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The Stockwell Centre is one of the most valuable things we have in our area – it really is the beating heart of the community.

Sadly, it is at risk of closure as the housing association who run it plan to lease it to a private group. There are no guarantees that the community groups and residents who use the building will still be able to.

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Local Labour Councillors from across South London have launched a petition to save the centre and have been out talking to residents who are furious about the plans.

Located just behind the tube station on the Studley Estate, it is one of the few community centres in Lambeth that is open from 9 in the morning until late at night, it provides a vital space and refuge for residents in Stockwell and further afield. Whether it is people trying to beat addiction to drugs or alcohol, children taking part in sports lessons, older people improving their digital skills, or young people getting training to get back into work, the centre is one of the most well used in south London.

The comments of people on our petition site are moving. One user, Helen Doherty wrote: “Please, please, please don't take our hub. It's probably the only place in the area I truly feel safe…I wouldn't have been able to pick my life up again after years of unemployment and a spell of homelessness and land a well-paid job if it wasn't for the support and encouragement I received right there.”

There are nearly 50,000 visits every year – from families holding birthday parties for their kids, to residents seeking help from their MP and councillors. The Studley Estate Residents Association regularly hold parties for children on the estate who otherwise might get few gifts this Christmas.

The local police use it for their community engagement work and have said: “We use this centre for community engagement events. It would be damaging if it was lost.”

Hyde Housing have decided to call time on the centre, along with several others including the Kennington Park Community Centre opposite The Oval.

Hyde are a big player – they collect rent and service charges from 2,000 residents just in Stockwell and many more in the surrounding areas in Vassall, Oval and Larkhall.

We all know that things are tricky, and that savings have to be made by all organisations, and Lambeth Council has had its fair share of difficult decisions, losing 56% of its budget from government since 2010. But we looked to cut back office costs first, for example by selling off empty office building and reducing staff numbers.

Hyde, however, are spending more. Their Chief Executive had a £50,000 pay rise last year, while their Chairman doubled his salary. They made pre-tax profits of £22million and have reserves of £300m.  They are simply not facing the same pressure that local government or many other organisations are facing. They can afford to keep these and other community centres open.

It’s clear that the plans are not thought through at all. The consultation which runs until 20 December (please feel free to respond), was not formally sent to councillors. Residents’ association say local people were not aware of Hyde’s plans either.

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The consultation suggests another venue that could be used – the Stockwell Partnership on South Lambeth Road, despite the fact that this has only 1 room accommodating around 20 people, compared to the Stockwell Centre which has 7 rooms with the largest seating 120.

It also isn’t clear from the consultation who they plan to lease the building to, and whether it will be turned into a profit making enterprise. The real worry is residents in one of the most deprived parts of London stand to lose out.

Please sign our petition and stop Hyde closing the Stockwell Centre: https://www.change.org/p/hyde-housing-save-the-stockwell-community-centre

Cllr Alex Bigham

Councillor for Stockwell

Why I’m fighting to save the Stockwell Centre

The Stockwell Centre is one of the most valuable things we have in our area – it really is the beating heart of the community. Sadly, it is at risk...

What is the Istanbul Convention?

The ‘Istanbul Convention’ is a Council of Europe Convention committing to end violence against women and girls (VAWG), provide support and shelter for survivors, and prosecute perpetrators. It is the first convention that focuses on ending VAWG.

The UK Government signed the Istanbul Convention on 8th June 2012,  but is yet to ratify it. Ratification would make the Convention law and therefore:

-       protect funding for domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centres and helplines

-       make sure that children are taught about healthy relationships at school

-       guarantee awareness-raising campaigns

Several organisations support UK ratification, including Women’s Aid and Scottish Women’s Aid. A report in 2015 by the Joint Committee on Human Rights called on the then government to prioritise ratification of the Istanbul Convention, while Amnesty International has said that all European governments should ratify the Convention. To date, only 22 of the 43 Members of the European Council have ratified the Convention.

When will the Istanbul Convention be ratified?

A Private Member’s Bill has been introduced by Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP which, if successful, would make the convention law in the UK. 100 MPs need to turn up and vote to support it on Friday 16th December for the ratification to succeed.

Why Lambeth Labour supports the ratification of the Istanbul Convention

Lambeth Council is recognised across the country as a leader in tackling VAWG. Despite acute budget pressures, the council has protected services such as the Gaia Centre on Brixton Road, which has made a real difference to the lives of women and girls across the borough. 95% of women say their experience of the GAIA centre has increased their sense of safety and 91% say it has improved their quality of life.

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Police data shows there has been a sharp increase in domestic and sexual violence over the last five years. To mark the UN’s International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women and Girls last month, Lambeth launched a new VAWG strategy to mark a renewed commitment to tackling VAWG over the next four years.

Cllr Mohammed Seedat, Cabinet Member for Healthier and Stronger Communities, says that the council’s vision,

“remains one where Lambeth is a borough in which residents do not have to be fearful of, or experience, gender-based violence. Victims will not be held responsible for the violence against them, and they will be empowered to take control and make decisions for themselves.”

“Ratification of the Istanbul Convention is a crucial step to ensure that the Government keeps its promises and provides the resources needed to effectively tackle VAWG.”

The Istanbul Convention and Why it Matters

What is the Istanbul Convention? The ‘Istanbul Convention’ is a Council of Europe Convention committing to end violence against women and girls (VAWG), provide support and shelter for survivors, and...

Today Lambeth Labour councillors were at stations across the borough talking to commuters about the continuing, dismal failures on the Southern rail network.

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A strike this week led to a shutdown of all the services into Lambeth, but even when there is no industrial action Southern operated trains into Streatham, Dulwich and Norwood are beset by long delays, cancelled trains and a level of performance that is shameful. As many passengers told us today, these failures have a knock on effect to the rest of the transport infrastructure in South London, with many giving up on trains that never appear and crowding instead onto local buses or the tube.

The impact of the Southern rail fiasco ends up effecting far more commuters than just those who need to use its services.

Sadiq Khan said yesterday that Tfl is ready to take over the operation of this franchise. I have written to the Transport secretary demanding an urgent meeting with him after a leaked letter showed that he was snubbing the Mayor’s offer purely because he didn’t want the network to “fall into the hands of a Labour Mayor.” This is a shocking piece of school yard politics that benefits no one.

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The message councillors received today from commuters across South London was clear and simple. They want a decent service that gets them on time to work in the mornings and then back home in the evenings. 

Lambeth Labour will continue with our local MPs and Assembly Members to tell the government that passengers are not interested in the politics that Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, wishes to play with the rail network. If you agree then sign the petition calling for an end to Southern rail’s failure and send a clear message that it is time to end this chaotic mess.

Government needs to stop playing politics with our rail network

Today Lambeth Labour councillors were at stations across the borough talking to commuters about the continuing, dismal failures on the Southern rail network. A strike this week led to a...

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