Darren Johnson and Ken Livingstone on Ladywell

On 17th November 2004, Darren Johnson, Green Party Councillor at both Lewisham Council and the GLA had a question and answer session with Ken Livingstone on the issue of the Ladywell Leisure Centre.

We copied it here trying to facilitate its reading by putting on one page the main question as all the supplementary questions which appear to be at least as important as the main question.
Some answers from the Mayor appear to have been truncated for some unknown reason. On that we are unable to improve.


Mayor answers to London.

Leisure facilities in Lewisham

[Main question]

Question number 1504/2004
Meeting date 17/11/2004

Question by  Darren Johnson 

Given that your London Plan commits boroughs to “identifying sites for a range of sports facilities to meet local, sub-regional and wider needs” is it acceptable for the London Borough of Lewisham to demolish its main leisure centre in 2007, leaving the centre of Lewisham without any swimming facilities until at least 2010?

Source Image : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ladywell_Leisure_Centre#/media/File:Ladywell_Leisure_Centre_Sep_09.jpg

Answer  by  Ken Livingstone (2nd Term)

I understand that although the London Borough of Lewisham proposes to re-develop the Ladywell sports centre for a much-needed school in 2007, it also intends to open a new leisure centre in the south of the borough in 2006 and another in the centre of the borough in 2010. In the medium term, this will provide local residents with enhanced leisure facilities, in line with the strategic objectives of the London Plan.

 While resolution of this issue is essentially a borough matter, I have instructed officers to explore with the London Borough of Lewisham how the GLA may be able to help meet the needs of central Lewisham residents for swimming facilities during the development process.

[Supplementary question]

Question by  Darren Johnson 

Well, residents will be left for at least three years without any leisure facilities in the centre of Lewisham, and it is not practical to suggest that everyone can just go off to the south of Lewisham to go swimming. There is huge concern and huge opposition about this in Lewisham, and it does seem to clearly contradict the policies in your London Plan about the need to ensure local sports facilities. Going for three years without this facility, I think, is unacceptable.

 You said before in response to the question about post offices that, where it clearly contradicted the policy in your London Plan, you would campaign against closure. Will you join the campaign against closure of the Lewisham Leisure Centre?

Answer  by  Ken Livingstone (2nd Term)

There is quite a significant difference here. The Post Office is closing facilities for their own profit-driven motives. What you have here is a real dilemma for the people responsible for managing Lewisham, which is they desperately need a new school, otherwise, kids are not going to get an education, and nobody in their right mind would want to close the Ladywell sports centre, given it has only recently been refurbished, but equally, they are now facing a massive demand for education.

 I have a lot of sympathy, therefore, with the dilemma that Lewisham find themselves in. This is the consequence of far too much flogging off of public land and public buildings over the years, which now presents them with a really unpalatable choice. I know it would be easy to condemn them, but frankly, I do not have an answer.

[Supplementary question]

Question by  Darren Johnson 

I totally agree with you that there is a desperate need for a new school, and that is what Opposition councillors in Lewisham have been saying for years, and that is why Opposition councillors and Opposition parties opposed Labour’s decision to close a school. It was only when they demolished a school that they realised, then, that there was shortage of places. I mean, what barmy thought-process they went through, I do not know.

 Opposition councillors did get together and put forward alternative sites for a new school, which Labour have clearly failed to listen to. I would hope that your office and your intervention in this could actually bring a bit of common sense into this whole debate, because Lewisham Council have got themselves in absolute knots and are making utter fools of themselves at the moment.

 Answer  by  Ken Livingstone (2nd Term)

Whilst we can all agree that, in retrospect, your position has been shown to be correct, that does not resolve the immediate dilemma Lewisham now faces. It needs a school, and because¿

[Supplementary question]

Question by  Darren Johnson 

We have put forward alternative sites, which they refuse to take up.

Answer  by  Ken Livingstone (2nd Term)

I suspect the cost of those alternative sites is such that they can only build the school by taking existing publicly-owned land. Now, my response when this issue came up to your question, was to ask the LDA whether we had any land in the area that would be suitable, but we have not been able to identify some.

 Therefore, I do not have an answer for this. The answer is you would not start from here. The trouble is Lewisham is now here.

[Supplementary question]

Question by  Darren Johnson 

Can you raise this issue with Lewisham, then, a) about your concerns over the lack of leisure facilities for three years, and b) about looking at sensible options for alternative sites for new schools?

Answer  by  Ken Livingstone (2nd Term)

If you let us have a look at the list of sites, or if you have any suggestions, I am happy to take them forward. I am not really keen to denounce borough councils who have problems which they may have contributed to in the past, but I suspect¿

[Supplementary question]

 Question by  Darren Johnson 

They totally created the problem. It is entirely of their own making.

Answer  by  Ken Livingstone (2nd Term)

The thing you can be fairly certain about, the people now trying to resolve it most likely are not the people that took the original decision. That is the sad bit.

Censorship in Ladywell

On Tuesday night the area forum for the Ladywell, Brockley and Crofton Park wards was held. Around 40 people attended and it had all the councillors from the 3 wards on the platform all Labour except for Darren Johnson from the Greens.

The meeting began with a 20 minute glossy presentation on all the things the council is doing to do with litter, graffiti and flytipping. On and on it went and then lots of people spoke about their gripes.

According to the agenda the 8.30 -9pm would have been a general question and answer session so I was hopeful that finally we could talk about issues other then those of New Labour’s choice. 
Finally, at 8.38 the chair of the meeting said ” I’m sorry I forgot if anyone would like to speak about any other issues please put their hand up.”
 I put my hand up and as soon as I did that I couldn’t but notice that Pauline Morrison ( Ladywell councillor) whispered something to the chair- Jackie Addison (councillor from Crofton Park).


I had a feeling I was going to be censored from speaking. I kept putting my hand up all along the rest of the meeting, but while about 10 other people were given the chance to speak I was never called. 
Unfortunately my feeling had been right.

At the end of the meeting as we gave out invites for the Ladywell Pool campaign social event on Friday, quite a few people said ” we noticed you didn’t get called why was that?”. 
We challenged the chair of the meeting and she said ” There were other people who did not get called and you can’t notice everyone!” She looked uncomfortable as she slipped passed us. 
We asked Pauline Morrison why I was never called and she said ” I wasn’t chairing the meeting ask the chair.”

I have been to a number of these meetings and have always been able to speak. It now seems that New Labour now do not even want to listen to their constituents if we want to criticise them.

The New Labour councillors were clearly expecting the Ladywell leisure Centre to be an issue as we all were given a 2 paragraph statement (read it below) that in a style more akin to Bulgarian state tv than to western democracy tries to feed the people of Lewisham with the official truth.

But we surely will learn some lessons from this rather sour episode. The next time we will not be so naïve to assume that the New Labour Councillors encourage any free speech or debate.


Ian Crosson


The following is the text of the briefing provided at the meeting by either Lewisham Council or the New Labour Party. It was not given to know who produced it as it was missing a signature.


Ladywell Pool- Briefing

In June 2004 the Council decided to close Ladywell Pool so that work could start in summer 2007 on the development of a new secondary school but would open in September 2009. The Council had intended to acquire the Ladywell Police station site and redevelop this and the adjacent Playtower site as the preferred location for the secondary school. However, the Metropolitan Police decided to dispose of the site on the open market and the acquisition cost made the site unaffordable to the Council.

In September 2004 the Mayor agreed to review the decision to close the pool and invited responses from all interested parties. 20 suggestions were received and evaluated from the Mayor to consider in October. The work concluded that the case for a new school remained strong and the Ladywell Leisure Centre was in the right area of the borough and provided greater certainty of delivery than any other site.

17 November Council Meeting

Thursday 17th November 2004 – Full Council Meeting

At this meeting Councillor McGarrigle finally announced that with today the Ladywell Leisure Centre have been provided with hairdryers.

This follows a question about where did the “refurbishment” money (£1.9M) go, as apparently nothing appreciable changed.

Another small but meaningful result of our strategy of tackling the Council on the pool issue.

The Council’s skills in elusiveness are getting every time less effective.
Here’s an example, the following is an extract form one of the answers given at to one of our questions:

“The creation of changing facilities for fathers with children would require
extensive and expensive reconfiguration of the existing changing areas. Given
budgetary constraints, the provision of such facilities was not possible during
the recent refurbishment process.”

All this for a table and a changing mat?

This particular answer is probably the saddest examples of Council’s transparency with the public that we’ve encountered so far.

And what about consultation?

“We are currently consulting all schools on how we can ensure that we reach
the national standard and will certainly ensure that current school use of
Ladywell will be re-accommodated.”

So they didn’t check before deciding. Not at least with regard to schools, and that’s the only duty that they have.

But what about the rest of the users?

“Prior to the closure of the Ladywell Leisure Centre, the Council will be
consulting and discussing with current users of the Centre on how best
they can access the many other leisure and sports facilities available
across the borough.”

Which means that they will show us the bus stop.

But what about the problems to the traffic that a school there will provoke?
“As the proposals are at a relatively early stage it is difficult to comment
in detail.”

So they decided to close without considering the consequences, let’s leave to Lewis Carroll to comment:
“‘Let the jury consider their verdict,’ the King said, for about the twentieth time that day.
‘No, no!’ said the Queen. ‘Sentence first–verdict afterwards.’
“Stuff and nonsense!” said Alice loudly. ‘The idea of having the sentence first!'”

And what about why they can’t build this new leisure centre before 2010.
“It is currently envisaged that the leisure centre would form part of a
mixed use scheme that would include a residential component.”

And this is new!
Is it normal to have very important details of a massive investment released after questions from the public at Council Meeting?
About a month ago there was a consultation exercise of this development in Lewisham Centre and we asked the architects what was the vision for the leisure centre. “Nothing at present. It’s too early, we’ll do the plan in a year time” was about the answer.
So we asked if this scheme wasn’t mainly designed to help the profits from investment in office space. As the Council sees the delivery of a Leisure Centre at the Sundermead development as central to attract investors in office space.
But we didn’t get any light on this point.

But what about that missing chapter of the Mayor and Cabinet Report of the 30th June 2004 that was also the object of our competition?

” The Council is committed to full transparency and all open documents to be
considered by the Mayor and Cabinet and other committees are posted on
the Council’s website in both word and pdf formats….
…The pdf version does include the financial implications.”

In reality, at the time of the Council stating this, the whole of the report was unavailable.
Only the following afternoon the full document was finally made available in its entirety for consultation as a pdf file on the web archive of Lewisham Council.
On Thursday 18th November at 3:45pm it was still missing.
On Thursday 18th November at 17:22pm: it was finally spotted.

Another achievement of the campaign.
Yesterday the hairdriers, today the Mayor and Cabinet report.

Read here all the questions

Also this Council Meeting saw our friends of the Deptford Park Campaign giving a grilling to the council with a set of questions. The Council was unable to answer to their questions.
For those that are still unaware, this campaign is bravely opposing a planning permission to build on Deptford Park.
It’s quite funny to see the big wigs of the Town Hall defending a decision like this with a straight face.
Or better, it would be funny if it wasn’t tragic.

Has Lewisham Council acted within the Code of Conduct?

What is the Code of Conduct?

Every authority is required to adopt a Code of Conduct that sets out rules governing the behaviour of its members.
The Code of Conduct covers areas of individual behaviour such as members not abusing their position or not misusing their authority’s resources.

And Lewisham Council has to behave according to the Model Code of Conduct for Local Authorities.
And one of the paragraphs of the Code of Conduct states that when reaching decisions, a member must give the reasons for those decisions in accordance with the authority’s and any statutory requirements in relation to the taking of an executive decision.

Now, in the case of Lewisham Council, the Mayor holds all the executive powers. Though the Mayor holds all the executive powers, he selects a cabinet to assist him, and shares his powers according to a scheme of delegation.
The executive meets in public to take its decisions, and takes decisions based on public reports (except where there is confidential information).

codeofconduct

How is this relevant to our case?

We have to go back to the Council meeting of 26th February 2003.
There the Mayor and Cabinet met and decided that the preferred site for the new secondary school was the Ladywell Playtower site.
A site which includes several Victorian listed buildings almost entirely a freehold property of the Council with the exception of the Police Station.
One of the considerations included in the report was the following “This police station will close at the end of this year when the new police station in the Town Centre opens. The Metropolitan Police’s current plan is to then sell it on the open market”

Then the Council changed its mind and on the Mayor and Cabinet meeting of 30th June 2004decided to switch to the Ladywell Leisure Centre as the preferred site for the secondary school as “Delay in the marketing of the Police Station by the MPS and possible further delay in the confirmation of any sale has eroded the advantage of availability the Ladywell Playtower site had over other sites consulted upon – the Breakspear Campus of Lewisham College in Lewisham Way and the Ladywell Leisure Centre in Lewisham High Street.”

This reason differs from that one given to the press and the public, News Shopper 30th June 2004, or even more clearly from this passage signed by the Mayor himself
“I was advised that if the redundant Police Station in Ladywell could be added to the Playtower site it would be just possible to accommodate a new school. The Metropolitan Police Authority initially indicated that they were prepared to sell the site to the council directly.

Earlier this year it became clear that the Metropolitan Police Authority had changed their minds and I had to ask Council officials to look for an alternative site that would guarantee the school opening in 2006 on a temporary site with the move into the new building in 2009.  The only option they could identify is the Ladywell Leisure Centre site.”

Our campaign asked two senior Labour members to explain this incoherent approach, the answers that we received were that there had been an “informal understanding” between the Council and the Police that the Police station would have been sold to the Council as a preferred bidder.
Now, we are asking the same question in a more formal way directly to the Council and we should have an answer at this week’s Council meeting.

Will they be able to show that they acted publicly, with transparency and not secretly?

As we saw, according to the Council’s own statutory requirements, decisions should take place at public meetings.

Will they be able to show any records of a coherent decision process?

Or will they instead insist that some sort of gentlemen’s agreement is enough for the Council to change policy on very important decisions?

The answer will come soon.
It’ll be on Wednesday 26th, at 7:30pm at Catford TownHall
…tick..tock..tick…tock…

Lewisham Council is consulting on the temporary school site

A document is in circulation to consult on the temporary site for the school that Lewisham Council wants to put permanently on the site now occupied by the Ladywell Leisure Centre.

It would take three websites to comment on this document, we’ll go into it deeper in the next days. What most matter to us is a long and irritating paragraph entitled, ‘Background’.

Here the council mostly tries to justify its decision telling us things like “finding a suitable site in the right location has been very difficult” and omitting to mention the important bits:

  • they didn’t consult anybody on the dismissal of the Ladywell Leisure Centre
  • they didn’t make any study on the impact of the closure of it 
  • once the Centre is dismissed there will be no swimming provision or indoor sport facility available for most of Lewisham for many years to come.

One line of this paragraph says “the decision on the closure of the Leisure Centre was taken in the knowledge that the Lewisham Gateway scheme, providing a new ‘state-of-the-art’ swimming pool and leisure centre in central Lewisham, is now a certainty”

As a measure of the credibility of the Council, let’s remember what Mayor Bullock wrote just one year ago:

“As long as I am mayor there will be a top class swimming facility in the centre of our borough and I am looking forward to being the first person into the pool when it re-opens.”

That sounds quite like a certainty.

We advise everybody taking part to this consultation to use this form to protest about this plan of the Council.

minutes of meetings

Report on the first public meeting held on Friday 23rd July 2004

Dear friends and users of the Ladywell Leisure Centre,

The first public meeting of the campaign to save the Ladywell Leisure Centre was a huge success and the most encouraging of starts.  Those that attended now know that it is not impossible to prevent the dreadful plan of the Council.

 The meeting was chaired by Ian Crosson, which gave voice to the 60 people that attended whilst Julian Meldrum did the fantastic work of writing down everything on a flipchart. His efficiency meant that we didn’t miss one idea.The meeting started with a PowerPoint presentation by Max Calò and Julian Meldrum, which ensured that a lot of basic questions were sorted out without the usual endless repeating of rumours that is so often the curse of these kinds of public meetings. The presentation touched on all the relevant points allowing the discussion to flow, be objective and informed.

     The points touched in this stage were:

          -history of the recent struggles of the LLC
          -brief history of the council’s policies in education
          -analysis of the swimming facilities in the Lewisham borough
          -description of the different kinds of users of the LLC
          -analysis of the council’s lack of information and consultation
          -considerations on the Gateway development project
          -objective of the campaign
          -strategies  One of the highlights of the presentation was the analysis of the “Mayor and Cabinet – New Secondary School Proposal  – Position Report” document of the 30th June 2004 outlining the reasons behind this decision of the Council.  This document is unusually not part of the documents available for public consultation on the council’s own website http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/.  We therefore link to this missing item our first competition. More on this competition below. The council’s report is downloadable in pdf format from this page http://tinyurl.com/4zeok

The council’s plan to demolish the LLC to make way for a new secondary school enabled us to formulate a link with the new secondary school campaign to avoid any division in the public opinion that supports both campaigns. The next panellist was therefore Cedric Whilby, Chairman of the New School Campaign, the concerned citizen’s movement that asks the council for a new school to be built north of the borough. It’s been with great satisfaction that we acknowledged their opposition to this new scheme of the council to build the new secondary school on the site of the LLC. Cedric was also present on Saturday morning outside the LLC, helping our campaign and at the same time collecting signatures for his petition.
The next panellist was the councillor Andrew Milton, from the LibDem group. He was invited to join for two reasons: the first is that the LLC falls into his Ward, the second is that at the recent Council’s meeting (more on this meeting in another item on this page) his speech against the demolition of the structure was one of great passion and clarity. His informed contribuition to our meeting was greatly appreciated.
Read the full minutes of the first campaign meeting.


Report on the second meeting held on the 5th August 2004


First of all thanks to everybody that came down to help our fight (we can make it!).
The meeting was well attended, with a top number of 66 people at the same time and a total count of 80. That’s good news, we have improved on the first meeting. At least in terms of attendence. 
Improving on the political presence too. 

We opened with an offer of support from Chris Flood, coucillor of the socialist group of the Telegraph Hill ward. He opened as he had to run away to another meeting of another situation with much in common with the swimming pool issue. We all appreciated his offer as he was the one to start the motion against the Mayor’s proposal on the council’s meeting of the 21/07.
There were then in the audience Andrew Milton, Libdem of Lewisham central and  Julia Fletcher, libdem councillor of Downham, another place where the plague of the ghost swimming pools is taking its toll. They were there on the first meeting too and have been helping the campaign consistently since.
For the conservatives we had the prospective candidate for the Commons James Cleverly, he wants to help and we are very happy to have him with us.
Another group to be mentioned is the Respect Caolition. Many of their members are swimmers indeed. Their enthusiasm and their expertise in petitoning and building a network of  volunteers around a civic issue is proving to be of enormous value.
We’re really glad to have people from all sorts of backgrounds. Politics is about real issues and love for your community.
Another special mention for Cedric Whilby of the new school campaign which although exhausted made an effort to come down and help us with his experience.
Anyway, after the introductions I gave a quick speech summarising last meeting’s outcome and trying to lead the way forward.
And then there was the discussion. And what a discussion it was!
This appalling attempt of the Mayor to get rid of the best swimming pool of Lewisham is proving to be one step too far. People with self-respect can’t take it and want to do something about it. And maybe 2 hours weren’t enough to listen to what each one had to say, but the will to do was there and an organisation is taking shape. 
There has been really just one unsavoury speech aimed at division. But it was enough to embarass me! It was a public meeting and free speech sometimes goes astray but as organizer I do feel responsible for what is said and I apologize. The next time I’ll make clear from the beginning that there we are to work together for the good of our community. If you want to score points, go to the playground. It is specified on the petition sheet that this is an all inclusive initiative and we haven’t changed our minds.
It has been anyway just one short comment. Everybody has been very positive indeed. Touching on every aspect, from involving he community, to fundraising, to the media, the issue of the new school and many other tasks to perform, the discussion flew like a breeze.
Thanks to all these positivities, we could make our way down to the real issue and we set some work groups with people in charge of them.
The best achievment of this meeting has been the formation of the group that will perform the public health survey. Three professionals of the sector came forward, they will draft the questionnaire and coordinate that part of consultation. They went on discussing on their own after the meeting. That was the moment in which this part of the campaign started happening for real.
A chairman, a secretary, a treasurer etcetera have been elected too.
Other activists to take charge of some other survey groups have been also identified and a strategy to step up the signatures collection was planned.
Name and contacts of all those who took on responsibilities will soon be posted together with a more detailed minute of the meeting so that anybody who wants to help in one way or another will be able to contact the right person and make him/herself useful.
To find out more, read the full minutes here 
Looking forward to greet twice as many people at the next meeting,

The third public meeting of the Save Ladywell Pool Campaign took place on Wednesday 8th September 2004.

Before the meeting we opened in Ladywell road the exhibition “Pools then, Pools now” and collected there 120 signatures in one hour.
The meeting was very well attended and proceeded in an orderly and productive way. 
All the points on the agenda have been discussed in depth..
The  most positive result of yesterday’s meeting has been the organisation of the events of the 15th.
10,000 leaflets have been divided amongst us to be delivered door to door in the next days.
A timetable for the petitioning stall has been also drafted. A massive number of new volunteers enroled for this jobs.

Read here the full minutes

Quick report on the meeting of Thursday 7th October 2004

On Thursday 7th October at 7 pm about 50 people took part to the 4th meeting of of the campaign.
All the points of the agenda have all been discussed.
We didn’t have the time to organise the notes taken at the meeting to post a report yet.
We’ll do it asap.

Public meeting on Thursday 2nd December 2004

This meeting was very well attended. Despite the cold weather about 60 people came to be informed and join the fight.
An outline of the next activities and the practicalities of them have deen discussed.

Minutes of the Joint Pool/ School/Park Public Meeting Thurs 2nd Dec 2004

Minutes: Ian Crosson

Apologies: Harold Shalet

The room was full with about 50 people attending and we had a very informative and creative meeting.

The meeting began with speeches from the secretaries of the 3 campaigns who explained what their campaigns were about and what ideas they had to take each campaign forward.

Max Calò Ladywell Pool Campaign

The campaign had a real success on Weds 1st Dec. There was a local Xmas market organised around Hither Green station with lots of community stalls. The Xmas lights were to be turned on. The mayor turned up and when he saw Max and the pool campaign stall he literally ran away! We got a great response from kids and lots of parents were asking about the consultation document that has been sent out about the proposed temporary secondary school at Ennersdale Primary School. Max wrote a leaflet at very short notice to encourage parents to respond to the consultation and to oppose the Ladywell site as the new permanent school. Got great response.

Max also said that the best site for a new school would be the huge new housing development at Convoy’s Wharf in Deptford currently owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News International. We have designed a special Xmas card which we want supporters to send to Murdoch calling on him to sell the land at a reduced price so that the council can afford to build a new secondary school on the site. The audience really liked the idea and warmly clapped the  slightly irreverent wording of the Xmas card. Give Max a call if you want a card to send to Murdoch.  8690 4242 We are also going to design a card to send to the Mayor too. Max will also be getting a limited edition of the cartoon cards to sell at £50 and the money raised will be donated towards the legal costs of the Deptford Park Legal costs.

Panto – We want to put on a short satirical panto in Lewisham High St to highlight some of the crazy council decisions. One idea would be to have the ghosts of Xmas past visit Steve Bullock. For example the previous mayor Dave Sullivan also tried to close the pool. We hope to perform the panto in the week before Xmas in Lewisham High St or any other venue we can get. It will probably be about 10-15 mins long. If you want to get involved with this in any way contact Tinsel who will be co-ordinating it. Tinsel 8851 3815 

The first meeting to thrash out ideas and some sort of script will be this Sun 5th Dec at 12noon at Life café in Ladywell village in the downstairs room. 

Next Council Meeting- Max said the next council meeting will be on Weds 15th Dec at 7.30pm. The pool campaign will be submitting more difficult questions to the mayor. We will be particularly concentrating on the lack of consultation about the closure and the impact of the closure on the users of the pool. He urged as many people to attend the council meeting as it really puts pressure on the Labour councillors if they see a packed public gallery. If you have a question please contact Max asap. All questions for the next council meeting must be submitted to the council by 10am Mon Dec 6th.

Justin Dowd- Sec Deptford Park Campaign

He said “enough is enough” . 15% of the park will be lost to the proposed housing development to London and Quadrant.including 100 year old trees, a Victorian building and a locally funded playcentre.

The consultation organised by London and Quadrant was vague and misleading. It omitted the destruction of green space and only talked about the issue of affordable housing. 70 people responded to the consultation but have been ignored.

A local Labour Party councillor in Evelyn Ward voted through the development despite the opposition of people in her ward- so much for listening to constituents!

Local people support more affordable housing but not at the expense of the only green space between Southwark Park and Greenwich Park.

2000 people have signed the petition against the proposals. Justin praised the great support the campaign had got from the Socialist Party, Green and Lib Dem councillors. 

The decision has now been approved.

The next step- The campaign has 90- days to take London and Quadrant to court. This will be very expensive. It will cost at least a £1000 to hire a barrister. However, the campaign has been told that they have a reasonable chance of winning the case if they get it to court. Write to L and Q stating your opposition. Give donations to the campaign to fund their legal case.

Justin ended with the words of some children from a local Deptford school who had produced art about the park. This was done completely independently of the campaign. As one of the children so clearly stated  “Where are the children going to play.”

John Hamilton – New School Campaign

There are 350 kids who don’t get a secondary school place of their choice in the Deptford/ New Cross/ Telegraph Hill area at the moment. It is often the pupils with the lowest ability,   the band 3 children who don’t get offered a place in a local school who end up having to travel miles to  a secondary school.

John recounted some of the history of the campaign. When the council organised the consultation on possible sites for a new school they proposed Lewisham College, Ladywell Leisure Centre and the Ladywell Playtower site. The option which received the most support was to have it on the Telegraph Hill site which was not even on the options list! The council initially preferred the playtower site which only received 17  letters in support of this option. However, negotiations about buying the police site dragged on and the fact that there were 3 listed buildings led the council to change its decision and opt to build the new school on a site it already owned, Ladywell Leisure centre. The problems with the site is that it’s in the wrong place, it’s too small only a 4 form entry school . Also at the moment many parents in the Ladywell / Lee Green/ Hither Green area send their kids to schools in Greenwich or Bromley. It is highly likely that if a new school is built that a fair proportion of parents from the nearby vicinity will send their kids to a school in Ladywell so still not solving the chronic problems for parents in New Cross and Deptford.

John then outlined the 6 options that the New School campaign submitted to the council as possible sites for a new school. The 2 best options Convoys Wharf and the floating school were rejected. John said the floating school would only have cost £3m and could open in 2007 ahead of any other proposal. The Council lacked imagination.

The campaign will continue and they will be urging their supporters to respond to the consultation on the temporary site by Dec 17th.

Discussion from  the floor.

There were lots of points raised and good ideas. I will try and summarise the main points.

Lewisham NUT will be writing an official response to the consultation outlining their opposition to the Ladywell site as the permanent school. They have also said they will try and donate another £100 to the campaign. There are currently 186 unplaced kids in Lewisham now- a shocking figure.

Press coverage- We need to try and get national coverage. Had some success when Children’s BBC did a piece about Ladywell pool which was very good. Local press coverage is very important though,. Need to keep on thinking of ways to get publicity.

Crime- It was pointed out that maintaining local swimming pools, keeping parks and having a local school are the best ways to make young people feel happier and safe. The Government’s new idea that slapping Anti Social Behaviour Orders ( Asbo’s)  is the way to tackle disaffected kids is not the answer. This point has come up at all the Mayor roadshow meetings as well.

Publicity- We need window posters to campaign, campaign badges etc. The Lib Dem councillors have agreed to fund the cost of producing window posters.

What should we do in the run up to a Gen Election in the summer? We need to start a campaign about the lack of democracy and accountability in Lewisham.

Other plans- Demo outside offices of London and Quadrant and News International.

Make more links with local trade unions and council tenants who will be having a huge consultation about how to upgrade council housing.

Lewisham l Forum – It was suggested that we try and organise a conference about all these local issues around Feb/ March and continue to bring in wider layers of people. This is what will really worry the Labour councillors.

Council motions- 

We could have a motion demanding that the Council do have proper consultations before changing the use of council facilities. We could also try and put in a motion of no confidence in the mayor.

WHAT CAN WE DO TO AFFECT THE SCHOOL CONSULTATION?
 We need to act very quickly  and write a joint leaflet from the New School and Pool Campaigns aimed at parents of primary school kids and residents near Ennersdale Primary school.

The following people agreed to leaflet schools

St Frances Drake- Iris Thom 8691 0761
Ennersdale / Lee Manor     Anna Baker 8488 9030
Hither Green/ Ashmead        Chris 8694 3623
Coopers Lane     Tinsel   8851 3815
Brockley        Paul  8469 2952

If anyone else can leaflet please contact Ian 8314 1057.

Ennersdale and surrounding streets. Audrey 8244 3778 , Anna and Max to do. 

Anna also said she would try and organise a local meeting for people around Ennersdale.

NUT will contact all the NUT reps to raise the issue.

Other points

A Labour Party member with 43 years membership of the party said the only way to really get the councillors to change their minds would be to vote them out. This will obviously be discussed in more detail the closer we get to the local elections in June 2006.

Lobby Labour councillors, write to them send them the Xmas cards. Keep up the pressure.

FINANCE

The 10,000 leaflets that were distributed for the meeting cost £440 and the room coast £60 for the meeting.. People were encouraged to give generously. Please write checks to the individual campaigns, raise the issue in your trade union, religious group, tenants group etc. We raised £160 in donations from the meeting.

Key Actions

1. Respond to school consultation by Dec 17th.
2. Next council meeting Weds 15th Dec . Meet at 7 to go through questions and answers. Go in public gallery at 7.30pm.
3. Send Xmas cartoon card to Murdoch and the Mayor. Cards from Max.
4. Xmas panto- to be performed week before Xmas prob Sat 18th Dec in Lewisham High St.
5. Panto brainstorming session- Sun 5th Dec 12 noon Life café , Ladywell.
6. Next Ladywell Pool campaign meeting Thursday 9th Dec Life café, Ladywell village 7pm. Reps from school and park campaigns also invited.