Princess Astrid, sister of King Harald V of Norway, opened the new St Olav’s Square in Albion Street on Sunday 17 September.

St Olav’s Norwegian church, which stands near the entrance to the Rotherhithe tunnel, formerly a mission to sailors in nearby Surrey Docks, now serves Norwegians living throughout the UK.

The church has worked over several years with Southwark Council to improve the area in front of the church. This involved the removal of the disused public toilets and a car park and opening up the space in front of the landmark church, newly visible to traffic approaching from Jamaica Road.

After a church service led by The Revd Torbjorn Holt, the Princess and invited guests gathered in the new square for the unveiling of a new bust of King Haakon VII, which is based on a full length statue in Oslo. Haakon’s biographer, Tor Bomann Larsen, spoke about the King’s life in wartime London when having refused to abdicate in face of demands from Germany, regularly attended St Olav’s Norwegian church and attended to Norwegian government business in exile.

Leader of the council Peter John, past mayor and local councillor Kath Whittam and cabinet member for regeneration Mark Williams were presented to the Princess in recognition of Southwark’s partnership in the creation of a new public open space as part as the ongoing regeneration of the Albion Street.

Wreaths at a restored war memorial were laid by veterans of the wartime Norwegian shipping fleets, including Donald Hunter who served as radio officer on three Norwegian merchant ships carrying dangerous cargoes to allied forces.

The small fountain in the garden was donated by a Norwegian family in memory of their daughter.

Photo 01-03-2016, 16 36 05The CGP community allotment in Southwark Park is to receive a grant from the Tesco ‘Bags of Help’ scheme – but shoppers will determine how much cash the garden receives

Tesco has allocated £30,000 to community projects in and around Southwark in the second round of its Bags of Help scheme, funded by the proceeds of the mandatory 5p charge for plastic carrier bags introduced in England last autumn.

The amount each project receives will depend on where it is ranked in a public vote against two others: £12,000 will be granted for first place, £10,000 for second and £8,000 for third.

Customers in Southwark stores will receive a token at the checkout and be asked to place it in the box of the project they favour the most.

The three contenders are:

  • Melior Street Garden, SE1
  • CGP Community Allotment in Southwark Park, SE16
  • Somerville Kitchen Garden, Lee SE12

Voting continues until Sunday 6 March in the stores listed below.

Participating Tesco stores in Southwark

  • Tesco Extra – Surrey Quays
  • Tesco Superstore – Old Kent Road
  • Tesco Metro – Tooley Street
  • Tesco Metro – Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre
  • Tesco Metro – Jamaica Road
  • Tesco Express – Tower Bridge Road
  • Tesco Express – The Cut
  • Tesco Express – Borough Road
  • Tesco Express – Great Suffolk Street
  • Tesco Express – New Kent Road
  • Tesco Express – Long Lane
  • Tesco Express – Camberwell New Road
  • Tesco Express – Peckham
  • Tesco Express – East Dulwich
  • Tesco Express – Queen’s Road Peckham
  • Tesco Express – Southwark Park Road
  • Tesco Express – Walworth Road
  • Tesco Express – Camberwell

Cllr Peter John, Leader of Southwark Council, said today: “I can now confirm we have issued the High Court with an application for a Judicial Review into the Secretaries of State’s decision to approve plans for the super sewer in their current form, because of the devastating impact the work will have on the lives of the thousands of people who live, work and go to school around the proposed Chamber’s Wharf tunnel drive site.

“Our position was supported by the findings of the five individual planning inspectors who, after six months of hearing from experts and residents alike, concluded that using Chambers Wharf as a drive site would have very significant impacts on the lives of residents and that Abbey Mills would be a more appropriate site with far less impact. This point was ignored by the Secretaries of State who did not even consider the alternatives put forward and simply felt the need for the project outweighed our concerns about the way Chambers Wharf was being used.

“We have discussed this with legal counsel and believe we have a strong case, but we are under no illusions, we are very much David taking on Goliath. However, unlike the Secretaries of State, we can not simply ignore the devastating impact this work will have on the people living, working and going to school around Chambers Wharf and we are prepared to take this to court in order to get the best possible outcome for them.”

Barney Holbeche, chair of the Save Your Riverside residents’ campaign group, said: “It is very surprising and disappointing that ministers chose to ignore advice from the planning inspectorate and therefore go against the national policy statement on waste water which states that the tunnel should only be given consent if significant adverse impacts on health and quality of life from noise have been avoided. The credibility of the planning process is in doubt because of this decision on the tunnel and we therefore welcome the decision of Southwark Council to question the legalities of it.”

Mayor of London Boris Johnson says he ‘might well’ consider supporting the construction of a bridge across the Thames for pedestrians and cyclists linking Rotherhithe with Canary Wharf.

At Mayor’s Question Time on Wednesday, Lib Dem London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon revealed that transport charity Sustrans is to launch a competition for designs for a new bridge.

Ms Pidgeon said that a new bridge could help relieve overcrowding on the Jubilee line.

The Mayor replied: “Please tell [Sustrans] to come in as soon as possible and we’ll have a look at it … I do agree there should be a crossing in that area. Let’s see what they’re proposing.”

Tbe Mayor joked that a catapult across the Thames could be one option.

The Gregorian Arms
The Gregorian Arms

The Gregorian Arms has won the Pubs & Businesses Award in the Bermondsey in Bloom annual contest.

Certificates were presented by Cllr Eliza Mann during the Bermondsey & Rotherhithe Community Council meeting at Silverlock Community Hall in Warndon Street.

The other winners are:

Balcony & Window Box: Julio Calderon and Veronica Keech.

Community Garden (flowers): Eyot House, Sun Passage.

Community Garden (edible): Tibetan Buddhist Centre.

Estate Garden: Bromleigh Gardens, St Saviours Estate.

Front Garden: Alan Thompson, St James Road.

The 2014 competition was run by the Salmon Youth Centre.

“I think Salmon done a brilliant job for their first time,” said Cllr Mann. “They did it better than I expected so I am more than happy. My colleagues are very happy – all of them are very pleased with the project and the way Salmon presented it (at the meeting).”

The annual Bermondsey in Bloom competition was launched in 2011.

Chambers Wharf
Chambers Wharf

Thames Water has won planning consent for the proposed 15-mile ‘super sewer’ tunnel beneath London.

The announcement that Chambers Wharf will be a major site for work was made just hours before Parliament rose for a month’s recess.

The go-ahead for major works is the result of a joint decision made by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and Environment Secretary Liz Truss.

Southwark Council Leader Peter John immediately condemned the decision to use Chambers Wharf as a drive site when inspectors had deemed it to have “serious deficiencies”.

“I challenge Eric Pickles & Liz Truss to come to Southwark to explain their decision to residents near Chambers Wharf,” said Cllr John shortly after the decision was announced on Friday morning.

“Education and lives will be destroyed by government’s terrible decision to build the ‘super sewer’ from Chambers Wharf,” he said in reference to the nearby Riverside Primary School and housing.

Cllr John says that the decision will be challenged.

Save Your Riverside action group, set up when Thames Water purchased Chambers Wharf, has also condemned the decision.

“It does the credibility of the major infrastructure planning regime no good in the eyes of the public for proposals that were shown to be flawed in preparation, and then shown to be half-baked when tested at the Examination, to nonetheless be given consent by ministers with minimal regard for the impact on Londoners.”

Liberal Democrat councillor for Riverside ward Hamish McCallum said: “As local Lib Dem councillors for the Chambers Wharf site, we are outraged by this decision. We are shocked that after Planning Inspectors had agreed with the Save Your Riverside Group, local councillors and the local MP that the tunnelling direction be reversed, two Conservative Ministers then ignored their recommendation and approved the original plans.

“To us, this makes a complete mockery of the planning process and appears to leave the justification for using Chamber Wharf as a drive site in question. We are exploring if any other options are available at this stage and are simply appalled.”

Simon Hughes, MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, said: “I know that my constituents who live, work and go to school along the riverside in Bermondsey will be very disappointed by the details of the planning decision for the construction of Thames Tideway Tunnel. Despite positive changes which will benefit Chambers Wharf, the wider community will of course be frustrated that the plans for a drilling site in Bermondsey have not been reconsidered.

“I will of course continue to work with local residents, businesses and others in the community to win maximum environmental protection and minimum disturbance in Bermondsey and the rest of our borough.”

Cllr Darren Merrill

Each year, Southwark’s five community councils award thousands of pounds in funding to local environmental improvement projects. This scheme is known as Cleaner Greener Safer and in the next year £1.8 million is available across the borough.

Projects can be put forward by individuals or community groups with innovative ideas to improve their areas to make their communities cleaner, greener or safer.

To mark the launch of the 2015/16 funding round, Surrey Docks Farm hosted a special event on Saturday.

Surrey Docks Farm has been awarded almost £150,000 towards improvements since the CGS programme first began in 2003. Visitors to the farm saw work in progress on the latest project, awarded this year, to install solar panels on two of the farm buildings. The solar panels will become a renewable energy source for the farm and ensure the site is more environmentally responsible through green energy production.

Cllr Darren Merrill, cabinet member for environment, recycling, community safety and volunteering, said: “I’m delighted to be launching the Cleaner Greener Safer capital programme for 2015/16. Since 2003, a total of £30,393,000 has been awarded to 1,966 projects in Southwark with 1,585 now completed. It’s great that so many people care for their communities and want to make the areas they live and work in the best they can be. I am pleased we can continue to help them achieve this through this initiative.”

Gary Jones, Surrey Docks Farm manager said, “Surrey Docks Farm has benefitted enormously from grants awarded by Southwark’s Cleaner Greener Safer programme.  Through the programme we have been able to open up Riverside Walk to create a direct link to the farm and a pleasurable place for residents and visitors to stroll along. CGS funding has also benefitted our Bloomin’ Southwark project, which enables us to take our horticultural expertise into the local community encouraging people to make use of their outdoor spaces for growing and greening.”

From new play opportunities and sports facilities, to community gardens and food growing projects, the programme has supported healthier lifestyles and helped revitalise communities. Fencing and lighting projects have created safer environments and problem spaces prone to anti-social behaviour have been transformed with imaginative designs to enhance the areas.

Anyone can apply for a Cleaner Greener Safer grant either as an individual or a group, but you must live or work in the community council area where you are proposing the scheme. Ideas for the CGS capital programme must demonstrate that they will make an area cleaner, greener or safer with a permanent, physical improvement and all projects are subject to permissions being granted, e.g. planning, listed building, Highway Authority etc.

The closing date for entries is Friday 7 November 2014 and successful applications will be announced at community council meetings in January and February 2015.


To find out more information or to apply online, visit

At last month’s council assembly meeting Riverside ward councillor Eliza Mann tabled the following question:

Is the leader aware of concerns about potential asbestos exposure from the Thames Tunnel site at Chambers Wharf, which is due to rubble from a demolished cold storage building remaining on-site for more than a year? Will he order Thames Water to clean up the site immediately?

Southwark Council leader Cllr Peter John replied:

We are aware of this situation and have been in discussion with Thames Water, to mitigate any risks in relation to this issue. As a result, Thames Water has reduced the risk to health through the clearing of the loose asbestos debris on the site and by the covering of the stockpile on site to prevent ‘wind whip’ of any dust and fibres from it and the site is not causing any statutory nuisance.

Control of asbestos on construction sites is enforced by the Health & Safety Executive, not the council. We are in dialogue with the Health and Safety Executive in terms of any enforcement action that they are undertaking, in relation to Chambers Wharf.

It is disappointing that Riverside Ward councillors have not raised this with officers given their concerns about the situation.


Some of the entries in the 2013 competition displayed at a community council meeting.

The Salmon Youth Centre and Cllr Eliza Mann have teamed up to organise another Bermondsey in Bloom competition.

Over the next few months, young people from Salmon Youth Centre will take to the streets of Bermondsey with a camera and a sharp eye for good looking gardens.

There will be prizes and certificates for the top three entrants (chosen by independent judges) in each of the following categories:

  • Balconies and window boxes
  • Pubs and businesses
  • School gardens
  • Community gardens
  • Edible gardens and allotments
  • Estates gardens
  • Front gardens
  • Wildlife gardens

The competition is open to all residents and organisations in Grange ward, Riverside ward and South Bermondsey ward.

The entry form is available on the Salmon website – or you can drop in to the youth centre in Old Jamaica Road and pick up a paper copy from reception.

The closing date is Friday 22 August

Winners will be announced at the September meeting of Bermondsey & Rotherhithe Community Council.