Southwark Council says that up to 20,000 shoppers enjoyed the Scandinavian Christmas Market outside the Finnish and Norwegian Churches in Albion Street this past weekend..

Around 40 traders from overseas and closer to home offered a range of goods and present ideas, decorations and hearty Scandinavian food.

Visitors also had the chance to be photographed with husky dogs and even meet the Ice Queen and Father Christmas.

The event was organised by Southwark Council in partnership with The Norwegian Church in London, The Finnish Church in London, the Albion Street Community Group and Scan Events.

“The Scandinavian Market has proven to be a great way to kick off the festive season, and was a wonderful opportunity for another of Southwark’s international communities to introduce us to something new,” said Cllr Barrie Hargrove, cabinet member for environment, transport and recycling.

The Mayor of Southwark Cllr Althea Smith and cabinet member for transport, environment and recycling Cllr Barrie Hargrove have officially opened the new Irwell Garden Space.

Located on the corner of Albion Street and Neptune Street, the project was awarded Cleaner Greener Safer funding by the former Rotherhithe Community Council in September 2011.

The space was redesigned in consultation with the Irwell Estate Community, local businesses and Albion Street Steering Group to create a more open, safer area with clearer views through to the playground and over Albion Street and St Olav’s Church.

The transformation included new paving with a nautical centrepiece design, four new single seats and four newly planted trees with further shrub and grasses.

Cllr Barrie Hargrove said: “This sort of project is exactly what the Cleaner Greener Safer funding was designed for. We hope users of the garden space will now enjoy this pleasant and calming area for years to come.”

A South Bermondsey man who threatened and delayed ambulance workers getting to a patient  was this week (Wednesday 21 November) sentenced to eight weeks in prison and ordered to pay £600 compensation and costs.

Pierpaolo Melis, 43, was convicted of verbal assault at Camberwell Magistrates Court for the incident on 5 September on the Rennie Estate on Rotherhithe New Road.

Deptford emergency medical technicians Alison Butcher and Clive Harris were on their way to treat an elderly lady who had fallen.

Clive said: “When we arrived, we parked the ambulance next to a green making sure we didn’t block in other cars. Suddenly we saw a man running towards us yelling something, and our first thought was that he needed medical help.

“But instead he was shouting abuse at us and accused us of blocking the view from his flat, even though the ambulance was parked 60 feet from his window.

“He caught up with us by the lift and put his arm across the door blocking us getting to the patient. We tried to explain that we needed to go and assess the patient to find out how seriously ill or injured she was.”

Alison added: “I hit the emergency button and the police arrived shortly after to detain him.

“It was a very frightening experience – I’m just glad it’s over and that justice has been done. The judge was keen to send out a message to the public that emergency services should not be threatened while carrying out their duties.”

Mr Melis was ordered to pay £125 to both Alison and Clive, and £350 prosecution costs.

Deptford Ambulance Operations Manager Graham Norton said: “This case demonstrates that assaults on staff will not be tolerated and we will pursue prosecution. Our staff should be able to treat patients in their community without fear of being attacked.”

Simon Hughes MP yesterday asked this question of the culture secretary:

There is often lots of conversation about the difficulties of broadband access in rural areas. What can Ministers do to help people in urban areas such as mine, where in Rotherhithe, for example, people are not near the telephone exchange and broadband is therefore very poor indeed?

Maria Miller replied:

The right hon. Gentleman raises an issue with which many people in the Chamber will identify. Urban areas by no means always receive the sort of connectivity that our constituents want. That is why it is important that we have put in place not only the rural broadband programme to deliver better connectivity in rural areas but the urban broadband fund for our urban areas, which will ensure that London has some £25 million to achieve the improvements that he talks about.

Rita Beckwith, co-owner and chief executive of Cherry Garden Pier-based City Cruises on Monday received her OBE for services to the leisure and tourism industry and regeneration of London’s Docklands.

Rita founded City Cruises with her husband Gary in 1985, though the roots of their river business go back to 1976 when they bought a fuel barge which provided a filling station for many boat operators. In 1985 they acquired the company’s first sightseeing vessel, The King, which operated a daily summer service between Central London and Hampton Court.

Today, City Cruises carries more than 3 million passengers a year on a wide range of sightseeing, entertainment and charter services.

“This is a great honour, particularly in the year that we have celebrated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympic Games, with the spotlight on London and a legacy of increased tourism for London and the whole of the UK,” said Rita Beckwith.

“As a company, City Cruises continues to invest in the future of the business, our people and the River Thames, striving for innovation and high standards to provide the very best tourism experiences on our world famous river.

“In London we have better access to the river than any city in the world. The River Thames is the heart of London; it is enjoyed by Londoners, tourists, businesses and people of all ages. It offers people a moment of calm in a busy city and we at City Cruises are proud of our heritage for providing quality services for people to enjoy this city from its best angle.”

Rita is also Chairman of UKinbound, representing the interests of members to help them manage successful, profitable businesses that contribute to a vibrant and sustainable inbound tourism industry.

City Cruises managing director  Kyle Haughton said: “Rita’s ongoing commitment to developing London river tourism remains one of the key drivers behind City Cruises.

“We are proud of her achievements and delighted her hard work has been acknowledged with this truly special accolade.”

An education minister has confirmed that the Government is still committed to the stalled plan to create a university technical college on the Southwark College campus in Bermondsey.

This exchange took place at education questions in the Commons on Monday.

Simon Hughes:

Will Ministers confirm that the Government will do everything they can to ensure that the Southwark and Lewisham college campus site in Bermondsey gets not only a continuing further education college but a university technical college and, if space permits, a secondary school, too?

Matthew Hancock (education minister):

Yes, I can. I know that my right hon. Friend has met colleagues in the other place, and my colleagues in this place and I are happy to meet him too to ensure that we can sort this problem out.

From last week’s Council Assembly:
QUESTION TO THE CABINET MEMBER FOR TRANSPORT, ENVIRONMENT AND RECYCLING FROM COUNCILLOR DENISE CAPSTICK

  • What is the council doing to stop the Tesco Express on Southwark Park Road using the pavement as an extension to their store and why are their delivery lorries permitted to block the traffic thoroughfare rather than use the parking bays on a regular basis?

RESPONSE (CLLR BARRIE HARGROVE)

The parking bay was installed for the purpose of providing car parking for visitors to local stores. The dimensions of the bay are unsuitable for accommodation of large delivery vehicles although there is not a loading ban in operation in this area.
Observations have shown that vehicles making deliveries to the store are too large to fit wholly within the parking bay. Delivery vehicles then extend onto the double yellow lines or, if the parking bay is occupied by a car, double park. This is causing obstruction of the westbound traffic lane. Currently this can only be dealt with by issuing parking tickets on the vehicles causing the obstruction.

Tesco’s transport consultants have indicated that they would be prepared to pay for a five metre west-ward extension of bay and changing its use so that only delivery vehicles can park in it during certain hours (8am-11am) and by shoppers outside of those hours. It is noted that the extension of the bay would only be possible with the removal of the adjacent plane tree and approximately five metres of footway.

A proposal will be brought to the local community council for a decision within the next three months.
Regarding the cages on the footway, we have brought the issue to the notice of the store manager and will continue to inspect the area and take enforcement action when we find evidence of an obstruction on the highway.