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Letters of the week (30/03/2016)

“‘Urban vandalism’ on Aylesbury Road”

The proposed buildings on Plot 18 will have a major impact on Aylesbury Road ‘New flats plan will block out daylight’, Southwark News March 24, 2016.

Throughout the entire planning process Southwark’s Design Review Panel will never have been presented with a view of the proposed fifteen -storey building at the end of our street, from our street.

That is how the scrutiny of a major building and its effect on our Public Realm works (or doesn’t work) in Southwark.

It isn’t the quantity of Notting Hill Housing’s consultation events that matters, it is the quality:

Throughout all of 2014 and 2015, Notting Hill Housing never once presented any view of their proposals from Aylesbury Road; never once explained to local residents that the green open space and all the trees at the end of Aylesbury Road would be deliberately destroyed.

They have never divulged that their proposals received a barrage of criticism.

The proposals for the building are so destructive for Aylesbury Road that I have labelled them Urban Vandalism.

The current Masterplan is grossly disrespectful towards Aylesbury Road – it is a disgrace.

Anyone involved in developing the current Masterplan for Plot 18 represents a real and present danger to Southwark’s Public Realm.

They need to be stopped – urgently and permanently.

 Liam Hennessy Architect, Aylesbury Road, Walworth

“Harman stance will harm sex workers”

Harriet Harman’s recent article demonstrates either a spectacular lack of knowledge or a wilful ignorance about the lived experience of sex workers in the UK and the overwhelming body of international evidence that criminalisation, whether of the sale or purchase of consenting sex, seriously harms sex workers.

I speak to sex workers every single day and whatever their reasons for selling sex not a single one of them would benefit from having their choices and their source of income removed.  Harman claims that “we should follow the example of the Nordic countries where the woman prostitute is treated as a victim and helped” which demonstrates that she is either unaware of the reality or choosing to ignoring it. If it’s the former then she should use her platform more responsibly, if it’s the latter she should be ashamed. In Sweden, since the purchase of sex was criminalised in 1999 there has been no demonstrable reduction in levels of sex work but sex workers safety, health and welfare has been seriously compromised. In short, it has failed in all of its aims and further entrenched stigma and marginalisation.

My organisation exists because sex workers are targeted by offenders who know that it’s unlikely they’ll report to the police. We have dealt with 22 crimes against sex workers in Southwark since July 2012 including six sexual assaults, two of which were rapes.  In only four of these 22 cases was the sex worker willing to report their ordeal to the police.  The policies that Harman is advocating will only serve to further entrench this marginalisation and further harm sex workers as did those that she championed when she was in Government.

If she genuinely spoke to sex workers she would know that most find her authoritarian, moralistic, judgmental and infantilising ideology, which removes their agency and consent, more oppressive than their work.  Based purely on an ideological objection, she wants to eradicate sex work even though attempts to do so would have dire consequences for sex workers.  It is tragic that someone who has been seen as a strong advocate for equality doesn’t extend her compassion to sex workers.

Alex Feis-Bryce, Chief Executive Officer, National Ugly Mugs

“SLaM not a team player”

Regarding the letter from Southwark Cllrs- ‘On the picket line with our cleaners,  Southwark News March 24, 2016.

I need to remind Councillor  Mark Williams, a man I have huge respect for, and knowing him from when he was chair of Southwark health scrutiny sub committee, that South London & Maudsley Trust (Slam) have never been a good team player!

It seems every year someone comes up with a new IN word! Integrated is the popular one now.

Even Slam, who seem to think it is ok for all the wards in King’s College Hospital to have both mental health and physically ill patients sharing, will surely feel this is taking integrating a bit too far!

It certainly makes it harder to pinpoint who is to blame when something goes wrong.  As for Councillor Williams and the other eight councillors from Camberwell urging Slam to reconsider their position, my advice from my dealings with them is not to hold their breath!

After all, when Slam closed the Maudsley A&E, at the risk of boring people again, a history lesson needs to be told. All of our MPs, Councillors, Lambeth and Southwark scrutiny committees, and even the then Minister of Health, Alan Johnson, stated in the House, that Slam must not close the A&E until King’s College Hospital had something in place  that was Fit For Purpose!

We all know this never happened. Slam still closed their A&E! I rest my case.

Tom White, Southwark Pensioners’ Action Group


“Hysterical reaction to Green Dale”

It was disappointing to see the slightly hysterical reaction from the Friends of Green Dale in the Southwark News to the proposed new stadium for Dulwich Hamlet and the various benefits it will bring to the local community.

I have always been slightly bemused by a small minority’s seeming emotional attachment to what has, for as long as I can remember, been a quasi-derelict piece of land used for little more than dog walking and, certainly until relatively recently, drug use.

Perhaps a few facts may help to bring a little perspective.  The stadium will not extend beyond where the current pitch actually sits.  Of course it may be that the Friends of Green Dale prefer a derelict astro-turf pitch but I’m pretty certain they would not be supported by the majority of local residents.  The stadium will not encroach on to the current ‘green space’ and will provide opportunities for it to become a genuine asset to the community.

The designs propose new access pathways that have not previously been there for the rest of Green Dale. Access has previously only been available because people have pulled down fences to what is technically a closed off area!

If Friends of Green Dale are genuinely keen to promote access to the area, they should be supporting the development.

The suggestion that Green Dale be retained for wildlife is, quite frankly, devoid from the reality of what exists.  Why, for example, no play space?  It’s clearly needed in the local area and will provide real benefits to young people locally.  The connection to the ASPIRE academy will only enhance these, providing opportunities for local children that will otherwise not exist.

Dulwich Hamlet has increasingly over the past few years operated as a genuine community club, and this stadium will only enhance that.  The genuine chance for Green Dale to finally be an area in use, a green space that benefits everybody should not be missed.

Andrew Tucker, via email


“Divided we fall”

It’s always good hearing from Reg O’Donoghue, a real Southwark stalwart (letters, March 24th).

However, like many on the Out side, they’ve got their geography a bit mixed up. Try as they might to disown it, culturally, economically and geologically, we’re part of Europe – just like Ireland, the Channel Tunnel and the House of Windsor.

However, there is a cunning plan B. Following the referendum our plucky Leavers could try towing England out to the mid Atlantic (minus Scotland, of course). In fact, I have it on good authority that this forms a major plank of Donald Trump’s foreign policy, something he picked up from his blond friend in London who plans to dock London’s airport off the coast of Essex.

But seriously, back in the real world, let’s not cut ourselves off to live in proud isolation, especially when cooperation is needed now more than ever following the recent terrorist attacks. Us Londoners know this more than most. As the saying goes – united we stand, divided we fall. See

Oliver Stutter, Herne Hill


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