This newsletter is packed with latest news on the Balham and Tooting local heroes event, Tooting Common trees and cycling, planning applications for Bedford Hill Old Church and Foxbourne Rd, #TidyUpTooting campaign, serious concerns about St Georges, new Caring kitchen lunch at St Anselms, local crime and TASER use, Balham High Road improvements, and the first Syrian refugee family welcomed to Wandsworth
Do contact Fleur and Rosena if you want to know more or have an issue we can help with: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Do you know a local community hero?
Do you know someone who works for a community group, or helps people in their local area or community, or goes above and beyond in work locally? Now is your chance to celebrate them! Nominations for the Balham and Tooting Community Association (BACTA) community heroes awards are open until November 8th. Please use the online form at http://batca.org/nomination/. The awards go to those you nominate. There’ll be awards both for individual volunteers and teams. The nominations will be assessed by a panel of independent judges.
Awards will be presented on 24th November 2016 at a celebratory evening at Jasmin’s Club, 202 Upper Tooting Road, SW17 7TG, to which all are welcome. Its a really great night, with wonderful food and entertainment, and will make you very proud to live in Balham and Tooting. To book a place, please click here http://batca.org/reserve-place/ the evening is free and supported by the Wandsworth Community Fund – please bring a donation on the night. Do come and invite your friends – why not fill a table?
I’m on the BACTA organising group so if you have any comments about this, or suggestions that BACTA could do to make links and strengthen our community, please email me your ideas.
Tooting Common – Chestnut Avenue trees and Quietway cycle route
The consultation on the future of Chestnut Avenue closed last month and 695 local people had responded, with 74% in favour of replanting the avenue all at once, although 50% of these people also favoured the option of slowly replacing the trees as they continue to face disease. This beautiful avenue is much loved by us all in the area and deciding how to preserve it is very difficult. It is dreadful that so many trees are suffering from a disease that Chestnut Trees all over the country have and is spreading, and one symptom is that branches fall off. So safety is the top priority, and the opportunity for significant investment in replanting the whole avenue rather than let it slowly decline one tree after another. But we also want to save any of these trees that are healthy and do not need to be cut down. At the committee meeting I proposed that the healthy trees (currently 6 trees, but this needs to be assessed again) are not cut down and this was accepted by the committee. The recommendation to replant the Avenue was agreed to by the Community Services Committee and is likely to be carried out in the Winter of 2017/18. A campaign to save the trees is being led by Friends of Tooting Common.
A report about the leaf mining moth and bleeding canker disease affecting Horse Chestnut diseases across the country was recently on Sky News.
The next consultation on the common will be controversial as well. Cross London Quietways cycle routes are being set up, and the Waterloo – Croydon route goes through Tooting Common under current plans. Following responses from the first consultation, Chestnut Avenue is not the proposed route but instead the diagonal path from the cafe to the Lido car park. This would be widened to 3m and a gravel surface used which is good for buggies, wheelchairs and cyclists but discourages fast cycling as it is not as smooth as tarmac.
The consultation distribution plan has been shared with me and I’ve asked for it to be extended to all the road off the Common instead of just some and all of Heritage Park instead of only those closest to the Common. This consultation will be coming out soon so please watch for notices on the Common and have your say.
Old Church on Bedford Hill
We supported the many local objections to the large proposed development of the Old Church on Bedford Hill. The plan was to keep the front but redevelop the rest into 21 flats and a nursery. The planning officers agreed with our objections and the recommendation to refuse this application was agreed by the planning committee. We hope that the developers can return with a plan using the existing building and will be asking from them to involve the local community more in their future planning.
St Anthony’s Court, Foxbourne Rd
There was also a large number of objections to plans by St Anthony’s Court residential home to add another storey to their building. This backs onto the garden’s of six houses in Foxbourne Road and will block a lot of light to the gardens and homes. There will be considerable building traffic going down the narrow road and into the small entrance to the Court, and increased traffic of visitors once built. I represented these concerns at the planning committee, but the application was still accepted on the basis that similar schemes have been agreed to elsewhere in Wandsworth. This seems very unfair and is understandably very disappointing for residents.
For too long we’ve been telling the council to sort out fly tipping and dirty streets, and it is one of the main reasons you get in contact with us as your local councillors. Rosena is gathered your reports for a month and took this to the council who have said they will do more. Click here for Rosena’s letter on #TidyUpTooting. If you see fly-tipping in your street, report it to the Wandsworth ‘report it’ app (if you have a smartphone. More info on the Report It app is here.
Serious concerns about St Georges’ Hospital
At the October council meeting Labour proposed a debate on health outcomes and serious concerns about the financial situation of St Georges. In the motion we called on the Council to affirm its commitment to the NHS as a world-class healthcare system, but note that it is coming under increasing funding pressure, expresses its concern at the various failings in patient safety and care uncovered during the recent Care Quality Commission inspection at St George’s Hospital Trust and notes that the Trust is forecasting an end of year deficit of £55.5 million and that its own corporate risk report describes its overall level of exposure to operational risk as “extreme”, welcome the incredible work that staff at St George’s do but recognises that the Trust is struggling with high turnover and vacancy rates and that the staff survey reports unacceptable levels of bullying and harassment.
Rosena’s gave a strong speech about junior doctors during the debate. Labour councillors called on the Council to show leadership and work with the Trust to ensure that patient care is kept to a high standard. The full motion text is here and we will continue to be extremely concerned about the situation and what it will mean for our healthcare provision.
Roadworks on Tooting High Rd and Balham Boulevard
I’ve been watching the changes to pavements on Tooting High Road and hope that this will result in a safer roads, especially for motorcyclists as we have had several accidents on the road and we lobbied TfL on road safety on this stretch of the High Road – lots of people signed petitions. It is disappointing to see the pavement widened, the cycle track narrowed and the opportunity for a separate cycle lane for cyclists not used.
The plans for a more attractive stretch of High Road up to Balham station have been talked about for years, and TfL will be revealing their plans in a meeting in early November. Lets hope this is better than the last meeting where they said that nothing could be done.
Caring Kitchen at St Anselms
St Anselms Church’s monthly Caring Kitchen is proving very popular and everyone is welcome for a free homemade lunch in a caring environment. the next ones are 29th November and 20th December in St Anselms Old Hall on Tooting High Road from 12.15 – 2pm. For enquires please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Crime and TASER
The safer neighbourhood team identified Ritherdon Rd as having higher burglary and the local police and safer neighbourhood team visited everyone in the street and provided free DNA marking kits for valuable items.
I went to the Wandsworth Safer Neighbourhood Board and had a update on Wandsworth crime figures, which show that although Wandsworth is doing well compared to other boroughs, violent crime is rising and theft of motorbikes and scooters is a particular problem. In this area its a problem in the streets around Tooting Bec station especially, but even the heaviest bike left on the street is a potential target.
We also had a presentation about TASER gun use in London. It has very strict regulation and is used to prevent violence either to themselves or others by firearms police. At any time, about 4 officers who are allowed to use TASER are on duty in Wandsworth and in the first 6 months of this year it was used 8 times. TASER guns are a sci-fi looking plastic yellow and shoot out electrode barbs which disable people through the electronic pulse rather than through pain and stand for ‘Thomas A Swift Electronic Rifle’.
This was the annual public Safer Neighbourhood Board meeting and a chance for the Borough Commander to be publicly accountable, but it was publicised, the public weren’t involved in setting the agenda and having issues which matter to us, and it was attended by about four members of the public! It was yet another proof of how little the Conservative Council want to work with us all as residents together in Wandsworth.
First Syrian Family welcomed in Wandsworth – more urgent response needed
As the war in Syria and dreadful destruction of Aleppo continues, there is an urgent need for desperate families to move to safety. This certainly makes me feel very fortunate indeed to live in such a safe place. We can provide safe haven for families, and the Home Office has made funding available to local boroughs. Wandsworth took a step forward and welcomed a family of three people from Syria this week. I hope that the response can match the urgency and we can see many more families welcomed before Christmas. Rosena has the council leader how many families will be welcomed by Christmas, but he did not answer this.
Meanwhile, if you can help to support refugees and have anytime on a Monday morning, please go to St Mary’s church near Balham station on the High Road where there is a drop in for refugees for a meal, meeting others and advice organised by the South London Refugee Association.