SOUTHWARK CHILDREN’S HOME IN JIMMY SAVILE PROBE

Southwark council has launched an investigation into one of its former children’s homes following a request from secretary of state for education Michael Gove.

Southwark’s investigation – in partnership with the NSPCC – centres on The Hollies in Sidcup which was administered by the council from 1965 until it closed in 1989.

A Southwark council statement said the Department for Education has asked a number of local authorities in England, including Southwark council, to investigate information about Jimmy Savile and a number of children’s homes dating back to the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

“In Southwark, the information relates to one council run children’s home, the Hollies, which was open in Sidcup and administered by Southwark Council from 1965 until it was closed in 1989.

“We will cooperate in full with this request to establish what happened at the Hollies and will support any former residents affected by this announcement.

“That’s why the NSPCC is working with us and has set up a helpline for former Hollies residents or their friends and families to call for advice and support.”

The helpline number is 0808 800 500. People can also e-mail help@nspcc.org.uk

Mr Gove told the House of Commons: “The Department for Education has received information about Jimmy Savile relating to several children’s homes and schools in England, dating back to the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

“This information was uncovered as part of the document review process undertaken by the Metropolitan Police Service on behalf of the Department of Health.

“Having reviewed the information, I have decided that the Department for Education should pass the information to the appropriate organisations for further investigation.

“In most cases the work will be conducted by the relevant local authority; in others the relevant institution or a legacy organisation will take the lead.”

Southwark became a London borough in 1965. The Southwark statement does not say if The Hollies existed before 1965 or which council, if any, ran it.

Other childrens homes and schools involved in the investigation include Sevenoaks school at Sevenoaks. Kent. A full list can be found at: gov.uk March 27th 2014 ‘Education Secretary’s statement regarding investigations relating to Jimmy Savile and a number of children’s homes and schools in England’ (Sources: Southwark council press release; gov.uk)

‘LARGEST-EVER’ ILLEGAL TOBACCO HAUL IN LEWISHAM

A Lewisham retailer has been found with over £100,000 worth of illegal tobacco – believed to be the biggest find by trading standards in the country.

The manager of the shop told Lewisham council trading standards officers  the premises did not sell or stock cigarettes.

But a tobacco detection dog called Jack, sniffed out the substantial find of  600kg of illegal Chinese hand rolling tobacco, with a potential street value of over £100,000. in the shop and store room.

The owner of the shop is now under investigation.

In the same week, officers also seized 10,000 Chinese cigarettes and counterfeit hand rolling tobacco in Deptford, and 15,000 Russian cigarettes in Lee Green. Trading standards are also investigating this further.

Lewisham council, the police and HM Customs, carry out targeted raids on premises considered to be selling illegal tobacco. Any proprietor found to stock or sell these will be liable to prosecution. Illegal tobacco can be reported anonymously by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0845 404 0506.

A Lewisham council spokesperson says it is estimated that around 11 per cent of all cigarettes and 49 pc of all hand rolling tobacco consumed in the UK are illicit, whether smuggled, counterfeit, stolen or bootlegged.

“It has also been claimed that as many as third of cigarettes sold across London are illegal.

“Although all tobacco is harmful, research shows that four times as many people die from illegal tobacco than all illicit drugs combined.

“Organised criminal gangs play a key role in the supply of illicit tobacco, especially counterfeit and smuggled cigarettes.

“This illegal trade does damage more than health impacts and loss of government revenue as it can support other criminal activity such as the supply of controlled drugs, stolen goods and illegal alcohol.

“Some counterfeit and smuggled tobacco has been found to contain asbestos, mould and human faeces.

“We are working closely with other boroughs across south east London to curb the sale of illicit tobacco after a report found that 114 million illicit cigarettes with a street value of over £22million are sold annually in the region by organised criminal gangs.

“As well as this campaign, we are working with the police and HM Customs to continually carry out targeted raids on premises considered to be selling illegal tobacco.

“Any proprietor found to stock or sell these will be prosecuted.

“Following a successful raid and prosecution at Greenwich magistrates court last October a Catford shop was fined £12,000 after trading standards officers seized 15,000 cigarettes and over 5kg of hand-rolling tobacco.

“The cigarettes were labelled in Polish and evidence suggested at least 71,000 similar cigarettes had previously been supplied along with a further 30kg of hand-rolling tobacco.

“A forfeiture order for destruction of the seized items was also granted to us.

“We want to help reduce the harm caused by all tobacco and particularly illegal tobacco which is sold in shops, and encourage residents to anonymously report those they know or suspect are dealing in illicit products.

“Much of the trade in illegal tobacco is covert with sellers often happy to sell anyone regardless of their age, even to those under 18. This increases the risk of tobacco harm to children.”

Report the sale of illegal tobacco anonymously by phoning the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08454 040506 or by calling our hotline 07539 906447.

Trading StandardsWearside Service Centre, Wearside Road
SE13 7EZTel: 020 8314 2288
Email: trading.standards@lewisham.gov.uk (Source: Lewisham council press release)

NEW ‘IMPACT ZONES’ LIMIT ALCOHOL LICENCES

THE INTRODUCTION of cumulative impact zones which restrict the number of off licenses opening in areas where alcohol has been seen to fuel crime and disorder is one of the main issues concerning Croydon’s new public health team.

They are now involved in talks regarding a voluntary scheme to ban the sale of cheap ‘super-strength’ alcohol in Croydon town centre.

Proposals include outreach support for street drinkers to reduce and recover from their alcohol dependency.

And this year the team will play a key role in establishing Croydon as one of the country’s 20 Local Alcohol Action Areas, where the council will work with other partner organisations to reduce the health and crime problems associated with alcohol in the borough.

In addition, a total of 2,267 people quit smoking in 2012/13 with support from local stop smoking services, and with services now under council control, the figure for 2013/14 is set to be higher than 2,500.

The team have just marked their first anniversary at the council, after moving from the NHS one year ago following the abolition of primary care trusts.(Source: Croydon council press release)

‘CHEMSEX’ HARM WARNING FROM COUNCILS FOR GAYS

Lambeth has the highest prevalence of HIV in the UK (14 per 1,000 residents aged 15-59) and Southwark has the second highest (12 per 1,000).

A REPORT commissioned by three South London boroughs into drug use during sex has highlighted significant risks to the sexual and mental health of gay and bisexual men.

Councils in Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham – boroughs which have a high population of gay men – are determined to tackle the growing problems associated with ‘chemsex’.

The findings of the report, produced by experts in HIV and sexual health at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, will inform the response to the problem.

Health experts have previously raised concerns that chemsex, or sex under the influence of drugs such as crystal methamphetamine, GHB/GBL and mephedrone, could be behind rising rates of HIV and STIs in gay men.

Lambeth has the highest prevalence of HIV in the UK (14 per 1,000 residents aged 15-59) and Southwark has the second highest (12 per 1,000).

Cllr Jim Dickson, Lambeth’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “This research provides essential insight into the complex needs of this particular at risk group of our local residents.

“It will enable us to work with partner organisations to find new approaches to reducing harm and to support the health and well being of affected men.”

The Chemsex study is the first research of its kind in the UK to look at the complex relationship between drug use and sexual behaviour, and documents the harms that some gay men experience.

Report lead author, Dr Adam Bourne from the Sigma Research team at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “A vulnerable section of society is using new drugs in new ways that is putting them at serious risk.

“Although our study shows that chemsex is uncommon overall, there is a need for specialist support for men who have sex under the influence of these drugs.

“Gay and bisexual men need better information and advice as well as access to gay-friendly drug and sexual health services that are able to address the psychosocial aspects of chemsex.

“We also need to work with social and sexual networking apps and websites to ensure they are supporting health promotion and harm reduction to their users.”

Researchers analysed survey data from 1,142 gay and bisexual men living in Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham and conducted in-depth interviews with 30 gay men from the area.

They found that although chemsex was reported to increased sexual arousal and facilitate more adventurous sex, many men were using drugs to mask self-esteem or self-confidence issues.

The majority of men were not happy with their sex lives and wanted a long-term partner for more intimate and emotionally connected sex.

Around a third of men interviewed found it difficult to maintain control of their behaviour or negotiate safe sex while under the influence of drugs and had unprotected sex with high risk of HIV/STI transmission, which they regretted.

Overdosing, panic attacks, convulsions and sexual assault were all associated with chemsex. Many men also felt that the large amount of time they spent engaging in chemsex was detrimental to their social relationships and career progression.

Public Health England has raised concerns about rising HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in men who have sex with men.

The forthcoming Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham HIV and sexual health strategy addresses these issues and sets the strategic direction for improving the sexual health of local people.

The Chemsex Study’s key recommendations include the production of resources that provide drug harm reduction information, access to gay-friendly drug and sexual health services that understand the issues around chemsex, co-ordinated work with managers of commercial sex-on-premises venues to develop harm reduction policies and procedures and engagement with commercial companies and gay media / apps to provide harm reduction as part of a corporate responsibility to their users. (Source: Lambeth council press release.

ASBO – UNTIL 2017

Posters are to be displayed warning members of the public to contact the police or council should they catch a 27-year-old man breaching his recently issued antisocial behaviour order (ASBO).

Under the terms of a three-year ASBO, the Broad Green resident has been ordered by a court to stay out of Croydon town centre and the Valley Park/Purley business area at all times.

He was given the ASBO, which lasts until March 2017, at Croydon magistrates court on March after he was found to have been aggressively begging and taking drugs in a public place.

The posters will be displayed at businesses in the town centre and at Valley Park/Purley business area.

Cllr Simon Hoar, cabinet member for community safety and public protection, said: “Not only does this alert the public but it also sends a strong message to those who think they can cause nuisance and break the law.

“Antisocial behaviour is the scourge of our communities, and with our partners in the police, we’ll not hesitate to take action and punish offenders through the courts.”

Acting Inspector David Lee, from Croydon police, said: “For two years he  has caused distress, frustration and worry and has been a public nuisance to those who work, live and do business in an around Croydon town centre and Purley.

“I hope it serves as reassurance for residents, shoppers and people who visit Croydon.

“Our message is clear – we will not tolerate this type of behaviour and will do all we can to ensure that those bringing disorder to Croydon will be brought before a court.”

A Croydon council spokesperson said: “Anyone who sees the man breaking the terms and conditions of his ASBO should not approach him, but contact the police on 07733 376860 or the council on 020 8726 6000.” (Source: Croydon council press release)

END OF YEAR RENT ARREARS ARE DOWN

CROYDON ouncil tenants’ rent arrears have dropped by more than nine per cent in the last year.

Unpaid rent levels fell over four weeks in March by more than £51,000, bringing arrears for the last financial year down by nearly £150,000 from £1,596,709 in April 2013.

A Croydon council spokesman said: “The rent collection rate for 2013/14 was at 99 oer cent of the £82 million due, which is better than the average for the last five years.

“Among the reasons for this strong performance is the range of support provided by the council and partner organisations for tenants to help them find work, manage their finances, advise on welfare benefits, reduce living costs and move to a smaller, more affordable home.” (Source: Croydon council pres release)

LEWISHAM RESIDENTS URGED TO BE ‘ON THEIR METAL’

A new campaign has been launched to urge Lewisham residents to make their ‘metals matter’ by encouraging them to recycle more of the estimated 80 million cans, aerosols aluminium foil trays and the wrapping foil used in Lewisham homes every year.

“Used metal packaging can be recycled endlessly into valuable new products saving energy and CO2 emissions compared to making them from raw materials” said a Lewisham council spokesperson.

“Research has shown that people aren’t always aware that their used metal packaging will be transformed into new valuable everyday items when collected for recycling.

“Our new campaign aims to help people understand what can be recycled and explain what happens to the metals collected.

“If all the metal packaging used in Lewisham each year was collected for recycling it would save around 4260 tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent to taking 835 cars off local streets.”

MetalMatters is run by the Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation (Alupro) on behalf of the funding partners from the metal packaging industry. (Source: Lewisham council press release)

DOG OWNERS REMINDED TO GET THE MESSAGE

Stencils at 20 known dog-fouling hotspots across Croydon borough are reminding lazy dog-walkers that they should clean up when their pet leaves a ‘calling card’.

The bright yellow pavement stencils carry the simple ‘pick up or pay up’ message and will be backed by increased enforcement patrols by uniformed council officers.

Areas include: Albert Road, around South Norwood Country Park, past Ryelands Primary (Selhurst);

Beulah Road (outside school)

Cllr Simon Hoar, cabinet member for community safety and public protection, said: “Anyone who owns and walks a dog should always carry a supply of bags with them – it’s part of the job of being responsible for a pet.

“Those owners who think it’s OK to just walk away after their dog has been to the toilet need to think about the way they are spoiling everyone else’s enjoyment of the area.

“If they get caught they’ll soon feel the pain of a fine and the possibility of an expensive prosecution.”

A Croydon council spokesperson said: “Dog fouling is a significant problem in some parts of the borough, and the new initiative is being introduced alongside other measures to cut down on littering and fly-tipping.

“The work is funded through an additional council investment of £100,000 to tackle these issues.

“Most of the council’s open green spaces have dedicated dog-waste bins, but those walking on the streets can use regular litter bins if the waste is securely bagged and tied.” (Source: Croydon council press release)

BOROUGH-WIDE TREE PLANTING SCHEME

A comprehensive tree re-planting scheme is being planned across Bromley borough following the unprecedented series of storms and gales last winter.

The £100,000 planting initiative which will replace as many of the fallen trees as possible will see around 400 additional trees planted – and possibly more subject to demand.

Cllr Colin Smith, executive councillor for environment, said: “Everyone benefits from the pleasure and character that trees bring to our street scene and indeed, in many ways their physical presence plays a strong part in defining the very soul and identity of our communities.

“It is vital as passing guardians that we protect and pass that pleasure on.”

A majority of the trees will be native species, with oak, lime, sorbus and birch trees being planted in the most practical and appropriate places.

All the new trees will be carefully nurtured over the vital first year after planting, with watering bags being attached to the newly planted trees.  The green bags, which hold 22 gallons of water, have been designed to release water slowly, giving the best chance of thriving in the summer months in particular.

Non-native species to be planted include ornamental cherry and Turkish hazel. (Source: Bromley council press release)

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