Friday, 30 April 2010

Madeira Day 2010 [Moved to Monday 3rd May]

I almost completely forgot, but Madeira Day will be celebrated in Kennington Park, SE11 on Monday 3rd May from 10am to 7pm (it was moved from Sunday, due to the bad weather).  Lambeth's Mayor thoroughly enjoyed the day last year, and the SE11 lurker intends to try to drop in for some of the festivities this year.  Apparently, there will be food, drink and live music.  Woo Hoo!  It's party-time :-)

I'm pleased that the national anti-immigration political discussions have not intruded too badly into the diverse Borough of Lambeth.  One of the benefits of living in a multi-cultural society is that local residents are given so many opportunites to celebrate the carnivals, festivals and feast days of all nations.  South London people are party people! 

To the surprise of many, Lambeth is home to one of the largest Portuguese communities in the world.  Apparently, there are 27,000 Portuguese residents in Lambeth, and I'm delighted that they're here, holding a party in Kennington Park.  Many of the established and successful businesses in Lambeth (all of those Tapas bars and delicatessens in South Lambeth Road) have been set up over the years by Portuguese people that settled in Lambeth in the 60s and 70s and I believe our life in London is and has been greatly enhanced by the presesence of people from other countries.  (I keep wanting to say "Portuguese immigrants", but it seems wrong to refer to our Portuguese community as immigrants, when many of them are happily settled in Britain and have been for many years).

I have an entirely unverifiable theory that all of the best parties take place in South London.  Viva Madeira!

[Edit: I've put the photos from the event on another post.]

Thursday, 29 April 2010

The Black Dog (formerly The Lavender)

Thanks to an anonymous commentator on the new businesses in Kennington Cross post, I've been provided with news about a couple more local ventures on the Vauxhall side of SE11.

The pub on Vauxhall Walk, previously known as The Lavender, is bucking the "new name" trend of the Tommyfield, by reverting to its old name, The Black Dog (although the original Black Dog was further along Glass House Walk). I'm wondering whether the Black Dog name is linked to the "Black Prince" heritage in Kennington.

Anyhow, the new Black Dog will re-open "shortly" from Monday to Saturday, and Sunday by arrangement. Amongst other things, they'll be offering "monthly changing cocktails", and there's a holding page with more info, launched here today.

I'm hoping to release some very exciting Vauxhall news tomorrow, but it really helps to have general news from the ground because it's not always possible to survey the entirety of SE11 on a daily basis.

An exclusive: The Beaufoy School as a 780 student Academy

I heard one local mutter recently, "Sometimes information turns up in brown unmarked envelopes." Perhaps there's an anonymous email equivalent too.  I wouldn't know.  But I have received information that might be termed "concrete whispers", in written form, on the matter of the Beuafoy School. This information is exclusive, and I think it would be fair to say that it was leaked some weeks ago from sources close to the Council, but I do think local residents might want to ask some questions at the hustings this evening.

I was unable to solidify the facts on the account of the history of the Beaufoy School (and needless to say, Cllr McGlone was only able to refute the facts as I stated them, but wasn't able to provide alternative evidence).  I do think it's probably fair to posit that Lambeth Council didn't like the bypassing of the National Curriculum by the Young Foundation, or indeed their plans for a school for 250 students.  It is thought that Lambeth Council went behind the back of the Young Foundation last year by approaching the DCHF directly with their own idea, a month or so before the papers would have been signed, but again, you'll have to take my source's word on that... Lambeth Council will argue that the proposals were not sufficiently developed and never reached the government's desk. All I can say is that the deal got far enough for the DCHF to annouce the Beaufoy in their press release, only to have to recant when they realised the papers hadn't been signed...

So I can now exclusively reveal that Lambeth Council are considering alternative plans to turn the Beaufoy site into an Academy for 780 students.  (Do we think the Beaufoy site can support this, and would local residents be happy about it?)  It would not be a state-controlled school (in the manner of the much-improved and now sought-after Lilian Baylis).  The academy model tends to ensure that whilst schools are state-funded, they are run by private companies (or parents).  So, talks are in progress with a Swedish company named Kunskapsskolan (it really rolls off the tongue) to run The Beaufoy in Lambeth (as well as other schools in the UK).

I don't entirely understand the rationale behind the move.  I wondered at first whether the school plans were part of the unelaborated Labour Council plans to go co-operative.  A co-operative council is one in which citizens are lead to believe that they might "take control", in a manner which would supposedly lead to improved services.  (When I asked Cllr Steve Reed for further clarification about how the co-op council would work re. the Lilian Baylis hub (see comments on the Onionbag blog about swimming), none were forthcoming, and I do think the burden of proof is on the council to state more concretely what this form of government would take.)

But handing over a local school site to a private company (which tends to sound like a Conservative policy, and not something Labour would endorse) is not a particularly co-operative style move.  I would have thought that a co-operative move might involve discussing varying options for schools with local parents, or investigating whether there is demand for adult further education. I'm not suggesting that building an Academy would be a bad move. The jury is probably still out about academy schools (although some local politicians had strong views on the matter at the most recent hustings), but questions about how the curriculum might work, or what the school would teach are open questions. More importantly, there are questions of funding and selection. Would an Academy school receive more funding than a state-maintained counterpart? And, would an Academy School end up benefitting border-hopping parents/students, as opposed to Lambeth pupils?

One might wonder why the Kunskapsskolan might not consider using the former Lilian Baylis (it might be a better fit for all of those students), but apparently the Council have warned them off that site.  And the former Lilian Baylis is rumoured to be the site of a a permanent lease with the Sports Action Zone (SAZ).  I sincerely hope that the "community hub" (whoever they are) will be consulted on the matter because otherwise it doesn't really sound like a community venture, does it?  And I've heard rumours from a different set of locals that SAZ can be quite difficult to hire space from, even for community ventures.  It appears that pressure has to be applied from the top to get them to concede, and I'd be rather unhappy to think that the Council were preparing to enter into a permanent agreement with one partner who are already being difficult about co-operating with local groups.

Further news as I receive it...

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Doing the business at Kennington Cross

I tend to save up SE11 business updates for a mass posting every so often, so that the news doesn't get too bitty, but as far as I can tell:

1. We were right in our Twitter speculation about a new estate agent, but I was wrong in my prediction that they'd take a unit on Kennington Park Road. Instead, we welcome the arrival of yet another property firm. Acorn Estate, a local business have taken up an empty unit, 317(ish) on Kennington Road. So I suppose the economic recovery must be in full swing. That makes 8 estate agents on a very small stretch of road, and all of them made it through the recession. Perhaps that means that negative equity didn't hit Kennington. I was hoping that the unit might become a Surestart, or a cup-cake shop, on the basis that if you can't have social change, you can at least eat cake.

2. Thanks to one of my long term readers who pointed out in March that a new hairdressers had opened on Cleaver Street. I wandered by, quite excitedly, to ask whether they had any info. so that I could give them some publicity, and I was given a leaflet dating back to 2007! Leave a comment if you've tried them out!

3. I'm unsure what's happening with the Locker Room. I only realised that something steamy was up when people started googling the blog in large numbers for "locker room extension". This venue is not somewhere I patronise, and I can't see that they'd welcome me either, so I'm going to have to rely on you guys to fill me in.  Edit: I spoke to somebody that works there.  They have extended from 8 Cleaver Street into 10 Cleaver Street and apparently re-opened last Tuesday (27th April).

4. The Tommyfield are all a-Twit with news of their re-opening. Go to their website and submit your details for a chance to win tickets to their opening night, some time in May.

Fallout from Vauxhall hustings - the good, the bad, and the downright mad

Local hustings might generally considered to be good for democracy, a time to question the candidates and distinguish constructive policies from dross. Sometimes they're even entertaining. What I hadn't realised was how effective they are for bringing all of the mad people (candidates and audience) out of the woodwork. Let a candidate speak for long enough, and one is left with no illusion about their suitability for office.

It all began well with quick intros from all candidates in which we learned that Tory Glyn Chambers has, as an Oxbridge economist, "skills and intelligence" to keep the country running. That as well as a track record locally for being a school governor gives him a passion for education. Additionally, he has "a record" through some kind of local campaigning to "keep Clapham Swimming", which he admitted "didn't happen". Oh dear.

Jeremy Drinkall, the anti-capitalist up next. He wanted to talk about his door stepping. Two of his party's policies are apparently very popular locally; to nationalise the banks and bring the troops back to the UK. On his tails was the green Joseph Healey, a local disability activist, but also an historian. He doesn't want us to make the mistakes of history all over again. He would also stop the war and spend money on the NHS.

Labour's reliable old hand Kate Hoey must be a bit tired of attending hustings. She launched into a "standing on my record" routine. She wanted to be known to have helped locally and made it known that the Vauxhall constituency has a high caseload, particularly re. immigration cases. She also wanted to stand on her record as somebody who gets things done and helps get peoples' voices across. Slight lack of substance I felt. But she wanted to stress that she's honest, and independent. Possibly a bit too independent for some, but more of that later...

Jim Kapetanos was quite frank about being a protest candidate, and made clear that his main role would be to speak up for the voiceless and for animals. If Kate Hoey were to resign her position (as MP or Countryside Alliance person, it wasn't clear), he suggests that he wouldn't be standing.

Daniel Lambert is a very very old style socialist who advised that people should not vote for him if they wouldn't shoulder the responsibility of so-doing. He wants "a society where the industrial resources of the our planet are the heritage of all". Quite a bit of waffle. Rather short on fact.

Many of the candidates were quite clear about how they didn't originally come from London. Lib Dem's Caroline Pidgeon decided to capitalise on the fact that she has lived in South East London for 16 years and proclaimed "a strong track record" in Southwark (which rather leaves Lambeth wide open!). She also mentioned that she had taken up many Vauxhall transport issues in her Assembly role, and had tried to save post offices, and had been trying to save SLAM and wanted to clean up politics... Phew. A lot to cram into an opening speech.

Our ex-DJ vicar host for the evening had also decided to throw in a question about where the candidates got their "moral compass" from. This led to lots of piffling about rural northern Ireland and Christian upbringings (though nobody mentioned any actual, you know, church attendance or practice). The alternative secular equivalent was socialism and vague notions of preventing exploitation of the defenceless. The best answer moral compass answer came from Joseph Healy who was actually able to name his heroes... St Francis, William Morris and Thomas Paine, and then provide some fabulous quotes! I particularly liked the way that he used St Francis as an anti-establishment character; it demonstrated some thought on his part.

Having got the tedious bit out of the way, we were able to move on to audience questions. My one criticism would have to be the chairing at this point. Whilst hustings are a time to hear the views of the candidates, and all candidates have a right to speak freely, it does not seem to me that everybody needs to be given the same access to the platform. There were some questions that really only needed to be put to one or two candidates. Some of the candidates utterly failed to self-censor, and so we were left listening to the lunatic fringes when it might have been better to actually quiz Kate Hoey on what she has been doing for Vauxhall over the last 5 years, or Caroline Pidgeon on the mansion tax or Healy on economic policy. It is not necessary to hear from every candidate on every question, and time would better have been spent taking more questions from the floor.

We had questions on whether David Cameron was fair in his assessment of "broken Britain", on the triangle playground, on the state of education, on the environment, on whether capitalism was a workable system and on representation of the gay community,

Healy thinks broken Britain was caused by David Cameron, and our schools are in a terrible state! Hoey doesn't accept that everything is broken in Vauxhall, and made the excellent point that people do actually work together locally, be they rich or poor. We can only hope she's right, or these co-operative style local governments aren't going to get off the ground. Hoey then started off the housing theme for the evening, and made the point that Labour has not focused enough nationally on housing. Caroline focused on gang culture. Glyn Chambers perhaps uttered the best quote of the evening when he seriously tried to compare today's crime rates with the crime rates of 100 years ago. Drinkall positively countered the broken society stuff, said that crime levels are actually going down, and welcomed further immigration. Exciting words from Lambeth politicians!

The Triangle playground was thrown into the mix as a bit of a trap for local politicians to see if they knew of its existence and issues. Hoey headed this off at the pass, and blamed the Council officers! Brilliant move... Maybe she should replace Brown on this week's Leaders' debate. Socialist Daniel Lambert utterly failed to mention the triangle in his response, and instead tried to consign capitalism to history again!

On education, Pidgeon was very keen on extra investment prior to the age of 7, and smaller class sizes. She sold the Lib Dem commitment to education. Kapetanos felt he had a platform to speak on education on the basis that "he want to school", but somehow also managed to be concerned that there might be "too big a green space in Vauxhall that Kate would have an eye on it for her hunting brigade". Hoey immediately flung back the most fantastic riposte when she commented that there are "masses of foxes in Vauxhall" and still managed to respond that we need to be proud of the achievements of local primary schools, and reinforced a commitment to church schools. A quiet evening, this was not! Healy would give academies back to the state. Drinkall wants smaller class sizes and to end academies and private schools. Glyn admitted there had been an improvement in local schools, but felt there was more work to be done re. GCSE results.

Everything had been progressing relatively smoothly to that point (except for ex-DJ vicar continually having to ask Daniel Lambert to sit down, as though he were a naughty Socialist school boy) until one audience member wanted to know whether any of the candidates thought that Jack Straw and Tony Blair should be taken to court. Ex-DJ Vicar decided to soften the question by turning it into a general question about the Iraq war. That was a slight mistake in my view, since unusual questions can be quite interesting springboards for debate. Audience member is unsurprisingly irked. Cue lots of shouting. Hoey stepped in diplomatically to re-iterate that she did not support the war. Hoey really is a genius politician because she managed to use the point to introduce Peter Tatchell and his "brave" action relating to the arrest of Mugabe in France several years ago, and thus ensure that the point about taking politicians to court was not lost. Glyn Chambers thought the war was wrong too. Phew. But then he also answered somewhat diplomatically that it's not the role of politicians to decide who is brought before court. Thank goodness the Tories still know how to keep the legislature and the judiciary separate. I was hoping Chambers might use the opportunity to object to the Terrorism Bill, but no such luck... Disaster narrowly averted.

...Until Caroline Pidgeon boldly stepped in to proclaim "it was an illegal war", which cued more shouting of, "are we going to indict Jack Straw and Tony Blair?" Ex-DJ vicar told audience member to sit down, and then to shut up! Crumbs. Not sure I can handle that much anger in one evening. I was beginning to feel a modicum of sympathy for the ex-DJ vicar on the basis that it's much easier to go off-air when on radio, but then the vicar threatened to call the police! Quite astonishing. I know it's harder than it looks to chair a debate, but still... Not a great performance.

I wasn't the only one with technology-fail, but at that point my recording device died so I turned to Twitter. We moved on to questions about the environment, but I'm afraid I started getting anxious in case nobody got a chance to question Hoey on her gay-rights record. Healy committed to renewable energy and tried to get us to think about reducing consumption. Hoey countered with her support for growing food locally. In my view, Hoey tried to score an easy point because it's hardly as though anybody /isn't/ going to support local food growth, and it's not going to have a huge impact on the environment. Glyn is unhappy things didn't work out at Copenhagen, but backs nuclear energy. Pidgeon does not back nuclear energy production, and wants to target flying (that's more like it; it's certainly more likely to reduce our carbon footprint than growing a small amount of local food).

At last, the Hoey question on gay rights pops up. Hoey appears affronted, since she has stuck her neck out on gay rights in Northern Ireland. But the question still stands. Hoey makes a clever move by retrieving Peter Tatchell from earlier conversation, and using him to make a point about free speech, and how people should not be barred from speaking their mind on certain matters. [In case anybody gets a chance to ask this question again, it's the absences that are more crucial than the voting record. I fail to understand Hoey's absence on the equality act regulations and the repeal of Section 28, and I'm not convinced that the Tatchell defence was strictly necessary.] Fortunately, Healy came to the rescue by condemning Hoey's record. Pidgeon supports the "hand-holding day" (what is this?) and is upset about B&Bs. Glyn Chambers seems to want free speech, equal LGBT access to goods and services, and freedom of expression for religious groups. Good on him, but one wonders if he might not be backing himself into the same corner as Hoey.

We're nearing the end, but there's time for a question on what the candidates think of capitalism. (This one has to be a plant. With four candidates ostensibly standing on tickets that range from pink (Hoey) to bright red (Drinkall), it really ought to be clear.) But Hoey's answer is really quite revealing of her as new-Labour, rather than old-socialist, since she says that she's just looking to "control the excesses of capitalism" on the basis that Stalinist societies won't help ordinary people! Kapetanos uses this moment to admit that he doesn't really want to be an MP! Healey thinks capitalism doesn't solve the carbon problem. And Pidgeon brings us back to policy (thank goodness) by revealing that the Lib Dems will bring in mansion tax and allow the first 10k of all income to be tax free.

Somebody slips in a brief question about domestic violence. This one should be easy, since everybody can be against it, and nobody needs to actually /do/ anything, right? But Hoey wants to ring fence money for domestic violence refuges, and help people go to court. Pidgeon mentions that she's been trying to ensure that Boris keeps promises on rape crisis centres, and calls for support of the voluntary sector. But suddenly, Daniel Lambert blames domestic violence on poverty. Whoa! Even Kapetanos manages to avoid using the opportunity to insult Hoey on fox hunting and instead argues that the roots of domestic violence are more complex...

And the evening ends with a question about what one piece of legislation each MP would seek to pass via a private members' bill. Am not convicned that all candidates knew what a private members bill was! The answers are rather shallow. Kapetanos would protect animals. Drinkall would merge all banks and form one large government bank. Lambert would abolish capitalism. Healy would introduce further taxation to pay for green jobs. Pidegon would invest in helping leaseholders across borough boundaries, and borrow money for building council housing. Chambers wants a separate vote on who gets to be Prime Minister. Hoey focuses on a bill for over-crowding and housing.

And that was that.

I was rather disappointed that the English Democrat and the Christian candidate weren't able to be present, but on the other hand, we'd never have left the venue if we'd had to hear them answer every question too.

I know there's a certain individual with an official journalistical career, who is tracking the every move that local bloggers make, but I utterly failed to notice (or meet) either @Jason_Cobb or @GarethWyn (who were both tweeting from the building) or anybody else with whom I'm supposed to be in league. That meeting will clearly have to wait!

I'm afraid I went to question Caroline Pidgeon about whether there are any Lib Dem PPC leaflets detailing her policies for Lambeth (I need this one for my collection), and she admitted sadly that the leaflets have not yet arrived from the printers. A serious case of #libDem fail!

You might want to look at the scarily similar reports of the evening from Jason and Gareth.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Vauxhall Cross Island Consultation on 21st and 22nd May

I've received information from KOV that there is to be a consultation on the Vauxhall Island site, which has recently been bought by Kylun Ltd.

Kylun Ltd are giving the public a chance to visit the animals view a public exhibition at Vauxhall City Farm (165 Tyers Street) on Friday 21st May (2pm - 8pm) or Saturday 22nd May (10am - 3pm) on the proposed mixed-use development on the Vauxhall Cross island site.  Hopefully the farm will be open as usual because the exhibition provides a great chance to pop in and sample the bleating, mooing, neighing and oinking.  

Apparently, the exhibition will be a chance to view "comprehensive information" on the plans, and I hope that that will mean basic sketches or drawings so that we have a chance to see how the buildings might look from a distance, as well as how the architecture might fit alongside current buildings.  It will be very interesting to hear how Kylun hope to contribute to enhancing public transport in Vauxhall so as to reduce the current tube station overcrowding.  They'll also be providing feedback forms and polished PR executives development team members for conversation.

All site members will be notified, so do speak up if you live/work nearby and your residence/organisation is not informed.  Vauxhall Society and the Kennington Association both claim not to have been consulted re. Vauxhall Sky Gardens.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Advanced notice of forthcoming local and national hustings for SE11 folk

22nd April, 14:00 - 16:00 - Parlimentary Hustings for Vauxhall constituency. Organised by Lambeth Forum for Older People & Lambeth Pan-disability Forum and held at Lambeth Accord, 336 Brixton Road, Brixton, SW9 7AA. Conservative, Green, Labour and Lib Dem candidates have all confirmed attendance.

27th April, 19:30 - Parliamentary Hustings for Vauxhall constituency.
Organised by St Mark's Church and held at St Mark's Church (opposite Oval tube). All of the main parties will be represented (but not sure about the smaller ones).

27th April, 19:00 - Bishops (and Cathedrals ward) local hustings. Organised by Southbank Forum and held at St Johns Church (near Waterloo station). Arrive at 7pm to enter a question from the floor

29th April, 18:30 - Princes and Oval ward local hustings. Organised by Kennington Oval Vauxhall forum and held at Vauxhall Gardens Community Centre (on Vauxhall Walk, not far from Vauxhall station).

Any more for anymore? It's frustrating to hear about hustings on the day or once they've taken place, so would be useful to flag up any others that SE11 folk might be interested in attending. Feel free to leave a comment about any others, and I'll amend the post.

Vauxhall Prospective Parliamentary Candidates 2010

Lambeth Council have listed the nominated candidates motley crew representing the Vauxhall Constituency in the Parliamentary Election on May 6th 2010.  There are rather more than candidates than initially predicted, and whatever people say, I tend to think that elections are won on sound bites and slogans.  I've therefore tried to summarise each candidate's likes and dislikes as succintly as possible so that you can avoid watching televised debates or reading tedious campaign literature.  If in doubt, just vote for the person with the best picture:

Glyn Chambers (Conservative)
Likes: Faith & parent-promoted schools, renovating council houses, ombudsman schemes & greater"say" for leaseholders, cheap home-helps, pavement/road investment, planting trees, using bicycles and progressing leisure facilities.
Dislikes: Badly behaved pets, closed lavatories and residential dustcart depots.

Jeremy Drinkall (Anticapitalists - Workers Power)
Likes: Defending council housing, stopping wars, representing trade unions, taxing wealthy people, providing unemployed people with jobs, education for the masses, Revolution and meeting fire with fire.
Dislikes: Capitalism & the "free" market, paying for the bankers' crisis, privatised academy schools, pay-cuts for workers and poverty

Joseph Healy (Green Party)
Likes: Eco-socialism, stopping wars, supporting carers, trade unions, Palestine, LGBT rights and the welfare state.
Dislikes: Spending cuts that might affect people with disabilities, benefit slashing and ID cards

Kate Hoey (Labour) - Current MP
Likes: Fox hunting, supporting Zimbabwe, accountability in football, ousting Speakers, keeping her expenses trim, causing trouble, Boris Johnson, (to be continued as her website is down)
Dislikes: The war against Iraq, global warming, the digital equality bill, Trident missiles, Lycra lout cyclists, LGBT rights and student top-up fees

James Kapetanos (The Animal Protection Party)
aka "Fantastic Mr Fox" due to lack of available photo
Likes: Foxes, badgers, bears, dogs, cats, mice, birds, reptiles, hamsters, insects, snakes, wasps, hornets, squid and vegans.
Dislikes: Fox-hunting, dissecting live animals (vivisection), hunting, animal testing and the Countryside Alliance.

Daniel Lambert (The Socialist Party)
(A rather general statement from the party, I'm afraid, due to lack of available info.)
Likes: Making the world a better place, democracy, common ownership, peace, non-discrimination and material security for all.
Dislikes: Career politicians, poor schools, poor hospitals and poor housing, wages that don't pay bills, profit in general, and the failures of the current dreary system

Larna Martin (The Christian Party)
(Another general statement from the party, I'm afraid, due to lack of available info.)
Likes: Jesus, low taxation, abolishing inheritance tax, driving fast, "reasonable force" by classroom teachers, cutting green house gases, the abolition of the FSA, public sector cuts, nuclear deterrents and her husband (whose right ear is visible here)
Dislikes: Imprisoning drug users, the sex trade, bailiffs, primary sex education, the NHS, loose border controls and redefining marriage.

Jose Navarro (English Democrats)
(Another general statement from the party, I'm afraid, due to lack of available info.)
Likes: Fiscal devolution, a market economy (but not unrestrained), expanding manufacturing, ending mass immigration, individual liberty, St George, marital families (mother, father and children), the military and improved care for the elderly.
Dislikes: The EU, stealth taxes, Scotland, political correctness and the Commission for Equality & Human Rights 

Caroline Pidgeon (Liberal Democrats)
(Can't seem to find a Vauxhall Constituency Lib Dem manifesto, so this is rather generalised)
Likes: Public transport, promoting good mental health care, being a strong voice, affordable housing, leisure facilities, local issues.
Dislikes: Identity cards and profiteering from expenses, 

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Closure of Lambeth Walk pub

I received an email a few days ago from Janus Polenceus (English Dem. candidate for Stockwell Ward), alerting me to the fact that The Lambeth Walk pub (17 Lambeth Walk) was closing.  It appears that it finally closed yesterday.  You might remember that the English Democrats had a particularly innovative idea about a memorial museum for Lambeth Walk and support of the pearly Kings and Queens in the by-election last year (as well as some other rather dubious views), so it doesn't surprise me that they're still focusing on this rather sad looking street.  Indeed, I think it's about time more of us focused on Lambeth Walk, and how dilapidated it has become (considering how lively and vibrant it once was), and there are various other people making a noise about it, as I remarked in Doing the Lambeth Walk 2010 style.  I'd be interested to hear from other local Princes Ward candidates (particularly Cllr Harrison, as he's very local) about whether they have any ideas for re-invigorating this area (that don't just involve "obtain Section 106 money by building new housing").  How difficult would it be to organise a weekend market?  Would it be popular?  Well attended?  It might be a way of encouraging further business down there, and since it's a no-through road, it might suit a market and a market in turn might stimulate some small local businesses to take advantage of the cheap local commercial units.  I've seen units recently advertised for only £6,000pa, so it's not beyond the reach of very small businesses, but it would need passing trade.  Why has this famous street been so neglected?

I was about to launch into, "end of an era", "shame about yet another pub closure" rhetoric (it doesn't take much to set me off), when I noted that Holding An Apple (a local blogger) went on a second local pub-crawl that focused on Lambeth Walk pubs (and very interesting it is too).  He had this to say, "These days it looks moribund, with broken windows in the upstairs rooms adding to the air of neglect. The last time I saw anyone drinking outside the pub they looked like geezers who ate pitbulls for breakfast, so I am not too surprised at its decline."  So I shall not be launching into any ill-advised rhetoric :)

But seriously... scary looking locals hanging around dilapidated pubs is just another way of saying, "this area has been abandoned and could do with investment".  Back in February, local councillors advertised a an anti-social behaviour meeting, but I never saw any follow-up.  Were any blog readers present, and can they advise on the outcome of that meeting?  Is it unrealistic to consider that the Council should do anything at all to reduce anti-social behaviour, and promote investment?  If it is, then how might locals help re-inject some life into the area?  Has anybody thought about organising a Big Lunch there, for example?

Cycling in Kennington and people on bikes

I can't believe I didn't spot this before, but somebody has started a new local cycling blog, Kennington People On Bikes. It details a recently won bid to set up a cycle hub project for Lilian Baylis (and other local) schools.  I note with interest the fact that the bike project was initially unable (see entry on 1st March) to obtain meeting space in the Sports Action Zone on the former Lilian Baylis site.  However, it appears that a meeting with the Director of SAZ resolved that... 

More recently, KPOB have turned their attention to corresponding with Princes ward councillors and candidates re. their views on cycling in the area.  If you are passionate about being on two wheels (or three!), it's a good time to be quzzing candidates on their cycle-friendly policies.  I note with interest the suggestion of bringing down speed limits to 20mph, in some areas. That would be one consideration re. reducing casualities on some of our trunk routes, and would be good for pedestrians too (although I can't see drivers being keen).  I'm often struck by the fact that Kennington (and undeniably, Vauxhall) can feel rather like a "through-route" for heavy goods vehicles accessing the rest of London.  Since we're soon to have our "bike hire" scheme bikes installed all over SE11, now is probably the time to increase the focus on road safety.  (Visions of untrained tourists hopping on to hired cycles and heading down Kennington Park Road to the Elephant roundabout fill me with dread).

The Cycling hub project may well be looking for volunteers, or have meeting times to publicise in the near future.  I'll post it as soon as I've obtained further info.

In the meantime, I telephoned TFL (8th April) to see when our new CS7 route cycle "superhighway" would be completed in SE11.  The person I contacted said it would be finished in "the next month or so".  I've no details on whether TFL have started painting the roads blue (is that the opposite of painting the town red?) and moving street furniture in deepest south London (other than a short trial stretch), so would be grateful for more info.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Oval Farmers Market and the political cakes (with photos)

Popped into Oval Farmers Market this morning for one of Lara's delicious cakes from SE11 based Cakehole.  I'd heard on Twitter that she'd baked some political cakes, and I was intrigued.  Despite being reasonably early (ok, I confess that "early" on a Saturday is about 11am for me), the political cakes were very popular, and the only flavour left was in David Cameron blueberry.   I just couldn't bring myself to buy it (obviously, that's  because I'm not a blueberry fan... I wouldn't want to betray my partiality), so I went for one of those delicious looking chocolate ones.  Nom.  Nom.  Nom.  (Just noticed, but Lara was running a straw-poll on which sold first.)

The guy in the queue in front wanted of me wanted Green party cakes, which were not part of the spectrum, so perhaps in the lead-up to the General Election, we'll see an expanded range.  As Tri Porteur and companion lazed on the grass eating cake, we were surprised to be suddenly surrounded by Labour campaigning types (so, that's where they all are...) and we made our escape.

If you've not been to Oval Market, I do urge you to go.  The weather was fantastic, and there was a great range of stalls.

Also, I'm very pleased to see that the Council have got the fountains (I never realised that's what they were) working again on that piece of no-man's land in between Kennington Park Road and the junction to Brixton Rd/Camberwell New Road.  I do think though, that that whole patch could be grassed over and cleared up.  With very little investment, it wouldn't be a bad spot for a small cafe/ice-cream seller, but right now, it just looks rather cluttered with a kind of abandoned bandstand/circular bench thing and a lot of concrete bollards and pieces of hedge:

One reader tells me that the fountains represent the site of public hangings.  More on Wikipedia.  The 1984 Oval Fountains were apparently designed by architect Georgina Livingstone.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Vauxhall Cyclists: Don't get squashed tonight or this weekend - Shard concrete delivery

The helpful London Cycling Campaign (LCC) have published an article warning that the concrete for the foundations of the Shard building in London Bridge is to be delivered this weekend.  The monster trucks will start their drop-off during rush hour this evening and the concrete delivery will last all weekend.  It affects Vauxhall cyclists because half of the concrete is being delivered from Battersea, and we're on route.

This will apparently result in an additional 700 return lorry-trips in the area (does that mean 1400 trips total?  I'm not sure).  In our patch, it will particularly affect Nine Elms, Vauxhall Cross, Albert Embankment, Lambeth Bridge and Lambeth Palace Road, but obviously if you are planning on cycling to Battersea, I'd take a look at the LCC article so that you can avoid the route in question.

According to the LCC, lorries are involved in over half of cyclist deaths on London roads, even though, compared with other vehicles, there aren't that many of them on the road.

I doubt that the 700 additional return lorry trips are going to do much for the air quality at Bondway, but at least we've been given advanced warning.

So, please be careful cyclists (and Vauxhall pedestrians) because it's not worth risking a speedier route, just to get accidentally squashed this weekend.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

More on the Island site owners and development in Vauxhall

The good KOV folk have asked for more details on the company that owns the Island site in Vauxhall where two new tall towers are planned. I briefly posted the location of the site itself, here a few days ago.

The site is in the process of transfer from from Walford Maritime Pension Fund to development company, Kylun Ltd. Kylun Ltd. sent some representatives to KOV, who were apparently astonished to hear about the requirement to provide social housing, but they're only at the early planning stages!

According to their blurb, Kylun Ltd is a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) and the Island site will be its first project in the UK. Fal Oil company, an established and successful, private United Arab Emirates oil trading and bunkering company, is providing the financial backing for Kylun’s development operations in the UK. Squire & Partners have been appointed by Kylun as architects.

If planning permission is granted, Kylun will identify a development partner to deliver the scheme.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Kate Hoey's new HQ

This is Kate Hoey's campaign headquarters for Vauxhall constituency.  It's located on the site of the old Amici in Kennington, SE11 (which makes me wonder whether the old restaurant is no more).  It's a bit dark as the photo was shot at night.  I promised, "more later", so now I feel obliged to write something!

This shop is an astonishing declaration of intent, in the heart of Kennington.  I'm lead to wonder whether any of the other parties have the budgets to set up shop front offices in central locations, such as these.  Indeed, I feel the stirring of an impassioned rant about the weaknesses of first past the post voting systems emerging.  I've no objection, per se, to campaign headquarters, but I sometimes wish that the platform for political expression was more level because I hardly think the Lib Dems or Greens could afford to do the same.

On the other hand, prominent campaign headquarters are certainly preferable to all of those nasty estate-agent style Tory boards that have appeared on Kennington Road and some of the squares in the area (photo taken by Labour's Jack Hopkins):

2010 Election - Oval Ward Candidates

Oval Ward Candidates

Conservative - Oliver Campbell - SE11
(No photo. Can't find info. although he's mentioned on the Conservative Action Paper)

Conservative - Michelle Imperi - SW8
(No photo.  Can't find further info.)

Conservative - Nicholas Timothy - SW8
(No photo.  Can't find further info.)


English Democrats - Issam Ebarek-Rmiki - SE11
(No photo.  No further info. anywhere at all)

English Democrats - Jose Navarro - SW8
(Photo from his website, pointed to me by English Democrats)

English Democrats - Michael Perry - SE11


Green Party - Charles Boxer - SW8
(Photo supplied by candidate.  One reader notes that Charlie runs the delicatessen on Bonnington Square)

Green Party - Samuel Low - SW8

Green Party - James Staunton - SW8


Labour - (Angela) Jane Edbrooke - SE24
(Photo taken from Labour East Hampshire PPC page)
(On Twitter as @JaneinLondon)

Labour - Jack Hopkins - SW8
(Photo taken from Twitter, where he's quite active)
(On Twitter as @JackHopkins_Lab)

Labour - Karim Palant - SW9
(No photo that I can see.  I can only find snippets of info.)
(Former National Chair of Labour Students)


Liberal Democrats - Ishbel Brown - SW8
(Photo taken from Oval News blog)

Liberal Democrats - Claudette Hewitt - SW8
(Photo taken from Oval News blog)

Liberal Democrats - Andrew Sawdon - SE5
(Photo taken from Lambeth Council website)
(Current Oval Ward Councillor - in position since 1994)


This is a rather sorry state of affairs.  You'd think that some of these candidates didn't want anybody to vote for them.  They're not even listed on their own party websites.  If I've missed anybody that does have a public profile, just leave a comment and I'll add the individual in question.

Of the current Lib Dems councillors, Cllr Faye Gray is moving from Oval and standing in Vassall ward, just next door.  I'm not sure whether Cllr Robert Banks is taking a break as he has nominated candidates, but isn't standing himself.  Edit: It appears Cllr Andrew Sawdon has been an Oval Councillor on and off since 1978, but not all for Oval Ward.  Even still.  Seriously impressive.

Snippets from KOV - tall towers, Thames Tideway, KOV hustings, giant Charlie Chaplin and guerrilla gardening

I sent my spies along to the Kennington, Oval and Vauxhall forum last night, and here are the highlights:

1. There are proposals (but nothing written or concrete) to erect two large towers in the middle of the Vauxhall roundabout. I think that these are planned for the section where the advertising hoarding is currently placed, bounding Parry Street and Bondway, and looking on to the wrong side of St George Wharf, as below. Consultation will take place in May, and I'll try to obtain more info. but this is all I have for now:

2.  There is some concern that the long-time-planned Thames Water Tideway project will need an area the size of two football pitches (or maybe slightly less) to go tunnelling under the Thames to extend London's sewerage capability.  This will be a London-wide project and there will need to be holes all over the place, but we've no more details on potential sites in Vauxhall just yet.

3.  Kate 'I have a splendid majority' Hoey was jumpy about the planned KOV hustings on 29th April 2010 (put the date in your diary), but relieved when it was explained that these would be local hustings, rather than national hustings!  There should be a chance to quiz candidates from Princes and Oval wards about their plans for the area.  It should be a good evening, and KOV is usually generous with provision of biscuits.

4.  The Cinema Museum have suggested erecting a giant see-through Charlie Chaplin model (similar to the one currently in their museum here) and have proposed several sites in Kennington where this might be possible so that the legacy of Chaplin in the area is not forgotten.

5.  The Onionshed have an ambitious plan to Beautify the Beaufoy site by asking residents to adopt a bag of soil and grow things.  More info. here and some photos here.  It's not clear whether or not they've gained permission to access the site (or whether this will interfere with the "advanced stage" Lambeth school proposal, but why let such a small obstacle get in the way?  I'm presuming that the Lambeth Regeneration department wouldn't stand in the way of Lambeth Council's Green Community Champions.  Here's hoping for some guerrilla-vegetable growing action :-)

Monday, 12 April 2010

2010 Election - Bishops Ward candidates

Bishop's Ward Candidates

Conservative - Edward Blain - SE11
(No photo - possible record on Linked In, but no firm evidence linking to Bishops Ward)

Conservative - Edward Jones - SE11
(No photo - can't find any info)

Conservative - Rickard Jonsson - SE11
(No photo - have found info. but cannot be sure whether it's for the correct Rickard Jonsson)


Green Party - Colin Kavanagh - SE1
(No photo - can't find any info)

Green Party - Jonathan Stone-Fewings - SE24
(Photo taken from Wikipedia and cropped)
(A celebrity!  I think this is the actor, with wikipedia page here.  I was wondering why he was standing in  Bishops Ward, whilst living in SE24, but he appears to spend a fair amount of time at the Old Vic!)

Green Party - James Wallace - SE1
(Also stood as Green candidate for Bishops Ward in 2006 - no further info)


Labour Party - Kevin Craig - SW4
(Photo taken from Political Lobbying & Media Relations)
On Twitter as @kevindcraig
Secretary for Vauxhall Labour Party

Labour Party - Jennifer Mosley - SE1
(No photo or info - not sure whether surname spelling is correct on candidate paper)

Labour Party - Jack Sutcliffe - SW8
(Photo taken from Twitter)
On Twitter as @JackSutcliffe


Liberal Democrats - Diana Braithwaite - SE11
(Photo taken from Lambeth Council website)
(Current Bishops Ward Councillor - in position since 2006)
(Deputy Leader of Lib Dems)

Liberal Democrats - Gavin Dodsworth - SE11
(Photo taken from Lambeth Council website)
(Current Bishops Ward Councillor - in position since 2006)

Liberal Democrats - Peter Truesdale - SE11
(Photo taken from Lambeth Council website)
(Current Bishops Ward Councillor - in position since 1994(!))

Two timing politicans

Is there some kind of new expectation amongst London politicans that an unyet invented teleportation device will soon be available?  Why are so many of our local candidates standing in two wards/constituencies at the same time?  Why are they all being unfaithful, and two-timing London?  Don't we deserve more than that?  Is there so little casework involved in being a good local councillor that they feel they could sit in parliament as well as on Lambeth Council?

Jason Cobb already helpfully pointed out that the Labour Oval ward candidate, Jane Edbrooke, is standing as a candidate for Oval ward, and as a parlimentary candidate for East Hampshire!  (Hopefully, both sets of constituents will be unimpressed).

One of Twitter's Labour supporters, @Kieran Casey helpfully pointed out, as was already noted, that Joseph Healy is standing as a Green candidate for Princes Ward, and as a parlimentary candidate for Vauxhall!  (At least there's some geographical similarity there, but sadly the Vauxhall greens don't yet seem to have local policies in place for Princes/Oval, so chances of success are slim...)

But I wonder whether Kieran should have checked with his own party before pointing out the folly of others because, to top it off, Cllr Steven Morgan (current Labour incumbant in Princes ward) is now re-standing for Princes ward as well as standing as a parlimentary candidate for Orpington.  Of course, if you have the misfortune to dwell near Orpington, you'll know that you could pin a blue rosette on a monkey in that area, and everybody would still vote Conservative. However, if you've a long memory, you might remember that one of the blog's esteemed readers, Sid Boggle, raised this issue in the by-election here, when he said:

"I suppose the local party apparatchiks will be grooming their next 'second coming' to replace Steve Morgan, who I assume will stand down next year so he can fight Orpington."

No such luck... It seems it's acceptable these days to presume that voters will seriously consider candidates standing in two geographically distinct locations.  It's fine.  After all, Cllr Morgan's mum lives in Orpington, so she can probably tell him about important local issues.

Cllr Morgan responded to Sid Boggle, "Thanks for your view of my political future. I really am delighted that you think I am such a great campaigner that I will go to Orpington and take the Labour Party from 4,914 votes to over 26,718 votes to become the next MP."

Look out Orpington!

Sunday, 11 April 2010

2010 Election - Princes Ward Candidates

I'll soon be publishing Oval and Bishops wards as soon as I've had a chance to find all of the photos.  (I'm afraid I've had a nightmare with the formatting - it's a Blogger issue, sorry.)

Princes Ward Candidates

Conservative - James Bellis - SW9
(Photo taken from Conservative Kennington Action Team newsletter)

Conservative - Michael Poole-Wilson - SE11
(He was a candidate in the 2009 Princes Ward by-election)

Conservative - Richard Rajgopaul-Hicklin - SE11
(Photo was sent to be direct from candidate who states that he has been involved with Vauxhall Conservatives for 5 years)


English Democrats - Alfredo Cordal - SW9
(Photo taken from Exiled Writers)

English Democrats - John Dodds - SE1
(No photo available - the one I posted is apparently a different English Democrat John Dodds)


Green - Emily Butterworth - SE11
(Photo taken from King's College website.  Emailed candidate to confirm identity.)

(Resident in Kennington for 4 years)

Green - Joseph Healy - SE5
(Photo taken from Green MP for Vauxhall)
(He was a candidate in the Princes Ward 2009 by-election)

Green - Marcus Letts - SE11

(No info, no labelled photo and no mention of him anywhere on Green Party literature)


Labour - Lorna Campbell - SE1
(Photo taken from Lambeth Council website)
(Current Princes Ward Councillor - in position  since 2006) 

Labour - Mark Harrison - SE11
(Photo taken from Lambeth Council website)
(Current Princes Ward Councillor - in position since 2009) 

Labour - Stephen Morgan - SE11

(Photo taken from Lambeth Council website)
(Current Princes Ward Councillor - in position since 2006) 


Liberal Democrats -  Gloria Gomez Canal - SW12
(Photo taken from Aculco Radio)

Liberal Democrats - Sandra Lawman - SW2
(Photo taken from Linked In, which also has more info. about the candidate's history)
(She was a Lambeth Councillor for 11 years, between 1990 and 2002, Edit: representing Princes Ward)

Liberal Democrats - John Munro - SW9
(No info, and no mention of him  anywhere on Liberal Democrat literature.  Photo provided by Lib Dems)

As already noted by @SE11 (Cllr Mark Harrison), none of the Liberal Democrats are local.  One of them lives in Streatham.  I'm not impressed by that at all.  How is a Streatham resident meant to be fully engaged with the issues that affect residents in Princes Ward?  Perhaps there aren't any Lib Dems left in Princes ward...  Are they admitting defeat already?

On a related note, why is Lorna Campbell standing in Princes Ward and not Bishop's Ward (where she lives)?  Is there some historical reason for it?

I am quite impressed that the Green party managed to field two local candidates.  I think many people would be more prepared to consider voting for a local candidate than a paper candidate, but it is tricky to know how to vote when there is so little information available about some of the candidates.  Whilst everybody has a right to privacy, it's hard to know why to vote for somebody when they've not made public any information  about their role locally.

Oooh, I forgot to add that Jason Cobb has done a great post on the candidates in the wider area.

Label Cloud

Blog Archive