Thursday, 14 May 2009

Question 1: Name three main policies for Princes Ward

Nine days ago (before we even knew who all the candidates in the Princes Ward by-election would be), I sent out a series of questions, to be answered by all Princes Ward Council candidates. The questions and answers are intended to help SE11 voters choose who to vote for by ensuring the candidates speak about their policies, rather than focusing on name calling campaigns.

I now have nearly all responses (English Democrat has promised his are to come) and now intend to publish the results one question at a time. Anything in square brackets or in bold, I've added to standarise the format of responses across the parties or as summaries. I've not changed any of the text that I was sent by email, but I've had to move certain answers across to different questions in order to keep the answers similar (I've indicated in all cases where I've made any adjustments, so tell me if you object). I'll probably save my personal comments for a post at a later stage as I want these questions to represent the candidates as best possible. I've put responses in alphabetical order, depending on the name of the party, and I've colour coded them for your ease:

Conservative = Michael Poole-Wilson = Blue
English Democrats = Janus Polenceus = Purple
Green Party = Joseph Healy = Green
Labour = Mark Harrison = Red
Lib Dem = John Roberts = Orange

Question 1:
Name the three main policies that you will make your platform for election in Prince's Ward, eg. crime/transport/street care/environment etc. and highlight the strategies that you intend to undertake to implement the policies. Do not mention any of the opposing political parties in your answer.

Michael Poole-Wilson:
A. [Housing] I will campaign for a reduction in social housing rents and better repair services, which can be achieved if housing is managed more efficiently, including contract management.

B. [Council Spending] I will campaign for a reduction in wasteful spending at the council. For example, I will fight to stop production of the propaganda paper "Lambeth Life" and seek to end 6 figure salaries and unjustified bonuses for council staff.

C. [Parking] I will oppose over-zealous parking enforcement and am in favour of a freeze on the cost of parking permits.

Janus Polenceus:
A. [Crime / anti-social behaviour] To tackle street crime we should look at putting more police on foot or even on bicycle on every street especially through out the night, as a kind of night watch. In my opinion CCTV cameras are not much help to our public's safety.

To avoid youngsters being encouraged to get involved into street crime there needs to be much more discipline in local schools to educate our young ones why things such as crime, violence, discrimination & bullying is wrong. If a teenager is proven of committing a crime or behaving wrong then the local authority has to have a closer disciplinary act on the teenager's parents. Bad behaviour often originates from bad parenting.

Anti-Social Behaviour: Often especially on Sunday afternoons in Spring Gardens at the back of the Royal Vauxhall Tavern pub there is a large number of homosexual couples that are lying on the grass and enjoying themselves in broad daylight. This is not a good example/view for our children and not everyone wants to watch such activity in public. These couples should learn to be discreet and do such flirtations/activities inside the gay bars in Vauxhall or at least out from the public eye.

B. [Environment] The should be more bins placed on each street to encourage people to drop their litter into a litter bin.

To make life easier for people who have dogs there should be more Dog Areas created on our greens such as in Spring Gardens, Pedlar's Park, Lambeth High Street Recreation Ground and Lambeth Walk Doorstep Green;

Also in these parks there should be more playground attractions for children and more sports exercise facilities for adults.

C. [Heritage] The English Democrats Party believe that there should be more focus on promoting local history, heritage & culture. For example in our ward there is what use to be our famous 'Lambeth Walk', there is even a famous song about this place. Now for the last few decades the Lambeth Walk has been more or less like a ghost town or simply just a regular neighbourhood housing estate. For The Lambeth Walk not to be forgotten what it once was there should be some sort of memorial museum on the street itself for the people to learn what was so special about this place/area that use to be a busy shopping high street filled with entertainment. The Lambeth Walk was famous for its Music Hall, shopping malls, pearly kings & queens and famous local people such as Charlie Chaplin who shopped and also lived inside the ward. There should also be events & walks to keep the spirit of The Lambeth Walk going, such as the music of the time and costumes like the pearly kings & queens outfits that people wore in them days. This should be researched by our local schools.
The Lambeth Walk is part of English & Lambethean heritage, history & culture.

Also we should acknowledge the fact that South London was in-fact Surrey County until 1963 before it was recognised as part of what is called Greater London, also as part of local history study. Local history is very important especially for the young ones to know more about where they come from and live.

Joseph Healy:
A. [Housing/Homeless] I am opposed to the privatisation of First Call emergency repairs service, concierge service and North Lambeth Cleaning to even though existing contractors do an unsatisfactory job for the Housing Dept. I want radical action on empty properties so that they can be used to house people as soon as possible.

B. [Schools /Hospitals] I also support free school meals for children and a push by the Local Authority committees and Lambeth NHS to ensure that the quality of food in local hospitals is improved and is locally sourced if possible and nutritious. The current quality of much hospital food is appalling and militates against a speedy recovery.

Mark Harrison:
A. [Crime] Tackling crime and anti-social behaviour
* Compulsory tagging for dangerous dogs on estates - there needs to be a focus from housing officers on this issue to ensure that all dogs being kept on estates are monitored and fitted with microchips to aid identification. I will press for greater resources for Lambeth's dog warden services, and continuing attention from the police on the issue.

* Guaranteed funding to get CCTV working again - With the Ethelred TMO Board I've been campaigning over the past year for the Council to pay the contractor to come back on site and get the system up and running. Pressure on Lambeth Living has resulted in the Chief Executive meeting the TMO and negotiations are ongoing. We're hopeful that continuing pressure will pay off. Other estates with CCTV that is broken should have its repair prioritised.

* Hit drug dealers and buyers with ASBOs that ban them from SE11 - it's totally within the Council's powers to issue ASBOs to individuals who are causing a nuisance by dealing or buying drugs. Labour is committed to using ASBOs as a useful tool for tackling anti-social behaviour.

* Support Labour's Safer Neighbourhood Police Team - Labour is committed to the Safer Neighbourhoods Teams because we set them up. A Labour Council will do everything in its power to support the Teams. As a ward councillor I will attend the meetings and ensure officers are fully aware of all the issues in the ward.#

B. [Youth / Community] Youth and community services
* Commitment to securing the old Lilian Baylis School site as a permanent community hub, with continued support for the Sports Action Zone and other community facilitiies.##

* Support for Labour's increased funding for youth services, luncheon clubs, street cleaning, trees, streets, children's services, and domestic violence prevention.

C. [Housing] Housing
* Work with Kate Hoey and councillors to lobby government to help reduce this year's rent increase
* Continue extensive work with residents' associations across the ward to help them in their battles to improve services from Lambeth Housing
* Campaign to radically improve customer service from Lambeth Housing
* Help the Vauxhall Five Estate win its new windows and balconies
* Help get the Ethelred's CCTV and security doors working

The # and ## symbols indicate footnotes in which Mark responded to previous comments that I've made in this blog and elsewhere. I'll try to publish his comments in a later post since I've sought to avoid mention of opposing parties in this question.

John Roberts:
A. [Crime] If elected, I will continue to work hard to get more funding to tackle crime locally and I already have the links to get this moving. This would include holding advice surgeries with the police, to link the work of the police and the council – something some other Lib Dem Councillors already do. As an estate resident, I am concerned that recent cuts to funding on estates – including cuts to Tenant Management Organisations (TMOs) will encourage crime and anti-social behaviour; if elected I will fight to reverse recent funding cuts

B. [Housing] The council has just implemented a 17% rent rise at a time of economic hardship. The government recently launched an initiative to reduce the rent rise nationally from 6.2% to 3.1%. Like many others on the Ethelred and other Princes ward estates my service charge jumped from £210 to over £600, in two years. If elected I will be backing the Lib Dem Group’s call for a lower rent rise. [Edited this to remove mention of other parties.]

C. [Environment / Community] On the local environment and community resources
* I want Kennington Cross to be more than just a junction and am supporting plans from the Kennington Association like the Tree of Hope and the ‘Arts Lav’ to improve the pavement area outside the Dog House pub and St Anselms Church. We should be looking to support more local shops rather than yet more estate agents! I will continue to support our local parks and green open spaces. I am proud that the Lib Dems have consistently fought to protect our green open spaces like Lambeth Walk Open Space and Spring Gardens from development – in an inner city area like Lambeth, where few people are lucky enough to have gardens, green open spaces are vital for all members of the community to enjoy.

* With regard to the Old Lilian Baylis site, I fully support the Ethelred Nursery and the Sports Action Zone using the site – it was Lib Dem Councillors who helped launch the Sports Action Zone there in 2005. But the future of the site is still hopelessly uncertain at the moment. Lambeth’s latest plans would also see a new church developed on the site. It is not at all clear how the Sports Action Zone and the Nursery will be able to share the site with the church. Residents do not seem to have been given the chance to be involved with the plan. We need to know why established local community groups have not been included. We need to know what the governance arrangements will be. And we need to have evidence that the council is getting best value for local people if it does hand the site over to a third party.

* I will ask Lambeth Street Care officers to carry out regular walkabouts with me around local “grot spots” so we can deal with these issues BEFORE they become serious problems. I also look forward to working with residents groups to tackle such problems in their local area.

[Lib Dems answered this question with info about what the candidate had already achieved. That information fits better in second question so I've moved it.]

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