GOING GREEN IN LEWISHAM
PEOPLE IN Lewisham borough are being invited to get involved with a scheme to deliver organic vegetables into the community every week at an affordable price.
Growing Communities, a social enterprise based in Hackney, helps set up vegetable box schemes that support local farmers, creates local jobs and provides local people with a weekly supply of fresh vegetables, sometimes delivered the same day they are picked.
The Lee Greens scheme is now launching to cater to residents of Lewisham and volunteers are wanted to help get the scheme up and running.
If you can spare a few hours each month and have an interest in healthy eating, conserving the environment or community-led trade, [email protected] to get involved.
NSPCC LAUNCHES NEW HELPLINE FOR ADULTS WORRIED ABOUT YOUNG PEOPLE IN GANGS
The NSPCC has launched a new helpline service for adults worried about children and young people who are in or at risk from gangs.
The charity believes that parents, carers and other adults who come into contact with them – whether family, friends or in a professional capacity – have an incredibly important role to play in protecting young people from gangs.
However it also recognises they often struggle to know where to turn in this situation. The NSPCC wants to support them so they can help the children and young people who may need them.
The new initiative has been made possible through funding and support from the Home Office. The department’s Ending Gang and Youth Violence Programme has helped provide specialist training for NSPCC helpline practitioners.
The free 24/7 helpline can be contacted anonymously for advice, support and information on 0808 800 5000 [email protected] text 88858 or online nspcc.org.uk/help.
The NSPCC will also direct callers towards other agencies, charities and voluntary organisations who can help them.
For further information go to nspcc.org.uk/gangs.
Croydon council’s trading standards team are now offering five top tips to help find a reputable trader.
NEVER do business with cold callers or respond to flyers dropped through your letterbox.
ALWAYS get at least three quotes, and follow up any references supplied.
ALWAYS use a website such as www.trustmark.org.uk or http://trustedtraders.which.co.uk to find traders who are vetted and approved by an independent body, such as trading standards. Don’t rely on websites offering only recommendations by people you don’t know and cannot contact, or that the business pays a fee to join.
NEVER pay cash – it’s untraceable and you won’t get it back. If the business is prepared to defraud the taxman, it may be just as ready to defraud you of your money.
ALWAYS ask to see relevant paperwork, including public liability insurance, the waste carrier’s licence and any specialist documentation for the work, such as Gas Safe registration, etc. The business can be checked on websites such as
v https://www.gov.uk/find-registered-waste-carrier for waste carriers’ licences
v http://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/help/check_a_business_or_engineer.aspx for gas-related work
v http://www.niceic.com/Page/SearchContractors for electrical-related work
“Householders have a legal obligation (duty of care) to take all reasonable measures to ensure that their waste is disposed of properly” say the council..
“The Environmental Protection (Duty of Care) Regulations require all householders to make sure their waste is removed from their premises only by registered waste carriers.
“These include our own domestic waste collections service and any private waste collector who holds a waste carrier’s licence issued by the Environment Agency.
“Residents found paying unlicensed waste carriers to remove their waste may be liable to prosecution and face a court appearance, a large fine and a criminal record.”
Cllr Mark Watson, cabinet member for safety and justice, said: “It’s important residents realise that they can’t simply get a man with a van to take away household, garden or building waste.
“If they do, there’s a good chance it’ll be dumped at the side of the road somewhere, and they could end up paying a much higher price than if they’d employed a registered carrier.
“Rogue traders, including unlicensed waste carriers, and fly-tipping are very real threats to residents and their communities.
“In the past couple of weeks we’ve seen two high-profile cases of fly-tipping that have left the council with a bill for tens of thousands of pounds in clearance charges – money that, at the end of the day, comes out of council taxpayers’ pockets.
“As a council, we’re determined to stamp out this criminal activity and ask that if anybody has information that could lead to the prosecution of a fly-tipper, they give us a call on 020 8726 6200.” (Source: Croydon council press release)
SOUTHWARK SITE OF THE FIRST REMEMBRANCE POPPY FACTORY
Campaigners aim to have a plaque for the site before the anniversary of Armistice Day and will be approaching local people and businesses for support. (Source: Southwark council press release)
CONSULTATION OVER PLANS TO GIVE COUNCILS POWERS ON STREET WORKS PERMITS
The government proposes changes to remove the red tape around the approval for scheme which would give local councils the power to approve ‘permit schemes’ they develop for their roads from April 2015, by making an order.
Authorities will still need to develop a robust business case for their proposed scheme, including a cost-benefit analysis, and will have to consult with people likely to be affected by the scheme.
Because of this change, the department needs to revise the permit scheme regulations and plans to make some further changes to improve the way permit schemes work.
The proposed changes include the introduction of a standard set of conditions to be used across permit schemes, which set how and when works are carried out. This will make it better for utility companies who work in a number of different areas.
The department also proposes to improve the incentive to work at quieter times.
These measures will mean local councils can better co-ordinate essential works on their roads to cut delays, but to do so in a way that allows utility companies to better deliver essential works on their services that we all rely on.
The six-week consultation closes on 25 September 2014. (Source: Department for Transport press release)
LAMBETH GETS MORE THAN 650 TROUBLED FAMILIES BACK ON TRACK
“Changing the behaviour of these families also benefits other people in Lambeth – and it earns extra money to spend on front-line services.”
Members of Aspirational Lambeth Families partnership have been assigned to individual families and worked with the whole family to make improvements across a range of problems – including school attendance and achievement, anti-social behaviour and unemployment, as well as tackling wider health issues, family dynamics, domestic violence, debts and other complexities. They support families to build resilience, confidence and empower them sustain improvements.
One mother on the programme said: “She [staff member] doesn’t leave me alone and doesn’t give up! If I don’t answer my phone she will turn up at my house.
“I didn’t like her at first as she works for Lambeth and I used to think they are all the same, but now I see that she is just trying to help.
“She has helped me and my son a lot. “My son’s at school 90pc of the time and I am dealing with my alcohol dependency issues and getting work ready”.
Officials estimate that the cost of dealing with some families’ problems is an average of £75,000 per year. The scheme offers councils £4,000 for each family on a payment by result scheme, which meets targets such as children returning to school for three consecutive terms, “significant” reductions in youth crime and anti-social behaviour, and adults getting off benefits and into work for three months or more.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles last month announced that 52,833 of the most troubled families in England had been put back on track by local authority teams since April 2012. (Source: Lambeth council press release)
WOMAN ON HOUSING BENEFITS HAD OVER 30 DIFFERENT ACCOUNTS
In March 2011 Southwark council received a report from the Housing Benefit matching service which stated that a woman held at least two bank accounts which had not been declared.
A subsequent investigation revealed she actually held over 30 accounts operating at different times – with some exceeding a 10-year period. The case was taken to court in order to reclaim any public money.
This prosecution concerned the defendant’s fraudulent claim for housing benefit and council tax benefit for the sum of £43,582.32 for the period 8 January 2001 to 21 August 2011.
On 29 November 2011 a restraint order was applied for under the Proceeds of Crime Act relating to the various bank accounts held in both her and her daughter’s names. A restraint order effectively puts a block on the money in specified accounts so that it cannot be used while the confiscation proceedings are undertaken.
In March last year she was found guilty by trial of two offences for which she received a six month custodial sentence.
In June this year at the Inner London crown court a confiscation order of £150,000.00 was made against the woman of which £43,586.32 was payable as compensation to Southwark council relating to her overpayment of housing benefit. (Source: Southwark council press release)
COUNCIL TENANT OBTAINED HOME BY FRAUD
A former Southwark tenant is facing five months in prison after he was found guilty of obtaining a council home fraudulently.
This is the latest housing fraud case to be uncovered as part of the ongoing Operation Bronze, Southwark council’s initiative to combat housing fraud, and will be the 22nd prosecution and 35th property to be recovered by the council as part of this project.
Overall the council has recovered 700 illegally sub-let properties over the last two years.
The man was sentenced to five months imprisonment at Woolwich Crown Court earlier this month. Charges for using false documentation were ordered to remain on file.
The crime, which was uncovered by Southwark council’s fraud team, dates back to April 2003 when the man made a homeless application to the council complete with Home Office documentation to confirm his right to reside in the UK.
As a result of the application, he was offered a two bedroom property in Crawford Road, Camberwell which he moved into in June 2003.
Operation Bronze started based on the review of datasets from the Audit Commission’s National Fraud Initiative (NFI) and the Metropolitan Police Operation Amberhill. The project subsequently identified that the man’s Home Office documents were false and that he was not entitled to council housing at the time.
Southwark council is currently taking action to recover the property.
Cllr Fiona Colley, cabinet member for finance, strategy and performance: “With an approximately 20,000 people on our housing waiting lists we cannot afford for any to be lost to fraudulent applicants.