North Lambeth Neighbourhood Area comprises Oval and Prince’s wards, and broadly includes most of Kennington, Oval and Vauxhall. Home to approximately 30,000 people, the area is rich in diversity with people from a full host of backgrounds, cultures and experiences. If you live, work or study in the North Lambeth Neighbourhood Area, then the following is almost certainly going to be of interest to you, so please read on.
North Lambeth is a great place to live, but is also home to some of the starkest inequalities in our Borough. This is something which we as Labour Councillors were elected to tackle: inequalities in education, in income and in health. Whilst many of our residents live comfortably, others are forced to visit food banks. Some young people growing up here have the world at their feet, yet others are have their opportunities limited from the outset, meaning that they are much less likely to go on to higher education, to get well paid jobs and do well.
And this inequality is getting worse as Government-imposed austerity takes grip. Local Councils have seen their funding cut by 56% at a time when demand for older people’s care, children’s services, and temporary accommodation for the homeless is rocketing. Voluntary sector groups and charities too are facing funding cuts whilst they struggle to support often ‘unseen’ people on the edge. This comes on top of the broader impacts on inequality of wage freezes, zero hour contracts, cuts to school budgets, higher inflation in house prices and rents and a Government assault on social and affordable housing. Long-standing communities who supported each other through family or neighbourly ties are being lost, childcare costs can be exorbitant, and the less fortunate are becoming more isolated from their more well-connected neighbours.
We want to work with all of our residents to tackle this and work towards a stronger and more equal community. One way that we can do this, is by using a developer tax called Community Infrastructure Levy, and making sure that this is spent in North Lambeth. We have set up what is called a Cooperative Local Investment Panel (CLIP) for North Lambeth. And so in the New Year, your local Labour Councillors will be engaging with everyone in Oval and Prince’s for 7 weeks to find out your thoughts on how this money could be spent to benefit local people who need it most.
We want to know what you can contribute, or what you think is needed, to help our community become stronger, more supportive and enabling to ensure that everyone gets the opportunities to achieve and lead a happier life.
At the end of that 7-week period, we will be considering the challenges, suggestions, projects and programmes that have come from you, and how we can use the money generated from private or public sector developments to invest locally.
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We have four general priorities which we will be asking people to think about and respond to. How those priorities are met will be about what resources are out there, and how much appetite there is, so start talking to your neighbours and your community networks!
1) Youth Opportunities, Activities & Facilities
It is not acceptable that young people growing up in North Lambeth are not achieving whatever they want to achieve with the opportunities and resources that exist. The inequality of opportunity that exists between our young people in areas like work experience, developing talents or being exposed to what life has to offer, must change. We will be supporting projects and programmes that extend opportunities, broaden horizons and provide support for young people to have and achieve bigger goals. We hope that local residents and businesses will take part in this as well. Could you offer a young person a week of work experience for example?
2) Support for Jobs, Training & Skills
Again and again it is clear that whilst many people are enjoying the fruits of our prime location near central London, too many people are struggling to get the training and skills they need to secure a decent job. We want to see programmes and projects which are going to help with this. Are you a local business who finds that local residents lack the skills you need? Do you have an idea for a project which would help develop a local resident’s confidence top help them in the job world?
3) Building Stronger Communities across the Neighbourhood
More and more people who live in the same street or block don't know who their neighbours are. We want to make sure that projects and programmes that support individuals through building social networks and friendships are prioritised. It's great having neighbours who can take your parcel in, feed your cat, keep an eye on the street, or even help out with child care. Gardening groups, parents groups, sports activities, classes to help people or learn to use a computer: these are all excellent ways of meeting new friends, having an influence in the area and breaking down barriers. We have a huge range of formally constituted community groups but there are many people who don't feel part of them or don't have people to lean on when life is tough. We support initiatives which help strengthen the ties in our community, and which link people up who have access to time and resources with people who don’t.
4) Making Improvements to Outdoor Spaces
We all share the same outdoor spaces, especially important if you live in a cramped flat or overcrowded accommodation, which thousands of North Lambeth residents do. We are already investing in our Parks. But there lots of other outdoor spaces which could be improved, particularly in our more disadvantaged areas. We want to make these spaces nicer places to be. We want more people cycling, we want more people walking and we want more people exercising outside. And we want to hear from you about how we can make this happen.
We will therefore be prioritising projects which are in line with these four priorities, and which seek to bring people together and tackle inequality, whether that be financial, educational or health. We will also be looking to projects which promise to create a longer-lasting and sustainable impact, and which do not require Council funding for their upkeep, because this is money which the Council simply does not have. By law, we are also unable to use this project money to cover Council cuts or provide Council services.
If you want to get involved, or if you have some ideas for proposals, please get in touch with us. If you are part of a local group and want one of us to come and discuss this, we’ll be happy to. If you want to let us know what you think would benefit you or others then let us know. Would a network of friendly parents have helped you? Would some support to help your child get into university have made the difference? Can you offer work experience but don't know how or who to offer it to? Get in touch!
Jane Edbrooke | Claire Holland | Jack Hopkins
Your Oval Labour Councillors