When we were told about the proposed changes it was not clear if the council would be conducting any consultation, so we launched our own survey to see how people felt about the changes. With the help of local volunteers (thank you!) we delivered letters notifying people about the changes and providing a link to our survey to every home on:
To date we have had 273 responses! Many thanks to those who completed the survey, it was vital data.
The results from our survey were fairly clear:
For the two right turn bans, there was a clear negative view: 70% of people were against, 20% in favour, and 10% undecided.
For taking the parking off the pavement and back onto the road on Elmbourne Road, it was pretty much even: 37% in favour, 39% against, 24% undecided.
For all the other measures, there was a clear positive view: about 50% in favour, 25% against and 25% undecided for each.
We have been told by the council today that the two right turn bans will not be taken forward at this stage.
Item 3 on our previous post had two parts to it:
upgraded traffic calming and informal crossings on Dr Johnson Avenue; and
a raised table at the junction of Elmbourne Road and Louisville Road to enable safer crossing for pedestrians (and in particular students from St Anselm’s primary school).
These two changes are going to be implemented right away.
In respect of items 4, 5, 6 and 7 from our previous post, the council is going to send a letter to the “local area” (we are not sure which roads this will cover) to inform residents of the other measures and invite comments. Provided the overall pattern of comments is positive then the council intends to implement those changes too.
Tooting Lodge (98-100 Tooting Bec Road) is a grade II listed building that has been unused for a number of years. Renovation works have been slowly made to the Lodge over the last few years and it is looking a lot better now than it was. The owner has made a number of planning applications that local residents may wish to comment on:
Planning application 2018/5710: temporary change of use of Lodge and part of the site from Nursery (Class D1) to 1 x 2-bedroom residential unit (Class C3) and alterations including inclusion of additional doors at ground floor level.
These two applications are for the same thing, one is the listed building consent 2018/6129 and the other is the planning permission 2018/6118: demolition of single storey extension and outbuildings and erection of replacement single storey extension, single storey building for use as gym (Class D2) with link corridor to the Lodge and single storey building for use as car show room (Class A1) including associated office, show room and covered display area in open yard area.
If you want to comment on these plans (in support, to object, or just to make a neutral comment), please click on the links above to the planning applications and click on “View Associated Application Documents & Make Online Comments for Live Applications” then click on “Comment On Application”. The form for making comments is very straightforward.
Personally, we do not think the planned new building looks particularly in keeping with the Lodge, and we do not think the area needs a car showroom. But your views may differ, and everyone is entitled to make their own comments on the proposals.
Here is everything we know at this point about these plans:
In September 2016, residents of Elmbourne Road and Hillbury Road signed a petition asking Wandworth Council to review the levels of traffic on these roads. Also at this time, parents, carers and teachers at St Anselm’s School signed a petition asking for three road safety improvements, one of which was a pedestrian crossing at the junction of Louisville Road, Elmbourne Road and Tooting Bec Common.
In January 2018, the council conducted an assessment of the traffic on Elmbourne Road. The council found that Elmbourne Road receives over 700 vehicles per hour in the evening rush hour, which is well above the council’s threshold of 300 vehicles per hour for a residential road (you can read the full paper and further details at item 18 on the meeting agenda).
As a result of this assessment, the council looked at ways to reduce the traffic on Elmbourne Road. The council worked with Transport for London to explore the possibility of removing the right-turn ban from Tooting Bec Road into Balham High Road, but unfortunately, after exhausting all possible options to remove the banned right turn, they found it was not feasible to do this due to the physical constraints at the staggered junction and the “Safer Junctions” scheme which TfL is also developing to improve road safety for pedestrians and cyclists. Ultimately, no safe solution could be found so the right-turn ban will remain.
The council has therefore prepared 7 measures for reducing traffic on Elmbourne Road and Hillbury Road:
Right turn ban from Tooting Bec Road into Elmbourne Road.
Right turn ban from Tooting Bec Road into Dr Johnson Avenue.
Upgraded traffic calming and informal crossings on Dr Johnson Avenue and at the junction of Elmbourne Road/Louisville Road.
Relocate Elmbourne Road parking fully onto the carriageway.
Additional junction tables on Elmbourne Road.
Speed tables and informal crossing points on Hillbury Road.
Upgraded entry treatments at the junctions of Elmbourne Road and Hillbury Road with Bedford Hill.
The council and TfL have conducted modelling on these proposals and found the following:
Proposal 1 above would result in a reduction of 200-300 vehicles per hour on Elmbourne Road, plus a similar reduction on Franciscan Road and Moring Road.
Proposal 2 above would result in a similar traffic reduction for Elmbourne Road as Proposal 1, but it would also encourage more traffic to use Bedford Hill (B242) rather than Dr Johnson Avenue.
Proposal 3 above improves pedestrian permeability through the area, between the common areas, and improves safety at the junction of Dr Johnson Avenue and Tooting Bec Road. It also partially addresses point 1 of the St Anslem’s School petition – the council’s “Traffic Management Policy” requires a certain volume of people to justify a pedestrian crossing which the junction of Elmbourne Road and Louisville Road does not meet, so an informal crossing is the next best thing.
Proposal 4 above will improve the pavement which in places has insufficient width due to inconsiderate parking, overgrown hedges and street furniture. Parking fully on the carriageway will further reduce through traffic along Elmbourne Road and encourage the use of A roads (such as Tooting Bec Road A214 and Balham High Road A24) and B roads (such as Garrad’s Lane B242 and Bedford Hill B242).
Proposal 5 above will further improve pedestrian permeability in the area and ensure a more frequent and regular spacing between traffic calming features which should encourage a constant low speed rather than accelerating between features. It is hoped this will also contribute to pollution reduction.
Proposal 6 above will improve pedestrian permeability and discourage cars from using Hillbury Road, which currently experiences less than the key threshold of 300 vehicles per hour.
Proposal 7 above ensures both roads are treated consistently and also addresses a petition which raised issues with the junction layout.
Funding is available this financial year through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Local Implementation Plan and the council is proposing to use this to implement Proposal 3 first and as soon as possible.
Q. Who is responsible for these proposals? A. Wandsworth Council, which is controlled by the Conservative party. The authors of this blog – Fleur, Clare and Hector – are the three councillors for the local area, and we are all members of the Labour party. As such, we have not had any role to play in the development of these proposals. We have been campaigning for improved road safety for many years, and we are glad that the council has finally brought forward some proposals, but we did not design these proposals ourselves.
Q. What are the next steps? A. The council wants to implement Proposal 3 as soon as possible. It will then submit the other 6 proposals to the meeting of the Strategic Planning and Transportation Overview and Scrutiny Committee (STPOSC) on 12 February 2019. If the STPOSC approves the 6 proposals then these will be implemented too.
Thank you to everyone who has contacted us, supported us and voted for us during this year. We’re really honoured to be your local councillors and aim to help you as much as possible. Here are some of our highlights of 2018.
The Wandsworth council elections were in May and we had hoped that Labour would win the council. We had worked a hard with local residents and community groups to write an exciting manifesto which we were looking forward to delivering. Labour did get more votes that the Tories (123,208 to 121,295), but fewer council seats – 26 out of 60.
Since the election there have been very few new ideas from the Conservatives. Instead of taking action on the environment, housing and building up our local communities that we would have done, there is the same increase on homelessness, constant cuts to community services and children’s centres, and no real changes on our roads to cut pollution.
The increase in Labour councillors has been very welcome – especially new councillors Cllr Clare Fraser and Cllr Hector Denfield here in Bedford ward, and many other excellent new community representatives across the borough. Its exciting to be a part of this team, and its good news for residents.
One of the main issues raised by local residents is too much
traffic – resulting in traffic jams, too much pollution, danger to pedestrians
and damaged parked cars. We have been working with local residents to make
these views known to the council for several years, and following many
petitions, traffic surveys, work with Transport of London there is now a
proposal for changes to Elmbourne Road to address the traffic there – a full
blog about this will follow, and the committee will meet on February 12th
We will continue to promote cycle hoops and pods, cycle
friendly road changes, and address issues of rat-running.
Tooting Common and the Lido
The very hot summer wasn’t fun for everyone in the super long queues at Tooting Lido. We met with council officers and Place for People who manage the Lido to find out what caused the problems and what can be done to fix them. They make plenty of profit and must afford more working card machines and more staff to communicate with everyone queueing – we’ll be meeting with them regularly next year.
Cllr Fleur Anderson stood down from the Tooting Common Management Advisory Committee after 4 years of active membership, and Cllr Clare Fraser has joined the committee. It meets monthly and aims to preserve the special ‘character’ of the common. Do get in touch with Cllr Fraser if you’d like to raise anything about the common. The recent extensive Thames Water works were to fix a leak under the railway by making a new diverted pipe.
Parkrun goes from strength to strength and is a great asset to Tooting Common. The free, timed 5km run (three laps) is run entirely by an army of really dedicated local volunteers each Saturday. Thank you to all the volunteers who make it possible, and encourage so many local people to be fitter and do something good together. We hope that Wandsworth Council will relent and agree to a run in Battersea Park too.
Children’s Centres at risk
In November we found out that the Finance Committee were proposing to close the Triangle ‘stay and play’ sessions as the Boxing club and former One O’Clock club buildings are being leased to a sports café company. This was a shock to parents and staff – and we hadn’t been told either. We informed parents immediately and led a campaign which did result in staffed stay and play sessions being included in the new contract. However, the current sessions will be stopped and aren’t being located nearby during the building work – although we will still keep asking for this. The future of the Hillbrook and Franciscan Roads children’s centres remain under discussion following a consultation which finished in December. ‘Stay and play’ sessions are a really valuable service for children and parents and for community cohesion and need to be protected by Wandsworth Council even in this times of increasing cuts.
We have had some victories on housing and been able to help
individual families such as one family who were being moved to unsuitable local
temporary accommodation and after intervention now have a permanent ground
floor flat that they need. Homeless continues to rise in Wandsworth and
families are moved in and out of Bedford ward. If you are at risk of eviction
or falling behind on the rent, do get in touch with your local councillor and
the housing team as soon as possible.
We have one of the most active Neighbourhood Watch and Safer Neighbourhood Team groups in Wandsworth. As your local councillors, we are engaged members of the group and also regularly respond to reported safety issues. We are very concerned about domestic violence, knife crime and hate crime which do not feature in locally reported issues but affect lots of residents. Moped crime is reducing thanks to police efforts on this.
Action on anti-social behaviour
We have helped a lot of local people with anti-social behaviour issues from dogs to loud music and parties and fly-tipping. The environmental health team seem to be less responsive and are unable to come out during the week, which makes getting evidence of noise hard. We have helped over 100 residents with issues and are supporting several more people.
SW12 and SW17 Neighbourhood Network – podcast launch!!
In April our local neighbourhood network group launched a
podcast which you can listen to as you walk up and down the High Road between
Balham and Tooting Bec stations. There are interviews with local people and
lots to learn – including from the self-styled Mayor of Balham, comedian Arthur
The Neighbourhood Network met throughout the year, offering a place to meet other local people for a coffee, a toddlers play time and arts and craft activities to do together. From next year they will be meeting at Richards Kitchen, 16A Tooting Bec Road (nr Tooting Bec tube) fortnightly on Wednesdays starting on 9th January from 10.45 – 12. We were very sad that John Waterlow, one of the group’s founders, died suddenly in the summer – he is very missed.
Future Tooting – Environment Event
In April local environment groups held an excellent event looking at local and global environment issues, and we are fortunate to have several active local environment groups – including Transition Town Tooting. We discussed energy efficiency, climate change and pollution together and I hope there will be a follow up event. It has been inspiring to go to several Transition Town Tooting events during the year. They have teamed up with Ravenstone School to start a new greening the playground project which we are pleased to support too.
Tooting Bec and Balham Neighbourhood Forum
The most recent meeting of the Tooting Bec and Broadway Neighbourhood Forum was held in December. The Forum is a group of local residents who are putting together the Tooting Bec and Broadway Neighbourhood Plan. The Neighbourhood Plan is a formal and important document that will help guide planning decisions in Tooting. The Plan will be an expression of the views of all local residents and businesses.
For over a year, the Forum conducted a consultation which asked people what they want more of in Tooting, what they want less of, what they feel Tooting is missing, and what makes Tooting so great and should be preserved. At the meeting in December the first results of this consultation were presented and there were some very clear and interesting trends.
The Forum have been awarded a grant and have used the money to engage Jan Kattein Architects to help develop the next stage of the Neighbourhood Plan.
Residents Associations for Baringer Square, Rydevale and Larch Close
We have held regular walk abouts in these three estates,
with council officers, and lots of improvement have been made as a result –
although several cleaning issues are constant problems. We have been trying to
support the start-up of residents asssociations in Rydevale Estate and Larch
Close, and are confident that this will happen in 2019 – do get in touch if you can be involved.
New Saturday surgeries – come and see us – no appointment needed!
The second Saturday of every month – 11am – 12 noon at St Anselms
Church Hall (opposite Tooting Bec station on Tooting Bec Road)
The fourth Saturday of every month – 10am – 11am – the residents meeting room, Baringer Square, opposite 109 Fransiscan Road.
Happy New Year and best wishes for a happy and peaceful 2019,
Cllr Fleur Anderson, Cllr Hector Denfield and Cllr Clare Fraser
Thank you to everyone who signed the petition to keep the stay and play open to the widest possible number of children. We collected 115 signatures and handed this in to the most recent full council meeting on 5 December.
Fleur, Hector and Clare with the Tooting Triangle stay and play petition
Action shot of Hector formally handing in the petition at the full council meeting
We have just been told that as a result of that petition, council officers are going to write a report which will be considered at the Education and Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on 7 February 2019. The report should be available on the council’s website from 30 January 2019.
We hope the Conservatives will use the opportunity at the Children’s Services meeting to reconsider the plans for the stay and play. It comes down to four key criteria:
Are the sessions led by professional staff?
What age range of children can attend?
What is the cost to attend per session?
How many weeks of the year are the sessions available?
In respect of those four criteria, this table shows the current situation, the Tories’ first plan (contained in this paper), and the Tory’s second plan after our campaign:
Tory plan 1 (TP1)
Tory plan 2 (TP2)
Did not disclose
£2.50 per child per session
52 (as far as we understand)
Did not disclose
Term time only
As you can see, TP1 is worse than the current situation, which is why we started our campaign. TP2 is no better! Our campaign clearly forced them to make changes but the changes they made were not good enough, so our campaign will continue. We will keep pressing them to expand the age range back to the original 0-5 years, keep the cost to an absolute minimum, and keep the sessions available all year round. Thank you to everyone who has supported the campaign – it’s not over yet!
There was a very disappointing outcome to the meeting on Thursday. We wanted to provide a full write-up so everyone, especially users, can understand what happened, and what happens next.
Tooting Triangle is a lovely little area of Tooting Common which contains a particularly challenging playground, an amateur boxing club, an artificial sports pitch and a “1 o’clock club” building. The 1 o’clock club is a much loved institution in these parts and has been providing various services for very young (0-6 years old) children in some shape or form for over 30 years.
The Tories have failed to properly maintain this area. The 1 o’clock club is liable to flooding because the drainage on the sports pitch doesn’t work. However, they have managed to do one thing right – the stay and play at the 1 o’clock club.
Currently, there are three stay and plays per week. Parents and carers bring their young children to play for 2 hours in sessions led by trained council staff. The parents and carers stick around and get involved in the fun. There’s paint and mud and fruits and vegetables and every parent and carer we’ve ever spoken to says it is a truly excellent service. There are even some parents who went to the stay and play as kids themselves, and now the next generation gets to enjoy it.
So it came as a shock, and a massive disappointment, when the Tories gave us 8 days’ notice that they were going to gut this service. After decades of underinvestment by the Tories in the Triangle, they have a new plan. This plan involves leasing the buildings to a private company for 25 years at a cheap rent, and in exchange the company is going to spend their own money to redevelop the Triangle. Most of this plan is very welcome – fresh investment in the boxing club and the artificial sports pitch will be great.
But this plan also has its downsides – a series of cuts to stay and play:
Instead of being open to 0-5 year old children, it would only be open to 2-5 year olds.
Instead of being led by qualified staff, there would be no staff.
Instead of being free for all, it would be charged, with some concessions.
We, the Labour Party, were amazed. The council deserves credit for establishing the stay and play in its current form. We set out to find out why the Tories were butchering this much-loved service.
Amazingly, there was zero consultation. The parents had not been told. We local councillors had not been told. Not even the staff at the stay and play had been told!
It was clear they were trying to hide it. This lack of consultation was not an oversight, it was a deliberate attempt to keep it quiet for as long as possible so as to rush it through committee before anyone realised what was going on.
Luckily, we spotted it. We immediately mobilised and informed the parents, carers and staff. We handed out leaflets and organised a campaign. Within just two days over half the users had sent an email to the leader of the council asking him to keep the stay and play as it is.
The committee meeting happened on Thursday. We organised people to speak to the committee who defended the stay and play with articulate passion.
The Labour Party proposed a small amendment to the plan: we asked the Tories to continue providing the stay and play. We were happy to agree to the rest of the development plan, just, please, don’t ruin the stay and play.
The Tories would not agree to that.
They gave one small concession to continue “baby play”. But, during questions, it emerged that the new provider runs similar centres elsewhere in London, and in none of those centres does it offer services for 0-18 month olds. It has no experience of delivering baby play.
At this point we are pretty sure that the new provider’s version of stay and play will be nowhere near as good as the council’s current service.
So why have the Tories done this? The real reason is their own poor management of the council.
Wandsworth Tories, and in particular Councillor Guy Senior who is their cabinet member for finance, were so incompetent last year that they overspent by £22.25 million. That is not a small sum of money – that’s about half your Council Tax.
On top of the incompetence of the local Tory party, the Tory central government has cut the budgets of every council in England year after year after year. Northamptonshire Council (which is also run by Tories) has actually gone bankrupt. The Tory government has cut Wandsworth Council’s budget so much that they have to find £28 million of savings this year, another £14 million the year after, and another £10 million the year after that. A total of £48 million in three years. The reason for this? No reason. Austerity is a political choice – a cruel and unnecessary choice.
So because of Wandsworth Tories’ incompetence, and central Tory cruelty, our local stay and play has been cut and replaced by a much worse service to save money. Ultimately, it is the kids who suffer.
In terms of next steps, we will continue to campaign to save the stay and play. It’s not a done deal yet. If you want to get involved please email us at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Wandsworth council are planning to close the Tooting Triangle children’s centre, a decision which will be taken at a meeting this Thursday evening of the Finance and Corporate Resources Committee.
As local councillors, they have not consulted us on this, and neither have they discussed this with parents or carers who use the centre.
The proposals state that the boxing club and football pitch are going to be run by a sports company, with the inclusion of a community cafe, but the children’s centre is being added to this plan and will lose the stay and play sessions as a result.
The council-run three stay and play sessions every week are hugely popular, and many parents and carers tell us that they are a lifesaver. The staff are fantastic and provide activities, a chance to learn and play and a place for local people from across Tooting Bec and Balham to make friends, support one another and learn about other services and activities. In short, it is a vital community asset which we cannot afford to lose.
The new cafe will not have any provision for 0-2 year olds and won’t have staff to run stay and play sessions.
As ward councillors, we have requested time at the meeting to represent you, but if you’re able to attend, or would like to have your say on this valuable service, please contact Clare at: firstname.lastname@example.org
In advance of the committee we will also share all your comments with members of the committee so that they can see how vital this provision is.
If you have been along Byrne Road or Culverden Road recently you will have noticed the road surface is in a bit of a state. Clare took these photos and got in touch with the council to find out what was going on and had this reply:
On the second day of works in Byrne Road, the removal of the road surface had revealed the Gas Main trench that holds the delivery line along the entire length of Byrne Road.
Once the surface was up and open, this trench was found to be ‘defective’ from the time it was reinstated – and is not adequate to carry the new road surface without subsiding.
This trench feature had been implemented as far back as the early 1980s in likelihood – and was not found to be present in our recent ‘road core sample tests’ prior to these works – nor is there any official record of the trench in statutory utility company plans available to us. The presence of the trench and its current condition were completely unexpected. The Gas Company must now remedy the structural condition of their infrastructure such that we may then complete reconstruction of the road surface over top of it.
The process of the required remedial works has been actioned, and once the surfacing works have been reprogrammed, residents will be updated.
This letter was delivered by the council to households in the area.
The most recent update from the council states:
Byrne Rd/Culverden Rd SW12 a temporary running surface is available pending the proper reinstatement of a gas trench which is preventing completion of carriageway resurfacing works 02/11/2018 to 09/11/2018. Engineer: J. Chana 0208 871 7279.
If you smell gas or see a water leak, please do not assume that someone else has phoned it in. Please do not report these to the council, instead call the following free phone numbers to report leaks directly to the companies responsible for fixing them:
This speech was given at the full council meeting on 17 October 2018:
Mx Mayor, I call for this meeting to be adjourned for 30 seconds to reflect on the way Brexit is being tackled.
It was a pleasure and an honour to be elected by the people of Bedford ward in May, and I am exceptionally grateful for this opportunity to represent them. It is also an honour to follow in the footsteps of Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP, and the incredible work she is doing to draw international attention to the Rohingya genocide.
When campaigning, Brexit was a subject that came up on the doorstep a lot, and so I propose this motion to reflect on the current approach to Brexit.
The referendum of 2016 was a momentous event. The last two years have been eventful, to say the least. We have an exit day: 29 March 2019. But before that, I think we should have a say on the final deal, and I personally believe that a People’s Vote is the best way to do this.
Why do I support this campaign? Simply because we all have new information. In the 2 years, 3 months and 24 days since the referendum we have been inundated with new information. It gushes out of news outlets like a burst dam, faster than even the former foreign secretary can think of enough cricket metaphors.
Everyone in the UK should be given an honorary degree in Brexit studies. It is overwhelming how much more we now know.
And it’s not just the quantity of the information, it’s the quality too. We’re not dealing with hypotheticals any more. The issues that have arisen during the negotiations are the real issues, the decisions made by businesses are real decisions, and the movement in the economy is real movement.
In light of all this new, high quality information, it is not just reasonable, but positively sensible to re-evaluate our collective decision. Re-evaluation does not necessarily mean reaching a different conclusion. It simply means looking at the choices again in the context of new evidence.
And we have new choices too! In 2016 it was just remain or leave, shortly we will know exactly what sort of deal or deals are on offer. Unfortunately, the referendum gave us no clue about how we all feel about the different ways of leaving. If leaving the EU is confirmed then everyone, leavers and remainers, deserve the right to express their preference for the type of exit we make.
A People’s Vote would not be disrespectful of the referendum. On the contrary, the referendum has been respected every day since it happened. We triggered Article 50, we had a general election, David Davis was even going to produce 58 impact reports, and even though he never got round to it, it’s the thought that counts.
Time and again we hear people say that the politicians just aren’t listening. A People’s Vote would be the very definition of listening. 20 councils including the GLA have already passed motions supporting a People’s Vote. Just this morning a Lib Dem, a Labour and a Tory walked into a bar, and asked for more time to hold a People’s Vote.
The campaign already has over 700,000 supporters, and a million followers on social media. Mighty oaks grow from tiny acorns. This campaign is already a young tree. The more of us who lend our voice, the more chance it has to grow into reality.
Ultimately, for democracy to work, people need information to work with. We have more information, better information, real information to work with now. A People’s Vote is the right thing to do and the democratic thing to do.
I am proud to serve as a councillor for Bedford ward, where our diverse community reflects the best of modern London. I’ll work hard to protect local jobs and businesses, and to protect the rights of our EU friends and neighbours.
At this week’s full council meeting, both Clare and Hector gave their maiden speeches. See below for the full text of Clare’s speech and a photo of her in action during the debate:
Thank you for allowing for me to make my maiden speech this evening.
I’ll begin, as is customary with a few words about Bedford ward, a ward name which confuses many, but which comprises parts of Tooting Bec and Balham. I would like to extend my thanks to residents of Bedford ward for voting for me in May, it is my great honour to represent the ward. I would also like to note my thanks to Cllr Fleur Anderson and Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP. Since Rosena’s election to Bedford ward in 2014, she has gone on to become the Labour MP for Tooting. With such great work in the ward, they set the bar high for me for the next four years. I am also delighted to be joined at this election by my fellow new councillor, Hector Denfield meaning that for the first time since 1990, Bedford ward is represented by 3 Labour councillors.
In Bedford ward we are lucky to have the Common which sits at the heart of our community, a special place enjoyed by residents of all ages and backgrounds. The café in the middle of Tooting Common on a Saturday morning is representative of many of these residents, whether they have completed parkrun, are walking their dog, or just enjoying a cup of tea. We are equally lucky to have Tooting Bec lido at the edges of the Common, the largest outdoor lido in the UK.
Locally, we have several excellent primary schools: Ravenstone, Rutherford, and St Anselm’s, who provide a high-standard of education for local children. However, many parents have shared with me their concerns about the funding of schools, and what this might mean for the future of their children’s’ education. My fear is that the great start these children are provided with in early life currently, may deteriorate in future as a result of funding cuts which are punishing the youngest members in our society.
Focusing on the subject of tonight’s motion, it is the early standard of care in a child’s life, which concerns me the most. My work in the education sector has shown me that it is those early years in a child’s life which are formative in their later development. In a borough such as Wandsworth, you would imagine that shouldn’t be a problem, however, the pinnacle of how Wandsworth operates as a borough is seen acutely through the lens of its children’s services. Councillors opposite often celebrate Wandsworth for being sound in its financial management, but to prevent its children’s services from sliding backwards to an inadequate rating, have dipped into the council’s reserves to the tune of £37 million. Even the best spin doctor could not portray that as sound financial management.
In my short time on the council and the Education and Children’s Services committee, I’m yet to see real conviction in the political leaders of this council. There is instead a refusal to set long-term targets which commit to closing the department’s funding deficit as soon as possible and putting an end to rewards for failure.
I want more than anyone for those services to be rated good or higher. I hope this is the case at the next full re-inspection, however doing so will only be achieved through robust forward planning, and not through the piecemeal approach we see from the political leaders of this council where accountability for these decisions ultimately rests.
I conclude by noting that as a councillor, I will be a representative for all residents. Bedford ward is a great place to live and during my time here I want to make it even better. I want to help empower residents to have their voices heard and ensure that all children growing up in my ward are given the best possible start in life.