2018 Forest Hill Ward Councillor Candidates - Conservative


#1

Continuing the discussion from Local Government:

I have recently been selected as a Conservative candidate for the Forest Hill ward in the May 2018 council elections. I’m new to the forum - has been very interesting reading some of the threads! I look forward to reading more and hopefully making some contributions over the coming months.

It seems that this is a good space for people to hold the council to account and we hope to add our voices to this. It’s also great to see so many people with a strong sense of investment in their local community!

Regards,
Liam


#2

@Liam_Gilgar, I am impressed you read the Local Government topic and still want to be a local councillor! :slight_smile:

Thanks for joining SE23.life and getting involved in our discussions.

To you and the other Conservative councillor candidates - I’d be interested to hear more about your background. What was it that first interested you about local politics? How would you seek to improve Lewisham Council? What do you do outside of politics?


#3

Thanks @ChrisBeach. I’m still learning about local government/politics… haven’t been put off so far! I initially became interested in general politics to be honest, but over the last few years I’ve developed more of an appreciation for local politics as local issues can be much more relevant to people’s everyday lives… I feel an increasing admiration for people who want to make a difference in their local community - in whatever way, political or otherwise.

My understanding of Lewisham council is that there is clearly a hegemony there and it would be good to have some semblance of an opposition to that! The Millwall CPO situation seems testament to what can happen in such a political climate - risk of losing transparency and suggestions of dubious goings-on… although the council-commissioned Dyson report exonerates the council, it still feels as if there are questions unanswered. Why were these people up to such antics?

Our Conservative Mayoral Candidate, Ross Archer, will be running a full campaign on how Lewisham council - and more importantly, the day to day lives of Lewisham residents - can be improved! I hope some literature will reach residents’ doormats over the coming months.

The other prospective Conservative Council candidates for the Forest Hill ward are due to be Eleanor Reader-Moore and Andrew McMurtrie.

Outside of politics, I work as an addictions psychiatrist, having done my psychiatry training in South London. I have lived in Forest Hill for nearly 6 years. I cycle a lot, have a minor obsession with following cricket and not uncommonly like to use double negatives.

:slightly_smiling_face:


#4

Thank you Liam for your posts. Looking forward for the election campaign from Conservative candidates and your posts here of course. I do agree with you that we need more opposition in our Borough as I looked here http://councilmeetings.lewisham.gov.uk/mgMemberIndex.aspx only to discover that all Councillors are from Labour Party, only one, I believe is from Green Party. I am unhappy with the way how our Borough is managed and would like to see fresh strong Conservative team taking over after the upcoming elections.


#5

Are there any particular issues that you would like to see improvement on in the Borough?


#6

I know your question was directed toward Kat, but if I may, these are the things I’d like to see changed:

  • Ending ideological and autocratic decision-making, like the costly 20mph limits - which I don’t think residents were publicly consulted on (if they were, I’d like to see the results!).
  • Ending the mayoral system, which seems to have created more autocracy and less transparency. The ward councillors should be empowered - they are more directly elected and more locally-focussed than the mayor.
  • Focussing on helping unemployed residents into jobs and independence, rather than fostering dependency on welfare (whilst making generous allowances for the genuine needy).
  • Protect our vital and dwindling green spaces from development.
  • Breaking the Labour hegemony so we can trust internal investigations of alleged impropriety eg Millwall.
  • Ensuring council services like @EnviroLewisham respond to the public via social media.
  • Encouraging all local ward councillors to use this forum. Kudos to @MajaHilton for her sterling effort over the last 18 months.
  • Stop complaining about central government funding. Yes, money is tight. It’s a national problem. This isn’t news. Constrained circumstances demand creative thinking and bold decision-making. Not whining.

If others provide more suggestions, we should probably put them into a multi-choice poll later on, and see which are the most widely-held concerns.


#7

Hegemony it certainly is.

An elected hegemony.

Your loose use of words and particularly your inference of absence of trust is not to your credit and without foundation.

Take a leaf from HIGNIFY and use the term “alleged” - it will make the possibility of your expression being viewed as actionable less likely.


#10

I HAVE EDITED THIS POST TO BE CLEAR IT IS IN RESPONSE TO THE POST BY LIAM GILGAR ASKING WHAT IMPROVEMENTS I WOULD LIKE TO SEE IN THE BOROUGH.

I WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE 20MPH SPEED LIMIT RETAINED PLEASE.

Below I include some of the rationale for this that you might like to see as a prospective councillor. If Chris Beach can post to say what he would like to see then surely so can I? Or is that not how it works around here?

Original post:
Just to be clear the 20mph speed limit is not unpopular with me or with many of the people I know. Just in case any one isn’t sure and might have read a recent report from a Bath Councillor that was saying it was more dangerous - this was very clearly and robustly reviewed and was based on flawed data analysis. See below:

20mph really is plenty you know. The sooner we also have 20mph on the South Circular the better the living environment will be for all of us… (Yes I know that last one is very unlikely to happen).


#11

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


#15

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


#18

@kat.standlake.point - We will give this some thought, although not all the posts you highlighted are off topic, and some actually respond to back to @Liam_Gilgar regarding points made by others :thinking:

On one hand @robin.orton is correct in stating that anyone who puts a post on this forum shouldn’t be surprised when others to feel free to comment on it - its a public forum after all. Although his first post in this particular topic could have been more… shall we say, diplomatic - in the interest of keeping things inclusive and friendly.

On the other hand, we often lament that representatives of local government don’t use resources such as this forum to reach out to the electorate - so when they do, responding to an open question with digs at each other does nothing to encourage their continued engagement.

So that this topic doesn’t devolve into a complete off-topic mess, can I suggest that everyone take a tea break for the rest of today pls.


#21

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


#31

I see my last two posts have been censored by ‘the Community.’ Perhaps this one will be too. But meanwhile I would like to apologise unreservedly to Kat for my original post (which I was planning to do anyway). It was a clumsy attempt at satire which I can see she might have found offensive. I should not have posted it.


#34

Thank you for all the postings… I think! Sorry to see that there was a bit of turbulence. My experience of reading the forum threads so far is that they are overwhelmingly in the spirit of civic good.

I will try and pick up some local issues mentioned and attempt not to go down a rabbit hole too much… Some of the points seem quite broad-brush/systemic/national! I’m also quite new to the forum so bear with me…

To @ChrisBeach 's points: (will respond to @kat.standlake.point in a separate post)

I grouped some points together – hope you don’t mind. Quite a heavy start there! Perhaps you’re in favour of direct democracy, or something more technocratic or evidence-based? Specific to the local borough or beyond? I notice your post on another thread about ending the mayoral system. I have to confess I am still trying to understand how the levers of local government work but it does seem that the mayor has a lot of power (I’m hoping to observe some council meetings over the coming months when I get a chance). It would be good to see local ward councillors be/feel as actively involved as possible. I am told that a third of all Lewisham councillors were absent for over 25% of their meetings between Nov 16 - Nov 17; not sure if this reflects the balance you refer to or other factors.

I see that @MajaHilton contributes regularly on this forum and she has also responded to my tweet about some narrow paving in the Forest Hill ward – good to see! Perhaps as more councillors come through over the years they will be more digitally engaged and readily join forums like this.

I tend to view employment and welfare through a national rather than local lens and am hoping to keep this discussion borough specific! I imagine the job centre do much of the work you allude to. Lewisham council does run adult education and work skills taster courses though. I’d be intrigued to know how many people access these and what proportion of those who are unemployed find work after attending one of these courses.

Like most, I agree that green spaces are vital, particularly in London. On a somewhat related note, one of the priorities of the Conservative mayoral candidate, Ross Archer, is to keep Lewisham spaces tidy with a zero tolerance to fly tipping, rubbish dumping and littering.

This sounds like a good idea! The local police seem to have an active social media presence and it would be great to extend that practice to other local services. I’m veering further into manifesto-speak (not sure if allowed?!) by saying that Ross Archer is pledging to reintroduce weekly bin collections if elected.

I agree with @jgdoherty that it’s best to add ‘alleged’ but the point is clear! I guess the challenge is for other parties and their candidates to campaign and offer credible alternatives to the predominance of Labour. I hope at the very least it might better serve to keep them honest.

A national problem (and heated debate!) as you say. Not that I don’t think this is important, or that a case can’t be made for the national government’s position, but I think I’ll swerve this one if you don’t mind so as to stick to local issues!

Thanks for the points. Happy to hear your thoughts on the above or any more issues as/when they come up


#35

Hi Kat, thanks for your points although I now can’t see them on the thread. I had made a note of them before they disappeared and wrote some responses… Would you be happy for me to post your points and my responses back up? Or just my responses? I can send you a private message first if you want to check. Happy to edit


#36

i appreciate that the 20mph limits are contentious and the jury still seems to be out on their efficacy (and may take many years for any clear evidnce to emerge either way) but I personally agree with giving them a fair trial… As I understand at present there isn’t a conservative policy locally i.e. in Lewisham to reverse the limits.

I was interested to read on the 20mph thread that the mayor of Paris stated that a primary aim of their 30kmh (18.6mph) limit was to have fewer cars on the road. I would certainly like to see fewer cars on the road in London to a) reduce pollution and b) ease congestion for those who need to use cars e.g. for work or health reasons. Plus the health benefits of people using more active modes of transport.

Living the rock and roll lifestyle I do, I personally observed a sample of 996 vehicles through the Dartmouth Road/London Road junction between 8am and 9am on a Monday morning in December 2017 and 61% of (non-business-marked) vehicles contained a single adult. This might tally with TfL’s own figures that suggests suggest 2/3 of car journeys are avoidable.

This is definitely going to be a debate that rumbles on for some time though!


#37

Thanks for the detailed and thoughtful responses @Liam_Gilgar.

I am still learning which matters are local, and which are national (and which touch both), so I can focus on local issues when speaking to councillors, and national issues at the ballot box.

I will avoid bringing any more 20mph debate into this topic but I think you’re right about the motivation of our leaders with this policy.

Sorry you were confronted with earlier posts which pulled this topic off-topic. And sorry to see that Kat removed her posts.

@moderators try to be as light-touch as possible, but sometimes this means topics lose their focus. One of our aims is for councillors to join the discussion, and so we need to be more pro-active to make this a good environment for discussion of divisive issues. I’m sure others will see the value in councillor involvement (especially after reading posts like yours), and will be supportive when moderators step in to keep topics like this on track.


#38

Thanks @ChrisBeach

To @kat.standlake.point : (I have grouped some points together - hope ok)

• better management of public money - more transparency, more accountability, more value for money spendings, strong preventative system for any spendings and overspendings manipulations, price / contract manipulations, financial fraud. I want to see that every penny of public money is cared for and wisely effectively spent.
• Lewisham budget currently has 30% debt A third of your council tax in Lewisham is being spent on repaying debts it has to be dealt with, no debts.

Are there particular things you have in mind where the council has spent unwisely? I agree budgets need to be managed responsibly… perhaps an OBR equivalent could be developed for local government (now there’s me suggesting a national level policy). Do you feel that Freedom of Information has improved transparency? I notice that the FoI request regarding Lewisham council’s debts in 2015 took over 4 months to come through. Not easily repeated. I think something noticeable on the doorstep so far in this campaign is that not many people seem to be aware of the debt that Lewisham council is in. It should be said that many councils are in debt though, of all hues. We do live in complex economic times and debt is a thorny issue –sorry for being trite!

• Lewisham is overcrowded. I dont want to see more housing built inside Lewisham, but effective out-of-area rehousing.
• more housing regeneration in Lewisham, there are lots of horrible looking buildings that have to be taken down and replaced with new ones, private mega-landlords have to be obliged to renew/redecorate the outside buildings to make them look decent.

More housing will be a pledge in the Conservative mayoral manifesto as I imagine it will be in the other main parties’. Actually building the houses is another matter though so you might get your wish! But we do need more housing up and down the country as I’m sure you’d agree. If England were its own nation it would be the most densely populated (macro) nation in Europe and the south east is particularly crowded. I personally think that central government needs to take control over large scale housing projects to ensure some clout in getting them built (like they did with the London Docklands Development Corporation). I think councils are struggling with having the power and bandwidth to get more built. Ross Archer, Conservative mayoral candidate, is pledging to build more affordable homes in the borough; details to follow in manifesto (I hope!). It will be interesting to see though if any national policies emerge over the coming months that might alter the relationship between local councils, planning and house building.

• more green spaces and strong protection for the existing ones.

Yep, all for green spaces. Are you suggesting the creation of new green spaces? Are you aware of any instances in the borough where existing green spaces are under threat?

• more cleaner streets, more cleaners, less cars, better public transport system, if there are sufficient buses, they are clean and not overcrowded, if they run on time, i dont see why people have to take their cars, it is cars that cause traffic (and pollution) in the moring at Catford bridge and at every school, not buses, no trams, no trains.

I mentioned in the response to Chris that one of the priorities of the Conservatives in Lewisham is keeping the borough tidy. The vast majority of residents are proud to live in Lewisham and want don’t want their community treated carelessly. Ross Archer is proposing a zero tolerance approach to fly tipping, rubbish dumping and littering. It is a problem that residents frequently mention on the doorstep. Full details of what this will mean will be written into the manifesto; I imagine it will involve some stronger sanctions. The point on cars – I draw your attention to my very scientific study described above! Would be good to have fewer cars on the roads. To that end we need to work on developing feasible altenatives to driving. I understand that with the help of central government there are now 5000 extra seats (68 extra carriages) on the Southeastern network during morning and evening peak. Ross Archer is also campaigning for Grove Park, Lower Sydenham and Beckenham Hill stations to be Zone 3 rather than 4 to reduce costs/incentivise more rail use.

• large lewisham medical walk-in only centre for non life threatening emergency, non ongoing health issues. To get to see GP for chest infection to get antibiotics, you need to wait 2 weeks (available appointment) or to go to Lewisham Hospital; to wait for a deep wound to be stitched up you need 4 hrs in Lewisham Hospital - simple procedure that easily can be done by a nurse at the local medical centre. It will reduce queues at the Hospital and local medical centres.

There is an Urgent Care Centre, next to A&E, at Lewisham Hospital which deal with non-urgent and minor conditions. The advice is still to see your GP first though if it is non-urgent or an ongoing illness/injury. However, if you cannot wait see your GP then you can go to the UCC. My understanding is that you’ll usually be seen more quickly at the UCC than in A&E but waiting times depend on demand on the day. Have you used the Urgent Care Centre at all? I can’t say I have but, anecdotally, when I worked in Lewisham hospital it seemed to serve a steady stream of people.

• tackle wellfare fraud, people have to work to pay their bills, wellfare support for those who really need it, who works, pay their taxes. Stop encouraging wellfare abuse. Instead all that money waste, better provide a very cheap loans and mortgages for people to get their own homes or partial subsidiary system when local government helps to pay off the morgage so people arent left homeless. People dont need a lot to be happy - own home, affordable healthy food, good medical system to stay healthy and good lifetime education to stay relevant for the employment market.

Some broad points which might be difficult for local councillors to resolve… Interesting idea of local government subsidising mortgages although I suppose this happens already through the right to buy scheme? Are you suggesting local government helps subsidise people in private housing? I feel this might be duplicating nationwide subdsidy schemes (largely for 1st time buyers) and I don’t know how cash strapped councils would find the money for this…

Thanks again for the points. Let me know your thoughts on the above or any other issues that arise!


#39

Not quite sure why but my suggestion which was meant for Liam Gilgar has just been censored by the community, even though he has since provided a thoughtful and friendly answer . Let me try again – in response to his kind invitation ‘are there any particular issues you would like to see improvement on in the Borough?’ I added my suggestion to several put forward by others.

The Conservative party locally does not seem to have a clear position on the 20mph issue. Two things I would like to see change.

  1. The local party and any elected Councillors to get right behind and continue the implementation and continuous improvement of this popular policy on the roads Lewisham are responsible for.

  2. Local Conservative policy and Councillors to follow the lead of Conservative Minister Boris Johnson, who strongly supported 20mph cross Borough limits when he was Mayor of London. Johnson also initiated the piloting of 20mph on some TfL red route roads, and I would also like to see support from local Conservatives for continuation of the pilot and piloting their own section of TfL roads.
    Another contributor mentioned the South Circular – I would like to see reduced limits to 20mph , say from Horniman Museum past the station to Sunderland Road, for environmental, noise, pollution, safety reasons etc. Crossing that road by the station remains a nightmare.

Liam, I am entirely happy with your response, just rewording this suggestion as I am a bit mystified as to why this was thought by some to be to be off topic.


#40

Possibly as there is an existing 20 mph thread already.