Rwanda deportation should stop says ECHR

READ THE ECHR PRESS RELEASE IN FULL

“Never again” was the refrain during and after the Second World War. It was through the bloodshed and carnage of war that the idea for an agreement or convention on human rights was formed.

No government would be allowed to dehumanise and abuse people’s rights with impunity, and any that strayed would be held to account.

In May 1948 after the war had ended, the ‘Congress of Europe’ was held in The Hague. Over 750 delegates that included leaders from civil society groups, academia, business and religious groups, trade unions, and leading politicians from across Europe met and the assembly proposed a list of rights to be protected, and also drew a number of articles directly from the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In his speech to the Congress, Churchill stated:

“In the centre of our movement stands the idea of a Charter of Human Rights, guarded by freedom and sustained by law.”

The European Court of Human Rights, the international court based in Strasbourg came from this. It consists of a number of judges equal to the number of member States of the Council of Europe that have ratified the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The Court’s judges sit in their individual capacity and do not represent any State. Once they are appointed the judges are entirely independent of their country of origin and do not represent either applicants or States.

It should be stressed that the UK courts and the ECHR have not had time to deal with detailed challenges brought by asylum seekers facing removal to Rwanda. The detailed examination of their challenges are to be considered in the High Court in July. The only issue has been whether they should stay in the UK in the meantime. The UK courts accepted the Home Secretary’s assurances, however the ECHR has placed more weight on the United Nations’ evidence.

On Tuesday, 14th June 2022, the ECHR says:

“In the interests of the parties and the proper conduct of the proceedings before it, to indicate to the Government of the United Kingdom, under Rule 39, that the applicant should not be removed until the expiry of a period of three weeks following the delivery
of the final domestic decision in the ongoing judicial review proceedings. The parties are therefore required to notify the Court immediately of the delivery of that final domestic decision.”

Interim-measure-granted-in-case-concerning-asylum-seekers-imminent-removal-from-the-UK-to-Rwanda

Is the UK Government playing politics to generate headlines? Is the UK Government expecting the courts to strike down this populist policy so that it can feign anger and dismay? Does the Government really believe that this is an acceptable way to behave? If so, this is a disgrace.

If not, it is worse.

The United Kingdom was the very first nation to ratify the convention in March of 1951.

Lewisham Council finally publish planning cash statement

Lewisham Council has finally published its Infrastructure Funding Statement for 2020/21. This document outlines what money the local planning authority – Lewisham Council in this case – receive from developers in contributions.

A contribution means any Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) or money or in-kind for works received from a Section 106 agreement. Section 106 agreements are private agreements made between local authorities and developers and can be attached to a planning permission to make acceptable development which would otherwise be unacceptable in planning terms.

There is a statutory requirement to publish all this information by 31st December each year and this includes:

a) The infrastructure projects or types the authority intends to be funded
b) A CIL report
c) A section 106 report

The Planning Advisory Service has said that the IFS should include all the new activity in the year as well as all unspent money from previous years. Some councils will therefore have to perform a one-off “stock take” of obligations from lots of old agreements to establish whether they relate to unspent funds that need to be reported.

It will be very interesting to see whether the published document is accurate and contains all the detail recommended by planning experts and the Government. Take a look below:

Infrastructure-Funding-Statement-2020-2021-Lewisham-Planning

There have been lively debates on the use of Section 106 monies and the amounts available across the borough. The use of earmarked Section 106 cash for Catford station improvements has been questioned recently, as has how much unspent money remains from all the developments in Deptford?

Question raised on 21st July 2021

The Sydenham Society and Bell Green Neighbourhood Forum often seek the answer to how much money remains in the pot from the Bell Green Retail Park development – this report is supposed to give the answers. Perhaps, it raises more questions?

Questions over deselections at Lewisham Council

Two former Lewisham Councillors have published copies of their letters to the Speaker of Lewisham Council ahead of the council’s AGM tonight, Wednesday, 25th May 2022.

Caroline Kalu who represented Evelyn Ward – named after John Evelyn the famous diarist – for the Labour Party until this May’s election has claimed that she was effectively and unfairly deselected by the Labour Party’s Local Campaign Forum in collusion with the previous Chief whip.

The Labour Party Chief Whip at the time was Cllr Hilary Moore who represents Grove Park on Lewisham Council.

Caroline Kalu had been asking probing questions about the whereabouts of money gained from lucrative property development in Deptford. Her letter asks that Lewisham Council release details of the Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy, CIL payments that are unallocated and unspent.

These planning ‘gains’ are often in legally binding agreements known as Section 106 agreements. The purpose of these agreements is to reduce the impact of building developments on a local community. They may specify how the money is spent rather than being absorbed into a council’s general fund or capital programme.

In his letter, Alan Hall said that he had requested that the Chief Executive of the Council, Kim Wright provide him with details of all outstanding cases on the Council’s Corporate Complaints’ system in order to write to all his constituents with outstanding casework.

Despite receiving an initial assurance that this would be done, he was informed that he could not have these details due to “data protection” concerns.

A Freedom of Information request has been submitted.

Caroline Kalu’s letter in full:

Dear Speaker,

Thank you very much for your kind invitation to attend the AGM of Lewisham Council on Wednesday, 25th May at 7.30pm.

Unfortunately, due to my commitments as UN Peace Ambassador/UN women UK Delegate CSW66 I will not be able to listen to the Mayoral oration in the Council Chamber. However, I look forward to following proceedings virtually.

In your letter, you state that the Council would like to mark the contribution of Councillors who have “stood down”.

I would like to clarify that I did not “Stand down” but was effectively and unfairly deselected by LCF , in Collusion with the previous Chief whip not to put myself forward for May 2022 local Election in Evelyn. I am not sure how these actions are best characterised but l did not step down voluntarily. I have raised these concerns with the national Labour Party and I await a conclusion.

I would be very grateful if you could convey my best wishes to the new Council, especially those newly elected, as they will have some very difficult decisions to take shortly. The cost of living crisis hits Lewisham residents hard and the Council will be expected to step up and help them.
I would be grateful if you could update me on any casework that remains outstanding in my name.

Furthermore, I was promised that a reply on the matters relating to Section 106 and CIL in Evelyn Ward would receive attention and a response from the Council. To date I have received no response and I would like to let residents know how much money has been raised for local projects by the multi million pound new developments that have been agreed, built and completed across Evelyn Ward over the last few decades and remains unspent.
Kind regards,

Caroline Onwuzurike Kalu

Former Vice -Chair Children and Young People Lewisham Labour/Cooperative Party.

Alan Hall’s letter to the Speaker of Lewisham Council in full:

Dear Speaker,

Thank you very much for your kind invitation to attend the AGM of Lewisham Council on Wednesday, 25th May at 7.30pm.

Unfortunately, due to commitments overseas I will not be able to listen to the Mayoral oration in the Council Chamber. However, I look forward to following proceedings virtually.

In your letter, you state that the Council would like to mark the contribution of Councillors who have “stood down”.

I would like to clarify that I did not leave the Council by choice. The Leadership of the Council decided that I could not put myself forward to local Labour Party members in Bellingham. Bellingham Branch Labour Party protested and they were ignored. I am not sure how these actions are best characterised but they are not stepping down voluntarily. I have raised these concerns with the national Labour Party and I await a conclusion.

I had requested that the Chief Executive of the Council, Kim Wright provide me with details of all outstanding cases on the Council’s Corporate Complaints’ system so that I may write to all those with outstanding casework. Despite an initial assurance that this would be done, I have been informed that I cannot have these details due to “data protection” concerns. May I ask that you use your good offices to ensure that these cases are completed? The service of the people is my priority.

I would be very grateful if you could convey my best wishes to the new Council, especially those newly elected, as they will have some very difficult decisions to take shortly. The cost of living crisis hits Lewisham residents’ hard and the Council will be expected to step up and help them.

Kind regards,

Alan

Alan Hall

Former Leader, Lewisham Labour Group &
Labour and Co-operative Councillor for Bellingham.

Ban Conversion Therapy

Following an outcry by LGBTQA+ campaigners, former Lewisham Councillor Alan Hall has joined campaigners in calling for a comprehensive conversion therapy ban saying:

“A ban on conversion practices must cover both sexual orientation and gender identity.
Trans people are twice as likely to be subjected to or offered conversion practices as non-trans(cisgender) lesbian, gay or bi people. Government proposals should specifically ensure that the clinical standards for doctors and therapists treating children with gender dysphoria. Banning conversion practices does not criminalise explorative conversations or therapy. Nearly every country that has banned conversion practices has done so for both sexual orientation and gender identity, including in the last 6 months Canada, France and New Zealand.”

Stonewall condemn the Government’s Queen’s Speech proposals

Conversion therapy includes medical, psychiatric, psychological, religious, cultural or any other interventions that seek to change, “cure”, or suppress the sexual orientation and/or gender identity of a person.

Figures from the UK Government’s National LGBT Survey found that:

👉 7% of LGBT people have been offered or undergone conversion therapy.

👉 10 % of asexual people have been offered or undergone conversion therapy.

👉 13% of trans people have been offered or undergone conversion therapy.

The UK Government published its proposals to ban conversion practices in October 2021, alongside a public consultation on the proposals that ran for 14 weeks.


The main proposals were:
The Government’s stated intention was to publish the findings of the consultation and proposed draft legislation in Spring 2022. However, a leaked No 10 document at the end of March detailed an intention to not ban conversion therapy at all. After intense outcry, the Government announced it would move ahead with banning conversion practices for LGB (lesbian, gay and bisexual) people but would not do so for trans people.

Boris Johnson referred to “complexities and sensitivities” when “you move from the area of sexuality to the question of gender”. The Prime Minister added “I don’t think that it’s reasonable for kids to be deemed so-called Gillick-competent to take decisions about their gender or irreversible treatments that they may have. I think there should be parental involvement at the very least.”


The Queen’s Speech makes the exclusion of trans conversion therapy from the ban explicit, but does promise: “Recognising the complexity of issues and need for further careful thought, we will carry out separate work to consider the issue of Transgender Conversion Therapy further.” 

The proposals relating to sexual orientation and conversion therapy will ban this to a limited extent as adults will still be able to consent to the practice according to the Government.

The ban “will protect under-18s, regardless of circumstance, and over-18s who do not consent and who are coerced or forced to undergo conversion therapy practices.” 

ITV News has spent the past four years investigating conversion therapy and uncovered many practices which would not necessarily be described as ‘coercive’. 

For example, in 2018 they exposed practices at Winners Chapel in Kent, where an undercover reporter was told that the devil had made him gay and intense prayer could help him. 

Commenting in the Independent on the announcements in today’s Queen’s Speech, Jayne Ozanne, a former government LGBT+ adviser, said that the bill will create a “loophole of consent” which will continue to put “many lives” at risk.

The former adviser said that while she was “relieved” ministers were still pledging to ban the practice “they are creating so many loopholes and leaving so many people unprotected”.

Ozanne added: “The government’s own research shows that trans people are twice as likely to be offered “conversion therapy” and it is an utter disgrace that they have purposefully omitted them from the ban.

“The government’s duty is to protect the most vulnerable from abuse, not to side with the abusers. By creating a loophole of consent, the government continues to ignore the advice of legal experts and survivors like myself, who know that this will continue to put many lives at risk.”

Recently, on 5th April 2022, Iain Anderson said he was resigning from his Government role as the LGBT business champion as they are “trying to drive a wedge” between trans and lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

There’s no LGB rights without the T maybe a chant or a hashtag, however it’s more important than ever if we are not to be drawn into a culture war designed to divide and rule. This is no place for a ‘woke’ war.

A dedicated conversion therapy helpline run by experienced LGBT+ staff. The helpline is open to all LGBT+ people in the UK who are victims of so-called “conversion therapy”, or who think they might be at risk. The service is run by LGBT+ anti-abuse charity Galop, which works directly with thousands of LGBT+ people who have experienced abuse and violence every year.

The National Conversion Therapy Helpline is open 10:00-16:00, Monday to Friday on 0800 130 3335, or you can email CThelp@galop.org.uk

The full text of Alan Hall’s letter is:

I am writing to ask for your support in the campaign to ban so-called “conversion therapy” – practices that seeks to change, “cure”, or suppress a person’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

At the end of March, the UK Government appeared to abandon its commitment to ban conversion practices for all LGBTQ+ people, leaving trans and non-binary people at risk of abuse and lifelong harm.

The UK Government’s 2018 National LGBT Survey that 7% of respondents had been subjected or been offered conversion practices. The figures are higher for trans people, with 12% trans respondents having been subjected or offered it.

The law today does not protect your constituents from this harmful practice. There is no excuse for abuse, and no LGBTQ+ person should be left at risk of these abhorrent practices.

The Ban Conversion Therapy coalition has provided a briefing with information on why including trans people in a ban on conversion therapy is necessary.

Please write to Liz Truss, Minister for Women and Equalities, and Mike Freer, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Minister for Equalities), and urge them to implement a full legislative ban as detailed in the briefing.

You could also share your support by using the hashtag #BanConversionTherapy on social media.

I hope I can rely on your support to ban conversion practices, so that we can continue to progress towards a world where all LGBTQ+ people can live without shame or fear.

Lewisham Labour Manifesto 2022

Lewisham Labour has released a colourful and well designed manifesto document for the 2022 local elections.

If, as widely tipped, the Labour Party retain control of Lewisham Council, this document will form the basis of the new administration’s corporate plan for the next four years.

In terms of governance, there are a few points to remember. The Boundary Commission has redrawn all the ward boundaries for this year. The total number of electoral divisions – wards – has increased from 18 to 19 wards but the grand total of Councillors remains the same at 54.

This means three wards will be represented by two Councillors and sixteen by three Councillors.

Lewisham Council is one of a handful of local councils that has a directly elected mayor as the leader of the authority. Voters express a first and second choice of candidate, if no candidate receives an absolute majority of first choice votes, all but the two leading candidates are eliminated, and the votes of those eliminated redistributed according to their second preferences.

However, Lewisham Council’s Councillors are elected by the first past the post method. On this ballot paper the number of votes given to each elector depends on the number of Councillors needed to represent the ward – in this case it will be two or three.

Interestingly, before a single vote is cast we know that there will be a huge turnover in the personalities. Just short of 40% of Lewisham Labour Councillors will not be returning after Thursday, 5th May 2022. These include former Leader of the Council, Jim Mallory. Jim was first elected in 1986 and has had a long and distinguished political career. He will be joined by Cllrs Obajimi Adefiranye, a longstanding Chair of the Council and national champion for black councillors, Pauline Morrison the current Vice Chair of the Council and former Head of Members’ Services and one of the newest Councillors, Samantha Latouche who joined after a by election on 6th May 2021. A short and distinguished career that included choosing and interviewing senior officer candidates’ as Chair of the Appointments Committee.

The new administration will have to grapple with a budget that was set with optimistic assumptions on pay and inflation, for example. The assumptions were agreed in July 2021 before the ‘cost of living crisis‘ had begun to hit hard.

Delivering the new manifesto commitments including building new homes will be a real challenge. Pressures on prices affect Councils. How will Lewisham Council pay its own gas bill? The current contract has expired and gas prices have rocketed. Commercial rates are not protected.

Here is the full manifesto document.

Lewisham-Labour-Manifesto-2022

Currently, Lewisham Council has a Labour directly elected mayor and 54 Labour Councillors.

P&O Fire and Rehire is ‘Beneath Contempt’

On March 17, P&O Ferries in the UK sacked 800 seafarers with 30 minutes notice over a pre-recorded Zoom call.

“Aside from being callous and beneath contempt, this behaviour not only lacks any form of basic decency, but appears to be a flagrant violation of UK labour law and international labour standards. Furthermore, the use of non-union replacement workers amounts to a fundamental breach of freedom of association and an attack on workers’ dignity. We can’t and won’t let this go unchallenged.” say ITF

Cllr Alan Hall has joined trade unionists and signed a letter co-ordinated by the International Transport Workers’ Federation, ITF, condemning the sacking of 800 P&O seafarers by zoom.

RMT issued a statement today urging the company to protect jobs amid the speculation. The union said it has instructed members to stay on board their vessels once or risk being “locked out” of their jobs

Nautilus International have said the news was “a betrayal of British workers”, with their General secretary Mark Dickinson slamming the company’s behaviour and pledging to fight the job cuts: “There was no consultation and no notice given by P&O. Be assured the full resources of Nautilus International stand ready to act in defence of our members. We have instructed our members to stay onboard until further notice.”

Trade Unionists Protesting outside DP World

Manuel Cortes, General Secretary has signed the letter on behalf of the TSSA saying:

“This is about more than just solidarity. We were all shocked and outraged at what we saw last week. But the truth is that we have to take action to stop this scandalous behaviour in its tracks. If P&O gets away with this then it could spell disaster for so many more workers in a damaging race to the bottom that no one ever wants to see. The government must be held to account to act in workers’ interests – and with a Tory government in power that’s never an easy task.”

Labour’s shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh led an opposition day debate in which politicians lined up to condemn the behaviour of P&O and DP World. She condemned the tory government for sitting on its hands throughout the shocking events. “The livelihoods of 800 British workers were on the line from a scandalous act, by a rogue employer. And the government knew in advance. And they did nothing” she said.

Trade Unionists across the world stand in solidarity with the sacked workers.

On March 29, ITF General Secretary, Stephen Cotton is meeting with DP World, the owners of P&O in Dubai.

At that meeting Stephen will deliver this Global Protest Letter to Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, CEO of DP World, backed by hundreds of unions and thousands of workers. Cllr Alan Hall has signed this letter.

Full text of the letter is below:
To: Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, CEO of DP World, Owners of P&O Ferries
From: [Your Name]

RE: P&O Ferries mass termination of British seafarers

As you are aware, on March 17, P&O Ferries announced via Zoom that it was terminating the contracts of all its 800 seafarers with immediate effect, and that they would be replaced by non-union, agency workers.

The manner in which this has been done appears to be in clear violation of UK labour legislation and international labour standards, a fundamental breach of collective bargaining and an attack on workers’ rights.

We are aware that P&O Ferries is a subsidiary of DP World and that this is part of DP World’s wider plan for P&O Ferries.

Around the world transport workers and our allies in civil society expect and demand better. Multinational corporations like yours can and should treat workers with dignity and respect their rights under the law.

DP World claims it values “relationships built on a foundation of mutual trust and enduring partnership” and wants to be a world-leader on ESG. You signed up to the UN Global Compact committing to respect workers’ fundamental rights. Yet DP World’s much vaunted sustainability statements are meaningless if you allow your subsidiary company to act illegally and directly undermine those very rights in the UK.

P&O firing of all staff with immediate effect is unacceptable.

We call on you to:

  • Urgently convene a meeting with the two unions, Nautilus International and the RMT, together with the UK Government, to rectify the current situation.
  • Guarantee that this will not happen in any other DP World wholly owned subsidiary and that you will uphold your ESG commitment to the principles of the UN Global Compact and behave equitably and show respect to all workers in your supply chain.
  • Commit to social dialogue, respectful industrial relations and to develop a closer relationship with the ITF and our affiliates across all DP World owned subsidiaries that ensures that no worker has to ever endure being sacked via Zoom again.
DP World are the owners of P&O

Former Leader Cllr Jim Mallory retires from Lewisham Council

Cllr Jim Mallory has announced that he will step down from Lewisham Council at the local elections to be held on Thursday, 5th May 2022.

In a tweet, Lewisham Council Labour Group said: “Jim has been a principled, committed community champion of this Council since first elected in 1986. We thank him for all his service & wisdom and wish him well.”

Cllr Jim Mallory speaking in 1991 – Lewisham Council

Cllr Jim Mallory spoke of the time when Lewisham Council hit the headlines in the early 1990s when the Inner London Education Authority was abolished and all schools were transferred to local borough councils in inner London. Cllr Mallory was Chair of the Education Committee which had direct responsibility for this vital service in 1991. Local Government operated a committee system and the Leader of the Council was elected by the largest political group on the Council. There was no directly Mayor. Indeed, the committee system dates back to the Municipal Corporations Act 1835.

Jim-Mallory-Education-Lewisham-Daily-Mirror-17-May-1991

Cllr Jim Mallory was duly elected Leader of the Council in 1995 and remained until the new Labour Group was elected in the local elections of May 1998. He was replaced by Cllr Dave Sullivan who went on to become the authority’s first ‘executive mayor’ a post that combined Leader of the Council and Civic Mayor ahead of the legislation to create directly elected mayors in the Local Government Act 2000. Cllr Dave Sullivan had close links with Tony Blair’s new Labour Government elected in 1997.

Unusally, the BBC filmed the machinations of Lewisham Council in 1991 – it was a pioneering fly on wall documentary called Town Hall.

Cllr Mallory can be seen trying to placate angry protesters as the education cuts caused by the abolition of the ILEA begin to bite.

Cllr Jim Mallory in 1991 can be seen at the full Council at 4 mins 25s

Cllr Alan Hall says: “I remember Jim Mallory’s time as Leader of the Council and the changes that were made especially the creation of “Community Affairs”. This consolidated the Council’s outward focus on the voluntary sector and public involvement whilst improving services and the legacy of that decision lives on.”

“Jim has said that setting this budget has been as difficult as before, indeed, harder…he is right. But, I am sure he will acknowledge, it is one thing to set a budget in full council and quite another to deliver it. The new Council will have a massive challenge and they will have some big decisions to make very early on.”

The Labour Party selection process is particularly important in Lewisham as the Council has 100% representation by Labour at the moment. Over one third of the current elected Councillors are due to leave, for one reason or another. Many leaving have years of experience and have expertise in finance, like Cllr Mallory who has recently served on the Public Accounts Select Committee. This is before the voters have their say.

You can read Councillor Jim Mallory’s speech in full:

Thank you, Mr Speaker

First, I want to thank all those many members and staff with whom I have worked over the years. Their service has been exceptional in difficult circumstances!

The last time I spoke in this Council Chamber was over two years ago… before the pandemic, an event that seems more like a lifetime away – given the difference it has made to all us.

In some ways, however, nothing has changed since then… crippling Tory-imposed cuts and the bite of Austerity bringing increased poverty and hardship for our most disadvantaged and making it even harder for the Council to maintain everyday basic services.

Setting this budget has been as difficult as before, indeed, harder because in other ways, COVID changed everything. One way or another, we have all experienced just how difficult it has been. Whether it’s having lost someone dear to us, seen others suffer from infection or caught it ourselves, its effect has been truly devastating.

The effect on people’s mental health, their experience of loneliness and isolation, the digital divide, all thrown into relief by the pandemic. As a Council, we knew of them before, now everyone recognises their importance as issues to overcome in sustaining the fabric of our society.

Now, as an active member of the community sector, you would expect me to say the following:

The response to COVID everywhere among the general public has been great, and from our health and social care services, in particular, magnificent.

Here, Lewisham residents – people in the community volunteering to deliver food parcels, transporting vulnerable people or by gifting money or supplies – helped out without reward in their thousands.

The voluntary and community sectors proved again just how much we depend on them, and we should never forget their contributions.

Our parks, always a source of pride, proved vital in ensuring many of us maintained our health and safety at a time when being largely confined to our homes.

And what of the Council’s unsung heroes? Front-line services – staff out every week, even when losing colleagues to illness, or the hundreds redeployed to support vital services in need of extra help.

The importance of all of these people and services never more in the spotlight, yet as you have heard and as we agree the 2022/23 budget tonight, we face challenges that make it difficult to sustain them.

As someone who has been through this more than most, with your indulgence, let me reflect. Indeed, only Chris Best and I are left of that new and relatively youthful intake in 1986. Chris, of course has outdone us all… no self-imposed sabbatical for her, unlike me. She is the mother of this house.

So, to some lessons. Some of these are basic common sense, but we can often lose sight of things, wrapped up in our town hall bubble… or, for that matter, our Teams exchanges.

“Stick to the knitting”: by this, I mean concentrate on the familiar, what we do well, what’s important… what’s important to all residents – take refuse collection – some of our reputation is built on collecting the rubbish.

I remember joining the crews of the lorries piloting the wheelie bin rounds in 1988 in overseeing Lewisham become the first in England to transform it into a more hygienic and efficient service.

“Keep your nerve”: Whether it’s inheriting in 1990 the Education service, demoralised with its transfer from the old ILEA, or introducing the more localised Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme, you have to hold the line… or at least until you have worked on a compromise that retains your original position but concedes the legitimate concerns of parents, students and teachers – or even, in the case of the latter, some car-drivers – that you may not have got it all right.

And apologise for any mistakes… it helps to defuse the situation.

“Don’t take ‘No’ for an answer”: From officers, especially from lawyers, if it’s about why we cannot implement our policies, or say something in public because it’s too “political”. Ask for a second opinion.

“Avoid splits but not at all costs”: Some of you will remember the splits in Lewisham’s Labour Group in the 1990s, others will have heard of them.

They largely developed around personality, but had for some of us their origins in ideological differences, the most fundamental one – in-house or privatisation of Council services. That difference was what made the split irreconcilable.

To avoid them, you need to work on the common ground and we have been lucky since in avoiding them, latterly I suspect, in part, because the common enemy – Tory Austerity (initially, aided and abetted, let us not forget by the Liberal Democrats) – has been ever-present.

“Never lose an opportunity to explain what we do and why”:

I enjoy public meetings, especially those where you begin by facing an unhappy audience. Angry of Lee Green has to be faced down, as we have done in our Assembly on several occasions.

What seems to work is taking the time to be honest about why we’re bringing in some change – avoid simple mantras or blaming someone else other than the Government and, even then, only by clearly detailing the effect of the cuts. They still may not agree with you, but for the most part, you will have earned their respect.

“Try and bow out gracefully”:

I came in on Thatcher, now I am going out on Johnson. Funny (or not so funny) half a lifetime of living with the Tories bent on destroying the Labour Movement. There was a moment a few weeks ago when I thought I might outlast Johnson, so precarious was the position of that most appalling of all politicians, who most recently in trumpeting so-called “Freedom Day” called on us all to exercise personal responsibility in learning to live with COVID. This, from a man who has spent his life running away from responsibility.

Now, the awful events in Ukraine appear to have saved him, at least for the time being. And his Levelling Up agenda, which was never going to benefit those it ostensibly aimed to help, will fall further by the wayside – paid for by the urban, densely-populated disadvantaged areas… places like Lewisham.

Let me finish with a question, WAS IT ALL WORTH IT? I like to think so – I may not have made much difference, but I hope I made some.

We keep on working because we know there is something better and, as I have said on previous occasions: “Until the return of a Labour government, no matter how long that takes, Labour councils remain the only option to guarantee local people have of retaining some semblance of a civilised and humane society.”

So, COMRADES, as I go quietly into the night:

To all of you – those leaving like myself and those carrying on the fight, the best of luck. Some of us will still be there to help you, even if in a less obvious way.

Cllr Jim Mallory, 2 March 2022

Human Rights Need Protection

Cllr Alan Hall has joined charities, voluntary groups and trades unionists by signing a statement supported by more than 60 civil society organisations objecting to the Government’s plans to “weaken human rights protections in the UK”.

The Human Rights Act establishes a legal obligation for the government and public bodies to uphold the human rights of everybody living in the UK, so that they are treated with respect and dignity.

The historical and policy context are intertwined. The consultation document explains that the nature and approach of the Strasbourg Court has evolved over the years, as has the Court’s relationship with Council of Europe member States, including the UK.

The Council of Europe

  • The Council of Europe was established by the Treaty of London in 1949 and is based in Strasbourg in France. Originally made up of ten member States, it now has 47 members stretching from Iceland to Azerbaijan. It has adopted a number of human rights treaties, most notably the Convention.
  • The Convention largely contains civil and political rights. In most cases, these reflect rights which have long been protected in domestic UK law in a variety of ways.
    Additional rights have been added over the years which are contained in protocols that are optional for States already party to the Convention.
  • In 1959 the Council of Europe established the European Court of Human Rights to determine alleged violations of the rights set out in the Convention by the 47 Council of Europe member States that have now ratified the Convention.

Further historical context is provided explaining the different approaches to Human Rights have been put forward in the consultation document:


“Karl Marx presented a critique of the Rights of Man proclaimed during the French Revolution in his 1843 article On the Jewish Question. Marx was amongst the early critics of the liberal tradition of civil and political rights, like the right to free speech, a fair trial, freedom of worship and habeas corpus, reflecting what Isaiah Berlin defined as ‘negative liberty’. In the 20th century, amidst the struggle of the Cold War, a movement grounded in the communist, socialist and social democratic traditions began to push for recognition of economic, social and cultural rights, including specific rights to education, healthcare and housing. This culminated in the United Nations’ International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), opened for signature in 1966. As well as being conceptually different from civil liberties, the rights were defined as aspirational goals to be progressively realised. Many Western governments thought that, whilst noble aims, they reflected fluid and diverse public policy considerations with far-reaching financial implications, requiring collective decision-making through democratic institutions, rather than being individual rights, judicially enforceable through the courts.
Responding to both the American struggle for independence and later the French Revolution, Edmund Burke provided an alternative critique of liberal rights grounded in conservative thinking. Burke warned of the risks of extreme liberalism, and the weakness in the capacity of unfettered individual freedom to deliver personal or social well-being.”

However, academics have argued that Karl Marx later in life continued to support rights of political participation, including universal suffrage. His defence of the Paris Commune shows that he valued democratic participation not only as giving power to the working-masses but, for example, as a way of ensuring that the branches of state act in the general interests of society rather than in the interests of class, bureaucracy, or heads of state.


UK civil society organisations statement in full: Human Rights Act Review

“We all want to live in an equal, just and fair society, where governments and public bodies respect, protect and fulfil our human rights. The Human Rights Act, along with other legal processes, gives people the ability to hold governments and public bodies to account when they fail to uphold our rights. It allows ordinary people to stand up to those in power and demand that their rights are respected.

The Human Rights Act is an essential tool that allows the courts to find the right balance between individuals’ different rights and between individual rights and the collective rights of society.

Being able to challenge governments and other public bodies and hold them to account is at the heart of our democracy. We all deserve effective access to justice and a fair hearing.

This is a deeply disappointing report, and one which seems to bear little relationship to the weight of the evidence submitted to it, that overwhelmingly demonstrated that changes to the Human Rights Act are both unnecessary and damaging.

Human rights are the essential tools that empower us to stand up to people in power, and to create a stronger, fairer, more compassionate UK.

The Human Rights Act is a sensible and transparent balance between the roles of the government, of Parliament, of public bodies, of the courts and for all of us who use human rights every day to ensure we are treated with dignity and respect. It’s the bedrock of a fair and free society, but it is delicately balanced. Even tiny changes to this framework undermine the basis of our rights and freedoms, placing them at the mercy of fate not fairness.

We agree this is time for change, but that change should be an end to the relentless attacks on the Human Rights Act. Now that this latest review has concluded, it is time for the government to acknowledge that our human rights are the hidden foundations that help us all live together freely and fairly, a safety net to protect us all.

We call on the UK Government to reject these unnecessary proposals, that would dangerously weaken the protection of our rights. Instead, it should commit to:

1. Maintain the balanced and effective framework for securing our human rights, as set out in the Human Rights Act.
2. Proactively raise awareness of our human rights and support a public dialogue on how they can be fully realised that is grounded in fairness, equality and justice, recognising that human rights are at the heart of how we treat one another and live our lives.
3. Deliver the long overdue Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland.
4. Consider how the models of incorporating additional rights being developed in Wales and Scotland, such as the rights of the child and economic, social and cultural rights, could be applied to the UK as a whole.”

Cllr Alan Hall

Forgotten History of Deptford – Christ Church

Deptford has a rich history. The Czar of Russia learnt ship building in the Royal Dock and John Evelyn stayed in Sayes Court and his garden led to the establishment of the National Trust.

St Paul’s Church has a well chronicled history but the older St Nicholas’ Church is closer to the River Thames and may have been the local church for Christopher Marlowe, John Evelyn and the young man that became Peter the Great.

But have you heard of Christ Church in Deptford? This was another Church of England Church and parish. A huge building as the demand for pews soared in the late nineteenth century.

A contemporary account of the consecration conducted by the Bishop of London on the 27th December, 1864 explains that the new church replaced a temporary structure that had been used by the Rev John Polkinghorne Courtenay and the London Diocesan Home Mission. The site cost £7,000 – quite a sum then – that had been used as a saw mill and a kamptulicon floorcloth factory.

Local people and wealthy supporters sponsored the stained glass windows and these included Lady Anstruther, the widow of Sir Ralph Anstruther. He had supported the work of the mission and visited Deptford regularly. The church was gaslit – there was a local gasworks nearby.

Photograph courtesy National Portrait Gallery.

In the “The History of Deptford” by Nathan Dews, published in 1884, it says:

“The reredos is a stone representation of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous picture of the last supper. The pulpit and reading desk are also of stone richly carved.”

“Attached to the church is a commodious iron School Room in Reginald Road, where much parochial work of a practical character is being carried on, including Provident Sick Clubs with 800 members; Mothers’ Meetings; Blanket Club; Maternity Society; Parochial library and a Provident Dispensary.”

The curate Rev Robert Pratt, MA succeeded the first vicar, Rev J P Courtenay who died on 1st December 1882. However, in her History of Everyday Deptford, Jess Steele describes the Rev Pratt of Christ Church’s failure “that was so complete that his main funding had been withdrawn on the grounds that no one came to church. The Sunday School attracted around 200 children but Pratt commented that “the Ragged School gets the cream of them”.”

The Deptford Ragged & Industrial School is shown on the map at the corner of Giffin Street and Cross Street.

The saw mill was near the tide mill hence the name Tidemill for the school.

Christ Church is clearly shown on maps dating from 1900 opposite the ‘Addey’s School’ on Deptford Church Street and the Mission Hall is accessed from Reginald Road. It must have been a sizeable structure as it has ‘seats for 400’.

The maps of the 1930s clearly show the site of Christ Church off Deptford Church Street and the road layout has altered with Regent Street and Stanhope Street demolished. The site of the mission hall is between Hales Street and Reginald Road.

Even today, the site of Christ Church can be pin pointed to where the ‘pink palace’ is today.

The mission hall would be off Reginald Road as before. The parcels of land remain delineated on the 2022 google map.

Christ Church was demolished in 1937 after bomb damage presumably in the first world war. Documents show that there was a Zeppelin raid over Deptford near the docks about Midnight on 24-25th August 1916.

Also, there is a war memorial in Brockley cemetery that was paid for by the public – ‘By The Citizens of Deptford in Memory of 17 Residents Named Here Who Were Killed by Bombs From German Zeppelins During Raids on The Nights of September 7th 1915 And August 24th 1916.’

The parish of Christ Church was then merged with St Nicholas Church in 1936 to form the parish of St Nicholas with Christ Church.

Some of the land was sold by the Church Commissioners for the provision of public housing.

Beckenham Place Park – New Plans Published

Long awaited plans for the eastern side of Beckenham Place Park have been published by Lewisham Council. A full planning application is open for consultation and comment until 2nd February 2022.

The improvement of the eastern side of Beckenham Place Park was to be delivered as part of a flood alleviation scheme in partnership with the Enivornment Agency.

The major flood plans included a 10 site flood alleviation scheme which sought to protect Lewisham and Catford town centres from river or fluvial flooding. Beckenham Place Park was to be the holding reservoir for flood waters in times of exceptionally high flow. However, in summer of 2018 the EA concluded that the cost of the scheme they had designed had risen too significantly from initial cost estimates to be cost effective or deliverable within the government funding protocols they must work within. As a result, the scheme was cancelled. Lewisham Council had committed up to £2million for this.

Also, the Heritage Lottery Fund had expected that the whole of the park would be restored, and the funding bid to the HLF was made on that basis, however none of the HLF project budget was committed to the eastern side of the park.

Beckenham-Place-Park-East-Proposals-2022-DC_21_124643-ILLUSTRATIVE_MASTERPLAN-1050892

“Beckenham Place Park is Lewisham’s largest park by far; indeed it is the one
of the largest parks in London, and South east London’s biggest open space.
At 95 hectares it is 30% bigger than Greenwich Park. It boasts ancient
woodland, meadow, parkland, a river and several historic buildings. It was
originally acquired by the London County Council to be the key amenity space
for the new estates of Bellingham and Downham”
– Lewisham Council Sustainable Development Committee report April 2017

Beckenham Place Park is full of history. There are listed buildings including the Mansion House built about 1773 for John Cator (1728-1806) . Cllr Alan Hall has called for a ‘root and branch‘ review of of the park’s financing in the past.

Funding for the restoration of the Grade II* Mansion House remains to be secured.

Beckenham-Place-Park-Design-Proposals-2022-East-side-DC_21_124643-DESIGN-1050926

Please take time to examine the planning application and write to planning@lewisham.gov.uk with any comments.