“You might as well have spoken to people at the bus stop”
The London School of Economics held an event earlier this week exploring the shape of the city’s development.
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan attended the “Good Growth by Design” evening as a speaker, before a panel discussion and question and answer session.
Topics ranged widely, from issues such as diversity within architecture firms (limited), to London’s rising skyline, the stretched resources of council planning departments and the crucial topic of affordable housing.
There was also an interesting insight into the planning process in Lewisham and the expertise of council members.
More detail emerges on how Lewisham’s Evelyn ward representative Jamie Milne earns his allowance
Earlier this week, we reported on serial skiver Jamie Milne, a Labour councillor for Evelyn whose increasingly rare appearances are but the latest in the ward’s strange pattern of absenteeism and scandal.
That byelection itself was called following the resignation of another councillor, Joseph Folorunso, who hadn’t turned up to any meetings for almost six months.
He quit a week before he would have been forced out, stating he was going to run an orphanage in Togo.
His replacement didn’t fare much better. Olufunke Abidoye was deselected just a few months after her election when it was discovered she faced disciplinary proceedings by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
Then Jamie Milne stepped in. He had tried previously to serve on the council as a Labour candidate in the 2010 local elections when he was only just kept out of Lee Green ward by a Liberal Democrat incumbent (remember when there was an opposition in Lewisham?).
Once he gained the nomination for Evelyn, he was duly elected in the die-hard Labour ward, along with two other councillors from the same party.
The early signs were positive in 2014 and then into 2015 (when Milne received £13,499.27 for his councillor duties). Milne’s attendance record was strong. He sat on various committees, including one of the three planning groups, as well as scrutiny and public accounts. In short, he seemed to be balancing his responsibilities as a councillor with his official job as the head of the constituency office of Heidi Alexander, the MP for Lewisham East.
Had the Evelyn effect lifted?
In 2016 things changed, official attendance figures show. Of the 50 meetings from January to early November where Milne’s presence was expected, he showed up to just 29.
In fact if Mr Milne was due at a council meeting, the chances of actually seeing him there were only slightly higher than one in two (58 per cent to be precise).
And of the 21 meetings he didn’t go to, he sent his apologies to only nine.
It’s not quite the staggering seven per cent attendance rate of Mr Folorunso – but engaged local residents were perhaps hoping for a higher bar.
Lewisham Lately didn’t wish to highlight this if there were extenuating circumstances so we emailed Milne (no response) then contacted him at Heidi’s Alexander’s office to check.
There was no particular reason for his absences, he said – just “work and family commitments”. He confirmed he wouldn’t be standing for reelection in 2018.
Until then, Evelyn residents may feel more inclined to direct queries to the two other councillors, Joyce Jacca and David Michael. And what of Jamie Milne’s successor? Will the mysterious absentee blight of Evelyn strike again?
A fancy new restaurant called Sparrow has landed in Lewisham. Could it be the shape of things to come?
The words “fancy restaurant” and “Lewisham” don’t usually spend much time together.
Could this month’s arrival of Sparrow change that? It’s the first restaurant venture of husband and wife team Terry Blake and Yohini Nandakumar, a culinary duo who met while working in the Michelin-starred kitchen of St John in Smithfield (“a glorious celebration of British fare and a champion of ‘nose to tail’ eating”, according to the Michelin guide).
Sparrow lands officially in central Lewisham today (March 28), where there hasn’t been as much excitement for a new opening since the Model Market offered refuge from the long, hot summer of 2014.
It had its soft launch last week when Mrs Lewisham Lately and I managed to bag a table. Tucked just off the high street on the fringe of “old” Lewisham, the restaurant looks out over the “new”: the soaring towers and cranes of the Lewisham Gateway and the four-lane traffic that surrounds it. Continue reading “Sparrow restaurant: welcome to a Lewisham pioneer”
Archer has been highly critical of the Lewisham/ Renewal/ New Bermondsey deal, and is also campaigning for better allocation of funds for schools and primary school places (although his pronouncements so far have notably glossed over the chronic problems with some of our secondary schools).
Here is his bio:
Ross has been Chairman of Lewisham Deptford Conservatives since March 2016 having previously been Chairman of Lewisham West & Penge Conservatives between 2012 and 2013. Ross has twice stood for election in Lewisham contesting Sydenham ward in 2010 and Grove Park ward in 2014. Ross has lived in Lewisham most of his life and has been a school governor in the borough. He works for a not for profit organisation in London and has previously worked in the Housing and Transport sectors.
Firstly, parents with children are due to start their secondary education in September found out their school allocation. Many did not get what they wanted (42.2 per cent to be precise). Some were distraught.
Then last weekend, a new network for parents of the borough had its first meeting. Speakers included Heidi Alexander, MP, and Nicky Dixon, a member of the Campaign for State Education for South-East London. Nicky is a parent of a pupil at Sedgehill School, a local secondary rated “inadequate” by Ofsted and subsequently forced to become an academy – yet still waiting for a sponsor.
Nicky reports on the meeting as below:
There was lots of interest in creating a Working Group and working together to support each other, the schools and create a much needed parent education voice within Lewisham.
Parents have lost consultation rights by the Education & Adoption Act for schools rated Inadequate, Causing Concern or Coasting, and Lewisham does not consider parents as part of the Education equation (we are not involved in the Secondary Challenge, were not invited to share our views on Transition (transitioning between primary and secondary)).
This is the start of a new journey for Lewisham parents, and we need to spread the word to create a truly borough-wide parent network.
One of those issues is obviously education, a story on many parents’ minds today as secondary school places are announced. While the borough’s primary schools are among the best in the country, its secondary schools are an entirely different matter – so much so that the mayor agreed to the appointment of a Lewisham Education Commission, which compiled a report into the problems facing our secondary schools and suggested the best way forward.
It published its findings in April 2016. It’s surprising how few local parents seem to have heard of the report (perhaps related to the gaping void in media coverage referred to above). Its contents certainly do not pull any punches. Below, there are some of the key passages in the 98-page document, which as many parents as possible in the borough should read. In some instances, the situation has worsened since the time the report was pulled together. For example, the number of pupils going to good or outstanding schools has fallen markedly – Lewisham is now the lowest ranked of all London boroughs in this regard and has the dubious distinction of being one of the worst in the UK. Continue reading “Lewisham and its chronically troubled secondary schools”
The park needs TLC. Lewisham Council propose to re-landscape using Heritage Lottery Fund grant. Completely OTT, all that is required is upgrading of what is there already and maintenance. The Mansion House, on the other hand, is a whole new ball game.