26 October 2005

26 October 2005

More on the new Young Mayor

A RUGBY-LOVING schoolboy celebrated his birthday in style by becoming Lewisham's new young mayor.

Wilf Petherbridge, who turned 15 on Saturday, fought off 32 rivals to win the race to become the borough's second youth leader.

The Forest Hill Boys School pupil will now be given a £25,000 budget, his own mini-cabinet and the power to influence the lives of young people across the borough.

Wilf, who polled 1,229 votes 426 more than his nearest competitor says he has a simple political philosophy.

He said: "I feel like an adult and have a responsibility but we are only kids and we are there to have fun.

"Politicians in Parliament make decisions which affect young people's lives but they really have no idea about us."

The new young mayor says he will now tour schools and youth centres across Lewisham, to get a greater understanding of the task he faces.

He added: "I'm keen to get out and meet people. I want young people to talk to me and tell me their concerns and problems."

Catford resident Wilf, who has been elected to serve for a year, takes over from Lewisham's first young mayor Manny Hawks.

Like the previous mayor, Wilf has a passion for music and sport, particularly rugby.

He says these two areas will be his "main drives" for the next year as he gets set to spend his £25,000 treasure chest.

All 11 to 18-year-olds in education in the borough had the chance to vote for their young mayor.

The turnout this year was 46.9 per cent, up two per cent on last year's election.

Lewisham Mayor Steve Bullock, who crowned the winner when the results were announced at the town hall last week, hailed those involved.

He said: "I hope we are creating a generation of young people who regard voting as something which can make a real difference."

Job loss fears as town hall fights to save £10m

MILLIONS of pounds are set to be slashed off a town hall's budget, prompting fears of widespread job losses and service cuts.

Lewisham council needs to find savings of £10million in the 2006/7 financial year.

The cuts are necessary to fit in with the councils financial strategy and prevent council tax from rising above 4.9 per cent.

On Wednesday Mayor Steve Bullock agreed cuts of £5.3million, with the remaining cash yet to be found.

He dismissed a number of suggestions from officers, including the closure of Sydenham library, the cancellation of the Blackheath fireworks dis-play and Lewisham in Bloom, and the loss of a sports development manager.

Up to 40 council staff could be facing redundancy and another 40 vacant posts will not be filled. Wavelengths library is to shut on Sundays and money may be found from Lewisham library through economies such as replacing the coffee shop on the ground floor with vending machines.

The council has classified some of the agreed cuts as "high risk", including the deletion of an occupational therapist's job. The role, which involves looking after vulnerable adults, is currently vacant. The loss of a talking book service for blind people has also been classified as high risk.

A figure of £50,000 is to be saved from the street lighting budget by using cash from 3G mobile phone companies. They are to be charged to sponsor lighting columns while using them as locations for phone masts.

Mr Bullock said: "We need to do some more work. Can I ask officers to come back with more proposals?"

The next round of cuts will be considered this year.

Ron shows off his own hallowe'en monster

PUMPKIN soup, pumpkin pie and pumpkin cake are all on the menu this Hallowe'en for Ron Angliss.

The retired lorry driver and electrical engineer grew three giant pumpkins on his allotment and is looking forward to tasting the fruits of his labour.

He said: "I will be trying pumpkin soup for the first time. My neighbour is cooking for us because when I heard how long it takes to make pumpkin pie I thought I would never be able to do that.

"I didn't eat many greens until I started on my allotment five years ago because the fruit and vegetables you buy from the supermarket have no flavour.

"But home-grown ones taste fantastic."

This is only the second year Mr Angliss, of Thakeham Close, Sydenham, has grown pumpkins.

The largest fruit tipped the scales at just over five stone and the others weighed three-and-a-half-stone and two-anda-half-stone.

He said: "I had 15 but unfortunately slugs ate the others. "Last year, I grew some large pumpkins, but they were not as heavy."

Large as Mr Angliss's pumpkin is, it is still some way light of the UK record, which was grown in Lancashire in 2004 and weighed in at more than 65 stone.

The world's largest pumpkin is recorded as being from the US and grew to a massive 100 stone.

Mr Angliss and his wife, Valerie, 64, a retired carer, plan to throw a party on Hallowe'en.

The guest of honour will be their four-year-old granddaughter, Chelsea Pollard, who lives a few doors down the road.

Mr Angliss said: "Chelsea loves having a party at Hallowe'en. We will cut the flesh out of the pumpkins and put lanterns in them.

"I will keep the seeds to plant next year."

Private eye case may be reviewed

The investigation by the Metropolitan Police into the unsolved murder of a Welsh private detective in 1987 could be subjected to an independent probe.
Daniel Morgan's mother, from Powys, claims the 37-year-old was killed with an axe in London after unearthing evidence of police corruption.

The former Police Complaints Authority did not support the allegations.

Members of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) will be asked to back the review on Thursday.

No one has ever been prosecuted for the murder despite a number of investigations by police during the last 18 years.

If given the go-ahead, the MPA review will examine the decisions of the police and prosecuting authorities.

Under the plans, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair could be asked to produce a report about the case by January next year. This would be shared with the Morgan family.

A barrister would then be appointed to review the murder case's papers and all subsequent investigations.

A report to be presented to the MPA says: "It is the chair's view that although this murder took place some 18 years ago, there are a number of unanswered questions which must continue to cast doubt on the integrity of the police service.

"He considers that an independent review, with a focussed brief, would be a constructive and necessary way forward."

Mr Morgan, from Islington, north London, but originally from Llanfrechfa, Monmouthshire, was found in the car park of the Golden Lion pub in Sydenham, south London, in 1987 with an axe embedded in his head.

He had been the co-owner of a firm called Southern Investigations, which employed off-duty police officers.

His mother, Isobel Hulsmann, 77, from Hay-on-Wye, visited the crime scene for the first time on 10 March, the anniversary of his death.

A second request for a public inquiry was turned down in December 2004.

Mrs Hulsmann, and her other son, Alastair Morgan, 56, from north London, have been campaigning for years for an indepedent review of the case.

They had their first request for a public inquiry turned down in July 2004.

Home Office Minister Hazel Blears met the family in October last year, and agreed to investigate their allegations.

Although she declined to launch a public inquiry two months later, in a letter to the Morgans' solicitor, Mrs Blears said the first investigation by the Metropolitan Police into the murder has been "less than satisfactory in a number of respects".

Flytippers to count cost of their crime

FLYTIPPERS are to be hit hard by new Government plans to make them pay for their crimes.

Recent data shows flytipping is costing councils across London nearly £1m a month to clear up.

Now authorities and the Environment Agency have the power to recover these costs from offenders thanks to the Government's latest raft of measures.

Environment minister Ben Bradshaw made the announcement at Brockley Grove Depot last week, where bags of rubbish, TVs and old tyres were piled high.

The site was chosen as the backdrop to unveil the new measures because of Lewisham Council's success in tackling enviro-crime thanks to a scheme using mobile phone technology.

The Love Lewisham project allows anyone living in the borough to take a photo of flytipping or graffiti with their camera phone and send it to the council's website.

The new measures within the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act give councils and the Environment Agency increased powers to catch flytippers and the ability to remove abandoned cars from the street.

Cabinet member for the environment Councillor Andrew Brown said: "We really welcome these measures as they will act as a disincentive for people using our streets as a dumping ground.

"We already prosecute 100 people a year for environmental crime and 400 fixed-penalty notices were given out last year."

He added: "Our mobile scheme has allowed us to deal with the problem of flytipping much more quickly."

Mr Bradshaw said: "What you can see behind me shows just one tenth of what one London borough has to deal with at the council tax payer's expense.

"Residents don't want this outside their front door, spoiling their streets. These flytippers are cowardly."

He added: "The new powers will allow the authorities, police and Environment Agency to recover costs from offenders and make the whole process of prosecuting people in court much easier.

"Maximum fines have increased from £20,000 to £50,000 and flytipping is now an arrestable offence."

Five escape house blaze thanks to smoke alarm

FIVE people caught up in a house fire had their lives saved by a smoke alarm.

Four adults and a child escaped a blazing house in Francemary Road, Lewisham, after they were woken up by their alarm.

The five escaped to safety before around 20 firefighters arrived to put out the blaze, which took place in the early hours of October 19.

Lewisham fire station officer Bill Sollis said: "This incident highlights how important having a working smoke alarm is.

"If there had not been an alarm we would have been rescuing those five people instead of them escaping before we arrived."

The London Fire Brigade carries out regular home fire safety checks. For more information, call 0800 024 4824.

Campaigners’ show of solidarity to council

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save Ladywell Leisure Centre have handed 1,700 letters of objection to the council.

The centre in Lewisham High Street is due to be demolished in 2007 to make way for a new secondary school.

But centre users have campaigned vigorously against the plans and set up the Save Ladywell Pool group.

The New School Campaign group also opposes the plans, saying a new school should be built in the north of the borough.

The letters were handed into Lewisham Council offices at Laurence House, Catford, on Monday, by campaign secretary John Hamilton and Max Calo from the Save Ladywell Pool group.

Mr Hamilton said: "We are hoping the council will see just how many people are opposed to this plan.

"The new school is too small and will see a decent pool destroyed."

Man sought over alleged torture

Police have named a man they want to question about the kidnap at gunpoint of a man in south-east London.
A 25-year-old man has been left with serious injuries after apparently being beaten and tortured for two days.

He was held after men surrounded his car, smashed their way in and bundled him into the back seat in New Cross, in the early hours of 1 September.

Police want to speak to Dwayne Callender, from Brockley, south-east London, about the alleged attack.

The victim was leaving work at 0130 BST that Thursday when he was allegedly kidnapped in his own car in Musgrove Road and threatened with a gun.

Long-term medical treatment

Blindfolded and gagged he was held at an unknown address - thought to be near a main road with metal bars or red grills on the window - until the early hours of 3 September.

While there he has claimed he was threatened, beaten and tortured. A police spokesman said: "He received very serious injuries and will require long-term medical treatment to make a full recovery."

He was then moved to another address, where he was found by someone visiting the property.

Mr Callender is described as black, 5ft 9", of an athletic build with a distinctive gold tooth.

Although he is from Brockley, he is known to visit Camberwell, south London, and St Mary Cray, Bromley, regularly.

Police say he should not be approached and people should contact them if they see him.

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