29 May 2010

Two of South Camberwell’s Councillors are Southwark Cabinet Members. Peter John is Leader of the Council and Veronica is Cabinet member for culture, leisure, sport and the Olympics. I know they will serve our Southwark with passion and excellence.

Some of the immediate challenges for the Cabinet include the terms on which Southwark enters into any deal for the regeneration of the Elephant and Castle; making every council home warm, dry and safe, and finding funding so that we can implement the pledge to introduce free healthy school meals for all primary school children in the borough.

I was elected by the Southwark Labour Group as a deputy whip and at the first full Council meeting appointed as Vice-Chair of the Planning Committee. Much of the first few weeks have been taken up with training and induction.

A number of organisations and individuals, on and off the record, have commented about how difficult it was to get a meeting with the old administration.

One essential for any elected representative is to listen and to know when to “shut up and listen”. As a community campaigner with strong views I know this will be my biggest challenge.

Southwark’s Labour administration are committed to building a fair future for all and they will be listening to what the people of Southwark have to say as we look to deliver in some key priority areas. I am very keen to see our green spaces protected and we must double recycling as an essential contribution to working for a non-carbon future. We will need to cut back on wasteful spending and protect frontline services and there will be many tough decisions ahead.

So with this in mind, we have decided to hold some Planning Committee meetings at Southwark’s Tooley Street offices rather than at the Town Hall. Many applications come from the north of the borough and it makes sense to hold meetings to deal with these applications at Tooley Street so that local residents can easily attend and take part in the process. The Planning Committee meeting scheduled for 29th June 2010 will take place at Tooley Street on the ground floor in a space that can accommodate the large numbers who turn up and are otherwise uncomfortably crammed into the traditional space at the Town Hall.

Yesterday, I attended the pre-hearing by the Inspector on Southwark’s Core Strategy. It was interesting to see so many familiar faces all keen to improve on the soundness of the Core Strategy.

Finally, it was a great joy to watch Tayo Situ installed as Mayor of Southwark. He has chosen Macmillan Cancer Support as his charity appeal

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