pedestrian / cycle route next to the railway line, clearing away much of the ‘street clutter’ and opening up the space in front of the library and pools, maybe with greater use of public art. (Some of these were discussed at a workshop held by Forest Hill Society and SEE3 Ltd in July last year.)

“Bringing these improvements to Dartmouth Road and the station area is long overdue, said Forest Hill campaigner Alex Feakes. “These ideas are a welcome contribution to the work carried out to improve Forest Hill by local businesses, SEE3 Ltd and the Lib Dem team of Forest Hill councillors over the years. However, we could have been enjoying the benefits of these ideas for many years already if Lewisham Council had devolved real powers to local people and businesses rather than just provided talking shops.”

Fellow Lib Dem campaigner George Crozier added: “Any improvement to the town centre needs to address the junction of London Road and Dartmouth Road. We particularly need to find a way to make this junction more cyclist-friendly.”

The origins of the TfL bid lie in a report commissioned by the Forest Hill Ward Assembly under the chairmanship of Lib Dem councillor John Russell back in 2010. The report on the state of the high street and street clutter was presented to the Lewisham Mayor and Cabinet by John, along with a request from the Assembly for action to address the poor state of Dartmouth Road and London Road, including an Area Action Plan for Forest Hill Town Centre and a Local Implementation Plan bid to TfL.

John explained: “Five years ago we took our report to the Mayor and Cabinet to ask the council to back this application for funding so this is the result of our and the community’s work.

“Forest Hill will really benefit from these funds that will support all the other initiatives already in place to continue to regenerate the town centre and improve the look and feel of the place. Real change has happened in the town centre since 2010. SEE3 ‘Portas Pilot’ funds, the Forest Hill Society and the local community have all helped to transform the high street.

“Continued community involvement with the Local Implementation Plan is very important. Forest Hill still needs a new master plan from the Planning Department especially around the station!”

However it is still likely to be a while before substantial improvements actually happen. The Council told us:

“This project is in its early stages of development and the current budgets currently set aside are only provisional. The final cost of the works will only be ascertained once firm proposals have been developed and consultation has been carried out. At the present time it is not possible to give dates for the works on site as the scheme programme will be dependent on the development of proposals agreed with a number of stakeholders that may involve negotiation, possible legal agreements and also Traffic Management Orders.”

We’ll be keeping an eye on developments.

Alex Feakes re-selected to fight for Lewisham West and Penge

Lewisham Liberal Democrats have selected Forest Hill campaigner Alex Feakes to stand for the party in the Lewisham West and Penge parliamentary constituency (which includes Forest Hill) at May’s general election.

Alex has a strong record of campaigning locally. He was at the forefront of the successful campaign to get Forest Hill pools rebuilt, and has served as Forest Hill’s local councillor and governor of Sydenham School on Dartmouth Road. He is a board member of SEE3 Ltd, Sydenham and Forest Hill’s regeneration company.

Alex also stood to be our local MP at the 2005 and 2010 elections, coming second to Labour’s Jim Dowd on both occasions with the Conservatives back in third place each time.

Alex said: “I’m delighted to be selected as the Lib Dems’ parliamentary candidate for this area for the third time. I served the people of Forest Hill as their councillor for eight years and I would be honoured to represent them once again.

“The Lib Dems have some hard-won successes to celebrate from being in government – raising the Income Tax threshold so that lower paid working people can keep more of their money, directing more money to schools with the most needs, and promoting green investment in infrastructure and homes. But I will also challenge Labour’s complacency about representing our community on so many issues – jobs and the economy, education and training, local autonomy and housing. Many people complain that their vote is taken for granted by Labour but they are not given a voice – it’s time for the people this constituency to get an MP that listens, and acts.”

About Alex

 Has lived in the Forest Hill area with his family for over 15 years
 Alex originally trained as an accountant and worked in a range of businesses, including as Finance Director of an art gallery
 Recently requalified as a teacher, and now teaches physics in a girls’ comprehensive school in Bromley
 As a councillor Alex chaired Lewisham’s Public Accounts scrutiny committee, scrutinising the Council’s inefficiencies

Disappointment at council failure to take opportunity to tackle school places shortage

Lewisham Council intend to use Hamilton Lodge on Honor Oak Road as a homeless hostel. The council confirmed to us that they have purchased the property, which was previously a care home, and are currently going through the planning process to change the building’s use. They are initially proposing to use it as a hostel for five years, reviewing its future use after that period.

This has come as a disappointment to local residents who had seen the Lodge as a possible answer to our area’s shortage of primary school places. This summer some children again failed to get places in popular local schools like Fairlawn and Horniman and have ended up commuting over a mile to a school elsewhere in the borough.

“Despite warnings about rising pupil numbers the council failed to plan ahead and we have ended up with the current shortage of school places in Honor Oak and Forest Hill,” said Forest Hill campaigner Alex Feakes.

“Hamilton Lodge is one of a very small number of sites locally that are suitable for new schools or classrooms. It is a shame that the council have not given serious consideration to using the site for schooling.”

“The council need to explain how they will cope with growing demand for local school places, especially with new development taking place, for example at Tyson Road.”

Local Lib Dems welcome the reduction in metal thefts

Local Lib Dems welcome the reduction in metal thefts

Local Lib Dems have welcomed the news that scrap metal thefts have fallen by a third in the past year – combatting unscrupulous thieves targeting churches, desecrating war memorials and…

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Proposed development of the Leegate Centre

Proposed development of the Leegate Centre

Local residents have contacted Julia Fletcher to express their concerns about St Modwen’s proposal for redevelopment of the Leegate Centre.  St Modwen Properties owns the site. The planned development includes…

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Improving the junction of Brownhill Road and Torridon Road

Improving the junction of Brownhill Road and Torridon Road

In view of a number of accidents on Brownhill road, in particular the death of a 13 year-old schoolgirl last year, Caroline Pidgeon, Lib Dem Chair of the London Assembly…

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Campaigning for better support for mental health services

Campaigning for better support for mental health services

Local Lewisham Liberal Democrats were out in Blackheath and Forest Hill yesterday to highlight our campaign for better support for mental health services and for these to have parity with…

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Lewisham Lib Dems speak up for small businesses at Glasgow conference

Local Liberal Democrat members Tom Lawrence from Telegraph Hill and Julia Fletcher from Catford (prospective parliamentary candidate for Lewisham East), spoke out at the party’s conference in Glasgow to promote peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding as a way to support small business growth.

Lewisham Liberal Democrats put forward an amendment to a conference motion backing small and regional banks to also highlight the role of internet-based forms of investment as a way of financing small local businesses.

Tom, who backs a number of small businesses himself this way, pointed out that the UK leads the world in peer-to-peer lending, with cumulative lending standing at over £2 billion and expected to rise to at least £45 billion within a decade.  Peer-to-peer lending allows individuals to make relatively low-risk loans directly to established small and medium sized businesses  Crowdfunding supported an estimated 250,000 ventures in the first half of this year.  In January and February alone over £2.4 million was invested via crowdfunding in the UK.

‘The amendment also acknowledged the investment made in small businesses by local authorities and their pension funds and by educational institutions.  Tom commented

“To their credit the Coalition government has recognized the importance of each of these sources of investment and supported them. However, there is more that could be done to assist them to grow further.”

Julia spoke in support of the amendment and highlighted that these forms of micro-financing enable ethical investment, as people can research and make informed choices about the businesses they wish to support and can then take an active interest in their progress.  She commented:  “The amendment promotes an increasingly important and very liberal way of backing small businesses, which are the lifeblood of our economy.”

Julia also said: “I am very proud that the Liberal Democrats are the only major party where policy is properly debated and voted on by members at our party conference.”

The amendment was voted through unanimously by party members and the main motion, as amended, was also passed.

Julia Fletcher welcomes introduction of free school meals

Julia Fletcher welcomes introduction of free school meals

Julia Fletcher, Lib Dem Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Lewisham East, has welcomed the introduction of free school meals for all 4 to 7 year-olds.  She said: “It’s fantastic news that,…

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