Thursday, 14 May 2009

Question 3: Serving the youth and older residents in 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:
How will you demonstrate that you intend to serve the youth and
older residents in Prince's ward?

Michael Poole-Wilson:

* I will continue to fight for enhanced funding of youth facilities in our area.

* I will campaign for a £2,000 rise in the pensioner's personal allowance (non-taxable income) from £9,490 to £11,490. The weekend before this election was announced, I was out campaigning on Kennington Lane for exactly this policy. [We are sending a petition to Gordon Brown.]

Janus Polenceus:
As councillor it will be my job/duty to serve everyone who lives in the ward by listening what problems or needs they have and by trying to help them however I can.

Joseph Healy:
* I have worked closely with older people over the last few years and have campaigned strongly on issues such as ensuring a 24 hour Freedom Pass for pensioners etc. I would campaign strongly for better social care for older people and for important facilities such as the Felix Post Centre at the Maudsley Hospital (which helps older people with dementia) not be closed.

* On the youth side, I have always been a strong supporter of small local theatres such as the Oval House and the Blue Elephant in Camberwell. I think the experience of Venezuela shows that many young people from poorer areas (and there are many such in Princes) can be enthused and given new vision through the arts - such as the children of the barrios in Venezuela. The recent visit of the Venezuelan Youth Orchestra to the South Bank, which I attended, proved that. So I would say less funding on big 'Viagra Projects' and much more on community arts etc.

Mark Harrison:
* I intend to serve young people by supporting the community organisations that do so much good work with young people in the ward. Electing a Labour councillor will guarantee that the Old Lilian Baylis School site is saved from developers and secured as a permanent community facility with services provided by the Sports Action Zone. I strongly support Labour's doubling of spending on youth services. I'm a Patron of a local charity that works with young people to raise their aspirations - I want all young people in our area to grow up with a positive attitude and believing they can do good things in their lives and in the community. I strongly support Labour's introduction of a Lambeth Youth Mayor, which has galvanised young people's participation in political decisions about funding youth services in the Borough.

* With Kate Hoey I have visited several of our sheltered housing schemes to speak to older people living there. Issues raised included the need for greater support for older people to get the most out of the choice-based lettings scheme, the need for older people to be aware of the many services on offer to them in our area, and the need for older people in North Lambeth to involve themselves in the fora that represent them at the Town Hall. As a community campaigner I have already met with and acted on behalf of many older people in the ward. I feel it's particularly important for councillors to stand up for people who have worked all of their lives, contributed so much, and who deserve excellent housing, leisure and care services.

John Roberts:
* Older residents – I will fight the council’s appalling home care charges – they currently charge £17.50 an hour which is the highest in London! It is wrong that Lambeth – one of the poorest London Boroughs – charges the highest rate in the capital for essential home care services. And the huge hike in heating and hot water charges in Lambeth's housing estates has hit older people especially hard.

* Young residents – As a qualified youth worker and one of the last remaining youth workers in Lambeth- (I used to work on the Kennington Park Estate) I am experienced and fully aware of the issues facing our young people. My Lib Dem colleagues on the London Assembly, including former Princes Ward Councillor Mike Tuffrey, are working on plans to include a Youth Worker in police Safer Neighbourhood Teams, so the small minority of young people who do get into trouble have help and support before they get drawn into gangs and criminal behaviour. I think this is a really good idea and would like to see this funded for our area. I also fully back good plans that would give our young people more things to do – for instance in my manifesto I mention I fully support the Sports Action Zone at the old Lilian Baylis site, I have also fought for community resources that young people benefit from like the Vauxhall City Farm and the Durning Library. I want more youth and outreach workers in our estates so our most vulnerable young people are safe to play outside without fear or prejudice. I am so sick of the council demonising our young people. Working with thousands of young people over my career I can honestly say that they have all wanted the same as every one else, to be treated with respect and to be safe from harm.

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