Update: Covid-19 cases are increasing in Southwark, and a farewell message from Cllr Peter John

Cllr Peter John OBE
Dear resident

This is my last message to you before I step down as Leader of Southwark Council on Wednesday, and I wish I was saying goodbye at a happier time.

I must tell you that the number of Covid-19 cases in Southwark has been increasing. Numbers are now rising across London and much of the country. We all need to help prevent the spread of the virus by following the rules. We must all:
wash our hands regularly
wear a face covering on transport and in enclosed spaces
keep our distance from others (and now only meet socially with up to six people)
self-isolate and get tested if we have symptoms.

When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit London back in March, I decided to stay on and help Southwark and London navigate the crisis. I’m proud of the way our borough and city have supported residents and businesses, and although we still have tough times ahead, we are in a much better place to handle a second wave than we were back in the spring. I can’t put off my departure forever, and so on Wednesday I will step down and a new Leader will be elected by Council Assembly.

I became Leader in 2010 and over the last ten years I have led the borough through good times and bad. We have celebrated the Olympics, welcomed Her Majesty the Queen to the Shard, and always delivered on our commitments – from free healthy school meals to free swim and gym, introducing the London Living Wage and the ethical care charter, to making every council home warm, dry and safe and committing to building 11,000 new council homes. But it is what we should always be doing as a good local council – thinking radically to help our residents and improving their life chances.

Of course, we have also faced austerity, riots, terror, the housing crisis and the dreadful fallout from the Grenfell tragedy, and throughout made the right – sometimes difficult – choices for our residents.

As Leader I have always been clear that we should never tolerate anyone failing to reach their potential because of their home, their school, their environment or their job prospects. The fact that many more people in our borough have found a job or a home in our borough since 2010 is something to be celebrated.

Tackling inequality and improving the life chances of our residents has been my driving force since 2010. We have broken down barriers and inequalities – whether it is through our major investment in improving our council housing or supporting aspiring students through the Youth Fund or any other of our inspiring initiatives.

Over the coming months we will face massive financial challenges which will force us to take difficult decisions about the services we can offer. But I do take comfort from the fact that without the investment, growth and prudent financial management of the past decade those challenges would be far greater. And we will need to reassure our diverse communities that they will continue to be safe and that everyone will prosper as a valued individual in our borough.

When I delayed my departure six months ago I had some idea of the massive impact which Covid-19 was going to have on our borough and our city. We have all been touched in some way by this disease, and the economic and social impact of the pandemic has been deeper and harsher than anyone could have feared. At Southwark Council, we responded swiftly and effectively to the pandemic – changing the way we operate entirely and introducing services and support, which did not exist before March.

Leaving this role at this time is difficult. But thank you for all your support and for helping me to deliver a fairer future for all in the best borough, in the best city, in the best country in the world. Southwark is and will continue to be the best place in the world.

With my very best wishes,

Peter

35% Campaign update – Shopping Centre traders propose new stalls for the Elephant

Sep 14, 2020 12:00 am

Traders appeal to Mayor Sadiq Khan for his support -Traders who will be losing their market stalls when the Elephant and Castle shopping closes have come up with their own proposal for new stalls at the Elephant. Around forty traders face the loss of their businesses and livelihoods when the Centre closes its doors for the last time on 24 September.The traders’ proposals are for new stalls to be sited around the Faraday Memorial, by the railway arches along Archer St and outside the new Elephant Arcade, at the bottom of Perronet House.Traders are proposing at least 45 new stalls. Most of the new stalls would be around the large silver Faraday Memorial in the middle of the Elephant roundabout. This will become an even more important commuter route between the train station and the tube stations, with the closure of the shopping centre. The proposal would keep established traders at the heart of the Elephant and maintain the ‘sense of place’ that they have created. The proposal builds upon a previous Transport for London (TfL) project, from 2014, but never delivered.The proposal has been sent to the Mayor of London for his support. The land around the Faraday memorial is owned by TfL, which the Mayor leads.Local London Assembly member Florence Eshalomi MP has submitted a formal question to the Mayor asking him if he will support the proposals.Traders are also looking for support from local councillors from all parties and representatives at the London Assembly.Traders believe that with wholehearted support from the Mayor, Southwark Council, councillors and London Assembly members, all the displaced traders from the shopping centre can be found new homes. Only 45 out of 97 traders had secured relocation space, up to the end of April 2020.The proposal was devised by Alice Chilangwa Farmer and is supported by the Up the Elephant Campaign, Latin Elephant and Southwark Law Centre. If adopted it would provide shopping options and continuity to a local community facing a prolonged period of disruption and construction work.The complete proposal can be found here.This is what the traders and supporters have to say;Trader Shapoor Amini says: ‘ I’ve worked at this market since 2001. These people promised us so many things, they said we’ll give you a space, we’ll look after you guys, but they’ve done nothing for us. …I applied so many times—I’ve made calls, been to the council, been to the office, done lots of paperwork […] been to countless meetings, and still nothing. My whole life has been spent in this market, in this area, and now I don’t know what to do…..I have a kids, a wife it is very difficult’.Trader Edmund Attoh says: ‘I’m working here over 20 years. Things are very difficult people who have been here for a long time didn’t get nothing. That’s what we don’t understand, that’s why we are frustrated. We don’t know where we are going now. I applied for a space, and anything they asked, we give to them. They turned us down. But they didn’t say [why].’Traders Mathew and Eden Onuba say: ‘We’ve been 5 years at Elephant and Castle. We don’t know what to do in September, it is a very difficult situation. I don’t want much, but to save the business we’ve built up together.’
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Recent Articles:Southwark responds to shopping centre campaigners
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35% Campaign update – Southwark responds to shopping centre campaigners

Southwark responds to shopping centre campaigners

Aug 31, 2020 12:00 am

Council put on defensive by fierce criticism -Southwark Council has posted a lengthy statement in defence of its treatment of the shopping centre traders, as around 40 face the loss of their livelihood when the centre closes on 24 September, according to research by local charity Latin Elephant.

The updated statement tries to answer the fierce criticism of Southwark and developer Delancey from the traders and their supporters, as voiced on the BBC Radio London’s Drive time with Eddie Nestor programme and detailed in Latin Elephant’s twitter feed.

Southwark’s statement says that 45 traders have been relocated, with 33 ‘remaining’. Thirty-one of the ‘remaining’ unallocated traders, with nowhere to go, have received £3000 each from the Business Transition Grant. They will receive a second payment of an unspecified amount ‘near the closure of the shopping centre’ ; given the number of traders and the total size of the Business Transition Grant fund (£200k) this is likely to be about another £3000. Southwark also say that unallocated traders ‘are able to claim from the relocation fund’ – a consolation, no doubt, but of limited use to them if they have nowhere to relocate to.

Other than this the statement details various generic ‘business support’ measures, such as access to websites and databases and advice from ‘independent business and relocation advisor’ Tree Shepherd (remote access only).

The inadequacy of these ‘business support’ measures barely needs stating; if they were of any use nearly half of the remaining traders would not be without new premises. Our webpage E&C Traders with nowhere to go has the testimonies of six unallocated traders, who have been at the centre for between eight and 20 years each (a total of nearly a hundred years between them). They are all experienced traders who would otherwise be continuing in their trade, but for the regeneration. They deserve something more than ineffectual promises of help, with a derisory £6000 to see them on their way, come 24 September.

The Relocation Fund

While Southwark says ‘the Relocation Fund (£647,835) has been available for eligible traders …from February 2020 traders have not in fact been getting the money they need because Southwark, Delancey and Tree Shepherd have shown no urgency in resolving issues around the costs of fit-outs and lease and rent arrangements. Southwark says these are being ‘currently’ resolved, when there is less than a month to go before closure. There is also no on-the-ground practical help, of the kind Tree Shepherd should be providing. This can be excused to an extent by the Covid crisis, but that does not help the traders.

Each relocation payment will be based on the size of the new premise, but averages out at £14,396 per trader – less than a tenth of Tree Shepherd’s fee of £192,900 for administering the whole exercise 1. The payments are only designed to meet actual relocation costs – they do not include any compensation for loss of business, premises, disturbance etc.

The total amount in the Relocation Fund is derisory in comparison to the Delancey’s anticipated profit of £148.42. Southwark attempts to address this, saying ‘Delancey have long agreed to supplement the relocation fund on a case by case basis’. This turns out to be Delancey’s hardship fund, awarded entirely at Delancey’s discretion and only after traders have first considered raising loans from family, friends or elsewhere. An alternative method would be to simply assess the actual costs of relocating and paying anything above the paltry amount currently on offer. Delancey has also helpfully advised that traders could become Uber drivers.

Southwark’s statement – the highlights

Several other parts of Southwark’s statement stand out, one for being particularly inane;

‘For many smaller traders this is an opportunity to grow and develop their business.’

There has never been true at any point since the redevelopment of the shopping centre was first proposed three years ago and it certainly isn’t true now.

Southwark also claim that ‘The council is committed to enabling the largest possible number of existing businesses to remain in the area’ .

If Southwark was genuinely committed to keeping the largest number of businesses in the area it would not have approved a planning application that did not guarantee this. Southwark’s planning department was happy to recommend, in 2017, a scheme that did not then have one of the main relocation sites (Castle Square). It continued to recommend a scheme without a fully realised relocation strategy, which the planning committee duly approved. Delancey designed the redevelopment to exclude current independent traders and Southwark went along with them 3.

Southwark’s statement further says, ‘Unfortunately there were always going to be traders that were not able to be offered a unit in the relocation spaces listed owing to space restrictions.’

This is not what Southwark said back in December 2018, when the question was raised at the planning meeting for the temporary relocation facility at Castle Square. When asked directly by councillors ‘given all of the different site…does that cover…enough sites for all of the current number of traders…..How many short would we be roughly?’ council officers replied ‘…across the piste there should be sufficient’.

Southwark ignored the true state of affairs, revealed by Latin Elephant’s planning objection in July 2018, which said ‘Only 2,050sqm of affordable retail space would be available for immediate relocation, and 4,005sqm is needed’ and approved the scheme anyway 4. Southwark was also well aware that ‘Market stall operators may experience temporary or permanent closure or disruption to business operations, financial or other barriers to re-opening at the new development or in the wider area’ , but this did not lead them to seek improvements in the scheme or to insist on a fully realised relocation strategy, agreed with traders, before giving planning approval 5.

Gone – but not forgotten

While Southwark has been forced to turn its attention to the remaining traders, it would be easy to forget the traders, services and leisure amenities that have already been lost to the regeneration. Latin Elephant/petit Elephant research shows that there were around 130 traders in January 2018; now we have about ninety left, with only about half reallocated. Forty or so more have already gone, and have fallen out of Southwark’s reckoning, forced to leave, as footfall and business declined, wearied beyond hope by the whole ‘regeneration’ process.

Amongst these are the London Palace bingo hall, one of Britain’s largest, with its large customer base in the BAME community; the Palace Superbowl bowling alley, much loved by local students; the Coronet live music night-club, an entertainment venue since 1872; the Charlie Chaplin pub, the many small office businesses in Hannibal House, just above the centre, which also housed a college, charities and voluntary organisations and the United Voices of the World trade union. In Southwark’s happy reality they no longer exist and so their loss does not count.

The true story about the shopping centre redevelopment is the same as it was for the Heygate estate regeneration – Southwark Council has thrown its lot in with the developers, Lendlease and Delancey, and what happens to the people who actually live and work at the Elephant has been an afterthought.

Footnotes:

  1. Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre s106 Agreement pg 113 
  2. Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre s106 Agreement Appendix 10 pg 266 
  3. Delancey’s view of the independent traders was made clear in their Planning Statement, which says ‘…some existing retailers in the area are benefitting from disproportionately low levels of rent for such a central London location and it may not be financially viable for them to survive in the wider area over the longer term’ para 8.7. 
  4. Officer’s Report Elephant and Castel Shopping Centre 3 July 2018 para 851 
  5. Officer’s Report Elephant and Castel Shopping Centre 3 July 2018 para 169 

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Latest on Shopping Centre traders

Dear Friend

Our twitter storm last week in support of the shopping centre traders generated some great publicity. The gentrification of the Elephant and other working-class areas was taken up on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Drivetime with Eddie Nestor. There were great contributions from Latin Elephant, campaigners and most importantly traders themselves – you can hear it here.

Traders and campaigners also joined the XR rebellion demo at the Elephant on Sunday.

Traders have also put together their own proposal for staying at the Elephant, devised by Alice Chilangwa Farmer, with the assistance of Latin Elephant, Southwark Law Centre and the Up the Elephant Campaign. This has been sent to the Mayor, local councillors and London Assembly members – we will bring more news of this very soon.

Meantime you can read the latest 35% Campaign blogpost on the shopping centre here.

Regards
Jerry

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Urgent – your help is needed

4358 - Test and Trace Leaderboards 728x90v1

Dear all,

Southwark Council monitors the COVID-19 infection rates on a daily basis. Whilst numbers are still low, the number of new cases has nearly doubled in Southwark in the last week and numbers are rising across London.

A high proportion of new cases are for people aged 18–34. We also know that most transmission is still amongst family and friends and there is some transmission from people coming back from holidays abroad. As we look forward to the bank holiday weekend we are asking people to please be careful and help prevent the spread of the virus and another lockdown.

If you’re visiting family or going out with friends you must:

  • keep your distance from other people at all times
  • wear a face covering in shops and on public transport
  • wash your hands regularly.

Get tested if you have symptoms

cherrygardentra@yahoo.com

Get a test as soon as possible if you have coronavirus symptoms (a high temperature, a new persistent cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste). You must also must self-isolate, as should members of your household and anyone in your support bubble.

How you can help.

I have attached a number of assets such as posters, leaflets and social media artwork. Please feel free to use this and share across your networks, put posters up on noticeboards and TRA halls and get the message out to residents.

The webpages at www.southwark.gov.uk/gettested have more info on Test and Trace and more posters you can download including area specific ones like Keep Peckham Safe. If you would like a poster with your estate specifically mentioned please email kim.hooper@southwark.gov.uk and we will get one sent to you.

Thank you for helping to keep Southwark safe.

Thanks Kim

Kim Hooper – Publications and special projects manager at Southwark council

A5 leaflet Test and Tracev3

Keep Southwark Safe – notes for external partners

KLS Southwark

COVID-19: cases are rising in Southwark

Cllr Peter John OBE

Dear resident

35% Campaign update – The shopping centre traders expelled by regeneration

The shopping centre traders expelled by regeneration

Aug 24, 2020 12:00 am

University of the Arts ignores traders’ plight -In our last blog post we detailed how Up the Elephant and other campaigners had written to the University of the Arts, London (UAL), informing them that at least 28 traders had not been relocated new premises, as they face the closure of their businesses, to make way for the demolition and redevelopment of the shopping centre. Analysis by Latin Elephant puts the number of traders in peril at between fourty and fifty.

All the displaced traders (bar one) come from black and ethnic minority backgrounds and the campaigner’s letter demanded that UAL withdraw from the redevelopment, which includes a new UAL campus, in line with its Black Lives Matter statement “We aim to build our anti-racism commitments through collective engagement into actions that make a meaningful difference.”

No reply from UAL

Nearly a month after the letter was sent no reply has been received. We are printing below the stories of six of the displaced traders, in their own words, to prompt UAL into giving some thought to those who are losing their livelihoods so that they can benefit from shiny new premises. Southwark Council and developer Delancey might also want to take heed.

Nassim Cheraitain

My name is Nassim Cheraitian, I’ve been trading at Elephant and Castle market for over 20 years. The closing down of the Shopping Centre, for us, wasn’t good news, because they haven’t helped us. For the last three, four, five years business has been down, we’ve been losing, losing… they promised us they would help to find us to find a new unit but they didn’t. I applied, they asked us for all our details […] we provided them with everything. After that they said that there isn’t space for everyone. And it’s been left like this. We don’t have anywhere to go. They [the council] gave us £3000, but honestly it’s not really [been helpful]. £3000 is nothing — three years ago they told us they would help us, so all that time we’ve been waiting, the business has gone down, we’ve been losing money, losing customers every day, and we were waiting to get something back. Instead we got £3000. I don’t have any plans, as I’ve been waiting to get this promised help from the council […] we’ve been here for too long for them to leave us like this […] [my customers] are unhappy, they think it is unfair to us, we’ve been here too long to be left with nothing—no shop, no unit, nothing.

Shapoor Amini

My name is Shapoor Amini, I’ve worked at this market since 2001. These people promised us so many things, they said we’ll give you a space, we’ll look after you guys, but they’ve done nothing for us. Some people who were [trading] here for one year, two years, 6 months, they got a space. Me, I’ve been here 20 years, and they gave me nothing; they just said sorry, sorry, you still need to wait. And I don’t know what’s going on. I had someone who worked for me who got a space! But I’ve been here for twenty years and nothing. I applied so many times—I’ve made calls, been to the council, been to the office, done lots of paperwork […] been to countless meetings, and still nothing. I don’t know why not, they never talk to us face to face. They sent letters out […]some people got something, others didn’t […] everybody knows me here […] customers come to me as say ‘where is your new space?’, and I say I don’t know. My whole life has been spent in this market, in this area, and now I don’t know what to do. It’s very difficult for me. I have a kids, a wife… they said if you find yourself a shop we will help you. But at this late stage how can I find a shop? […] they promised us too much. Places are asking for a £30,000 deposit, it is very difficult.

Edmund Attoh

My name is Edmund, I’m working here [at the market] over 20 years. Things are very difficult, they gave a space to some people, who’d been here 5 years, 4 years, 2 years, people who have been here for a long time didn’t get nothing. That’s what we don’t understand, that’s why we are frustrated. We don’t know where we are going now. I applied for a space, and anything they asked, we give to them. They turned us down. But they didn’t say [why]. It has affected us […] someone who has been here for 20 years, and suddenly they say go. We don’t know where we are going. It is very hard for us. My customers always call me and ask where we are going. But we don’t know what to tell them […] that is a problem for us […] we’re looking to them (the council) […] we need help.

Mohammed Jamal

My name is Mohammed Jamal, I’m working in the market the last 8 years. I’m in a very bad situation, because I haven’t found a relocation […] I’ve got four children, and i’ve got no choice [but to work at the market] because I’m more than 55 now, and can’t find any other suitable job, and I’ve also got an illness I take medicine for […] customers ask ‘where are you going’ I said I still can’t find relocation […] because the council says there is no more relocation, it is all full. But I am still waiting for something to come up. One lady told me I’m not even on the waiting list […] she said your application is on file but not on the waiting list […] because there are so many people and the relocation spaces are limited […] I applied many times for a space […] and a small shop is alright for me […] I sent many emails, but no answer. The feeling of not having anything is very painful. If someone doesn’t speak English very well, or is softly spoken […] I am very soft, not talking a lot. That could be why no-one helped me.

Muhammad Raza

My name is Muhammad Raza, I’m working here since 2006. The market is dead now, before it was alright, but slowly, slowly they are closing down shops, big stores—Tesco, Poundland, Boots is going—it’s really dead now so it’s really hard to survive. And because we don’t have a space we don’t know what to do. Tree Shepherd and Delancey aren’t answering our emails, actually I emailed two days ago and didn’t get a response. This morning Tree Shepherd called me and said ‘if you find yourself any shop, we’ll help you’, I said which kind of help? Because I’m looking for a shop […] but if I look myself shops are £15,000, £20,000—I can’t afford that rent. And Tree Shepherd said they don’t have any affordable rents. If your looking for Castle Square or Elephant One, don’t even think about it […] they said ‘we’ll help you’, but which kind of help? I don’t know. This has affected my business, my life, my family, I don’t know what to do next.

Mohammed Al Waris

“My name is Mohammed Al Waris, I’ve been trading at the Elephant and Castle market for the past 15 plus years. Throughout these years I’ve been selling fashion accessories, and I’ve made friendships within the local community. Recently what happened was that they tried to demolish the shopping centre, and that affected most of the traders’ lives, I’m one of them. We haven’t been offered anything. We were asked to pick three different locations—Castle Square, Perronet House, Elephant One—they haven’t offered me none of them. They haven’t told me [why], they just said we haven’t got any affordable unit for you guys. At the beginning they promised us, and then we suffer for the past three years, they closed the subway (underground walkway) and the business going down by about 80%. Two years before they came with an application, saying that we going to definitely relocate you 100%. Now we have one and a half months left to leave the market, and we can’t get any help from Tree Shepherd, or from Delancey. Every time we talk to the they say ‘sorry we haven’t got anything for you guys’, so we can’t do nothing. I believe we are entitled to a place in this area, cos they are making millions from this project, why can’t they help these traders? These traders have families they are trying to look after. By kicking them out, they are destroying their family life […] I really hope they can think about these traders and help to move them to a place nearby the area, where they have their customers […] they say you can’t stay in the area because this area, like Central London, is going to be very expensive. So where should we go? We don’t know.”

Our campaign…

Our campaign is to get Nassim, Shapoor, Edmund, Mohammed, Mohummad, Mohammed and their fellow traders new premises or suitable compensation for the loss of their businesses. The power to do this lies with Southwark Council, Delancey and University of the Arts London (UAL), but time is running out fast – the centre is due to close on 24 September.

You can help us by sending a Twitter message to the Southwark Councillors responsible for this fiasco:

  • @peterjohn6 (Council Leader)
  • @rebeccalury (Deputy Leader, Ward Cllr and Cabinet member for Equalites and Communities)
  • @MerrilDarren (Ward Cllr and Chair of the traders panel that was supposed to support traders)
  • @cllrmseaton (Ward Cllr and Chair of the Planning Committee)
  • @JohnsonSitu (Cabinet member for Regeneration)
  • @Leo_Pollak (Cabinet member for Social Regeneration)
  • @steviecryan (Cabinet member for Jobs, Business and Innovation)
  • @coyleneil (Local MP and Elephant & Castle resident)

You can find more infomation about the displaced traders can be found here.
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Make your own face covering, free film streaming and much more

Cllr Peter John OBE

Dear resident