Lambeth coyly reveals its policy on Electric Vehicle charging points

Neighbours may remember our report in June about an Electric Vehicle (EV) charging point being installed, with no clear warning or explanation, outside a resident’s house. He protested – not at the concept of an EV charging point, which of course no-one could really object to, but at the lack of consultation, given that a crumpled laminated notice replete with official jargon hanging from the lamppost just like another appeal for lost cats, could scarcely be regarded as consultation.

In response a senior officer of the council – having in due course ordered the demarcation of a dedicated EV parking slot outside our neighbour’s house – has just sent him a lengthy statement which explains their approach.

 

 

 

 

 

This is an attempt to summarise and simplify what they are saying.

Free bonus

Any reader with a thirst for more information and a capacity for council jargon can spend a happy hour or so ploughing through a report and appendices buried deep on the Lambeth website.

Meanwhile, here goes…

1. Lambeth assume that the EV market and user demands will rise and that the council should therefore cater for existing and potential EV users. But preserving normal CPZ parking bays adjacent to a new charging point could create difficulties and conflicts, hence the need for dedicated areas. The council assume that internal combustion engine (ICE) users and non-recharging EV users should still be able to find a permit space elsewhere locally (noting correctly that residents have no automatic right to park at their preferred length of kerbside).

2. Lambeth aim to increase the number of lamp column charge points across the borough, and as the EV market develops the council will need to keep their policy under review in supporting the increased demand for recharging. They say that not every lamp column would automatically be appropriate for a charge point installation. But even if almost all suitable lamp columns were to be converted into a charge point, they say, there would still be the risk that ICE vehicles could obstruct access to EV users wishing to recharge their vehicles – hence the need to provide dedicated EV charging bays, barred to other vehicles including even EV cars when they are not being charged. (Comment: if, at some future point, all cars were electric, demand for charging points could not be met simply by converting lamp posts, of course. What then?)

3. Lambeth have a general target to achieve. Particularly in roads with minimal off-street parking, no EV vehicle owner should be further than five minutes away from a charge point. Once this aim is met, additional charge points (e.g. in this case) can be provided to cater for known demands. (Er, how do they assess demand?) They rather defensively pointed out that a notice was erected explaining their intention – but our neighbour’s robust response to this feeble excuse points out, as mentioned above, that while there is general public support for the electric charging policy, Lambeth’s failure to properly communicate their policies and decisions typifies, unfortunately, the council’s tendency to impose policies with negligible explanation: “a half decent consultation programme would have dissipated a lot of the current unhappiness”.

The big unknowns

No-one seems to know whether the take-up of electric cars will accelerate or stagnate. Obviously there is no exhaust pollution from EVs, which is a huge benefit. But there is ample doubt about the wider economic and environmental benefits and costs, when you take into account the need for much additional electricity generation (by what means?), the painful cost of securing the rare ingredients for the batteries, which in addition cannot be safely recycled when they expire; and the gigantic environmental and financial cost of disposing of perfectly efficient modern diesel and hybrid vehicles in order to comply with government targets.

So I suppose Lambeth can be forgiven, in this sense, for keeping options open and proceeding step-by-step.

They are still rubbish at communication though.

We’re getting better connected tomorrow

Herne Hill’s travel options into and around London are improving this weekend, with the joining up of the Elizabeth Line (formerly known as Crossrail), which we can of course access via Thameslink trains to Farringdon (except when Thameslink’s all too frequent weekend maintenance works rule this out, as on this Sunday).

This latest improvement means that from tomorrow, the lines from Reading, Heathrow, and Shenfield will connect with the central tunnels of the Elizabeth line – opening up new direct journeys across London, without having to change at Paddington.

In addition, customers will be able to use the Elizabeth Line seven days a week: Sunday services through central London will also start from tomorrow, Sunday 6 November.

 

Train frequency has improved too: between Paddington and Whitechapel, it goes from 12 trains per hour to up to 22 trains per hour in peak times and 16 trains per hour during off-peak. The final timetable, which will see 24 trains per hour during the peak between Paddington and Whitechapel, is on track to be in place by May 2023.

And there’s a new convenient interchange. Bond Street’s Elizabeth line station, which opened on 24 October, connects with the London Underground Bond Street station, accessing the Jubilee and Central lines. The new station is step-free from street to train with two lifts, further enhancing accessibility on the Elizabeth line and across the TfL network.

elizabeth-line-map-6-november-2022

Caution: There are some future planned engineering works when sections of the Elizabeth line will be closed:
Saturday 12 November – no service between Shenfield and Liverpool Street / Whitechapel
Saturday 19 November and Sunday 20 November – no service between Shenfield and Liverpool Street / Whitechapel, or between Hayes & Harlington and Heathrow

A stabbing in Josephine Avenue – and other crime news

It’s just outside our area, but perhaps worth recording, before looking at the wider picture.

A recent report from the Metropolitan police states that they were called to Josephine Avenue, SW2, at 18.19hrs last Saturday, 20 August to reports of a group of males fighting:

“Officers attended along with paramedics from London Ambulance Service. A man in his 30s was found with stab wounds. He was treated at the scene before being taken to hospital.
A vehicle made off from the scene which failed to stop for the Police. The vehicle was stopped shortly afterwards by Firearms Officers in Coldharbour Lane, SW9. Four occupants were detained and Taser was used to detain one of them.
Two of the occupants of the vehicle were found to have minor stab wounds and were taken to hospital for treatment. All injured parties’ injuries have been confirmed as Non-Life threatening or changing.
A total of six arrests have been made. The investigation is ongoing and being led by the local CID.
Anyone with information that may assist the investigation is asked to call 101 and quote CAD reference 6134 of 20th August 2022. Alternatively they can call Crime stoppers or contact www.fearless.org (which is linked to Crimestoppers).”

So this time, fortunately, no-one was killed. But in 2021, London recorded the highest number of teenage homicides caused by knife and gun crimes in modern times. That year, the UK’s capital saw the murders of some 30 male teenagers aged between 14 and 19. This surpassed the record of 29 in 2008.


What of Herne Hill?

Separately, and earlier this summer, we saw some crime figures for Herne Hill circulated by the police Safer Neighbourhood Team for our area (I now attend the panel meetings representing Fawnbrake Avenue). This data records the ‘Total Notifiable Offences’ for the last 11 months to April 2022.

The statistics showed a monthly average of 10 burglaries, four robberies, 32 thefts and 40 crimes against the person.

Still in Herne Hill, recorded possessions of weapons and drug offences were pretty low; in other wards the figures may well have been higher. I am not in a position to explain the difference between some of these categories: definitions of various crimes seem to vary. And it’s worth remembering that even these fairly crude figures can only represent the instances that the police were informed about.

The bigger picture – burglaries

Alongside all that, neighbours may have spotted reports in the national press earlier this summer about the astonishingly low clear-up rate for burglaries across the UK.

In neighbourhoods covering nearly half the country over the past three years, police have failed to solve a single burglary. Of more than 32,000 neighbourhoods analysed, 16,000 of them (46%) had all their burglary cases in the past three years closed with no suspect caught and charged by police.

Almost 2,000 of the neighbourhoods – each containing approximately 3,000 residents – recorded at least 25 burglaries, but none were solved. The worst neighbourhood, in Sheffield, went three years without any of its 104 burglaries being solved.

So for Lambeth?

The figures can be broken down by borough, and show that for Lambeth, 93.3% of burglaries were unsolved (data is for May 2019 to April 2022). The figure for robberies was 92.9% unsolved, and for bicycle thefts 98.3% unsolved. It doesn’t really help that, in the same statistics, Hackney comes out even worse.

So it seems clear that in most areas, burglary has not been regarded as a policing priority. Here in London, knife crime is probably – and understandably – a higher priority.

Yes, we might have expected the police to be able to respond to both types of incident. But on burglaries, some police forces have apparently introduced schemes to “screen” burglaries to decide if they are likely to be solved. If not, they are not fully investigated. These have ranged from the bizarre, where Leicestershire did not fully investigate break-ins at odd numbered houses to save money, to the more sophisticated in Norfolk, where Artificial Intelligence was used to assess the “solvability” of cases based on 29 factors, such as forensics, CCTV and location.

This seems to mean that if there is no CCTV or forensic evidence readily available, the case will often be closed within hours – leaving victims with no prospect of justice and little chance of recovering treasured personal items.

Conclusion

None of this is very reassuring. It’s probably stating the obvious to conclude that the safest lesson to draw from these figures is that we all need to take our own sensible, deliberate and consistent precautions to secure our persons, our families, our residences and our possessions. We can also look out for our neighbourhood and our street, as we on Fawnbrake already do – because, for whatever reason, the police may not be able to spring to help in an emergency when we send out the call.

Summer Music in Ruskin Park

The Friends of Ruskin Park have circulated an update of their programme of summer and autumn concerts at the bandstand.

It can be found here. This Sunday features the South London Jazz Orchestra from 3:00 to 5:00 pm.

 Paddling Pool has temporarily closed for urgent maintenance

Unfortunate timing but the paddling pool had to be drained today, Friday 12th August due to the jets being blocked.

Volunteers are working hard with Lambeth Council to resolve the issues, which are made worse by the extreme weather. They’re not currently able to say if the pool will be open over the weekend but will keep us updated

Penge tunnel restored

It appears that the much-heralded work to replace the railway tracks in the Penge Tunnel, which closed our rail link to Victoria last week, has been completed enough to allow the reopening of the line.


But there are some restrictions in place until Sunday 7 August. Passengers are advised to check before they travel – updated timetable information for Monday 1 August is available in journey planners.

This is all because there is still some work in the tunnel to be completed by Network Rail, which means that their trains will run at a reduced speed through Penge tunnel from Monday 1 to Sunday 7 August.

Accordingly, the Shortlands and Bromley South/Victoria stopping service via Herne Hill will have only two trains per hour to London Victoria in peak times this week.

Lambeth Country Show 2022 – parking restrictions and street closures

After a two-year break, like Glastonbury (er, perhaps not quite the same …), Lambeth Country Show is back this year, on Saturday 16 & Sunday 17 July. It will run from 12 noon to 8pm on each day (last entry 7:30pm). Click here for the publicity blurb.

The consequential street closures and parking bans near to Brockwell Park are pretty comprehensive. Even for those of us who live just a little further away from Brockwell Park, one inevitable impact is the complicated series of temporary traffic orders which impose one-way traffic systems on certain nearby roads and road closures, and parking suspensions too. And not just for the weekend of the Show.

Although the Country Show runs for only two days, the numerous traffic orders extend from 7 July until 24 July.

The list of temporary traffic and parking restrictions has been published in a recent issue of the South London Press newspaper. They are probably also published on Lambeth Council’s website but we haven’t found them there yet. On the other hand there are the usual laminated A4 notices attached to lamp posts all over the place, like this one spotted on Milkwood Road.

Traffic Order on Milkwood Road, 30 June 2022

It would be unbelievably tedious to list all the orders here. But the South London Press have also posted the full legal Order on their own website .

Impact on Fawnbrake and neighbouring streets

Just to pick out two or three details that might affect us living in this corner of Herne Hill:

  • In Gubyon Avenue there will be one-way traffic system for all vehicles in the direction towards Herne Hill
  • There will be one-way traffic on Milkwood Road between the bridge in Herne Hill and Gubyon Avenue
  • Vehicles driving on Herne Hill will be banned from entering Gubyon Avenue
  • Vehicles driving down Fawnbrake Avenue towards the centre of Herne Hill will be banned from turning right into Gubyon Avenue

However there is a sort of opt out. The Notice says that the “one-way traffic systems, bans and suspensions would only apply at such times as shall be indicated by the placing or covering of traffic signs and ‘no parking cones’”.

So, as ever, we will need to be sharp-eyed looking for such signs.

Electric Vehicle recharging bays in Fawnbrake Avenue

Who knew? It appears that Lambeth’s policy is to “introduce Electric Vehicle recharging bays adjacent to all of the lamp column EV charge points across the borough”. Rather like the markings on disabled parking bays. Which sort of makes sense. But these spaces can only be used by cars actually on-charge and, crucially, also have a permit for the Parking Zone in which they are located.

After all, an EV charging point embedded in the lamp post isn’t much use if a boring old diesel vehicle is thoughtlessly parked there for days on end, blocking your shiny new electric car desperate for a top up.

What isn’t clear – unless we have failed to drill down deep enough into the baffling depths of Lambeth’s website – is how many lamp column charge points, and thus reserved parking bays, we can expect to be introduced in this area.

Meanwhile another parking hazard has been introduced: presumably our parking enforcement officers now have access to software which will tell them (by reading the number plate?) if a non-electric vehicle is erroneously parked in a space reserved for an electric car  in which case they can issue a penalty notice without further ado.

There are 20 lamp columns on Fawnbrake Avenue, if we have counted correctly. There is already one electric charging point outside number 10, and now another one has arrived, with little fanfare or notice to the adjoining houses.

Shall we shortly have the whole street wired up for electric vehicles?

No-one is saying. What is clear on the other hand is that the system for siting these charge points – and the corresponding reserved recharging bays – is pretty opaque. Once the list of charge points (they proceed by successive batches based on no known criterion) is agreed by the councillors, a short period of “statutory consultation” is launched by council officers.

To be fair, it must be difficult to balance the requirement for electric charging points with the actual number of electric cars arriving on our streets. But as these points can only be used by electric car users who have a permit for our Parking Zone, and as there can’t be that many electric cars in this area, we won’t need that many points at this stage.  So, numbers of points and siting are important.

Meanwhile, how is one to know about this “consultation” process? Either by assiduously reading the very, very fine print of notices published biweekly in the South London Press (which few read) or by studying an A4 notice limply attached to a lamppost where the charge point, and thus the reserved Recharging Bay are to be introduced. As in the above photo of a notice outside number 86.

We all applaud the idea of electric cars, and would welcome a widespread installation of charging points, balanced to need, within sensible distance of our homes. If you have an electric car, and more and more neighbours are thinking along those lines, more charging points are obviously highly desirable. Ultimately the introduction of electric vehicles could be the most decisive intervention to reduce street pollution and would bring other environmental benefits. We are only at the beginning of this process, one assumes.

However, the siting of these points, and consequent loss of regular parking spaces, are matters of concern to all residents. Some would love to have one near their house and others not.

It is annoying for any person not yet the proud owner of an expensive electric car whose house has been arbitrarily chosen for such a benefit. And irritating for someone with such a car who would love to have EV point near them.

A well hidden appeal

Consult us, Lambeth!

So, a diplomatic public consultation seems essential to explain the formula for selecting posts for adaptation (and the consequent loss of a parking space) and gives those affected a chance to have a say.   The views of everyone else should be sought to ascertain who actively wants one.   A brokered solution should be possible that balances everyone’s views.  There also needs to be assent to the total number of points in the street as parking is already tight and we can’t lose too many spaces.

Simply writing “Have your say” on a document lodged deep out of sight in the Council’s website doesn’t do the trick.

Saved from demolition!

The 1935 art deco style house at 10 Dorchester Drive in Herne Hill has just been granted Grade II listing by Historic England (@HistoricEngland) , following representations by the Herne Hill Society (@HerneHillSoc), the Twentieth Century Society (@C20Society) and Lambeth Council.

The house by Leslie H Kemp and Frederick E Tasker (1935-36) is based on the architects’ winning design for the Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition in 1934. It is one of only two versions known to have been built in England, both of which are now listed.

Responding urgently to news of the house’s possible demolition by the new owner in February (he had already started to demolish the boundary wall!), a Building Protection Notice (BPN) was issued by Lambeth Council in response to pressure from the Herne Hill Society, independent experts, and @C20Society. A BPN protects unlisted buildings of special architectural or historic interest, but only temporarily, pending a formal legal decision by Historic England – which has been announced today.

A leading design historian @DeborahSuggRyan has commented: : “This is… the best example I have ever come across of this combination of International Style and Moderne that British builders experimented with in the mid 1930s… [It] has a remarkably intact original exterior and interior…”

More details of the house here.

The full official listing entry compiled by Historic England, showing the basis for the Listed Building protection, can be found here.

Herne Hill rental homes shortage – and why

Wendy Peterman, one of our truly local estate agents, has posted an interesting comment on the rental housing shortages in Herne Hill (and nationally).

Based on current trends in the property market in terms of growth of the population  – Brits living longer, the lack of new homes being built, and the reduction in social housing (aka council housing)  –   demand for homes in the private rented sector needs to increase nationally by 227,000 homes per year, she says.

 

 

 

 

So, based on those numbers, Herne Hill theoretically needs to have an additional 72 private rented properties per year.

Problem: the number of private rented properties in Herne Hill has instead reduced from 2,535 in 2017 to 2,399 in 2021, a net loss of 135.

Wendy’s blog unpacks the reasons, as she sees them,  for this trend in private renting, and the possible upturn in rentals: see the full blog here

But maybe that’s not the whole story…

Firstly, some of us might add that the stupendously high cost of buying a flat or a house in London (where the ‘average’ deposit, according to one of this morning’s papers now stands at over £115,000) must inevitably push people towards the rental market, thus stimulating yet more demand in excess of supply, creating that frantic and highly competitive search for a decent rented flat that afflicts so many people these days.

And secondly, landlords are facing an imminent change in the landlord/tenant law which is hardly calculated to ease the supply of rented accommodation.

Here’s why.

Until now, landlords have had the right to terminate a tenancy and repossess the property – either because they want to sell it or live in it themselves, or perhaps because the tenants have proved unsatisfactory,  or even because they believe that they could get higher rental income with a new tenant.

But the government has today now confirmed its plans (trailed in the Conservative 2019 election manifesto) to change the law that until now has allowed such so-called Section 21 “no-fault” evictions. This has alarmed some landlords and likely making them much more cautious when choosing tenants.

The National Residential Landlords Association, a trade body, has warned that abolishing Section 21 would make tenants feel less obliged to pay rent. “For the new system to work, the Government needs to ensure it includes clear and comprehensive grounds upon which landlords can legitimately repossess properties,” he said.

The NRLA went on to say that “This should include a mandatory ground for serious rent arrears. It would be unacceptable if the new system gave any signal that paying rent was an optional extra.”

A medium-term consequence of scrapping Section 21, some landlords believe, is that it will also make it much harder for lower income tenants to find properties, particularly amid a chronic shortage of rentals. Some landlords had already started evicting tenants ahead of the abolition of Section 21 being put into effect.

Landlords are not a popular constituency for any government to protect, but if the costs and complications of renting continue to mount, this would be another reason why the rental market is shrinking, or increasingly available only to more prosperous and financially reliable tenants.