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Letters of the week (26/11/15)

“I know how money could be saved to help youth services”

You pose the question in your paper, ” Should the council find somewhere else to make the cuts, or is there another answer”. (‘Editorial: How do we keep our youth services going?  Southwark News 19th November 20015).

Your question is prompted by the news that Southwark is proposing to cut its youth service by a huge amount. Cllr Vikki Mills, Cabinet member for children and education, is quoted as saying that difficult decisions have to be made.

Well I have an idea for you and this will come as no surprise to Cllr Mills because she is my local councillor, so she knows all about the concerns expressed by her constituents about the very expensive plans the council have to redevelop Camberwell Old Cemetery.

Opposite my house is an area which is fenced off because there was a large illegal fly tip of waste made into the middle of it. Underneath this thousands of people are buried who were too poor to have a large posh gravestone put over them. The cheapest way to deal with this situation would be to cap off the waste pile, do a bit of landscaping and then turn the area into a nature reserve. This would be of great benefit to the living and I know from the bird and bat walks which took place in that cemetery that young people are really interested in living wild life.

However, instead the council are planning to spend a huge amount of money – they refuse to say how much – to cut down numerous trees, destroy wild life habitats , send loads of huge trucks into the cemetery, dig up the pile of waste, remove some of it and then bury the dead inside what is left of it.

So may I suggest that this scheme is scrapped . 700 people objected to the planning application and I am not aware that any Southwark residents supported it. And let’s consider the cheaper alternative of making this area into a nature reserve.

Anne Stanesby, via email


“Neil’s two jobs are a double asset”

In response to Gavin?Smith’s letter last week saying MP Neil Coyle can’t have two jobs by remaining as a councillor:

Having our local Newington councillor Neil Coyle as both councillor and MP is a fantastic opportunity to have local insights and issues on the Westminster agenda and vice versa.

The benefits flow both ways. Neil has the capacity to handle both roles and, in this unique situation, is double the asset.

Keep up the good work Neil – you are as visible, hard working and accessible as ever.

Jane Leek-Kelly, Walworth

“My trade is dying just to keep cyclists happy”

I am a London cabbie, and read with disbelief Donnachadh MaCarthy’s comments in his column about Jamaica Road (‘Cabbies are wrong not to support cyclists, Southwark News 19th November 20015).

Because of cycle lanes, London traffic is the worst I have ever seen – my earnings are down between  20 per cent and 40 per cent. This is not only because of Uber but because of the traffic.

Jamaica Road is now at a crawl from 2.30pm till around 7.30pm – the pinch points are so bad the buses struggle to use the bus lanes.

The result means my daughter, who attends a local school, now walks home most evenings as it’s quicker, even though it’s dark and will clearly be less safe.

This traffic increase is because drivers are staying south of the river to avoid the chaos in Whitechapel caused by the new cycle lanes.

Attitudes like Mr McCarthy’s seem to prevail far too often in London. Business costs are going up, as well as journey times and pollution, the whole situation is an incompetent joke just to keep a few angry cyclists happy.

I know he is a decent, well-intentioned man, but people like him are destroying the road network.

My final point is this – London cabbies will soon be able to buy a battery operated environmental friendly cab – the cost is £55,000. Anyone with a brain will realise this is ridiculous. If my earnings are much reduced and  I can’t get about, what’s the point? But these observations don’t seem to register with anyone. Mr McCarthy’s attitude and others like him are killing my earnings and the earnings of all other businesses that rely on a clear road network.

Jat Prescott, via email

“Leisure centre site will devide communities”

Further to the article in Southwark News last week, (‘Agreement reached on town centre for Canada Water’):

London Borough of Southwark’s (LBS) preference for building the new leisure centre on the Surrey Quays Shopping Centre Wild Life area raises many concerns, quite apart from loss of a valuable green space.

One must question exactly what LBS’s vision is for the role of the leisure centre in the Canada Water area and how that is being met.

All of the new private blocks that will surround the proposed site are likely to offer free sports centres, thus serving to further divide communities in the area. The new leisure centre should serve as a means to break down class and economic barriers, rather than reinforce them.

In the opinion of many there is an enormous missed opportunity should LBS go ahead with its preferred location, a somewhat inwardly focused facility and the total lack of physical and visual prominence of the new build in the new town centre.

Now is the opportunity to re-think the role of the leisure centre, better define it, and avoid the mistakes of the past.

The new Canada Water library is a good example of how council-led services and facilities can help create a vibrant heart for Canada Water, but the library alone lacks the critical mass required to transform the way in which the diverse Canada Water communities interact.

The government is promoting healthy living through actively engaging people, especially children and young people in their physical environment. LBS / British Land (BL) need to deliver an urban environment at Canada Water that encourages and supports people to walk, run and cycle and that provides opportunity for both informal and formal active play for children and young people. How one asks does the proposed new leisure centre meet or exceed such expectations?

Does the LBS / British Land master plan place the leisure centre in the best location to achieve these objectives and positive outcomes for local people?

The role of the council is to champion schemes that create and shape places that are inclusive and knit together the diverse fabric of the area for both current and new residents.

The community sees the new leisure centre as playing a critical and central role in building links between groups old and new in the area.

Given the obscure site LBS / British Land ‘prefer’, one must ask has the design brief for the centre taken this into account?

Is it a priority for LBS?

Has this been considered at all?

People live in areas for generations. Developers and politicians come and go. Hence people want their needs and aspirations to be taken into account. They also want greater transparency in LBS decisions about the regeneration of the area.

As yet nothing has been forthcoming from LBS as to when and why it decided upon its preferred site and rejected its consultant’s recommendation of another more central site. It is therefore to be hoped that LBS / British Land will seize this opportunity to totally re-think the  ‘preferred location’ and proposed specification and instead deliver a new leisure centre that is in a prominent location and is something everyone will feel proud to use for years to come.

Pauline E Adenwalla, Canada Water Consultative Forum



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