Sunday, 25 May 2014

Tremendous Win in Woolwich Common - David Gardner

Labour won all three seats in Woolwich Common ward this afternoon on a swing of 9% from Conservatives to Labour.

We won 67% of the vote with 2289, 2208 and 2048 respectively. The turnout was up on the last local elections by 3.7% at 31.8%.

The next highest candidate was the Green on 469. A majority of 1820, the highest in the Borough.

This great result is all due to your hard work over the last few weeks and months. That we had 28 WC people out yesterday and others in marginal wards speaks volumes for the spirit of Labour's campaign. Throughout, we have been absolutely determined to cover the whole ward and not take any voter for granted; also we have focussed on our positive values, achievements and passionate commitment and never stooped to attacking other parties.

Many thanks again and look forward to seeing everyone on Wednesday 11 June at our reception and AGM.

Please see the full results here on the Greenwich Council website.

With best wishes

David Gardner.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Generation Rent - Labour's Hope for Tenants

In the last few weeks, meeting residents throughout the ward, I have lost count of the number of desperate people who are private tenants threatened with eviction through no fault of their own. The housing charity shelter reported today on the record number of evictions nationally. In Woolwich Common, many rogue landlords are simply chucking out decent hard working tenants who pay their rent on time to make more money from new tenants.

People are often given just a couple of weeks' notice to find somewhere else and uproot. Where children are involved, this is even more unsettling and disruptive to their education if they have to move school and move away from friends and local childcare circles and networks.

And then the choices facing those facing eviction are grim, with that awful balance between what you can afford with ever rising rents and somewhere respectable in a reasonable state.

This is why I'm so pleased that Labour has launched new policies that will mean 3 year tenancies with only inflation adjustments in those three years, a cap on the often inflated charges for moving in from letting agents and tenants being able to.mpve out with one month's notice. Obviously, we need a Labour Government for a change of policy but a Labour council can try beforehand to ask landlords and letting agencies to sign up to a voluntary code rather like Newham have done with their landlord registration scheme.

Also, this week our excellent Labour MP Nick Raynsford made the case in Parliament for all private landlords to be obliged to fit smoke alarms in each flat. This is long overdue but will still need agreement from Government.

Obviously, many people would like to own their own home but for most this is impossible in London and for some it doesn't suit their needs. So more and more are renting. We need to all work together to encourage good landlords high standards and proper protection for all tenants 

David Gardner

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Coming to the Connaught - David Gardner

From the ashes of the much maligned Connaught estate, the phoenix is arising with outline plans for the new community by Woolwich New.Road and Brookhill Road going to the council's planning Board on Monday 14 April.

Back in 2004, when the council embarked on the Labour Government's Decent Home Programme to bring all Greenwich's own homes up to modern standards the decision was taken that three estates - Charlton's Maryon Grove, Morris Walk and The Connaught in the centre of Woolwich had a limited lifespan structurally and to rebuild them rather than upgrade. 

Sadly, just as plans were underway the global recession hit and developers baulked. But now, we're on schedule again and as you will have seen the old estate has been decanted and tenants rehoused. The plans have been subject to local consultation. They envisage street houses facing Brookhill Road and higher flats on Woolwich New Road and the interior with a central green boulevard through the estate.

Some concerns have been raised about the height and proximity of the Brookhill homes to the road and about the lack of community facilities and the reduction in greenery. It is really important that if you have views, you come along to the Planning Board and ask to speak beforehand. 

It will transform this quarter of Woolwich between the town centre and military quarter and be a vast improvement on the old concrete rather faceless monstrosities of the 1968 brutalist Connaught but we should ensure we are building a new stable, thriving and environmentally sustainable community not just squeezing in the highest number of housing units sold off-plan to investors. 

David Gardner

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

A London Living Wage for Woolwich - David Gardner

This week, the Government confirmed it will support the Low Pay Commission recommendations to increase the national minimum wage from £6.31 to £6.50 an hour, a paltry 3% increase. The minimum wage, introduced by Labour in 1998, would have to be £7 to have kept pace with inflation since the recession.

And for many people on low pay, costs continue to rise especially for essentials like electricity and gas, and for those renting privately, local rents have rocketed. This is why Labour is a strong advocate of the London Living Wage (LLW) where all employees and contractors are paid at least £8.80 per hour, just enough according to the experts to afford the essentials needed to survive from day to day without any luxuries or indulgences.

Greenwich Council has recently been accredited as a Living Wage employer and is ensuring all new contracts stipulate paying the LLW. Many leading businesses in London already pay the LLW and Canary Wharf is considering becoming the first Living Wage Zone. Paying the living wage means for employers not only that they are treating their people with dignity, but improved morale and productivity with lower staff turnaround and sickness. All the evidence is that the business case is strong as the social case and means lower benefits bills. Indeed, it could be argued that for  the 5.2m on poverty pay (under the living wage), employers are effectiveky subsidised by the taxpayer. 

At the moment average monthly wages in Greenwich are more than £300 lower than neighbouring Tower Hamlets over the water. We need to redouble our efforts to attract higher value and decently paid jobs locally and build pressure on existing local employers like Tesco and the army to do the decent thing and pay the LLW. 

David Gardner

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Europe - David Gardner

I have left the business and creative capital of Europe, London, for the political capital of Brussels aboard the environmentally friendly Eurostar. To some in Woolwich and Plumstead, Europe may seem a long way off but actually we're part if it and it makes a difference to our lives every day.

So for workers, it means statutory holidays, parental rights, equal rights for part time workers and a maximum 48 hour week (which you can opt out of). For consumers (and that's everyone) it means mobile roaming charges have been more than halved, compensation for cancelled and over-delayed flights and the right to buy from anyone in Europe at no extra charge. And for local regeneration, the EU has helped fund skills training, credit unions and physical regeneration.

We all now have the right to work and study anywhere in Europe and the world's largest economy and single market brings added jobs and clout on the world stage.

Europe is not perfect of course, we need more say; we need to stop the farce of our European Parliament carting everything from Brussels off to Strasbourg every month and we spend too much subsidising inefficient farmers and too little on research and science to foster jobs and competitiveness. But nor is the UK perfect.

So, your vote for the European Parliament on 22 May (same time as local elections but a different ballot paper) will make a big difference. Labour MEPs will effectively fight within Europe for London, Tories ally themselves with a ragbag of right wing groups some of whom have very dubious histories while UKIP hardly ever show up or vote, letting London and Britain down. So do vote and have your say. We need Europe to take a lead for sustainable growth and jobs, as well as good air quality and our environment, for all of us.

David L Gardner

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Barnfield Hub - David Gardner

I left home early on Tuesday to catch the 53 bus to Barnfield to see the first part of the exciting new Barnfield Hub swing into place at 07.30.  Met some of the great team of community leaders, all tenants on
the estate, who have worked so hard to bring a community centre back, a tenant making a video and the contractors doing the hard work on the day.

After being filmed, I had to leave just gone 08.00 to get to my work - but later that day the giant green crane swung a further four modules into place on the Plumstead Common Road end of the Barnfield estate where the old Somali Community hut used to stand.  Both this and the brick community centre in the centre of the estate were victims of arsonists many years ago.

Since then, Barnfield has rediscovered its spirit with Big Local support to landscape a brilliant garden with play area for younger children (it has some tellytubby like hills!) and a hard court area for football for older children.  They have a great voice and organise community days and trips out with a difference.  As well as open coffee mornings every Tuesday at the Barnfield project.  But now these will move to the new community centre, which just has to be securely fastened, fitted and landscaped with another soft play area adjacent.

Barnfield has come so far.  There are still issues and councillors and candidates are helping to address those, especially with the limitations of the building structures.  But a great community has risen, and this latest addition is definitely the start of a new chapter in the Barnfield renaissance.

David L Gardner

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Meet our councillor candidates - Harry Singh

Councillor Harry Singh is currently the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s Cabinet Member for Greener Greenwich and works as an Energy Project Manager at Medway NHS Trust Foundation. He joined the GLL board in 2012 and has enjoyed an illustrious career to date in Energy Management, working in both the public and private sectors.

Priding himself as an active member of the community, Harry Singh has served residents of the Royal Borough of Greenwich since being elected as a councillor in 2001. He has previously been a trustee of Demelza Children’s Care Hospice, Greenwich MIND, Blind Independence Greenwich, Greenwich Victim Support and the Greenwich Enterprise Board.

In addition, he has also been a school governor at three of the borough’s primary schools over the past ten years.Harry enjoys taking part in various sports and is passionate about the aims and objectives of GLL – and encouraging as many people as possible to lead an active lifestyle.

Harpinder Singh