Thursday, 7 October 2010

Streetscape improvements face uncertain future

Mayor Sir Steve Bullock and his cabinet decided on Tuesday that funding would not be made available next year for the Ladywell Streetscape project but it would be Lewisham council’s “next major scheme”.
In the discussions on transport strategy in the borough (the LIP - Local Implementation Plan) and use of available Transport for London Funding, the Mayor and his cabinet decided Lewisham had little room for manoeuvre.
Deputy Mayor Cllr. Alan Smith argued Lewisham’s two largest transport schemes - Surrey Canal Road underpasses (£500k) and Sydenham High Street (£600k) - were already in train and that the council was already to some extent committed to them. Ladywell would therefore have to wait its turn.
But as Cllr. Smith emphasised at the meeting, beyond next year, the three-year LIP submission is "aspirational", reflecting the uncertainties in public sector funding because of central government spending cuts.
So where does that leave Ladywell?
Under the proposals, Ladywell’s project is set to be covered by £500k in 2012-13 and £260k in 2013-14. But we now know that none of this funding can be guaranteed given the 20-25% budget cuts most public bodies will face.
It is therefore vital that LVIG and the local community keep up pressure on the council to implement the streetscape action plan and revive our neighbourhood. Feasibility work on the plan will take place next year as scheduled.
LVIG collected 407 signatures in support of its streetscape plans. Along with some intensive lobbying, we made sure the case for the scheme was acknowledged and understood by councillors.
As a result the mayor welcomed the constructive approach taken by LVIG and secured cabinet consensus on the Ladywell project being the council’s “next major scheme.”
We will now have to keep up the campaigning to ensure that the Mayor and his cabinet stick to their commitments.


Peter Tooke said...

So the Mayor gives £10k of Council money to fund a study whose reccs locals and Council officers welcome, only for the Council to shelve it for two years - by which time TfL won't have any money to dish out. Talk about being give false hope. You LVIG people must be livid after all the effort you've put into this. Two fingers to the 'Big Society' in Lewisham!

Robert Sheppard said...

Peter - it's not quite like that. I think the Mayor does genuinely appreciate the efforts of LVIG which he referred to at the meeting as "helpful and constructive" (or something like that) - and the Mayor has publicly indicated that the Ladywell scheme will be the Council's next major streeworks project, so there's no reason to give up hope altogether. LVIG will not go away, of course, and in the interim will continue to work with Ladywell Councillors, Council officers and other interested parties to secure smaller stop-gap improvements. For example we hope the Council will take action to require the vacant flats above Coral are brought back into use and spruced up. It looks as if Council/LVIG pressure may soon bring the long vacant Nightwatch building back into use too.

Pete said...

Fingers crossed for two years time then. There might be a bit more money around by then if the economy picks up.

Geoffrey said...

The Mayor was "sympathetic" but the Deputy Mayor was almost "dismissive" citing other more current priorities. Case of "Good Cop, Bad Cop"?

TonyM said...

I don’t think we should underestimate our achievements here. It is disappointing that funding will not be available in the next financial year. But in just over 12 months we’ve turned our hopes of a better neighbourhood into a clear set of proposals – the streetscape action plan. This plan now has wide support within our community. Our determined campaigning has forced councillors and officers to take the streetscape proposals seriously. In a short space of time we have persuaded the mayor and his cabinet to see the value of the proposed improvements and to commit to making them the council’s “next big scheme”. After years of neglect Ladywell is back on the map! We now have to keep up the campaigning so that the area gets the funding it needs.

Geoffrey said...

Oh dear, I see that the local councillors, in their by-election literature, are claiming credit for "securing £800,000 for Ladywell", and that Lewisham Council is to fund the work. Of course, it was LVIG that presented the plans and lobbied Mayor and Cabinet.The money would be from Transport for London, is not guaranteed, and wouldn't anyway be available until 2012/13, I think.

Councillor Vincent Davis said...

I'd firstly like to assure readers that Labour councillors continue to support the Ladywell Streetscape Action Plan, and are continuing to campaign for it in the light of recent threats to funding from Coalition cuts to transport budgets.

Secondly, I'd just like to address some of the points made above by Geoffrey.

Our election leaflet made it very clear that the plans were brought forward by LVIG.

“The plans originated in a design and consultation commissioned by campaigners, Ladywell Village Improvement Group, funded by the Mayor’s Fund, and voted for by local residents at the Ladywell Assembly.”

We also described the streetscape action plan as a fantastic example of what can be achieved by the council and the community working together through the local assembly.

So far as our campaigning activities are concerned - we have supported the streetscape action plan and campaigned for it.

We wrote to the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor, the Director of Regeneration, making sure each of them had a copy of the streetscape action plan and highlighting its many excellent points. We had contacts with the lead officer at the council over the summer and we had discussions with the Deputy Mayor, who is respopnsible for regeneration and transport projects. When LVIG launched the petition we encouraged local Labour memebrs to sign it.

As councillors we have done a lot to support the Streetscape Action Plan. We will continue to work with and support LVIG in making it a reality.

The threat to funding is not from Lewisham Council which supports the proposals. The funding earmarked by the Council was its share of funding for local transport projects which comes from the Department for Transport and is channelled through Mayor of London. That is of course where the threat now lies.

So far as the comments about the Deputy Mayor are concerned - We have never found him to be dismissive towards the Ladywell Village proposals. He has been supportive in all the discussions we have had with him, and he remains supportive.

Anonymous said...

Rather disingenuous from the Councillor I feel (who, after all was only elected in May so presumably not involved in any of the hard work up to then). The leaflet headline read "Labour Councillors secure £800,000 for Ladywell" which is blatantly untrue.