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Southwark Lib Dem leader: I’m in a bad mood and this is why

I’m writing this, the second of my columns for Southwark News in a very bad mood, writes Cllr Nick Johnson…

As a result, I’ve decided to make this week’s column a list of things happening in Southwark that are just dumb and need to be changed.

Why is Southwark Council still burning Fossil Fuels?

Last year Southwark Council voted to declare a ‘Climate Emergency’. I know this because I was one of the councillors that voted for this…in fact every Southwark Councillor did.  So imagine my surprise when last week this paper revealed that the very same council is procuring just thirteen per cent of its energy needs from Green energy and will continue to burn fossil fuels.

The council plans to invest in 10,000 trees by 2022 (expected to cost at least five million), but is not willing to invest £50,00 so that they could have 100 per cent green electricity.  If the council doesn’t take the lead, who will?  It is not a case of ‘hoping; for improvements – we must make them happen.

Why is Southwark Council (and TfL) closing off roads?

I read an article in Southwark News last month that shocked me. Its headline read “residents say paramedics delayed reaching woman who’d fallen from height because of Council’s ‘Low Traffic” Roadblock.  If you’ve been anywhere in the capital recently, you will know why this happened. Local councils and TFL have blocked off numerous smaller roads to encourage more use by cyclists and pedestrians.

In theory this sounds good.  We all want less pollution and less traffic. Yet the result has been the opposite.  The same number of cars, all squeezed onto fewer roads. The result: gridlock and hideous pollution on those roads.

To make it worse, this decision was taken with no public consultation, was rushed through and apparently will stay in place for at least a year and a half.  The council needs to hold a proper public consultation NOW.

Why is TFL not asking for funding for the Bakerloo line Extension?

TFL have decided to stop asking the government to fund the Bakerloo Line Extension. At the same time, they are pressing on with the two billion  ‘white elephant’ scheme -the Silvertown Tunnel.

The Liberal Democrats campaigned long and hard for the Bakerloo Line Extension over 20+ years ever since Simon Hughes became an MP in Southwark (just as we campaigned, successfully, for the Jubilee line extension).

It is extraordinary to see a Labour controlled London council and Mayor both fail to ensure it is prioritised, at the same time that they are pressing ahead with plans to build nearly 20,000  extra homes along the Old Kent Road.

If you’ve ever sat on a bus stuck in a traffic jam in rush hour on Old Kent Road, you will find yourself wondering how these new Southwark residents will EVER travel anywhere – once again, gridlock.

Your Southwark Liberal Democrat Councillors will continue to work with Caroline Pigeon, your Liberal Democrat representative on the GLA to campaign for the Bakerloo Line extension to be re-prioritised and to press the mayor to keep to his promises.

And just because I’m in a bad mood today, why do people wear face masks on their chins?

Yes, not everything is the fault of politicians. We all have our part to play. So, if you’re on public transport or in a public building, PLEASE, wear a face mask and wear it over your nose and mouth. To date, no-one has spread COVID via their chins.  You might have COVID without any symptoms at all. You wear a mask to protect others.

Right, that’s enough grumpiness for one day. If you’ve made it to the end of my column, I thank you for your interest and patience. Stay safe everyone. Tomorrow is another day.



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