Newsletter – October 2015
Crossrail 2 may come to Balham
Crossrail 2 was due to go through Tooting Broadway and this was very welcome for the area. However it seems that the geological research has shown this may not be possible, and a different route with a station at Balham is now being proposed. There will be more information at public briefings in Battersea, Tooting Broadway and Balham. We will publish this here.
The building works will be between 2020 and 2030 and result in a new underground line between Wimbledon and Tottenham Hale which will receive the congestion on the Northern Line and British Rail line. The Tooting Broadway option has hit problems due to a sand fault line underground which would mean it would take two years longer than planned, be more expensive and entail lots of digging out of the sand and removal by lorries. However if Balham is chosen this will be a lost opportunity to provide more transport links for an area which needs it more, would mean that Waitrose would become a building site for six years right in the heart of Balham Town Centre and a shaft needs to be built on Wandsworth Common.
At a recent presentation on plans for the consultation about CrossRail2, Rosena and Fleur asked many questions about what the consultation will really mean and if it is a real consultation, and asked that more people than previously planned are consulted – including all businesses in Balham as they will be very affected. We do urge everyone to get involved in the consultation and to shape these proposals.
The Balham information drop in times are both outside 3 Balham Grove, SW12 8AY on 27th November from 12 noon – 8pm and on 28th November from 11am-4pm.
Wandsworth Conservatives vote against offering welcome to 10 refugee families
Rosena and Fleur both gave speeches in favour of the Labour motion to the Council to welcome at least 10 refugee families to Wandsworth, to become a Borough of Sanctuary and to sign up to the Government scheme to relocate refugees from Syria to this country. This government scheme is being paid for from government funds and would not displace anyone from housing lists in Wandsworth, but would continue a proud tradition we have in Wandsworth of welcoming refugees at a time of particular crisis for so many families. Our Council should be showing our welcome and pushing others to do the same by making this public pledge to welcome refugees.
We are very disappointed that the Conservative Councillors removed these from the motion and that there could not be cross-party support for very modest proposals in the motion. We welcome the announcement from Conservative Councillors during the debate are planning to welcome families, but are disappointed that they could not commit to welcoming at least 10 families (only 10?!) or to joining the governments own Syrian Relocation Scheme, or to becoming a Borough of Sanctuary (which costs nothing) which shows the intent of coordinating refugee support services better.
Rosena and I have both posted our speeches for the debate on this blog, and will continue to support the refugee groups in Wandsworth who are doing a great job and feeling increasingly overwhelmed by the demands, especially for advice in accessing support.
We handed in a petition of 706 people organising online by local resident Tom Baker to request that 10 families are welcomed as well. His petition was in the local Guardian:
Road Safety Demands
There have been several nasty accidents on Balham High Road recently and road safety is a big concern for people who use the road. So much so that several local people have been organising petitions to ask for action to be taken. Cllr Allin-Khan have been working with different groups and handed in four road safety petitions to the Council on Wednesday evening. These were;
1. St Anselms parents asking for crossings on Balham High Road and Elmbourne Rd, longer pedestrian lights at Tooting Bec station and improved road safety on Balham High Road – 155 signatures 3 days was amazing and shows the strength of
2. Rutherford House parents concerning about cars turning into Tescos and concerns about safety on Balham High Road
3. Residents of Hillbury and Elmbourne Rds with concerns about safety on their roads, asking for a crossing and for closing the Bedford Hill ends of the roads to be considered with the consideration of closing Dr Johnson Avenue.
4. A petition shared by people who live near to Balham High Road to ask for safety measures to be looked at for the road – especially from Tooting Park Road down to Tooting Bec Station where several accidents have happened, most involving motorbikes but most recently a cyclist.
We hope that Wandsworth Council and Transport for London will look into these urgently. Please do be in touch with us if you have road safety concerns about your road too.
Tooting Bec Lodge
For all of us who have been so worried about the deterioration of Tooting Bec Lodge – the lovely old white Grade 2 listed building on Tooting Bec Rd with the hoardings around it – the good news is that action will soon be taken. Wandsworth Council planning applications committee agreed last night to move ahead and serve Compulsory Purchase Order on the owners.
With many other local people it has been a case of constantly raising concerns with the Council and I’m really glad they will now take what is an unusual step for them. Congratulations to the many local people including the ‘Custodians of the Lodge’, Sadiq Khan MP, Cllr Allin-Khan, Cllr Rex Osborn, Cllr Antonia Dunn and others who keep up the campaign. It is one of the few historic buildings in Tooting Bec and we want to see it restored.
Since May 2010, as a result of the Government cuts, London has lost 3,170 dedicated neighbourhood Police Community Safety Officers (PCSOs) – this is a cut of over 70%. In Wandsworth the number of PCSOs on our streets have been reduced from 119 in May 2010 to 24 in August 2015.
As a result of the Government’s Spending Review in 2010 the Metropolitan Police have faced cuts of almost £600m. This 20% cut to its budget has devastated the police service in the capital, despite promises from the Mayor of London and Home Secretary that the cuts would not affect police numbers.
At the upcoming Government’s Spending Review this November it is widely expected that the Metropolitan Police will face a minimum of another £800m in cuts, with reports that the budget could be cut by as much as 43%.
The ‘Safer Neighbourhood Team’ (SNT) model introduced by the Labour Government was widely welcomed by communities and saw each ward allocated a dedicated team of six officers (1 Sergeant, 2 PCs and 3 PCSOs). However there is now just one PCSO per ward, and these are under threat. In Wandsworth PCSOs are not only an invaluable part of making our communities and neighbourhoods safe, but often recruitment of PCSOs is a first step to recruiting more BAME police officers.
In Wandsworth fear of crime is a real concern amongst residents; cutting neighbourhood policing teams and PCSOs will reduce the presence of police on our streets and only add to the fear of crime locally. The Metropolitan Police Management Board was going to consider a proposal to cut all PCSOs at its September meeting, but this has now been deferred to the December meeting and has faced a high level of criticism and concern. We hope that these cuts to our local police team will be rejected.
Tax Credit Cuts
We are very concerned about the affect that the cuts in working tax credits and child tax credits will have and if you are worried about what this drop in income will mean for your family do get in touch with us.
On 30th April 2015 David Cameron made a clear and specific promise that he would not cut child tax credits, but on 15th September 2015 the Government voted through changes to tax credits which will mean three million families nationally losing up to £1,000 per year. This action comes when child poverty nationally has increased by half a million between 2010 and 2015, and homelessness in Wandsworth has increased from 400 households in 2010 to 1,179 households this year. In Wandsworth there are 13,900 families with children relying on tax credit income top-ups to make ends meet. Of these, two thirds are working families who could now see a significant reduction in their income.