Wandsworth council are planning to close the Tooting Triangle children’s centre, a decision which will be taken at a meeting this Thursday evening of the Finance and Corporate Resources Committee.
As local councillors, they have not consulted us on this, and neither have they discussed this with parents or carers who use the centre.
The proposals state that the boxing club and football pitch are going to be run by a sports company, with the inclusion of a community cafe, but the children’s centre is being added to this plan and will lose the stay and play sessions as a result.
The council-run three stay and play sessions every week are hugely popular, and many parents and carers tell us that they are a lifesaver. The staff are fantastic and provide activities, a chance to learn and play and a place for local people from across Tooting Bec and Balham to make friends, support one another and learn about other services and activities. In short, it is a vital community asset which we cannot afford to lose.
The new cafe will not have any provision for 0-2 year olds and won’t have staff to run stay and play sessions.
As ward councillors, we have requested time at the meeting to represent you, but if you’re able to attend, or would like to have your say on this valuable service, please contact Clare at: firstname.lastname@example.org
In advance of the committee we will also share all your comments with members of the committee so that they can see how vital this provision is.
At this week’s full council meeting, both Clare and Hector gave their maiden speeches. See below for the full text of Clare’s speech and a photo of her in action during the debate:
Thank you for allowing for me to make my maiden speech this evening.
I’ll begin, as is customary with a few words about Bedford ward, a ward name which confuses many, but which comprises parts of Tooting Bec and Balham. I would like to extend my thanks to residents of Bedford ward for voting for me in May, it is my great honour to represent the ward. I would also like to note my thanks to Cllr Fleur Anderson and Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP. Since Rosena’s election to Bedford ward in 2014, she has gone on to become the Labour MP for Tooting. With such great work in the ward, they set the bar high for me for the next four years. I am also delighted to be joined at this election by my fellow new councillor, Hector Denfield meaning that for the first time since 1990, Bedford ward is represented by 3 Labour councillors.
In Bedford ward we are lucky to have the Common which sits at the heart of our community, a special place enjoyed by residents of all ages and backgrounds. The café in the middle of Tooting Common on a Saturday morning is representative of many of these residents, whether they have completed parkrun, are walking their dog, or just enjoying a cup of tea. We are equally lucky to have Tooting Bec lido at the edges of the Common, the largest outdoor lido in the UK.
Locally, we have several excellent primary schools: Ravenstone, Rutherford, and St Anselm’s, who provide a high-standard of education for local children. However, many parents have shared with me their concerns about the funding of schools, and what this might mean for the future of their children’s’ education. My fear is that the great start these children are provided with in early life currently, may deteriorate in future as a result of funding cuts which are punishing the youngest members in our society.
Focusing on the subject of tonight’s motion, it is the early standard of care in a child’s life, which concerns me the most. My work in the education sector has shown me that it is those early years in a child’s life which are formative in their later development. In a borough such as Wandsworth, you would imagine that shouldn’t be a problem, however, the pinnacle of how Wandsworth operates as a borough is seen acutely through the lens of its children’s services. Councillors opposite often celebrate Wandsworth for being sound in its financial management, but to prevent its children’s services from sliding backwards to an inadequate rating, have dipped into the council’s reserves to the tune of £37 million. Even the best spin doctor could not portray that as sound financial management.
In my short time on the council and the Education and Children’s Services committee, I’m yet to see real conviction in the political leaders of this council. There is instead a refusal to set long-term targets which commit to closing the department’s funding deficit as soon as possible and putting an end to rewards for failure.
I want more than anyone for those services to be rated good or higher. I hope this is the case at the next full re-inspection, however doing so will only be achieved through robust forward planning, and not through the piecemeal approach we see from the political leaders of this council where accountability for these decisions ultimately rests.
I conclude by noting that as a councillor, I will be a representative for all residents. Bedford ward is a great place to live and during my time here I want to make it even better. I want to help empower residents to have their voices heard and ensure that all children growing up in my ward are given the best possible start in life.
The Universal Credit roll out has felt like a very slow Tsunami making its way towards Wandsworth. We’ve heard the warnings and with a growing sense of doom, we have seen the result of the switch to Universal Credit in other areas of the country. But the roll out has continued regardless.
Welfare reform on this scale could have had positive benefits with simplifying a complicated system of multiple benefits into one payment. However there are some structural flaws with the system that must be fixed now, before more people suffer because of an administrative change.
We’ve seen Food Bank use and homelessness increase elsewhere. The Trussell Trust – who run 400 foodbanks – have reported a 52% increase in use of the Foodbank in areas with Universal Credit compared to those where it hasn’t yet been rolled out. The charities Mind and Macmillan Cancer Care are amongst many who have raised major concerns about the impact of UC for people with disabilities.
Even the Work and Pensions secretary admits it isn’t working as reported in the Times today (6th October), ‘Ministers are becoming increasingly alarmed about the rollout of universal credit after Esther McVey, the work and pensions secretary, confirmed privately to colleagues that millions of families would lose £200 a month under the new system. Ms McVey told cabinet colleagues that half of lone parents and about two thirds of working-age couples with children would lose the equivalent of £2,400 a year.’
The problems are: the gap in payments of an average of 5 weeks at the start, compounded by the switch from fortnightly to monthly payments, having to be entirely online and needing IT support to do this, administrative problems and – here’s the real body blow – the resulting benefit is not enough to live on, especially for people with disabilities and their families.
Local voluntary organisations have been working together to lobby the council to be ready for the roll out. I have been going to the on-going meetings between the Job Centres, Wandsworth Council, South West London Law Centre, Foodbank, Citizens Advice Wandsworth, Advising Communities and local charities as a result. But getting the basic data has been a real problem – to measure and be able to prevent increasing debt and homelessness we have to know what the situation is to start with.
The move towards being entirely online for people on low incomes is very hard. The forms need IT literacy, residents living in Wandsworth temporary accommodation do not have broadband become Wandsworth Council (despite ‘temporary’ being usually for many months and sometime for years), they need a good level of English to use. The responsibility for following up on setting up the new account, making and attending appointments and getting in paperwork has changed to being the claimant’s responsibility. Many people have not had this early explained and are losing out. All of these can be resolved – but some claimants need a lot more support in the early stages.
In Wandsworth Food Bank use has increased since the introduction of Universal credit. More people are going to the Legal Advice Centres – the voluntary sector is picking up the pieces of poor policy and a refusal to stop and rethink. Here is the excellent annual report from the Wandsworth Foodbank with more background, stories of impact and recommendations.
An estimated 10% of people on Universal Credit need additional support with different parts of the process like help with IT, form filling and budgeting. But if at the end of the day the money is not enough this isn’t going to solve the fundamental problem of Universal Credit
The roll out of UC in Wandsworth will continue next year to families with more than two children, and this tidal wave will be sweeping across many families who will need extra support. The Council, Job Centres and voluntary organisations must work much more effectively to be able to see what the impact is and where more action needs to be taken.
Better yet, the Government should judge the success of UC by its impact, and make the changes needed – with no gap in payments, fixing the admin problems and reviewing the benefit amounts.
The National Audit Office’s report on UC found that it is not delivering on value for money and they won’t be able to measure whether it is increasing the number of people who are in work – the two key reasons for the switch.
There is more coming – as a new wave of people being ‘migrated’ to Universal Credit is coming, and from April 2019 will also include families with more than 2 children. Change is very urgent.
Its time to stop the roll out and fix the problems.
There’s lots going in in the ward at the moment with planning applications being submitted for Tooting Bec Lodge, the planning application for new homes overlooking Ravenstone School has been re-submitted and we’re also continuing to put pressure on Network Rail to clean up the railway bridge and its surroundings on Bedford Hill. More on all of those subjects from us shortly.
Last week we met with council officers and the Cabinet Member with responsibility for leisure facilities in Wandsworth to raise our concerns regarding various aspects of the running of Tooting Bec Lido this summer.
We love the Lido and feel so lucky to have it in our ward. It’s a facility enjoyed not just by people in Tooting, or even Wandsworth, but people travel from far and wide to enjoy a dip in the 90 metres of fresh water. Rumour has it that Brad Pitt has even been there to film a scene!
Our concerns were that many people who visited the Lido this summer did not have the experience they expected, and many may have been left disappointed as a result of this. When being asked to pay £7.50, you can understand why.
That is why we called for this meeting, to discuss:
The persistently long queues
IT failures which caused the card payments system to crash
Cleanliness of the facility
Access to the paddling pool
The main themes to arise during our discussion were the need for better communication and planning, and we reinforced the need for better expectation management of the queue. Although it’s not possible to predict exactly how long people may be queuing for, it’s safe to say that once the queue reaches a certain point (somewhere near the end of the fence), it will be around an hour’s wait. Even if this isn’t completely accurate, it helps those who haven’t been before to know what the wait time might be. It is this aspect of communication (and not just on Twitter and social media) that we reinforced. A point which we noted was equally important when problems arise such as the occasions when the card machine wasn’t working. We noted that over, rather than under communication was preferable in these situations, especially given the distance to the nearest cash point. On the issue of the card machine, this apparently occurred due to overheating, and so we hope that more robust IT infrastructure is put in place before next summer to avoid this happening again! We noted to the council that if people were not told that they couldn’t pay by card, they were unlikely to return given the distance to the nearest cash point, something which will have resulted in a loss of money.
We also indicated that it would be useful, perhaps through a sign to be put up at busy times, to indicate what items could and couldn’t be taken into the lido, something which may cut down the time taken for security officers to inspect and remove items from bags. Although there is a small sign there noting no alcohol, this could definitely be more prominent and provide more details than it does currently.
It was useful to reflect that the standard of cleanliness had picked up over the course of the summer, something which we had noted that Places for People needed to do something about . This was following several complaints by users of the lido about the cleanliness of the cubicles and changing rooms.
It was admitted that the maintenance of the Lido could have been handled better by Places for People. Examples of this include the paddling pool and the various equipment repairs which were, and are still needed (we’re still in discussions about the work needed on the pump). We’re hoping that these are all brought up to the standard they should be now that demand is less.
Although the heatwave may have passed, it is our hope that the points we highlighted at this meeting will mean a smoother and less problematic summer season next year and beyond – something we’ll certainly be keeping an eye on. Despite it not being sunny, the Lido now seems to be suffering with too much rain(!) and the pump house not working as it should be mean the showers have been unavailable for a lot of this week. Once more, a loss of power to the reception means the card payment facility is down again. We hope that these problems will be remedied soon and will be keeping the pressure on to make sure they are.
12 Reasons why Siward Road Specialist Nursery should not be closed
The council decision is on Wednesday 11th July, supporters, former parents and parents are invited to attend from 7pm at the Town Hall, marble hall entrance. If it goes through, the nursery will close on July 31st.
1 The nursery is the only specialist nursery in Wandsworth. It provides support for children with autism and with complex needs, and there is already a shortage of places for children with Special Educational Needs, especially in nurseries, and especially for children with complex needs and social and communications difficulties that are turned away from other nurseries and childminders.
2. Parental choice and increasing need: There is an increase in awareness of autism, and earlier diagnosis and so in parents seeking support earlier than when they reach school, but budget cuts means less support for children with autism in schools. Early support before schools is even more important. More parents want to choose Siward Road but are being denyed this choice. During the year referrals from St Georges have been stopped and the nursery isn’t mentioned in the ‘Choosing nursery education brochure for parents. So take up of places has gone down but this does not show that there is less need or demand from parents.
3. Other nurseries are larger, noisier spaces and very often over-whelming for children with autism. Siward Road provides a smaller pace where children can cope and learn to cope and then move onto larger spaces and settings. Lots of children start at a larger nursery but can’t cope or getting moved between nurseries.
4. The reason given for the closure is to save money – it was part of a paper about changes to funding provision – but the total cuts are more than need to be made (£345,000 cuts ‘needed’ but over £700,000 cuts being made, and Siward Road staff cost just over £200,000 per year). This is not good value for money, and cutting this service shifts the financial burden to other nurseries whose budgets are already being reduced, and to parents who will have to take their children to appointments in different places. It could cost more to break up all the provision into different services rather than have in once place. It has been called both ‘a false economy’ and ‘inclusion on the cheap’. We weren’t given comparative costings of the different provision to be able to judge it in the committee, but Siward Road seems very good value for money at the moment. I worry that the Council will realise it needs to have this service in a couple of years time, and it will cost a lot to bring it back – and at what cost to the children who have lost out too?
5. The nursery was rated as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted last year. All the staff are amazing and should be valued for their care for very vulnerable children, their experience and the unique set of support for children that has been developed aver time and provides very good value for money. This should be celebrated and valued by the Council. Siward Road is a crucial piece of the jigsaw puzzle of provision that makes up special educational needs provision in Wandsworth.
6. The nursery provides different therapists and professionals in one place, rather than parents needing to take their children to and from different appointments and places for the same level of care. This is hard for any parents, very hard for any working parent, and even harder for children who find travelling on public transport very hard.
7. Because it is a specialist nursery only for children with special needs, parents also receive a lot of support from staff and from each other. Instead of being a lone or minority voice, together the parents can be more supportive of each other and this results in better care for their children.
8. Parents were told about the closure only a few weeks before the end of term. They planned on being in the nursery for another year, with time to agree an EHC plan for additional support before going to another nursery where it would be needed. It is being done in such a rush, and for children with so many needs, that it will not be done well, and children will lose out.
9 The decision making process could not result in informed decision by the committee members – we had the paper on Friday for the Tuesday meeting. We didn’t have time to visit the school, find out enough information or being able to assess the arguments put in the paper. There was no Equality Impact and Needs Analysis available, and no information about where children currently there would go. We were told that three children are attending but it is 11. Referrals to the nursery were clearly stopped at some stage, and no new children taken for next year, but we still haven’t been told when referrals to the nursery were stopped. A letter from parents with their views was sent to the presenting officer the day before, but not made available to the committee, and the parents were not told that they could come and speak to the committee, so the committee did not hear parent’s views. If this is the way this decision is handled, it gives no confidence that the council will organise sufficiently good places for the current children and good support during their transition, or alternative SEN support for future children.
10. The council are about to launch a consultation on early years provision in Wandsworth – any major changes like this should be made after the consultation and not before it.
11. Last year the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism researched and published a report which showed that children on the autistic spectrum are being let down by the education system. The focus Siward Road focus on children with complex needs and with social and communications difficulties uniquely met their needs and equipped children better for coping better in an education system which is tough for them.
12. The other Wandsworth Nursery Schools and primary schools are suffering from budget cuts, and Nursery Schools have to pay for all one-to-one support for children before they have their EHC plan. They will not be able to afford to support many of the children who would have been going to Siward Road as they are too young to have had this plan yet. Other nurseries will be less and less able to support children with social and communication difficulties as the budget cuts increase. The 16 places at Siward Road are needed more than ever.
If you think the council should keep Siward Road open, please write to your councillor, and even better arrange to meet with them this week and explain the value of Siward Road.
In this month’s local news: please sign the petition about Siward Road nursery closure, some of our June highlights, Wandsworth Welcomes refugees news, latest on Tooting Lodge and the reason behind Hector’s name change (yes, you have to read to the end for this revelation).
Shock closure of Siward Road special needs nursery
The Conservative councillors are threatening to close the only nursery in Wandsworth for children with complex needs. It has was rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted last year, and provides a necessary service for very young children who can be assessed and then either supported to move into mainstream nurseries or to school providing eduction for children with special needs. It is in Earlsfield and has spaces for 16 children, many of whom would find a larger nursery over-whelming or would not be placed in other nurseries.
Budget cuts have been blamed for the need to reduce spending on early years, however the Council is planning to make over £400,000 more cuts than made necessary from a funding change, and Siward Road nursery costs £205,000 per year. The costs of supporting children with complex needs are substantial and this cut is a false economy.
The Council plan to close the nursery this month, but hadn’t told parents or staff. They were not consulted or involved, or able to make any preparations for next term and are very concerned about the future of their children. The list of alternative provisions made available to Labour councillors is not acceptable as most are not able to meet the needs of the children at Siward Road. This is why the nursery plays an important role in Wandsworth’s early years provision and should be valued rather than closed in a rush.
We’ve all been going to lots of training sessions as a new term has begun since our election, and we continue do all we can to be the best councillors and local representatives that we can be for the next four years.
We’ve also enjoyed going to lots of community events. The Iftar during Ramadan at the Tooting Islamic Centre was a highlight, as so many people from the local community were warmly welcomed to the mosque and treated to a wonderful feast and understood more about the significance of the special month of Ramadan. The month of fasting is an amazing achievement – especially during the hot summer.
Mr Whirly Wines, Fleur, Rosena, Clare and Dee’s of Delight Bakery – celebrating Ritherdon Road
Ritherdon Road street party was bigger and better than ever, and we also enjoyed historic walks on Tooting Common, the open day at Holy Trinity church and a visit up the famous tower which is due to be extensively renovated soon. Ravenstock at Ravenstone School was a lot of fun, and we’ve been to Safer Neighbourhood, and Tooting Bec and Balham Neighbourhood Forum meetings.
Hector, Rosena, Headteacher Joe Croft and Clare at Ravenstock
Tooting Common public meeting with added synchronised swimming
The Tooting MAC advisory group annual public meeting was in the new Lido pavilion with a wonderful backdrop of the synchronised swimmers doing a dry land rehearsal behind the speakers. There was news of crime on the common staying relatively low (mainly parking issues), and progress on the Heritage Lottery
We attended a great meeting with the Tooting History Group on the history of the common
project which is in its final third year. So watch out for some more community events, continuing renovation of the Woodfield Pavilion and the acid grassland areas, and some more information boards to go up and reveal aspects of the common to us – recently there has been scything and walks. There was no mention of plans to cut more trees down, but we remain vigilant.
Do let us know if you are having a meeting that we can come to and play an active role in building our community together.
Do follow us on twitter to see ore of what we are doing in the local community: @clare_f, @hectordenfield, @cllrfleur
Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees – some good news
We have had the great news that more families from Syria have been rescued from refugee camps and welcomed to Wandsworth recently, bring the total number of families to 6. Battersea Deanery of Churches have been able to support the offer of 2 flats for future families as well – and more landlords are always very welcomed. The Home Office pays all costs – not the council. This is a far lower number that our neighbouring councils, but it marks a significant speeding up for families coming and we hope there will be many more. It is the least we can do from our position of safety and as a relatively prosporous council for some of the people in the world who need our support most.
The group of individuals and organisations will be marking Donald Trumps visit to the U with a positive message for Wandsworth on the morning on July 13th – email email@example.com if you can join us.
Tooting Lodge – some good news at last!
Here’s a picture of the day the Lodge had the hoardings taken down. Nice to see it with the sun going down behind it!
Avid readers of this newsletter will have followed urging the developer of the Lodge to make the building water tight and stop deteriorating, and then more recently to remove the ugly hoardings. The hoardings are down and a wire fence is up, but we hope that the developer will remove these in due course. We wait to see what use will be made of the building now that it has been restored and we can see this historic building. It is the gate house of a former very large local house.
Congratulations to Hector Denfield!
Congratulations to Hector who got married in June, and he and his wife have combined their formed names into one new name – so Cllr Hector Wakefield has become Cllr Hector Denfield. We wish both a lifetime of happiness together.
Do contact us:
Next surgery on Wednesday 4th July at 10am at the scout hall on the High Road, opposite Du Cane Court.
A big thank you from all three of us to everyone who voted in the election on May 3, especially those who voted for Hector, Fleur and I. We are delighted that there are now three Labour councillors representing Bedford ward.
Across Wandsworth, Labour came within 146 votes of winning the council, and did so standing on pledges of delivering genuinely affordable homes for local people, a council tax freeze, standing up for our local schools and public services and proposals to improve our environment and air quality. These are things which as a group of 26 Labour councillors across Wandsworth, we’ll continue to fight for.
The three of us live locally in Bedford ward and are already involved in my local community groups. During the next four years this is something we’ll seek to expand upon and will look for ways to represent local residents wherever and however possible.
Our main priority is to stand up for local people and will fight to ensure that residents all receive better services from the Council and will seek to highlight/provide better information about the various ways in which the Council can help you.
We always love to hear from you, so if you have any questions, or have something you need assistance with, our contact details are below:
MARCH NEWS: Read on for news about local road changes, Tooting Bec Lodge, Newlands Estate Residents meeting, the recent water shortages and Balham and Tooting Community Association
Fleur Anderson, Clare Fraser and Hector Wakefield are your candidates in the local elections. On May 3rd, you’ll have the chance to vote for change. Labour will make our roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists, defend local schools from cuts and keep the same low council tax.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you think we can help you out with anything else. As local residents, we’re committed to working hard for everyone in our community.
Elmbourne Road and Tooting Bec junction road changes
As a result of campaigning by local residents and your local Labour councillors, the council have agreed to take action to reduce the number and speed of cars coming through the area.
A petition from residents of Elmbourne and Hillbury Road and parents of St Anselm’s School on Louisville Road led to the council assessing the traffic on Elmbourne Road. At peak times of day there is over three times the amount considered acceptable. Rather than just put in traffic calming on one road, the Council has now agreed to take this further and look across the Heaver Estate.
The Council is working with Transport for London to forecast the effects of changes to the ‘no right turn’ at Tooting Bec station which causes traffic jams and is the reason for so many drivers turning up Elmbourne Road. All local roads near Elmbourne Road – including roads off Elmbourne and Avoca and Montana Roads, Tooting Bec Road are included. The effect of traffic changes on Dr Johnson Avenue is being assessed but there is no proposal to close the road as this was rejected by local residents recently.
As your Labour team we have been supporting local residents and working with the council to make the case for less rat running, slower speeds of traffic, and ensure roads are safe for pedestrians to cross. We will let you know the council’s plans as soon as possible, and involve you in the plans for our roads.
Labour is committed to ensuring our roads are safe. It was a campaign run by Councillor Fleur Anderson that ensured that all residential streets in the neighbourhood have a 20MPH speed limit on them. Something that has now been replicated across the whole of Wandsworth.
Tooting Bec Lodge
After years of delays the developer has repaired the Lodge to Heritage standards. Everyone who walks past this eye sore now wants to see the hoardings come down and they should be down by June 23rd – hopefully sooner.
The Thames Water issues were a busy weekend for our MP Dr Rosena Allin-Khan as she worked hard to keep residents informed and liaise with them to get a water bottle distribution point in Balham, water to old peoples homes and to secure compensation for affected residents. you should have received a letter from Thames Water telling you how much that will be depending on how long you didn’t have water for. I helped out by delivering water to people who couldn’t get out and I know that lots of people helped neighbours and showed how much we do care for each other in our community. I’m grateful to the Thames engineers who worked through several nights to fix the many leaks, and hope that Thames Water will invest much more in our Victorian water system so that this doesn’t happen again.
Newlands Estate Residents Association meeting
The Residents Association met recently, with the main issues been the very inconsistent cleaning service and recent water issues. The cleaning issues have been ongoing for a very long time, and During the recent snow, water pipes in Treherne Court froze and left residents without water for several days. Residents have been assured that the lagging will be done before next winter and are seeking compensation.
Balham and Tooting Community Association
The BACTA AGM was a very happy meeting, with plenty to celebrate in last year’s events and plans for this year. Here is news from BACTA:
We decided to do a Community Walk on Sunday 13th May, led by Geoff Simmons of Summerstown 182. We chose a multifaith theme, with visits inside three or four places of worship of different faiths to see the building and meet the members.
Many expressed enthusiasm for a summer sports event, either football or cricket, and a number made offers to help.
A family swim and picnic at Tooting Lido, or a family sports day on Tooting Common were also suggested.
If you could help organise any of these or have further ideas, please let BATCA know: firstname.lastname@example.org
The year ahead : oldfavourites
The Community Fun Day, in collaboration with the schools of the Al Risalah Trust and St Augustine’s Church, will take place on Saturday 22nd September.
The multi faith Peace Ceremony is planned for 10th October
The ever popular Community Awards will take place early in 2019. Nominations will open at the beginning of January, leading to a celebratory presentation event around late February.
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 lanes 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.