The Times today (Thursday 19 February) prints this report from Lucy Fisher, Senior Political Correspondent
Lambeth Momentum leak suggests takeover bid In Lambeth Labour movement
Momentum, the hard-left network of Corbynistas, wants to replace Labour party branches, according to a leaked proposal raised by a leading local group.
Last week the steering committee of Lambeth Momentum, which has been among the most militant branches of the controversial group, denounced the area’s Labour party as ineffective.
In an email to members before a meeting last night it suggested that Momentum should become a “replacement space” for political activism. The revelation is likely to foment fears among moderate Labour MPs that Momentum is plotting an insurgent far-left takeover of Labour, in echoes of Militant Tendency in the 1980s. Momentum has repeatedly denied the charge.
The leaked missive from the working group of six people, intended to update the local membership on what the branch’s working group had done since its last meeting, said: “We note that there was some disagreement about passing resolutions at the meetings.
“Some felt this was an effective way to encourage political discussion, others felt it was a redundant process suited better to party politics. However we all agreed that LP [Labour party] branches aren’t effective political spaces any more and Momentum must be the replacement space until the LP is politicised.”
A spokesman for Momentum said: “Momentum does not wish to replace Labour but strengthen it by making it a more participatory, democratic and campaigning party.”
It was news to me that the Lambeth Labour Party was not, as the Momentum comrades say, adequately “politicised”. So If I was a Labour party local councillor or MP, I would be watching my back even more than usual these days.
A very commendable programme (run by local volunteers) to capture residents’ stories and memories for future generations is now making steady progress, and the team will be holding a meeting in the Carnegie Library on 16th March to explain this to local residents.
We will soon notice that the Herne Hill shopping scene is witnessing a big change.
Even if you’ve been shopping there in recent days, you may not have realised that some of the familiar shops in Railton Road are about to disappear for good.
Owners Network Rail (NW) have been granted planning permission to refurbish seven of the retail units that back on to the railway viaduct.This group of shops runs from the Laundrette to the vintage furniture shop Bleu.
The work is planned to start this spring. The upper floors, currently derelict or used for storage or offices, will be turned into flats. A change of use has also been granted for some of the premises, from Retail to Restaurant/Café.
Two of the present shops have accepted NW’s offer to transfer (at a higher rent, inevitably) to the modernised arches just round the corner on Milkwood Road. Ye Olde Bakery and greengrocers The Fruit Garden will be re-opening there in the coming days. Bleu has occupied a vacant shop on Dulwich Road, a few steps away from The Florence. However, Walters Butchers have declined and, sadly, will close for good this coming Saturday.
Details of the Network Rail plans, and of the Herne Hill Society’s comments on the scheme, can be found in the Winter edition of Herne Hill magazine, just published.
Starbucks next ? or McDonalds?
The big risk for Herne Hill is that some of the refurbished units are intended for large restaurant tenants – businesses that can afford the higher rents. This probably rules out the sort of local, family-run businesses that have served and supported our community for so many years. There is talk that Starbucks and McDonalds, those generous contributors to HMRC’s income, have expressed interest.
You should by now have received a leaflet from two of our fellow Fawnbrake residents, announcing a very welcome initiative to add to the endangered tree stock of Fawnbrake Avenue.
Even in winter, our trees add dimension and texture to our streetscape with the age-old pattern of their boughs, and in spring, summer and autumn their buds and colour-shifting leaves bring the street alive. It would be a shame, for us and future generations, if we let them disappear.
For the record, and in case the dog ate it or the builders threw it away, here’s what the leaflet says:
“Many of us in Fawnbrake Avenue enjoy its tree-lined character but it’s suffered badly in recent years as older trees have been removed and have not replaced. Others were replaced with specimens inappropriate for the location. A number of us have decided to do something about it and hope you will want to too. A survey by the Herne Hill Society established that some 24 trees are missing in Fawnbrake Avenue. That includes empty pits, ‘capped’ pits and three unsuitable Tamarix ‘shrubs’ (near numbers 90–100).
Because of cuts, Lambeth have for the last three years had a policy of not replacing trees. However, we have recently talked to Dave Paul, the officer responsible for trees in Lambeth, and currently some trees are available for street planting. Lambeth can provide three trees for our street. What’s more, Mr Paul tells us that if residents themselves can raise funds for more trees, Lambeth will match the same number. So if we can fund, say, ten trees Lambeth will provide ten more. On our recent inspection of the street Mr Paul marked with a green ‘T’ places where a tree could be suitably planted. This is not to say a tree will definitely be planted there. They’re simply suggestions. If someone is strongly against a tree being planted near their house, Lambeth will take account of their views.
Planting new trees is not cheap. The cost is £450 per tree, but this includes insurance and a three-year maintenance programme. This means that if the tree fails within three years it will be replaced free of charge.
The cost of ten trees would be £4500. Split between an estimated 140 or so households that’s around £30 each; not a vast amount considering the value ‘added’ to Fawnbrake Avenue as a whole – and, as any estate agent will tell you, a tree-lined street is good for the value of your home! There has been a similar successful scheme in Rollscourt and Cosbycote Avenues, where donations ranged from £20 to £450. Now we need to get an idea of how much Fawnbrake residents would be willing to contribute. We are not asking for money to be paid now, but we’d like an indication of what you feel you could pledge. And if you feel there are other ways in which you could help with this project do let us know.
The Herne Hill Society, a registered charity, supports this project and is willing to make its bank account available to receive donations. These would be ring fenced for the project. A cheque would then be paid directly to Lambeth, once they are in a position to commission the work. It would be great if we could make use of the current planting season. This means, ideally, planting by the end of March. There’s no time to be lost, so please respond by 15 January 2016.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org stating your name and house number, or contact us at our addresses at 62 and 80 Fawnbrake Avenue and saying how much you would be prepared to pledge. We’ll add up the pledges, establish how many trees that would provide and start liaising with Lambeth. We look forward to getting back in touch as soon as possible with more information on how we can restore Fawnbrake Avenue to its former tree-lined glory.”
A neighbour has reported what may be a door-to-door scam, so please be on your guard.
A very friendly young black man has been calling on doors in Fawnbrake Avenue. He introduces himself as from the Football Club in Brockwell Park. He had a clipboard in his hand. On introducing himself by his first name he offers a handshake. His initial pitch is to ask if there are any kids in the house who are interested in football. If you bite he asks for money. He is very plausible. Several residents have been stung. If you show no interest he does not hang about.
We have checked with Ann Kingsbury (ex-Lambeth Councillor) now with the Brockwell Park Trust and she checked with the St Matthew’s Football club who use the park. They state by email that they have no knowledge of this gentleman and it is not the sort of thing a reputable club would do. They suspect a scam.
If, like many on the street, you bought your annual CPZ permit last spring, it’ll very soon be time to renew it.
There have been reports on a Brixton blog that some permit holders in that part of the borough didn’t receive reminders. They consequently found themselves with expired parking permits, rewarded by a parking ticket on the windscreen.
This was remedied after appeal, but it shouldn’t have happened, obviously.
The letter that came with the annual permit last April stated:
“Shortly before your permit expires, we will write to the address that your permit is registered to and provide you with all the information you need to know about how to renew your permit.”
We recommend keeping an eye open for the letter, and taking action if it fails to appear before the current permit expires – which in our case is 13 April.
Postscript / Further warning:
A neighbour reports a correspondence with some Council jobsworths, mediated via Cllr Jim Dickson, which contains the following immortal words:
“I’m afraid there is no statutory obligation on part of the Council to send [reminders] out, but it is done as a matter of courtesy. Essentially, it is the permit holder’s responsibility as the resident to renew the permit before the date expires.
Although the council is not obligated to send out reminder notices, we understand that the reminder service is extremely useful to residents. Subsequently, we’re upgrading the current permit reminder service and will be bringing in email and letter reminders very shortly.”