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Councillor Jennifer Brathwaite, Lambeth Cabinet Member for Environment, blogs on success for Lambeth's campaign for clean buses in Brixton and Streatham...

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I am delighted with the decision of the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan to make the southern stretch of  A23 one of London’s  first Clean Bus Corridors. From October 2017, this route will see exclusive use of hybrid or diesel buses with top-of-the-range anti-pollutant systems that meet or exceed Euro VI emissions standards. These are expected to reduce NOx emissions from buses along these routes by around 84 per cent.

This follows the petition by Lambeth council and Lambeth for a Cool Planet calling on the Mayor to make that stretch of the A23, linking Streatham and Brixton, one of London’s first Clean Bus Corridors. We emphasised the unfortunate fact that that stretch of the A23 corridor had repeatedly recorded high levels of air pollution and emissions from TfL buses significantly contributed to that air pollution!

We are delighted that the Mayor has lived lived up to his manifesto pledge to improve London air quality by focusing on London’s worst air quality hotspots outside central London.  I would like to thank Lambeth for a Cool Planet for being our partners in this campaign and of course those who supported our aims by signing the petition.

This is the second petition to a London Mayor Lambeth has launched calling for cleaner buses, and it has taken a Labour Mayor with a true commitment to cleaning up London’s Air to make a difference.

Success for clean bus campaign in Brixton and Streatham

Councillor Jennifer Brathwaite, Lambeth Cabinet Member for Environment, blogs on success for Lambeth's campaign for clean buses in Brixton and Streatham...

Lambeth has just launched its new strategy to tackle health inequalities in the borough writes Jim Dickson, Labour’s Cabinet Member for Healthier and Stronger Communities….

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On the face of it this may seem a strange time to launch a fresh strategy to tackle health inequality in Lambeth. Local health services are under a sustained attack from the government including large and arbitrary cuts in the public health grants which help to keep us all well. And these come on top of the continued underfunding of our excellent local hospitals which help to get us better when we do get sick or require help.

So it is vital we continue to campaign to make the case for a properly funded NHS and to hold the government to account for their self-defeating cuts to health investment and services including £3m raided from public health and leaving Kings College Hospital with a financial deficit running into millions. But we also owe it to Lambeth residents to do more than that. The continuing stark divide between the life expectancy of the best off in our community and the worst who, shockingly, might expect to live for 5 fewer years, and the persistence of a range of conditions from asthma, obesity and diabetes to killers such as cardio vascular disease and cancer mean that we must continue to transform the way local health services operate in our borough.

There is already a great track record of successful work between the council, health commissioners, GPs and service providers to build on. The Living Well Network designed in partnership with mental health service users is investing more in prevention and as a result has seen an 80% reduction in people requiring acute psychiatric care in only 2 years. Greater collaboration between GPs, hospitals, community and care services, enabling more and better treatment at home, means we have been seeing the numbers of emergency admissions of older people come down, freeing up space in wards.  Innovative approaches to testing for STIs - including SH24 the UK’s first online sexual health service developed by Lambeth and Southwark public health - are ensuring more people at risk can be treated quickly and at lower cost. Our Lambeth Early Action Partnership is a £40m investment in giving young children a better start in the borough’s four most deprived wards.

But there is much more to do. BME residents are hugely over represented in the mental health system so we’re pressing ahead with creating a new Black Wellbeing Partnership to change attitudes, improve prevention and to ensure better outcomes for black residents. Our work with London’s newly elected Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan to improve Lambeth’s poor Air Quality can make a major difference to our residents’ health. Lambeth also tops a league in which we don’t want to feature, that of the proportion of residents with HIV and with STIs.  But our leadership of the London wide HIV prevention programme and local recommissioning with Southwark and Lewisham of sexual health promotion services are starting to raise awareness and positively change behaviours. 

The refreshed health and wellbeing strategy makes clear that we’ve got to focus all our public services across the borough more closely on preventing ill health and heading off the need for more costly interventions up the line, with our highly active and engaged Lambeth communities playing a full part. By bringing together health, social care, GPs and community services in new joined up ‘care networks’ in partnership with patients, we can start to put the requirements of residents centre stage. Crucially that also means investing in residents’ wellbeing across the board including the sport, culture and leisure activities which keep people well, combatting loneliness and isolation particularly for older people and providing better support for Lambeth’s heroic army of unpaid carers. There’s also a major opportunity for us to use our responsibility to manage and invest in the borough’s housing stock to improve neighbourhoods, help keep people warm and healthy and to maintain their social networks.

Nothing can be a bigger priority than the health of all Lambeth’s residents. No agenda is more urgent than acting now to improve the lives of the poorest in the borough. Despite obstacles placed in our path by the government, Labour in Lambeth is finding innovative ways to deliver the transformation in health outcomes that we all need. 

A healthier Lambeth for all residents

Lambeth has just launched its new strategy to tackle health inequalities in the borough writes Jim Dickson, Labour’s Cabinet Member for Healthier and Stronger Communities….

In the summer Lambeth Labour along with other councils ensured the government u-turned on plans to slash education funding in our borough and force all schools to become academies without the consent of local parents. 

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But while this year will not see these disastrous polices take effect, we should be under no illusions: the Tories have not abandoned polices that could set back the life chances of every child in our borough.

Sign the petition here. 

And as if to emphasise this point, today has seen the government announce new grammar school plans that will effectively reintroduce selection by stealth into our local schools.

Labour believes that every one of our young children deserves an excellent education, not just those who can afford to pay for it. Under the last Labour government education spend went up every single year from £56bn to £92bn. Locally, Lambeth Labour has ensured all children at our primary schools have access to a free breakfast, we have won lottery funding aimed at investing millions in early age services in some of our most deprived areas and Lambeth schools have risen into the top ten percent in the country.

But the Tories are jeopardising Labour’s legacy with plans that could see a 20% cut to Lambeth schools.  That could mean fewer school assistants, a reduction in tailored support – not just for those who are struggling or who have English as an additional language - but for high achievers who need to be stretched. This will see London schools struggling to retain good teachers and attract the best and brightest into London due to the cost of living.

Moreover, it jeopardises the great progress our schools have made, 100% of our secondary schools are good or outstanding.  We’ve improved outcomes for children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.  58% of pupils in Lambeth get five or more A* to C grades.  In 2014 this figure was 57% compared to the national of 53%. Amongst our BAME population, attainment at GCSE level amongst BME pupils has improved by 45% between 2000 and 2011. The performance of BME pupils is now above both the national and Lambeth average. 

It is also not acceptable to take choice out of the hands of parents and force schools to become academies. This model of education may deliver benefits in some circumstances, but the choice on the future direction of local education needs to involve parents at its heart – we cannot and should not strip this away from them.

On grammar schools, the Tories are now pledging to turn back the clock to a time where schools admitted children based on selection criteria that often benefited those from more affluent backgrounds. Inevitably, this approach is one that would entrench inequality and lead to a two tier education system which would leave thousands of children behind. Combined with planned cuts and forced acamdemisation – which could well return next year – these changes would be a complete disaster for Lambeth’s schools.

This is why we are continuing our education campaign aimed at protecting the achievements of Lambeth’s schools . Already hundreds have signed our petition and Lambeth Labour councillors will in the next month be delivering hundreds of leaflets highlighting the dangers facing our education system. I would urge everyone in Lambeth to sign our petition and get behind our campaign. We cannot let the achievements of parents, teachers, pupils and our community be lost because of ill-thought-out policies dreamed up by a government out of touch with the needs of Lambeth’s children. 

Tory education plans could be a disaster for Lambeth schools

In the summer Lambeth Labour along with other councils ensured the government u-turned on plans to slash education funding in our borough and force all schools to become academies without...

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