Council plans to close Chestnut Avenue for six months

Last week I received an email from Wandsworth Council, out of the blue, announcing that Chestnut Avenue on Tooting Common would be closed for six months, or until the chestnut trees have been felled and replaced – whichever is sooner. This was quite a shock and I am sure will be for everyone who enjoys using our beautiful common.

Publicising the consultation in summer 2016I agreed with the majority of consultation respondents in the summer of last year that if the trees are diseased and dangerous, and they need to be cut down, then a replacement by a new avenue of yellow flowering lime trees would be better than losing the avenue. However, there is evidence that the trees could be saved, and that other ways to deal make the trees safe without cutting them down are possible. It will be awful to cut down our beautiful Chestnut trees in their prime if this doesn’t need to happen.

A reader of this blog said that I should have reported on the Avenue in my last blog. I was hopeful for change but had nothing new to report. At that stage I had been asking for the council’s plan for the felling and replanting of the avenue and how it would save the ‘good’ trees that the Community Services Committee agreed to save in response to my proposal in our meeting. I hadn’t heard a response on this – and still haven’t. The local campaign invited me to attend a meeting with councillors and officers but I was asked to leave the meeting right at the start. I hoped that both of these meant that the plan was being looked at again and a decision to reconsider the decision was being made and thats why it couldn’t be shared and meetings were top secret. But no, it appears that the council is just carrying on regardless.

This is my response to the council, and below the letter is further information about this issue:

To: Director of Community Services and Environment, Wandsworth Council

Dear Mr Chadwick

Thank you for your email regarding the closure of Chestnut Avenue. This was a big surprise to me, and will be both a surprise and a shock to users of Tooting Common.

During the committee meeting where we reluctantly made this decision, there was unanimous agreement that we should save healthy trees, and both during the committee meetings and since then I have asked for an updated assessment of which trees can now be considered ‘good’ and a plan for which these trees are. The decision in committee was not unanimous as there was a vote against the proposal so this email should be amended. 

The response of the trees to the canker is dynamic and so an up to date assessment of the trees is needed – and hopefully some more trees are able to be saved, and we need to know this. Also some trees on the Tooting Bec Road end of the Avenue have been heavily pollarded to ensure their safety. I hope that these now do not need to be cut down. Despite asking for them, I haven’t heard results from any more recent survey which can tell us how many trees can now be saved, and whether the progress of the disease is as anticipated or not.

The whole project seems to be going ahead regardless of the high degree of local concerns and the desire of the committee to save trees which can be saved. If the action to save the trees by pollarding them is proving successful, the committee should be appraised of this and able to look again at the plan.

I strongly object to the very extended closure of the Avenue, and so will local residents. This long closure is very heavy handed, and contradicts the answer I was given in committee when I asked how long the works would take and was told it would be six weeks. Your letter hasn’t explained what will happen to the on-going users of the Avenue. Have arrangements been made with the café and the organisers of Park Run and the Pumpkin Parade, and for all users to cross over the common at the café, the lake and the changing rooms? I can understand that the playground can be accessed from the other side, but what arrangements are there for users of the tennis courts? What is the alternative route for cyclists?

The signatures of over 5,000 people opposing the cutting down of the trees show how unpopular this plan is, and the long closure of the Avenue will compound the unpopularity and increase opposition.

Please respect the Committee’s desire to save the trees if possible, reconsider this project in the light of new knowledge about the progress of the canker and measures taken which can save the trees, and if you do ahead in the face of public opposition, please reconsider the plan to close the Avenue for so long.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Fleur Anderson

Public anger over plans to close busy Avenue through Tooting Common for up to 6 months

Residents living close to Tooting Common have responded angrily to Wandsworth Council’s proposal to close Chestnut Avenue, which runs across Tooting Common, to all users for up to six months.

While the avenue is closed, the Council intends to fell an avenue of Chestnut trees which line it and replace them with saplings. The project is to be paid for using a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Chestnut Avenue is a well-loved landmark used by commuting cyclists, families, visitors to the tennis courts, the playground, the local cafe and participants in the weekly Park Run event and an annual pumpkin parade. 

Speaking about the Council’s decision to close Chestnut Avenue, Fleur Anderson, a local councillor and Labour’s Speaker on Community Services, said; “I strongly object to the very extended closure of the Avenue, and so will local residents. This long closure is very heavy handed. The Council, which originally said the work would take no more than 6 weeks, has not explained what will happen to the on-going users of the Avenue, including commuting cyclists and families who use it daily”. 

Opposition to the felling of the trees has been vocal with over 5,000 people signing a petition to oppose the council’s plans. 

The Council has cited health and safety reasons for removing the trees. However, opponents of the plan point to a lack of evidence for the need to remove the avenue on health and safety grounds. 

According to Fleur Anderson, “the committee which voted on the plans to fell the Avenue agreed to save as many trees as possible and there was unanimous agreement that we should save healthy trees. I have repeatedly asked for an updated report into the health of the trees but have yet to receive a reply”. 

According to Jeremy Barrell, tree consultant and specialist in heritage tree assessments; “My assessment of the trees is that none are dangerous, none are dead, and most have the potential to be retained with limited intervention for decades. Wandsworth Council are justifying the removals on the basis of responses from a public consultation and the advice of experts. From what I can see the public consultation approach is obviously flawed and none of the expert reports advocate felling and replacement as the best or only option”. 

Opponents of the plan to fell the Avenue claim that the Council’s decision to cut down the trees is motivated by the offer of a grant. They have arranged a final community event to mark the avenue’s final days, called The Final Draw when residents will be encouraged to record the trees by painting, drawing and photographing them.

Summer news

We love the summer in Tooting! Its been great enjoying street parties and local summer events, as well as tooting Common looking glorious and the Lido being the place to be in the sunshine. You local Labour Councillors have also been working hard on representing local residents to the council – do contact us if you have an issue with anything from street cleaning and parking to housing and Crossrail as we always do our best to help.

Crossrail2 back on track

Crossrail2 Route

Crossrail2 Route

Plans for Crossrail2 were put on hold by the government but now its been announced that the go ahead is imminent. However the decision about the route has not been announced yet, so we still don’t know if it will be going through Balham or Tooting Broadway. We’re continuing to make the case for Tooting Broadway and for finding ways to also save Tooting Market. It was due to be completed by 2030 and for everyone squeezing onto the overcrowded Northern line everyday, that can’t come soon enough.  Click here for last week’s Wandsworth Guardian story.

New cycle lane coming to Tooting Bec Road – have your say

New cycle lane proposed

New cycle lane proposed

There are plans for a new cycle lane and new shared cycle and pedestrian track. The consultation is open now until 10th September. More details and the online survey are here: Tooting Bec Road Cycle Lane Consultation

The plan is to would install new 1.9-metre on-carriageway semi segregated cycle lanes in both directions of Tooting Bec Road, between Dr Johnson Avenue and Aldrington Road. Cyclists would be lightly separated from motor traffic by plastic wands as seen below

Better provision for cyclists is really welcomed, and there is plenty of room for cycle lanes along this wide road. This should make cycling a more attractive option for more people – but what do you think? Controversial items I have heard from local residents so far are that the colour of the line of ‘wands’ along the cycle lane next to the Common may be obtrusive – too urban looking for the Common. Also there is some concern about the shared cycle/pedestrian path could be dangerous.

More local road safety plans to come in the Autumn

Watch out for several plans coming up in the Autumn. We have joined with local people in being very concerned about local road safety for a long time. Petitions about road safety on Balham High Road and several motorbike accidents resulted in TfL taking action and making changes to the High Road between Ritherdon Road and Streathbourne Rd. Fleur and Rosena handed in petitions to the council about safety on the High Road, Elmbourne Road and Hillbury Road and the council have been looking into ways in which to make these safer which will be revealed in September. Do contact us if you’d like to know more as soon as the plans are ready – we’ll be putting updates up here and on Twitter. We hope that the new plans will take residents concerns seriously and any consultations will be discussed with residents first.

Tooting Common

Our ward includes most of Tooting Common (shared with Furzedown ward) so we spend a lot of time representing residents views about the ward, and ensuring that we keep our Common an natural oasis. We’ve successfully objected to planning permission being sought for yet another massive mast, meet regularly with users of the common, attending the Annual Public Meeting of Tooting Common Management Committee (MAC). Fleur is an active member of the MAC, attended the recent opening of the Lido at the southern end for the South West London Swimming Club and new club building at the deep end of the pool, and is campaigning for a wooden fitness trail on the common.

Support for London to be the first National Park City

We recently had visit from Dan Raven-Ellison of the National Park City campaign as part of his big 500 mile walk. The plans for being the National Park City are exciting and would result in a change in the way we value, celebrate and benefit from all our green spaces – gardens as well as parks and commons. More information about the campaign is here: National Park City

Here is a video of Fleur talking with Dan about some of the benefits of being a National Park City (via Twiiter).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April Newsletter 2017

In this month’s newsletter: the general election, crime on Baringer Square and fears about knife crime, plans to replant the Chestnut Avenue trees are questioned, cuts to school budgets, and how to report fly-tipping.

Please come to the ‘Refugee Stories’ film, stories and comedy event at the Sound Lounge, Tooting High Road, on Tuesday 9th May at 7pm. For more info and a free ticket click here. 

What, another election?!

As we are now being thrown into a few weeks of General Election campaigning, we’re really grateful for all the people we’re meeting on your doorstep, and our tube stations and at lots of local meetings. Rosena has been our hard-working MP for 10 months and will continue to stand up for all local residents for the NHS, for local schools, and on Brexit. Theresa May’s leadership does not look very strong or stable so far, with 3 million families £2500 worse off in the failed welfare reforms and a very confrontational attitude for Brexit negotiations with our neighbouring European allies.

It is very close here in Tooting so your vote between Labour and Tory really matters.

To register to vote go here (deadline is 22nd May): https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

To find out more about your Dr Rosena Allin-Khan go here: http://www.drrosena.co.uk

Crime on Baringer Square and knife crimes in Wandsworth

Residents of the Newlands Estate on Tooting Bec Road, near Tooting Bec Common, are very concerned about crime on the estate, and there was a stabbing and theft recently which hare increased fears even more. I’ve been in touch regularly with local residents and the local police, and attended the recent residents association meeting. The local neighbour police team have been asked to visit the estate more regularly, and to reduce the access to the estate. Our thoughts are with the victim of the stabbing and we hope he makes a full recovery.

Local newspaper report on the screwdriver stabbing and motorbike theft.

There have also been two fatal stabbings in Battersea which have sent shock aves through the community. The local police commander has made this statement, and if you know anything about any of these knife crimes or others, please report it anonymously to crimestoppers (0800555111) or fearless.org. You don’t have to tell them your name, just what you know. There is a £5000 reward for information.

I have recently been to the Wandsworth Safer Neighbourhood Board and local safer neighbourhood meetings and continue to raise local crime issues with our police officers. There are changes coming to local policing as the new Head of the Metropolitan Police starts to make changes, and our Mayor Sadiq Khan continues to prioritise neighbourhood policing. In Wandsworth one of highest crime priorities is theft of scooters and motorbikes and a new unit has been set up in Earlsfield to tackle this. If you have one of these make sure its locked up very securely.

Tooting Common Chestnut Avenue Trees

Wandsworth Labour has called on Wandsworth Council to halt its current plans to fell almost all of the 80-odd trees on Tooting Common’s Chestnut Avenue after a new independent report cast serious doubts on the Council’s claims that the trees cannot be saved due to disease and age.

According to the independent report by tree consultant and specialist in heritage tree assessments, Jeremy Barrell, the bulk of the trees which Wandsworth Council claim are terminally ill are in fact “recovering” and have “the potential to live for at least several decades, and many for much longer”.

Indeed, the report states that the avenue’s mature trees, some of which are 140 years old: “are at the peak of their potential to deliver multiple benefits [such as ecological enhancement, pollution filtering, carbon sequestration, UV light reduction, visual enhancement, and positive contributions to human health and wellbeing] because they are big, experienced by many people daily and have the potential to be retained into the long term”.

stop the chop meeting with Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP, cllr Candida Jones and #stopthechop supportersDr Rosena Allin-Khan, MP for Tooting, cllr Candida Jones and #stopthechop supporters

Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, Labour MP for Tooting said: “it’s clear now that the Council’s wish to cut down this beautiful avenue was motivated by money. Because a grant to fell and replace the avenue was available from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Council thought it could save a quick buck rather than use Council funds to properly maintain and preserve the existing, well-loved, avenue. The Council has been economical with the truth about the health of these trees and should not be prioritising saving money over maintaining its parks and open spaces”.

When the future of the trees was voted on in committee last year, Labour’s speaker on Community Services, Fleur Anderson, secured an assurance that any healthy trees would be saved.

At the time, the Council advised that only eight trees were in good enough condition to survive. However the new report shows that this was a serious under-estimation.

Fleur Anderson said: “No-one wants to see our much-loved and beautiful chestnut trees being cut down if they don’t need to be. It is very good news that there is new evidence that the trees are recovering from the disease which the council said was killing them. The council now needs to halt its current plans, take stock of this new report and provide a new, genuinely unbiased, independent report on the future of the trees that the Committee and residents can have faith in”.

She added:  “I have been in regular contact with the Council on this issue over many months and council officers have assured me and my colleagues that should any tree represent a danger, it would be immediately felled – an approach which we of course support. It shouldn’t, however, be used as an excuse for the wholesale removal of a well-loved local landmark”.

Almost 5,000 residents have signed a petition asking the Council not to fell the healthy trees and regular protests and events have been organised by the #StoptheChop campaign.

The petition is here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-the-trees-on-chestnut-avenue

Jeremy Barrell concluded: “My assessment of the trees is that none are dangerous, none are dead, and most have the potential to be retained with limited intervention for decades. Wandsworth Council are justifying the removals on the basis of responses from a public consultation and the advice of experts. From what I can see the public consultation approach is obviously flawed and none of the expert reports advocate felling and replacement as the best or only option”.

Schools funding

Our local schools are facing a funding crisis, and Headteachers and governors are already making hard choices about which staff or activities or resources they cannot afford to continue to have in schools. My son goes to the Oratory which is one of only four state schools in country to have a rowing club as their sports ground is a Barn Elms on the Thames. This is a wonderful resource for the boys and the whole school are very proud of their success and they are very committee to the sport, training several times a week. However last week the boys were told that despite monthly parental contributions, rowing will be stopped because of funding cuts.

Rosena recently spoke to a packed meeting about the cuts in Furzedown Primary school.

I know that parents are very worried about the coming cuts to all our local schools, and we have every reason to be worried. I have children at three local schools including Graveney which is threatened with over a million pounds of cuts, St Anselms with £111,000 – equivalent to 3 teachers. To get involved in the campaign, find out how much your child’s school will be affected here: https://www.schoolcuts.org.uk/#/

Do get in touch with us if you’d like to take more action about this.

Bothered by fly tipping? How to report it

One of the biggest issues that I hear complaints about is fly-tipping on our local streets. Do keep letting me know and I can pass this on, you can also report fly tipping very easy if you have a smart phone by using the Wandsworth ‘Report It’ app.  Click here for links for iPhone, Android and Windows phone links. Then you just have to take a photo of the flytip or graffiti and send it in on the app.

 

 

Refugee Stories – May 9th 2017

Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees presents an evening of film, stories and comedy:

‘Refugee Stories – surviving and celebrating’  

Tuesday May 9th, 7pm at the Sound Lounge, Tooting

Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees was formed a year ago to bring together people, organisations and faith groups in Wandsworth who want to support refugees here and abroad.

Refugee StoriesWe’re presenting our first Wandsworth Arts Fringe event at the wonderful Sound Lounge venue in Tooting. Its a new venue on Tooting High Street with a great atmosphere and bar.

Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees presents an evening of film, stories, comedy and music.

Film: Dena Arya & Kyla Simone Bruce will introduce their short documentary on what happened to refugees after the Calais ‘Jungle’ was demolished.

Stories: Shabibi Shah, who captured her flight from Afghanistan in a gripping memoir “Where do I belong?” & currently fosters refugee children, will be interviewed by Marion Molteno, a local writer who worked with refugees for 30 years and whose work includes the award-winning “A shield of coolest air” about Somali refugees in London.

Comedy: Edinburgh Fringe sensation Little Soldier Productions will present “Expect Fireworks” on the theme of: So you want to change the world?

The Sound Lounge210-212 Upper Tooting Road, SW17 7EW

To book a free ticket please click here:

http://www.wandsworthfringe.com/whats-on/refugee-stories-surviving-and-celebrating

To join the Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees supporter list and receive updates please email wandsworthwelcomesrefguees@gmail.com

Schools funding cuts – please sign the petition

Schools funding cuts – please sign the petition

Schools are potentially facing many different funding pressures, including raising salaries and National Insurance payments, on-going reduction in support from Wandsworth Council and and a proposed reduction in budgets for London schools under the ‘fairer funding’ changes. The government should be valuing education more and be funding the costs needed by schools to provide the educational outcomes expected, not cutting budgets.

Increasing costs already mean tough choices for Headteachers and are a threat for support for music and the arts, trips out of school and for children with additional needs such as for children with disabilities or needing English language support.

Local parents are understandably concerned and want to take action. We hope that enough pressure from people will change the proposals. Please take a couple of minutes to sign the open letter from Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP to the Education Secretary. Follow this link to sign up, and you can click on your local school to find out more about how much the proposed cuts will be: drrosena.co.uk/schools

Rosena says: ‘As a result of the Government’s National Funding Formula scheme, Wandsworth schools are facing £15 million in cuts. This is equivalent to over 300 teachers’ salaries.

We have a number of outstanding schools across Tooting and Wandsworth and if these cuts are allowed to go through, they risk moving backwards. 

I am calling on the Government’s Education Secretary to support our schools, instead of making these devastating cuts. 

Join me, add your name, share with your friends and family.

There is also a petition and more information on this parent-led campaign website: stop school funding cuts – all our children deserve a great education

 

 

February 2017 Newsletter

I can’t believe how fast this month has gone. I feel as though the kids have only just gone back to school and yet its nearly half term. The news is full of Brexit and Trump (don’t get me started) but lots has been going on in the little patch of London we call home too.

Your local Labour councillors - Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP and Fleur Anderson

Your local Labour councillors – Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP and Fleur Anderson

Here’s some news on the new Neighbourhood Plan and how you can make decision about our local streets, Newlands Estate issues, a peoples uprising on Carminia Road, a cycle parking win, the traffic lights on Ritherdon Road (grrrr), results of our local survey, the opening of a new arts venue on Tooting High Road, and a change to our councillor surgeries.

Trump 

Yesterday over 5,000 people in Tooting had signed the petition against inviting Donald Trump for a state visit. The same number of people (coincidently) living in Wandsworth were born in one of the 7 countries banned from visiting the US (in the 2011 census), and all of their families would also be affected raising the number to many more thousands of people. There are especially important links for people living in Wandsworth for example between the Somali communities here and in Minnesota. The American Embassy will soon be moving to Wandsworth and as a Council we should write to the Ambassador and ask him to oppose this ban. Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees supporters were out in force at the protest at 10 Downing St on Monday.

 

Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees banner at the Trump protest on Monday

Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees banner at the Trump protest on Monday

It is important that we oppose this, and use this opportunity to reaffirm how much we value diversity in Balham and Tooting, how we want to live together and not separately and how much being a global community enriches our lives. The Labour councillors will be raising this in the Council meeting tomorrow. Here is the petition on the state visit.

 

Tooting Bec Broadway Neighbourhood Plan launched

Local neighbourhoods are now allowed to develop a neighbourhood plan. This goes to a vote of all local residents in the area and informs future planning decisions by the Council. Our Tooting one is the first in Wandsworth and has kicked off with the creation of a local Forum who will put together the plan in conversation with as many people as possible. For more information and to say if you agree with this or not click here to see this current council consultation which closes on February 20th. Here is the news story about the launch.

All smiles as we start to create our local neighbourhood plan

All smiles as we start to create our local neighbourhood plan

I’m on the organising group which is keen for the whole process to be inclusive, creative and inspire us to think about how we can see a difference in our local area. Rosena and I are both on the Forum and do ask us if you have any questions or would like to get more involved – we’d love to have more people on the group.

 

 

Newlands Estate issues - Treherne Court and Baringer Square

Fleur with residents Charles and Patricia, and council officers

Fleur with residents Charles and Patricia, and council officers

Thanks to all the residents of Newlands Estate (off Franciscan Road and Tooting Bec Road) for raising various issues in meetings and emails. In response I organised a visit with the local Area Housing Manager and the cleaning services company. There are lots of anti social behaviour concerns, and issues with parking, trees, fly tipping, a whole strip of abandoned gardens, and crime. I hope that action will be taken on all of these and will working with council officers and our safer neighbourhood team to tackle all of these.

On a positive note we saw the planned area for a community garden and we’ll be supporting

Are for proposed community garden

Are for proposed community garden

residents to get funding for this. The plan is to have a picnic bench and some fruit trees – other ideas and sharing examples of good community gardens are very welcome.

 

 

 

Peoples power on Carminia Road

People living on Carminia Road were fed up with rubbish dumped in front of some garages on their road and I met with them and demanded action. As a result the council took action and the landlord cleared the rubbish within two weeks. Do get in touch with me if you have something that you want to get sorted out on your road and lets see what we can do.

Before

Before

After

After

 

 

 

 

 

A cycle parking win

More of these please

More of these please

Its not earth shattering but it is good news. Mike lives locally and came to me when his bike was stolen outside Trinity Pharmacy on Balham High Road. I supported him to write a petition for cycle parking hoops at the pharmacy which lots of customers signed. It took a few more months and follow up requests but finally Transport for London did agree and here they are. With continuing increases in cycling we need to see more and more parking for bikes whereever possible.

Traffic lights on Ritherdon Road

Thank you to everyone who has got in contact with me to complain about the new phasing of lights on Ritherdon Road and the knock on effect this is having on other local roads as driver try to avoid the longer queues and speed down side roads. I’ve been in contact with Transport for London and the council and hope that the phasing can be returned to the pre-road works times.

Sound Lounge Launch – A new arts venue on Tooting High Road

IMG_0413

Hannah and Keiron have followed their dream, got the crowd funding needed and have now opened a brand new arts and music venue, Sound Lounge. Its on the High Road past the Royal Oak and in the shop that used to be Dreamland and more recently had the big photo of Tooting Common. The launch night was great and they have a schedule of bands and day time activities (yoga, baby groups etc) up to at least October. Here is their website – with a great video by them explaining the whole vision (clue: its not just a new pub): http://www.thesoundlounge.org.uk

Results of our local survey

Thank you to everyone who filled in the local survey that we sent around with our Christmas cards. The top issues that concern people in the area are…… street cleaning and flytipping, and crime. We’ll be taking all your comments and continuing to raise these issues with the council and taking action on your behalf.

Change to our councillor surgeries

Rosena at our new drop in surgery venue - main issues raised were housing

Rosena at our new drop in surgery venue – main issues raised were housing

We’ve changed our local surgery times from being in Balham library to being on the first Wednesday of every month from 10.15 – 11.15 in the Scout hall opposite Du Can Court and on the corner of Balham High Road and Elmfield Rd (the leisure centre road). Its drop in so do just turn up. Thank you to Network Neighbourhood who have a coffee morning at that time for hosting us – so you can get a drink and meet other local people at the same time. You can email us anytime too:

fanderson@wandsworth.gov.uk

rallin-khan@wandsworth.gov.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December newsletter and survey

December newsletter

This month we’re asking for your views with a quick survey – and below we have news about a new cycle path on Tooting Common, local heroes awards, road safety and homelessness.

surveyPlease take a couple of minutes to tell us what issues are important to you, so that we can make sure that we take action on the issues that matter most to you: Click here to take the survey now – THANK YOU!!!

We’ll share the results of the survey next month.

New cycle path on Tooting Common – consultation 

The planned new path will have a gravel surface like this existing path on the Common.

The planned new path will have a gravel surface like this existing path on the Common.

There is a proposal to widen the existing path on Tooting Common that goes from the cafe to the Lido and make it a shared cycle and pedestrian path. Just over 150 responses have been received so far, which doesn’t seem many. Thanks to the council officers who braved the cold for the drop-in session last week. Thanks to everyone who stopped to talk too. Of those I spoke to there are mixed opinions, but with a majority in favour but with concerns about some cyclists going too fast. Better signs were asked for by several people. But what do you think?

Please take some time to fill in the consultation – and encourage other people to – by December 18th: click here for Quietway 5 consultation

Balham and Tooting Community Association Awards

Award winning Tooting Parker Rangers coaches

Award winning Tooting Parker Rangers coaches

Rosena and Fleur had a wonderful evening celebrating some of the amazing people who make Tooting such a great place to live. The Balham and Tooting Community Awards went to some local heroes such as the Tooting Park Rangers football team coaches who have turned a dads kick about on the common into a five league teams. Its still open to all players and a wonderful community group with a dedicated team of coaches who really deserve this award.

BACTA local heroes awards ceremony

BACTA local heroes awards ceremony

Another wonderful team honoured were the Little Village volunteers who have set up a growing charity which provides baby clothes and equipment to people who couldn’t otherwise afford them. Have a look at their Little Village HQ website.

 

Road safety

What, still no cycle parking?

What, still no cycle parking?

The Transport for London roadworks have finished at last on the High Road, but left me baffled about why they happened as there was a lot of work done to slightly widen the pavement. There were lots of concerns about safety on the road, with a spate of motorbike accidents, so I hope that these changes were in response to concerns about that. However we still don’t have the cycle parking outside Trinity Pharmacy that residents presented a petition to ask for following several thefts of bikes.

The new phasing of the Ritherdon Road lights has increased traffic jams backing up. We’ll be taking both up with Transport for London.

Homelessness rising in Wandsworth

A major concern is the ever increasing amount of homelessness in Tooting and we are working to support increasing numbers of families who have housing problems. When I became a councillor in 2014 there were 791 people in temporary accommodation, and now there are 1309 people. This costs the council over £3million last year – placing many people outside the borough often as far away as Wembley – in very small and unsuitable and yet costly hostels. The council has not got any solutions to this problem, and more families are left commuting for hours to schools and jobs and living for far too long in unsuitable hostels. Meanwhile big developments are continuing without enough social (council) housing at rents people can afford, and enough really affordable housing – instead of slightly less expensive housing which is labelled ‘affordable’ but isn’t.

Surgery move to Scout Centre on Wednesdays

Rosena and FleurWhen we elected in 2014 we immediately started up a monthly Bedford ward surgery in Balham library. We’ve reviewed this surgery and want to make it more accessible, so we’re moving to Southside Scout Centre on Wednesday mornings and hope that this will be easier to get to for more people. It will be on the first Wednesday of every month, no appointment is needed, and it is opposite Du Cane Court on the High Road at the junction with Elmfield Road. We’re happy to meet with you at another time by appointment too – just email us.  Thanks to the Neighbourhood Network group for hosting us – you can have a cup of tea with your neighbours as well as coming to see your councillors.

October Newsletter

Fleur and Rosena

Fleur and Rosena

This newsletter is packed with latest news on the Balham and Tooting local heroes event, Tooting Common trees and cycling, planning applications for Bedford Hill Old Church and Foxbourne Rd, #TidyUpTooting campaign, serious concerns about St Georges, new Caring kitchen lunch at St Anselms, local crime and TASER use, Balham High Road improvements, and the first Syrian refugee family welcomed to Wandsworth

Do contact Fleur and Rosena if you want to know more or have an issue we can help with: fanderson@wandsworth.gov.uk and rallin-khan@wandsworth.gov.uk

Do you know a local community hero?

Come along - all welcome!

Come along – all welcome!

Do you know someone who works for a community group, or helps people in their local area or community, or goes above and beyond in work locally? Now is your chance to celebrate them! Nominations for the Balham and Tooting Community Association (BACTA) community heroes awards are open until November 8th. Please use the online form at http://batca.org/nomination/. The awards go to those you nominate. There’ll be awards both for individual volunteers and teams. The nominations will be assessed by a panel of independent judges.

Awards will be presented on 24th November 2016 at a celebratory evening at Jasmin’s Club, 202 Upper Tooting Road, SW17 7TG, to which all are welcome. Its a really great night, with wonderful food and entertainment, and will make you very proud to live in Balham and Tooting. To book a place, please click here  http://batca.org/reserve-place/ the evening is free and supported by the Wandsworth Community Fund – please bring a donation on the night. Do come and invite your friends – why not fill a table?

I’m on the BACTA organising group so if you have any comments about this, or suggestions that BACTA could do to make links and strengthen our community, please email me your ideas.

Tooting Common – Chestnut Avenue trees and Quietway cycle route

The consultation on the future of Chestnut Avenue closed last month and 695 local people had responded, with 74% in favour of replanting the avenue all at once, although 50% of these people also favoured the option of slowly replacing the trees as they continue to face disease. This beautiful avenue is much loved by us all in the area and deciding how to preserve it is very difficult. It is dreadful that so many trees are suffering from a disease that Chestnut Trees all over the country have and is spreading, and one symptom is that branches fall off. So safety is the top priority, and the opportunity for significant investment in replanting the whole avenue rather than let it slowly decline one tree after another. But we also want to save any of these trees that are healthy and do not need to be cut down. At the committee meeting I proposed that the healthy trees (currently 6 trees, but this needs to be assessed again) are not cut down and this was accepted by the committee. The recommendation to replant the Avenue was agreed to by the Community Services Committee and is likely to be carried out in the Winter of 2017/18. A campaign to save the trees is being led by Friends of Tooting Common.

A report about the leaf mining moth and bleeding canker disease affecting Horse Chestnut diseases across the country was recently on Sky News.

The next consultation on the common will be controversial as well. Cross London Quietways cycle routes are being set up, and the Waterloo – Croydon route goes through Tooting Common under current plans. Following responses from the first consultation, Chestnut Avenue is not the proposed route but instead the diagonal path from the cafe to the Lido car park. This would be widened to 3m and a gravel surface used which is good for buggies, wheelchairs and cyclists but discourages fast cycling as it is not as smooth as tarmac.

The consultation distribution plan has been shared with me and I’ve asked for it to be extended to all the road off the Common instead of just some and all of Heritage Park instead of only those closest to the Common. This consultation will be coming out soon so please watch for notices on the Common and have your say.

Old Church on Bedford Hill

We supported the many local objections to the large proposed development of the Old Church on Bedford Hill. The plan was to keep the front but redevelop the rest into 21 flats and a nursery. The planning officers agreed with our objections and the recommendation to refuse this application was agreed by the planning committee. We hope that the developers can return with a plan using the existing building and will be asking from them to involve the local community more in their future planning.

St Anthony’s Court, Foxbourne Rd

There was also a large number of objections to plans by St Anthony’s Court residential home to add another storey to their building. This backs onto the garden’s of six houses in Foxbourne Road and will block a lot of light to the gardens and homes. There will be considerable building traffic going down the narrow road and into the small entrance to the Court, and increased traffic of visitors once built. I represented these concerns at the planning committee, but the application was still accepted on the basis that similar schemes have been agreed to elsewhere in Wandsworth. This seems very unfair and is understandably very disappointing for residents.

#TidyUpTooting!!

blogFor too long we’ve been telling the council to sort out fly tipping and dirty streets, and it is one of the main reasons you get in contact with us as your local councillors. Rosena is gathered your reports for a month and took this to the council who have said they will do more. Click here for Rosena’s letter on #TidyUpTooting. If you see fly-tipping in your street, report it to the Wandsworth ‘report it’ app (if you have a smartphone. More info on the Report It app is here. 

Serious concerns about St Georges’ Hospital

At the October council meeting Labour proposed a debate on health outcomes and serious concerns about the financial situation of St Georges. In the motion we called on the Council to affirm its commitment to the NHS as a world-class healthcare system, but note that it is coming under increasing funding pressure, expresses its concern at the various failings in patient safety and care uncovered during the recent Care Quality Commission inspection at St George’s Hospital Trust and notes that the Trust is forecasting an end of year deficit of £55.5 million and that its own corporate risk report describes its overall level of exposure to operational risk as “extreme”, welcome the incredible work that staff at St George’s do but recognises that the Trust is struggling with high turnover and vacancy rates and that the staff survey reports unacceptable levels of bullying and harassment.

Rosena’s gave a strong speech about junior doctors during the debate. Labour councillors called on the Council to show leadership and work with the Trust to ensure that patient care is kept to a high standard.  The full motion text is here and we will continue to be extremely concerned about the situation and what it will mean for our healthcare provision.

Roadworks on Tooting High Rd and Balham Boulevard

I’ve been watching the changes to pavements on Tooting High Road and hope that this will result in a safer roads, especially for motorcyclists as we have had several accidents on the road and we lobbied TfL on road safety on this stretch of the High Road – lots of people signed petitions. It is disappointing to see the pavement widened, the cycle track narrowed and the opportunity for a separate cycle lane for cyclists not used.

The plans for a more attractive stretch of High Road up to Balham station have been talked about for years, and TfL will be revealing their plans in a meeting in early November. Lets hope this is better than the last meeting where they said that nothing could be done.

Caring Kitchen at St Anselms

St Anselms Church’s monthly Caring Kitchen is proving very popular and everyone is welcome for a free homemade lunch in a caring environment. the next ones are 29th November and 20th December in St Anselms Old Hall on Tooting High Road from 12.15 – 2pm. For enquires please contact caringkitchensw@gmail.com

Crime and TASER

The safer neighbourhood team identified Ritherdon Rd as having higher burglary and the local police and safer neighbourhood team visited everyone in the street and provided free DNA marking kits for valuable items.

I went to the Wandsworth Safer Neighbourhood Board and had a update on Wandsworth crime figures, which show that although Wandsworth is doing well compared to other boroughs, violent crime is rising and theft of motorbikes and scooters is a particular problem. In this area its a problem in the streets around Tooting Bec station especially, but even the heaviest bike left on the street is a potential target.

TASER

We also had a presentation about TASER gun use in London. It has very strict regulation and is used to prevent violence either to themselves or others by firearms police. At any time, about 4 officers who are allowed to use TASER are on duty in Wandsworth and in the first 6 months of this year it was used 8 times. TASER guns are a sci-fi looking plastic yellow and shoot out electrode barbs which disable people through the electronic pulse rather than through pain and stand for ‘Thomas A Swift Electronic Rifle’.

This was the annual public Safer Neighbourhood Board meeting and a chance for the Borough Commander to be publicly accountable, but it was publicised, the public weren’t involved in setting the agenda and having issues which matter to us, and it was attended by about four members of the public! It was yet another proof of how little the Conservative Council want to work with us all as residents together in Wandsworth.

First Syrian Family welcomed in Wandsworth – more urgent response needed

As the war in Syria and dreadful destruction of Aleppo continues, there is an urgent need for desperate families to move to safety. This certainly makes me feel very fortunate indeed to live in such a safe place. We can provide safe haven for families, and the Home Office has made funding available to local boroughs. Wandsworth took a step forward and welcomed a family of three people from Syria this week. I hope that the response can match the urgency and we can see many more families welcomed before Christmas. Rosena has the council leader how many families will be welcomed by Christmas, but he did not answer this.

Meanwhile, if you can help to support refugees and have anytime on a Monday morning, please go to St Mary’s church near Balham station on the High Road where there is a drop in for refugees for a meal, meeting others and advice organised by the South London Refugee Association.

September Newsletter

This newsletter is packed with lots of local news from your Labour Councillors:

Tooting Common: tree consultation, ParkRun, Quietway cycle route, cafe improvements, cricket pitch and fitness equipment

Crossrail2 plans for Balham and Tooting, Bedford Hill Church redevelopment proposal, local Neighbourhood plan, new Headteachers at St Anselms and Ravenstone Schools, Transition Tooting local events, cycle hoops outside Trinity Pharmacy, safer Elmbourne and Hillbury Rds and Rosena’s trip to Calais to support refugees

Tribute to Cllr Sally-Ann Ephson

Cllr Sally Anne Ephson (centre)

Cllr Sally Anne Ephson (centre)

We are really sad that our friend and fellow Labour Councillor, Sally-Anne Epson, died recently as a result of Sickle Cell Disease.  It was inspirational that she didn’t let having the disease stop her a Queenstown councillor in Battersea. She spoke up strongly for residents in Queenstown and people with disabilities and she was warm and caring and really supportive and encouraging of other councillors. We will always miss her. Sadiq Khan has also paid tribute to her, and we are fundraising for the Sickle Cell Society in her memory.

Future of trees consultation now closed

Future of trees consultation now closed

1. Future of Chestnut Avenue The Tooting Common future of trees consultation closed on September 4th. Earlier in the week there had been over 600 replies. Early in the consultation I asked for leaflets to be sent to local homes, for drop in times for the public to hear from the council’s tree expert and I’m glad that these were agreed to. The options are for a replacement of the whole avenue with a different type of tree, replacement gradually with different trees as the existing diseased trees are removed, or removing all the trees and not replacing them. If the first option is closed by the Community Services Committee, this would be take 6 weeks during the coming Winter.

New ParkRun Director Tom Baker and Fleur after a run

New ParkRun Director Tom Baker and Fleur after a run

2. ParkRun is here to stay! There was a six month trial period of the timed weekly ParkRuns on Tooting Common every Saturday at 9am. These are very popular, with about 300 people running each week, and agreed to be well run by the cheery volunteers. The trial has been successful and ParkRun will now be a permanent event on the Common – do come down and give it a go!

3. Quietway cycle route Across London new Quietway cycle routes are being planned, aimed at encouraging more people to cycle through creating routes off main roads and for recreational cycling more than faster commuting. This includes a proposed route 5 from Croydon to Waterloo which it is proposed will include the path from the Triangle to Bedford Hill (a cycle route already) and then diagonally from the cafe to the Lido car park, and this could be a rough surface which would discourage fast cycling at the same time as opening up another cycle route across the Common which would be very welcome. There are also concerns about danger caused by cyclists to pedestrians so we’ll be underlining the need to tackle this in mind in our responses.

4. Tooting Common Cafe upgrade at last! The long-awaited extension to the cafe are due  to start later this month and to be finished by next March, including new wheelchair accessible public toilets with baby-changing facilities.

5. Cricket Pitch I am on the Tooting Common Management Advisory Committee of local volunteers who advise Enable and the council and take part in monthly meetings. At the September meeting we discussed the future of the artificial cricket pitch near the playground. Some people would like this to be re-instated as a grass cricket square, although I am keen to ensure that the pitch can continue to be used by the variety of cricketers who currently enjoy it.

6. Fitness Equipment I know that there is lot of interest I having a Fitness trail of wooden equipment on the common (like Wandsworth Common). The council has agreed to this but not to paying for it and I will continue to raise this at the MAC and with Wandsworth council.

7. Crossrail 2 – decisions ahead. We are firmly ‘Rooting for Tooting’ continuing to campaign for CrossRail to come to Tooting and Rosena and Rosena has met Michelle Dix, Head of Crossrail 2. We have been told that a recommendation for Tooting or Balham would be expected in the Autumn and then a further consultation on the new proposal.

8. Bedford Hill Church redevelopment opposed During the summer plans for a redevelopment of the former Church and Centre for the Deaf on Bedford Hill were published. This is for a redevelopment into 21 flats and a nursery, keeping the front of the church but not the remainder or the distinctive steeple. 70 objections were received, including from many local residents whose gardens have views of the rear of the church, Historic England and the Balham Society. The plans are too large in scale, do not take in account the local historic impact of the building, and lack of local parking would be a serious problem for nearby streets. We welcome more housing, and especially more affordable housing, but hope the developers will change their plans to a smaller number of flats and development within the existing structure.

9. Welcome to new Headteachers at Mrs Elwes at St Anselms School and Mr Croft at Ravenstone School – we’re looking forward to working with you both.

'Tour de Tooting' stewards

‘Tour de Tooting’ stewards

10. Transition Tooting local events - I enjoyed being a steward on the ‘Tour de Tooting’ cycle event in July and looking forward to the Soup disco tonight as part of the weekend of Tooting Foodival events. Congratulations to Transition Tooting on promoting sustainability and community in Tooting.

 

11. Cycle hoops outside Trinity Pharmacy When a local resident told me that his bike had been stolen from outside the pharmacy I started asking if cycle hoops could be installed outside so that bikes could be safely locked up. This pavement belongs to Transport for London and in April they said that they could put them in within 3-4 months. They are still not there, but we’re keeping up the pressure – watch this space!

12. Safer Elmbourne and Hillbury Reds Last summer we supported local residents and schools to raise their concerns about local road safety with the Council and several petitions were submitted. Traffic on Elmbourne Rd was monitored during the summer and a report due at the Committee on September 20th. I’ve asked about progress and am disappointed to be told that this won’t go to the September committee. We need more action on road safety by the Council and we’ll continue to make this a priority.

13. Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees and local support for refugees in Calais

Rosena recently went to Calais with a car full of things generously donated by Tooting business and local people and helped the volunteers teams in Calais and raised awareness of the continuing dreadful situation there. Here is her interview on Good Morning Britain. We’re also continuing to actively support Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees and ask Wandsworth Council to step up and provide foster carers for unaccompanied children refugees and homes for some families fleeing the terrifying war in Syria.

Its been great to see so many people at lots of events during the summer, including the Living Streets celebration of the borough-wide 20mph limit, South London refugees summer event, Cloudesdale Rd street party and many more.

Contact us – we’re here to help

We have monthly drop in surgeries at Balham library on the third Saturday of every month from 10am – 11am.

We’re on email: fanderson@wandsworth.gov.uk

rallin-khan@wandsworth.gov.uk

Twitter: @DrRosena, @CllrFleur

 

Have your say about Tooting Common’s Chestnut Avenue trees

Chestnut Avenue have your sayDo you visit Tooting Common? What would you think about plans to replace the trees on Chestnut Avenue?  The council has just launched a consultation on the future of the  Chestnut Avenue trees, and we’re urging everyone to have their say and let their friends know – the deadline is September 4th.

The consultation webpage and document has lots more information, including different options to vote on: http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/info/200024/consultations/2175/chestnut_avenue_consultation

We have asked for more publicity about this consultation and the Council have agreed that they will now leaflet the streets around the Common and have drop in sessions so that you can ask the experts questions.

The Council are proposing making changes to the Chestnut Avenue trees on Tooting Common. This is the Avenue that runs from the cafe down past the playground, pond and tennis courts and up to Tooting Bec Road. This fine mature avenue of Chestnut trees is over 100 years old and some trees have been found to be diseased.

The consultation documents have useful computer generated images which help to show the difference between the options, but we have some concerns about the consultation.

Do have a look at the consultation and see what you think too. If you’d like more information before deciding, do let us know and we will get this and add to this post for others to see too. There will be drop in times on the Common so you can come and speak with Rosena and I about the consultation, and times you can speak with the tree experts.

We have four other concerns about the consultation documents and have asked the council for answers to the questions below – their response is below.

1. First the tree that fell down during the storms earlier this year had root rot as I understand – was there an investigation into whether others have this too? What was the result?
2. How long would the remaining good trees have before they would die? another 20-30 years? If we did replace as they went rather than all at once, would we have about half and half?
3. It is really helpful to have pictures and I appreciate some more thought has gone into how to present the consultation in a much more interesting and informative way that many other plain documents. However, I think that the pictures are very misleading as the first option to replace as they die is how as a very bare and desolate picture, but would actually be an avenue still, but just with uneven heights of trees. The picture seems to lead the reader away from this as an option if they value tree cover. However, the ‘fell and replace’ option is presented as extremely attractive, and the interim measure of the chopped down trees (and loss of extensive tree cover for decades as the new trees grow) is not illustrated. I am sure that there will be lots of comments about this about to come your way, so would you be able to re-look at these diagrams and maybe add a more attractive one to the ‘replace as and when’ option?
4. Also I know we are going to get lots of complaints about not sending out letters about this to the streets around the Common. There is a lot of emotional attachment to these lovely trees: the setting of many a lovely walk/cycle/conker collection on the Common. If the option to fell and replace is chosen it will have a huge impact on users of the Common and if they haven’t known about the consultation because they’ve been away then they will feel very let down. We will be doing all we can as councillors to publicise this, but could you reconsider the leafletting – not of the whole consultation document but just a short letter to point people to the website and boards on the Common?
If you have any comments or questions do respond to this blog or email us (rallin-khan@wandsowrth.gov.uk and fanderson@wandsworth.gov.uk) and please spread the word about the consultation – thanks!!

http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/info/200024/consultations/2175/chestnut_avenue_consultation

RESPONSE FROM THE COUNCIL (11th July)

Thank you for your feedback and I can confirm that we will flyer drop homes around the Common and will be hosting drop-in sessions so residents can speak to the parks services on a one-to-one basis while looking up at the trees themselves. The team will also be handing out surveys to passers by on other occasions and posters are going up in the next few days.

Regarding the tree related issues you raise, firstly the tree that fell down I can confirm that decay of the root system is extremely difficult to detect,  because of the very matter of it being underground. We undertook decay detection tests on randomly selected tree stems at close to ground level (for which equipment exists) but the results did not enable us to make any assumptions about the soundness (or otherwise) of the root system deeper down. We therefore did not progress to do the same with all the trees. We will have to wait to observe physical symptoms through regular inspection,  which is the normal method.  Secondly, regarding the life cycle of the remaining good trees, the issue does not really relate to how quickly the trees will die. Some trees will decline and die due to stresses of Bleeding Canker, Leaf miner and Guignardia, but that is likely to be slow attrition. The problem lies in their structural integrity which is declining quite rapidly, leading to potential structural issues, which would be occasional collapse, or occasional branch failure unless we take preventative action. Obviously we will take preventative action which will be substantial crown reduction or pollarding as necessary. Trees won’t necessarily die but they will need disfiguring attention, and at regular intervals thereafter. It is this issue that will be easiest to address/demonstrate at the on-site  walk/talk.

Thank you for raising your concern with the images and as you say they are intended to add interest and be illustrative rather than being precise / true-to life. We think residents will recognise that they are only very basic two dimensional illustrations and we’ve made every attempt to ensure that residents view these alongside the three independent surveys/reports and the detailed commentary explaining the issues and likely outcomes. I can explain that under Scenario A, many trees will have to be repeatedly pollarded year after year as they continue to age/weaken so they will never recover their full size or leaf canopy – that goes some way to explaining why the trees in that image are less ‘leafy’ and attractive.  In scenario C –  I think we’ve been fair in presenting the two images to show that initially the canopy cover will be limited in the first years. The commentary also states that trees take 20-30 years to reach maturity, although the trees will become a significant landscape feature long before that.

If we were to add a new image at this point it would invalidate the responses received so far and we can’t guarantee these residents would re-take the survey.

We do take your point very seriously and I have examined the survey responses this morning; so far 78.5% of respondents say they are ‘clear about all the issues’,  20% say they are ‘clear about most of issues’ and only 1.9 per cent say they are ‘unclear’. While this isn’t a question specifically about the images it does suggest that overall people are satisfied with the commentary and can understand the independent analysis.

I hope it’s clear that our parks team have tried very hard to present this consultation in an engaging and fair way with very good quality information to support the different options.