Speech given by Cllr Fleur Anderson, Labour spokesperson on the Environment, at the Council Meeting on March 6th 2018 – the last council meeting before the May 3rd election
A balanced community is one which is not run in favour of one group or another, and feels fair to everyone. A balanced community may be diverse, made up of very different people and groups, but everyone feels that they have a stake in the community, people don’t feel left out.
People have every opportunity to get on in life, but don’t feel that they are getting on at the expense of others. People in a balanced community can feel stable and secure and not worried that change they don’t agree with could come at any time.
A balanced community is a better place to live, to get on, to raise a family, to enjoy later years.
Wandsworth residents are feeling that something is unbalanced in the way the Conservative administration is running our borough. Things have gone too far in favour of developers and developments that aren’t for them or their children. They want the balance back.
I know its not just the fault of the Conservative administration here in Wandsworth, it’s the National Conservative Government that has imposed austerity and cuts. Tories have stripped local power away for years – with Wandsworth Tories cheering on from the sidelines – and left our local services, and us, struggling.
The council doesn’t seem to be taking enough action, isn’t as concerned as we are about pollution, clean streets, trees and our green spaces. In so many ways the balance is wrong and the Tories’ lack of action on the environment is an example of this.
The council should have a target for more tree planting across the borough. Instead there is a pattern of planting more trees in the year before an election and removing more trees than are planted in the other years. Between 2014-17 540 trees were planted but 713 removed. There are missing trees in so many streets and estates. Instead, we should always plant more trees than we remove (we should care for trees better and not remove so many) and align with the Mayor’s London plan and aim to increase tree cover by 10% by 2050 and check our tree planting plans against this.
Putney High Street is one of the worst areas for the unseen killer that is air pollution. Last week the council should have agreed the £1.2 million needed for the first three (out of five sets) of actions to tackle air quality – not just £540,000 for a bare minimum of actions that on their own can’t tackle pollution. The council has the money in the community infrastructure levy budget and Putney residents want URGENT action – and in Clapham Junction and Tooting High Street too.
The main cause of pollution is road traffic – and so moving to non-polluting travel – cycling and walking – should be a priority, yet walking and cycling don’t get much of a look in in road changes and housing policies. Here are three examples of lack of action:
Cycling parking is one example of lack of action. No secure parking is a major obstacle to people cycling more – if you think your bike will be nicked when you go somewhere it puts you off. In 2014 the council was awarded £50,000 to trial 10 secure bike hangars. In four years only two have been put into streets. So out of 1,956 streets in Wandsworth, only two have secure bike parking. There has been no explanation of this to the community services committee as if it doesn’t matter.
An easy win to make our streets cycle friendly is making one way streets two-way for cyclists and across no-though roads but again very little action. In 2013 £50,000 or funding (from TfL) was for 15 streets. Guess how many of the one way streets have been changed? None – and just three changes to allow cycle across no through roads. And no report back to committee on the lack of progress and what is happening to the money instead. By my reckoning there are just 6 contraflow roads in Wandsworth (two are in Bedford Ward – do you know where?). In neighbouring Lambeth, with similar roads, there are 40 in place with 20 more agreed.
There should be more cycle lights and separate spaces for bikes at junctions, changes like traffic calming in Nightingale Lane should not throw cyclists out into the road… I could go on.
So, we have 700 new electric charging points in place or agreed, at a cost of £3 million. This is good – but what is the equivalent action on cycling and walking? There is no balance people different users of our streets – we shouldn’t let our streets be so dominated by cars – instead we should be swapping between different ways to get around. Wandsworth Labour will take joined up and ambitious action for active travel – cycling and walking.
Our recycling record doesn’t get much of a look in in Brightside does it! I haven’t seen any photo opportunities of cabinet members holding up a big sign saying ‘Wandsworth has one of the poorest records on recycling of all the London boroughs’, or ‘We recycle 27% of our waste when the London average is 52%.’ These are shocking statistics. Wandsworth Labour will recycle more and making money from our waste not spending a fortune on to burn it.
When it comes to the environment, Wandsworth really isn’t the brighter borough or the greener borough.
People want more action on the environment, and so do we. If we’re elected, starting on May 4th, Wandsworth Labour will get the balance in our communities back. We will set ambitious environmental targets and show the political will and determination to work with residents to achieve them.