Highlights of the last month have been defending Ravenstone Primary School against a development next to their playground, speaking to lots of local residents with my fellow ward team members, Clare Fraser and Hector Wakefield, a new refugee family from Syria being welcomed to Tooting, and the Tooting Common Pumpkin Parade which gets bigger every year!
Read on for more news about:
- Ravenstone Primary School;
- Tooting Bec Lodge;
- changes in police services;
- a public meeting about knife crime;
- a proposed library development in Battersea;
- where to get advice on your rights;
- welcoming a Syrian refugee family to Wandsworth;
- Speedwatch on Streathbourne, Culverdon and Franciscan Roads; and
- filming on Tooting Common.
Ravenstone Primary School – development rejected
People power won a victory at the planning committee last week – thanks to all the hard work by the parents, Headteacher, and co-chairs of governors. There were 175 objections to the three storey development of 8 houses on a very small piece of land cutting into the playground, with full length windows on each storey. Dr Allin-Khan MP strongly objected, and Cllr Fleur Anderson spoke at the committee. The development was refused and we wait to hear what the next steps will be. Overall, it would be far better if this could be a sports site or another facility which could be used by the school and local community.
Tooting Bec Lodge repaired at last
We don’t have many very historic buildings in the area, and seeing the Tooting Bec Lodge disintegrating since it was bought in 2011 has distressing for everyone who passes it. It was first the gardener’s lodge for the big local house (long gone) and more recently a lovely garden centre. Local residents formed a group called the ‘custodians of Tooting Lodge’ and have kept lobbying the council for more action for several years. The council has threatened action but progress has been painfully slow as the owner has managed to just about comply with each order to make repairs. Most recently an inspection showed that the building is now restored and weather proof. I spoke at a recent committee meeting to insist that the hoarding is now removed as soon as possible, and as soon as it is safe for the security of the building to do so. Well done to the Custodians for many years of action for our local heritage.
Important Advice Services: Carers Rights and new EU residents information service and Universal Credit
Are you one of the thousands of carers in Wandsworth? Did you know that more than half of people looking after someone with cancer are missing out on support? Get in contact with the Carers Centre at 46 Balham High Road (02086750811) or the Citizens Advice Bureau on Lavender Hill (0300 330 1169 10am – 4pm Mon – Fri) if you want to know your rights, whoever you are caring for.
The Citizens Advice Bureau is also the home of a new advice service for EU residents. Kaia Zagrodniczek is running a telephone, email or drop-in service. Drop in at the library or email her: firstname.lastname@example.org
Universal Credit will be rolling out in Wandsworth from December 6th despite huge concerns about impact on people in other parts of the country so far. There will be a gap in payments of six weeks and I’m concerned about the impact on housing benefits for residents on incomes that change from week to week. Despite calls to the government to learn from problems and halt the roll-out, it is going ahead. The Help Through Hardship team at the Citizens Advice Bureau are very friendly and supportive and can help with advice and contacting benefits staff and council officers for you. Call 0300 3301169 10am – 4pm Mon – Fri.
Wandsworth Community Services news
I am the Labour Spokesperson on the Community Services and issues coming up at the latest community were a further roll out of more electric car charging points which are very welcomed, reinvigorating a long-term plan for a pedestrian and cycle bridge from Battersea to Chelsea Wharf (next to the Cremone railway bridge) and concerns about rising charges at the Tooting Athletics track and funeral charges for children and which we have asked to be reviewed.
Changes are coming to our local police services as a result of continuing cuts (£600 million previously and now a further £400 million across the Met). Police stations are used far less as people phone or email their local police more. So funding will be concentrated on keeping local police teams and enabling them to respond. They will moved to being based in local ‘hubs’ which they will use as their base, and having iPads so that they can do their paperwork on the move and stay on the streets more. Wandsworth Town police station will be closed and Lavender Hill moved from its current big building to a nearby smaller building and remain open 24 hours a day. I’ve been in touch with the local Borough Commander about these changes and we’ll continue to see how it works out in practice.
You can join the local Safer Neighbourhood Team
Everyone is very welcome to the local safer neighbourhood team meetings. We meet at the Polish Club on Balham High Road every 2 – 3 months, with our local police officers, and discuss local issues. Do get in touch to find out more.
Tackling Knife Crime in Wandsworth – public meeting
Once a year the Wandsworth Council Safer Neighbourhood Board throw their doors open to the public. This year’s meeting will be on the very topical issue of tackling knife crime and will be at the Town Hall at 6.30pm on Tuesday 5th December. Please let anyone know who is interested in finding out what is being done or doing more to keep our young people safe.
Battersea Park Library and Health centre
The most controversial item at the Community Services Committee meeting was a new library and health centre plan on Battersea Park Road. The proposal to treble the size of the clinic and have a much improved health centre with many services in one building, and to improve the library all in one place is very welcome. The council plans to work with a developer to build flats above the new services which will pay for the rebuilding below. All good so far. However the proposal given to the committee was to sell off the sites to a named developer who would then lease them back to the NHS and council on low rents – but without any details of how long the rents wold be. We should have considered the merits of different plans – such as community ownership, NHS or council ownership (and keeping the profit) OR selling off this community asset to a developer. For example using the community asset, community-led housing or community anchor model which mean that we would keep ownership of this public building for the long-term.
Rather than consider any other way of delivering an exciting new community scheme, a single named developer had already been identified and this plan to sell off the library was the only one proposed. This blinkered approach is very short-term and disappointing and we voted against it.
A second family has been welcomed to Wandsworth – at last! The Syrian war continues, and the refugee crisis remains one of epic proportions as millions of Syrian people have fled from their homes and are living mostly elsewhere in Syria or in neighbouring countries. Wandsworth Council’s glacial response continues. Hundreds of residents signed a petition in the summer of 2016 urging the council to welcome some of the most most vulnerable families to Wandsworth. The Home Office provides funding for housing and other costs for this scheme – not the council, and not using council housing. One family was welcomed last year and Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees recently received news that another family has now moved to the borough. If you are a landlord or know a landlord who could get involved in the scheme, do get in touch or contact: Wandsworthwelcomesrefugees@gmail.com
Speedwatch on Streathbourne, Culverdon and Franciscan Roads
Local residents have been able to turn into law enforcers recently and taken on the task of zapping speeding cars with the speed camera. I regularly visit local streets to find out concerns and when Streathbourne and Culverdon Road residents raised this, I asked for the speed watch team to visit. Its part of a network of speed visits which are building up picture of where the hot spots are and more action needs to be taken. Keeping speeds low will decrease deaths and injuries on our roads and reduces air pollution too.
Filming on Tooting Common
The current flurry of extra activity around the Lido and elsewhere on Tooting Common is a ‘major’ film for national release which is being filmed in various locations on the Common until December 2nd. Rumour has it (thanks to the Dogs of Tooting Common Facebook page – a great source of information, and they have just reached 1,000 members!) that the film is called ‘The Kid who Would be King‘. I might be taking my dog for a few more walks to see if I can spot any famous actors in the next few days! If anyone finds out what the film is, please let me know. Explanations by some of the film crew that Wandsworth had sold the car park and were building flats rang all too true with a few people but was just a wind up. I hope.
Please come to Fleur and Rosena’s drop in surgeries on the first Wednesday of every month from 10am – 11am at the Scout Hall on Balham High Road, opposite Du Cane Court and on the corner of Elmfield Rd.