Someone told me August was a quiet month at the Council – what am I doing wrong?! There may have been no official meetings, with Council being on recess, but somehow my diary stayed pretty packed. Sammy and I continued with our fortnightly surgeries – which were well attended (get in touch to book an appointment!), I also spent some time preparing for next month’s scrutiny meetings and writing some key papers on behalf of local residents, and we also had some pretty nice wins …
Don’t mind doing it for the kids!
This month I attended two different children’s centres in Greenwich and spoke to the people who run them. I went to Alderwood’s Family Holiday Camp and I joined HomeStart for a softplay session (with William, of course!).
As a children’s centre service user, I have seen firsthand over the past couple of years the great work they do. I have had midwife appointments in them, breastfeeding support, weighing clinics and children’s classes that only sometimes require a small (voluntary) donation. Since having William five months ago, I have also received 3 ‘wellbeing’ calls from Alderwood – checking everything is going well and letting me know about the activity programme for the next couple of months.
The introduction of SureStart Centres was one of the crowning achievements the last Labour Government, helping to give young people the best possible start in life. Here in Greenwich, we are so lucky that they have been prioritised by our Labour-run council (and that we have been able to find the money to keep them open). Across the rest of the country, councils of all political colours have had to close the doors of their centres as Conservative cuts to local authority funding meant many councils simply couldn’t keep these centres open and deliver on their other statutory obligations – particularly in the poorest areas (which are also the areas which would benefit from these centres the most).
If you are pregnant or have a young family – make sure you do check out our local children’s centres. You can find the timetable for the South Greenwich children’s centres here:
As the summer draws to an end, so too do the Greenwich ‘Food and Fun’ holiday clubs, with free spaces for children aged 4 - 16 who are on free school meals (and specialist SEND programmes too).
This month, I went along to the Roots4Life holiday club, and saw what a great time all of the kids were having. From cooking and gardening, to boxing and dancing – the 12-strong team delivered an excellent programme to over 50 young people.
I also met with the GYS Partnership Manager for the Charlton Athletic Community Trust, to learn all about the holiday clubs Young Greenwich has been running, and their year-round programmes and youth clubs. I was pleased to be able to link him up with the headteachers I met last month, in order to for him to share with them Young Greenwich’s extra-curricular key stage 2 English and Maths Programme.
Finally, as alluded to in last month’s blog, Sammy and I ran a campaign to replace the goalposts at Eltham Park South – and we were successful! The new goalposts should be installed shortly and will hopefully be well used by local kids (and adults!).
At the beginning of the month, I attended a meeting between M’arks SkyBar and local residents. These meetings are a condition of the bar’s licence, and are crucial to ensure peaceful co-existence with local stakeholders. Residents have not been happy by the amount of noise coming from the premises (particularly at weekends) and Mark made some commitments to try various measures to reduce the impact. Another meeting will take place in six months’ time, and I’m hopeful that we can find a solution that works for everyone. We all want a vibrant High Street, but local residents’ do deserve a good night’s sleep!
I also went along to another residents’ meeting concerning the proposed Pocket Living Development in the Co-op carpark in New Eltham, which was very well attended. There is still no date for this to come to Planning Board, although I suspect it will be quite late in the year (and that it will also be a very well attended meeting, with lots of people speaking against the development).
Avery Hill Park
This month, Greenwich Council’s bid for funding to restore the Avery Hill Winter Garden was submitted to the Levelling Up Fund. At present, the Winter Garden is owned by the University of Greenwich, but if our funding bid is successful we hope to be able to take it back into public ownership and work alongside a partner to make it a self-sustaining business (available for hire for weddings, for example) whilst still ensuring regular and free access for our local community to enjoy. The Winter Garden has so much potential – we just need some funding to help unlock it!
I also attended a meeting between the Friends of Avery Hill Park and the University of Greenwich to discuss (i) floodlights on their pitches; (ii) their wildflower meadow; and (iii) increasing their hedgerows to improve biodiversity. It was a really productive meeting, and it was also great to be shown round the site and see what other ecological projects they are working on (for example, the plot of land where students can grow their own vegetables).
A local resident brought to my attention the issues local pharmacies are having to get the medicines they need for their patients. I went to see Patricia at Stevenson’s to discuss this, and found out that she is often paying more for the drugs her patients need, than the NHS will refund her (as she doesn’t want her patients to go without). As this is more of a national issue, I have put her in touch with Clive Efford MP, and he is seeing what they can do to help.
Presenting the foodbank cheque
Since my election, I have been working closely with the Avery Hill foodbank, which operates from the Avery Hill Christian Fellowship. I was delighted that the Leader of Greenwich Council agreed to solicit a donation to the foodbank from a production company currently filming in Greenwich. You can see his letter to the foodbank here:
We presented the cheque of £1000 to the foodbank this month. I appreciate it is a drop in the ocean with the current cost of living crisis, but it will support 30 families for a week and I will keep trying to find other ways to support this foodbank.
Graveyard at St John the Baptist
I was recently alerted to the very sorry state of the Graveyard at St John’s the Baptist, which is incredibly overgrown (to the extent some graves aren’t even visible, never mind accessible).
Alongside the other ward councillors, I have engaged with our Parks department and we are working on a plan to get the graveyard into an acceptable state again. This will likely also involve some volunteer days – so if you are interested in helping, please get in touch!