Tag Archives: Lambeth Council

Demolition of Duke of Wellington pub, Acre Lane

A housing association, Genesis Housing, has apparently started work on demolishing the Edwardian Duke of Wellington pub on Acre Lane, despite 30 outstanding issues with Lambeth Council and residents which were to be resolved before work could begin. The Acre Lane Residents Association (ALRA) has stepped up their campaign to stop the work, which they claim is being carried out so aggressively that neighbours’ homes are being damaged in the process. In reaction to scaffolding being erected on the building earlier in the week, the words ‘No to Genesis demolition!’ were emblazoned across the building yesterday. 

The following summary was sent by the ALRA committee to Chuka Umunna MP on June 23:

  • Genesis Housing had received planning permission to build on the Fulham Timber Yard site and Edwardian building of the Prince of Wales pub on Acre Lane.
  • The decision was resolved pending 30 outstanding issues for their consultation with Lambeth Council and affected neighbours before work could begin.
  • These have been utterly ignored and aggressive demolition has begun in force this week.
  • This not only totally ignores the agreed arrangement between the council and the neighbours backing onto this issues, but importantly also breaks the law within party wall agreement.
  • This work is officially illegal
  • Neighbours are absolutely at the end of their tether; incredibly upset and angry. A corporation called Genesis, without any care or consideration whatsoever, is literally beginning to destroy their homes.
  • For example, just a couple of lines from residents on the Acre Lane residents website today:

Whilst I appreciate emails saying that various people are being informed YOU HAVE TAKEN NO ACTUAL ACTION TO PROTECT US.”

“I’ve just got home to find rubble in my back garden and the vines ripped of my back wall (see pictures attached).I was not notified that this work would be done”

 “I’m a Labour Party Member and a proud resident of Brixton and have been for 10 years plus yet I doubt I have been more ashamed than now. Co-operative Council? Only if you are Genesis Housing Corp”

  • Quote from Paul McGlone today;

“I spoke to Sue Foster less than an hour ago and she was clear Genesis had no right to begin demolition on the site. I know action is being taken as we speak to try and stop them.”

  • Quote from Diane Morris, Chair of Planning Committee today

“Given that the boundary treatment is the subject of a pre-commencement condition, I think that any demolition of the boundary walls themselves would also be a cause of concern.”

  • Despite numerous mails, Steve Reed has done nothing, said nothing, not a single reply to anyone.
Genesis Housing sent Brixton Blog the following statement today:
“Genesis received planning permission on the 25th August to build over 30 environmentally friendly homes, including affordable housing on Acre Lane. It would be a car-free development to minimise the impact of parking for local people and would include green spaces for the community to enjoy. When we received planning permission we carried out minor work to prepare the site for demolition. Due to very recent changes in case law we have ceased this minor work until after the pre-commencement conditions meeting with Lambeth Council at the end of July. Throughout the whole process we’ve consulted with the residents closely and will continue to do so.”

Photo: Charlotte Wiig


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Lambeth Council: Capita contract

Kaye Wiggins reports from Lambeth Council

Last night’s council meeting was a much calmer affair than a previous meeting,  when protesters stormed the chamber and forced the councillors out.

There was a handful of quiet observers and the evening ran to a tight schedule, finishing after just an hour and 20 minutes.

Still, an important decision was passed: the council’s cabinet approved a plan to give a contract worth around £60m over 10 years to the services company Capita. The contract is to provide the council’s revenue collection (which includes council tax collection) and telephone customer services.

The Lib Dem councillor Alex Davies was quick to point out that Capita already ran Lambeth’s council tax collection. He pointed to that day’s front-page London Evening Standard article, which said Lambeth had more uncollected council tax than any other London borough, and asked whether it was a good idea to give the company any more responsibility.

Davies also said the plan meant jobs would be moved to Southampton. “This is untold upheaval, without notice,” he said.

“Staff were told about the decision by email, out of office hours. That’s not a nice email to find in your inbox. It’s no way to treat staff,” he said.

But Labour councillors were keen to point out the benefits. Councillor Pete Robbins said it would mean a £500,000 increase per year in council tax revenue if targets were met, and said Capita had agreed to create 40 apprenticeships as part of the contract.

The council leader, Steve Reed, described the contract as “an improved service at a reduced cost with community benefits.”

The new contract aims to save £10m over 10 years: a big sum, but still just a tiny fraction of the £79m the council must save this year alone.

Also at the meeting…

The council approved a new carbon management plan for its buildings. Under the plan, individual council departments will be responsible for their own energy budgets.

The council approved a new Local Implementation Plan for transport, which it will submit to Transport for London. The plan includes measures to improve conditions for cyclists and pedestrians in Lambeth.

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Unison Protest outside Brixton Town Hall

The cuts continue unabated and there was a double whammy of protests outside Lambeth Town Hall last night. Save Lambeth Libraries campaign demonstrated against staff cuts, reduced services and possible closures, while other groups lobbied the council over cuts to children’s services. Here are a few pics:

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Maundy misery for market traders

Stuart Horwood, Chair of the Brixton Market Traders

Joanna Hughes reports on more problems for the traders as the Pope’s Rd car park is demolished

Brixton market traders who lost their battle to regenerate the Pope’s Road car park for customer parking faced more misery today.

Traders and customers coughed and sneezed from sawdust created by trees being chopped down and compacted on the site of former multi-story car park.

Stuart Horwood, Chairman of the Brixton Market Traders’ Federation, says he phoned Lambeth Council to complain: “The whole area is covered in sawdust and it is affecting customers and traders. It has caused considerable disruption. I’m very disappointed that this has been done without any consideration as to what happens here.”

Unfortunately Lambeth Council was not available to comment on this particular incident.

Lambeth Council’s Master Plan for Brixton commits to parking space in any redevelopment. But in February the council made an exception for retail giant Tesco building a new store and mixed redevelopment on Streatham High Road.

Tesco originally agreed with the council that building work would be done in phases so that Streatham’s popular ice rink could remain open to the public throughout. But despite record pre tax profits of £3.4 billion, Tesco’s request to save time and money by erecting a temporary ice rink for three years on the Pope’s Road car park was approved by the planning committee.

John Gordon, Secretary of the Brixton Market Traders’ Federation said: “It’s an absolute disaster. My takings are down by forty per cent and I feel incredibly angry that this has been done to suit Tesco which has masses and masses of car parking.”

Mr Horwood said: “I am stunned that an agreement with such a major bearing can be amended. It wasn’t knocked together overnight.”

A spokesperson for Lambeth Council said: “Tesco will provide 600 new jobs, 250 new homes and a new leisure centre. 33 parking bays will be built at Buckner Road for market shoppers.”

The traders have endured two-and-a-half months of demolition noise from 8am until 5pm every day. The demolition contractors used water jets to dampen down dust. But traders will still be left with what Mr Horwood describes as a “logistical nightmare” when they have to quit their own parking, also on the Pope’s Road site, on 31 July.

Lambeth Council will reinstate some trader spaces on Pope’s Road. It is also providing overflow car parking for traders at a new car park on Porden Road – also the only planned customer car park – a five minute walk away from the market. Mr Horwood said: “We will have to move from a site on which we can comfortably fit forty-two vehicles with only three blocked in, to thirty-five nose-to-tail spaces where virtually everyone is blocked in.” Where the spaces will be depends on a proper survey of the site which will map it out inch by inch.

A first-in-last-out policy will, Mr Horwood said, “be an absolute nightmare”, as fruit and vegetable traders arrive at 6am and leave at 4pm, while other traders do not start work until 09:30 and leave at 6.30pm.

A spokesperson for Tesco, who are in charge of the new ice rink, said: “This is one of the most exciting regeneration projects in London. It will create hundreds of jobs and will see fantastic new leisure facilities built for the local community.”

But this concession may not be enough. Anxious traders are yet to be convinced that customers with heavy bags will go the distance.

Families come to Brixton market to buy large items such as drums of cooking oil and sacks of rice. With no parking nearby there has been a huge fall off in custom and the market is being subsidised by £50,000 of council funding. Mr Horwood said: “With the cut backs the chances are funding may not continue. Although no one has said to us it is all over.”

He added: “The reality is people don’t mix leisure and shopping. They may buy a banana after they skate for energy but they won’t be doing a weekly shop. We’re on a knife-edge and if we don’t remain commercially viable, we won’t survive.”

And that’s why Mr Horwood has become CEO of the new Community Interest Company under which the traders will be trading from the beginning of the next financial year.

Community Interest Companies were introduced by the Labour Government under the Companies Act 2004, to allow businesses which help the community to run themselves as companies. Registered now at Companies House, the traders are negotiating delegated powers from the council to run the market themselves.

Mr Horwood said: “We can run the market on a much leaner budget and we’ll be free to seek outside sponsorship, re-brand and publicise on websites, shopping bags and door-to-door flyers.”

The traders paid tribute in particular to Brixton Town Centre Director Steph Butcher and to the wider council who have supported the traders’ company.

Mr Horwood said: “It wasn’t a total loss. It raised the profile of Brixton Market Trader’s Federation and we have gained the respect of certain council departments. We fought a good fight based on facts and figures.”

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Market trader parking permit price increases ninefold

An important Urban 75 forum thread to draw your attention to – Trader’s parking permits have increased ninefold in price. What with hikes in rent at Granville Arcade and the closure of the Pope’s Rd Car Park pending a new ice rink, Brixton Market traders are having rather a hard time of it at the moment…

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OPINION: Compulsory recycling? Thank God.

In a riposte to the opinion piece below, another tweeter Glenn Guest defends the policy to hand out fines to those who don’t recycle

Recycling is now compulsory. And rightly so. As with everything that is mandatory, there needs to be some kind of penalty attached. In this case, a fine of up to £1000.

According to the letter we all received, recycling waste costs half that of disposing by incineration or landfill. In this period of austerity, such a simple, pragmatic way to reduce costs helps channel much needed funds into other crucial areas –  schools, care for the elderly, or ambulance services, for example.

Recyclable waste has commercial value too. Councils can sell on recyclable items, if they are clean and correctly sorted. Putting extra effort into recycling can help lessen the pinch of budgetary cuts, which will only be a good thing.

The more recycling we do, the better. We are running out of landfill space and, besides that, the 1500 landfill sites in the UK produce a quarter of our methane emissions – a huge, unwanted contribution to the greenhouse effect.

Under the new rules, bulky items – I’ve seen wardrobes left out for the bin men – won’t see out their days rotting in some landfill site, impacting on climate change.

Now we will have to see if they can be donated to someone who can reuse them, be it through charities or websites like Freecycle. Reusing is even more green and cost effective than recycling, and allows those less fortunate to benefit from stuff you no longer need.

I do feel passionately about recycling: I used to live with two guys, in Tower Hamlets – which, incidentally, has the lowest ratio of recycling in London, due to it’s ‘more cost effective’ communal recycling facilities – who didn’t think  recycling applied to them. Grown men who were just too damn lazy, arrogant and ignorant to walk 30 yards to the pink dumpster, preferring to chuck perfectly recyclable stuff down the rubbish chute.

Luckily, we have kerbside collections in Lambeth. Under the new rules, that’s exactly where our waste must be presented. This is to aid timely collection of our detritus, allowing extra time for the ‘collection crew to check for contamination.’ Is the right stuff in the right bag? Get this wrong, and you might receive a stern letter or two…get it wrong consistently and you could get fined £1000.

This could be difficult to police: our ‘house’ is actually 4 ‘households,’ so how would they know whose was whose? Also, the ruling on garden waste being banned from wheelie bins, now a subscription-only service, conjures imagines of gardeners creeping on tippy-toes, fly-tipping into a neighbouring subscriber’s brown bin…

From what I can gather, if the bin men do identify you as persistently flouting the rules, your rubbish will be analysed for three weeks in a row, and if you don’t sharpen up, you will receive letters, then visits from council officers. If you still don’t improve, that’s when you get fined. So it needn’t come to a fine, for any of us.

There certainly needs to be more education – the new rule “plastic pots, tubs and trays (food packaging) will be accepted” surprised me. Our household was recycling them already, apparently this was wrong. So, yes, I agree with Clare Richardson that there needs to be more ‘hand-holding’ but it’s the ‘hand scolding’ that gets people talking and brings gravitas to the situation.


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OPINION: Enough of the trash talk – more group hugs

Twitterer and Brixton resident, Clare Richardson, gives her view on the new recycling rules

This morning I got the ‘CHANGES TO YOUR RECYCLING AND REFUSE SERVICES’ letter from the Council, along with most Lambeth residents. I think it’s a step too far. Don’t get me wrong, I have always thought that as a borough, Lambeth has done a good job of looking after us when it comes to rubbish and I am all for recycling. How could anyone argue against it? It is better for our environment. Simple fact.

And I don’t want to do down the people who do the week in, week out job of collecting our rubbish. They probably don’t get enough thanks. I’m pleased about new reuse services such as the one opening up next to the Western Riverside Waste Authority. And I am all for the new electronic collection banks that they are introducing too.  There is a lot I like.

And while I’m not thrilled at the prospect of bumping my way through an army of wheelie bins down my road on a Monday night, or tripping over orange bags now that all residents all have to put their own rubbish on the pavement as opposed to just outside the house – I kind of get how that makes refuse collection a more efficient process.

But Mr Doug Perry, Head of Environmental Services and Highways at London Borough of Lambeth (huh? How do highways and the environment go together in a job title?!) I think ‘compulsory recycling charges’ is a little bit…well..rubbish. People need to be encouraged to recycle, not have a great big £1,000 fine imposed on them if they don’t. I still think there is often misconception and misunderstanding about what can and can’t be recycled. As more and more things become recyclable (great news), how about a bit more help?  I don’t think slapping a big scary fine on anyone is going to incentivise us to recycle more.

I understand times are tough and budgets are tight but come on Lambeth, how about a little bit more hand-holding as opposed to hand-scolding?

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More videos from the anti cuts demo last night

One protestor’s view of the public spending cuts in Lambeth

Videos by Kaye Wiggins

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Photos from tonight’s anti-cuts demo, Brixton Town Hall

Blocking the road to protest against lollipop ladies losing their jobs

Photos: Kaye Wiggins

And a short video to give a taste of the protest (taken by Zoe Jewell):

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A snapshot of Brixton’s library protest

Local resident Rod Smith, librarians Abibat Olulode and Anna Tomlinson

Kaye Wiggins reports from Saturday’s protest against cuts to library services

Abibat Olulode, who works at Brixton library, and Anna Tomlinson, from the library in Streatham, are among a group of around 100 people who staged a protest outside Brixton library yesterday. They say they have no idea what Lambeth council’s spending cuts will mean for the service because they haven’t been told.

“All I know is what I’ve read in the South London Press,” says Abibat. “But it’s obvious that there are going to be big cuts.”

She says she fears the library’s outreach services will be hardest hit by the cuts. “The money we get will be for our core service, so we will have to stop the other work,” she says. “This means things like literacy development activities, reading groups and programmes to help refugees. These services are for the more vulnerable people yet they’re being hit the hardest. That’s why we’re here to protest.”

The deputy leader of Lambeth Council, Jackie Meldrum, visited the library on the morning of the protest, but Abibat says this wasn’t enough to reassure the protesters. “I didn’t hear her, but I expect she just said what she always says – that we have to blame the cuts on the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in the government,” she says.

“I think she’s wrong about that. The council shouldn’t be complicit in finding mealy-mouthed ways to make these cuts. It should stand up to the government and demand more money.”

Rod Smith, a retired Unison member and a regular user of Brixton library, says he is worried about the council’s plans to transfer responsibility for running libraries to community groups, who would make greater use of volunteers to run the service.

“If you want libraries to be run properly, you need paid, trained staff,” he says. “Why should people’s public services be run by volunteers?

“The council is the biggest employer in Lambeth. It is setting a bad example by saying to other employers that it’s ok to let people work for free instead of paying professionals.”

Abibat points out that she has a masters degree in information service management. “How many of the volunteers will have that qualification?” she says. “They won’t, and they’ll quit when the work gets tough.”


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