Friday, May 30, 2014

Lewisham Council Election Results 2014 - the detail

Detail on the mayoral election can be found on the council's website and Alternative SE4 has a nice view of how the council chamber will look.

Below is a bar chart of the number and share of the vote in the mayoral election:

This post is about the detail of the elections for the 54 council seats. The council as yet have only published the detail of these as one huge pdf file, which is pretty hard to visualise, but thankfully Lewisham Green Party have taken the time to painstakingly transcribe the results and put them on google drive, which they were kind enough to share with me.

I've been through these and made some simple bar charts of the counts in each ward. I've done nothing more sophisticated than that, but I think they tell a story by themselves. Throughout the post the parties are denoted by their usual colours with People Before Profit denoted by a light purple and UKIP by a dark purple. The Socialist/TUSC party are denoted by pink.

Obviously Labour had the largest share of the vote and won the most seats in every ward, with only the Greens managing to hold onto a single seat in Brockley. The graphs below show what has happened to share of the vote and number of councillors between 2002 and 2014, over 4 elections.

Labour's dominance shows through clearly, but look at the Lib Dem collapse in voting share in 2014. The Tories actually increased their share of the vote between 2010 and 2014, as did the Greens, but the total collapse of the Lib Dem vote, with most of those votes going to Labour, had the knock on effect of ensuring that the Tories lost their single seat and the Greens didn't manage to make their increased voter share count. The Greens got 16% of the vote in both 2006 and 2014, but in 2006 they had 6 councillors.

But what of the individual wards? I've divided these into types depending on who was the second (and/or third) party to see what patterns start to emerge.

First up, wards where the Greens were clearly the main challengers to Labour:

Clearly the Greens have done well in the areas they previously had councillors - Brockley and Ladywell - and they are obviously now the second party in neighbouring Crofton Park. The picture is less clear cut in Lewisham Central and Perry Vale, but I think they will have been pleased to do so well here.

How about areas where the Lib Dems were the second party? Yes, they do exist...

The Lib Dems hung onto second place in their former strongholds of Forest Hill, Lee Green and Downham, where Duwayne Brooks was only 64 votes away from retaining his seat. The Downham result shows an unwelcome phenomenon - the rise of UKIP. Mercifully, through most of Lewisham UKIP either didn't stand or polled poorly, but in some wards in Lewisham they did well and in Whitefoot they were the second party.

This repeats a pattern, that UKIP have done well in areas to the south and east of the borough, as you approach suburbia. This warrants further analysis and comparison with wards in neighbouring boroughs, which I hope to tackle in a future piece of work.

Back to the slightly less nasty party, the Tories came second in Grove Park and Sydenham, on the borders with leafy Bromley and not unexpected. They're also back on the rise in wealthy Blackheath, with the dramatic drop in the LibDem vote there. That said, Labour won the seats comfortably, in contrast to neighbouring Blackheath Westcombe ward in Greenwich, where the third spot was taken by the Tories.

And last, but my no means least, the phenomenon that is Lewisham People Before Profit (PB4P). PB4P stood at least one candidate in every ward, some faring better than others, but in Evelyn (Deptford) and New Cross in the north of the borough, they stood three candidates and managed to come second, with Ray Woolford, political chameleon, scoring particularly well in New Cross.

Telegraph Hill ward was a mixed bag, in the past seats here have been taken by the socialist party (currently TUSC) and this was a keenly fought contest, with the TUSC and PB4P's mayoral candidates, Chris Flood and John Hamilton, also standing here.

Hamilton was the victor in that particular battle, but the large number of candidates on the left of the political spectrum can only have helped Labour. The poor old LibDems did about as badly here as they could possibly manage.

It only remains for me to talk about my own stamping ground of Catford, covered by three wards in the borough - Catford South, Bellingham and Rushey Green.

People Before Profit came second in all three of these wards, with a mixture of Conservatives and Greens bringing up third place. I wonder what Catford's current housing boom will do for the political make up of the area in 2018 - will the Greens fancy their chances or can we expect a resurgence of Tories? In the meantime, despite the Conservative Club being wiped out in the 1990s and currently being occupied by the Catford Constitutional Club, the Tories polled a lot better here than I might have expected. I was glad to see no UKIP candidates bothered to stand in Catford. Hopefully, they'd have been given short shrift.

I guess despite all of that detail of the second and third places, which is where arguably some of the interesting stories of Lewisham 2014 lie, if you're a Labour supporter you have to be pretty happy at the sight of all those red bars. How good it will be for the future of the borough remains to be seen.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Why I hate 3D pie charts - the case for PR

Consider these two images:

They both show the same problem - the lack of representation of all the votes in the council elections in the number of seats allocated to each party. But the second chart, with the bars, allows you to immediately see the vote share for each party. The first, with 3D pies, exaggerates the size of the pies at the front, and makes it impossible to see the distribution of the smaller parties without referring to all the detail in the key. In the second you can see at a glance the ordering and size of the parties. (The pie chart is also technically not correct, as it forces the 7 parties' share to add up to 100%, which of course they don't, because there were other candidates standing, plus spoiled papers and so on. The bar chart doesn't force this.)

The case seems pretty clear to me - a party that obtained around half the available votes was rewarded with all but one of the available seats. And the LibDem electoral meltdown involved them obtaining around 9% of the votes. The Tories got about 12% and also obtained no seats. Poor old People Before Profit, with almost 13,000 votes, about 7% of the voting share, also came away with nothing to show for it. Clearly Labour are the dominant party, however you look at it, but I argue that a balanced council is much better for scrutiny than one with only a single opposition councillor. And as for bloggers providing that scrutiny, when the council were asked when the next public questions (and chance for us to scrutinise) would be, we were told September. Bearing in mind the last full council meeting was in February, that's 7 months where we can't scrutinise the council in public. Hopeless.

And what about the celebration of the single Green councillor that we've seen all about the place? The Green share of the vote in Lewisham in 2006, when they had 6 councillors, was 16%. It's now also 16%, but they have 1 councillor. I'm not sure that's a great cause for celebration.

{ETA: thanks to Lewisham Green Party for typing in all the data from the pdf files the council put online with the results, modern government eh? And also thanks for producing the charts from the data!}

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Lewisham Council results 2014

I was going to write a long and detailed post analysing all the stats on this, but Lewisham Council have made it easy for me by failing to publish detailed ward breakdowns of results so far, so here's a quick summary.

As predicted, Steve Bullock won the mayoral election and I'm guessing that as he got over 50% on first preference votes, we'll never get to know how huge his vote would have been including second preferences. Interestingly, the Conservative candidate came second, with Duwayne Brooks third and Mike Keogh of the Greens fourth. Brooks appeared to have resigned from the LibDems altogether once this result came in, pre-empting his defeat in Downham ward:

Sir Steve tweets very occasionally as @mayorbullock, if you're into that sort of thing.

As for the ward elections, Labour took 53 of the 54 seats, smashing my prediction of 50, and in fact I got the opposition wrong, with a single Green retaining a seat in Brockley to make up the 54. Darren Johnson and his team put in a huge amount of effort to achieve that, and Darren was suitably delighted:

I've made a twitter list of the 42 of the 54 councillors who are on twitter and if the council ever get round to publishing the detail, I might do some kind of statsy analysis of the results later.

Mike Harris, outgoing Labour councillor for Lewisham Central ward, has some interesting thoughts on what the one party state means for Lewisham politics, and puts out a challenge to local bloggers to form some kind of unofficial opposition. A challenge, and a discussion for another post.

Alternative SE4 has a nice visual image of the council chamber, making a refreshing change from exploding 3D pie charts and stacked 3D bar charts we've seen elsewhere (yes, Bexley Council and EastLondonLines, I'm looking at you...)

To be completely fair to ELL though, they did a great job live blogging election results across their patch, including Lewisham, and even produced a new version of their dodgy chart, just for me...

They did something the rest of the local media couldn't manage, so well done to them.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Lewisham 2014 - today's the day!

After months of campaigning, leaflets and door knocking, the big day is here! What can we expect when the results are counted in Lewisham's elections tomorrow?

Bob from Brockley has some great analysis covering a few of Lewisham's wards, what of the others? (You can see a list of candidates for all the wards here)

Well, as I call it Bellingham, Catford South, Perry Vale, Rushey Green, and Sydenham all already have 3 Labour councillors and I can't see any other party challenging them.

In Blackheath, Kevin Bonavia and Amanda de Ryk will be hoping to hold onto their seats for Labour and perhaps take a third. I'm not sure if they'll manage it, although the Lewisham LibDems seem to have disappeared altogether, their twitter account hasn't posted since March, so perhaps the LibDems have given up.

Grove Park will be an interesting ward, with two Tory councillors voted in at the last election, that now reducing to one with the defection of David Britton to Labour. I stuck my neck out in March and said that the remaining Conservative would lose her seat, and it's always possible that UKIP will split the Tory vote to allow that to happen. I'll stand by my prediction, just to make things interesting!

I think Labour will take all three seats in Lee Green, with the LibDem vote collapsing, and I think they'll take the remaining seat in Whitefoot, an interesting little ward at the very south of Catford and north of Downham.

People Before Profit's candidate in Lewisham Central has been criticised for tacking "Save Lewisham Hospital" onto his party name, and quite rightly so. Let's hope voters aren't confused. I predict all three seats will be Labour here.

Well, I think that just about covers it, let the voting begin and let's hope for Lewisham's sake that we still have someone to scrutinise Labour on the council after the count is done tomorrow.

(Thanks to @NikkiCoates for the inspiration for today's theme tune.) 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Space for Cycling Big Ride 2014

Yesterday I joined in with the Space for Cycling Big Ride 2014, organised by the London Cycling Campaign, along with thousands of other Londoners. Why? Well, apart from the chance to trundle, stop start, through central London without being hampered by cars, I wanted to continue to send the message to our politicians that they need to do more to make London's streets more inviting to cycle.

I joined in with the Greenwich cyclists feeder ride, starting at Cutty Sark Gardens, a place incidentally where cycling isn't allowed, in typical bonkers Greenwich council style. I could have joined the Lewisham cyclists ride, which went along the Waterlink Way, but I fancied a change. It has to be said though that certain parts of the ride in made it abundantly clear why we needed to do the ride in the first place - the conditions favour motor traffic pretty much everywhere at the moment.

We passed through Southwark Park on our way in, which was lovely, and Norway day celebrations were in full swing. I didn't manage to get a picture of them sadly though.

We eventually arrived at Speakers Corner around 11ish and then headed down Park Lane to the ride start. We were quite near the front, which was good. The last one of these I went on I was near the back and it was even more stop start.

Just time for a bit of checking twitter before we set off on the ride...

Bumping into the Tweed Run which was on at the same time was interesting, something of a clash of cultures, and apparently it costs £40 to join in. {Monday morning update: I'm told via twitter that tweed run tickets were £21, and also that Tweed Run has designated LCC as one of its supported charities this year, so that's all good.} Our ride was free thanks to the LCC, sponsors and donations.

We eventually arrived on the Embankment and I spotted this rather cleverly doctored Boris Bike:

We stopped by Blackfriars Bridge to listen to the speakers, ironically (or perhaps not) as this bit of road is pretty horrendous for bikes. We heard speeches from Labour and Lib Dem Assembly members Val Shawcross and Caroline Pidgeon, had a hastily thrown together note from a Tory member (none of them came along....) read out to us and also heard from Natalie Bennett, leader of the Greens, who was the most convincing of the three, perhaps not surprisingly. We then heard Andrew Gilligan who reeled off a whole load of things that are going to be starting in the autumn, pleaded for us to give him time to get things right (18 months and counting so far...) and blathered on about the fact that there are 33 boroughs involved in all this making it so much more difficult. The LCC has tried to address this with its campaign around ward asks - which are supposed to be simple tangible things councils can do in each ward in London (all 600+ of them). To be honest, I've heard it all before from Gilligan, and won't clap and cheer him until I've seen some action. I remain to be convinced - and here's my unconvinced face to prove it:

Deciding to eschew the guided ride back to Greenwich (or Lewisham), we headed back with a ride led by me, on quieter streets (mostly) round the back of the Elephant, through Burgess Park, Surrey Canal Walk, and Peckham Rye, with a sneaky stop off at the Ivy House for a quick drink to quench our thirst. It was a great day, thoroughly enjoyable, lets just hope it leads to some action before many more cyclists are needlessly killed and seriously injured. I want J&C to be able to cycle more safely on London's streets than I can at the moment! (And the most convincing and best speech of the day came from a mum who is one of LCC's trustees and simply wants her son to be able to cycle safely to school.)

Here's the route in full (if the strava widget works):

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Pollution in Lewisham, Hither Green and Catford

Since last summer I've been heavily involved with a group campaigning to stop the proposed Silvertown tunnel (or third Blackwall tunnel as it is in reality) being built. I got involved to help with a citizen science study on air pollution in the Greenwich area, aimed at highlighting the appalling levels of pollution that already exist around the area Boris proposes to wreck even further. The results of that study were shocking, and convinced me that I needed to do more to help make sure that these plans never come to fruition.

After the results of that study and public meeting highlighting the results to a big audience, we decided that we needed to go further and investigate pollution in a wider area beyond Greenwich, but one that would also be affected by increased traffic if the new tunnel were built. It's well known to transport planners that new roads generate demand for journeys that would not otherwise have been made. So we decided to expand out into Bexley, Catford, Hither Green and Lewisham. We also joined forces with Don't Dump on Deptford's Heart, a group campaigning against a Thames Tunnel worksite on Deptford Church Street's green. They wanted to look at pollution in Deptford, so the two were a perfect match really.

A disclaimer before I start properly here. I am a driver. I own a car. I even use it to drive through the Blackwall tunnel on fairly regular occasions. I freely admit to having sat in traffic jams on the southern and northern approaches wishing that the third bore of the tunnel had been built as planned years ago. But what I now know is that wish was completely wrong-headed. I didn't understand how new roads generate new traffic until I had it explained to me - and demonstrated to me with the figures that showed what happened when the second bore of the Blackwall tunnel was built. Namely that traffic doubled at peak times within a year (and to be honest that would have happened sooner but the original tunnel closed for refurbishment for a while after the new one was opened). So if the Silvertown tunnel is built, traffic is likely to double again, and all that means is sitting on congested approach roads for longer, car engine idling, spewing out toxic fumes, which you will be breathing in.

Convinced that air pollution was likely to already be a big problem in congested Catford and Lewisham, I volunteered to help put up diffusion tubes to monitor the air pollution from nitrogen dioxide in the vicinity over a period of a month in January and early February 2014. I roped Sally into helping me out (thank you!), and to put them up we were joined by fellow citizen scientist, Jenny.

The picture shows the tube we put up at the end of Whitefoot Lane. We had a good chat with a local mum who wondered what on earth we were doing while we were putting this up, and who was keen to know more about the effects of pollution on children's developing lungs (another reason by the way that I decided I needed to get involved in this, having two children aged 5 and 7 myself).

We also put up tubes in central Catford:


Hither Green:


Lee Green:

Grove Park:

and on the South Circular, at the junction of Verdant Lane, Hither Green Lane and Brownhill Road:

The results are absolutely horrifying. Bear in mind that this January just gone was one of the wettest on record, which tends to lower nitrogen dioxide pollution levels, the map below shows pollution levels in the centre of Lewisham, just outside a well-known chicken-selling emporium of 109 microgrammes per cubic metre. The EU legal annual limit is 40 microgrammes per cubic metre, so this is over 2.5 times the EU limit! Right where people are shopping, eating out, and live.

In the centre of Catford, pollution levels are twice the EU limit, and at the other end of Brownhill Road, right by people's houses, levels are 1.5 times the EU limit. In Grove Park, by the station, Whitefoot Lane and in Downham, pollution levels exceed the EU limit.

On Hither Green Lane pollution levels reached 52 microgrammes per cubic metre, despite the stretch of road we put the diffusion tube up on being closed for almost two of the four weeks the tube was up!

The only places that recorded levels below the EU limit, of the tubes Sally, Jenny and I put up, were the other side of Grove Park station, by Marvels Lane health centre, where the level was 33 microgrammes per cubic metre, a level still considered harmful to health, and Fernbrook Road on the other side of Hither Green station from Hither Green Lane, which sees next to no traffic apart from the 273 bus and could perhaps be considered a control for the level of pollution we might expect in our area in the absence of car traffic.

I was shocked to see these results. My children are growing up in an area that is dangerously polluted, and I am not going to sit by and do nothing as Boris Johnson, TfL and Greenwich Council strive to make it worse! I will keep on campaigning until the idea of building more roads in South East London is so ridiculous it won't be allowed to happen.

If you can help at all with the No to Silvertown Tunnel campaign, then do get in touch, either through the campaign's website, or through my blog in the comments below.

Others have written their own accounts of the work we did in January and February:

Deptford Dame
Francis Sedgemore
No to Silvertown Tunnel

Thank you to Andrew Wood of Network for Clean Air for providing advice and support to carry out the study, the directors of The Scale Factory for financial support to enable the work in Catford and surrounds to be done, and of course all the other volunteers who helped (listed on the No to Silvertown Tunnel website)! 

Lewisham/SE London bloggers post-election drinks

Mr Lawrence wine bar and wine/beer shop, Brockley, London SE4

After election fever has died down on 23rd May, come and join me and @bobfrombrockley for drinks at the London Beer Dispensary, which is due to open in the current Mr Lawrence's Wine Bar in Crofton Park this month.

Watch this space for updates in case it isn't quite open by then....

From 8pm, all local bloggers and twitter types welcome. Hope to see you there!