April 2001 Newsletter
Newsletter April 2001 Free distribution to 250 households
The next HNA meeting will be held at,
The Friends Meeting House
on 16th May 2001
7.45 pm for tea & coffee
8.00 pm start
9.45 pm Meeting closes with tea and chat
It is once again time for our annual AGM and we have an interesting meeting lined up with speaker Judy Harris, a local historian, giving a slide lecture on William Roupell.
Following that, we need to elect the new committee. It is by no mean a foregone conclusion as to who the new committee members will be and we would welcome any nominations for any positions within the committee. If you are interested in being involved, but are not sure what would be required of you, please give any one of the committee members a call. Some of the positions only take a little time every now and then, but all help is greatly appreciated.
Please do attend the meeting (whether you are going to stand for election to the committee or not). It will be a fascinating evening and will be a good opportunity to meet, chat and discuss local issues with neighbours.
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Holme zone Progress Report
by Matt Davies, Planet Earth
Since our last report, which consisted of a summary of the Plan-It Weekend, the majority of the work has been spent on defining the essentials of the project and drawing up a plan, the Green Print. Over the weeks, this plan has been evolving as technical experts at London Borough of Lambeth have fed back their comments.
We informed you last time that a meeting with Transport for London took place in January and they told us and Lambeth that they needed a traffic model for the area. The traffic consultancy MVA were commissioned by Lambeth to complete this as soon as possible. TRL will then feed this information into their own traffic model to assess the effects in the local area. They will inform us of the results so we will know whether or not we can proceed or if further work is needed on the plan.
We have also been working on a cost plan to ascertain roughly the amount of funding needed to complete the Green Print vision, which would be the best possible solution in terms of quality and scope. We have suggested a phased scheme, with roughly £300,000.00 spent over a three year period. This would include new high-quality surfaces which will be flush in key areas for easier access for wheel-chairs, prams and buggies, new lighting, new playgrounds in the central green, better access to the green, improved circulation routes, improved parking arrangements, open vistas for safety, traffic-calming road alignments and new trees and vegetation to extend the superior aspect of the green and off-set the unilinear nature of the streets in certain areas.
A meeting with local resident Sarah Bennett, who works as a professional fund-raiser has given us some confidence that the amount of money needed is not beyond reach. Lambeth has already allocated some money this year and there is a good chance of making a successful application for funding from the New Opportunities Fund. Obviously, more work will be needed on the funding issue.
A date is being arranged to hold an exhibition for the Green Print which will give residents the chance to view the plan and make their comments. You will be informed of the date for the exhibition as soon as it can be agreed.
The meeting to view the plans for the Holme Zone is likely to be held at the end of May and you will be told by a separate notice nearer the time. It is also anticipated that we will hold a further open meeting about 2 weeks after to discuss all final points concerning the plans before implementation starts.
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by Den Ledwidge
Once again we approach the AGM for Holmewood Neighbourhood Association and it is time for my report. You will be please to know that we are still in the black. This is due to the generosity of Holmewood residents who have kindly contributed towards the running costs of the HNA. Our funds are primarily used to fund the hiring of the local meeting house so that our meetings can continue. Incorporated within our current credit balance is a small amount that is allocated towards our gardening fund. The gardening fund will be used towards planting shrubs within the green when the home zone is nearer completion. As treasurer for the HNA I have at times become involved in the care of certain funds allocated to the HNA for use on the home zone project. Please be assured that the money donated by residents to the HNA is not used in any way towards home zone consultations. Once again I appeal to local residents to contribute towards the good work done by the HNA. There are over 250 homes within the HNA remit and we are working hard to benefit our community. Please consider making a small donation towards the HNA upkeep. Even £1 per household would be ample to fund the HNA for at least another year. Donations in an envelope can be put through my letterbox at 4 Cotherstone Road. If you would like a receipt please remember to include your name and address.
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For those who were not aware, we have a web site. Log on to:
For any suggestions, or if you would like something included on the web site, please send an email to:
See an aerial photo of the area, look at black and white pictures of the Gardens and surrounding area from 1934 as well as modern photos, catch up on the latest Holme Zone news or check out the Youth section with excellent links.
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By Duncan Law
During 2000 the issue that preoccupied the chair to the exclusion of too much else was the Home Zone. At the beginning of the year there were regular Lambeth Home Zone Project Team meetings at between fortnightly and monthly intervals which were faithfully attended by Derek Hoare (invariably), Jannith Wong and the Chair. We made strong representations that the local community should PARTICIPATE in the planning of their Home Zone. As a result of our researches we submitted 3 names of possible designer/consultants. After stage one of the interview process the short list consisted of our 3 suggestions. After two more stages (at all of which HNA was represented) Matt Davies of Planet Earth was appointed.
Most of the meetings were concerned with the Home Zone. There were 6 full open meetings and a PlanIt Weekend convened by Matt Davies. Early in 2000 we convened a couple of feedback meetings on the proceedings of the Lambeth Home Zone Project Team.
Matt made a presentation at a general meeting in May when members were invited to fill in a preliminary questionnaire. The first full planning meeting happened in July when a number of task groups were set up to cover Children and Play, the Environment and Roads and Traffic. This was followed up by 4 more at which the residents thrashed out what the problems were that the Home Zone should solve, identified some principles and then began to propose specific solutions. The process did get a bit lost at one stage due to Matt’s absence on his honeymoon. The chair was monitoring the process, feeding back to Matt and the Lambeth Project Team about progress. Matt pulled it together at an excellent meeting where everyone had 5 matchsticks representing their right to 5 minutes uninterrupted air time. The meeting was respectful, good humoured and dealt with a lot of business. Parallel to this process with residents Matt had been overseeing workshops in some local schools and a video project with local teenagers. He then convened the PlanIt Weekend in early December, with creative workshops for kids and adults in willow sculpture, mosaic and wood carving and the screening of the young people’s video. At the same time an extensive exhibition was held in Christchurch School Hall displaying the results of the Participation Process so far with opportunities to contribute and comment. It was attended by the Lambeth Project Team, Keith Hill (MP and Transport Minister) and a good cross-section of residents. The whole weekend was videoed and this will be shown at the Greenprint exhibition at the end of June.
Other events included the usual bonfire night celebration.
During this year we distributed 4 newsletters, one of which was originated by Matt Davies of Planet Earth. Matt Davies distributed 2 more by post. Thanks again to Derek Hoare who donated most of the paper and photocopying (some 20 sides of A4 per household). We promoted the Community Zone in Palace Road distributing their programme of events. We publicised home security information (thanks to our beat PC Paul Laing for providing us with the home security leaflets which we also distributed to residents). We negotiated a 10% discount on materials and services from the Fortress Lock and Safe Company on Brixton Hill.
During 2000 Jannith Wong, who had worked so tirelessly on a number of planning campaigns, left the area and the committee. We wish her well. By now she should be a mother. Otherwise the committee remained unchanged. The committee met infrequently. The chair was away working for some time in March and again in June and July.
Much of the committee’s energy this year has gone into the Home Zone; monitoring performance, facilitating public meetings, attending Project Team meetings at the Town Hall, supplying support to Matt Davies in running his Participation Process..
As chair Duncan has functioned as a contact point for the HNA. He has personally written up minutes of meetings and newsletter reports and researched further information to disseminate. He has followed up planning applications relating to 14 Maplestead Rd, the Tramshed on Brixton Hill, the Orchard Centre and the Church Hall site. He has written letters representing the interests of residents to the planning department and to our MP. He has chased up Streetscene by phone and email. He has monitored and archived the Home Zone email list and attended national meetings about Home Zones. He has done personal research to contribute to the Home Zone design process. He was present throughout the PlanIt Weekend. He has updated and expanded the Holmewood Directory to enable residents to make their own representations to the council and to their elected representatives. He collated the guidelines for reporting prostitution and prepared the petition. He has shown his compost worms to at least one interested resident and is still happy to offer home composting advice and free worms or to relieve residents of their kitchen waste. He has given eco-building advice to several residents.
Children and Play
At the 1999 AGM we passed a resolution to form a user group/subcommittee responsible for lobbying for better play equipment. Kristin Stott has taken on the role of co-ordinating this group. She has liaised with a number of parents, sent out a survey, and collected a scrap-book full of examples of play equipment both good and bad. Alan Sutton the Lambeth Play Officer has offered expert help to consult with local people sometime in May to ensure that when money comes to be spent in Holmewood Gardens we get exactly what the users and residents want.
Sarah Prynn continues to oversee the Newsletter in collaboration with other residents. More contributions solicited.
We have tried to monitor and write appropriate letters on planning issues such as the development of the Church Hall behind Holmewood Road, protecting trees, supporting residents in campaigning against planning infringements. On the whole the quality of the development is good, the disruption has been moderate, and the contractor has gone out of his way to maintain good community relations. Planning contraventions have been resolved. The same developer is interested in buying the rear portion of the Pinewood Garage and putting about 4-6 town houses to form part of the present site accessible from Cotherstone Rd.
We had our first defeat last year when, despite very effective campaigning led by Jannith Wong against the planning appeal by the people at 14 Maplestead Road, planning permission was granted for the conversion of what had always been a small builders yard into a new building with 3 flats in it. No recognition was taken of the fact that it was an undistinguished design to be built in a conservation area of very uniform Victorian houses and that it was removing a potential employment generating site with residential in direct contravention of the UDP. So far the building is for let as offices and a yard. If anyone knows someone who can occupy it suitably, eg. an architect, please let them know about it.
Firstly, thank you to all residents who have given of their time and energy to attend meetings, report lapses of council services, participate in the design of their Home Zone, stop and chat on street corners, report Duncan’s burglar alarm going off, and generally be neighbourly.
Sara Bennett has done sterling work in researching and applying for grants to support the development of the Home Zone. As a result of her efforts Lambeth Endowed Charities awarded HNA £2000 to enable us to ‘do the Participation Process properly’. Another £400 has been offered from another source. We are preparing applications for sizeable capital grants for the implementation of the Home Zone.
• to have more meetings of general interest and of a social nature.
• to have more newsletters of more general interest with more contributions on more diverse subjects by more local residents (GET INVOLVED!) to continue
• to monitor happenings and local politics in as far as they impact on residents.
• to feed information to the residents and from them to Lambeth Council.
• to liaise with police and council agencies, especially Streetscene, to represent resident’s needs and wishes.
• to campaign on behalf of residents and for their right to be heard by the council in the planning and running of their local environment in general and in the Home Zone in particular.
• to continue to monitor the planning and implementation of the Home Zone to ensure that it is done with openness and to a high standard.
On a personal note I have continued to enjoy being Chair of HNA and meeting so many wonderful people in this beautiful neighbourhood where I feel privileged to live. I have signalled that this is the last year I shall stand as Chair feeling that a new head and set of enthusiasm should take over. My phone number is 020 8678 6617 and I am happy to talk to residents about anything.
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HNA COMMITTEE ELECTIONS
These will take place at the next meeting our Annual General Meeting. Posts to be filled are Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and committee members up to a maximum of 10. Areas of specific responsibility currently include: Children and Play; the Newsletter; the Website. New areas that have been identified have been Police Liaison, Community Liaison with neighbouring Tenants and Residents’ Groups (to help co-ordinate actions against prostitution and drugs)
If you would be interested in being a committee member please contact Duncan on 020 8678 6617 or Marion on 020 8674 6867. If you would like to nominate someone please speak to them first and then contact Duncan or Marion.
If you would like to propose a resolution to be debated, perhaps modified and then adopted as HNA policy please notify Duncan or Marion so that it can be built into the agenda.
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The meeting began with tea and biscuits. We were inquorate, there being only 13 residents present but with 3 important guests and issues to discuss it was decided to proceed anyway. Duncan welcomed Sergeant Mark Rogers and WPC Claire Simons of the Vice Squad and Toren Smith one of our ward councillors. He then handed over to Marion Schumann who had convened the meeting and took the minutes.
Marion said that she had been contacted by residents complaining of continuing prostitution on Brixton Hill and extending into Upper Tulse Hill. She also said that calls to the police were not always greeted sympathetically and were not always producing results. She was concerned that the push against prostitution should not be short term.
Sgt Rogers agreed. He explained that the Lambeth Vice Squad consists of him and 4 PCs. This means that even with the Vice officers working often 12 hour shifts there is always going to be some hours in the day when they are not on call. There are a hundred prostitutes working regularly in his patch and perhaps 200 more working occasionally. **
The explosion of prostitution in the area is intimately linked with the explosion of available crack cocaine in the last 18 months. Perhaps 98% of the girls working the streets are addicted and must find perhaps £200 per day to support their habit. In addition many will have sexually transmitted diseases and HIV. Most lead a pretty wretched life.
Lambeth does now have a vice strategy. On 6 March Sgt Rogers had a meeting with Commander Brian Paddick at which he was promised that it will become a priority for normal beat officers to make an extra 60 arrests of prostitutes per month. There is also a commitment to get an extra 60 officers for Lambeth. Two of those will join the Vice Squad. Under the Crime and Disorder Act the police have a statutory duty to work in partnership with the Local Authority ‘to reduce crime’. Lambeth has the highest street crime figures of any London Borough. The number one priority has been to reduce street robbery and there has been some success in this area. The Police Authority has to report back to the Home Secretary in 2002 on whether the targets have been met.
Sarah Thorley requested (and the meeting agreed) that the police target the punters and the pimps without whom the whole business would not exist.
WPC Claire Simons reported that there were a number of anti-kerb crawling initiatives using WPCs as decoys. At present they do not have sufficient officers for regular initiatives. **
PC Kevin Bridgeman (formerly one of our beat officers who spoke at a meeting in 1998) has originated a poster campaign for Brixton Hill warning that kerb crawling will be prosecuted. South London Press is all set to co-operate in ‘Name and Shame Days’.
Targetting the pimps is much more difficult. Often the girls are in a relationship with the pimp. She will deny that she pays him anything. He may serve a useful function as body guard. To convict there must be long term observation to show ‘habitual company’ and evidence of money having been handed over. They currently do not have the officers to mount this kind of operation. Sgt Rogers has however written to the Crown Prosecution Service asking exactly what evidence is necessary to convict a pimp.
Sarah also asked if other agencies are being used to help combat the drugs problem. WPC Simons (who had previously been 12 months with the drug squad) said they use as many as they can. They can now call upon the services of a Drugs Referral Worker who can advise on rehabilitation and benefits, etc. However there is a 12 month waiting list to get onto a rehabilitation programme. Without long term support afterwards the girls are often back on the game and on drugs within 3 weeks of coming out of prison or rehab. **
‘Crack’ is relatively cheap drug that is very addictive. It is reckoned by Customs and Excise that up to 1/3 of people coming in from the Caribbean are carrying crack. Brixton has become the clearing house for the nation’s crack cocaine. It has become much better organised. In January Operation Crack-down targeted dozens of crack addresses over 4 weeks. These premises are often very well barricaded. One took 30 seconds to break into by which time all evidence had been disposed of. To mount these kind of operations is very labour intensive, liaising with the local authority for eviction orders, long term surveillance and additional support units with pneumatic door rams etc. They cannot do it regularly under present constraints.**
He informed us that the recent crowds of officers that residents have seen at Brixton Tube Station are the result a collaboration between Met. officers (often not from Brixton) and British Transport Police in Operation Eliot to crack down on crime on the tube and ticket fraud.
CCTV will be in place soon on Brixton Hill to link up the cover that exists in Brixton and Streatham. But this only drives criminal activity into the side roads and residential areas. The monitoring is not all it could be either. Each staff member is observing 43 screens and being a council employee is not trained in observation. They work 12 hour shifts and the pay is not good.
He also pointed out that one arrest can take 2 hours with all the transport and paperwork during which time the Vice officer is off the streets. The Vice Squad often operate in plain clothes and in unmarked cars so their presence is intentionally not very visible. He promised that as soon as the Vice Squad have their personal pagers we will be given the numbers to contact them direct.
Marion suggested we might write letters to Commander Paddick, stating the gravity of our problem and asking for resources to be found to tackle these important and interrelated areas of crime. (see enclosed model letter and the areas marked ** in the report, where more officers and money would make a difference.) We should copy the letters to Tom Franklin, (leader of the council and one of our ward councillors) and Keith Hill, our MP. Organising a Petition was also suggested. Sgt Rogers agreed that it could only help. It was resolved to do this by providing a model letter that residents can sign and forward or use to write their own.
Sgt Rogers advised:
1. If you approached by a kerb crawler write down and report his number and what he said to you. If you see a definite pick up also take numbers and descriptions.
2. Continue to report prostitution as described in the previous newsletter.
3. Write a personal letter to Commander Brian Paddick, Cllr. Tom Franklin and Keith Hill about the problem and asking from more resources to be dedicated to solving it.
4. Collaborate with neighbouring residents associations to increase our pulling power on resources and to pool information.
All this, the HNA has pledged to do.
The meeting thanked Sgt Rogers and WPC Simons for coming and reporting so frankly to us.
Marion then questioned Cllr Toren Smith about perceived failures of council services especially street cleaning, the state of the road and pavement surface and graffiti. It was pointed out that the council’s monitoring of its own service is poor and that residents continually have to report defects.
Toren agreed that in many areas the service was falling down, having recently measured a 9” deep pothole in Fairview Place. He said that Lambeth spent only about 60% of what the Government recommends on street maintenance choosing to prioritise Social Services, Education and Debt Servicing. Lambeth have done well out of recent Government input of funds, with £120m for public housing guaranteeing central heating for all over 70s in council properties. There will also be a new Secondary School in the centre of the borough. He gave some history of the decentralisation of the service to the current Streetscene Agents for specific areas responsible for everything that relates to streets from street cleansing to road maintenance, street lighting, refuse collection, abandoned cars etc. The hotline number is 020 926 9000 and they can be emailed on StreetSceneAdmin@lambeth.gov.uk . Duncan did this the other day and got a fairly prompt response and a timetable for the works most of which have been carried out.
Toren suggested we arrange a meeting with the Streetscene officer for our area to open a dialogue. We could agree a list of works that need doing immediately and a system of regular inspections and monitoring which we can sign up to and into which we can input constructively. We will do this.
If residents fail to get satisfaction either from the Council or outside agencies when they go through the normal procedures Toren asked that they please contact him. Duncan asked that they notify HNA too. Toren’s number is 020 8674 9371 and his email is email@example.com .
Residents expressed dissatisfaction with Team Lambeth’s performance. Toren said Lambeth was historically bad at contract management but that they still has some years of the initial 7 year contract to run it was better to work together to improve services rather than get into a confrontation. Residents on St Martin’s estate have built a relationship of trust and co-operation with their service providers which is yielding benefits.
Toren undertook to research the current state of play with the Orchard Centre which he had heard had been sold. Duncan’s most recent information was different.
As a result of an article in the last Newsletter Duncan was contacted by Sue Donovan of the Holmewood Nursery School to say that they had rescued the duck see-saw when Lambeth Streetscene operatives were attempting to remove it as unsafe! (Did they also remove the willow sculpture?) Duncan presumed to say on HNA’s behalf that the Nursery School should keep it. We might claim it back during the summer holidays so that it remains available for play.