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Wednesday 12 September 2012 8.36am
http://www.charlesdickens.southwark.sch.uk/blog/?p=2796

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Wednesday 12 September 2012 2.25pm
James Hatts wrote:
http://www.charlesdickens.southwark.sch.uk/blog/?p=2796

thank you james, time to objectg again, methinks. There was banging from the closed lant street area again saturday just gone, at 7AM!
Wednesday 12 September 2012 10.54pm
Bloggie wrote:
James Hatts wrote:
http://www.charlesdickens.southwark.sch.uk/blog/?p=2796

thank you james, time to objectg again, methinks. There was banging from the closed lant street area again saturday just gone, at 7AM!
What does that mean, "banging from the closed Lant street area"? Building work?
Saturday 29 September 2012 3.50pm
You may all know or not know the history of Charles Dickens School's closure of Lant Street. After some year of debate, back in 2006 the School - one of the few non-Church Schools in Southwark rated outstanding by Southwark - was granted planning permission to close Lant Street to enable its children to have access to playgrounds. The application was opposed by Liberal Councillor Adele Morris who appears to have a long running vendetta against the School.

The School has now put in an application for planning permission to instal playground and sports equipment in the play area. Unhappy with having lost the fight last time round, Councillors Noakes and Adele Morris - both Liberal Councillors in the School's Ward - are opposing the plans because they are still unhappy about the decision which went against them in 2009, and think they might pick up a handful of votes by supporting the small number of objectors who want public access through a school.

Inevitably the School will appeal - which appeal is bound to succeed because the School already has permission to do what Liberals Adele Morris and David Noakes are unhappy about. This will mean wasted costs to be borne by Southwark Council Tax payers.

This of course is to be regretted and this author will consider whether it is possible personally to surcharge the Councillors responsible personally for knowingly acting unlawfully. However, worse than that, is the damage that Noakes and Morris seek to wreak upon one of the only decent non-Church schools in the Borough. Their action seems almost calculated to force the school to become an Academy. And is bound to cause pointless delays to children's use of the school's playground.

And the worst thing about it all is this: Morris and Noakes seem not to care that the steps they want - which would involve strangers being able to walk through School grounds at will - involve quite staggering dangers to children at the School.
Saturday 29 September 2012 4.50pm
Charles Dickens was my children's school, for most of the time when the excellent Mrs Owens was headteacher. I always welcomed the closure of Lant Street, although my children never got to benefit from it. I also welcomed the decision under Mrs DeQuincey, the new headteacher, not to turn the school into an Academy. So in principle, you have my support. Why, however, your comments about Adele Morris? Sounds you have a personal problem with her or the fact that she is a Liberal?
Saturday 29 September 2012 6.22pm
Godot, I don't think you should see this as a personal issue and I am glad that councillors are considering how to Balance the undoubted benefits of the closure to the school against the equally undoubted inconvenience to those who would prefer to be able to walk down Lant St.

I am not convinced by the need to close an important street for pedestrians to permit only use by the school. And I am very disappointed that it appears the proponents of the closure feel no need to try to demonstrate and persuade local people why the use you prefer should be the one that is adopted.

There are several issues for me:
a) Mint St park, an exceptional local park with good equipment, is two quiet blocks away. Why not try to promote wider and safer pavements between the school and this park?
There may well be reasons why this is difficult, but closing off a public road is a big step.

b) the school is not open at weekends or evenings, but the road is blocked 24/7. Why not a shared street where people can use the street when the school is not using the equipment, or even better, a public park right outside the school, one which has public access and is of benefit to all?

I would be interested in a discussion of these issues before any talk of surcharging councillors, who I believe have a duty to represent the electorate, not just a single school.
Saturday 29 September 2012 7.40pm
Luke wrote:
Godot, I don't think you should see this as a personal issue and I am glad that councillors are considering how to Balance the undoubted benefits of the closure to the school against the equally undoubted inconvenience to those who would prefer to be able to walk down Lant St.
I am not convinced by the need to close an important street for pedestrians to permit only use by the school. And I am very disappointed that it appears the proponents of the closure feel no need to try to demonstrate and persuade local people why the use you prefer should be the one that is adopted.

There are several issues for me:
a) Mint St park, an exceptional local park with good equipment, is two quiet blocks away. Why not try to promote wider and safer pavements between the school and this park?
There may well be reasons why this is difficult, but closing off a public road is a big step.

b) the school is not open at weekends or evenings, but the road is blocked 24/7. Why not a shared street where people can use the street when the school is not using the equipment, or even better, a public park right outside the school, one which has public access and is of benefit to all?

I would be interested in a discussion of these issues before any talk of surcharging councillors, who I believe have a duty to represent the electorate, not just a single school.
It's a bit late for al of that. The opponents have had years to, ahem, oppose to this and the fact that the whole process is now being held up for the sake of power and political games is very frustrating and unfair, especially on the children at Charles Dickens. It has been 6 years. The exact time that my youngest started and finished primary school. Don't make the school a victim of your own inertia. They put in a lot of hard work and I personally have very little sympathy for people who wake up now and go "I don't really want this"... It's a bit like not voting and then complaining about the government you got.
Saturday 29 September 2012 8.08pm
If I recall correctly, the original plan for a "green classroom" was to have a certain amount of access for the general public outside of school hours and, of course, taking into account the childrens' safety.
Unfortunately, the TRA was under the control of someone who was so against any proposals to close Lant Street, even partially to the benefit of everyone, that the two sides became entrenched and the result has been the total closure which I think is unsatisfactory to say the least.
Saturday 29 September 2012 11.25pm


"Shame on Cathedral Ward Liberals", an interesting title for a long running
community issue with a great deal of history.


I've been following the development of this community project, for a number of years (which has the potential to enhance the quality of life for all concerned if done properly) .

Communicating with local residents, councillors, parents (and kids), also attending a couple of meetings with the school's Head and Board of Governors (BoG) (in addition to someone who worked within the highways department), I have a good rounded overview of both sides of this source of conflict.

It is apparent that there is a great deal of frustration on this issue within the local community, parents, the head teacher, board of governors and this author, Godot.


To summarise the needs of the local community and Charles Dickens school:

The school
Wishes to have the maximum amount of development space to provide outdoor exercise in the newly acquired plot which was once 'Lant Street' (As the current play space on school grounds is prominently taken up with a large wooden exercise structure for the children).

The local community,
Residents (including lesser able-bodied, elderly and persons with mobility issues, parents and local businesses), wish to have access via a pathway around the boarder of the school grounds, without dissecting the main body of the school ground to maximise proposed outdoor playing area.


The local councillors, residents the local Tenants and Residents Association(s) have attempted to work with the school's management team (Head teacher and BoD's), to arrive at solutions to satisfy the needs of all concerned, however the Community School, Charles Dickens literally hasn't deviated from it stand point that it intends to keep every inch of space for its use.

It must be a couple of years now, that the MP Simon Hughes met with the school and local residents in a special meeting on the schools grounds, to assist in the mediation efforts between both parties.

At this meeting the most beneficial solution, and one which is generally met with a warm reception from both the community and some parents as being 'the best workable solution', is one of a pathway around the perimeter of the schools grounds. To safely allow passage around the school, yet keeping a maximum amount of undivided outdoor space for children to use as exercise and outdoor space.

The "Golden gates" design currently to be a continued theme around the grounds, which would be both secure and "in keeping with the existing environment". This commissioned design, allowing light through the pathway / playground and would not cause visibility issues at night for pedestrians. Not a private car park ...


The school severed all discussions with the community at the end of this meeting.


Walkway around a playground:
picturepush.com/public/10399642

Saint Joseph's Primary School, (http://www.london-se1.co.uk/places/st-josephs-school , Little Dorrit court / Red Cross way) Which is a few hundred meters from Charles Dickens 'community' School has a walkway around their playground, and when asked, this is without incident to children playing in the outdoor space. Why the Charles Dickens management team deem a pathway solution "Too costly" and a "Child security risk" is purely, self serving to disallow access by the local community, grain maximum space to also incorporate vehicle access (coincidently currently used as parking on occasion).


Whilst the school has kindly provided a sample letter to parents of children attending Charles Dickens school, with which to send into the council to support the current planning permission application .... It seems unfair of me to raise an important safety concern to the parents and the local community:

*******************************************************************************
CHILDREN and ADULTS ARE AT RISK WITH THE EXISTING SCHOOLS PLANNING APPLICATION.
*******************************************************************************

By accepting the current planning application which DISSALLOWS a walkway around boarder of the schools grounds, Parents, children, residents, people with mobility issues are FORCED to choose between the A3201 (Marshalsea Road) or Great Suffork Street to gain access to the front of the school or Lant estate.

For the last few years whilst Lant Street has been closed, I have seen COUNTLESS trips, slips and falls into the main roads, when the frost, snow and ultimately icy conditions forces many people to walk into the main roads when then pavements become treacherous.

This safety concern of traversing main roads in wintry weather is of great concern even on agile legs.


Why would a pathway around the edge of Charles Dickens School grounds make a difference?

The local Estate cleaners of Lant Estate would be able to maintain, grit and provide a safe walkway.


The current planning application not only affects current children attending the school, but future children too. Are parents honestly happy walking next to these main roads, quite poignant as we're heading to the Winter Solstice

*******************************************************************************

It is interesting to note, that a number of years ago, when the initial “blue hoarding” sprang up overnight, I discussed the matter with an acquaintance who worked in the Highways and Byways department …

'If I was a resident in this area, I would ask, why a further, more in-depth investigation, of the impact to the local community didn't take place at that particular point of consultation (which is standard practice in such applications).

Was the outcome to close Lant Street a foregone conclusion in order to meet the ever swelling population of inner city schools, in this case the local 'community' Charles Dickens School.

Let us not forget that there are children who are not able to play with their friends who live on either side of the school gates on Lant Streets. No parent would allow their kid to walk next main roads without supervision.

With a great deal of funding for Community projects available, funding of a pathway shouldn't be a problem, however, should the school choose not to re-engage with the local community, sadly they will be financially on their own, local funding for projects require community engagement, which has been lacking from Charles Dickens School from quite some time.


It begs the question, what would the great Charles Dickens think of the school battling against the local community?

Would he exclaim “Bah Humbug!” on a wintry evening, at the Scrooge who's denying a safe passage around the school …. Take care in future the wintry nights folks, as “Tiny Tim” may not be the only person on Crutches should we not have a safe boarder around the schools grounds!


The Schools Motto “We Have Great Expectations”, but is this to the detriment to the local community?
Saturday 29 September 2012 11.59pm
I am quite concerned about the personal attack on two very well respected local councillors, who have worked extremely hard for the local community.

I have had many dealings with both Councillor Morris and Councillor Noakes, and to accuse them of a personal vendetta against the school is unfair, and does not accurately describe either of them.

Adele Morris has done a lot for this community, and this is reflected by the fact that at the last election she received more votes than any other councillor. These are the people we elected to represent our community, we have asked them to represent us in this matter, and this is what they are doing.

As a local resident who is directly affected by the closure of Lant Street, I am concerned at the appalling attitude of the School, Southwark Council, TFL and anyone else who was involved in the closure of Lant Street.

Although some local residents were consulted, our objections fell on deaf ears. We are NOT objecting to the closure of Lant Street, we are objecting to the schools failure to allow a path around the perimeter of the grounds. There are many elderly residents, along with disabled residents living around the area of the school, and their views have been completely ignored. Local residents ARE NOT asking for a path through the middle of the School Grounds. We do recognise the need to protect the safety of the Children, we are asking for a path around the perimeter, I cannot stress this FACT enough.

The local TRA employed BOST to draw up plans to allow a pathway around the perimeter, but these were dismissed by the school!!

The school has refused to discuss the issues with the local residents, which in my opinion is not conducive to finding a resolution to the problem at hand. This wasn't helped by the attitude of the previous Chair of the local TRA, who has now been removed from office.

I would urge the parents, whose kids are currently attending the School, to consider the impact of residents lives after your Child leaves our local area.

The School should quite rightly, be congratulated on it's academic achievements, however, this is a separate issue.

Charles Dickens School, needs to consider that it IS part of a local community, and as such it should be talking to local residents instead of sticking two fingers up at them.
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