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.

June Newsletter

The big news recently has been the election of Sadiq Khan as Mayor, Leonie Cooper as our new London Assembly Member and Rosena Allin-Khan as our new Tooting MP. but there has been plenty going on locally too. This newsletter features local street parties, Tooting Common Dog show, Rutherford House and St Anselms school fairs, disappearing bins and parking meters, new Neighbourhood Planning Forum, and the latest planning objections submitted.

Two local meetings coming up:

Tooting Common public meeting on June 28th at 7.30pm at St Anselms School, Louisville Rd. An update from the council, plenty of chance to ask questions and an opportunity to the join the voluntary advisory group. I’m on it so do ask me if you’d like to know more.

Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees public meeting with speaker Alf Dubs and chair WWR logosJohn O’Farrell. Thursday 30th June, 7.30pm at East Hill Baptist Church, Battersea, SW18 2HD. Lord Dubs led the recent law on receiving unaccompanied refugee children. There will also be latest news from the Calais camps and what we can do in Wandsworth. To become a member of Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees and have an update on this meeting and other events please email: wandsworthwelcomesrefguees@gmail.com

Street Parties 

IMG_8225 IMG_8224There were nearly 100 street parties across Wandsworth, and they’ve been great ways to meet neighbours, have a fun day together and celebrate where we live. Congratulations to everyone who organised one for the their street and if you haven’t had one yet its not too late! Wandsworth Council have waived the fee for booking a street party until September.

St Anselms and Rutherford House School Fairs and Tooting Common Fun Dog Show

Tooting Common Dog Show

Tooting Common Dog Show

Huge congratulations to Rutherford and St Anselms Schools for their wonderful school fairs – it takes a lot of work, and everyone enjoyed them so much. Tooting Common fun dog show was also really successful and enjoyed by everyone who came to watch or take part. Thanks to Friends of Tooting Common and compere Leonie Cooper new London Assembly member, and to the Mayor Wandsworth for adding dog show judging to his list of talents!

Rosena and Fleur dodging showers at Rutherford House School Fair

Rosena and Fleur dodging showers at Rutherford House School Fair

Rutherford House School Fair

 

 

 

 

 

 

Street bins across Wandsworth being removed

A bin was here (a really boring picture I know - but you get the point)

A bin was here (a really boring picture I know – but you get the point)

When I saw that the bins outside St Anselms School on Louisville Road and outside Ravenstone school on Elmfield Rd had disappeared, I asked what was going on. The council has a new policy of taking away bins in public spots across the Borough – clearly a cost cutting policy. I’m very concerned about the impact this will have on our main streets, where there is often too much litter already.

There are very mixed messages from the Council about what can be done. In Chestnut Grove the bin outside the corner shop was put back when local residents complained, but similar requests to replace the missing bins in Furzedown have not been responded to. Councilllor Sue McKinney in Roehampton is seeing the results of the bin removal on Putney Heath and Wimbledon Common. She says:
“I would like to see the litter bins put back at least at the bus stops.  Even with your sweeps, the litter unfortunately blows across to the common and is becoming a major concern for the Conservators whom I have spoken to today.  They quite simply do not have the man power to see to it.
I am very concerned about the effect litter has on wildlife and would like to see our Wimbledon Common wildlife protected.  There are no such issues arising in the part of the Common that stretches into Merton Borough. I have had a report of a fox with its head in a crisp bag running around and bumping into trees in confusion.  This fox was impossible to help.   Litter severely harms wildlife.
Also our children are taught to put their litter in bins as citizens of the world.  How can they do this if there are no litter bins.  The majority of people are very litter conscious and therefore we do need to see litter bins back – especially at bus stops and schools.”

Have you noticed a missing bin? Please let me know!

Parking Meter Mess Up

New meter bagged up for weeks - no other one nearby

New meter bagged up for weeks – no other one nearby

Motorists have been left very frustrated across Wandsworth as 177 cash parking meters have been replaced with card ones – but a contracting problem means tey can’t be switched on. I have supported a successful complaint over a parking ticket issued on Elmfield Rd which has had no parking meter for weeks at the High Road end, and there were no stickers or alternative payment ofered. I’ve asked the council for an explanation and to know when these machines will be turned on but no yet received an answer.

The old parking meters should not have been taken out when the new ones couldn’t be switched on and people are left wandering up and down streets looking for a marking meter, or facing totally unfair fines. The council needs to take urgent responsibility for this mess up.

New Neighbourhood Forum – taking control of local planning

The government is enabling local groups to create their own neighbourhood plans. These need to be within the London and Wandsworth plans, but could give local people the opportunity to have more say about what is important for them in their area. this could be the type of shops, housing developments, street layouts or use of public buildings and open spaces. A local Tooting Bec and Broadway Neighbourhood Forum is being set up to bring a wide variety of local people together to create a local plan. For more information and to be involved contact: tootingbbneighbourhood@gmail.com

 Local planning issues

- Objection made to the proposal for a 18m telephone at the triangle on Tooting Common

- Objection to the additional storey on the Polish old people’s home on Foxbourne Rd

- On-going representations on behalf of Rutherford House parents objecting to more telephone masts on the TA centre nearby, moved from Bedford House which is being redeveloped. The parents and governors have been objecting to this for two years and EE could put the mast on a building nearer to Balham station and further from local schools.

Bedford Ward Councillor is new Tooting MP

Rosena picThank you to everyone who voted for Rosena to be our new MP in Tooting, following Sadiq Khan becoming Mayor of London. It was an intense, short, by-election campaign, and Rosena won with 17,894 votes to Dan Watkin’s (Conservative) 11,537 votes. This is a substantial increase in the Labour majority in Tooting.

Full results and Rosena’s statement are here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36555789

For Bedford ward residents, this means that Rosena is both your local Wandsworth ward councillor and your MP. She’ll work hard for you in both roles.

I heard about the murder of Jo Cox whilst I was out canvassing for Rosena in the rain and thunder and was as shocked as everyone else. The two seem so connected with democracy in action as Jo went to her surgery and we were electing a new MP. Jo was an international development campaigner and many people I work with knew her, and together we watched her move from development into politics.

 

Vigil at Parliament Square

Vigil at Parliament Square

To think that someone felt so violently towards her is too much to understand. The statement by Brendan Cox, her husband, is amazing. To be so lucid, focused on love and inspiring at such a time of huge loss is incredible. As he says we must unite to fight against hatred, wherever and whenever we see it. It has made me reflect on how we conduct politics and redouble my efforts to build a better world in how we relate to each other, in what we stand up for and in building community locally and internationally.

Save the Triangle Children’s Centre

Save the Triangle Children’s Centre – restore it to being the heart of our community and a lifeline for mums with young children

Fleur and Sadiq campaigning to save the Triangle One O'Clock Club in 2014 - new proposals must keep it open daily

Fleur Anderson and Sadiq Khan campaigning to save the Triangle One O’Clock Club in 2014 – new proposals must keep it open daily

The consultation on the children’s services ends today (May 24th)

Click here for the link to the consultation

Response to the consultation:

Joint Submission: Rachael Stokes, Fleur Anderson, Rosena Allin-Khan.

This submission response to Wandsworth council’s consultation and its proposal to de-designate the Garratt Park and Triangle Children’s Centres. We respond in our capacity as local councilors for both Earlsfield and Bedford wards, in which the two children’s centres whose services are under threat are located.

The principle that guides our response is that all parents, no matter which ward they live in, should have access to free early-years childcare. The evidence is very clear: early-years childcare and education boosts our children’s future educational performance, reduces reliance on social care services, helps to tackling childhood obesity, and of course, promotes community cohesion.

We recognise the need for Wandsworth Council to make efficiency savings, including in the provision of early-years childcare across the Borough. We note, however, that Wandsworth has been forced to make these savings as a result of savage cuts to local budgets by this Conservative Government, including the largest real terms cut in the education budget since the 1970s.

We believe that cuts to early years childcare services – especially before all other alternative options have been explored – are a false economy. By making it more difficult for our children to get the best start in life, these cuts run the risk of increasing expenditure further down the line on social services and health.

However, we recognise the need to make immediate savings. Therefore, we support the proposals made in paper 15-437, which by streamlining the management structures of Garratt Park Centre would make significant savings, whilst retaining key services such as stay and play.

The consultation proposal goes much further than the paper voted on in council, paper 15-437. It states that de-designation may result in parents being charged for the use of stay and play services. It also fails to offer any guarantee that important outreach services on the Henry Prince Estate will be maintained.

Therefore, in relation to Garratt Park Centre, we call on the Council:

1. To commit to maintaining free stay and play services in the Garratt Park Children’s centre.
2. To commit to retaining key outreach services on the Henry Prince Estate.

This would be in line with the Council’s original proposals, and would therefore involve the required efficiency savings, but would protect the important work Garratt Park Children’s centre does in an area of high need. We do not think local parents should be punished any further by this Conservative Government.
We note that the argument for retaining services in the Triangle Children’s Centre is somewhat distinct from the Garratt Park Centre. The latter is in an area of high need; whilst the chief importance of the Triangle Centre is its role as a site for community cohesion, attended by parents of all backgrounds.

We are concerned that the changes proposed to the Triangle Children’s Centre will further degrade the service and end up being another children’s activity offer only affordable to the wealthier families in the area. Daily, all afternoon ‘stay and play’ centres are a lifeline for all carers, especially young mums who are often isolated when at home with a small baby or toddler and baby.

Therefore, in relation to the Triangle Centre, we call on the Council:

1. Not to dispose of the lease of the land, so that the cost of a nursery rent to run the service on its own land is passed on to parents.
2. To commit to maintaining free stay and play services in the Triangle Children’s Centre.

We would be happy to discuss these proposals with our Council colleagues, but impress on the Council that there can be no more valuable service than that which provides for our children’s futures.

Councillor Fleur Anderson
Councillor Rachael Stokes
Councillor Rosena Allin-Khan

Rosena selected as Labour candidate for the Tooting by-election

Link

Rosena picFollowing the fantastic election of our MP Sadiq Khan to be Mayor of London on May 5th, Sadiq has resigned as MP and there will be a by-election on June 16th. Rosena has been selected as Labour’s candidate.

You can find out more information about her campaign here:

https://rosenafortooting.co.uk

The Evening Standard found out has much she has packed into her life: http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/london-life/dr-rosen-allinkhan-on-why-shes-a-knockout-choice-for-tooting-mp-a3253021.html

 

 

 

 

Plans to close Dr Johnson Avenue have been shelved

A win for people power!

After months of concern about the plans to trial a closure of Dr Johnson Ave and stop turning right into Elmbourne Rd, the Council quietly shelved the plans today. 

Although the trial had some support last year, when coupled with the ‘no right turn’ it didn’t make sense to most people who drive around the Common. We could have told them that if they asked us first! When the plans were first announced I objected to the no right turn in the Committee but the Council pushed ahead.

Wandsworth Council announcement
 
The consultation was patchy, so local Councillors stepped in and publicised it, as well as local people who also realised they had to publicise it themselves. Together with other local Labour councillors, I held a public meeting at which the clear message was to oppose the closure.

I hope that the Heritage Lottery Fund money which was earmarked for this can now be used for an improvement to the Common we all want – suggestions very welcome. Otherwise this might be a very expensive mistaken plan.

Thanks to all 2,500 people who took part in the consultation. I hope that the idea of having trials of different ways to use some roads remains – just not here.

Wandsworth Guardian article

April news

News below on: Dr Johnson Avenue proposed trial closure, 20mph speed limit consultation, housing waiting list issue, Neighbourhood Network Wednesdays.

Update on Dr Johnson Avenue Proposed Trial Closure

The consultation closed on Friday 15th April and by two days before this I was informed that there had been 2,500 responses. The officer in charge of the consolation has told me that these will be assessed and a paper will be written for the Community Services Oversight Committee meeting on June 7th at 7.30pm. The agenda with the papers normally come out one week in advance and so we can expect the paper and recommendations to be published on 1st June. 

Dr Johnson Avenue proposed closure – consultation ends THIS FRIDAY, 15th April

Do have your say on the proposed closure by taking couple of minutes to go online by Friday: click here to go to the Dr Johnson Wandsworth consultation.

Thank you very much to the over 100 people who came to the public meeting about this on March 22nd. It was hard to find a venue big enough, very local and available for that night so thanks to everyone who found the venue at the Seventh Day Adventist Church behind Balham Boulevard. It’s very big and welcoming church and new to us!
In response to hearing from many local residents, the main aims of the meeting were to share information about the background to the proposal and on-going process, and to hear each others opinions. We were able to do thanks to the high attendance at the meeting. We also aimed to create another forum to submit comments into the consultation, and to enable local Councillors to hear your views. The notes from the meeting, with a summary of issues raised, will be sent to the Council in advance of the consultation deadline as it attached here.
There was a report about the meeting in the local Guardian:
20mph Cross Borough Speed Limit
20mph limits are proven to make roads safer

20mph limits are proven to make roads safer

There is a consultation on this happening as well. Although we have been successful in getting a 20mph speed limit in our ward, we felt that it was really confusing to have a patchwork or roads around us some of which are 20mph and some of which are 30mph. It doesn’t help to change driver’s behaviour or enable police to enforce these. So please take a minute to increase the response to the consultation by going here: click here to go to the Wandsworth consultation.

Housing issues
Rosena and I support many people with all sorts of housing issues – do get in contact with us if you have a housing issue we can raise on your behalf and support you with. This month a local lady reached the top of the housing list after waiting 8 years, but had some real housing difficulties and needed to ask the Council for emergency temporary accommodation. Then she was told that if she does this, she will no longer be on he housing list. I am sure and hope that this must have been a mistake, but is very distressing indeed for the lady concerned – who now needs the housing place more than ever, not less. I hope that this will be sorted out and I will report back.
Network Neighbourhood Wednesdays
Our wonderful local neighbourly group is going from strength to strength and the monthly toddler group followed by coffee mornings for everyone has gone to being weekly. Do drop in between 9.30 and 11.30 to meet other local people. Its is at the Scout Hal on the corner of Elmfield Rd and Balham High Road, opposite Du Cane Court. We always have great conversations and its nice to connect with other people.
Children Services Changes – including to the Triangle and Balham Nursery
A lot of changes are currently about to be made to Early Years Provision across the Borough, and following the closure of the wonderful One O’Clock Clubs three years ago, we’re very worried.
We have a lot  of questions that we are asking Council officers about what the changes will actually mean, and we are committed to campaigning for universal, local stay and play services. If you are interested in finding out more, please email us: fanderson@wandswoth.gov.uk, rallin-khan@wandsworth.gov.uk
Bicycle Parking outside Trinity Medical Centre
A local resident told me that he’d had his bike stolen from outside Trinity Medical Centre and that there should be cycle parking hoops there. This is the Medical Centre and Pharmacy near the Ritherdon Road junction with Balham High Road where is plenty of pavement space and nowhere to secure bikes. I’m glad to say that the Council and Transport for London agreed with my request and have said that they will install cycle parking there in the next 3 months. If you know of another spot where you think there should be cycle parking let us know.
Monthly Drop In Surgery
We have a monthly Bedford ward surgery on the third Saturday of every month upstairs in Balham library – do drop in between 10am and 11am. We’ll be there on Saturday 16th April.

Information about the Dr Johnson Avenue Proposal

Information on the Dr Johnson Avenue Proposal

I’ve posted below answers to commonly asked questions compiled by Cllr Candida Jones, and a letter the Labour Councillors wrote to the Leader of the Council rising issues of concern about the consultation, and the response we received today. There is also a map of the consultation area.

Q and A

The answers below have been provided by Wandsworth Council in answer to various questions it has been asked and by Ravi Govindia, the Leader of Wandsworth Council

Motivation for the proposals

Why propose these changes? Dr Johnson Avenue’s tarmac could be removed and be replaced with grass and trees, creating a larger open space and providing a safer route for pedestrians and cyclists.

Does the Council intend to start charging for the car park at the end of Dr Johnson Avenue? There are no powers currently available to the council to control the use of the car park. One option that has been mentioned is that if Dr Johnson Avenue is blocked up and re-designated as common land then a land swap could take place with the car park and if that became re-designated as highways land instead of common land then parking control measures could be introduced following statutory consultation. However, there are no proposals for this at present.

Modelling

Which roads were included in the modelling? Aldrington Road, Bedford Hill, Bushnell Road, Church Lane, Elmbourne Road, Fransican Road, Furzedown Road, Garrad’s Road, Mantilla Road, Mitcham Road, Mitcham Lane, Moyser Road, Rectory Lane, Ritherdon Road, St James’s Drive, Thrale Road, Topsham Road, Trinity Crescent, Ullathorne Road, West Drive.

What does it show? Big decrease for Thrale Rd, West Drive. Big increase for Garrads Rd – around 30% in both directions for both rush hours. Over 40% increase in Northbound traffic on Mantilla Rd in the evening rush. Up to 28% decrease in Elmbourne taffic in the two rush hours but an increase of 34% in the morning and 65% in the evening for Southbound traffic in Elmbourne Rd. 

Consultation

How many responses were there to the first consultation? 678, of which 58% in favour of closing Dr Johnson Avenue

When does the current consultation end? April 15

How many responses received by the Council so far?1,451

Which roads have received leaflets from the Council about the consultation? Adams Mews, Avoca up to Topsham, Balham High Road (up to Elmfield Road), Barringer Square, Bedford Hill (from Elmfield to Garrad’s Road), Birchwood from Furzedown Drive to Daleside, Brandreth, Brookview, Bushnell, Carmina, Cheriton Square, Chetwode, Childerbert, Church Lane from Mantilla Road, Clairview, Cloudesdale, Colson Way, Dafforne, Dr Johnson, Drakefield, Elmbourne, Foulser, Foxbourne, Franciscan up to Mantilla, Furzedown Drive to Moyser, Furzedown Road to Church Lane, Garrad’s Road, Gracedale, Heritage Estate, Hillbury, Holderness, Huron, Louisville, Mantilla, Manville, Montana, Moyser from Furzedown Drive to Ribblesdale, Mulberry Close, Netherfield, Nimrod and Ribblesdale from Moyser to Thrale, North Drive, Parklands, Pringle Gardens, Ramblers Close, Ritherdon, Ritherdon, Romberg, Sainfoin, Stapleton, Streathbourne, Terrapin, Thrale to Ribblesdale, Tooting Bec Road down to Topsham, Tooting Bec Road from Ambleside to Tooting Bec tube, Trinity Crescent, Ullathorne, Veronica, West Drive, Wheatland, Woodnook.

Can a larger area be consulted? (all of Furzedown and more of Bedford and Nightingale, for instance?) The number of paper consultation documents delivered was increased following the February meeting of the Community Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee (CSOSC) with some 6,800 having been delivered. About 30% of the responses have been from the SW16 postcode, Furzedown.

Why wasn’t the no right-turn into Elmbourne Road included in the first consultation? The initial public engagement carried out in August 2015 was to seek an early indication of the local opinion before committing further resources to investigate the finer detail of the proposal.

Why introduce the no right turn into Elmbourne now? In order to prevent drivers from using Elmbourne Road as an alternative route, the proposals include a ban on vehicles turning right from Tooting Bec Road, ensuring northbound traffic could not access it, while further measures could be put in place to deter southbound traffic from making the corresponding left turn.

When will the results of the current consultation be published? There will be a considerable amount of analysis required when the consultation closes. The elements of the scheme have purposely been separated in the questionnaire to enable people to answer to individual aspects and then allow us to carefully consider the results and to differentiate between views on the closure of Dr Johnson Avenue and the popularity of the other measures.  

Will the council consult again after the trial period?  The CSOSC will consider this matter including noting the result of the consultation. Should the CSOSC decide on progressing to a trial closure of Dr Johnson Avenue an Experimental Traffic Order would be made which would include a specific address and email for people to contact. The period it is open for comment or objection is up to six months which can loosely be considered as another consultation period. The experimental order would be in the local press and laminated copies will be displayed on site with the contact details on.

Outstanding question

Will the Lambeth residents and/or Council be consulted?

Letter to the Leader of the Council:

Dear Cllr Govindia

Complaint about Process of the Consultation on the Closure of Dr Johnson Ave

We sent the following letter on 9th March, and are now copying it by email.

We have serious concerns about the way in which this consultation has been conducted, and received many, many complaints from the local community. We ask you to make urgent changes to the consultation so that

-          it will adequately represent the views of all local residents for whom this will potentially have a big impact on their daily lives and so the outcomes must be credible by local residents

-          it will stand up to scrutiny if either the consultation shows a that local people do not want this and this part of the grant has to be returned to the Heritage Lottery Fund, or if the majority do want this but a significant amount of local people remain very inconvenienced and subsequently question the process.

1. To repeat concerns from last year, the consultation was done very last minute, very rushed and during the summer holidays. It should not have been used as the basis for the Lottery Fund Bid as did not adequately represent the local community, and references to the consultation last summer are met widely with questions about who saw this. This should have been conducted with plenty of time and very wide publicity before the funding was applied for. The outcome of this consultation could very well be a rejection and therefore the opportunity to include items that the community all really want in the bid could be lost.

2. The consultation is currently being delivered in a very plain unaddressed white envelope which is easily overlooked and discarded especially given the amount of junk mail we all receive everyday – so even where it is delivered it is not being seen.

3. The consultation is not being conducted widely enough – all roads in Furzedown should be included, all roads on the Heaver Estate, and all parents of St Anselms School (which is very near to the Elmbourne Rd junction) must receive this as they will be very directly affected – or benefit from the changes.

4. The consultation is not being done with active users of the Common beyond the nearby roads. The affected residents should be seen not only as road users but also users of the Common for all sides of the project to be represented in the consultation.

5. The box to fill in on the consultation is too small and does not allow people to record their views and concerns about the potential results of the closure to be felt.

6. A sizeable number people who are in favour of the trial of the Avenue closure are not in favour of the ‘no right turn’ into Elmbourne Rd, given that there is no right turn at Tooting Bec either.  There is concern about what would happen at this junction, but the ‘no right turn’ should not have been the only option given. The results should clearly show who doesn’t want the closure at all, who does want the closure and no right turn, and who wants the Avenue closure but not the ‘no right turn’. Currently there is very real likelihood that people are objecting to this plan because of the ‘no right turn’ and therefore an opportunity to trial this is wanted but cannot continue because of a secondary aspect of the proposal. Again this would be wasted opportunity for funding for another project for Tooting Common.

7. The consultations have still not been delivered to all roads on the plan and these should be urgently delivered as the final two weeks of the consultation are during the Easter holidays.

8. Finally, if the trial goes ahead, the plan to ask people to ‘write in’ their comments about their experiences of the trial will be chaotic. Who will they need to write to, by when, and how will these be collated? Please can a central plan to receive the communications be set up during the trial, with a clear deadline before the end of the trial.

Please urgently make plans to improve the consultation and make it more widely known.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Fleur Anderson (Bedford), Cllr Dr Rosena Allin-Khan (Bedford), Cllr Candida Jones (Furzedown), Cllr Leonie Cooper (Furzedown), Cllr Mark Thomas (Furzedown)

Response received on March 21st:

Dear Councillor Anderson

Thank you for your email dated the 14th March regarding the on-going consultation about a proposal to close Dr Johnson Avenue to through traffic. I wish to assure you that the consultation is being carried out in a thorough manner being available to all, without restriction, online and reinforced locally by the delivery of paper copies. You would not wish me to undermine the integrity of this process but I want to reassure you that if the broad consensus is against the closure of Dr Johnson Avenue and not reinstate the area as part of Tooting Bec Common, the Council will not want to fly in the face of that opinion. The results of the consultation will be made public through a report to the Community Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee giving ample opportunity for councillor and public scrutiny.

1.       The initial public engagement carried out in August 2015 was to seek an early indication of the local opinion before committing further resources to investigate the finer detail of the proposal. It was undertaken online with notifications published more than once via the Council electronic newsletter 24/7, micro –blogging together with notices displayed on the common. In addition, Tooting Common MAC has been kept informed. The consultation ran from 25th July to 30th August 2015. Whilst if at all possible the summer period is avoided when carrying out consultations, there was a need to continue with it back then and I believe the duration of this particular consultation would have given very many people the opportunity to respond. There were 678 online responses which would indicate the message was heard by local people who responded with their view. In addition, the Heritage Lottery Fund was submitted on the basis that a more formal consultation would be carried out at a later date, which is currently underway.

2.       You and I both know from our experience, as people who post literature through letterboxes, that people often throw it away before reading it. This consultation document was purposely delivered in a white envelope instead of a brown one in an attempt to avoid ‘auto-binning’ in accordance with previous advice of the government. A number of paper consultation responses have already been received and many more online responses, a total of some 1,451 to date.

3.      I do not agree that the consultation is not wide enough. The online consultation is of course boundless. The number of paper consultation documents delivered was increased following the February meeting of the CSOSC with some 6,800 having been delivered. I feel you are unnecessarily concentrating on paper consultation documents when there has been a general call for online consultations to be carried out, including at the CSOSC. About 30% of the responses have been from the SW16 postcode, Furzedown, so the message is out there.

4.      Posters advising of the consultation have been placed in and around the common to invite common users to participate, including Dr Johnson Avenue, Elmbourne Road, Hillbury Road and noticeboards within the common. As noted above, the Tooting Common MAC is also aware and will no doubt be putting the message around. I reiterate that the online consultation is open to all without boundary. The consultation document asks if they are responding as local residents, common user, driver and allows for multiple responses if people feel they are within more than one category.

5.      If respondents feel that they have additional comments they are welcome to submit these via email or post or more simply attach another sheet to the paper consultation. There is plenty of space on the online version. It has been found that online responses tend to have more written comments, regardless of the amount of space in a paper / online consultation document.

6.      There will be a considerable amount of analysis required when the consultation closes. The elements of the scheme have purposely been separated in the questionnaire to enable people to answer to individual aspects and then allow us to carefully consider the results and to differentiate between views on the closure of Dr Johnson Avenue and the popularity of the other measures.

7.      Delivery of leaflets in the Furzedown area were completed on the 10th March and the closing date for returns was extended to 15th April 2016 to ensure that residents have ample time to respond.

8.       The CSOSC will consider this matter including noting the result of the consultation. Should the CSOSC decide on progressing to a trial closure of Dr Johnson Avenue an Experimental Traffic Order would be made which would include a specific address and email for people to contact. The period it is open for comment or objection is up to six months which can loosely be considered as another consultation period. The experimental order would be in the local press and laminated copies will be displayed on site with the contact details on.

I trust you are now assured on the depth and reliability of this consultation and that your queries have been answered.

Yours sincerely

Councillor Ravi Govindia

Leader of Wandsworth Borough Council

 

Dr Johnson’s Avenue Public Meeting, Crossrail2, 20mph and the Triangle Children’s Centres

Dr Johnson’s Avenue Proposed Road Closure – public meeting 22nd March

There is currently a consultation on the proposed closure of Dr Johnson Avenue which will join up two parts of the Common and increase the amount of green open land we have on our doorsteps. The proposal is to also include a no right turn’ from Tooting Bec Rd into Elmbourne Rd and to have this as a trial scheme for 6 months to see the effects. What do you think? Click here to add your views to the Council Consultation – deadline April 15th This is very controversial, and Rosena and Fleur have written a joint letter to the leader of the Council to raise concerns about several aspects of the consultation and proposals.

We are also holding a public meeting to hear each others views and give a further opportunity to feedback to us as Councillors, Tuesday March 22nd at the Seventh Day Adventist Church on 83 Elmfield Rd (also through the alley next to Ladbrokes on the High Road) from 7pm – 8pm.

If you can come to the meeting please get your free ticket here so that we can see how many people can come and feedback to you.

Crossrail2 This will be a long process, and the latest step is that Crossrail2 have published a report on the consultation responses received. This has gone onto the website today (16th March) and confirms that the majority of responses about Balham were in favour of Tooting Broadway instead, and that there are lots of concerns about the access shaft on Wandsworth Common. The response by Crossrail to the consultation responses will be published in the Summer. It is predicted to open in 2033.

20mph limits across the whole Borough Lets have these across Wandsworth!

We’re alright here and as a result of our campaigning we have a 20mph limit across Bedford Ward, but its odd for drivers never to know whether there is a limit or not in Wandsworth as there is a patchwork of 20mph limits. We asked for the Council to introduce a cross-borough 20mph limit (on residential roads) all at once and they are consulting on this now. Please do take a couple of minutes to click here and say what you think about this plan.

All change again at the Triangle Children’s Centre

I’m still in mourning for the wonderful One O’Clock Club we used to have at the Triangle. The reason it was changed was to introduce more provision for 3 year olds, but this is now being changed again. The council are planning to put the Triangle Centre out to tender for a nursery to run as a nursery in the mornings and stay and play in the afternoons. We welcome stay and play but it must be really affordable, otherwise it won’t be usable by most people and won’t have the great supportive, community element to it which was so good for carers and small children. Anyone interested in looking into whether this could still be run as a cooperative (as in Lambeth) or some other way of bringing back the One O’Clock Club to the Triangle please get in touch. Tendering is likely to be in the Summer. In the meantime there is a consultation on changes to many children centres here. If you’d like to support FREE stay and play centres, or make any other comment please do and share with others. The deadline is May 24th but you can do this now!

Click here for the Children’s Centre Consultation

Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees – launch event

This week Kingston Council is welcoming its first Syrian family to come to the Borough in the official Government scheme which relocates Syrians who have fled from war to refugee camps in Syria.

Here in Wandsworth a new organisation is forming to bring together people who support refugees and asylum seekers here and abroad. The launch event is at 4.30pm at the Battersea Arts Centre. There will be a big launch photo (bring a ‘welcome’ sign to hold if you can) and then a skill share where you can find out more about local organisations working with refugees and how you could support them.

To join the supporters list or find out more, email wandsworthwelcomesrefugees@gmail.com

February Newsletter 2016

Balham and Bec February 2016 Newsletter

Dr Johnson Avenue – proposal for closure latest update 

Dr Johnson Avenue

Dr Johnson Avenue

I really welcome consultation on the closure of Dr Johnson Avenue but I’m very concerned that the effects of traffic changes on nearby roads aren’t being considered and could be chaotic.

What was agreed last Thursday:

- wide consultation on-line and letters to 6,000 residents about the closure of Dr Johnson Avenue and no right turn from Tooting Bec Rd into Elmbourne Rd

- if this is supported, for the closure to be trialled for 6 months before being made permanent if successful.

What I proposed but was not agreed by the Conservative Councillors:

- to have options in the consultation and separate the no right turn from the closure of the Avenue

– to see if people do want the closure of Dr Johnson Avenue but not the ‘no right turn’

- to include consideration of traffic calming for the top of Elmbourne and Hillbury Roads at the same time

- to consider traffic calming for Avoca and Montana Rds at the same time, given the very likely increase in traffic this will cause I like the idea of having a larger Commons space through closing the Avenue but I’m very concerned by the knock-on effects of closing Elmbourne Rd to traffic from Furzedown, Streatham and further afield.

More traffic will come down Bedford Rd and into Hillbury and the top end of Elmbourne, and effects on Montana and Avoca Rd could mean more traffic there too. People will turn down these road to loop round back onto Tooting Bec Rd and turn left into Elmbourne Road.

I’ve been really supportive of the residents of Hillbury and Elmbourne Rds that got together last Autumn to sign a petition dangerous cars on their roads and asking for this to be looked into at the same time as the Dr Johnson Avenue closure. I am disappointed that Hillbury Rd has not been included in any of the traffic modelling research up to now, and I will still keep pressing the Council to address problems on these narrow roads.

I really welcome the consultation being in the proposal from the start and the six month trial as no amount of modelling can really foretell what will happen. However I proposed at Committee that further measures for traffic calming for Hillbury, all of the Elmbourne, Avoca and Montana Rds be adding to the planning and to the consultation, and will also keep pushing for this. We’ll update here and on Twitter (@CllrFleur @DrRosena).

Station Ticket Office Closures – have your say by March 14th

Last week posters went up to announce the future closure of the train ticket offices in Balham and Wandsworth Common train stations. I could understand this for tue stations, but trains have more complicated ticket requests than tubes and the ticket offices are there for a good reason. For example I buy half termly tickets for my children to school and the ticket staff couldn’t say how I could do this in the future if they are closed. Doing everything on-line isn’t possible and doesn’t work for everyone. Here is more information from the RMT.

Sadiq Khan MP has also written to the train operators to ask for more information about what these closures will mean for things like buying complex train tickets.

The emails to write to – with the station name – are stationchange@gtrailway.com and enquiries@londontravelwatch.org.uk

Please email us too: fanderson@wandsworth.gov.uk and rallin-khan@wandsworth.gov.uk

What is the Future of Chestnut Avenue on Tooting Common – mixed messages over consultation

Chestnut Avenue in the Summer

Members of the Tooting Common volunteer advisory committee (MAC) assessing the Avenue last Summer

Have your say by April 3rd: http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/DrJ

The news that the trees on Chestnut Avenue may need to be cut down will be a big concern to all of us who love Tooting Common. I have walked through the avenue countless times to the playground, tennis courts, to teach my kids to cycle, to walk the dog and now even go on ParkRuns under the beautiful trees (every Saturday at 9am – free!).

During research for a bid for the Heritage Lottery Fund it was found that 20 out of the 77 trees on the Avenue have a disease called ‘bleeding canker’ and will deteriorate.

So the decision that faces us is – do we:

a) have less of a uniform avenue of trees all the same species and height by replacing diseased trees with healthy young ones, or

b) create a new uniform avenue of all new trees which generations to come will benefit from by removing all of the trees (diseased and healthy) at once and replacing with saplings.

The question of who takes this decision has been in the spotlight as the Council said in a press release last December that the public would be consulted, but it wasn’t clear if this was just the Tooting Common local groups or wider public. Then a paper outlining plans for the Avenue came out without any mention of consultation but instead a preference for the above plan b (here is the paper). This caused understandable alarm as local people want to know more about the real condition of the trees and be consulted about something which will affect them and the Common they love so much.

There were quickly two petitions asking for consultation, and passionate please from three local groups to Committee in favour of consultation with local people before making plans. These were the Furzedown Network, the Friends of the Tooting Common and the Tooting Common Management Advisory Group which I’m also a member of. Thanks to everyone who signed the petitions as the public pressure worked and the Council have said that they would consult – but then rejected an amendment to the paper to include consultation. In the face of these really mixed messages I am sure that the Council will consult, but I have concerns about what the questions will be, how well publicised the consultation will be and how much it will count for.

Local Guardian article on Chestnut Avenue and mixed messages.

A couple of weeks ago one of the trees on the Avenue fell down and was found to have another disease – root decay – and so there will be another tree survey carried out. Of course the main issue here is safety and if any trees are unsafe the Council will take action as usual.

We’ll continue to work hard for local residents to have their say and for this is be listened to.

20mph cross-borough speed limits – consultation

After several years of campaigning for 20 mph zones with street by street requests and petitions, we are glad that the Council have listened to us and agree a cross-borough consultation on having a 20mph speed limit on all residential roads. this will mean that people don’t have to spend ages trying to get the required amount of signatures to ask for their road to be safer, and we don’t have a confusing patchwork of some streets 20mph and some still 30mph which doesn’t help changing driver behaviour.

Lower speed is good for safety and good for reducing air pollution. If you agree (or disagree) with this being rolled out across the Borough (we already have this in our ward) please take a couple of minutes to have your say in the consultation.

20mph consultation - the deadline will be in May but don’t wait till then!

Heritage Lottery Funding for lots of Tooting Common projects

It is good news that the Council have been successful in a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund which will mean the renovation of the Woodfield Pavillion, and fountain, improvements to the Lido and community conservation and history projects. More info here.

Traffic Danger on Balham High Road

Safety concerns about Balham High Road

Safety concerns about Balham High Road

Last Autumn there was yet another accident on Balham High Road and 221 quickly signed the petition promoted by our Sadiq Khan MP and asking for more action for safety. There seem to be accidents very frequent – and very often motorbikes. The main roads in the Borough are the responsibility of Transport of London, but the Council can lobby TfL to take more action and prioritise safety measures on some roads.

As a result of the petition, the Council wrote a paper but said that the action they were taking was enough. This action was improvements to Stapleton Road, to Bedford Hill, meetings with TfL, planned changes to the Ritherdon Rd junction and the new ‘Balham Boulevard’ plan. However none of these actions are either on the road in question or will address road safety.

I proposed that saying ‘no further action’ was not good enough for this very dangerous road. Instead urgent action should be taken to lobby TfL and to speed up the ‘Balham Boulevard’ proposals. These were agreed by all Councillors in a rare moment of cross-party action which I hope will result in TfL looking again at this accident blackspot before even more accidents happen.

Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees

Please come to the Launch Celebration of the new organisation ‘Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees’ on Saturday March 26th at Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill, from 4.30 – 5.30. Its really exciting that this is happening.

Lots of organisations and individuals are coming together to form this new umbrella organisation to support refugees and asylum seekers here, in Calais and in other countries. We want to be able to connect people wanting to support with organisations needed support, to be a voice for concerned Wandsworth refugees and all residents to the Council and to our MPs. We’re going to have a big picture of all the supporters together outside the Battersea Arts Centre, and then a ‘skill share’ where everyone can get some more info to ask the question ‘what can I do’? There will be something for everyone – I hope to see you there!

If you’d like more information or to become a supporter of Wandsworth Refugees please email wandsworthwelcomesrefugees@gmail.com

Wandsworth Children’s Services rated as failing 

We are really shocked about the serious flaws in the Council’s Childrens’ Services Department which led to the recent Ofsted report. We are also worried about care of the children and the lack of information given to members so that they could oversee the work of the department sufficiently. It echoes many serious concerns about whether the ‘Oversight and Scrutiny’ Committees which we both sit on can really serve their purpose when they meet so rarely and with such full agendas. The Council’s attention is very much on the merger with Richmond and working out how to make cuts and the report shows that this Department has seriously failed children. More information is in this Local Guardian news story.

St Anselms School Achievements

I’ve been a parent at St Anselms since 2002 and am now a Governor and always very proud of the school and its children and teachers. Today the school will be honoured for its excellent academic achievement and results at a Wandsworth event which I will be honoured to attend to represent the school.

I wish them all the best as they recruit a new Headteacher and say a sad farewell to Mrs MacCauley who attended St Anselms and has taught there for over 20 years.