Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Moves toward better access at Streatham Station

It seems that there are now some potential plans to try and improve Streatham Station's accessibility a little in the short-term.

In recent years, both Streatham Hill and Streatham Common station have been made more accessible for those with mobility impairments and difficulties, most notably with the introduction of lifts. However Streatham Station has yet to have the necessary investment or even a shorter-term solution solution which might enable everyone in Streatham to use it.

This is particularly disappointing as visitors to the station will have noticed that there is what looks like the potential for level access on both sides of the station, from the Hideaway and Streatham Business Centre car park on one side, and from a walkway on the other.

The history is as follows: In 2005 the Government allocated additional investment of £370 million to be spent specifically on improving access to many UK stations. This investment is known as the Access for All funding and is in addition to expenditure determined through new franchises. This funding was phased over 10 years to 2015.

To establish how the Access for All funding should best be spent, the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) consulted in 2005 and under the Railways Act 2005 responsibility for taking this forward was transferred to the DfT. The results of this were used to inform the development of the Railways for All Strategy as published on the DfT’s website. In the Streatham area both Streatham Common and Streatham Hill benefitted from step free access with lifts under this scheme, but not Streatham Station.

I made some enquiries through Green Assembly member Darren Johnson, to the Department for Transport and also to Southern who operate the rail network, to see what the future plans were. It it turns out that whilst the necessary investment still seems a long way off, they are exploring some shorter-term solutions.

This is the response I received from Southern:

"We do have some possible options to look at with regard to Streatham but they are subject to working with adjacent land owners and the local council to provide a step free route. We are in liaison with Lambeth Council about the stations access and have a meeting with them in the near future to discuss the options."

There is potentially some small funding available to help this to happen:

"Southern currently invests in access improvements via the Minor Works Programme, an annual ring fenced Southern budget solely used to improve access at stations for schemes like ramps, automatic doors, adjustable height ticket office windows, side gates, improved contrasting stair nosings and handrails etc. We also work with local stakeholders (for example councils) to find ways of working together to get maximum investment in the schemes. We have also been awarded an annual budget this year for Access for All Small Scheme improvements by the Department of Transport (DfT) which includes similar schemes. Lift schemes are outside the scope of these budgets and are covered by the DfTs Access for All Major schemes traditionally delivered by Network Rail.

"Streatham was not one of the stations selected nationally for investment under the Access for All funding on the current programme. Therefore there are no plans within the current financial rail period to provide lifts under the Access for All scheme at Streatham and the Department for Transport are yet to announce their ongoing plans for station accessibility to include lift schemes from 2015 onwards. The options we will look at in the near future will therefore not include installing lifts at the station."

So whilst there are, as yet, no plans for lift access, it may be that access can be improved through negotiations between the council, and those owning land around the station, using the Minor Works Programme budget. These negotiations are ongoing. We'll keep you updated when we hear of any progress or developments.

Monday, 17 September 2012

A 100m scarf and the Day after Peace

Streatham's Little Big Peace week is underway, and everyone is invited for a photocall at 6.00pm tonight outside the Streatham Odeon.

In typical eclectic Streatham style, this will involve a 100m long Peace Scarf, knitted by volunteers from the local community.

But the main event is a screening at 7.00pm in the Odeon cinema itself, of Peace One Day's film "The Day After Peace". This award winning film featuring Jude Law and Angelina Jolie, encompasses the adoption of the United Nations global day of Peace and the impact it had around the world up until 2007. It charts the remarkable 10-year journey of award-winning filmmaker Jeremy Gilley to establish the annual Peace Day on 21 September.

The camera follows Gilley as he galvanises the countries of the world to recognise an official day of ceasefire and non-violence. But even after the member states of the UN unanimously adopt Peace Day, the struggle isn’t over. As the years pass, there’s not a single ceasefire. The voices of the cynics are growing louder – and now Gilley’s non-profit organisation, Peace One Day, is in dire financial straits. But he can’t let it fail.

The film’s breathtaking conclusion finds Gilley joined by Jude Law in Afghanistan, attempting to spearhead a massive vaccination against polio on Peace Day. The Day After Peace is a moving testament to the power of an individual and the perseverance of the human spirit.

There will also be a video introduction by South London local and actor, Art Malik (well known for his roles in A Passage to India, The Bond Film The Living Daylights, Upstairs Downstairs, and Holby City!) and then a live Skype chat with its founder, Jeremy Gilley.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Collection for food bank at Sainsbury's Streatham Common - Saturday 22nd September

Norwood food bank is doing a food collection this Saturday 22nd September between 9am until 6pm at Sainsbury's Streatham common.

For those unfamiliar with foodbanks the Trussell Trust's UK foodbank network works in partnership with local churches and communities to open foodbanks nationwide. There are over 100 foodbanks in the UK. Last year UK foodbanks fed over 60,000 people.

You might have seen the Norwood Foodbank at the Lambeth Country Show this weekend. It is currently feeding over 100 people a week giving out 500kg of food, but urgently needs more stock.

The foodbank gets its food in a number of ways. It hosts coffee mornings, runs 'bring-a-can-to-work' events, and asks local schools to have collections..

But one of the main ways it gets food is by encouraging shoppers on a certain day, at a local supermarket, to buy an extra item and donate it. It is doing this next Saturday at Sainsbury's in Streatham, but needs more volunteers to help collect the food.

If you might be able to help do email norwoodfoodbank (at) btinternet.com

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Don't forget - the deadline to respond to the Thameslink consultation is 5.00pm this Friday 14th September

The deadline to respond to the consultation on the proposed cut to the Thameslink service from Streatham Station is this Friday (14th September) so if you haven't done so, do make your feelings known in the next few days. The deadline was originally in August, but was subsequently extended after campaigning by local people.

The Department for Transport is consulting on the new seven year Thameslink franchise, with recommendations trains on the Wimbledon loop should terminate early. This would mean Streatham Station would have no direct link to the City, St Pancras International and Luton Airport.

Hundreds of people have backed a number of petitions against the plans to terminate South London's Thameslink trains at Blackfriars Station.

You can sign the petition on the Government's website here.

You can sign the petition on the Lambeth council website here.

What has marked the campaign so far, has been the cross-party support, which hopefully will last as the consultation ends and the campaign moves into the next phase.

You can read the consultation documents here.

You can respond to the consultation (before 5.00pm this Friday) by email thameslink@dft.gsi.gov.uk or by post to:

The Combined Franchise Replacement Sponsor
Department for Transport
Zone 3/15
Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Road

Monday, 10 September 2012

Streatham Common Community Garden is one year old!

Streatham Community Garden is one year old, and all volunteers and helpers are being invited to a community BBQ this Sunday 16 September (12-4pm).

As might be expected, plans are afoot about how some of the harvest can be turned into tasty cooked food, but attenders are also being encouraged to bring along a contribution - especially if its home-grown - and something to drink.

Streatham Community Garden can be found through the door in the wall at the bottom of the Rookery. People will be gathering from around 10.30am for those who want to turn up early to help with odd jobs and preparations for the celebration.

In the meantime Streatham Common Community Garden continues to be open for community gardening every Sunday 12-4pm, and will continue to be until the weather turns bad!

There are a few more events and activities planned for the coming weeks:

12pm, Sunday 30 Sept - soil workshop by Groundwork London: covering soil testing, contamination, and growing on contaminated soil using raised beds

1pm, Sunday 21 Oct - building bee and bug boxes: a great one for families, and to help give pollinating insects somewhere to keep cosy over the winter months!

If you have expertise you can share with others at the garden, or ideas for activities, you can email streathamcommunitygarden (at) gmail.com, visit the Facebook page or Tweet.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Streatham Peace Week

It's great to see that Streatham now has its own Peace Week. The Little Big Peace Festival will run from 17th- 22nd September and feature a whole series of events. You can book tickets for them here.

I'll be chairing one of them, looking at how we can support and inspire young people in the local Community.

There is more here in this promo video: