Users of Khat (pronounced “cot”) are being offered advice on how to quit by Lewisham council before it becomes a banned substance on 24 June.“The government has decided to make Khat a Class C drug from 24 June 2014 meaning users and traders can face a penalty notice disorder (a £60 fine) and possible arrest if found in possession or found with an intention to supply” said Lewisham council in a statement..
“Khat is a leafy green plant native to East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, which contains two main chemicals (cathinone and cathine) which speed up your mind and body. The use of Khat is being increasingly used within the UK and across Europe.
The Lewisham statement says Khat has a number of health issues and risks for users such as:
the development of insomnia and short-lived states of confusion
inflammation of the mouth and damage to the teeth
reduced appetite and constipation
high blood pressure and heart palpitations (with heavy use)
feelings of anxiety and aggression
paranoia and the exacerbation of existing mental health problems
increased libido/sex drive which could result in unsafe sex and/or unwanted pregnancies.
Read the Home Office Khat factsheet for England and Wales (links to PDF)
Lewisham residents who use Khat and want support to quit can call CRI – New Directions on 020 8314 5566 for advice and information.
Lewisham adult integrated misuse service – New Directions Lewisham410 New Directions Lewisham, Lewisham High Street SE13 6LJTel: 020 8314 5566 (Source: Lewisham council press release)
DELAY TO REOPENING OF SPRING LANE BRIDGE
Unexpected ground conditions and associated challenges mean that the Spring Lane bridge will remain closed for longer than previously anticipated, say Croydon council.
The revised timetable sees the bridge, which crosses Tramlink lines, reopening on Monday July 28th.
“The principal reason for the delay has been the need to redesign the bridge foundations” said a Croydon council spokesman. “As a consequence, a redesign of ducting carrying essential BT cabling across the bridge was required.
“Engineers from the council have had regular meetings with representatives of contractor Jackson Civil Engineering, both sides pulling together to see the completion of the works, and reopening of the bridge, at the earliest opportunity.
Cllr Kathy Bee, cabinet member for transport and environment, said: “These important and necessary works are the responsibility of Transport for London, and, unfortunately, unexpected circumstances mean they’re taking longer than planned.
“The council is doing all it can to mitigate the effects, including the banning of all non-urgent roadworks in the area, arranging amendments to traffic light timings, and encouraging the use of alternative routes.
“While the delay means there will be an overlap of these works with the closure of Tennison Road bridge, the long-term benefits to local people and all who use both these bridges outweigh the unavoidable inconvenience they experience while the replacement work is carried out.
“Where practicable, 24-hour working is going ahead, with the aim of getting the task completed as soon as possible.
“This has been something of a learning curve for all concerned and the lessons will be taken onboard, particularly those concerning the sequencing of construction programming, and the certification of design elements.”
TfL will be distributing explanatory leaflets to all homes in the area.
Mobile electronic signs will continue in situ, giving motorists advance notice of the closures.
Alternative routes are being suggested by the council.
For those wishing to use Tennison Road Bridge, the official diversion is:
• Selhurst Road, High Street and Portland Road.
• Selhurst Road, Northcote Road, Whitehorse Road, St James’s Road, Lower Addiscombe Road, Morland Road, Woodside Green, Portland Road.
• In order to ease congestion and increase traffic flow for the road network within the proximity of Tennison Road bridge, Carmichael Road has been made one-way and local traffic management is in place.
For those wishing to use Spring Lane bridge, the official diversion is:
• Woodside Green, Morland Road, Lower Addiscombe Road. (Source: Croydon council press release)
ROGUE LANDLORDS TARGETTED – 25 properties raided in just two weeks
Officers from Lewisham council, the police, gas and electricity suppliers have mounted three raids on a total of 25 properties inside two weeks in a determined programme to crack down on ‘rogue’ landlords.
The raids uncovered:
four new criminal landlords, all involved in high level tax evasion, with at least 50 properties between them
three unauthorised structures to be demolished and a fourth outbuilding illegally used for residential
an illegal conversion of a boarded-up restaurant into six substandard ‘studio’ flats
five unlicensed houses in multiple occupation presenting critical health and safety hazards, including one severely overcrowded three-bedroom house occupied by 29 people
unlicensed food preparation in a boarded-up restaurant
15 addresses with dangerous, stolen, unregistered utility meters
two cannabis factories running on stolen electricity, posing serious fire risks.
Police acted immediately to take down the cannabis factories. A Lewisham council spokesperson said: “Legal action will now follow which will result in: unsafe premises being closed down; hefty fines imposed on landlords involved in criminal activity; recouping public money and tenants’ deposits that has been fraudulently obtained; and landlords forced to bring their properties up to scratch.”
A Lewisham council spokesperson said: “If you are a tenant renting privately and need help please call the tenancy relations officer on 020 8314 8688 or 020 8314 8689.
“If you are a landlord email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 8314 6733.”. (Lewisham council press release).
LEADER’S QUESTION TIME INTRODUCED
Plans to revamp its council assembly meetings in a bid to increase involvement of the wider community have been announced by Soujthwark council.
The plans, brought forward by the constitutional steering panel, were agreed at a council assembly meeting, the first since local elections last month.
The proposals include the introduction of a leader’s question time – a meeting dedicated to answering questions from the public.
“This will allow members of the public to be more involved in the council meeting, giving them an opportunity to put questions directly to the Leader. “It was agreed that the meeting will be flexible in terms of order and timings, in order to allow late and urgent items to be considered if needed.
“To move towards a free flowing council assembly, it was also agreed that a programme motion would be introduced to structure the meeting, prioritising the most important and pressing matters.
“This will allow council meetings to prioritise particular agenda items such as reports, motions or question time.
“To encourage more involvement from the wider community, the council will also appeal for submissions from experts, community groups or local representatives.
“No time limit will be applied to the new community evidence section of the meeting as the structure for each meeting would be set out in a programme motion.
“Finally, the topics that can be considered for themed debates will be broadened, formally removing the required for meetings to be themed on items concerning the council plan, strategy or policy.”
Southwark council leader Cllr Peter John said: “At the heart of the new plans is the need to focus on issues that really resonate with local people. “We want our council meetings to be less formulaic and more free flowing community events that engage with more residents, business owners and those otherwise invested in Southwark.” (Southwark council press release)
NEW REPORT HIGHLIGHTS WHITE WORKING CLASS UNDERACHIEVEMENT IN LAMBETH SCHOOLS
Social deprivation and the low aspirations of parents have fuelled low achievement among white, working-class pupils in England, a study carried out in the London borough of Lambeth has revealed.
The research, unveiled at a conference in London this week, also found that the low achievement of many white working-class pupils has been obscured by middle-class success in the English school system.
The authors warn that the failure of Government statistics to distinguish the white British ethnic group by social background has also masked the problem.
Details of the study come as MPs on the education select committee prepare to publish their report into Underachievement in Education by White Working Class Children.
The new research by Dr Feyisa Demie, head of research and statistics at Lambeth council, and Dr Kirstin Lewis, a lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London, draws on detailed statistical analysis as well as evidence from parents and community focus groups and schools case studies.
“The study confirms that one of the biggest groups of underachievers is the white working class and their outcomes at both key stage two and key stage four are considerably below those achieved by all other major ethnic groups at national level” said a Lambeth council spokesperson.
“The national data shows that 32 pc of white British pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) achieved 5+A*- C grades at GCSE, compared with 65 pc who are not eligible for FSM. The gap is 33 pc compared to smaller gaps for all other ethnic groups.
“One of the main reasons for pupil underachievement is low aspirations from parents regarding education, and social deprivation.
“The root causes of underachievement have also been identified within factors such as low literacy levels, curriculum barriers feelings of marginalisation within the community, low level of parental education and lack of targeted support to raise achievement.”
Despite underperformance at a national level, the research has found that white working class pupils in the case study schools in Lambeth are bucking the trend, they added.
“In Lambeth the proportion of white FSM pupils reaching the key stage four benchmark was almost 50 pc compared to 13 pc in Peterborough, 20 pc in Slough and the England average of 31pc (DfE 2012).
“In one primary school, despite challenging circumstances and low attainment at entry, 100 pc achieve level four and above. Overall the gap between FSM and non-FSM pupils is very narrow in Lambeth.
“Schools have adopted a number of strategies to overcome the barriers to achievement – such as strong and visionary leadership, an inclusive curriculum, rigorous monitoring, and targeted interventions to challenge poverty and underachievement through extensive use of teachers, teaching assistants and learning mentors.
“The study concludes that ‘the main obstacle in raising achievement is the Government’s failure to recognise that this group have particular needs that are not being met by the school system’.”
Cathy Twist, Lambeth director of education, learning and skills said: “This report highlights a range of strategies used to raise the achievement of white working class pupils in schools.
“I hope the Government and schools across the country can learn something from this extremely important piece of research.”
Feyisa Demie said: ‘The underachievement of white working class pupils is a key concern and a problem facing educational services.
“To tackle the underachievement the DfE needs to take a stronger lead by providing additional ring-fenced funding to assist schools to support local initiatives to raise achievement.”
A national conference to discuss the research findings with schools and policy makers will be held on June 27th, at Institute of Education (University of London), 20 Bedford Way, London, WC1H 0AL.
The findings are published in a series of reports which are available at http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/rsu/research-reports after their launch on June 27th. (Source: Lambeth council press release)
ILLEGAL RAVES ‘NOT WELCOME IN THIS BOROUGH’ – Croydon council leader
Croydon council leader Cllr Tony Newman says they must do everything in their power to make sure the rave which occurred near East Croydon station at the weekend never happensd again in the borough.
In an initial statement Cllr Newman said: “I would like to reassure residents the illegal rave which took place in Croydon overnight has been contained, and thanks to the efforts of the police there were no serious injuries to contend with.
“We have begun a full clear-up operation of the area and surveyors have been brought in to help make the building safe and secure. “We will also be discussing responsibility for security of the site with the Royal Mail.
“Thankfully unlicensed raves are very rare in our borough and we will be working with our partners to make sure such a situation does not happen here again.”
In a follow-up statement after learning that a 16-year-old had died following the rave, Cllr Newman added: “”Our thoughts go out to the boy’s family over their devastating loss, and we will be doing our utmost to help the police bring those responsible to justice.
“The message to the organisers of this rave is very clear: you are not welcome in this borough and you will not be allowed to get away with organising illegal activities that put young people at such terrible risk.
“We are assisting the police, who are using the council’s CCTV footage to track perpetrators, and we expect the strongest possible action will be taken against all those who were involved.
“Owners of empty buildings have a responsibility to ensure they are safe and secure, and we will be making sure that they take these responsibilities seriously. “We must do everything in our power to make sure that this does not happen here ever again.” (Source: Croydon council press releases)
CONCRETE HOUSE PRESERVATION EARNS PRESTIGIOUS AWARD
Southwark council has gained a prestigious award for its work to save and protect one of the last Victorian concrete-built homes in London.
The project to restore number 549 Lordship Lane, Dulwich, which is also known as Concrete House, won a Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) award in the conservation category for the London region. The entry has now been put forward to the national finals, which will take place in October.
The Grade II listed building was a two storey detached house in severe disrepair. In 2009 Southwark council agreed to proceed with a compulsory purchase order (CPO) to save the Concrete House. The council negotiated with the Heritage Office for London Trust (HOLT), which agreed to purchase the property and renovate it back into housing.
The council then worked with Hexagon Housing Association to turn the building into several homes available for shared ownership.
Cllr Mark Williams, cabinet member for regeneration, planning and transport said: “I am very pleased the Concrete House project has been recognised by RICS. “The campaign to save this historic building has been a particular labour of love for Southwark council for a number of years.
“It not only shows our commitment to preserving the unique architecture of our borough but also provides affordable housing, giving residents a chance to own a small piece of history.” (Source: Southwark council press release)
DEALING WITH WASPS NESTS
As summer arrives, so do the wasps! Wasps are actually beneficial in the garden as they attack and kill many small insects, but they can also be a nuisance and inflict a painful sting if provoked.
In late summer and early autumn wasps come into kitchens and gardens looking for sweet sugary foods. If you see wasps regularly flying in and out of the same spot, then almost certainly you have a nest.
By then it could contain up to 5,000 wasps and be the size of a football! Don’t panic – it will have been there for some time, it’s just that the nest has now reached a size that has become obvious.
Treating a nest can be dangerous work if you are not fully protected and experienced, so Bromley council recommend that a pest technician carries out the work as they will use heavy duty protective clothing, specialised equipment and the most effective insecticides.
Jim McGowan, Bromley’s head of environmental protection explains: “If you are concerned and wish to have the nest eradicated you can contact Bromley council. “We will arrange for our selected pest control contractor to call. “There is likely to be a charge for the work – details are on our website.”
Cllr Tim Stevens, executive member for public protection and safety added: “It is advisable to call in experts to deal with a wasps’ nest – a small price to pay for the peace of mind of knowing that the nest has been dealt with effectively and professionally.”
Contact Bromley Council through the website at www.bromley.gov.uk, or if you do not have access to the internet call 0208 464 3333.(Source: Bromley council press release)
TOWN HALL OPEN DAY
Croydon council will be throwing open the doors to its town hall and conducting guided tours of the historic building as part of the Croydon Heritage Festival.
There will be six tours of up to 15 people on June 28th. These will be led by an expert in the workings and history of the iconic Clocktower complex. Each visit will last around 45 minutes.
Croydon has had three town halls during its history, during which it has transformed from a small town into London’s most populated borough.
The present building was opened in 1896. It has transformed considerably since then, most recently with the addition of the new central library, which is one of the busiest in the UK.
The tours will point out numerous parts of Croydon’s civic history which are echoed throughout the building’s many corridors, offices and chambers.
It will also allow people to walk through film and TV sets, as several productions have used the building as a location over the years.
The Town Hall is home to several notable works of art and various plaques commemorating famous local dignitaries, at least one of whom achieved a degree of notoriety following his departure from civic duties.
Bookings are being taken in advance via the Croydon Heritage Festival website,www.croydonheritagefestival.co.uk or via the direct link http://tinyurl.com/croydontownhall. (Source: Croydon council press release)