Council Meeting Speech, 6th December 2017
The Tories in Wandsworth have ruled for the few and not the many for too long, and I’m glad its coming to end at the next election. 40 years is enough.
The Conservatives claim to be a success. Lets look back over these 40 years and judge their success in building a stronger community.
Success would be valuing children and young people and not presiding over school budget cuts and the closure of One O’clock clubs, Sure Start centres, and youth services across the borough.
Success for the local community would be a strong sense of ownership of our green spaces. But instead we have less and less say in what happens in our parks and commons. Prices to use sports facilities rise above inflation every year, car racing tracks can be put down in our parks and we can’t say no, beautiful trees are chopped down, air quality is getting worse and running our parks is contracted out by the contractors and we have no say.
Success would be making the most of partnership with community organisations, valuing what everyone thinks, finding the energy of local groups and enabling them to flourish. Instead, Conservative Wandsworth council have had a deliberate policy of not working with local voluntary organisations. The relationship between the voluntary sector should be strong but instead is broken. Other boroughs have Council for Voluntary Services – a CVS – which is excellent value for money as the council provides some support for community organisations who in turn can work together more easily, bring in more money and most importantly do more by local for local people. This is especially important in times of ever reducing council budgets. But not in Wandsworth.
Success would be lots of events and the ‘being together’ which makes friendships, builds communities and makes life fun. The council should be supporting culture and community events – our streets should be alive with temporary closures, parties, trying out playstreets, diverse cultural occasions. The unused council properties on High Streets should be pop up art spaces, start up businesses, creative places bringing our High Streets to life and making a trip to the shops an event. Instead bureaucracy and cost puts people off holding street events and High Street buildings lie unused.
Success would be sharing our good fortune with the world, welcoming refugees fleeing for their lives from their homes Syria. We would be a richer place if we were a more welcoming place. It’s the kind of compassion that would be contagious.
Success would be no need for foodbanks, no need for emergency supplies for people who have nothing left. Instead, between 1st April and 30th September 2017, over 2,000 three-day emergency food supplies were provided to local people in crisis by Wandsworth Foodbank.
Success is not the bedroom tax, increasing in-work poverty, reducing child benefit, failing roll-out of Universal Credit, and now cutting funding for womens’ refuges.
Success is not 2,500 Wandsworth children now, right now, in bed and breakfasts because they are homeless – and these families have to keep paying for daily transport to schools and storage of their possessions.
Success is not the utter shambles of Brexit.
Tory Britain and Tory Wandsworth is nothing to be proud of.
In the Labour Party we have an alternative vision for the Wandsworth Borough we love. The same low council tax, collecting of our rubbish, championing our libraries and leisure centres and resurfacing our roads but a lot more.
We will invest in creating stronger communities.
We will invest in public services not run them down and sell them off. We will be the healthiest borough in London, greening our streets and cleaning up our air.
We will protect the vulnerable, champion the London living wage, challenge discrimination and be a borough that takes pride in every street, and where stronger communities mean better opportunities for everyone.
Roll on the local elections on May 3rd.