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.
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.
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.
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.
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.