Elections 2010: This is Labour country

As you are no doubt aware the local council elections held last Thursday turned out as  I had  previously predicted : Labour retained control of Lambeth and gained seven extra seats on Southwark Council to take control.

The final results are 
Labour: 35 Councillors (+7)
Liberal Democrats: 25 (-3)
Conservatives: 3 (-3)
Greens: 0 (-1)
Full results on the Southwark website

Labour: 44 Councillors (+5)
Liberal Democrats: 15 (-2)
Conservatives: 4 (-2)
Greens: 0 (-1)
See the Lambeth website for full results

So whatever happens at the national level we are still Labour.

Reasons to be cheerful

  • The Labour result on Southwark will bring benefits for Camberwell as the new administration will be more concerned about bits of the borough such as Camberwell and Peckham which are Labour areas.
  • The new administration (unlike the previous Lib Dem/ Conservative coalition) has a solid majority and so will not be having to make concessions to make different interests happy to secure their votes .
  • The likely leader of Southwark Peter Johns is a Camberwell Councillor.
  • Local Camberwell Councillors will be more accountable as they will no longer be able to blame the administration for lack of action  as they will be part of the administration. 
  • The Camberwell Party has done great work in raising Camberwell issues and shown that the area cant be taken for granted
  • There will hopefully be more joint working between Lambeth and Southwark as they are both of the same party and both councils face similar issues.
  • With the Labour Party out of power at a national level local MP Harriet Harman will have more time for constituency duties (?)

As I say these are all reasons to be cheerful and hopeful for the future of Camberwell — we must now be active to ensure that the politicians deliver on their promises and direct investment, regeneration funding and attention to the area.

A good place to start is the Southwark Labour Party manifesto and the Lambeth Labour Party manifesto

Camberwell votes 1: the General Election

General election 2010 in Camberwell

A subject that has been bubbling under the surface on this blog is the matter of what our elected representatives are doing for the area. We live in a democracy (imperfect yes but a democracy) and so we are responsible for electing our representatives every four or five years.

This year on 6 May 2010 we will have a chance to vote twice – first for our Member of Parliament and then for our local borough Council. I intend to cover the local elections in a post later this week but today will look at the General Election.

The electoral situation in Camberwell like so many things is complicated – if we take Camberwell to be the SE5 postcode area rather than purely Camberwell town centre then we are covered by three constituencies: Camberwell and Peckham (the main part of Camberwell town centre), a part of Dulwich and West Norwood (the area either side of and South of Coldharbour Lane and around Ruskin Park towards Herne Hill) and a part of Vauxhall (South of Camberwell New Road until the border with Southwark on Flodden Road – includes roads such as Paulet Road and the area around Myatts Fields Park).

All three of these constituencies are represented by Labour MPs all of whom had fairly safe majorities at the 2005 election. The Electoral Commission  has redrawn the boundaries slightly since the last General Election but not generally enough to shift the balance of power significantly.

The demographic profile of the area (or certainly Camberwell and Peckham, Vauxhall and the Camberwell part of Dulwich and West Norwood) is that of poor inner city (over 50% of people living in council/housing association housing, consequent low rates of home ownership, very low rates of car ownership, high levels of poverty etc etc) with pockets of wealth so you would expect Labour to be dominant.

The results at the last election show that in Vauxhall and Camberwell and Peckham Labour took over 50% of the vote (and in Camberwell and Peckham Harriet Harman received over 65% of all votes cast) and so it would be virtually impossible for Labour to lose in either of these constituencies. (Stranger things have happened but only where there has been a scandal/other event which has distorted the picture.) Dulwich and West  Norwood is more marginal – here Tessa Jowell at the last election gained 45% of the vote with the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats gaining just over 20% of the votes each.

My personal feeling is that the situation is unlikely to change significantly in any of the constituencies as the Labour vote may diminish slightly but is likely to to remain generally firm. Any increase in the Conservative vote is likely to be at the expense of the Liberal Democrat vote (just look at the results of the London Mayor election in 2008 when the Lib Dems were squeezed in the main Boris/Ken race). Of course the whole matter could be distorted by low turnout but assuming levels of turnout similar to the 2005 election I dont expect any of our MPs to change. 

So who are the candidates locally?
The UK Polling report website or the Guardian website   are good (generally unbiased) sources of information and no doubt you will receive leaflets and other literature over the next few weeks telling you who to vote for. Here I identify the current MP and the main players (especially those who have Camberwell connections)

Camberwell and Peckham constituency (see Guardian profile)
Harriet Harman (Labour) – incumbent MP since 1982, Leader of the Commons and deputy leader of the Labour Party. Website
Columba Blango (Lib Dem) – Southwark Councillor (Rotherhithe), former Olympic athlete. Website
Jenny Jones (Green) – Southwark Councillor (South Camberwell), Londonwide Member of the London Assembly (elected on the party list). Website 
Andy Stranack (Conservative) – Community worker, lives in Peckham. Website   

Vauxhall constituency (Guardian profile)
Kate Hoey (Labour) – incumbent MP since 1989, known for ‘independent’ stance on many issues. Website 
Glyn Chambers (Conservative) – lives in Vauxhall. Website
Joseph Healy (Green) – Has been involved in Southwark campaigns. Website
Caroline Pidgeon (Lib Dem) – Londonwide Member of the London Assembly (elected on the party list) and Southwark Councillor (Newington), lives in Camberwell. Website

Dulwich and West Norwood constituency (Guardian profile)
Tessa Jowell (Labour) – incumbent MP since 1992, Olympics Minister. Website
Kemi Adegoke (Conservative) – lives in Herne Hill, Systems Analyst for RBS. Website 
Shane Collins (Green) – lives in Lambeth. Website
Jonathan Mitchell (Lib Dem) – lives in Dulwich, Southwark Councillor (East Dulwich), stood last time. Website 

(These are the Camberwell connections/ information/ website I could find — if you know of anything else please add)

So will you vote? What will these candidates do for Cambwerwell?

A Community Cinema for Camberwell?

Hello there, and yet another post by another guest poster. Apologies for the very long post but just couldn’t get it any shorter.

As many of you will no doubt have heard by now the former cinema and bingo hall has been bought by Merinbrand (whoever they are) on behalf of (we assume) the Redeemed Christian Church of God or RCCG for short. We believe that contracts have been exchanged but completion is not due to take place until the beginning of March. The chances of us stopping the sale are slim, but I do not think that should prevent us from trying.

We started a campaign this Monday to try and get more information and transparency over the sale of the building by Gala Bingo. Last week I was told that the information was confidential and that I would have to wait until the sale had gone through. I think it is safe to assume that they were a little surprised at how quickly we managed to gather the troops, and very soon after our photo in front of the cinema today we had the head of PR sending out emails absolving themselves of all responsibility and hanging the new (potential) owners out to dry.

This is thanks to people like Victor, a.k.a. Eusebiovic, who set up a Facebook page which has nearly 200 fans already and is growing by the second. Also thanks go to Copeywolf (James), Liliana of PROS,Melanie Rimmer of Camberwell Arts and last but not least Mark Dodds and Barbara Pattinson from the SE5 forum for all their help. I have created a website (www.CamberwellCommunityCinema.webs.com) for the campaign to keep the cinema for the community and I have no idea where all you people are coming from but the response has been (almost) unanimous against having RCCG move in.

I think this is a real chance for Camberwell to come together as a community. And I don’t just mean those who use the internet. I mean all those who loved the bingo and now have to go to Surrey Quays (because that’s convienient). I mean all those for whom Christianity is not their religion. I mean all the artists looking for a space. I mean something to stop Time Out banging out yet another edition about the “great” East End. I mean all those who want Camberwell to have a focal point we can be proud of.

RCCG will have to change the commercial use from D2 (Cinema, music and concert halls) to D1 (Places of worship and Church Halls). This is where we as a community come in. We cannot let this happen. There are so many reasons why this should not be allowed. So, write to your MP, write to your councillors. Tell the press, tell Boris. Shout it out. Email your friends. Join the facebook page. Tell your friends to join the facebook page. Write to famous Camberwellians. Make people notice. MAKE A FUSS!

To be fair I think most councillors are firmly behind us and John Friary has been helping already to ask questions. There is a Camberwell Community Council meeting next Wednesday 3rd March at 7pm at Southwark Town Hall. Please go. We need to let Southwark Council know that Camberwell matters. We need them to stop palming us off with disjointed plans which come to nothing. On top of that, there is an election coming up. That should concentrate the mind wonderfully!

We will be getting some posters to put around Camberwell. I will put them on the website for you to download and print off. Stick them on windows of shops. Talk to your neighbours.


Camberwell deserves better.


a.k.a. Monkeycat.


Evening all. I’d planned to start with a look through the Council conclusions on the future of Camberwell that Newroad told us about recently, but unfortunately a number of side-projects have kept me busy so that’s out the window. If you’ve read them already and feel strongly about the proposals, I suggest you write to your Councillors.

More prosaic matters: I have to say that St George seem to be doing a good job of the Camberwell Grove development; the architecture of the new buildings is perfectly in keeping with the surrounding ones, and the restoration of the school building has breathed new life into it. The first show apartment was opened at the weekend, and I was quite curious to see inside.

I passed the development on my way back from Johansson’s (formerly Seymour Bros.) cafe, where I enjoyed a big and tasty fried breakfast. There were an awful lot of gay gentlemen in there, and it would be interesting to know whether this was an isolated occurrence or indicative of a more general trend; could Camberwell be set to capitalise on its proximity to Vauxhall? With Queer Complex at the Sun & Doves on Saturdays, and the events organised by our very own GayCamberwell.com team, looks like we’re all benefiting from an injection of the pink pound.

On the subject of development, still, I noticed that the former Father Red Cap / Redstar has had a face lift. I was about to write “looks like Planet Nollywood is on its way”, but a quick search reveals that it seems to already be open. Anyone heard more?

I had a drink in the Fox On The Hill on Saturday, the first I’ve had there in about 12 or 13 years. The views across London are amazing, and the selection of beers is pretty good, but the bland interior and the group of aggressive drunken men on the table next to me reminded me why I don’t go more often.

Final news: as you must know by now, Camberwell Baths have been awarded £1.45m of Government funding, and the Council are to match that investment. Truly good news. Less good, however, is the fact that the Council-owned buildings around the Town Hall are up for sale, marking the beginning of the move to Bankside. One can only imagine how we’ll be treated once we’re out of the Council’s view.

Don’t forget, if you Twitter we’re at twitter.com/camberwellblog.

Oh, one more thing: I’m still on the look-out for more contributors; five years of blogging here is playing havoc with my nerves, and I’m sure there must be people with different points of view that would be interested in getting involved. Email me at peter@​camberwellonline.​co.​uk if you’re interested.

Camberwell Public Meeting

A little while back, as I was talking to one Camberwellian, I said something like, “there’s so much good will in Camberwell but do we need to be louder?” The Camberwellian replied, “it’s always the same people who get to do anything.’ ”

Those same people have done some good work, SE5 Forum, The Camberwell Society, Camberwell Renewal, to name but a few. But what about the large proportion of those who are not in any way involved in any of the mentioned groups? Part of the reason for the apparent apathy when it comes to being actively involved with your surroundings could be lack of information about ways to get involved, or (un)intentional obscurity of available information. One of the things we, the People’s Republic of Southwark, had found out on our monthly events is that, while the cyber communications are significant and precious, nothing beats the RL (real life) people interaction.

So we are now hoping to set up a very very public meeting to find out how those who for whatever reason feel excluded from decision making feel about the demise of Camberwell and how we go about making a difference.

Any help with any aspect of organising this would be greatly appreciated.

Some of the things which I think would need to be worked out at the beginning are:

  • which areas would come under the ‘Camberwell’ umbrella?
  • how would we engage people (not just TRA committees) living in those areas?
  • which officials would need to be involved (councillors/TFL/GLA representatives)?
  • what would be the best way of determining the agenda/running the meeting?
  • what are the current initiatives/issues around Camberwell? Where are they at?

If any of you have experience of any of the above (organising large scale events; lobbying/negotiation with the local government; promotion, etc) please let us know if you would be able to help out in any capacity/for any length of time.

Thank you