Lewisham Labour Supports WASPI Campaign

Lewisham Labour supports the WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) campaign. A motion calling on the Government to rethink their current state pension arrangements was agreed by Lewisham Council in July. The text is here.

Women born on or after 6th April 1951 have been unfairly affected by the changes to State Pension Age. Many have been pushed into financial hardship. Some women were not informed of the changes until two years before retirement.

Around 20,000 women in Lewisham are affected by the Government’s changes. Including those women will be £12,000 worse off due to the changes. Others will have to retire 6 years later than they had originally thought. WASPI is not against equalisation of the state pension, but is calling for fair transitional arrangements.

Councillor Alan Hall said: “Changes to pension arrangements should be done with the long term in mind and proper notice is required. This is unfair to women and I think transitional arrangements should be put in place now.”

WASPI south London has thanked Lewisham Council agreeing the WASPI Motion calling for transitional arrangements to be put in place for these 1950s women.

Loss of Lewisham MP seat would be a Travesty – Boundary Commission should rethink plans

Leading Lewisham Councillor Alan Hall has attacked plans to cut Lewisham’s representation in Parliament following changes currently recommended by the Boundary Commission.

Cllr Alan Hall has demanded a ‘rethink’ by the Commission because, despite an increase of Lewisham’s voters this year by nearly one fifth (18%), the Commission is set to cut Lewisham’s MPs from 3 to 2.

Cllr Alan Hall, Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee recently proposed in a unanimous Council motion resulting in a letter from Chief Executive Barry Quirk to the Commission urging a fairer result for the borough.

“Fair representation is the cornerstone of democracy” said Cllr Hall “and anyone can see that the figures show that it would be a travesty if Lewisham loses a parliamentary seat when its voters have increased by a fifth.

“The Government is trying to gerrymander Parliamentary seats and the Boundary Commission must be bold and recommend changes to the plans.

“The population of Lewisham and London is still growing and the new parliamentary seats would likely be in place for a decade, as the last one was, so the figures demand a rethink by the Commission. I am looking forward to an urgent response to our letter”.

Update: The Boundary Commission have published their proposal and they recommend one seat wholly in Lewisham and two seats with are cross borough see here

Councillor Alan Hall said: “The London Borough of Lewisham will be under represented if these parliamentary boundary changes go ahead. The numbers on the electoral register are up nearly 20% and the population is growing due to demographics and developments. The proposals have one MP in Lewisham and two MPs with cross borough boundaries – one with Greenwich and one with Southwark. Fair representation is the cornerstone of democracy and this does not reflect the population and looks like gerrymandering.”

  1. Figures released by the Electoral Commission (a separate body to the Boundary Commission) during the EU referendum state the electorate in Lewisham has gone up a huge 18% see: Electoral Commission
  1. The motion agreed by Lewisham Council is here

Newsshopper article here

PROPOSED NEW CHANGES TO SE LONDON NHS IN DANGER OF CAUSING ‘BACK DOOR’ CLOSURES OF A&E DEPARTMENTS

7942205The lead scrutiny councillor on Lewisham Council, Alan Hall, is calling on ministers and NHS bosses to ensure that a review of orthopaedic services in south east London does not become a back-door programme to close Accident and Emergency departments.

Cllr Alan Hall, Chair of the borough’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, was commenting on the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP  part of Our Healthier South East London (OHSEL) which proposes that planned orthopaedic operations currently carried out at 5 south east London hospitals be cut back to 2 specialist centres.

Cllr Alan Hall said: “Many people following this process already have well-founded concerns about the lack of transparency and consultation so far and the knock-on effects of ending planned operations at local south east London hospitals.

“It is widely understood that the loss of elective orthopaedic operations would likely also mean the loss of funding, different types of clinical expertise and staff training which are all vital back-ups to a fully functioning Accident and Emergency Department.

“The public expect that South East London continues to have our five Accident and Emergency Departments fully operational at Lewisham, King’s College, St.Thomas’, Princess Royal in Farnborough and Greenwich.

“There must be no back-door closures of A&E units as a result of any planned changes.”

Cllr Hall was speaking at Lewisham Town Hall at a scrutiny meeting jointly held by the six south London boroughs of Lewisham, Lambeth, Southwark, Greenwich, Bexley and Bromley which was looking at the plans.

He went on to say: “I have called for the full publication of these ‘secret’ NHS plans and now the OHSEL proposals make this more acute. The public deserves to have an informed consultation on any changes to our local NHS. Full disclosure of the STP for SE London is the first step.”

“Surgeons and medics have reviewed the proposal for two new Orthopaedic Centres and they have expressed concerns. Before the public are consulted there should be a strong clinical case with evidence clearly presented.

“The changes could be quite costly to implement and there is already a view that the current elective orthopaedic services are already effective and efficient and that the money would be better spent by investing in them.”

If the two centres chosen are Guy’s Hospital – part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust –  and Orpington Hospital – part of King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust – then Lewisham A&E would be the most vulnerable A&E Department with this change.

The Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee did not agree that consultation on two new Orthopaedic Centres should go ahead until they had seen the basis for that option.

ENDS

Editor’s Notes

The NHS Clinical Senate has made recommendations on the two orthopaedic centre proposals in South East London this report is here

The Government has ordered that the NHS must have Sustainability and Transformation Plans and have not released the full version for South East London. The full South East London – Sustainability and Transformation Plan should be released to allow informed and transparent decision making

  • Any option for change should include the enhanced status quo at the current sites as mentioned in the Clinical Senate report
  • Loss of elective orthopaedics on the viability of all current Trusts – hospitals – supporting an A&E is a consideration – major trauma as well as other trauma centres see Clinical Senate report
  • If the consultation goes ahead then all options must be included – not just Guys and Orpington
  • Capital finance is scarce therefore the most efficient use of capital that improves services is a consideration

Councillor Alan Hall is Chair of Lewisham’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee consisting of 45 Non Executive Councillors of all parties. He is a member of the Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee looking at Our Healthier South East London – NHS changes to local services across SE London.

Campaign group 38 degrees have said: “Health Minister Jeremy Hunt has a secret plan to force through changes to local NHS services to cut costs. The changes – called “sustainability and transformation plans” – are being kept secret. [1] But they could mean cuts to hospital beds, local walk-in centres or family planning services near you… No wonder Jeremy Hunt doesn’t want us to see them.”

A meeting of the Joint Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee – JHOSC – consisting of Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark Councillors will meet at Lewisham Town Hall at 7pm on Tuesday 11th October 7pm the papers are here.

Health and Care systems across the country are being asked to put together local Sustainability and Transformation Plans to address gaps in funding and care over the next five years.

Bellingham Assembly supports Community Sports and Spirit

Bellingham’s Labour Councillors today reveal the fourteen community projects that have been awarded a share of the £15,000 Bellingham Assembly Fund. The Fund, an initiative of Lewisham Council, exists to support projects that engage the local community in Assembly priority areas. Bellingham’s priorities are to engage young people; focus on issues affecting older people; deliver community events and festivals and promote and develop Bellingham as a stronger community.

“We had an extremely successful application process, attracting bids totalling more than twice the amount of funding available”, said Cllr Jacq Paschoud, who hosted the event on Thursday 13th October at Watergate School where the winners were announced. She continued “In Bellingham we strive to be as inclusive as possible and give our residents a real voice in community decision-making. This year we ran a marketplace style event where all the bidders ‘set out their stalls’, informally chatting about their proposed projects with the residents who then had the chance to vote for their preferred projects. To minimise any tactical voting each voter had a minimum of six bids that they could support”.

14 of the 15 bids were successful and will deliver a broad mix of activity for Bellingham. Bellingham Community Project can provide two free monthly play sessions for local children with Special Educational Needs; Bellingham Football Club is coming home to engage local youths in wellbeing and mindfulness through the beautiful game; the whole community can get involved in the annual Bellingham Festival which will take place on Bellingham Green next Summer; all of the local churches will join forces to support a befriending scheme for elderly citizens; and the PYE Project (Positive Youth Education) will begin a knife crime prevention and awareness scheme for young teenagers.

Emmanuel Imuere, Founder and Director of the PYE Project, said “I set up PYE over 10 years ago as a project inspired by the need for BAME-led, grass roots youth organisations in South East London. I am determined to see a reduction in young people becoming involved with criminality, gangs and violence. This funding will allow us to deliver an intervention course to 13 and 14 year olds at risk of becoming involved in knife crime”.

Cllr Alan Hall said “The Bellingham Assembly has decided to support community sports and community spirit. Fostering a sense of pride in our community by supporting Carols on the Green and the Bellingham summer festival in these times of austerity is more important than ever.”

Notes to editors

Bellingham is an area in South East London, in the London Borough of Lewisham.

Bellingham is served by three Labour Councillors: Alan Hall, Sue Hordijenko and Jacq Paschoud pictured.

TRADE UNIONS, COFFEE CO-OPS AND THE AMBASSADOR

Last night (Weds 2/11/16) Nicaragua’s Ambassador to London, Guiselle Morales-Echaverry and Christine Blower, former General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, spoke on solidarity with Nicaragua at the London headquarters of trade union Unite.

Christine spoke of the local education improvements in the rural areas of Nicaragua and the high levels of participation. The trade unions had worked well together and that British trade unionists had a long and enduring friendship with their Nicaraguan brothers and sisters. The Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign Action Group promotes the trade union links.

Ambassador Guiselle Morales- Echaverry told of the impact of successful government policies on global warming and gender equality. She also gave an assessment of the Nicaraguan elections due later in November. Polls suggest a lead for the current President Daniel Ortega but turnout is expected to be high.

It was a real pleasure to meet the Ambassador again as earlier this year we welcomed the Ambassador to a civic reception at Lewisham Town Hall as part of our town twinning link with Matagalpa a coffee and cocoa region in Nicaragua. She once again sent warm greetings to Lewisham.

Recently, I and other Lewisham Co-op party members met Ivania Calderon Peralta, a board member of Matagalpa’s Cecocafen Coffee Coop, who was in London to launch the Fairtrade Foundations’s international fairer trade strategy Fairtrade Can, I Can.

Around 30,000 people benefit from the work of Cecocafen and its shared resources that help poorer farmers access technology, higher production standards, marketing and education. (If you search for Cecocafen with Google Chrome you get the option of translating the website into English). You can also see a video about Cecocafen here with subtitles.

 Lewisham Coop Party is exploring ways of helping Cecocafen market their delicious coffee to residents, shops, cafes and restaurants in Lewisham (yes, I tried it and it’s much better than the stuff we currently have at the town hall!).

NHS REPORT SHOWS £1bn POUND SHORTFALL AND CONCERN OVER POTENTIAL CLOSURE OF LEWISHAM HOSPITAL A&E AS STP IS FINALLY PUBLISHED

ah-junior-doctors-kingsLewisham’s leading scrutiny councillor, Alan Hall has welcomed the final publication of plans to remodel the NHS in south east London but is telling NHS bosses that they must pass a series of tests before councillors will support or agree to their implementation.

“The report has confirmed our deep concerns about some serious flaws in the plans” said Cllr Alan Hall Chair of Lewisham Council’s powerful Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

“There is nearly a £1bn shortfall over the next four years, there is a £12m shortfall for ambulance services, there is a further £80m shortfall due to poorer-than-expected financial performance and the changes to orthopaedic services could spell the end of Lewisham A&E.

“Because of all of these threats, I want to apply four key tests that this process has to pass. Are the plans transparent and open? Is the funding in place?  Are the public being fully consulted? And finally will services improve?”

Notes For Editors:

Our Healthier South East London – NHS Plans on the STP are here

Cllr Alan Hall went on to say: “I am pleased that we now have final sight of it but make no mistake, it does contain potential backdoor methods for closing Lewisham A&E as well as other matters of great concern.

While I welcome and embrace the opportunity to improve NHS services through greater cooperation and coordination, we must not be blinded by the deliberately complicated smokescreen of complex processes and documents leading to many and various consultations.

The key tests I apply are the plans transparent, are they open, is the funding in place and have the public been fully consulted and will services improve.

We all know that Council budgets are reducing across the six boroughs and that increasing community care provision against this backdrop is as they say “challenging”.

Further to this, last night Greenwich Council’s Health Scrutiny meeting have challenged the CCG attempts to award a large contract to Circle Health a private provider rather than our local hospital. Taking money from our local hospital further undermines the ability of the Trust to keep two A&E Department open. Spirits were high and councillors challenged  NHS England and the proposers of the plans.

It was great to see Dr Tony O’Sullivan who played a key role in the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign give an impressive take down of the proposals and it was reassuring to hear Eltham MP Clive Efford say to Circle: “We’re a Labour borough with a Labour Council and Labour MPs, we don’t want you here.”

A critical analysis of  NHS STPs is available on Open democracy here

Update: Monday, 14th November I have written to Barry Quirk, Chief Executive at Lewisham Council who chaired the STP process in SE London to publish all the appendices and associated documents submitted as part this process.

Cheers! It’s a knockout as Council gives full planning backing to the Fellowship Inn

fellowship-inn-reproduce-henry-cooper-pints-oct-2016-ahLewisham Council has given formal planning permission to Phoenix Community Housing Co-op to restore the Grade II listed Fellowship Inn, Bellingham, where British boxing legend and local resident Henry Cooper once trained and where rock legends Eric Clapton and Fleetwood Mac once performed.

Bellingham councillor and Phoenix Board Member Alan Hall (see photo) said: “I am simply delighted. We have been given the green light to renew and restore one of London’s historic, landmark pubs.

“Once completed, we expect to see The Fellowship quickly become the beating heart of the community with so much life and activity. I can’t wait for the work to begin.”

The mock-Tudor pub was built in the mid-1920s to serve the residents of the London County Council’s newly built Bellingham estate and part of the ‘homes fit for heroes’ promise by Lloyd-George after the First World War.

As well as the pub itself, the building will have a restored dance hall, cinema and theatre and a new lift to make the community hub fully accessible. The project was awarded £4 million from the Heritage Lottery fund in October.

ENDS

Editor’s Notes:

The planning committee met on Thursday, 17th November. The full report is here
Click on the link for information on the Heritage Lottery Fund Grant is here