Tag Archives: southwark council

HAGGLE FOR THE HEART OF THE ELEPHANT – ALL SET FOR TUESDAY 30th!!

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For once in our lifetime at Southwark Notes, we get to write something we’ve never ever written: The Council rejected a Planning Application that sought more luxury flats in The Elephant.

Savour that news, for now, as we have been savouring it too since Tues January 16th when after an epic 7 hour meeting, Delancey’s plans to knock down The Elephant Shopping Centre were put on hold.

Even more impressive was the remarkable re-grouping of the Elephant community. From the old campaigns who have been dogged in their graft from day one, to the new student and staff activists from London College of Communications (LCC), the formidable traders and their supporters, the media work being done by some to get the campaign’s voices out in print and video, and the folks from other parts of London nervous how any luxury over-development of The Elephant will impact their much-loved communities.

It’s been a joyful ride these last few weeks! In fact, we had tears in our eyes when we marched with you all on Tues 16th; 200 strong, up Borough High St to the gates of Southwark Council’s castle in Tooley St. A certain magic enabled us to all get into the Town Hall and make enough noise for the planning committee to know the community was at the door and not just online!!

 

DEVELOPERS FIGHT BACK. STUDENTS PULL A BLINDER

The last week has seen an amusing counter-PR campaign by the developer Delancey. They set up Twitter accounts to promote all the benefits as they want them to be seen. ‘They’ being an unaccountable offshore-registered, tax-avoiding client fund, so the benefits they see are only ever making ££££ for their investors. There was even a petition set up by the mysterious ‘Zara Hindle’ to encourage locals to support Delancey’s plans. In the end, the PR guff didn’t garner a lot of support. People can see it for what it is, a desperate move by a desperate developer.

The petition accused the campaigns of being an aggressive minority! Well, two things we know for sure are, yes we are aggressive in our assertion of being a community defending itself from the sheer violence of this ‘regeneration’ plan. As for being a minority, this community has organised countless public meetings, gathered online objections to the plan (900+) and pulled together a large and growing band of people determined to defeat this land grab. All this done for love and on a shoestring. There’s certainly no offshore bank accounts paying for any of our hard work.

And we can’t say we’ve seen much love for the plans: at the Planning Meeting on Jan 16th where space is given for someone local to support the plan, not a soul in the room spoke in favour.

In the last weeks too, students at LCC have been doing amazing organising to expose the College’s shameless partnership with Delancey. LCC is brazen in its support of Delancey against the wishes of the local community and have been very heavy-handed in dealing with any internal discussions that staff have tried to have about the LCC’s possible role in the social cleansing of the area.

LCC Occupation – Here

HOLD TIGHT! STAND FIRM! (and apply a pinch of salt…)

But despite all of this amazing campaigning and coming together, the dice is always loaded. We are not being cynical when we say that this is just the start. We face the long haul now and the campaigns have to stay sharp. We are going to be as honest as we can right now and say that the work of some local councillors on this campaign has been great and we’ve even heard a councillor or two say the word ‘gentrification’ here and there. Interesting times. But councillors, as ever, are as accountable to their communities and this round of speaking up remains to be tested over the next years. We are not being spiteful to remind people that not so long ago some of those same councillors sat in the same planning meeting as we all and approved the demolition of the Heygate Estate or the Aylesbury plans. But if there now is a sea change in local Labour party politics coming from pressure from local party members, and the national direction of the party, that’s great. Do your best! Just remember that the trust broken for years cannot be re-established in one night.

For us, we want to continue from this new found determination to defeat the social cleansing of the Elephant and beyond. We want local communities setting the agenda of what we want and what we clearly don’t want. And, of course this means support for our neighbours at the Aylesbury Estate where more of the same disaster is being dumped top-down onto tenants and residents. There is ample space now for local ward councillors there to be less pro-regeneration and listen better to the serious concerns of the community campaign on the Aylesbury. The ongoing Public Inquiry to the attempt to Compulsorily Purchase people’s homes on the Aylesbury has more than enough evidence and facts on how bad this ‘regeneration’ scheme is and will be for Walworth for generations to come.

 SHOPPIN CENTRE JAN 30TH 2018

NO SELL-OUT & NO STITCH UP ON TUESDAY 30th!

The community’s campaigning has made all the right and best arguments for the Elephant and we’ve all been backing them up with action. On Tues 30th January, the planning application is back at Southwark’s Planning Meeting. The pressure to pass the plan must be enormous on those sitting on the Planning Committee. It’s not even so clear what is possible at that Planning Meeting. The Council’s planning team has been publicly saying the reasons for refusing the plans are weak. Will there be more back-room wheeler-dealing like we saw at 1AM in the morning on Tues 16th! We hope not.

Once again, the community has called for a large mobilisation at the Town Hall. We say again: for any Londoner who fears for London becoming more and more a place for the rich and the wealthy at an extreme cost to the fabric of our local areas, please come down and support the battle for the heart of the Elephant. We are calling for a COMMUNITY CARNIVAL to demand that the vote is respected and that there is no STITCH UP! And we will be there to make sure this doesn’t happen!

Bring your campaign banners, flags, mobile sound systems, energies and passions! See you all there!

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Interview with the LCC Occupation against Social Cleansing of The Elephant

On Tuesday 23rd January a hearty and determined band of students at London College of Communications (LCC) occupied once again a part of the college to highlight and organise around the complicity of LCC in the social cleansing of the area. We asked them questions about how things are and the activities and responses they are getting through the act of occupation. Massive love and respect to the Occupiers!!

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How is the occupation going?

Occupation is going well. We’ve since the start refused to show IDs, give our names or otherwise reveal our identity so for instance whenever any of us have had to pass the barriers to enter the rest of the building we’ve only been using Sahaya’s (campaigns officer at Arts SU) staff card. An arbitrary rule they’ve imposed where only the “original 14” people who took the space on Tuesday evening can occupy the office, compromising our right to free speech and protest (we’re working on changing that). In part due to the “original 14” rule we have around half a dozen or so people at any given point.

The university stepped up security on Friday by starting to do ID and bag searches outside the building (so before the barriers within LCC) however we still managed to sneak more people into the building to occupy the foyer staying overnight however since they weren’t part of the “original 14” they weren’t even allowed access to the toilet. The university is now threatening disciplinary action against Sahaya as the Student Union officer who they know let the new people in through the fire exit, this is very lightly an empty threat but proves they’re upping the intimidation tactics.

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How do you see the practical role of the occupation in the ongoing battle at the Elephant?

We’re here to put pressure on University of The Arts London (UAL) specifically due to their crucial role in the project’s ability to go ahead. As you know although Southwark Council requires that all housing developments comprise of a minimum of 35% affordable housing, half of which (17.5%) are to be social rents, only 3% of the planned housing in Delancey’s mixed-use development will be at ‘social rent equivalent’. This is a common loophole used in housing developments to avoid building the regulation amount of social housing is to partner up with institutions that are not technically for-profit, allowing the number of affordable homes the developer is required to build to be reduced.

In a meeting on 25th January between University of Arts London and Arts Students’ Union, Management confirmed that the new LCC campus is the lynch pin in the development allowing Delancey to exploit the social housing loophole. UAL has a reputation to maintain and by exposing management as complicit in social cleansing we hope that UAL realises the gravity of the situation and how many people are willing to fight to maintain the community that has been built around Elephant & Castle.

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What has been LCC’s response to the occupation and what kind of dialogue would you like with LCC?


We’ve sent LCC our demands which are:
We demand UAL release a statement on its website by the end of today (Jan 28th) which states that UAL:

commits to only accepting a plan that provides for majority social housing, in not just elephant and castle but any future development plan it’s a part of.

should use its role in any development plan to ensure genuine transparency, accountability and involvement of the community that lives and works where the development is going to take place.

We believe LCC’s response which arrived late on Friday to be totally unsatisfactory. They detailed that ‘the University has been meeting with local councilors and working with Delancey to seek a solution to the concerns about the development they have raised including at the planning hearing and that process is ongoing.” Another aspect of our dialogue is that LCC have tried to pass on responsibility for the decision making process to Southwark Council, saying they ‘expect Southwark Council to ensure adequate levels of social housing…. and we cannot… stipulate how and where the Council will deliver this provision“.

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What are practical ways can people support the occupation? Has it been possible for outside support to come?

People can like and share our posts on Facebook facebook.com/StopTheElephantDevelopment, follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/OccupyElephant and instagram.com/stoptheelephantdevelopment  members of the community and students and staff at UAL can fill out our survey here: goo.gl/forms/29M8IqSSwkPgj0qF2.

As we’ve covered we’re having difficulties getting people into the actual occupation, but if we can get more people join us in the sit-in in the foyer outside the office, we always need more numbers.

We’re also having a campaign meeting and banner making session tomorrow Monday 29th Jan at 6pm at LCC, facebook event here: www.facebook.com/events/277895256073648/ .



What’s the occupation’s message for the Tues 30th Carnival?

We’re obviously doing what we can to mobilise students and have had extensive discussions about what we do on the 30th do we leave to join the protest and if so how?

We’re going to do everything we can to use the Monday and Tuesday to really engage UAL students, build lasting connections which we’ll hopefully be able to turn into a sustainable activist base and on talks, education and placard and banner making for the 30th.

We’re hoping that someone from the local campaigns would be up for coming and speaking again tomorrow at 6pm at campaign meeting we’re having that would be fantastic.
In solidarity,
The Occupation

 

They also did some great mainstream media stories:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/25/students-sit-in-university-social-cleaning-london-stop-elephant-castle

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/university-gentrification-ual-ucl-delancy-lendlease-acceptable-face-a8179816.html

What Do We Mean When We Say ‘The Council’?

After many years of writing about Southwark Council and its policies and plans we thought it might be useful to say what we mean when we say ‘the Council’. That’s because with friends of ours working in the Council and with reports that Southwark Notes is often seen in passing on the computer screens of Southwark administrative workers, when we say ‘the Council’ we know that such a body is made up of more than those who lead and direct it’s regeneration policies.

When we say ‘the Council’ we know there are hundreds of Southwark workers who have nothing to do with making decisions to decant the Heygate or who aren’t making deals with housing associations to demolish the Aylesbury. We know there are hundreds of workers who have no say or part in the decision to approve planning applications for more luxury flats in The Elephant or Peckham or Rotherhithe. We know that all those workers are powerless in most ways to prevent the knock on effects of more and more expensive property as local private and business rents shoot ever skyward.

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Like any workplace, the majority of people are working hard to enable them to pay the rent, to buy food, to buy stuff and to survive each month. They aren’t super well paid for this daily grind. Working for the Council can be stressful, alienating, total pressure as bureaucrats above, managers above, Cabinet members above seek to put into place Council policy and Council responses to what’s happening across the Borough. Part of this is the inevitable top-down bullshit of any workplace. We know enough Council workers in enough departments to know that decisions get passed down from managers that just seem stupid, ill thought through or arbitrary. That’s not to say there’s not excellent managers in the different Council department and services but to recognise that often for many workers they are simply doing the job they are told to do.

So when we write or say ‘the Council’ in regards to the ‘regeneration’ and gentrification of Southwark, we are not referring to some monolithic machine. We know there are loads of workers there who don’t agree with what’s happening in the realms of regeneration and think it’s ridiculous and wrong to pursue such social cleansing. We know there are loads of workers who actually live in either Council homes that could be affected by demolition and displacement or who live locally in private rented homes where the landlords are increasing the rents almost bi-annually. We know there are loads of Council workers who want their own children to be able to afford to rent or buy locally but who know that such an option is becoming more and more unlikely. We even know a few Council workers who moved out of the Borough as their wages could no longer cover local rents in Southwark!

 

TWEEDLEDUM & TWEEDLEDEE

For us Southwark Notes folks, and for all the other local campaigners against the disasters of this ‘regeneration’ regime, well, we have jobs and commitments too. Some of us have families that we care for, both locally and further afield. For the Council big-wigs, It might seem like we have nothing better to do than scrutinise them and try to hold them accountable for what they are and aren’t doing. Well, we are proud to say that very far from being ‘keyboard warriors’, we are active across many local societies and TRA’s, amenity and service groups, community centres as well as having deep and long term connections to where we live in Southwark. We do what we do, day in and day out because we love where we live and we love all those great people we work with. We say it all the time – we are not against change in Southwark out of some bloody mindedness. Our website has clearly stated from day one: ‘We don’t think it’s wrong to demand that a regeneration scheme enhances the quality of our lives. We don’t think it’s wrong to oppose gentrification. In this way it turns out that our negativity is really only a mask for our positive wish for all of us to live our lives free from those who pretend to act in our interests but are only ever about giving even more of what we’ve got away to those who already have too much!

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The local politics we all do is always much more in depth and dynamic than the Tweedledum and Tweedledee of Labour and LibDem arguments. We have probably zero faith in any of these political parties, if we ever did in the first place. For Labour, local campaigns are viewed as a pain in the ass that just won’t bow down to some supposed ‘mandate’ they have from an average of 35% turnout in ward elections. If it wasn’t for the Information Commissioners Office, the GLA or Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, they would happily continue to ignore the numerous scandals, outrages and arrogance that all we Southwark campaigns post online week by week.

For LibDems, we have no idea what they want as they have been a useless opposition to Heygate and Aylesbury estate clearances and local luxury property developments. Seeing as one of the most rapidly understood realities by Londoners in the last few years has been how local Council’s love-ins with private housing market has been a disaster for age-old communities, you would think they would be banging on about this a bit more aggressively. But strangely, no!

 

THERE’S NO JUSTICE BUT LUCKILY THERE IS JUST US

As we always say, it’s really up to us. By this we mean the local campaigns, the TRA’s, the local park supporters, the community centres, the volunteer groups, the pensioners groups, the youth clubs and so on to keep defending what we have and what we don’t want to give away to property developers. It’s up to us and we won’t be stopping anytime soon.

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So when we write or say ‘the Council’, we are saying it’s up to Council workers too to be part of this local opposition in whatever way you can. We reserve our contempt for those Cabinet Members, executive officers and Councillors who are the main engine of regeneration as it plays out locally. You know, the kind of Council representatives who seem all nice and caring in public (on the TV or in the newspapers) but when they come to the community they treat them with a contempt they themselves are mostly unable to see. Just ask Ledbury tenants right now for the difference in behaviour from the night of their delegation to the Town Hall when councilors acted like their saviours and how they are actually being treated by councilors and housing managers day to day.

Any road up, we’ve had a few titbits, rumours and the occasional leak* passed our way from Council workers and that’s been helpful. When this happens we are always grateful. But we mean more than just this. We mean that local Council workers in whatever capacity they can act, can be part of opposing phony regeneration schemes and the disastrous social cleansing policies of ‘the Council’. What this looks like on the ground, in Council offices, in Tooley St, on the street, in the unions or local party branches etc we just don’t know. We’re just hoping to reach out and tell you what we mean when we write or say ‘the Council’.

You can contact us at elephantnotes(at)yahoo.co.uk
Follow us on Twitter @SouthwarkNotes


 

 

Concrete Action is a platform to provide support for architecture and planning professionals and communities fighting for housing in London. They say ‘If you have access to information which you believe is being wrongfully withheld from the public, we are here for you. Whistle-blowing has a proud history of helping to create change! By speeding up the availability of information through direct action it creates pressure on the existing system – we are not against development in principle, but we want development for and with all residents of the city. If you have information the public ought to know, please get in touch. Do not send us information which has been obtained by criminal means, personal information about you or anyone else, or any other information which it would not be in the public interest to publish’.

See here for how.

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