• November
  • 20th
  • 2014

Calling all Cressingham Gardens Residents: Details of local workshops – Please make your voice heard.

I think it is incredibly important that when decisions are made about the future of any local area, the voices and views of those who live there is taken into account. Residents in Cressingham Gardens will know about Lambeth’s future plans for the estate, but I wanted to write this post to try and help ensure that residents can have the biggest possible voice as part of any decisions taken.

I know that many residents in Cressingham Gardens are concerned about the Council’s plans for the future of the estate, and while thinking of Cressingham it is impossible also not to think of Sandy Ellis, the former Chair of Cressingham Gardens Residents Association, who tragically passed away earlier this year and who accompanied me at coffee afternoons and on walkabouts I’ve held on the estate. All long term residents will have known Sandy, who worked tirelessly for the estate, and who it was my very great privilege to know and work with over the years.  Sandy embodied the fantastic community spirit that so typifies Cressingham Gardens and I know that she will be missed by all. I know it will be very difficult for anyone to fill her place.

Both from the coffee afternoons and estate walkabouts I have held in Cressingham Gardens since I was elected, and from the individual requests for help that constituents have contacted my office with, I have been aware throughout my time as the local MP that there are significant issues with the state of some of the homes on the estate – a large number have major problems with damp, and the vast majority of the estate is in need of kitchen and bathroom upgrades, as well as new roofs.

From all I have heard and seen firsthand on the estate, it has been clear for some time that a long term solution is needed, and the Council have put forward several regeneration options that include both redevelopment and refurbishment.  I wrote to all residents in January 2013 to provide an update on the Council’s regeneration plans for the estate – you can read my letter at the bottom of this page – and I know from having spoken to many residents on the estate that opinions differ on the best approach, including some people’s view that the estate is in good enough repair as it is.  I have always been clear that it is of vital importance that residents have a full and frank exchange with the Council through the ongoing consultation to ensure that their views have a meaningful impact on any decisions relating to the future of the estate – it is also vitally important that any changes do not do any damage to the fantastic community spirit found on the estate.

It is for these reasons that I wanted to write this post – and why I will be tweeting the link and including it on facebook – so as to encourage as many people as possible to participate in the workshop events detailed below to make sure any changes to Cressingham Gardens are carried out as much as possible with the confidence of people locally. If you live on the estate, you should have received a letter from Lambeth Council dated 21 October 2014 which outlines the timetable for consultation workshops, which are open to all residents. If you can’t attend any of the workshops, you can contact Lambeth Council’s Regeneration Project Manager Neil Vokes on 0207 926 3068, by emailing nvokes {at} lambeth.gov(.)uk or you can write to him at Hambrook House, Porden Road, London, SW2 5RW.

Details for the next workshops are as follows and I encourage all residents to go along and make their views known:

  • Saturday 22 November 2014, 10am – 12pm in the Rotunda: Tenants – What does the refurbishment option mean for you? And what would new build homes mean for you?
  • Saturday 22 November 2014, 1pm – 3pm in the Rotunda: Leaseholders and freeholders – What does the refurbishment option mean for you? And what would new build homes mean for you? There will be an extra hour’s discussion from 3pm – 4pm for the particular issues facing freeholders.
  • Saturday 10 December 2014, 3pm – 5pm and 6pm – 9pm in the Rotunda: Feedback session for residents.
  • Saturday 31 January 2015, 3pm – 5pm and 6pm – 9pm in the Rotunda: Final session setting out each of the options in detail.

After the workshops, I understand that all residents will be asked for their views on each of the proposed options as part of a test of opinion in February 2015.

If you wish to contact me for whatever reason, please do not hesitate to get in touch. I hold regular advice surgeries at venues in Streatham, Brixton, Tulse Hill and Clapham Park, as well as other venues across the constituency. If you wish to book an appointment, please get in touch with my constituency office.

 

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January 2013

Dear Resident,

I’m out knocking on doors at Cressingham Gardens today as it has been brought to my attention that many of the residents on the estate are concerned about the regeneration plans for the estate. Some residents have contacted me directly so I have come to the estate to speak to you about your concerns and see for myself what the situation is like on the estate.

If I didn’t hand this to you in person, I’m sorry that I missed you. Even if I didn’t get the chance to speak with you today, I wanted to give you this update on plans to regenerate Cressingham Gardens in particular. I hope you find it helpful. I also have a monthly e-newsletter, so if you’d like to receive this you can email me at chuka.umunna.mp {at} parliament(.)uk with ‘Newsletter’ in the subject line. Further information about all my activities can also be found on my website – www.chuka.org.uk.

Cressingham Gardens Update

I know that many of you enjoy living on the estate and are concerned about the regeneration plans. However, I also know that a significant number of homes on the estate are not up to standard. I understand that many of the properties are damp and that the entire estate needs new roofs, and upgrades to kitchens and bathrooms.

The Council have calculated that over the past 6 years, it has spent £1.84m on responsive repairs on Cressingham Gardens and this is no longer sustainable as despite spending considerable sums of money on repairs, the condition of the properties is not in fact getting better. The Council has also estimated the cost of basic refurbishment works on all properties at Cressingham Gardens but as this would only achieve limited improvements inside residents’ homes and would not address the structural problems on the estate (caused, for instance, by subsidence and poor drainage), this too may not prove the best solution with the estimated costs to complete just the basic refurbishment works currently at more than £3,4m but with the potential to rise.

Sadly, with the Government cutting the Decent Homes money by 60%, the Council has a limited pot of money to invest in housing across the borough and so needs to find the best solution on how to improve the quality of life for the residents on Cressingham Gardens with the money that it does have. I have been assured that the Council is committed to working with Cressingham Gardens Tenants and Residents Association and the residents on the estate to find the best possible solution for the estate.

I understand that a series of public meetings were held at the end of 2012 where the Council set out why it believed that the Lambeth Housing Standard works in themselves would not resolve all of the issues residents faced on Cressingham Gardens. In response to questions from residents the Council released all relevant structural surveys, all relevant quotes for repair works and a breakdown of the responsive repairs carried out on the estate over the last 5 years.

The TRA has put forward a proposal for working with the Council and engaging and consulting residents and a newsletter has been distributed to all residents on the estate informing them of the timescales for the consultation and how residents can take part. The consultation is ongoing and there are a number of ways how the residents can find out more about the proposals for the estate or express their suggestions and views on the matter.

I also understand that there will be joint TRA, Ward Councillor and Lambeth Council Officer doorknocking sessions on the estate to speak to residents up until March 2013. The Council will then be looking to appoint architects to look at various options for the future of the estate and hold design workshops from March until September 2013. I have been assured by the Council that residents can take part and submit their representations on this up until September 2013. This can be done by contacting Neil Vokes, Lambeth Council’s Regeneration Project Manager. He can be contacted by telephone on 0207 926 3068, by email at nvokes {at} lambeth.gov(.)uk or you can write to him to Phoenix House, 10 Wandsworth Road, London SW8 2LL.

I encourage all residents to take part in the consultation exercise to make your views and wishes for the Cressingham Gardens estate heard. The consultation will then conclude at the end of September 2013 and in October 2013 the Council intends to publish a document setting out the options for Cressingham Gardens and what it would mean for the residents. In December 2013 the Council intends to report to Cabinet with recommendations on how to proceed.

Cressingham Gardens Tenants and Residents Association is holding its Annual General Meeting on 11th February 2013 at Cressingham Gardens Tenants Hall, Hardel Walk, Tulse Hill, London SW2 2QG and the regeneration of the estate will be discussed during the meeting. It is a good opportunity for the residents to attend (it is open to all residents) and ask questions as Lambeth Council officers and your local Councillors hope to attend.More information about the consultation can also be found on Lambeth Council’s website at http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/Services/HousingPlanning/EstateRegenerationProgramme/CressinghamGardens.htm

I hope you find this update helpful.

Contact details

If you wish to contact me for whatever reason, be this a personal casework issue that you’d like to discuss or a national policy issue, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Contact details can be found at the bottom of the page. I regularly hold surgeries in Brixton Hill, Clapham, Tulse Hill and Streatham on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings. If you wish to book an appointment to see me, please get in touch with the staff at my constituency office.

Best Wishes,

Chuka

Chuka Umunna MP
Member of Parliament for Streatham
covering Streatham and parts of Clapham, Balham, Tulse Hill and Brixton

            

  • September
  • 2nd
  • 2014

Chuka’s South London Press Column: Register to Vote & Make Your Voice Heard

Chuka Umunna MP wrote the following column for the August 29 edition of the South London Press:

Politics will shortly fill the news again. The Scottish referendum is now in less than three weeks and, after that, the Political Parties’ annual conferences will dominate our TV screens. Politicians from all political Parties will be making their pitch to the electorate, and fighting for your votes at the general election.

But if not enough people locally are registered to vote, you will not get to have your voice heard and have your say.

For areas like my constituency of Streatham, with so much potential but more than our fair share of challenges, it is essential that politics works for our community, and using your right to vote is one of the best ways to ensure this happens.

Recent electoral commission figures showed that less than a year to go to the General Election, 7.5 million of the electorate will be unable to vote. The disparity between who is and isn’t registered to vote is concerning. Those who make up our BME communities are less likely to be registered to vote than the average, as are those aged 18-24, and those in the private rented sector.

The government is rushing to introduce Individual Electoral Registration – which will require each to individual to register, rather than the head of the household (as is the case currently). The government’s figures from their own pilots have suggested that nearly 9 million of the current electorate face falling off the register, because they can’t be matched with government-held data. It is the same groups which are currently under-represented that are most susceptible to this drop-off.

It’s only natural to think that those who aren’t registered to vote are insufficiently served by government – when the LibDems and Conservatives in government put tuition fees up, which impacts disproportionately on the young, or when the government sets its face against sensible action proposed by Labour to improve tenancy arrangements for private renters.

As everyone seems to live busier and busier lives, active involvement in politics can be difficult, and I know that Party politics has to do more to attract people to get involved. Whilst I don’t think people are become less political, they are becoming less party political. But if you don’t vote at a General Election because you are not registered, you miss out on having a say as to how our country is run.

Politics matters and does make a difference. Just look at any of the Sure Start centres in my constituency, there because of a Labour government, or the minimum wage introduced when Labour last came to power because we believed it was unacceptable that some people in our society could be paid £1 for an hour of work (we were prepared to push it through despite what the other Parties said).

I know that a lot of trust was broken at the last election, particularly when the LibDems broke their promises to the electorate on tuition fees and VAT, and the Conservatives with their top-down reorganisation of the NHS. However, I think it is incredibly important that we don’t let that put people off politics completely, or take it to mean that politics does not achieve anything.

When politics has the potential to make an enormous difference to people’s lives, and to our local community as a whole, I believe it is absolutely vital that we all have a say over what politics does. As a community, we can’t avoid for our voice to be missing from the debate.

You can register to vote online at gov.uk/register-to-vote or you call your local Borough for more information. If you are in Lambeth electoral services can be contacted on 020 7926 2254.


  • August
  • 28th
  • 2014

Chuka Slams Boris for focusing on Parliamentary ambitions instead of the needs of London commuters

Streatham MP Chuka Umunna has criticised London Mayor Boris Johnson ahead of Mr Johnson’s possible selection as Conservative candidate for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, saying “Boris, distracted by his Parliamentary ambitions, has taken his eye off the ball when he should be focused on the needs of London commuters like my constituents”.

Mr Umunna wants the Mayor to agree that a Streatham route should be considered in any consultation concerning the extension of the Bakerloo line, saying thatif Streatham is not even considered in a consultation on extending the Bakerloo line then it would simply lend credence to those who say our Mayor has become distracted by his Parliamentary ambitions from his full-time job as Mayor”.

The London Infrastructure Plan 2050, launched by the Mayor’s office in July, suggested “Extending the Bakerloo Line south from Elephant and Castle through Southwark, into Lewisham and beyond” at some time prior to 2050.

It has since been reported that Transport for London (TfL) are to start a ten-week public consultation on extending the line to south-east London in September. However, there has been no indication that the option of extending the line to Streatham in South west London via Camberwell and Herne Hill – which TfL had agreed to consider in 2009 following pressure from Mr Umunna – will be included.

Prior to the launch of the London Infrastructure Plan, in a letter earlier this year to London’s Transport Commissioner, Mr Umunna wrote about his “strong view that Streatham is at the moment insufficiently served by TfL and by transport services more generally”, repeating his long-time demand that TfL examine the case for extending an existing underground line to Streatham.

Mr Umunna – who has been campaigning for a Streatham tube since before becoming the MP for his local area – is meeting the Transport Commissioner in September to repeat his long-held demands for his constituency which has been historically poorly served by the tube.

Today is the deadline for applications for the Conservative Party candidacy in Uxbridge and South Ruislip. Boris Johnson confirmed this week he will be seeking selection, despite his position as Mayor.

Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat chair of the London Assembly transport committee, voiced support earlier this month for extending the Bakerloo line to Lewisham & Bromley. However, Mr Umunna’s view is that Streatham is poorly served by existing transport connections and should have a tube line. Mr Umunna said today that “all we are asking is that Streatham – historically ill-served by London Transport – be given due consideration instead of being ignored.”

Commenting, Streatham MP Chuka Umunna said:

Boris, distracted by his Parliamentary ambitions, has taken his eye off the ball when he should be focused on the needs of London commuters like my constituents”

“We have been pushing for TfL to extend the underground to Streatham and if Streatham is not even considered in the consultation on extending the Bakerloo line it would demonstrate clearly that Boris’ focus lies elsewhere.

“We will not stop campaigning on this.  Boris must intervene and ensure Streatham’s case for a tube is heard – Conservative association members in Uxbridge aren’t the only people he’s been elected to serve.

“All we are asking is that Streatham – historically ill-served by London Transport – be given due consideration instead of being ignored.”

  • August
  • 4th
  • 2014

100 years since Britain entered the First World War

Today it is one hundred years to the day since Britain entered the First World War.

So many young soldiers, sailors and other service personnel sacrificed so much in service to our country, and fought so bravely in a conflict that has given us much of our modern understanding of the horrors of war.

Locally, we will be thinking in particular of those in whose memory the Streatham War Memorial, and other memorials in the local area, were built. And we will remember those from across Britain and across the world – from the Indian sub-continent, to Africa, Australia and the Caribbean – who fought for Britain in our nation’s hour of need.

We will remember those who fell, and those who fought and lived on with the memory of having fought. We will remember the suffering and sacrifice of those on the home front – of those who worked in the mines, in the factories, and on the land, and who cared for the wounded and for those returning home.

100 years of time having passed offers us an important moment in which to remember the history of our nation, the First World War and how it transformed our country. It is an important opportunity for our whole nation to reflect on the lessons of those who went before us, and to pay tribute to them.

The freedom that so many fought for, endures today, and we must never forget their heroism, valour and sacrifice.

Chuka

Chuka Umunna MP
Member of Parliament for Streatham
covering Streatham and parts of Clapham, Balham, Tulse Hill and Brixton