Shop robbery – anybody see anything?

Screenshot 2019-12-27 at 09.13.54The Super Store on Kennington Lane, by the Library, was broken into on the night of Boxing Day (26th).

If you saw anything please let the police know and of course offer condolences to Narendar and his family.

Cllr Jon Davies

London’s most consistent transport service.

There is only one public transport service in London that works 24/7/365 and that is the Santander Cycle hire service, more popularly known as the Boris Bikes. They are very proud of this and during my visit they were keen to point out that Christmas Day is one of the busy days of the year for them!

As a councillor I get a lot of questions about the Santander bikes – Why are the racks full/empty? What to do if you find a lost one? Are they better than the new e-bikes you see scattered around? More than answering those questions, being a bike nerd,  I was keen to see how the system works, who repairs them, how long do they last, how much do they cost etc.


Some basic facts:

  • There are 21,000 docking points
  • 800 Docking Stations.
  • 12,300 bikes.
  • The area covered is 100 km2.
  • The scheme has been going 10 years.
  • It is supported annually with £6.5m from Santander Bank.
  • The customer helpline runs every day of the year.
  • Each bike costs about £1000
  • The tyres are inflated with nitrogen to make them harder and more puncture resistant.
  • The bikes will start having GPS in the new year for better tracking.
  • A docking station costs 10’s of thousands of pounds.
  • Daily journeys vary from daily peaks in the summer of around 45,000 to winter use as low as 10 – 15000.
  • In ten years there have been two deaths on them.

The issues:

  • Balancing the supply and demand with stations being too full or empty.
  • Keeping the bikes in good condition.
  • Whether they will turn into e-bikes one day. 25 are being tested.
  • Originally they were not expecting big use by commuters but stations like Waterloo are the hot spots for cycle hire where they have 110 docking stations and a small depot with reserve supplies that they use to fill up the stations during the day.
  • Disappearing bikes – see my photos below.
  • How to expand the scheme
  • Finding local support for the docking stations (Windmill Row was abandoned in our area through local opposition).

I learnt a lot with my visit to their Islington depot and control centre. There is also one in Clapham. This is the control room that orders the 35 or so lorries around and attends to any emergencies.


Here are the workshops where £1m of spare parts are used annually by these highly trained mechanics.

The original bikes (blue mudguards) came from Canada, the new ones (stronger grey mudguards) are from UK manufacturer Pashley.


Some people choose their own colour schemes:

IMG_0393And a few of the old Boris Bikes still turn up from time to time:


Some have accidents and need repairs and some go for a a swim in the canals:


As much as possible is recycled.


Thanks to David Eddington (TFL) and David Schofield (SERCO) for showing me round

Cllr Jon Davies

A hidden part of Kennington

Berkeley Homes, who are developing the Tesco and Gasholder site, invited local people to see behind the scenes around the gasholders.

I thought I’d share a few photos. Variously some Victorian detail from the gasholder manufacturers, views of the empty gasholders, some signs left over from when it was functioning depot and the kit that measures noise, pollution and vibrations.


Cllr Jon Davies

The road to hell


On Tuesday, on the casting vote of the Chair Lambeth’s planning committee approved the development of the land at 8 Albert Embankment and behind it. This was in the face of much local resistance with the support of we three local councillors in Princes Ward and Florence Eshalomi our Assembly Member and Labour PPC in the forthcoming General Election.

This is what I said on the night:

 The road to hell is paved with good intentions.  None of the parties to this development have bad intentions

  • U and I have developed good quality schemes that I have seen.
  • The Fire Brigade is seeking to maximise its revenues to repair its aging estate, continue its service locally and create a new museum .
  • Lambeth Council and the Mayor’s office are seeking to regenerate an area that has been derelict for years, create new jobs, and bring ‘affordable’ housing to the site.

But is seems to me that each of the parties ambitions have led to a scheme that is out of scale for the site and will create a ‘hell’ for many local people, businesses and institutions.

I have written in detail to Planning Committee but in headlines

  • Whitgift House and the park will lose significant amounts of their daylight.
  • The listed headquarters of the fire station will be vandalised with accretions on top, a sort of see through top hat, and a great growth on the back that will obscure the historic views of an operational fire station that at its inception was the an example to the whole world.
  • There are also persuasive arguments that the sort of jobs we would expect from one of our rare KIBA areas will not be forthcoming.
  • And finally I believe that this over-development will lead to traffic management issues that will clog up Black Prince Road, Lambeth High Street and Newport Street and damage the environment.

I am sad that during the process of creating this scheme there were no wiser heads to argue for a smaller development that, though it might not have brought the funds the fire brigade anticipate or the profits U and I hope for, would have better suited the area.

It is also sad that tonight this scheme has pitted local people against the firefighters who serve them.

PAC’s unenviable role this evening is to bring common sense to this proposal and reject it in the hope of a more modest scheme being re-presented in the future.

This is just one of many local developments proposed, agreed or in the pipeline and I do wonder how much development such a small area can take and where we draw the line.

Cllr. Jon Davies.

Holes in the ground

Ok so this is a bit geeky but has an effect on anyone living near a big building site. Anything more than a few storeys is likely to need deep foundations. Traditionally there used to be pile drivers that made a lot of noise driving concrete foundation poles into the ground. When I heard that the first part of the Gasholder/Tesco development on Kennington Lane needed 600 I was a bit alarmed by the prospect of noise and vibration. Happily I can report that the modern way of doing this is by using giant corkscrews that go into the ground and then have concrete poured down their centres as they withdraw from the hole.

Here is a link to a video about it and some pictures from the Tesco site.

Cllr. Jon Davies.

Bus stops

I get regular complaints about bus stops where you can’t see the bus coming for obstructions. A recent post from a Lambeth officer that you might find interesting:

I have been to the bus stop and seen the sign that blocks views from the bus stop down Kennington Road. The sign is located between the two ladies and the cyclist in the image below. Although it is some distance from the bus stop, it is perfectly aligned to block long distance views from the bus stop shelter down Kennington Road. It does mean you can only really see buses from the bus stop shelter once they reach near to where the cyclist is in the image below.


Advertisement consent was granted for the sign in 1998 under application ref. 98/00955/ADV. Google streetview shows that the sign has been in place since at least 2008 (although it was probably installed long before then). From a planning perspective the sign is lawful, and on this basis the planning team could not insist that the sign is moved. I understand from highways colleagues that they do not have powers to insist the sign is moved either. 

This leaves the option of asking JCDecaux if they would kindly agree to move the sign, but this would need to be to a location that doesn’t interfere with highways safety. I imagine JCDecaux would want to resist because the current location is highly visible by passing pedestrians and traffic, and moving the sign would require them to obtain a new advertisement consent for the new location.

If anyone fancies approaching JCDexaux I’ll be there for you

Cllr Jon Davies

Keeping politics in the sewers

I made my second visit today to the Thames Tideway project.

Unless you work on the embankment by Vauxhall Bridge you may not be aware of the huge semi-submerged building site that has emerged. Two underground rivers from Brixton and Clapham are going to be diverted into a vast new sewer being tunnelled under the Thames by a giant machine called Urusla whi started at Battersea and is now on her way past Lambeth Bridge.

The scale of the project is huge with the intention of making the Thames as clean as possible by diverting all the overflows into the new giant sewer that follows the line if the Thames. At the moment every time it rains heavily raw sewage is pumped into the Thames owing to the lack of capacity in our Victorian system.

Last week it poured and take a look at what emerged by Charing Cross – – the area had to be sealed off. This was on its way to being a fatburg.

If you want to know more visit their website:  School visits to their HQ are welcomed.

Cllr. Jon Davies

Re-surfacing in a day…

Pleased to report that despite the frequent thunderstorms we found time to resurface Cleaver Street this week. Roads get assessed by our engineers and part of that is based on local reports from residents. Cleaver Street was well overdue for repairs and had suffered from a lot of digging up and poor re-instatements during the years.

Cllr Jon Davies.

PS I did have one report that car owners in Bowden Street and Cleaver Square were trapped for the day, able to leave but, legally at least, not come back.  Apologies for any inconvenience.

The Fire Station/8 Albert Embankment

To be clear as local councillors we strongly believe the old workshops behind the fire station on The Embankment need to be re-developed and we welcome the renovation of the fire station and the retention of a working fire station  (once threatened with closure). We also believe the creation of a new Fire Station Museum will be a positive addition to the area.

What we object to is the scale of the development, the effect it will have on local residents and the lack of ‘affordable’ housing in the scheme. Cllr. Amos and I have been working with local people to get the plans changed and here is the leaflet they are putting out if you’d like to know more.


Cllr. Jon Davies.