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Letters to the editor: 01/09/16

Let’s talk about home care over a cuppa

Southwark UNISON will be hosting a drop in session for home care workers, those who receive care and their friends and families.

The drop in sessions are being held at The Star Express Café Blue Anchor Market Square on 1st and 2nd September 10am-2pm.

This is our part in a national UNISON campaign Save Our Services!  /

We will be asking people to have a cuppa on us and talk to us about the impact cuts to social care budgets have had on them, their families and friends.  We are asking people to complete our survey either on line  or why not meet us in the café, complete the survey on paper and have a chat and a cuppa at the same time!

When Southwark Council passed a three year budget for 2016-18 it included £9.5million cuts to the Adult Social Care budget together with £3million to be raised from new charges.

Southwark Council was the joint first council to implement UNISON’s Ethical Care Charter.  This means they are working towards all Home Care workers receiving the London Living Wage, fixed hour contracts and paid travel time.  We know many Home Care agencies are breaking the law by not paying the national minimum wage because travel time is not taken into account.   We know agencies are breaking the law by arranging appointments back to back without any time for travel in between, forcing Home Care workers to either “clip” the beginning and end of appointments or work in their own time without pay.

Southwark UNISON will report back our findings on the 16th November when UNISON activists and communities will come together to raise awareness of the devastating impact of cuts to older people’s social care services.  Age Concern have calculated  £1.95bn has been cut from social care budgets in the last ten years at a time when demand and risen.

Sue Plain, Branch Secretary of Southwark UNISON



We led the way to save the local boozer

Regarding your article ‘Your Pub Needs You!’ Southwark News August 25th 2016.

I’d like to thank local MP Neil Coyle for raising the important issue of protecting our pubs, Southwark Council knows how much our pubs mean to people and the contribution they make to the historic character, economy and vibrancy of our borough, which is why we do all we can to protect them with our planning powers.

We were the first council to make a local pub, the Ivy House, an asset of community value, something we have now done for several historic pubs in the borough including The Glad, Elephant and Castle and Thomas A’Beckett. We also brought in the conservation area around The Glad to help protect this historic part of the borough, including The Glad itself.

We are already looking at how we can use Article 4 in the way Wandsworth Council have to place an extra layer of protection for our local pubs, as we did with railway arches earlier this year, and we will make an announcement soon. Southwark is committed to creating new homes for people but, as we have already shown, this won’t be at the expense of our most loved drinking establishments.

Cllr Mark Williams, cabinet member for regeneration new homes, Southwark Council



A better service for hospital patients

Your comment piece ‘How will hospital ‘chains’ affect Southwark patients?’ (Southwark News, 25 August, 2016) raises concerns that our Vanguard partnership with Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust will mean fewer hospital appointments for local people in Southwark because our staff will be sent to Kent.

In fact, the opposite is true – under the Vanguard patients from Kent who currently travel up to London for not only surgery but also pre-operative appointments and rehabilitation afterwards will be able to have many of those appointments closer to home.

That is not only better for patients from Kent but also better for local people living in Southwark and Lambeth.

Enabling more patients from outside our local boroughs to have follow-up appointments nearer home will instead free up resources at our hospitals for local people.

We will ensure there is no negative impact on local patients resulting from our partnerships with hospitals elsewhere.

Here at Guy’s and St Thomas’ we are proud to provide exceptional care to local people living in Southwark and Lambeth in both our hospitals and in our community health centres – and that’s not going to change.

Sarah Morgan, Vanguard Programme Director of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust



Hitting the disabled for blue badges

Credit to Southwark Council for launching the ‘Free Swim and Gym’ scheme which opens up free keep fit facilities to all residents each Friday and weekend afternoons.

Let’s hope that the Olympics feel good factor will rub off on young and old alike.

However, I cannot let Southwark Council completely off the hook.

Would they explain why disabled residents applying for a Blue Badge are now forced to pay a £10 ‘administration fee’?  A large number of Blue Badge holders are unable to work and receiving Disability benefits. This is an additional cost that should be met through responsible budgeting of existing funds by Southwark Council. We should assist all our residents where possible.

Stephen Goulding, via email



Dockland Settlement is offering free pitches

There have been letters published recently regarding the Dockland Settlements I want to respond to.

In response to a letter from Sandra Walsh (28/07/16) our Community Centre’s new astro-turf pitch replaced our old astro-turf pitch and has nothing to do with the concrete play area that Hollybrook Homes wants to build on. When the negotiations took place with Southwark for our new community centre and pitch, Hollybrook Homes’ plans to build on the site of the concrete pitch and red crane did not exist so I am puzzled as to why people are making links between the two.

It is true that the Southwark Council led Odessa Youth Club has moved from a small unloved building next to the concrete play area to our community centre but this means the local young people now have better facilities. We also provide the Youth Club with free use of Dockland Settlements astro-turf pitch three evenings a week. Regarding the £50/hour weekend charge for private groups on our astro-turf pitch – as a charity we need to be sustainable and hiring out our facilities (which is not uncommon for charities to do) is a way to ensure we can remain open and continue providing activities for local people that are free such as the three free kids sessions, the free adult disability football session and the free over 50’s sports session that all take place on the pitch every week.

Regarding Mrs Heather’s letter (25/08/16) we hire the astro-turf pitch at a very low rate between 4pm and 6pm to a local football academy who set their own prices. It is not a Dockland Settlements led activity and we have no input in the prices set for the professional football coaching her Grandchildren receive.

Ben North,  Operations Director at Dockland Settlements


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