Open spaces provide a vital green lung to all of us living in London. With my colleague Maggie Browning, I represent Dulwich Hill, an area with much loved greenery. Residents often tell us how much they value our local open spaces; whether they use facilities within the ward such as Camberwell Old Cemetery or Dulwich Hill, or those just outside like Peckham Rye, One Tree Hill and Dulwich Park.

As your local councillors, Maggie and I work with local people who are interested in our local spaces, along with councillors in adjacent areas, other local authorities and Southwark council officers.

We’re keen to hear what you enjoy about our local open spaces. Whether to tell us about concerns or just to let us know how much fun your family is having in the amazing new Peckham Rye playground!

We’ve been working with residents and local groups on how to improve Dawson’s Hill. Meetings on the Hill with local people and Parks officers have helped clarify how we can best spend the money we have secured for improving a Park that is loved locally.

The challenge in our larger Parks is often the balance that needs to be struck between regular users and larger events. For the Council, there is increased need in this time of austerity to encourage extra funds to help cover the cost of maintaining the Parks.

A recent example of this challenge was the Gala festival. Following local concerns about the possible impact on Peckham Rye Park and noise in the surrounding area, we were able to ensure that many of the issues raised were taken on board by the event organisers. In the end there were few complaints during the event weekend and the Park is now (almost) back to normal.

Perhaps the trickiest of our local green areas recently has been Camberwell Old Cemetery, where the need to open long unused areas to new burials is a real source of local concern. We will keep working with residents to address issues about the works that are planned and how they are carried out.

There have been some vociferous campaigns against any changes, but Southwark Councillors take the view that we have to continue providing a place for people to be buried locally. This is actually a great example of our predecessors – representing the area over a century ago – making provisions that still serve people’s needs today.

We can only hope that the decisions we make will be as useful to the local community of the future.

Jon Hartley – Dulwich Hill Ward