Green energy is good. It’s better for the planet, it’s better for our health, and it’s better for the economy too. For one of our housing estates in Vauxhall, however, getting on board the alternative energy agenda could also mean rebuilding a sense of community, as well as creating opportunities for young people and putting money back into residents’ pockets.
And now Mawbey Brough Tenants’ and Residents’ Association are busy getting excited about it. When they attended a community leaders event organised by Councillors before Christmas about the opportunities presented by the North Lambeth Cooperative Local Investment Plan opportunity, they heard from Repowering London’s Director. Agamemnon, a local guy with an overwhelming passion to invest in communities, spoke of the fantastic work the social enterprise is doing in Lambeth. With a bit of seed money Repowering spends a year on an estate training up young people to build solar panels, install energy efficiency measures, getting an AQA in the process, installing them on their own roofs with every investing tenant making money as energy is sold back to the grid. They also run a course for all ages on how community benefit societies works and how to manage them.
Fast forward one month, and we’ve already been on a walkabout with the TRA and Repowering at Mawbey Brough on South Lambeth Road, where we discussed how we would get other residents interested in and involved with the scheme, what roof layouts would work and how the community dividend works.
Apart from the obvious investment in the individuals who take part directly in the programme, and the money in people's pockets at a time when Government cuts are really hurting, the programme is also a huge opportunity for the residents of Mawbey to come together and strengthen their community ties. Together we are going to approach the two local primaries, Herbert Morrison and Wyvil, as well as the Mawbey Brough GP practice and the sheltered accommodation, to discuss this exciting opportunity. As one resident put it: “everyone ought to be in this together, and I don’t mean in the David Cameron sense, but in it for each other to help each other”.
You may have already heard about the CLIP via your local TRA, neighbour, school, faith group, or somewhere else. To recap, CLIP is the mechanism Lambeth Council is using to help Councillors decide on spending priorities for money received from a tax on new housing and office developments in the area (Community Infrastructure Levy). The North Lambeth CLIP area includes Prince’s and Oval wards and we as Labour Councillors are determined that this money is spent in a way which narrows the inequalities gap and provides opportunities for those who need them.
We have identified four priorities which we think will help us achieve this objective:
1) Providing opportunities for young people
2) Promoting jobs, skills and training
3) Initiatives which promote community-building and strengthen neighbourly ties
4) Improvements to outdoor spaces, especially in less affluent areas
If it goes ahead, the Repowering programme for Mawbey Brough Estate will help meet at least three of the four CLIP priorities outlined above. It creates opportunities for young people, it provides training opportunities, and it builds a sense of community. It enables individuals of all ages and backgrounds, who might not otherwise have much in common, to come together to discuss a common purpose for the estate. Furthermore, it will be genuinely sustainable. The initial funding is a one-off which results in a long-term investment as ongoing source of money for residents, as well as doing its little bit to help the planet and prevent global warming.
As with all the CLIP projects, what is important is that they are suggested by you. Mawbey Brough TRA is now working to inform residents of this potential proposal and to get their support.
But it is not limited to this one estate. If you live on another estate and are interested in hearing more about this opportunity, then please get in touch or list it as one of your three suggestions in the online CLIP survey.
CLIP is about getting people thinking about their neighbours and their neighbourhood. Normal consultations tell us what individuals might want for themselves, not necessarily what people think other people might want. Yet it is this sort of collective consideration which will be crucial in the coming years of austerity. The squeeze from the Conservative government on local government spending (we have had our budget from them cut by 56% over the last six years with more to come) has already affected much loved services like parks and libraries, but the impact on vulnerable individuals in receipt of care packages or looked after children for whom the Council is the parent is deeply worrying.
The more we can get people appreciating and understanding the lives of others, whether more or less fortunate, the more we can continue to build a strong community which can support itself.
Cllr Jack Hopkins
Oval Ward Councillor