Keep the track running campaign – open meeting on Wednesday

Great support for the flash protest at the Athletics Track

Flash protest at Tooting Athletics TrackThe campaign to keep the Tooting Common Athletics Track and gym open and affordable is in full swing! Rosena and I are working with the Furzedown Councillors to show public support for the track and find out from the Council what is going on.

The petition is going really well, and if you sign you can receive the latest information about the campaign to save the Track from closure or being taken over by a private company who will make it too expensive for most people to visit. Please sign the petition:

Rosena, myself, Cllr Candida Jones, Cllr Mark Thomas, presenter Nicky Campbell, Herne Harriers coach James and Sadiq Khan MP
Rosena, myself, Cllr Candida Jones, Cllr Mark Thomas, presenter Nicky Campbell, Herne Harriers coach James and Sadiq Khan MP (I made the sign myself!)

We had a great flash protest at the track today – thanks so much to everyone who came. There were at least 200 people there – including Sadiq Khan MP, local
Councillors, Nicky Campbell, lots of Herne Hill Harriers and coaches, and local supporters of our services in the Common staying ours.

As Sadiq Khan Said, the track is ours now and we want to keep it this way, and this is a campaign which we can unite behind as a community. My neighbour came to the protest and said how much she and her three sons use the track, and how much it is used by the whole community from all walks of life.

The council have said that they are starting to look into options and one of these is having a staff mutual. These will be proposed more and more by the Council as a halfway house between being fully funded and being cut – instead a group of staff from a company and take on the contract, although this is protected for them for only two years and then goes out to open tender which they may or may not win.

Sadiq Khan and local Councillors are organising an open meeting this Wednesday from 7.30 – 8.30 at St Pauls Church, Chillerton Rd, Furzedown – do come and find out more information – I’ve certainly got a lot more to learn about staff mutuals and what the risks are for the future of the track.

Great support for the track at the flash protest today #keepthetrackrunning
Great support for the track at the flash protest today #keepthetrackrunning

Wheatsheaf news

Latest news from the Wheatsheaf pub, which I’ve been leading a local campaign to keep as a local pub in its lovely 100 year old building. The current leaseholders will be finishing their lease at the end of Janaury. Antic have run the pub brilliantly and its now a place which anyone can enjoy (even if you want a cup of tea!) and is a community hub. Its a real shame and I just really hope that another great company will take it on and soon!

Flytipping and rubbish

rubbish smallRosena and I were really pleased to see the local Guardian highlight the major concerns about the amount of flytipping and rubbish on our streets. Generally street cleaning is very good, but there are a few hot spots which are regularly dumped on, and it’s one of the main things we are asked to ask the Council to take action on. Do keep letting us know if this is a problem for you.




Veronica Road – proposed development

Together with many residents of Veronica Road, Rosena and I successfully objected to a new development on the site of garages at the top end of the road. The decision to refuse planning permission is now being appealed – do contact us soon if you’d like further information.

School sibling consultation, and Tooting Athletics Track may be cut

School sibling policy consultation

Feelings are running very high about the plans change the sibling policy for schools admission. If you have an opinion on this, or experience of how it would affect you, please send in your views to the consultation by October 31st 

Please encourage other parents to send in their views too.

Primary school admissions bookletWould this have split up your family if applied to you, or is it a fair solution to a problem which leaves parents unable to get into very local schools?

Here is the link to submit your views:

This is from the Wandsworth Council website:

“The council is proposing that sibling priority should only apply in future to children who live within 800 metres of the school. Siblings residing further away would no longer have priority over children living closer.

Data from the 2014 round of admissions show that of 712 children who were offered a place at a community school on the basis of sibling priority, 174 lived more than 800 metres away from the school

The council believe the proposed approach would strike a fairer balance as the majority of families with siblings would not be affected by the change.

If, after consultation, the change is agreed, the council will urge church schools and other state schools responsible for their own admissions, like academies and foundation schools, to consider similar changes.

To find out more about the proposal and to take part in the consultation parents can visit The consultation will run until Friday, October 31.”

Leaked document show major cuts to come

Tooting Athletics Track was on a leaked document showing some of the potential cuts to services to come in the next couple of years. Other cuts could be libraries, day centres and Battersea Lesuire Centre. These were the focus of the Council meeting last week and the Conservative Leader couldn’t deny that any cuts could be possible. We will oppose cuts to crucial front line services that don’t need to be made, so watch this space.

Save The Lodge, Ravenstone School cycling and Barringer Square

Save The Lodge on Tooting Bec Road

The Lodge on Tooting Bec Road is the lovely white building which used to be a garden centre and is now surrounding by hoardings and falling into disrepair. It is listed by English Heritage and there has been a local group working to save this building for three years.

Fleur and Rex deploring the crumbling state of the Lodge
Councillors Fleur and Rex deploring the crumbling state of the Lodge

Permission was given to a developer for retail use and a separate café. However no work has been started and there is a lot of concern about the building locally from those who live nearby and the many who walk past the building everyday.

However there is good news now that the Council will be putting more pressure on the owners to repair the building. Rosena and I have met with one of the group members and will do all we can to support this campaign, and to urge the Council to do all it can to preserve the building and enable a developer to return it to its former glory.

In looking into the building I have been told by local history guru – and Labour group leader, Councillor Rex Osborn, that the building is the gardeners lodge for a former large house here, but is all that remains of the estate.


Fleur cycling at Ravenstone

 Ravenstone School promotes cycling

On Monday Ravenstone School parents and volunteers had a great event to celebrate national car free day and promote cycling. A family was escorted on their bikes to school from Furzedown, and given tips on cycling. One tip was to keep out into the road more and ‘own the road’. I normally spend my time shouting ‘keep in!’ to my cycling children so I learnt a lot too. In the playground there was a bike which also makes smoothies (see the picture – I had to have a go too!) was put into action by Sustrans and children were given smoothies and fruit – both of which were really popular. It was a great idea and one we’ll share with the other local schools.


Anti-social behaviour on Barringer Square

Rosena and I regularly visit local streets with our local MP Sadiq Khan to introduce ourselves and hear people’s concerns and issues. When we visited Barringer Square recently, the main issue brought up was the anti-social behaviour of people coming to the area and hanging around in stairwells. As a result I have raised this with the Council and they will be sending letter will be sent to residents about this and encouraging more information, and there will be additional attention given to this. At the Safer Neighbourhood Meeting on Monday I raised this as a concern, and the local police have agreed to make this a priority area, alongside others such as theft from vehicles across the ward.

Good news on the 20 MPH zone, and your views on Tooting Common

Twenty's Plenty SignYesterday we got some great news on our campaign to have a 20 MPH zone and increase road safety in our streets. The Council have told us that the recent consultation showed that there is huge support from residents in Balham and Tooting Bec, and they are proposing that this will be agreed. Lots of residents will remember us asking if they would be interested in signing the petition for this – and this big change is the result so we’re really pleased that we’ve been able to listen to the Community on an issue that matters to a lot of people, and get action from the Council as a result. Big thanks for all the support of our local MP, Sadiq Khan, and of the Councillors in Furzedown where there will also be a new 20 MPH zone.

What would it mean? Bedford 20MPH ZoneNot only will there be a 20 MPH speed limit in the streets off the main road, but there will be other measures to increase road safety. Even better, at the same time money from Transport for London will be used to improve the condition of all the roads in the zone. This will mean one of the most significant investments in our ward in recent times.

What happens next? This needs to be agreed by the Wandsworth Council Community Service Committee which meets on 25th September. I’m on the committee so no surprises which way I’ll be voting, and I hope the other members agree.

Plans to upgrade the sports pitch at the Triangle – what do you think?

tooting_triangle_bigger During the summer the Council announced plans to lease off the youth centre and football pitch on the Common for 25 years. The leaseholder would upgrade the very run down and hardly used pitch, improve the floodlights and use the youth centre as changing rooms. As this happened over the summer and is controversial in several ways, I wrote to ask for a longer time for consultation and the Council have agreed to extend until the end of the month. The controversial aspects are the Boxing Club being asked to leave their current home, the plans to extend the size of the football pitch by 25% to enable two 7-a-side pitches next to each other and taking up more of the common land, the potential disturbance of local residents from the lights and from extra people parking nearby. Comments can be emailed to or put in writing and addressed to The Director of Housing and Community Services 17-27 Garratt Lane London SW18 4AE. 
 Do let Rosena and I know your views too. More information here.

The Tooting Common White Line Debate – inquiry later this month
20 MPH Zone There is a national public enquiry into the issue of whether there should be a white line segregating the pedestrian and cycling sides of the path across the common. I think that cyclists will go more slowly if there isn’t a line and neither side feels it is ‘my side’ when in reality small children and dogs go between both sides so its not safe. The enquiry is happening at 10am on Tuesday September 30th in the Town Hall, and you can write in with your views and/or ask to speak to the enquiry: National Transport Casework Team, Tyneside House, Skinnerburn Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE4 7AR quoting reference NATTRAN/L/CT/12

Latest threat to the Wheatsheaf – comments needed by 25th August

Campaigners supporting The WheatsheafMy husband knows way more than me about the Wheatsheaf, having visited a lot more regularly than me for many years! He used to go when it was a very Irish pub and quite a different atmosphere too. For the past year I’ve been campaigning to Save the Wheatsheaf because I like this historic building at the centre of Tooting Bec and I don’t like identikit high streets. All of the over 9,000 who signed the campaign petition have all sorts of different reasons too – but united by wanting to save this building as a pub.

Rumours of a supermarket takeover last Summer started the campaign and I organised the first public meeting and have been in the campaign group ever since. Together we have pushed for Council protection for the pub, and now there is an unprecedented set of protection measures in place – it is locally listed as a historic building, it is an official Asset of Community Value and it has an ‘Article 4 Direction’ against demolition of change of use.

More background on the campaign is here:

The latest threat to the future of the Wheatsheaf is an application put in by the owners to create 9 flats in the two floors above the pub. One floor was being used as a venue for community use and musicians practise area and the current tenants of the pub were hoping to renovate these rooms as more venues for community use.

The proposal for flats would put a stop to this and more worryingly is a well-worn path by other pubs to eventual closure because of complaints by residents in the flats despite knowing they moved in about a pub. I really don’t want to stand by and see this slowly happen to the Wheatsheaf.

We do need more residential units in Wandsworth, but we also need to protect community amenities and in the case of the Wheatsheaf, with its huge public support, this should take precedence.

I’ve make comments in opposition to the planning application on the Wandsworth Planning portal, and so can you up to August 25th. The application number is 2014/3954. Please do follow this link and make a comment – its a really quick and easy form to fill in:

New Plans for Tooting Common

I love our local Common and with a bike, four children, a love of running and a dog I’m an extensive user! There are a few big changes coming the way of Tooting Common – and ways in which you can have your say in what they are. Here’s a run down of the changes, and I’ll be sharing more about how to get involved on this blog, in letters and on Twitter as they evolve:

Heritage Lottery Fund
The Council has successfully applied for Lottery funding for heritage related projects on the Common and there will be someone employed to see the first projects done, and then to organise consultations about future projects. The first ones are exploring the history of the Common and installing signs explaining the history behind some of its areas; refurbishing a fountain; and improving the site of an ancient tree, amongst others. There is more information about the history project and how to express interest in being a volunteer here.

The current owners have now got permission to apply for a longer lease and to extend the café to include toilets and a baby change area. This will be a welcome addition to the Common. My son just loves the shocking bright blue bubble gum flavoured ice cream, but the Council can’t regulate everything!

Football pitch next to the Triangle Childrens’ Centre
The opportunity to take up a lease for changing rooms and to upgrade the football pitch was advertised last week, covering the building that used to be a youth club and then a boxing club.

The Great White Line Debate
The issue of how to enable considerate cycling on paths also used by lots of walkers is hotly debated in the Common’s Management and Friend’s groups. The current situation of having a white line doesn’t really work in the view of many. It has become an issue of national importance now and there will be a Secretary of State’s enquiry into this in September. I cycle across Clapham Common every day and really enjoy the separate paths there, but apparently there can’t be any more tarmac on Tooting Common so this can’t be the solution here. I’ll put more information about how to give your opinion on this enquiry here when I have it.

Future of policing for the Common
The Metropolitan Police currently provide the policing service for the Common. This contract is coming up for renewal and other options will be looked into by the Council later in the year.

A couple of websites with more information:
Friends of Tooting Common
Wandsworth Cyclists


On being a new councillor

A huge thanks to everyone who voted on election day back in May – and especially for those who voted for Rosena and I. There haven’t been any Labour councillors for our ward since 1990, but we changed this and are very grateful and excited to be your new councillors.

I’ve lived in the ward since 1999 and have gradually become more active in local issues. My four children all went to (or still go to) St Anselms and my husband is from Balham, so I have lots of friends and community connections. I really wanted to give more back to the community and seized the chance of becoming a Councillor.

Last year I got involved in leading campaigns against the cuts to One O’Clock clubs and to save the Wheatsheaf pub from being taken over by a supermarket. Both of these encouraged me that local people working together can make a difference.

Both Rosena and I want to work really hard to be a representative of all local residents to the Council which issues arise, we want to be active and visible in the community, and to especially stand up for the people who are most affected by the cuts in Council services and the continued focus by the Council on making money rather than making better communities. We also live here and love our low council tax.

My priority in being a Councillor will be to serve local people and stand up for everyone in getting better services and response from our local Council, to get better information about what the Council offers to people – and to enable better feedback to the Council about what they should be doing better.

So thanks again for voting for me to be your Councillor, I’m here to serve and do get in touch about anything you think I could help with.