Councillors back local NHS workers as health service faces new crisis

Local Myatt’s Fields councillors have voiced their support for local nurses during their current dispute with the government over pay, as well as calling for the government to invest properly in the NHS.

Cllr Annie Gallop raised the issue at a recent Lambeth Council meeting in January. Cllr Gallop asked:

Nurses at Lambeth hospitals have been forced by this Conservative government to go on strike because of years of underfunding of the NHS and poor pay which is being felt now more than ever in the cost of living crisis. How is the council supporting our local NHS trusts to ensure patients still get the support they need whilst nurses have to strike in order to secure the safety of themselves and their patients, and get the fair pay rise they deserve?

In response, the Council responded:

Thirteen years of Conservative mismanagement and their botched reorganisation of our NHS has created one of the worst crises we’ve seen in its 75-year history. Patients are often waiting hours for an ambulance; A&E departments are overflowing; and our dedicated nurses, doctors and hospital staff have been driven to take industrial action.

This represents an historic failure of this Government. Never in its history have nurses resorted to this action, and many junior doctors are likely to follow. The Government has failed to listen and failed to support NHS staff who are underpaid for the work they do, and patients who are in desperate need of an improved service. We’ve seen the longest waiting times in history, cancelled cancer screenings and operations, and we all know the feeling of the gruelling 8am call just to get a GP appointment. The Government used to clap for our NHS staff, now they plan – via their anti-strike legislation – to sack them. Their response is doing nothing for morale, and nothing for patients.

In Lambeth, our local NHS trust have worked hard to plan for this winter and we’re proud of the work they do in caring for our most vulnerable. Winter planning is a routine and longstanding exercise that takes place at a national, regional and at local level. The Lambeth and Southwark Urgent and Emergency Care Board have been coordinating our response to winter pressures given the interdependencies of local urgent care system. The board meets monthly and is jointly chaired by Andrew Eyres, Lambeth Strategic Director for Integrated Health and Care and Jo Furley, Director of Operations, Guy’s and St Thomas‘ NHS Foundation Trust.

The Board has responsibility for ensuring that all local partners work together to plan and sustain a safe and effective urgent care system that meets the needs of local patients and addresses key risks to the ongoing delivery of care. Preparation for 2022-23 winter began with a review of winter 2021-22, alongside key learning from partners that experienced the covid-19 pandemic. NHS England set out expected directions on specified services in August and followed up with further letter in October, particularly focusing on building greater resilience on protection including against increasing prevalence of seasonal flu. Partners have developed their winter plans based on this learning and the changing environment, including the potential impact the rising Cost of Living Crisis is having on residents’ ability to keep themselves healthy and well through the winter months.

Cllr Gallop will of course be aware that the Council is doing everything it can to support residents facing rising prices. In summer last year, we launched a comprehensive package of support including direct payments and practical resources to help shield residents gripped by the rising cost-of-living. Across South East London (SEL), the Integrated Care Board held a workshop planning session in September 2022 and a key focus for our whole service is managing and optimising flow of patients. Lambeth adult social care (ASC) contribute effectively to continuous flow models including to enable the timely discharge of patients (with both physical and mental health needs) to ensure they do not stay in hospital longer than is necessary. We are also working to increase urgent access opportunities across community based care, including increased primary care capacity.

We received additional funding targeted toward local council in December 2022 to help us increase our out-of-hospital discharge capacity. However, we understand that this can create additional pressure on local adult social care services and we are lobbying government for the support we need to manage discharges carefully. In Lambeth we have also resourced additional GP capacity at St Thomas’ to help with ED attenders. We have been linking our planning for strikes with our overall system management to enable us to maintain access to treatment for patients needing urgent and emergency during periods of industrial action.

A comprehensive report was taken to the Adult Social Care and Health Scrutiny SubCommittee on 29 November (paper can be found here Agenda for Adult Social Care and Health Scrutiny Sub-Committee on Tuesday 29 November 2022, 7.00 pm | Lambeth Council) and an update note will be taken to the next Sub-Committee meeting on 28 February 2023. Even with this planning, we are acutely aware that with rising waiting times and without the resources we need from Government, our NHS will continue to experience unprecedented strain. After 13 years, the longer the Tories are in power, the longer patients will wait. It’s time for a Labour government and a fresh start for our country.

At the same meeting, Cllr Gadsby asked a further question about traffic issues on Cranmer Road.

Local councillors call on Lambeth to take action on traffic congestion around Cranmer Road

Myatt’s Fields councillors have called on Lambeth Council to take a tougher line on delivery companies causing traffic congestion, pollution and noise along Cranmer Road near the Holland Town estate.

Cllr Paul Gadsby submitted the below question to January’s full meeting of Lambeth councillors:

Myatt’s Fields councillors have been receiving complaints from residents on the Holland Town Estate and around Cranmer Road about delivery lorries and refrigerated trucks delivering to Gorillas who regularly block the road, causing congestion, heavy pollution, and noise at all hours of the day, and can be seen idling, despite Lambeth’s discouragement of this practise. Can the cabinet member outline what action can be taken in Lambeth to address the issues caused by delivery trucks outlined about, especially in relation to Cranmer Road?

In response, Lambeth said it would increase action in the area:

Our Parking, Highways Enforcement and Public Protection teams will work together to address the parking, obstruction, idling, and any licensing issues with regards to their operation and ensure all avenues are explored to resolve the issues that residents are experiencing. We will patrol this location and enforce where possible. Idling is nearly always unnecessary and it’s a source of pollution. Idling is now a fineable offence across the whole of the borough. Lambeth have a team of officers that will ask drivers to switch off their engines if they notice them idling across the borough. A penalty notice may be issued if this request is not complied with.

However, councillors have followed up this exchange by asking the Cabinet Member for Sustainable Travel and Clean Air to visit the area and to write to the company demanding they take action.

Event this week – Myatt’s South Estate Composting Community event

Incredible Edible Lambeth and Lambeth Council (with the support of the Community Fund and MakeSoil) are hosting a composting community event on Wednesday 18 January 6.15pm to 7.30pm at the Myatt’s Field South Community Hall (Evandale Rd, SW9 6QG).

The event is designed to discuss future food recycling events or projects on the estate. It is part of Incredible Edible Lambeth’s programme to work with housing estate residents in the borough on community composting schemes.

Full details of the project and the event on Wednesday night can be found here.

Councillors criticise private company’s failure to provide “basic information” about its proposals to take over council housing on the Lothian estate

Local councillors have expressed their concern that a private, for-profit company attempting to take control of local council homes on the Lothian estate has failed to provide basic information about its plan, including how they plan to fund housing repairs and who is behind its takeover bid.

Cllr Maria Kay, Lambeth’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Reducing Homelessness, expressed her disappointment in a letter to council tenants last week. Cllr Kay laid out six key and “basic” areas where the private company have failed to provide sufficient information for a ballot to be held on whether council homes should be transferred to their control.

In the early autumn, Vision Homes (Lambeth) Ltd, supported by PACCA TMO, announced their intention to try and take over ownership of council homes on the Lothian estate, despite the organisation having no track record of running council housing elsewhere in the country. A ballot of council tenants would need to be held to approve the transfer of the council homes from Lambeth Council to the private company. In November, Cllr Kay wrote a strongly worded letter to tenants warning these proposals could leave them worse off financially. In addition, local councillors Paul Gadsby and Annie Gallop have raised concerns that leaseholders, owing to national legislation, will be excluded from the ballot, but will have their leases transferred to this private company should tenants vote “yes” to the proposals in a ballot. Cllr Gadsby and Cllr Gallop have also expressed their concern that the delay caused by Vision Homes Ltd is resulting in stress to the local community, with residents being left in limbo about the future of their homes.

A full copy of Cllr Kay’s letter to residents can be read below.

Dear Resident,

The Future of Your Home – Proposed Right to Transfer Application by PACCA TMO and Vision Homes (Lambeth) Limited

I am writing to provide you with an update on PACCA TMO Ltd (PACCA TMO) and their current partner Vision Homes (Lambeth) Ltd’s proposals to take over the ownership and management of your homes in the Lothian Estate and others in and around Patmos Road.

This proposal is a result of national legislation which means PACCA TMO are able to submit a Right to Transfer application on 284 council and leasehold properties in the area, and conduct a ballot of residents on their proposals.

Lambeth Council does not support this proposal, but under the Right to Transfer rules it has no option other than to comply with holding a ballot. We cannot stop the proposal simply because we believe you would be worse off if the transfer proceeds.

Before a ballot can take place, PACCA TMO and Vision Homes must develop an offer document. The document should clearly set out what Vision Homes aims to do to the estate and comparing this with what would happen if the properties’ ownership remained with Lambeth Council. This document was due to be sent out to you before Christmas for consideration.

Following several months of chasing PACCA TMO and Vision Homes on the specifics of their plans and asking straight-forward questions on their proposals, Vision Homes have not provided sufficient information or explanations to meet the requirements set out by the Government. These outstanding issues include:

  • Insufficient information has been provided about whom the company would borrow capital from to fund its promises to you, the length of their loan repayments, and what safeguards are in place if they cannot repay the money borrowed.
  • It is unclear what household repairs and home improvements will be offered to residents. Each tenant should be able identify the works that will be carried out to their home if the transfer goes ahead.
  • The identity and status of your potential new landlord remains unclear.
  • A lack of information as to how tenants, community stakeholders and elected councillors will be selected on to a board that oversees the management of the estate and street properties – and how these members will be chosen in the future.
  • Who is sitting on the shadow board pushing forward this proposal, including information about their relevant experience.
  • A lack of information on other properties and estates managed by Vision Homes, so that tenants have an idea of their track record.

We are disappointed that PACCA TMO and Vision Homes have not been forthcoming with some of these really important questions. We will continue to ask these questions and more information has been requested to finalise the offer document for you to consider. Until then, this means that any ballot on the proposal is now delayed.

We will write to you in the New Year with an update on this proposal and any agreed next steps. We apologise for the delay, but it is important that residents have all the information so that you can make an informed decision.

I wish you and your families all have a happy Christmas break, and a happy New Year. If you have any queries on this proposed transfer, you can contact the Council on a dedicated line: 07565 219058.

Yours faithfully,

Cllr Maria Kay

Cabinet Member for Better Homes and Reducing Homelessness

Request a new electrical vehicle charging point in your neighbourhood

Lambeth Council is encouraging residents to suggest locations for the new electrical vehicle charging points that are set to be rolled out across the borough in the next few years.

Local councillors Paul Gadsby and Annie Gallop have successfully campaigned for more vehicle charging points in Myatt’s Fields following feedback from the local community: Lambeth Council confirmed in July that five would be installed in the next year. The news has been followed by an announcement of new funding for other “sustainable travel” projects in Myatt’s Fields after a petition about ongoing traffic concerns in the area was organised by Cllr Gadsby and Cllr Gallop.

Residents who own an electrical vehicle or are thinking about buying one, can suggest a charging point for their street or estate by filling in this form.

Drop-in events announced for Lothian estate residents about threatened “stock transfer” of local council homes

Myatt’s Fields councillors have organised two drop-in events this week for residents on the Lothian estate who want to discuss the threatened “stock transfer” of local council homes to a for profit, private company.

The proposals, if approved by a ballot, could see council tenant homes transferred from Lambeth Council to Vision Homes (Lambeth) Ltd and PACCA TMO. Earlier this month, Lambeth’s Cabinet Member for Homelessness and Housing, Councillor Maria Kay, wrote a strongly worded letter to tenants warning these proposals could leave them worse off financially. Local councillors have also raised concerns that leaseholders, owing to national legislation, will be excluded from the ballot, but will have their leases transferred to this private company should tenants vote “yes” to the proposals.

Lothian estate residents can talk to councillors about these issues at two events this week:

Location

St John the Divine community hall, 92 Vassall Road, London, SW9 6JA

Dates

Thursday 24 November, from 7:00pm – 8:30pm.

Saturday 26 November, from 11:00am – 12:30pm.

Penguin Michael Joseph wants to collect your memories of Myatt’s Fields Park

Myatt’s Fields’ Park has set up a new initiative with Penguin Michael Joseph to collect memories and reflections from local residents about the Park.

To take part, residents can until 24 November drop letters into the Little Cat Cafe in the park or send them too: jademacestudent@gmail.com

More information below:

Lothian estate homes transfer to for-profit company ‘will raise rents’, claims senior councillor.

Controversial plans by a private for-profit company to take control of a housing estate in Myatt’s Fields have been condemned by Lambeth council’s housing chief.

Rents are likely to rise if Vision Homes, a for-profit company, succeeds in taking over properties on the Lothian estate, according to Cllr Maria Kay, Lambeth’s cabinet member responsible for homelessness and better homes.

In a strongly-worded letter to residents, Cllr Kay says says people who live in the area risk higher rents and service charges if they vote to accept the proposal from Vision Homes which, she claims, has no registered employees and no track record of managing properties.

Vision Homes, working alongside Pacca TMO, which used to run the estate, intends to ballot residents on the proposal in the near future — although no date for the vote has been revealed by the company.

In her letter, Cllr Kay, who has been talking to residents alongside local Councillors Annie Gallop and Paul Gadsby, said Vision Homes has “no registered employees and no track record in owning, developing, or even managing social housing.

“The proposals from Vision Homes could mean you pay more: from your rents and service charges to the repairs and maintenance activities to your homes, as Vision Homes would charge VAT on top of these costs,” she said. “If Vision Homes were to also sell your homes to another company in the future, they will not be required to ballot or obtain consent from the Housing Regulator.”

“It is unclear to me how they will fund the promises they are making to you and your neighbours. Vision Homes’ plans don’t add up, and they do not make financial sense.”

You can read Cllr Kay’s letter here.

New funding for sustainable travel in Myatt’s Fields

Myatt’s Fields is to get a share of a multi-million pound investment by Lambeth Borough Council aimed at boosting sustainable travel across our communities.

Called ‘The Big Shift’, it follows a campaign by councillors Annie Gallop and Paul Gadsby calling for action to address serious traffic-related issues, including rat-running and heavy congestion. The councillors welcomed the move and thanked the authority for taking notice of the many residents who supported their campaign.

Launching the new funding programme, Lambeth Council said:

“The climate crisis and the rising cost of living pose very real threats to the livelihoods of people who live and work in Lambeth today. If we are to meet those challenges head on and create a more equal borough for all of us, we all need to make changes in our lives – including in how we travel around Lambeth. That’s why we have launched The Big Shift – a £17.7 million investment which brings life to Lambeth Labour’s ambitious plan to cut air pollution, reduce road danger, support access and mobility, and help people choose public transport, walking, cycling, and scooting more often.

“Over the coming months we will announce new school streets, more protected cycle lanes, a huge increase in bike storage for residents, more electric vehicle charging points, community grants for local greening projects, investment into micromobility hubs, parklets and new walking routes, and seven new Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes. We are also supporting local businesses to make the transition to making deliveries by e-cargo bike, in partnership with Peddle My Wheels.”

Myatt’s Fields is one of the target areas that will receive part of the investment: this followed a campaign by Cllrs Paul Gadsby and Annie Gallop which highlighted a variety of traffic problems in the community, including congestion on Loughborough Road, speeding around Myatt’s Fields Park and rat running along Patmos and Akerman Roads. Recently, councillors handed in a survey of more than 200 residents about these issues and organised a walkabout in the area for Cllr Rezina Chowdhury, Cabinet Member for Sustainable Lambeth and Clean Air, to see first-hand some of the worst hotspots and meet local residents.  Lambeth Council’s research has identified parts of our ward as suffering from the worst traffic related problems in Lambeth. 

Cllr Paul Gadsby and Cllr Annie Gallop said:

“It is really positive news to see that Lambeth has acknowledged the problems on our local roads: we are particularly grateful to Cllr Chowdhury for listening to residents who contributed to our recent surveys and for visiting Myatt’s Fields to meet residents who have to live with dangerous driving or heavy congestion on a daily basis.

“Lambeth Council has given us a pledge to work with local residents to find how best to use the new funding, with discussions beginning in the next financial year.”

More information about the “Big Shift” can be found here.