Author Archives: Hector Denfield

Update to proposed changes to roads around Tooting Common

For the full background, see our previous post on proposed changes to roads around Tooting Common.

When we were told about the proposed changes it was not clear if the council would be conducting any consultation, so we launched our own survey to see how people felt about the changes. With the help of local volunteers (thank you!) we delivered letters notifying people about the changes and providing a link to our survey to every home on:

  1. Montana Road
  2. Avoca Road
  3. Elmbourne Road
  4. Hillbury Road
  5. Louisville Road
  6. Streathbourne Road
  7. Drakefield Road
  8. Manville Road

To date we have had 273 responses! Many thanks to those who completed the survey, it was vital data.

The results from our survey were fairly clear:

  1. For the two right turn bans, there was a clear negative view: 70% of people were against, 20% in favour, and 10% undecided.
  2. For taking the parking off the pavement and back onto the road on Elmbourne Road, it was pretty much even: 37% in favour, 39% against, 24% undecided.
  3. For all the other measures, there was a clear positive view: about 50% in favour, 25% against and 25% undecided for each.

We have been told by the council today that the two right turn bans will not be taken forward at this stage.

Next steps

Item 3 on our previous post had two parts to it:

  1. upgraded traffic calming and informal crossings on Dr Johnson Avenue; and
  2. a raised table at the junction of Elmbourne Road and Louisville Road to enable safer crossing for pedestrians (and in particular students from St Anselm’s primary school).

These two changes are going to be implemented right away.

In respect of items 4, 5, 6 and 7 from our previous post, the council is going to send a letter to the “local area” (we are not sure which roads this will cover) to inform residents of the other measures and invite comments. Provided the overall pattern of comments is positive then the council intends to implement those changes too.

Planning applications for Tooting Lodge

Tooting Lodge (98-100 Tooting Bec Road) is a grade II listed building that has been unused for a number of years. Renovation works have been slowly made to the Lodge over the last few years and it is looking a lot better now than it was. The owner has made a number of planning applications that local residents may wish to comment on:

Planning application 2018/5710: temporary change of use of Lodge and part of the site from Nursery (Class D1) to 1 x 2-bedroom residential unit (Class C3) and alterations including inclusion of additional doors at ground floor level.

These two applications are for the same thing, one is the listed building consent 2018/6129 and the other is the planning permission 2018/6118: demolition of single storey extension and outbuildings and erection of replacement single storey extension, single storey building for use as gym (Class D2) with link corridor to the Lodge and single storey building for use as car show room (Class A1) including associated office, show room and covered display area in open yard area.

Click this link for all the drawings for the car showroom and gym. The view from the street would look like this:

Click the image to view it fullsize

If you want to comment on these plans (in support, to object, or just to make a neutral comment), please click on the links above to the planning applications and click on “View Associated Application Documents & Make Online Comments for Live Applications” then click on “Comment On Application”. The form for making comments is very straightforward.

Personally, we do not think the planned new building looks particularly in keeping with the Lodge, and we do not think the area needs a car showroom. But your views may differ, and everyone is entitled to make their own comments on the proposals.

Proposed changes to roads around Tooting Common

The proposals

Here is everything we know at this point about these plans:

In September 2016, residents of Elmbourne Road and Hillbury Road signed a petition asking Wandworth Council to review the levels of traffic on these roads. Also at this time, parents, carers and teachers at St Anselm’s School signed a petition asking for three road safety improvements, one of which was a pedestrian crossing at the junction of Louisville Road, Elmbourne Road and Tooting Bec Common.

In January 2018, the council conducted an assessment of the traffic on Elmbourne Road. The council found that Elmbourne Road receives over 700 vehicles per hour in the evening rush hour, which is well above the council’s threshold of 300 vehicles per hour for a residential road (you can read the full paper and further details at item 18 on the meeting agenda).

As a result of this assessment, the council looked at ways to reduce the traffic on Elmbourne Road. The council worked with Transport for London to explore the possibility of removing the right-turn ban from Tooting Bec Road into Balham High Road, but unfortunately, after exhausting all possible options to remove the banned right turn, they found it was not feasible to do this due to the physical constraints at the staggered junction and the “Safer Junctions” scheme which TfL is also developing to improve road safety for pedestrians and cyclists. Ultimately, no safe solution could be found so the right-turn ban will remain.

The council has therefore prepared 7 measures for reducing traffic on Elmbourne Road and Hillbury Road:

  1. Right turn ban from Tooting Bec Road into Elmbourne Road.
  2. Right turn ban from Tooting Bec Road into Dr Johnson Avenue.
  3. Upgraded traffic calming and informal crossings on Dr Johnson Avenue and at the junction of Elmbourne Road/Louisville Road.
  4. Relocate Elmbourne Road parking fully onto the carriageway.
  5. Additional junction tables on Elmbourne Road.
  6. Speed tables and informal crossing points on Hillbury Road.
  7. Upgraded entry treatments at the junctions of Elmbourne Road and Hillbury Road with Bedford Hill.

The council and TfL have conducted modelling on these proposals and found the following:

  1. Proposal 1 above would result in a reduction of 200-300 vehicles per hour on Elmbourne Road, plus a similar reduction on Franciscan Road and Moring Road.
  2. Proposal 2 above would result in a similar traffic reduction for Elmbourne Road as Proposal 1, but it would also encourage more traffic to use Bedford Hill (B242) rather than Dr Johnson Avenue.
  3. Proposal 3 above improves pedestrian permeability through the area, between the common areas, and improves safety at the junction of Dr Johnson Avenue and Tooting Bec Road. It also partially addresses point 1 of the St Anslem’s School petition – the council’s “Traffic Management Policy” requires a certain volume of people to justify a pedestrian crossing which the junction of Elmbourne Road and Louisville Road does not meet, so an informal crossing is the next best thing.
  4. Proposal 4 above will improve the pavement which in places has insufficient width due to inconsiderate parking, overgrown hedges and street furniture. Parking fully on the carriageway will further reduce through traffic along Elmbourne Road and encourage the use of A roads (such as Tooting Bec Road A214 and Balham High Road A24) and B roads (such as Garrad’s Lane B242 and Bedford Hill B242).
  5. Proposal 5 above will further improve pedestrian permeability in the area and ensure a more frequent and regular spacing between traffic calming features which should encourage a constant low speed rather than accelerating between features. It is hoped this will also contribute to pollution reduction.
  6. Proposal 6 above will improve pedestrian permeability and discourage cars from using Hillbury Road, which currently experiences less than the key threshold of 300 vehicles per hour.
  7. Proposal 7 above ensures both roads are treated consistently and also addresses a petition which raised issues with the junction layout.

Funding is available this financial year through the Heritage Lottery Fund and Local Implementation Plan and the council is proposing to use this to implement Proposal 3 first and as soon as possible.

The council has provided two drawings that show the proposals: drawing 1 and drawing 2.

FAQs

Q. Who is responsible for these proposals?
A. Wandsworth Council, which is controlled by the Conservative party. The authors of this blog – Fleur, Clare and Hector – are the three councillors for the local area, and we are all members of the Labour party. As such, we have not had any role to play in the development of these proposals. We have been campaigning for improved road safety for many years, and we are glad that the council has finally brought forward some proposals, but we did not design these proposals ourselves.

Q. What are the next steps?
A. The council wants to implement Proposal 3 as soon as possible. It will then submit the other 6 proposals to the meeting of the Strategic Planning and Transportation Overview and Scrutiny Committee (STPOSC) on 12 February 2019. If the STPOSC approves the 6 proposals then these will be implemented too.

Q. How can I have my say on this issue?
A. Your three local Labour councillors are conducting our own survey of residents to understand what people think. Please complete our survey on the proposals to calm traffic on Elmbourne Road in as much detail as you like.

We will also be holding a public meeting in mid-January; full details of this will be released as soon as we can get the council to agree to send a representative to answer questions!

We will use the results of the survey and public meeting to represent your views to the STPOSC on 12 February, so please do complete the survey!

Q. How can I get in touch with you?
A. You can email us any time on our council email addresses:
cllr.h.denfield@wandsworth.gov.uk
cllr.f.anderson@wandsworth.gov.uk
cllr.c.fraser@wandsworth.gov.uk


Tooting Triangle stay and play campaign continues

For a full background, please see our previous post on this issue.

Thank you to everyone who signed the petition to keep the stay and play open to the widest possible number of children. We collected 115 signatures and handed this in to the most recent full council meeting on 5 December.

Fleur, Hector and Clare with the Tooting Triangle stay and play petition

Action shot of Hector formally handing in the petition at the full council meeting

We have just been told that as a result of that petition, council officers are going to write a report which will be considered at the Education and Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on 7 February 2019. The report should be available on the council’s website from 30 January 2019.

We hope the Conservatives will use the opportunity at the Children’s Services meeting to reconsider the plans for the stay and play. It comes down to four key criteria:

  1. Are the sessions led by professional staff?
  2. What age range of children can attend?
  3. What is the cost to attend per session?
  4. How many weeks of the year are the sessions available?

In respect of those four criteria, this table shows the current situation, the Tories’ first plan (contained in this paper), and the Tory’s second plan after our campaign:

Criteria Current situation Tory plan 1 (TP1) Tory plan 2 (TP2)
Professionally led Yes No Yes
Age range 0-5 years 2-5 years 0-2 years
Cost Free Did not disclose £2.50 per child per session
Weeks open 52 (as far as we understand) Did not disclose Term time only

As you can see, TP1 is worse than the current situation, which is why we started our campaign. TP2 is no better! Our campaign clearly forced them to make changes but the changes they made were not good enough, so our campaign will continue. We will keep pressing them to expand the age range back to the original 0-5 years, keep the cost to an absolute minimum, and keep the sessions available all year round. Thank you to everyone who has supported the campaign – it’s not over yet!

To stay up to date, you can follow us on Twitter at: Fleur Clare Hector

Wandsworth Tories make cuts to stay and play

There was a very disappointing outcome to the meeting on Thursday. We wanted to provide a full write-up so everyone, especially users, can understand what happened, and what happens next.

Tooting Triangle is a lovely little area of Tooting Common which contains a particularly challenging playground, an amateur boxing club, an artificial sports pitch and a “1 o’clock club” building. The 1 o’clock club is a much loved institution in these parts and has been providing various services for very young (0-6 years old) children in some shape or form for over 30 years.

The Tories have failed to properly maintain this area. The 1 o’clock club is liable to flooding because the drainage on the sports pitch doesn’t work. However, they have managed to do one thing right – the stay and play at the 1 o’clock club.

Currently, there are three stay and plays per week. Parents and carers bring their young children to play for 2 hours in sessions led by trained council staff. The parents and carers stick around and get involved in the fun. There’s paint and mud and fruits and vegetables and every parent and carer we’ve ever spoken to says it is a truly excellent service. There are even some parents who went to the stay and play as kids themselves, and now the next generation gets to enjoy it.

So it came as a shock, and a massive disappointment, when the Tories gave us 8 days’ notice that they were going to gut this service. After decades of underinvestment by the Tories in the Triangle, they have a new plan. This plan involves leasing the buildings to a private company for 25 years at a cheap rent, and in exchange the company is going to spend their own money to redevelop the Triangle. Most of this plan is very welcome – fresh investment in the boxing club and the artificial sports pitch will be great.

But this plan also has its downsides – a series of cuts to stay and play:

  1. Instead of being open to 0-5 year old children, it would only be open to 2-5 year olds.
  2. Instead of being led by qualified staff, there would be no staff.
  3. Instead of being free for all, it would be charged, with some concessions.

We, the Labour Party, were amazed. The council deserves credit for establishing the stay and play in its current form. We set out to find out why the Tories were butchering this much-loved service.

Amazingly, there was zero consultation. The parents had not been told. We local councillors had not been told. Not even the staff at the stay and play had been told!

It was clear they were trying to hide it. This lack of consultation was not an oversight, it was a deliberate attempt to keep it quiet for as long as possible so as to rush it through committee before anyone realised what was going on.

Luckily, we spotted it. We immediately mobilised and informed the parents, carers and staff. We handed out leaflets and organised a campaign. Within just two days over half the users had sent an email to the leader of the council asking him to keep the stay and play as it is.

The committee meeting happened on Thursday. We organised people to speak to the committee who defended the stay and play with articulate passion.

The Labour Party proposed a small amendment to the plan: we asked the Tories to continue providing the stay and play. We were happy to agree to the rest of the development plan, just, please, don’t ruin the stay and play.

The Tories would not agree to that.

They gave one small concession to continue “baby play”. But, during questions, it emerged that the new provider runs similar centres elsewhere in London, and in none of those centres does it offer services for 0-18 month olds. It has no experience of delivering baby play.

At this point we are pretty sure that the new provider’s version of stay and play will be nowhere near as good as the council’s current service.

So why have the Tories done this? The real reason is their own poor management of the council.

Wandsworth Tories, and in particular Councillor Guy Senior who is their cabinet member for finance, were so incompetent last year that they overspent by £22.25 million. That is not a small sum of money – that’s about half your Council Tax.

On top of the incompetence of the local Tory party, the Tory central government has cut the budgets of every council in England year after year after year. Northamptonshire Council (which is also run by Tories) has actually gone bankrupt. The Tory government has cut Wandsworth Council’s budget so much that they have to find £28 million of savings this year, another £14 million the year after, and another £10 million the year after that. A total of £48 million in three years. The reason for this? No reason. Austerity is a political choice – a cruel and unnecessary choice.

So because of Wandsworth Tories’ incompetence, and central Tory cruelty, our local stay and play has been cut and replaced by a much worse service to save money. Ultimately, it is the kids who suffer.

In terms of next steps, we will continue to campaign to save the stay and play. It’s not a done deal yet. If you want to get involved please email us at cllr.h.denfield@wandsworth.gov.uk, cllr.c.fraser@wandsworth.gov.uk and cllr.f.anderson@wandsworth.gov.uk.

Road works on Byrne Road and Culverden Road

If you have been along Byrne Road or Culverden Road recently you will have noticed the road surface is in a bit of a state. Clare took these photos and got in touch with the council to find out what was going on and had this reply:

On the second day of works in Byrne Road, the removal of the road surface had revealed the Gas Main trench that holds the delivery line along the entire length of Byrne Road.

Once the surface was up and open, this trench was found to be ‘defective’ from the time it was reinstated – and is not adequate to carry the new road surface without subsiding.

This trench feature had been implemented as far back as the early 1980s in likelihood – and was not found to be present in our recent ‘road core sample tests’ prior to these works – nor is there any official record of the trench in statutory utility company plans available to us. The presence of the trench and its current condition were completely unexpected. The Gas Company must now remedy the structural condition of their infrastructure such that we may then complete reconstruction of the road surface over top of it.

The process of the required remedial works has been actioned, and once the surfacing works have been reprogrammed, residents will be updated.

This letter was delivered by the council to households in the area.

The most recent update from the council states:

Byrne Rd/Culverden Rd SW12 a temporary running surface is available pending the proper reinstatement of a gas trench which is preventing completion of carriageway resurfacing works 02/11/2018 to 09/11/2018. Engineer: J. Chana 0208 871 7279.

  

If you smell gas or see a water leak, please do not assume that someone else has phoned it in. Please do not report these to the council, instead call the following free phone numbers to report leaks directly to the companies responsible for fixing them:

Water: 0800 714 614 Gas: 0800 111 999

Hector’s maiden speech

This speech was given at the full council meeting on 17 October 2018:

Mx Mayor, I call for this meeting to be adjourned for 30 seconds to reflect on the way Brexit is being tackled.

It was a pleasure and an honour to be elected by the people of Bedford ward in May, and I am exceptionally grateful for this opportunity to represent them. It is also an honour to follow in the footsteps of Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP, and the incredible work she is doing to draw international attention to the Rohingya genocide.

When campaigning, Brexit was a subject that came up on the doorstep a lot, and so I propose this motion to reflect on the current approach to Brexit.

The referendum of 2016 was a momentous event. The last two years have been eventful, to say the least. We have an exit day: 29 March 2019. But before that, I think we should have a say on the final deal, and I personally believe that a People’s Vote is the best way to do this.

Why do I support this campaign? Simply because we all have new information. In the 2 years, 3 months and 24 days since the referendum we have been inundated with new information. It gushes out of news outlets like a burst dam, faster than even the former foreign secretary can think of enough cricket metaphors.

Everyone in the UK should be given an honorary degree in Brexit studies. It is overwhelming how much more we now know.

And it’s not just the quantity of the information, it’s the quality too. We’re not dealing with hypotheticals any more. The issues that have arisen during the negotiations are the real issues, the decisions made by businesses are real decisions, and the movement in the economy is real movement.

In light of all this new, high quality information, it is not just reasonable, but positively sensible to re-evaluate our collective decision. Re-evaluation does not necessarily mean reaching a different conclusion. It simply means looking at the choices again in the context of new evidence.

And we have new choices too! In 2016 it was just remain or leave, shortly we will know exactly what sort of deal or deals are on offer. Unfortunately, the referendum gave us no clue about how we all feel about the different ways of leaving. If leaving the EU is confirmed then everyone, leavers and remainers, deserve the right to express their preference for the type of exit we make.

A People’s Vote would not be disrespectful of the referendum. On the contrary, the referendum has been respected every day since it happened. We triggered Article 50, we had a general election, David Davis was even going to produce 58 impact reports, and even though he never got round to it, it’s the thought that counts.

Time and again we hear people say that the politicians just aren’t listening. A People’s Vote would be the very definition of listening. 20 councils including the GLA have already passed motions supporting a People’s Vote. Just this morning a Lib Dem, a Labour and a Tory walked into a bar, and asked for more time to hold a People’s Vote.

The campaign already has over 700,000 supporters, and a million followers on social media. Mighty oaks grow from tiny acorns. This campaign is already a young tree. The more of us who lend our voice, the more chance it has to grow into reality.

Ultimately, for democracy to work, people need information to work with. We have more information, better information, real information to work with now. A People’s Vote is the right thing to do and the democratic thing to do.

I am proud to serve as a councillor for Bedford ward, where our diverse community reflects the best of modern London. I’ll work hard to protect local jobs and businesses, and to protect the rights of our EU friends and neighbours.

Bike hangars in Wandsworth

map of bike hangars in Wandsworth and Lambeth

click the image to enlarge it

Some people have asked about installing bike hangars in their street which is a great idea and one we support a lot. I think everyone can agree that cycling is a generally positive activity and in a city like London where too many cars lead to poor air quality and clogged roads, cycling should be encouraged.

When we looked into this issue it came as quite a shock how poor Wandsworth Tories have been on this issue and how little is done by the Tories to support cycling in Wandsworth.

We made the image above as a quick and easy comparison. In Wandsworth we only got our first bike hangar in 2017, and as of today we have a grand total of just 4. Compare this to Lambeth which has over 220, and Waltham Forest with 225!

In addition to being a good for the environment and the fitness and wellbeing of people in Wandsworth, bike hangars could also make excellent economic sense for the council. A bike hangar takes up roughly the same amount of space as a car parking bay. Renting a space in the bike hangar costs £72 a year, and a hangar can fit 6 bikes, so in total a hangar generates the council £432 a year. In contrast, a resident’s car parking permit costs only £166. The bike hanger produces 160% more profit using the same amount of space!

At the moment all the £72 rental fee goes to a third party company in exchange for admin, maintenance and cleaning of the hangars, so the hangars do not make any money for Wandsworth Council. We have spoken with them and they are looking at a self-management option. Alternatively, instead of seeking a profit, Wandsworth could follow in the footsteps of Waltham Forest who only charge £20 a year to rent a space and Lambeth who charge £42.

So if you would like a bike hangar on your street, please go to https://cyclehoop.force.com/RentalsCommunity/resultsmap?postalCode= and click the “suggest a location” link at the bottom of the page. We will continue to push the council to install more hangars in areas where they make sense, rather than having to wait for residents to request them. After all, if you build it, they will come!

Upcoming consultation on traffic calming for Dr Johnson Avenue

You may remember a proposal by Wandsworth Council in early 2016 to do the following:

  1. close Dr Johnson Avenue to traffic; and
  2. ban vehicles from turning right from Tooting Bec Road into Elmbourne Road.

The response rate was high for a council consultation – over 3,200 people submitted their thoughts. In the end, 70% of respondents rejected the idea. The council’s write up of that process is here: http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/news/article/13315/dr_johnson_avenue_will_remain_open

In the very near future, Wandsworth Council will be running a new consultation with two new proposals for traffic calming on Dr Johnson Avenue:

Option 1 – installing, in the midpoint of Dr Johnson Avenue, a raised table flush with the pavement and green verge. This is designed to reduce the speed of vehicles and serve as a crossing point for pedestrians. This will include access to the south-west footpath via some steps and an Equality Act 2010-compliant facility for disabled access.

At either end of Dr Johnson Avenue the road layout would be redesigned and two more raised tables would be installed, provided Transport for London agree to this.

Option 2 – similar to option 1, but with two additional raised tables, taking the total to five overall.

There are additional nuances such as the type of materials used and the length of the raised tables. A “raised table” looks like this one outside Tooting Bec tube station at the entrance to Stapleton Road:

Or this example in Walthamstow:

The consultation is not yet open but we will keep you posted when it does.