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Letters of the week (21/01/2016)

“Nunhead train chaos!”

I saw on twitter that you are looking at trains from Nunhead.

I thought I would send an email and let off some steam!

My regular train is the 08.39 from Nunhead to Kentish Town. I take it to St Pancras. The train has not been on time once since the turn of the year.

This morning the train arrived at Nunhead eight  minutes late (no explanation given for delay). We were then stuck between Nunhead and Peckham Rye for ten minutes, again no explanation given. I arrived at St Pancras nearly 20 minutes late.

As well as the delays, part of the problem is that Nunhead is poorly served by trains compared to Peckham Rye and Denmark Hill. There are only two trains from Nunhead between 08.00 and 09.00 to Blackfriars and beyond. They are timed to leave at 08.14 and 08.39. During the same period, Peckham Rye has three trains and Denmark Hill has seven trains.

Last week I had to take the 08.14 to get in to work for an early meeting. It was four carriages long rather than the usual eight  carriages. Most people couldn’t board at Nunhead and had to wait for the 08.39 – while we waited several trains went through to Blackfriars with spare seats. The 08.39 arrived late, was rammed full and then was terminated at Blackfriars!

You would think there could be some flexibility when people have been left on the platform at Nunhead to allow trains to stop to pick people up when things are going wrong.

I have had the same commute for the last six years. The service has been generally poor but it has really deteriorated over the last two to three months. When you do manage to get on one the trains are also increasingly overcrowded.

Rant over!

Chris Brown, via email

“If you have a disabled child we can help”

Contact a Family – the only UK charity that supports families with disabled children whatever their disability – is delighted the Chancellor George Osborne decided to scrap cuts to tax credits in his spending review last autumn.

This is great news for around 150,000 working families with disabled children who were likely to be affected by this and rely on tax credits to pay for basics like food and heating.

However, other cuts to the benefits that the government announced last summer will still go ahead and means many families with disabled children could still find themselves worse off in the longer term when Universal Credit eventually replaces tax credits. More than half of families with disabled children told us they are worried about Universal Credit  and a further 40 per cent don’t know how the change to Universal Credit would affect their family. We want to reduce any worry and confusion about benefit changes and make sure local families with disabled children get what they are entitled to. Our team of expert benefit advisors are able to offer detailed, one to one financial advice to parent carers as well as a comprehensive benefits ‘check up’, to help families who might be missing out on vital income. If you are a parent of a disabled child and are worried about changes to benefits please call our free Helpline 0808 808 3555. Last year, Contact a Family helped parents gain more than a million pounds in unclaimed benefits. Don’t be caught out by benefit changes.

Una Summerson, Head of Policy at Contact a Family

“Tory government fan of our Labour leader?”

Southwark Council leader Cllr. Peter John has got a gong for his regeneration of estates in the borough.

It must be a very proud moment for him to know he is carrying out a policy that this Tory government approves of.

An even bigger compliment for him has come since being awarded his gong the announcement by the Prime Minister that Southwark’s regeneration plan for 100 council estates is to be used by this Tory government. It must be reassuring for Cllr Peter John that he is held in such esteem and admiration by this Tory government.

Richard Rees, Walworth

“Your front page story is not typical of bad Southwark Council housing policy”

I am writing regarding the story in this week’s Southwark News about the cockroach problem in the temporary accommodation let to Meyrem Walker, Corvel Thomas and their baby CJ.

This was an appalling situation for Ms Walker to face and I apologise on behalf of the council for this.  I want to reassure your readers that the property had been carefully checked before the keys were handed over and there were no signs of cockroaches at the time that Ms Walker moved in – the cockroach problem only arose afterwards. We would never let a home to a family if there was any indication of pest infestation.

Since Ms Walker made the council aware of the problem on Monday 11 January, we have acted quickly. Pest treatment to get rid of the problem was carried out on Wednesday 13th and further work will be done to plug all the gaps that might let them in and to clean the carpets in the home. Our tenancy officer is supporting Ms Walker to make sure that all of this is done to her satisfaction.

I disagree, however, with your conclusion that this single case highlights a problem with our own housing policies.  The problem lies not with our own policies but the impact that national housing policies are having on our residents. Demands on our limited  temporary accommodation have increased significantly thanks to the current housing crisis and the impact of welfare reforms. The number of households in temporary accommodation to whom the council has a housing duty has gone up by 78% in the last three years.  Southwark, like every other borough, is having to deal with the fallout of this and we are doing everything we can to prevent homelessness in our borough and are looking at more innovative ways to provide secure temporary accommodation for those who do find themselves losing their home. We are building new council homes and delivering affordable homes across the borough but we are only one council. This is a problem on a national level and it needs a national solution.

Councillor Richard Livingstone, Cabinet member for Housing



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