10 November 2005

10 November 2005

Leisure centre axeing - mayor passes buck

THE inquiry into a doomed leisure centre heard evidence from a mayor - who passed responsibility for the decision to axe it to council officers.

Lewisham council's controversial decision to shut Ladywell Leisure Centre, in Lewisham High Street, in 2007 and replace it with a new secondary school in 2009 has been closely examined by councillors from all parties.

Lewisham Mayor Steve Bullock submitted an 11-line report to the scrutiny sub-committee which was due to meet in Catford's Civic Suite yesterday.

In the submission, he said he made his decisions based on the advice given to him by council officers.

He stated: "It is not my role to substitute my own lay opinion for that of professional officers who advise me."

And in his own report, the council's chief executive, Barry Quirk, reminded councillors funding for the new school was not yet "settled".

He said the council did have some money but a "significant gap in the funding for the school" remained.

This was the reason it had been brought into the Government's Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, which will see five other schools in the borough refurbished and one rebuilt from scratch.

The next stage in the BSF scheme is to invite companies to tender for the building work.

Changes will lead to cuts in places

COLLEGES are protesting over changes which could see thousands of places cut.

Government plans could see up to 200,000 further education places slashed and subsidies cut to those remaining.

Now Lewisham and Greenwich colleges are joining forces with hundreds of others across the country to present a 60,000-strong petition to try to stop the plans.

The cuts to places will affect adult learners who want to study for professional qualifications to improve their career prospects.

And students who do manage to get a college place will have to pay more towards the cost.

This is because the Government is focusing its college funding on 16 to 18-year-old students and adults without basic spelling and maths skills.

Ruth Silver, principal of Lewisham College, Lewisham Way, said: "We are extremely happy so many of our staff and students, and members of our community, have demonstrated their support for their college and for further education in general by signing this important petition."

Bosses at Greenwich Community College, Plumstead Road, also confirmed its support.

Principal Geoff Pine said: "The college is very proud of the role it plays in providing education to the community in the borough and we are always ready to campaign on behalf of all our learners."

A college spokesman said: "We will not be cutting any of our level three or A-level courses.

"But we will have to raise our fees. It is not something we want to do but we have no other option if the Government no longer subsidises our adult courses."

The Association of Colleges (AoC) petition was presented to Downing Street on November 1.

AoC chief executive Dr John Brennan said: "The petition shows how strongly people feel about their local college.

"It is compelling evidence the Government should think again about reducing learning opportunities for adults wanting to improve their career chances and personal development."

Rumpus over hospital work

A £20,000 fine could be levied on a private hospital after noisy air conditioning upset neighbouring residents.

Blackheath Hospital has allegedly breached conditions imposed on it by Lewisham council's planning committee, which gave permission on September 15 for a small building to be added to the site.

The conditions were work should not take place beyond 8am-6pm on weekdays and Saturday mornings, and that noise was to be kept down.

But residents complained about the noise from the air conditioning and builders allegedly working unauthorised hours.

An enforcement notice was issued on October 27. If the hospital does not act on it, the battle could go to court and result in a £20,000 fine.

Blackheath ward councillor Andrew Brown said: "The noise is driving residents up the wall."

Deputy mayor Gavin Moore added: "The planning process is sacrosanct and we have no confidence Blackheath Hospital is respecting that."

A hospital spokeswoman said the chiller equipment making the noise was "essential to avoid damage to the MRI machine" in the new diagnostic suite.

She said an acoustic screen had been put in to reduce noise.

"We accept preliminary work started before planning consent and have apologised," added the spokeswoman.

She said work outside hours was not related to the project.

Asbo tearaways get £300k to keep them from crime

GROUPS working with antisocial young people have been given extra cash.

The Lewisham Youth Offending Team (YOT) was awarded £311,000 to help stop youngsters from offending.

The money could be used to give individual support to young people on antisocial behaviour orders.

Ann McDermott, YOT manager, said: "This is a great opportunity to expand the initiatives we have in Lewisham to divert young people away from crime, support parents in their responsibilities and tackle antisocial behaviour."

The money has come from the Youth Justice Board, which has just given out £45million to projects across the country to be spent over the next three years.

Councillor Crada Onuegbu, Lewisham cabinet member for community safety, said: "The money will allow us to expand our youth inclusion and support panels working with eight- to 17-year-olds, which improve the chances of young people reaching their potential and help parents and carers struggling with out-of-control teenagers."

The cash would also help build links with the police, probation service and primary care trust.

Grieving mum sent lifeline

THE MOTHER of a 19-year-old knifed to death has thrown a lifeline of support to the family of murdered schoolgirl Rochelle Holness.

Lynne Booker has set up a self-support group for mothers whose children have died in traumatic circumstances.

Now she is offering help to Jennifer Bennett after her 15-year-old daughter's remains were found dumped in rubbish bags near the Milford Towers estate in Catford on September 28.

Mrs Booker can relate to her pain after her only son, Terry, 19, died on November 14, 2000, in Plumstead, after being attacked by a 16-year-old with a kitchen knife.

But five years later, thanks to the support of loved ones and friends, his mother says the pieces of her life have slowly come together.

Now the 51-year-old has set up the Terry Booker Foundation group to help mothers such as Mrs Bennett who have lost children through tragic circumstances.

It will meet fortnightly at the Greenwich Women's Centre, in Hare Street, Greenwich, and will also act as a drop-in centre for women on alternate weeks. Thirteen women turned up at the first meeting on October 26.

Rochelle's mother, who lives in Nelgarde Road, Catford, says she is looking forward to getting in touch with the Terry Booker Foundation Group.

The 38-year-old mother-of-three said: "I really welcome this group. I'm at a low point in my life where I only want to stay indoors. It's not fair that I have been made to feel like the criminal with no support from anyone except from my friends because my daughter was murdered."

Mrs Booker, a grandmother-of-three, from Plumstead, said: "I want her to give me a ring.

"This group is open to all mums whose sons and daughters have died from manslaughter, murder, miscarriage and still birth.

"I will provide a great service based on the principle of helping women come out of the darkness into the light.

"I know I wouldn't have been able to come out of this dark time without the support of my family, friends and the women's centre."

A still grieving Mrs Booker, who also has two daughters, Debbie, 34 and Lisa, 28, added: "It'll be the fifth anniversary since my son's death next week. The day when Plumstead stood still.

"I still can't get my head around it. I live day to day. Nothing ever surprises me and nothing will come as close to the shock I felt when I heard about my son's death.

"I want to encourage women who may be suffering to not stay indoors but to pick up the phone and ring me. My group is there to support them."

For more details on the Terry Booker Foundation group, call 07768 373420.

Man attacked after pub row - Blackheath link?


A MAN was punched in the eye in the street.

Police are seeking witnesses to the attack.

The 21-year-old may have permanent damage to his sight after the incident in Greenwich town centre at around 11.20pm on Wednesday, October 19.

The man was approached by two men and a woman as he walked past the Beachcomber Restaurant in Greenwich Church Street. One of the men punched him.

The victim had been drinking with friends at the Admiral Hardy pub. He left at around 11.15pm and went to get his bicycle, which he had parked behind the covered market.

After the assault the trio fled and the victim rang a friend who took him to St Thomas' Hospital, where he was treated for a serious injury to his right eye.

One of the suspects is described as a white man, aged around 30, thinly built and about 5ft 10ins tall.

He had short, cropped brown hair and wore rimless, rectangular spectacles, a leather jacket and jeans. It is possible his first name is Ben and he may be from the Blackheath area.

Detective Sergeant Dave Cooper, of Plumstead CID, said: "The victim is a young man, who because of this senseless attack, could well have lasting problems with his sight in one eye.

"I am appealing for any information about this attack. There was a brief altercation inside the pub that evening. It is possible that the attacker was in the pub and involved in that altercation."

Call 020 8284 9413, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 to remain anonymous.

1 comment:

obifromsouthlondon said...

oh no! they closing ladywell? now my local, wavelenght, gonna get packed and sweaty lol.

have a good weekend moe.