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.

 

Chestnut Avenue

Tootin common photo

We love Tooting common and indeed all the green spaces this borough has to offer. We have been dismayed to hear about plans to cut down a beautiful avenue of trees, not least since the views of residents have not been sought. The Council assured us that local people would be involved in the decision, however, it appears as though this consultation did not take place.

We have until Thursday this week to voice our opinion so please do follow the link below to sign the petition and do share it amongst other local residents.

http://sadiqkhan.nationbuilder.com/consult_our_community_before_cutting_down_our_trees

Thank you!