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Archive for October, 2008

Have you recently received a questionnaire from Ipsos MORI on behalf of Lambeth Council asking for your comments about how involved you are in the community and your views on Lambeth?

We noted that only one questionnaire was sent per house, even where houses in our area are divided into flats (for example, only one questionnaire was sent to some houses in Albert Square where there are four or five separate households). We have raised this with the consultation office of Lambeth Council as casting doubts on the validity of the poll – and debarring many households from participating.

If you are aware that your house received fewer consultation documents than households, could you please add a comment below, so that we can back up our concern.

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In case you didn’t know, there is an active Neighbourhood Watch group covering the ASSA area. We think the best way to reduce crime and make people feel safe is to develop a community in which everyone feels they have someone to turn to if they are concerned. Our local Safer Neighbourhoods team is led by Sgt Andrew MacLellan with PCs Andi Scott, Kehinde Meshe and Mark Belcher and three PCSOs – you may remember throwing wet sponges at them at the Summer Fete!  Here are a few key points about crime in our area:

1. Crime levels: Overall crime levels in our area (Albert Square, Aldebert Terrace, Wilkinson Street and St Stephens Terrace) are relatively low (See the Met Crime Map for details).

2. 999: The police encourage you to call 999 if you see anything suspicious – do not feel you are wasting their time. They will do the prioritising – there may be a patrol car passing the end of the road that could just divert and check it out.  There’s no point in telling the police afterwards – if it’s something that may need immediate action, it must be 999.

3. Reporting Crime:  If you are the victim of a crime, however minor, report it to the police. Even if you do not need the police to act on the incident, reporting it will provide them with a clearer picture of crime levels and patterns in our area. Crime can be reported  as follows:

– Theft (except where the victim was subject to violence or the threat of violence and burglary)
– Criminal damage
– Theft from a motor vehicle
– Criminal damage to a motor vehicle
– Hate crimes and hate incidents

  • Clapham Police Station on 020 7326 1212;  51 Union Grove, Clapham, SW8 2QU for all other crimes.

4.  What to do if attacked: If you are threatened or attacked the best thing to do is scream and act as irrationally as possible – people generally don’t know how to deal with a ‘mad person’ and will back off.

5. Free Personal Alarms and Neighbourhood Watch Packs: I have been given 10 personal alarms. These are small key fobs that make a piercing sound when you pull on them. If you would like one please call me on 07971 198555 and come to my house to pick one up – they are FREE. I also have lots of packs which include UV marking pens stickers and useful crime prevention leaflets.

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I went to Brixton’s ‘Great Unleashing’ last week – don’t worry its not a cue to run for cover… It is the launch of Transition Town Brixton. It was a huge success with a packed town hall of people from Brixton and the surrounds wanting to make a difference and starting at home.

Put simply, the idea is that we are currently living at an unsustainable rate in a world with finite resources. Somethings got to give. We can start by making our communities self-sustainable (its actually based on the concept of peak oil which I won’t go into here but is fascinating and if you want to find out more look it up on Wikipedia!). It has been done with great success in Devon. Brixton is the first urban Transition Town.

The Transition Town will develop as a loose coalition of different groups doing things around domestic energy reduction and renewable energy, transport, finance, stronger communities and home grown food. I particularly liked this last point.

This group use the gardens that are not used and to grow vegetables and then share some of the produce with the resident at harvest time.  How many gardens are unused in our neighbourhood? Particularly the gardens of some of the flats. The network is called Food Up Front is this something we want to sign-up to?

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The need for better home energy

As residents in the Albert Square, St Stephens Terrace, Aldebert Terrace and Wilkinson Street, you will be only too aware of the energy inefficiency of old houses and their large carbon footprint. There are myriad ways to make our homes more energy efficient and reduce our emissions; ranging from home improvements to renewable energy to simple behavioural changes. But there are often confusing messages about what we should and shouldn’t do and solutions can be costly.

A new approach to domestic energy

The ASSA Climate Action Network takes a new holistic approach to the energy you and your home need. Instead of selling you units of electricity and cubic feet of gas – your energy supply – we we are setting up a community programme, in partnership with a major utility and a specialist home energy company, that will help you look at your energy demand and ways in which you can reduce it and generate your own energy with renewables. It is often much cheaper to reduce your demand through things like insulation and more efficient appliances than it is to buy more gas or electricity, especially with today’s rising prices.

What will it mean to me?

If you sign up to the scheme later this year, you will receive a free energy audit on your home by qualified engineers. On the basis of that audit you will be offered a range of energy improvement options such as insulation, new lightbulbs, draught proofing, a new boiler or new appliances and options to generate your own energy. Once you have chosen the options you want, you will sign up to a new, fixed energy contract that will include your bills and repayments on any new equipment (or alternatively you can pay upfront and get a discount on equipment prices).

What are the benefits to me?

By setting up a network and working with dedicated commercial partners, we can offer the following advantages:

  • You will have a lower monthly energy bill and be better protected from rising prices.
  • The energy auditors, equipment providers, power company and bank all achieve economies of scale which are passed on to you
  • We can access significant community grants to subsidise energy efficiency and renewables
  • With the commercial partners, we take on the research and administrative work, offering you a choice of the best solutions for your home.

Want to know more?

Or contact Chris Morrison on 07971 198555

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News just in:

Just to say that we were delighted to find that Luigi Di Lieto, formerly of the Di Lieto family bakery on the South Lambeth Road, is back. And so is his brother Giovanni.

Luigi is running ITALO, a delightful new Italian deli in Bonnington Square.  ITALO is on the corner with Vauxhall Grove at 13 Bonnington Square SW8 1TE (07590 609 590).

The deli is open from 9.30 am to 8.30 pm Monday to Friday and 9.30 am to 6 pm on Saturdays.  As well as coffee (Espresso’s 90p), Luigi’s doing sandwiches and takeaways: on the day we  looked in,  you could have Penne alla Matriciana, Parmigiana alla Melanzane and (for vegetarians) Rigatoni alle Melanzane.

Luigi’s brother Giovanni is helping out at ITALO’s for a while, and if one piece of good news isn’t enough, he is preparing to reopen the family bakery early in the New Year.This time, the Di Lietos’ bakery will be at the junction of Brixton Road and South Island Place.

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Residents in the Albert Square conservation area should have today received updated consultation material from Lambeth Council about the proposals for traffic calming measures in the area. The last meeting of the Albert Square and St Stephen’s Association (ASSA) Committee considered these and came to the following conclusions, which we hope will assist you in making a response to the proposals (the closing date is now 17 October).

Slow

The Albert Square and St Stephen’s Association (ASSA) welcomes the opportunity to respond to Lambeth Council’s current consultation on a traffic calming scheme in the Albert Square conservation area. But we believe that local residents need a far more effective approach to the serious problem of traffic that is too much and too fast. ASSA is opposed to the current proposals for the following reasons:

  • We don’t believe that the proposed additional sinusoidal road humps will be sufficient to reduce the volume and speed of traffic that now uses our area as a ‘rat run’ – a fact of life acknowledged in the council’s paper
  • We believe that any traffic calming measures for our area should be part of a wider strategy that situates our needs within the wider network of local streets. Such an approach was agreed by Lambeth Council in 2006, when the Executive Director of Environment reported to the North Lambeth Area Committee that the ‘Fentiman Road Cell scheme’ would be processed for implementation that year. Under this scheme, our area would have been subject to an ‘entry treatment’ that would have reduced the volume of traffic cutting through our streets, and its speed
  • There is an existing 20mph speed limit through our area – though you would hardly know this because of the lack of signs and road markings. This limit needs to be more vigorously signed and enforced. For example, a census of traffic through our area a year ago found that in excess of 1,000 vehicles a day were passing through the area, with average speed of 22mph and 15% were travelling at speeds of more than 26mph.

We welcome Lambeth Council’s attempts to tackle traffic calming in the Albert Square conservation area, but call on them to withdraw this scheme in favour of further consultation with residents to introduce more effective longer term solutions to reduce the volume and speed of traffic in our area.

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The deadline is on us for responding to the consultation by TfL and Lambeth council on the proposed installation of seven “sinusoidal road humps” at locations shown in red on the map.  The pack which came through my letterbox said there was a questionnaire about the proposals, but didn’t actually include one – though there was an email address – gbull@lambeth.gov.uk – for more information.

The objective of the scheme is clearly one we all share – these proposals will, we are told, “lower traffic volumes, limit vehicle speeds, reduce collisions and improve road safety”.  That’s a lot for seven humps to achieve, and there’s some reason to doubt that it will fulfil the planners’ hopes.

The first problem is that this looks as though the completely piecemeal approach to traffic planning is continuing:  none of this takes us any closer to seeing a coherent approach to planning for the whole of the South Lambeth Road – Clapham Road – Harleyford Road triangle.

The deeper problem is that key components of the traffic management system seem to be off limits in any overall assessment of what’s going on, most importantly the traffic lights at the end of Aldebert Terrace which made the Albert Square  – Aldebert Terrace cut through much more attractive.  So having generated traffic through doing one thing, we have lived through a whole series of measures designed to counteract the effect of the first one.

That’s not to say that adding more humps is a bad idea, even if it is born more of desperation than of strategy.  Interestingly, the Department for Transport seems pretty sceptical about the advantages of (more expensive) sinusoidal humps over the common or garden variety.

Whatever your views, tomorrow is the last day for sending them in, using the questionnaire if you were lucky enough to get one, or simply by email to the address above if you weren’t.

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