A Report on the Camberwell & Peckham Hustings

My intention was to write a series of posts about the general election but I’m unfortunately preoccupied with a family tragedy and not in London (see end note). There was a hustings last night (30th April) where candidates of all parties addressed an apparently huge crowd. The @CP_Hustings Twitter account is worth reading for live reactions, and I’ve put together a report based on some detailed comments, from our own Dagmar and Monkeycat, and NHA candidate and hustings organiser, Rebecca Fox.


Dagmar

Excellent hustings tonight at the Liberal Club. The early arrivals were kettled in the ballroom whilst those crowded outside more comfortably had the first show.

Harriet [Harman] organised this brilliantly [Dagmar’s view; Rebecca Fox explains what actually happened]. I haven’t seen this done so well since the Chartist times. She is very worldly wise and put everyone at their ease.

Nick Wrack was big on anger, quite fiercesome. He has been very good at highlighting the export of the cheap folks to cheaper areas. He’s right — who will clean and wipe the arse of the capitalist city if they have to travel all day to get to these minimum‐wage jobs? Good on Nick.

There were several candidates — the UKIP one [David Kurten] was by far the most bubbly and came over really well. Down‐in‐the‐mouth, lifestyle lefties take note.

The Conservative candidate [Naomi Newstead] was great. She really does feel like a Camberwell/Peckham person. Loads of rent‐a‐sod socialists barracked her but she was gracious and decent about it, though you could tell she was proper SE5/SE15 fierce behind it.

The NHA candidate, Rebecca [Fox], was really nice but Harriet told her to speak up because they couldn’t hear at the back. This was a brilliant political move by Harriet. Anyone who says she lacks political sense is totally wrong. Both girls went to St Paul’s, the excellent girls school composed entirely of excellent head girls. So the senior head girl out‐head‐girled the junior one. This, to some of the salty old‐stagers, was very amusing.

We can be proud in Camberwell that we have such good Labour, Conservative and UKIP candidates. There was a Whig [Felicity Anscomb] who I think is for the hipsters. The actual candidate couldn’t make it, he was on the way — from the 18th Century.

Monkeycat

I missed you Dagmar. I honestly think we were at different events. Maybe sitting at the back, something was lost in translation.

At the hustings I went to the Tory candidate acted like a drunken, out of touch fool, who spent the night criticising the Labour council for using Tory policies to help sell off the Aylesbury and Heygate Estates. She may well have been sober but if only there were more Tory candidates like her. We would never have to worry about Cameron and his ilk getting into power ever again.

The UKIP candidate was pleasant but clueless, and struggled to understand local issues.

The best candidates by far were the Nick Wrack, from Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition, Rebecca Fox from the National Health Action Party, and Amelia Womack from the Green Party. Amelia was the only candidate all night who was neither laughed at nor heckled. I think that says a lot.

All three of them were the best prepared, understood the problems, and came up with some interesting solutions.

Harriet was patronising, couldn’t care less and really didn’t want to be there.

She even tried to say that the Labour party loved electoral reform. “Look! we introduced PR to Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the London elections. That proves we are a fair party who love PR”.

She then went on to say that every vote counted because even if you didn’t vote for her, your vote would be registered by Ofcom and somehow, as if by magic, Ofcom now have as much power as Parliament and can distribute the voice of all the little parties. Angry? There were a few people at the back who wanted to start a revolution right there and then and throw a few chairs. Me included. But I didn’t want to upset our lovely hosts at the Peckham Liberal Club.

She did try to re‐organise the chairs around the stage though so we could all see the candidates. The words deckchairs and Titanic sprung to mind.

I could say more, but I’ll only get angry!

Rebecca Fox

Thanks for covering the hustings on 30 April. Glad you thought it was excellent.

I organised the event — not Harriet Harman [as an earlier draft perhaps implied]. It *would* have been great had the incumbent MP organised an opportunity for local people and other candidates to challenge her and each other, but how likely would that have been?

I was shocked at the lack of hustings — both as a local resident/ voter and a candidate (National Health Action Party) and decided to do something about it.

There’s a massive lack of accountability locally — not just at election time, but at other times. Someone told me he had not seen a meeting like this in 40 years of political involvement in Peckham. I suspect this is because we are in a safe Labour seat but how can people be truly involved in the election if there are no opportunities to see and hear from our own candidates?

The huge turnout (440 at the venue, 700+ watching live on Periscope) is a testament to the desire to be involved in *our* election.

Please tweet @CP_hustings or email cphustings@?gmail.?com if you would like to help improve local democracy and put on similar events in future.


I’m going to be largely unavailable for a few more weeks, so if anyone would like to contribute to the blog or Twitter account in my absence, please get in touch (peter@​camberwellonline.​co.​uk) or, if you’ve contributed before and have a user account, please feel free to post on your own initiative.

Take the 148 Boris Bus to Camberwell

Just a quick update to relay the exciting news that from this Saturday, 15 February 2014, the 148 Camberwell to White City bus route will be operated by New Routemasters aka ‘Boris buses’. This is the first bus route in South London which will feature the new bus.

The 148 of course is used by many media types as it travels to the BBC — Today Programme presenter and Camberwell resident Justin Webb is a regular user of the service.

Two cheers for the new bus
However as with so many things in Camberwell it seems we go two steps forward, one step back as the Routemasters on this route, according to the SE1 website, will not be operating with an open platform at the back and will not have a conductor on board. This removes one of the main advantages of the new buses for which we as London tax payers are paying a premium.

TfL 148 bus information

A new library for Camberwell in 2014?

Something I missed but which will have a great impact on Camberwell is the new library which finally, it seems, is on track, not without controversy.

On 4 June 2013 the Southwark Council Planning Committee passed the planning application for the construction of a new library on Camberwell Green. Details of the new library are on the Southwark website.

You will recall two years ago in 2011 details were published here of plans for a new library which we were assured by the Council Leader Peter John would be built by “autumn 2012”.

Following the Council Leader’s bold pronouncement problems occured with the scheme and so here we are two years on still with an inadequate library in Camberwell.

This is all set to change with the construction of the new library (artist’s impression of the new library below  taken from architect John McAsclan + Partners website)New Camberwell Library

According to Southwark the new library will be located on Camberwell Green and “will include areas for adult, children and young people libraries as well as public access computers, study area and meeting rooms. The main library areas will be located on the ground floor with meeting rooms and study space located on the first floor. The main entrance will face towards Camberwell Green.”

The library is a key part of the Camberwell regeneration programme which aims to connect the Green with wider Camberwell.

The location has attracted great controversy as the building will be located on the site of Camberwell Orchard on the Green, various other suggestions for a library location have been put forward. Realistically I cannot see Southwark deciding at this late stage to relocate the new library but protestors are urging the council to think again. Let us hope that this will not result in another two year delay to the new Camberwell Library.

New library to open in Camberwell autumn 2012?

This afternoon Southwark’s Cabinet will, barring any last minute problems, formally approve the plans for the new library in Camberwell at a site near the Magistrates’ Court on Camberwell Green.

The new library is dealt with as item 13 on the meeting agenda. The background information (item 13: page 181) relating to this makes a good case for the new library showing how it will save money and create new community facilities to the benefit of Camberwell.

Council leader Peter John in the forward to the agenda item writes “This council is committed to the regeneration and renewal of Camberwell. One of the most visible signs of that regeneration will be the creation of a vibrant ‘town centre’ at Camberwell Green. We are working to bring forward plans which will deal with some of the transport and retail opportunities necessary to achieve that ‘town centre’ ambition, but believe that one of the roles which the council can play is the provision of a library which meets the aspirations of local residents in the 21st century.” Let us hope that by its actions the Council ensures that these sentiments are more than words.

Transporting Camberwell to the future

Camberwell roundel The two local authorities that cover Camberwell; Lambeth and Southwark, like all boroughs across London, are currently in the process of drawing up their local transport plans. These strategies (also known as local implementation plans) show how transport in the boroughs will develop over the next few years setting out the priorities within the overall framework of the Mayor of London’s transport strategy.

The two transport strategies contain interesting information on transport locally and the challenges faced.

The Southwark strategy acknowledges that transport facilities in Camberwell could be improved and pledges the council’s continuing support for bringing the Bakerloo line to Camberwell as well as the role of sustainable transport such as cycling and walking in the borough.

The Lambeth strategy covers similar transport issues with several mentions of the decline in services on the Denmark Hill train line as well as the aspiration of creating better neighbourhoods less dominated by motor transport.

Both strategies acknowledge the similarlity of the two boroughs where there is low levels of car ownership, high levels of deprivation, comparatively high levels of cycling and walking. They also acknowledge the problems faced by local town centres such as Camberwell which must fulfill a conflicting role as both local shopping areas and as major routes into London.

Whilst they provide very interesting reading on the local transport situation and issues in themselves their main purpose is as consultation documents. If you would like to take part in shaping the future of transport locally please send back a consultation response saying how you feel transport should be improved locally.

I’m sure most of us would broadly agree on transport priorities for Camberwell: from the aspirational: reopening of the railway station, future Camberwell tube station and inclusion of Camberwell in any future tram scheme to the more mundane (but achievable): taming of the multi‐lane roads that dominate the town centre, improvements to bus services and inclusion of Camberwell in the Mayor’s Cycle Hire scheme.

Both boroughs allow local residents to send in their responses online — fill in the Lambeth online form and/or the Southwark online survey — for both the deadline is approaching so do it soon!

If we start telling the policy makers what we want now the planning can start for future transport improvements and we can judge developments according to the aspirations set out in the strategies.