Stop demolitions and requisition empty homes!

Dear Friend

I hope you have been keeping well during these difficult times.

The Up the Elephant campaign has been working with Latin Elephant and Southwark Law Centre, to help shopping centre traders through the Coronavirus crisis and with their relocation plans. According to Southwark Council 45 traders have now been relocated, with 28 applications rejected. Traders can also draw on two funds – the relocation and transition funds – and Latin Elphant and SLC have been doing great work helping traders with this.

The campaign has also joined with eighteen other groups to send an open letter to Southwark demanding that it Stop demolitions and requisition empty homes to help solve the housing crisis.

There will also be a socially distanced protest to open up empty homes this Thurs 4 June 6pm, outside Pret a Manger
One the Elephant, 1 St Gabriel Walk, Elephant and Castle, London SE1 6SA
FB Event here

This is a socially distanced protest. Please bring a mask or face covering and stay 2 metres apart.

Regards
Jerry
PS We will be having an on-line meeting very shortly – notice and link to follow.

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Blue Anchor Lane

LondonSouthwark SE16 3UQ

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COVID-19 updates, tackling the climate emergency and more

 

Cllr Peter John OBE

Dear resident,

Another sunny weekend awaits but our message stays the same – please stay at home as much as possible to stop the virus spreading.

I want to thank everyone, including council staff and members of the public, who have been working so hard to keep our parks and open spaces clean and safe. We can all do our bit to help by using our parks responsibly. Please keep your distance from others, don’t have barbecues and take your rubbish home with you. Let’s work together to look after our parks, so we can all enjoy them.

It’s hard to believe that three years have passed since the dreadful terror attacks in London Bridge and Borough in which eight people were murdered and dozens more injured. On 3rd June we will remember those lives lost, and all those harmed on that terrible night, with a service hosted by Southwark Cathedral. Given the current lockdown restrictions the memorial service will be held virtually on Southwark Cathedral’s website. Whether or not you are able to join the service, I know you will join me in remembering those lost on that sunny evening three years ago, and keep their friends and families firmly in your thoughts.

Best wishes,

Cllr Peter John


Letter to Residents from Minister of State for Housing

Dear TRA Chair,

Please see the below and attached  Covid-19 Letter to Social Housing Residents links to an important communication concerning Coronavirus from the Minister of State for Housing, the Right Honourable Christopher Pincher, MP:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/885686/Covid19_Letter_to_social_housing_residents.pdf

Kind regards,

George Changua

Tenant & Homeowner Support Officer

Southwark Council || Communities Division || Housing & Modernisation

160 Tooley Street || 5th Floor || Hub 3 || SE1 2QH

T: 0207 525 3326 || E: george.changua@southwark.gov.uk || Website: www.southwark.gov.uk

www.southwark.gov.uk/mysouthwark For council services at your fingertips, register online.

Update on schools and other COVID-19 information

Cllr Peter John OBE

Dear resident,

As we look forward to another bank holiday weekend it’s vital we remember we are still in lockdown and that we should still stay at home as much as possible. If you go out this weekend, please continue to follow the rules and keep your distance from others.

Next week is also the half-term holidays for schools. In these unprecedented times I want to pay tribute to school staff in Southwark who have been continuing to provide outstanding support and education for our children and young people in difficult circumstances and also to parents who have been supporting their children’s learning at home, whilst juggling other commitments.

We are working with our schools to establish whether more children can safely return to schools in Southwark from 1 June in line with government guidance. If a school cannot open safely we will support them to remain closed until they can open safely. Our priority is making sure our children return to school safely at the right time, not rushing to meet a specific deadline.

We want to understand how parents feel about education provision during lockdown, and changes to government guidance. Have your say on plans to reopen schools from 1 June, and how the council and schools can best support families over the coming months.

Thank you for helping to keep Southwark safe.

Cllr Peter John


Suggest ideas to make social distancing easier

We’re committed to quickly rolling out schemes to make travel safer during the COVID-19 crisis. Help us identify locations where we can make changes to help you get about safely.


ASB and dealing at Boughton and Balin

Hello Balin Residents,

As you may have seen on twitter, or heard early this morning, a drugs warrant was carried out by the Neighbourhood Tasking Team in Boughton House, where they arrested a male for Possession with Intent to Supply.

Whilst we were outside the block between 8-10am this morning, a known drug users came by whistling up to Boughton House before seeing us. We informed him a dealer was arrested. So the news must of spread as we didn’t see anyone else arrived in the time.

We understand this has caused residents a lot of concern, upset, and harassment. We will continue with patrols over the next 2 days we are in, to be in the face of the dealer and the users.

The male will be released today under investigation. So don’t be surprised that you may see him about.

We are now speaking with the Council regarding actions they can take in regards to their tenant.

Regards

Sarah & Richard

Chaucer Safer Neighbourhood Team

PC Sarah LOCK, PC Nigel QUINN & PCSO Richard SMITH

Southwark Police Station, 323 Borough High Street, LONDON, SE1 1JL

Tel 0208 721 2441

E-Mail CHAUCER.SNT@MET.POLICE.UK

Ward Promises:

1) Balin House re: ASB Drug Use

2) Meakin Est re: ASB Rough Sleepers/Drug/Drinkers

3) Berwick Court re: Mail Thefts

Follow us on Twitter @MPSChaucer or on Nextdoor App

Also see our webpage on www.met.police.uk

IN AN EMERGENCY, ALWAYS CALL 999

COVID-19: update on lockdown restrictions and other useful information

Cllr Peter John OBE

Dear resident,

Southwark, like the rest of the country, is still in lockdown, despite some changes to government guidance. We must all stay at home as much as possible and keep our distance from others if we need to go out.

Therefore, if you go outside this weekend, please keep 2m away from others. You should only go out with members of your household or meet one person – outside and at a 2m distance – who’s not from your household. We are working on a plan to open more areas for sports (more details below) but will only do this where and when we can do it safely.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, so much important work continues in Southwark. And today, as part of Foster Care Fortnight, I’d like to thank all of our extraordinary foster carers who continue to play such a vital role supporting children and young people in Southwark. If you think you could make a difference and have a spare room we’d love to talk to you about fostering.

Thank you for helping to keep Southwark safe.

Cllr Peter John


Highlights from our stay-at-home library

You can look at all the activities to keep you busy at home or check out our highlights below.

Get involved in the Race to Health, 25 May to 7 June

Looking for new ways to get active? Join in the Southwark Race to Health family challenge! A fun, two-week online exercise challenge where children and adults join a virtual local library team and try to complete 60 minutes of exercise every day to help your library win the race and win virtual medals for yourself.

Camberwell Arts Festival, 13 to 21 June

The festival is back and this time with its very first digital edition and a theme dedicated to the A–Z of Camberwell. Check out the full festival programme here.

Bold Tendencies creative learning workshops, 14 May to 30 June

Join a new, free, online creative learning workshops suitable for all ages and those with Special Educational Needs.

Watch Macbeth, free of charge.

Watch a Shakespeare’s Globe’s production of Macbeth – available free of charge on YouTube until secondary schools reopen.


Self-employment income support scheme is open

The government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme is now open for claims. Self-employed individuals can claim a taxable grant of 80% of average monthly trading profits. You can check if you are eligible and you can make a claim online.


 

Face masks and face coverings – IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Dear TRA Chair,

It has come to my attention that some TRAs have been considering applying for funding in order to purchase face masks and/or face covers, in order to take full – but safe – advantage of the recent (slight) relaxation in lockdown measures. Our colleagues in Public Health have issued the following message to us, which I am forwarding to you just in case your TRA is contemplating taking such a step:

  1.  Face masks should be used by front line health and care workers, or others carrying out essential works and coming within 2 metres of an individual, or who need to protect themselves from usual occupational hazards. The Government has urged the public not to buy medical-grade masks so as to ensure there is sufficient stock for these workers.
  1.  Face coverings can be made at home using a cloth, scarf, or bandana that ties behind the head. On Sunday, the Government suggested the public consider making their own face coverings to be worn in enclosed public spaces, e.g. on public transport or in shops, where social distancing cannot be maintained. The Government has advised that face coverings do not need to be worn outdoors, while exercising, or in workplaces such as offices and retail. They should also not be worn by anyone who may find them difficult to wear, e.g. small children and those who have problems breathing when wearing a face covering.
  1.  Importantly, face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing and they are really aimed at preventing the person wearing the covering from unknowingly passing on the virus, rather than protecting themselves from other people. To protect yourself, the advice remains to follow social distancing measures and isolation guidance, and to regularly wash hands. Any residents who are shielding are advised to continue to do so until at least the end of June

If you have any queries regarding this message, please contact the council’s Covid-19 response team at covidsupport@southwark.gov.uk or call 020 7525 5000, and ask for Public Health.

Kind regards,

 

John

John McCormack, BSc. (Hons.); MA; Cert. Ed.; PhD (London)

Tenant and Home Owner Involvement Team Leader| Communities Directorate | Housing and Modernisation Department

Southwark Council | 160 Tooley Street | London | SE1 2QH

Tel: 0207 525 7544

Mob.: 07908 795167

COVID19 (Coronavirus)

For the latest NHS guidance, please visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19

To read the latest advice and information for Southwark residents, please visit www.southwark.gov.uk/coronavirus

If you have an enquiry about a vulnerable Southwark resident, please email covidsupport@southwark.gov.uk or call 020 7525 5000

VE Day special plus new mental health support for young people

Cllr Peter John OBE

Dear resident,

Although it might not be what we had all planned for the 75th Anniversary of the end of World War II, there is definitely a feeling of excitement about VE Day tomorrow. Whether we have a sense that we are living through a similar time, or we just need to focus on something positive, I know lots of us are looking forward to the bank holiday and the low-key celebrations planned for the day. I hope you all have a lovely VE Day at home, and if you need some ideas have a look at our VE Day guide.

Looking after your mental health

Inevitably at a time like this, there are highs and lows, and not everyone will be feeling happy this weekend or in the weeks to come. Feeling low, stressed and anxious are common feelings, and during the COVID-19 pandemic you might find that you are finding things harder than usual. We want you to know that you are not alone and help is available.

Our webpages include helpful information from the NHS and others including:

I’m delighted that this week we also launched our brand new support service, called The Nest, for children and young people aged 13–25 in Southwark. It offers free and confidential mental wellbeing support. Social distancing requirements meant plans for our landmark children’s mental health hub quickly changed. This vital and timely new service has opened as an online and phone-line support service and the face-to-face support service, based in Peckham, will open when it is safe to do so.

Finally, if you, or someone you know, is in a mental health crisis, please contact SLAM’s 24-hour support line on 0800 731 2864 or find more advice on the SLAM NHS website.

I wish you all the very best and thank you again for your ongoing support.

Cllr Peter John


Highlights from our stay-at-home library

Involve the whole family in learning about VE Day

Explore online resources and activities to mark VE Day such as Adventures in History with the Imperial War Museum a weekly video series introducing real life wartime experiences like those of Kitty Baxter who spent nights in a communal bomb shelter in Camberwell with her family, or become an expert on local history with some fascinating reading material on WWII from the Local History Archive.

Join Baby Rhyme Time online

Sing along with your local librarians at the Libraries’ weekly Baby Rhyme Time sessions on Zoom.

Connect and create with Dragon Café

Join the weekly Zoom group for a new creative project each week plus the chance to share your thoughts, poems, recipes, stories or just the view from your window.

Live art workshops

Take inspiration from nature that you can see from your window, and learn new drawing techniques with live art workshops from Art in the Park.

Superarts online dance classes

Get moving with low-cost dance classes for the whole family, brought to your living room by Southwark based dance company Superarts.

Help us capture this moment in history!

Help us capture this moment in Southwark’s history for the archives. From records of mutual aid groups to personal diaries and photographs, please get in touch with our Local history Library and Archives service if you’d like to donate something: lhlibrary@southwark.gov.uk.


GPs are still available during the COVID-19 pandemic

Doctors in Southwark are reminding patients they should still contact their GP surgery if they need to consult a doctor or nurse about their usual health issues or new physical or mental health problems during this pandemic.


Are you worried about domestic abuse?

If you or someone you know is suffering from Domestic Abuse, isolation rules do not apply. Police response and support services remain available. Nationally, there is advice and support available but you should call 999 if you are in immediate danger. Locally, the Solace Advocacy and Support Service is also available to women and men in Southwark aged 16 or over in Southwark.


35% Campaign update – Old Kent Rd scheme faces loss of affordable housing

Old Kent Rd scheme faces loss of affordable housing

May 01, 2020 12:00 am

Berkeley Homes threatens to reduce affordable housing at Malt St –Berkeley Homes is the first developer in Southwark to threaten to reduce the affordable housing in one of its schemes, since the onset of the Coronavirus crisis. Berkeley secured planning permission for the Malt St development, just off the Old Kent Rd, in June 2019, with a promise to build 40% affordable housing. Since then it has joined-up with Peabody, who had a smaller, neighbouring development on Nyes Wharf. Together the two sites will provide 1,569 new homes, with 40% affordable housing (359 at social rent and 222 shared-ownership), delivered by Peabody.

Now a planning committee briefing reveals that this affordable housing is at ‘risk’ because Berkeley intends to mount an appeal that will reopen the question of the viability of the scheme. To prevent this happening, the briefing recommends approval of an unprecedented clause in Southwark’s s106 planning agreement with Berkeley, that could see all the affordable housing lost, should development partner, [Peabody] hit financial trouble.

The Southwark Law Centre has written to the planning committee, objecting to the proposed clause and requesting a deferral, to allow the serious issues it raises to be properly addressed.

Why a Mortgagee in Possession (MIP) clause matters

The planning committee is being asked to approve a so-called Mortgagee in Possession (MIP) clause. Simply put, if a borrower cannot pay their mortgage, then the lender can take legal possession of the property and sell it – they become the ‘mortgagee in possession’ and up until now this has evidently been covered with a clause that keeps the affordable housing affordable ‘in perpetuity’ .

The MIP clause proposed for Malt St is different – it will not secure the affordable housing ‘in perpetuity’ , should Peabody fail. Instead, Southwark or another affordable housing provider would be given the option to take on the affordable housing, but if they do not, the affordable housing can then be sold onto the open market. If Southwark does buy the affordable housing, they would also have to pay anything outstanding ‘under the terms of the relevant security documents, including all accrued principal monies, interest and costs and expenses’ 1.

The MIP briefing is at pains to point out that such a situation is very unlikely to arise, because Peabody is in rude financial health; it has an annual turnover of £630m, an annual profit of £160m and assets of £7.6bn, so the possibility that it will fail is remote. The briefing reinforces the point by noting that no major housing association has ever gone into administration and quotes a GLA document that says ‘there is no known cases of a MIP clause being triggered…..’ 2.

Mayor of London opens the door…

This all begs an obvious question – why replace a MIP clause that protects affordable housing, in all circumstances, even unlikely ones, with a clause that does not?

Part of the answer is that this is what the Mayor of London wants. As Southwark’s briefing explains it, the Mayor wants ‘a consistent approach to MIP clauses across the London boroughs and to secure greater access to funding for RPs (registered providers) to increase the delivery of affordable housing’. The report continues; ‘In order to achieve this, the GLA MIP clause would allow, in certain limited and unlikely circumstances, affordable housing to no longer be “in perpetuity”’ . The briefing notes that Southwark’s own MIP clause is different from the Mayor’s, precisely on this point; Southwark does require affordable housing to remain such ‘in perpetuity’ , should a RP go into administration 3.

Peabody takes advantage

Peabody also wants the GLA MIP adopted, because it would allow them to borrow more money for other projects. To quote the briefing ‘Peabody have funds to deliver this scheme, but given the very large scale of the investment they are only willing to make such a commitment on the basis that they are able to secure additional funding in the future against the asset of the completed scheme’ . The report says that while the Malt St scheme is ‘entirely financed by Peabody from its own investment’ Peabody nonetheless wants more private bank finance and needs to make more of its ‘capital assets’ and the banks consider that the affordable housing ‘asset is not sufficiently liquid’. The briefing reiterates ‘Peabody has confirmed that they cannot proceed as the RP [registered provider] partner in this scheme without this clause’ 4.

Berkeley turns the screw

Berkeley backs Peabody, saying that it cannot, or will not, proceed without them. Berkeley goes on to threaten to reduce the affordable housing in the scheme, if the GLA MIP clause is not agreed, by way of an appeal to the government of ‘non-determination’. Berkeley would argue that Southwark had failed to conclude the s106 legal agreement in the required time, and also reopen the question of the viability of the scheme 5. Berkeley has a track record for such manouvers; this 2018 Guardian report shows that Berkeley has reduced its affordable housing obligations using viability reviews in almost all of its London schemes.

Southwark’s briefing tries to make the best of things; as well as emphasising the unlikelihood of any default, it claims that this decision will ‘not therefore set a precedent for other schemes.’ The Mayor has different ideas – he wants to see his MIP clauses used across London and says they will be used for anything he ‘calls-in’, (such as the Biscuit Factory) and that he ‘will promote their use for other schemes that are referable…and non-referable’ ie basically everything 6.

What we think

A Mortgagee in Possession (MIP) s106 clause that has evidently been perfectly adequate up to now is to be changed, compromising the ‘in perpetuity’ principle of affordable housing. The Mayor hopes that this will help meet his strategic 50% affordable housing target, but Peabody and Berkeley are not proposing 50% for the Malt St site. More generally, the Mayor has published no concrete commitment from developers and registered providers to increase affordable housing, in exchange for the Mayor’s more market-friendly MIP.

So, while it would be easy for Southwark’s planning committee to approve the clause in the almost sure knowledge that it will never be triggered and the affordable housing will remain as such, ‘in perpetuity’ , they should nonetheless reject the Mayor’s new MIP clause. It purports to facilitate a general increase in affordable housing, but there is no evidence before the committee that this will actually happen, either in Southwark or elsewhere. On the other hand, though, the Mayor’s MIP will definitely weaken the ‘in perpetuity’ status of affordable housing

This is the thin end of a very long wedge. These clauses have already been used in Islington, Tower Hamlets and Lambeth. They are being actively promoted by the GLA and the Mayor. Once they proliferate the whole principle of affordable housing being for ‘in perpetuity’ will start to be lost and developers and their registered provider partners will use the same kind of ingenuity that they have used with viability assessments to squeeze real affordable housing out of London 7.

The briefing and its recommendation, will be considered by the planning committee meeting on Monday 4 May, the first to be held online.

Footnotes:

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