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A Green Voice for Southwark

Eleanor Margolies is standing up for Camberwell and Peckham in 2018

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South Camberwell

Work towards a greener Southwark continues

Letter published in Southwark News 22 October 2015

At the by-election on 15 October, Octavia Lamb (Labour Party) was elected as a councillor for South Camberwell. Southwark Green Party wishes her well in her new role.

Southwark Green Party will continue to work with local campaign groups to hold the Labour-led council to account. We call on the council

  • to stop pushing out residents to boost developers’ profits,
  • to abandon plans to bulldoze Southwark Woods,
  • to take Southwark’s investments out of dirty fossil fuel companies, and
  • to clean up our air, providing health information to residents and lobbying TfL to provide cleaner buses and better walking and cycling infrastructure.

Please keep telling us your concerns about the area as well as your ideas to make it a better place to live. You can contact Eleanor directly by sending an email to eleanor.margolies [@] southwark.greenparty.org.uk

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Eleanor Margolies shines at South Camberwell hustings

A councillor-worthy performance at the hustings on 8 October saw Green Party candidate Eleanor Margolies’ odds for winning the by-election slashed, while Labour party candidate Octavia Lamb struggled to make an impact.

Photo of the hustings panel
Eleanor Margolies, Octavia Lamb, Linda Craig, Ben Maitland, Chris Mottau, Stephen Govier

All five candidates in the South Camberwell by-election participated in the well-attended hustings at the Albrighton Centre, expertly chaired by Linda Craig. The candidates responded to questions from the audience about the Dulwich Hamlet FC grounds, the future of Peckham Rye station and what they would do first, once elected.

It was pleasing to see that all candidates had good knowledge of local issues and that there was common ground on many themes. Fascinatingly, even Conservative candidate Chris Mottau spoke out in favour of divesting Southwark Council’s pension funds from fossil fuels, after Eleanor Margolies raised this in her opening presentation. Octavia Lamb, last to speak on this subject, could only offer that she “personally” supported the aims of Fossil Free Southwark, but did not say how she would persuade her Labour colleagues at the council, who have so far ignored calls for divestment.

Liberal Democrat candidate Ben Maitland and the All People’s Party’s Stephen Govier repeatedly stated that Southwark Council does not need another Labour councillor, while Chris Mottau compared the Labour dominance on the council to a one-party state. Eleanor Margolies quoted a report from the Electoral Reform Society raising concern about the integrity of councils where one party holds on to power for a long time. She cited the achievements of Green councillors on councils in Lambeth and Lewisham, as well as the Green Party’s success in getting Southwark to pay its staff London Living Wage – highlighting the difference that one Green councillor can make.

Eleanor Margolies speaking at the hustings
Eleanor Margolies at the South Camberwell hustings

Throughout the evening there was no convincing argument from Octavia Lamb to persuade the audience of the need to elect another Labour councillor on top of the 47 already there. She stated that she was passionate about casework, and that it was important to consult with the community. When the council’s track record on communication with citizens was raised, she could only concede that there was room for improvement, while Eleanor Margolies offered several constructive suggestions on how Southwark Council could provide a better service.

South Camberwell has an interesting by-election ahead. These hustings have certainly given voters something to think about.

Text by Remco van der Stoep. Photos by Nick Hooper.

Forward the Hamlet, says Sian, Green Mayoral candidate

Sian Berry came to South Camberwell to support Dulwich Hamlet FC on Saturday 3 October. Proceeds from the Pay What You Like match supported Walworth-based Cooltan Arts and the British Heart Foundation.

Question the candidates on Thursday 8 October

Hustings poster draft

FREE PUBLIC HUSTINGS
7.30pm Thursday 8 October 2015
Albrighton Community Centre, East Dulwich Estate SE22 8AH
(opposite Sainsburys on Dog Kennel Hill)
A chance to meet the candidates, question them on the issues that matter most to you, and hear what they have to say.
Chaired by Linda Craig.

South Camberwell is represented by three Councillors, one of whom has stepped down, triggering a by-election on Thursday 15 October. Our Councillors are a crucial part of the local community and represent it on the Council.
The Council is responsible for local services including schools, housing, roads, social services, waste and recycling, the protection of our built and natural environment, leisure facilities and libraries.

Come along and ensure your voice is heard.

Cleaner Greener Safer – what’s your idea?

Cleaner, Greener Safer (CGS) is a Southwark Council scheme that allows residents to suggest projects. Local councillors draw up a shortlist with advice from council officers. In the past the scheme has funded things like cycle lockers, gardens and street lighting, as well as the beautiful wolf and sheep sculptures of Grove Lane.

On the East Dulwich Estate, we applied for cycle lockers because this…

A bike locked to railings on the East Dulwich estate overnight lost a wheel - not an unusual occurence
A bike locked to railings on the East Dulwich estate overnight had a wheel stolen – not an unusual occurence

…was getting on our nerves, costing us money we didn’t have and putting people off cycling. We’re not allowed to keep bikes on balconies and there’s no room inside the flats – and if you’ve got nowhere to keep a bike at home, how can you cycle to school/work/shops/friends? The result of our application was 20 of these:

Vertical bike locker
Vertical bike locker

They cost £30 a year to rent, to cover maintenance costs. With no advertising, they were rented within a couple of weeks of installation – and residents keep asking for more spaces.

It’s quite simple to apply to the CGS –  you just need a good idea and the support of local residents. Full details here.

If you have a good idea for the CGS but you’re not sure how to apply, then Pete Wood can help. He’s working with Southwark Cyclists, but you don’t have to be a cyclist to get his advice!

In fact, applying to the Cleaner Greener Safer fund might be particularly relevant if you don’t cycle at the moment but have an idea that would make it possible for you to start cycling.

 

 

Green books for young readers?

A young Viking wearing a horned helmet answered the door to us in South Camberwell today. She is a fan of Cressida Cowell’s series of dragon books, beginning with How to Train Your Dragon. I’ve just been introduced to these books by my nephew and it turned out that we’d all been to a fab talk Cressida Cowell gave last week, put on by a local independent bookshop, Village Books.

The Viking’s dad pointed out the rich theme of environmental thinking that develops through the series: the dragons are creatures that are (somewhat) tamed by the Vikings, living alongside humans, but in our time they have disappeared from the world – why?

In the first book, an impossibly large dragon explains the food chain that links all human and animal life:

The thing is, we are all, in a sense, supper. Walking, talking, breathing suppers, that’s what we are. Take you, for instance. YOU are about to be eaten by ME, so that makes you supper. That’s obvious. But even a murderous carnivore like myself will be a supper for worms one day. We’re all snatching precious moments from the peaceful jaws of time,’ said the Dragon cheerfully.

Anyway, our conversation with the Viking and her dad got us thinking about all kinds of things including local currencies like the Brixton Brick, urban wind turbines, and environmental themes in children’s books. Here is the beginning of a list, off the top of my head:

  • I love the picture book, Michael Bird-Boy by Tomie dePaola (1975) which touches on air pollution and the importance of bees.
  • In Old Macdonald Had An Apartment House (1969) by Judi Barrett and Ron Barrett, a caretaker of a city apartment block decides to grow tomatoes, cabbages and carrots in empty rooms. The comical black and white drawings gradually take on colour as the vegetables flourish. It is, as the blurb says, ‘a celebration of cities, human ingenuity, and of course — vegetables!’
  • ‘I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees!’ in The Lorax by Dr Seuss. A stage adaption is coming to The Old Vic in December.

I also enjoyed these two (rather bleak) visions of the future (for teenagers):

  •  The Ennead by Jan Mark (1978) is set on a planet that was a haven for refugees from a dying Earth, but where virtually nothing grows. Wood and grass becomes coveted luxuries. Jan Mark is a brilliant writer and explores the social and political dimensions of environmental destruction and scarcity.
  • The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd (2008) tells the story of the introduction of carbon rationing in the UK. It’s great for thinking through how people might actually feel about carbon allowances, smart meters that cut off the power… and it’s set in South London! When it was published,  2015 was The Future. I guess I should catch up with the sequel The Carbon Diaries 2017 before the future catches up with me….

There’s a nice article by Alice Bell about children’s literature and environment in the book Culture and Climate Change: Narratives which can be downloaded from here.

Bell discusses superhero books like Jonathon Porrit’s Captain Eco and the Fate of the Earth (1991) and the more tongue-in-cheek Your Planet Needs You! A Kid’s Guide to Going Green by Dave Reay (2009) in which a group of kids and their teacher have to explain global warming to the so-called superhero.

Which green books would you recommend to young readers?

 

Welcome to A Green Voice for Southwark

On this site you can find out about the Green Party candidate Eleanor Margolies and how Southwark Green Party (with your help) could improve your local area.

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If you like to get in touch to ask a question or become involved with Southwark Green Party, please email: Eleanor.Margolies@southwark.greenparty.org.uk

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