Trees and other issues – are the wheels falling off the Wandsworth Council wagon?

Wandsworth council: are the wheels are falling off the wagon?

Wandsworth Council has been Conservative for 40 years and is inevitably is running out of steam. The big cut in affordable housing on the Battersea Power Station development has rightly received a lot of attention, and showed how little the council are prepared to fight for local residents over developers’ profits. Recently there have  been other signs of the wheels falling off the wagon:

Chestnut Avenue Trees – how not to listen to local residents

Cutting down the Chestnut Avenue trees. We’ve just received the costings and they show that we were misled. In the proposal it clearly stated that the costs would be ‘funded from the successful bid for a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund’ Community Services Committee 16-353). Previously annual costs of maintaining the avenue were between £1,000 – £3,000, although more would have been needed to address increased disease in some of the trees. The full costs of the replanting were £83,348, of which £55,561 is from the Heritage Lottery Fund. (see the end of this blog for the full inventory).

It didn’t save them money (in fact it cost much more than the original £46k that we were informed was the Heritage Lottery Grant for this), and it clearly went against the views of most local people who told them they loved the Avenue. They cut it down anyway. Instead of saving the healthy trees and only dealing with those that were diseased, they cut the whole lot down. I can’t understand why they didn’t stop and listen to local people – maybe they think that they know better than local people, and that they can’t ever change their minds as this would be a loss of face.

Responses to other questions I asked are that four out of the five mature trees next to the playground did have root rot and were dangerous, and that no problems were found with 7 of the trees. The rest needed different degrees of attention. Many people have asked if some of the wood could be used for furniture on the common or given another use on the Common, and I’ve asked about this been told that three pieces of wood have been kept for community use.

The Northcote Library plan – a good idea ruined

Having a brand new library should be welcomed by local people in Northcote. But the way the Council has gone about it alienated and angered a lot of local people. A community hall will be knocked down to make way for the new building, and a much loved nursery evicted. It has been serving the community and paying rent to the council for over 20 years. The council should have worked with the nursery to incorporate its needs into the new plans, and find it temporary premises during the build. Many local people have felt ignored and said in the consultation that they didn’t want this plan for new library. There have been some modifications to proposals in response to feedback from neighbours – so why didn’t they go further and support the community hall users too?

At the last minute they realised that they should have done this and the local Tory councillors hastily sent a letter around in the week before the Committee. This said that that another premises had been found in a local church. However this wasn’t the case, but it did give false reassurance and influence Committee members to agree with the plan.

During the Committee I proposed amendments on behalf of the Labour team and local residents. A commitment to supporting the nursery and other users of the community hall, and meeting moving costs was agreed. A proposal to make these houses social housing – desperately needed and very possible in a rare development that the Council is doing itself – was rejected. Any mention of this proposal was conveniently left out of the whitewashed minutes of the meeting.

We don’t talk any more?

The Bedford Ward ‘Lets Talk’ happens every two years and is an opportunity for residents to speak with the Leader of the Council, local councillors and council officers. Our local Bedford Ward meeting was due early in this year but has been postponed – are they afraid to hear from local people?

At a recent Shaftesbury ‘Lets Talk’ meeting, Conservative councillors end up shouting at local residents who dared to question council actions. It was quickly dubbed ‘Lets Shout’ by local commentators, and the attitude of  of the Conservative council are being exposed.

Police cuts

We are faced by ever increasing police cuts across London, which will result in the loss of local police stations in Wandsworth. I challenged the Conservative councillors to stop blaming the Mayor of London and instead square up to the government and tell them that enough is enough, people’s safety is at risk and we can’t have any more cuts. A staggering £600 million has already been cut and a further £400m is being cut from the Met’s budget by the Home Office. The Borough Commander said at a recent consultation meeting that this is the most change he has seen in his 29 year career in the Met. Would the Conservative councillors agree to lobby the government over our safety in the way that they have lobbied the government over issues like the Heathrow runway? You can imagine the answer – a unanimous no.

School budgets slashed

Conservative councillors are very dismissive about the on-going and ever deeper school cuts. National outrage at Justine Greening’s proposed cuts before the General Election did lead to a back-down, but Wandsworth’s state schools face difficult decisions about staffing and school facilities because budgets are reduced. We have wonderful teaching staff and excellent schools in Wandsworth and yet the Conservative councillors are putting their heads in the sand and singing a ‘our schools will be fine’ mantra when faced with any attempt to tell them what damage the Government is doing. The Education secretary is a Wandsworth MP, and they should be speaking out and saving our education system instead of standing by.

See more on this here: Labour Reveals the true impact of Tory educations cuts in Wandsworth

Those Chestnut Avenue figures and answers to other questions on behalf of local residents:

Fencing (Entertee)                                   £9,100

Tree felling/chipping (City Suburban  £16,969/Ben Nicholson £22,150)£39,119      

Purchase of 64 trees (Barcham Nurseries)                                       £5,82

Planting x 64 lime trees with cages(Green Garden Co)   £7,070                               

12 months’ maintenance of 64 trees(Green Garden Co)    £2,048                            

Move x3 trees  (Tree Spade)                     £1,500

Private security (Carlisle Support Svces)      £4,274

Parks and Events Police                                   £8,000

Clearing up (Idverde)                                   £2,000

Road Traffic order                                            £1,622

Diversion signs                                                    £380  

Information boards,consultation leaflet and delivery                   £2,408

Total                                                              £83,348

NB1 We anticipate the HLF funding covering items 2-6 above, i.e. £55,561.

NB2 The engagement of additional security resources was a result of concerns re disruption and following consultation with the Metropolitan Police.

Responses to other questions about Chestnut Avenue:

Which are the four avenues mentioned in the Heritage Lottery Fund report specifically, and what are the maintenance plans for each of these avenues? Please could the Council also provide details of its maintenance programme for the 4 Chestnut trees at the Clairview Road end of West Drive?

The four avenues referred to in the heritage tree survey are Horse Chestnut Avenue, Dr Johnson Avenue, Garrad’s Road Avenue, and the no longer extant Tooting Bec Road Avenue. The historic avenues of Dr Johnson Ave and Garrad’s Road are oak avenues and maintenance proposals are infill planting and some relative minor maintenance pruning. It is to be noted that the Garrad’s Road Avenue is not the line of trees which border the edge of Garrad’s Road itself. See below for maintenance of other Horse Chestnuts.

  Has an analysis of the other horse chestnuts on Tooting Common been carried out, and what is the state of them? When will action be taken to make other poor trees safe, and what action will this be. Local residents do not want to see more trees being cut down if they can be saved – for example by pollarding.

As I said in my earlier response (below) the horse chestnut trees elsewhere on the common (circa 300) are regularly reviewed along with all other trees (which do not form part of a recognised “wood”) on the common, and indeed throughout the borough. However, as they generally are not standing in avenues, they will be managed and maintained individually as is necessary and or appropriate. In accordance with borough-wide maintenance practices, remedial work will comprise minor or major pruning, or removal, as is appropriate to the individual tree’s condition and location.

  What is the condition of the trees on Horse Chestnut Avenue on Wandsworth Common?

I am not sure what is being referred to as “Horse Chestnut Avenue” on Wandsworth Common. If it is the line of Horse Chestnut bordering the Fitzhugh Estate, it has a number of trees which have required substantial pruning and more are likely to require such work in the future. As above, any trees that are considered a risk will receive appropriate action according to the professionally-assessed level of risk.

 

Wandsworth Council must oppose Government police cuts

Fleur’s speech to the full Council meeting on 11th October 2017

Council speech photo october 2017Wandsworth Council must oppose Government police cuts

We need a Council that will listen to local residents and their concerns about safety and crime, that will square up to the Tory Government and will vigorously oppose any further police cuts.

I’d like to start by thanking our Wandsworth police force and community safety officers who are so dedicated and effective – including the police officer who broke his foot whilst chasing and making an arrest in Bedford ward this week. We are united in supporting the Community Safety Partnership Plan and its new priority areas. In particular I welcome the Mayor’s commitment to have Dedicated Ward Officers in each ward, most are whom already in place in Wandsworth.

Now we need to also unite in opposing government police cuts. Tory councillors should stop playing politics with residents’ safety, should take responsibility for the effects of Tory austerity policies and should stop blaming the London Mayor for the government’s police budget cuts.

Funding crisis in the police service

We are facing a funding crisis in our police services caused by sustained real-terms cuts by the Government. The Met has already had to deliver £600m in savings between 2012 and 2016. And now, a further £400m is required in the next four years. In the Wandsworth public consultation meeting, the Borough Commander called these the biggest changes he has seen in his 29 year career in the Met.

Its not just the police but community safety too. Crime increases have been seen across England and Wales as a result of this failing Tory government, including as a result of cuts to so many other services that help prevent crime. In Wandsworth last year there were 40 staff in the Youth Offending team and this year there are 36 staff members. We need the resources to be able to deliver the community safety plan not just in the Met but also in community crime prevention services.

Its not just community police but other units too: cuts to Counter Terror funding 

Counter Terror funding is being cut and this should be opposed. The non-political, expert Chief Constable Sara Thornton, Chair of The National Police Chiefs’ Council, set out last month that Counter Terror funding for policing is being cut by more than 7 per cent over the next three years. The Prime Minister, as a former Home Secretary, should be ashamed. This is a particular issue for London where terrorist threat levels are high and responding to events costly. We know that for every £1 of Counter Terrorism spend in response to an incident, around £2 is spent on necessary additional non-Counter Terrorism activity, which puts more strain on community police budgets.

The London Mayor is doing all he can to raise money for the police

This funding crisis means that Londoners’ safety is increasingly at risk. The Mayor has been lobbying the Government to take action ever since he was elected. Wandsworth Council should be lobbying the Government too. The Mayor increased council tax by the maximum allowed to fund the police, so that he could do everything in his power to provide more resources to the Met. All of the money possible through this mechanism was given to the police.

However this is simply nowhere near enough to fill the funding gap caused by the government.

In contrast, the previous Tory Mayor chose not to increase the council tax precept for 2016. This left a gap in the Greater London Authority income available for the Met. Despite Boris Johnson’s decision, Sadiq Khan has now made an additional £24m available. He is doing all he can – it’s the government’s cuts that the council must oppose.

Changes to police stations in Wandsworth

The Mayor has committed to ensuring that each borough will maintain a 24 hour police front counter. The Borough Commander is right to keep response times and keep the numbers of bobbies on the streets. The plans include more modernised approaches and more public engagement in different ways. This is being done by saving money on costly buildings and senior management – he has had to make invidious choices.

But enough is enough.

Three actions are urgent:

1. We now need to know where the Lavender Hill police station will be moved to and where the new community hubs will be, and then we need consultation on these plans. We need more consultation, less cuts

2. We also need assurance that the 101 phoneline responses will be vastly improved, as these are used by far more people to contact the police than police stations.

3. But above all we need a Council that will listen to local residents and their concerns about safety and crime, that will square up to the Tory Government and will vigorously oppose any further cuts.

(Wandsworth Conservative councillors didn’t agree and voted against taking any action to lobby the government on police cuts).

 

September Newsletter

Local news below is on your new local Labour team,  Chestnut Avenue, Ravenstone School planning application, Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees new local event, changes to local policing and Northcote Library.

The start of September was all about new terms for me – my youngest son is now at secondary school and goes off on the train on all his own (yikes), my oldest is back at Bristol University and the middle two are going to open days and planning where to go for sixth form and college.

Hector, Fleur and Clare

Hector, Fleur and Clare

New local Labour team

Local elections are next May and the Labour candidates for Bedford ward have recently been selected by local Labour party members – your team is Cllr Fleur Anderson, Hector Wakefield and Clare Fraser we all live locally in Bedford ward and want to listen to local people and keeping working to make our area an even better place to live for everyone. We’re all on twitter: @CllrFleur @clare_f and @hectorwakefield

Chestnut Avenue trees

Last Draw Chestnut Avenue

Save Chestnut Avenue campaign: The Last Draw

Plans to cut down 51 trees on Chestnut Avenue are going ahead, despite appeals for a rethink from Rosena Allin-Khan MP and London Mayor (and local resident) Sadiq Khan and my letter to the council (see previous blog). There is a notice on the common which means that the Avenue can be closed for the works to be carried out at any time in the next six months. I have been told that this will take about 2 weeks. Local people, community and councillors were told that this is necessary due to concerns about the trees’s disease and age and risk of falling down. I agreed that this had to be taken seriously. However since then other tree experts have said that the trees could be saved for the next 10 years at least, some need to be felled but not all. No work has been done on all the other Chestnut trees on the common – suggesting that health and safety wasn’t such an issue as had been portrayed.

For latest information contact me: fanderson@wandsworth.gov.uk, and see the local campaign on Twitter: @SaveChestnutAvenue

Ravenstone School

Ravenstone school playground and the garages where the new houses will be built

Ravenstone school playground and the garages where the new houses will be built

Parents and staff at Ravenstone School are objecting to a planning application for houses to be built very close to the playground – overlooking the playground with large glass windows, and overshadowing the playground.

If you would like to add any comments to the planning application (it doesn’t need to be a long comment), click on here. Scroll down to the bottom to see the planning documents, and click on ‘comment on application’ to register your objection.

 

Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees

Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees event during the Wandsworth fringe earlier this year - come to the next event on Monday Oct 9th

Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees event during the Wandsworth fringe earlier this year – come to the next event on Monday Oct 9th

The annual public meeting is on October 9th at 7pm at Tooting United Reformed church, Rookstone Rd (near Tooting Broadway tube). There will be inspiring speakers and making plans for the year ahead. Wandsworth Council has still only welcomed one Syrian family to the borough. For more information and to book your free ticket click here.

 

 

 

Policing changes underway

There is a consultation on changes to local policing open until October 6th: https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/mayors-office-policing-and-crime-mopac/mopac-consultations/share-your-views-accessing-met

These changes are the result of the £600 million cuts already made and now further Tory cuts of £400 million by 2021. To do this, but maintain response service for the public, they will be keeping local police officer numbers and cutting amounts spent on senior officers and buildings. Lavender Hill police station will be closed but not until a new 24 hr ‘customer service’ building will be opened nearby – Lavender Hill won’t be closed until the new building is opened. Wandsworth police station will be closed. Faced with this situation, the Metropolitan Police and Mayor are choosing the right priorities – making sure our 999 calls are answered and keeping local neighbourhood policing to keep us safe.

I attended the recent consultation on these changes with Borough Police. the Borough Commander Peter Laverick said that in all his 29 years in the police service, he has never seen such extensive changes as there are now. The Met has already been required to make savings of £600 million, and now must make £400 million further savings by 2021, whilst maintaining the same level of service.

At the consultation I welcomed the new resourcing for local policing and keeping police numbers rather than buildings. I also raised the concerns of local members of the Safer Neighbourhood ward group and Neighbourhood Watch representatives, that the 101 system isn’t working. currently people are finding that their calls aren’t answered, that they are left hanging on for too long, or that calls aren’t followed up. This undermines the good work of our local police officers and stops crimes being reported and stopped. I was informed that there was a move of staff from the 101 calls to 999 as a result in an increased in calls and that new staff for the 101 service will be starting very soon. I will continue to monitor this – do let me know if your calls aren’t being answered.

The Borough Commander told the public meeting that in Wandsworth 25,000 crimes per year are recorded, with 43,000 ‘calls to service’ and 14,000 of these are immediate response calls. They aim to maintain the level of local police officers (just over 500 in Wandsworth) as well as the response to the public.

A proposed way to do this is to save costs on buildings rather than police officers, and to reduce the numbers of senior officers and share resources across the boroughs through joining up boroughs into districts.

Footfall surveys for the two police stations which are open to the public showed low useage for crime reporting – people report crimes by phone rather than in person. 0.2 crimes per day in Wandsworth and 5 crimes per day in Lavender Hill.

Lavender Hill police station is on a long lease from the courts service which ends in 2029 and has running costs of £120,000 per year. An early end to the lease will be negotiated and they won’t close this building until a new (cheaper) police station in the same area, probably further up Lavender Hill, is opened. They are scoping out buildings but don’t know where it will be exactly. It will be still be the only police station open to the public 24 hrs a day.

Wandsworth police station is currently open on week days and will close. Tooting police station has already been closed to the public for some time, and will be sold. Earlsfield station will be kept as a police operations base, and the building where the cells are will be kept people will still be detained in Wandsworth when arrested.

Instead, local hubs will be opened – a safe room for police officers to start and finish their shifts from, speak to people confidentially if needed and keep equipment. The Mayor’s office said that these will all be a 20 minute walk from the ward, but ward teams will share them. They don’t have a plan for where they will be, so it was hard to tell if these really will be a 20 min walk and is something I would like to know more about.

Dedicated ward officers (DWOs): at a ward level the change is to move to having 2 dedicated ward officers, who can’t be ‘abstracted’ for Met-wide operations (eg football matches) but will be more embedded in the community. In Bedford we already have this as these plans have been rolling out for several months. The Tooting sergeant said that he will be writing in a commitment to be in the ward for a longer time into the new contracts for DWOs of 12 months.

In Wandsworth this means two DWOs and a PCSO in each ward, with an extra officer in some wards (like Queenstown) as well. Before the cuts there were three officers in each ward, but this is a commitment to keeping current levels in the long-term. I asked about overall police numbers as well – ie those in the special units, response teams etc, and the Borough Commander said that all of these numbers would be maintained.

Improved technology will enable these officers to be on the streets more and back at base less. They will have iPhone and iPads and be able to do all their recording of crimes when out and about. This is already in progress and starting to be rolled out, with an aim to have this fully operational by next Spring.

Northcote Library

Northcote library

Northcote library

Plans for Wandsworth Council to replace the current Northcote Library with a new, modern library on the site of a nearby community hall sounds great until you find out more about the actual plans. The new library and community space will be very welcome, but not at any cost. The current plan was made without consultation with the community groups and nursery that use Chatham Hall which will be demolished for this scheme.

 

Provision of a new library should have resulted in a clear majority of people in favour. But it didn’t – and this shows the considerable local objections to the plan. THIS plan for a new library is not welcome. Cllr Cook should listen to these local objections and look at the plan again.

The plan should have included them so that there will be somewhere for the nursery to go during the 18 months of building work, and so that the community space will be as good as (if not better) than the current space. Alphabet nursery is a fabulous nursery, loved by local parents and a local business paying rent to the council for 27 years and yet has not been valued by the council.

Chatham Hall community centre - due to be demolished to make way for the new library

Chatham Hall community centre – due to be demolished to make way for the new library

Years after first thinking of the plan, there still is no new space for Alphabet nursery agreed during the building works. Conversations with a local church have started but should have been done at the beginning and not the end of this process as it has left the staff and parents very uncertain and didn’t need to be like this if the council had worked with community groups instead of leaving them out.

Chatham Hall is a wonderful, light and airy, fantastic big space. The new community space does not have the kitchen, safe outside space and integrated toilets that current users need. Community groups would not agree that the council has done ‘all it can’ to find alternative accommodation. Instead, it has felt as though this has been railroaded through without care for the community’s needs.

The papers for this plan were submitted to the councillors on the committee (which I am on) without any plans for the building and no costings at all. This is a council development which will provide 16 much needed new flats in the areas, and that there are over 1000 families living in temporary accommodation. So this would be a rare opportunity for the council to build social housing, but this proposal by the Labour councillors was rejected by the Conservative councillors.

It is a great shame that instead of being a new building to celebrate by local people in and around Northcote, the plans for the new library are being seen so negatively. The council can fix this with proper support for community groups, support for relocation for Alphabet nursery, a rethink on the new community space and inclusion of social housing in the scheme.

Council plans to close Chestnut Avenue for six months

Last week I received an email from Wandsworth Council, out of the blue, announcing that Chestnut Avenue on Tooting Common would be closed for six months, or until the chestnut trees have been felled and replaced – whichever is sooner. This was quite a shock and I am sure will be for everyone who enjoys using our beautiful common.

Publicising the consultation in summer 2016I agreed with the majority of consultation respondents in the summer of last year that if the trees are diseased and dangerous, and they need to be cut down, then a replacement by a new avenue of yellow flowering lime trees would be better than losing the avenue. However, there is evidence that the trees could be saved, and that other ways to deal make the trees safe without cutting them down are possible. It will be awful to cut down our beautiful Chestnut trees in their prime if this doesn’t need to happen.

A reader of this blog said that I should have reported on the Avenue in my last blog. I was hopeful for change but had nothing new to report. At that stage I had been asking for the council’s plan for the felling and replanting of the avenue and how it would save the ‘good’ trees that the Community Services Committee agreed to save in response to my proposal in our meeting. I hadn’t heard a response on this – and still haven’t. The local campaign invited me to attend a meeting with councillors and officers but I was asked to leave the meeting right at the start. I hoped that both of these meant that the plan was being looked at again and a decision to reconsider the decision was being made and thats why it couldn’t be shared and meetings were top secret. But no, it appears that the council is just carrying on regardless.

This is my response to the council, and below the letter is further information about this issue:

To: Director of Community Services and Environment, Wandsworth Council

Dear Mr Chadwick

Thank you for your email regarding the closure of Chestnut Avenue. This was a big surprise to me, and will be both a surprise and a shock to users of Tooting Common.

During the committee meeting where we reluctantly made this decision, there was unanimous agreement that we should save healthy trees, and both during the committee meetings and since then I have asked for an updated assessment of which trees can now be considered ‘good’ and a plan for which these trees are. The decision in committee was not unanimous as there was a vote against the proposal so this email should be amended. 

The response of the trees to the canker is dynamic and so an up to date assessment of the trees is needed – and hopefully some more trees are able to be saved, and we need to know this. Also some trees on the Tooting Bec Road end of the Avenue have been heavily pollarded to ensure their safety. I hope that these now do not need to be cut down. Despite asking for them, I haven’t heard results from any more recent survey which can tell us how many trees can now be saved, and whether the progress of the disease is as anticipated or not.

The whole project seems to be going ahead regardless of the high degree of local concerns and the desire of the committee to save trees which can be saved. If the action to save the trees by pollarding them is proving successful, the committee should be appraised of this and able to look again at the plan.

I strongly object to the very extended closure of the Avenue, and so will local residents. This long closure is very heavy handed, and contradicts the answer I was given in committee when I asked how long the works would take and was told it would be six weeks. Your letter hasn’t explained what will happen to the on-going users of the Avenue. Have arrangements been made with the café and the organisers of Park Run and the Pumpkin Parade, and for all users to cross over the common at the café, the lake and the changing rooms? I can understand that the playground can be accessed from the other side, but what arrangements are there for users of the tennis courts? What is the alternative route for cyclists?

The signatures of over 5,000 people opposing the cutting down of the trees show how unpopular this plan is, and the long closure of the Avenue will compound the unpopularity and increase opposition.

Please respect the Committee’s desire to save the trees if possible, reconsider this project in the light of new knowledge about the progress of the canker and measures taken which can save the trees, and if you do ahead in the face of public opposition, please reconsider the plan to close the Avenue for so long.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Fleur Anderson

Public anger over plans to close busy Avenue through Tooting Common for up to 6 months

Residents living close to Tooting Common have responded angrily to Wandsworth Council’s proposal to close Chestnut Avenue, which runs across Tooting Common, to all users for up to six months.

While the avenue is closed, the Council intends to fell an avenue of Chestnut trees which line it and replace them with saplings. The project is to be paid for using a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Chestnut Avenue is a well-loved landmark used by commuting cyclists, families, visitors to the tennis courts, the playground, the local cafe and participants in the weekly Park Run event and an annual pumpkin parade. 

Speaking about the Council’s decision to close Chestnut Avenue, Fleur Anderson, a local councillor and Labour’s Speaker on Community Services, said; “I strongly object to the very extended closure of the Avenue, and so will local residents. This long closure is very heavy handed. The Council, which originally said the work would take no more than 6 weeks, has not explained what will happen to the on-going users of the Avenue, including commuting cyclists and families who use it daily”. 

Opposition to the felling of the trees has been vocal with over 5,000 people signing a petition to oppose the council’s plans. 

The Council has cited health and safety reasons for removing the trees. However, opponents of the plan point to a lack of evidence for the need to remove the avenue on health and safety grounds. 

According to Fleur Anderson, “the committee which voted on the plans to fell the Avenue agreed to save as many trees as possible and there was unanimous agreement that we should save healthy trees. I have repeatedly asked for an updated report into the health of the trees but have yet to receive a reply”. 

According to Jeremy Barrell, tree consultant and specialist in heritage tree assessments; “My assessment of the trees is that none are dangerous, none are dead, and most have the potential to be retained with limited intervention for decades. Wandsworth Council are justifying the removals on the basis of responses from a public consultation and the advice of experts. From what I can see the public consultation approach is obviously flawed and none of the expert reports advocate felling and replacement as the best or only option”. 

Opponents of the plan to fell the Avenue claim that the Council’s decision to cut down the trees is motivated by the offer of a grant. They have arranged a final community event to mark the avenue’s final days, called The Final Draw when residents will be encouraged to record the trees by painting, drawing and photographing them.

Summer news

We love the summer in Tooting! Its been great enjoying street parties and local summer events, as well as tooting Common looking glorious and the Lido being the place to be in the sunshine. You local Labour Councillors have also been working hard on representing local residents to the council – do contact us if you have an issue with anything from street cleaning and parking to housing and Crossrail as we always do our best to help.

Crossrail2 back on track

Crossrail2 Route

Crossrail2 Route

Plans for Crossrail2 were put on hold by the government but now its been announced that the go ahead is imminent. However the decision about the route has not been announced yet, so we still don’t know if it will be going through Balham or Tooting Broadway. We’re continuing to make the case for Tooting Broadway and for finding ways to also save Tooting Market. It was due to be completed by 2030 and for everyone squeezing onto the overcrowded Northern line everyday, that can’t come soon enough.  Click here for last week’s Wandsworth Guardian story.

New cycle lane coming to Tooting Bec Road – have your say

New cycle lane proposed

New cycle lane proposed

There are plans for a new cycle lane and new shared cycle and pedestrian track. The consultation is open now until 10th September. More details and the online survey are here: Tooting Bec Road Cycle Lane Consultation

The plan is to would install new 1.9-metre on-carriageway semi segregated cycle lanes in both directions of Tooting Bec Road, between Dr Johnson Avenue and Aldrington Road. Cyclists would be lightly separated from motor traffic by plastic wands as seen below

Better provision for cyclists is really welcomed, and there is plenty of room for cycle lanes along this wide road. This should make cycling a more attractive option for more people – but what do you think? Controversial items I have heard from local residents so far are that the colour of the line of ‘wands’ along the cycle lane next to the Common may be obtrusive – too urban looking for the Common. Also there is some concern about the shared cycle/pedestrian path could be dangerous.

More local road safety plans to come in the Autumn

Watch out for several plans coming up in the Autumn. We have joined with local people in being very concerned about local road safety for a long time. Petitions about road safety on Balham High Road and several motorbike accidents resulted in TfL taking action and making changes to the High Road between Ritherdon Road and Streathbourne Rd. Fleur and Rosena handed in petitions to the council about safety on the High Road, Elmbourne Road and Hillbury Road and the council have been looking into ways in which to make these safer which will be revealed in September. Do contact us if you’d like to know more as soon as the plans are ready – we’ll be putting updates up here and on Twitter. We hope that the new plans will take residents concerns seriously and any consultations will be discussed with residents first.

Tooting Common

Our ward includes most of Tooting Common (shared with Furzedown ward) so we spend a lot of time representing residents views about the ward, and ensuring that we keep our Common an natural oasis. We’ve successfully objected to planning permission being sought for yet another massive mast, meet regularly with users of the common, attending the Annual Public Meeting of Tooting Common Management Committee (MAC). Fleur is an active member of the MAC, attended the recent opening of the Lido at the southern end for the South West London Swimming Club and new club building at the deep end of the pool, and is campaigning for a wooden fitness trail on the common.

Support for London to be the first National Park City

We recently had visit from Dan Raven-Ellison of the National Park City campaign as part of his big 500 mile walk. The plans for being the National Park City are exciting and would result in a change in the way we value, celebrate and benefit from all our green spaces – gardens as well as parks and commons. More information about the campaign is here: National Park City

Here is a video of Fleur talking with Dan about some of the benefits of being a National Park City (via Twiiter).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April Newsletter 2017

In this month’s newsletter: the general election, crime on Baringer Square and fears about knife crime, plans to replant the Chestnut Avenue trees are questioned, cuts to school budgets, and how to report fly-tipping.

Please come to the ‘Refugee Stories’ film, stories and comedy event at the Sound Lounge, Tooting High Road, on Tuesday 9th May at 7pm. For more info and a free ticket click here. 

What, another election?!

As we are now being thrown into a few weeks of General Election campaigning, we’re really grateful for all the people we’re meeting on your doorstep, and our tube stations and at lots of local meetings. Rosena has been our hard-working MP for 10 months and will continue to stand up for all local residents for the NHS, for local schools, and on Brexit. Theresa May’s leadership does not look very strong or stable so far, with 3 million families £2500 worse off in the failed welfare reforms and a very confrontational attitude for Brexit negotiations with our neighbouring European allies.

It is very close here in Tooting so your vote between Labour and Tory really matters.

To register to vote go here (deadline is 22nd May): https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

To find out more about your Dr Rosena Allin-Khan go here: http://www.drrosena.co.uk

Crime on Baringer Square and knife crimes in Wandsworth

Residents of the Newlands Estate on Tooting Bec Road, near Tooting Bec Common, are very concerned about crime on the estate, and there was a stabbing and theft recently which hare increased fears even more. I’ve been in touch regularly with local residents and the local police, and attended the recent residents association meeting. The local neighbour police team have been asked to visit the estate more regularly, and to reduce the access to the estate. Our thoughts are with the victim of the stabbing and we hope he makes a full recovery.

Local newspaper report on the screwdriver stabbing and motorbike theft.

There have also been two fatal stabbings in Battersea which have sent shock aves through the community. The local police commander has made this statement, and if you know anything about any of these knife crimes or others, please report it anonymously to crimestoppers (0800555111) or fearless.org. You don’t have to tell them your name, just what you know. There is a £5000 reward for information.

I have recently been to the Wandsworth Safer Neighbourhood Board and local safer neighbourhood meetings and continue to raise local crime issues with our police officers. There are changes coming to local policing as the new Head of the Metropolitan Police starts to make changes, and our Mayor Sadiq Khan continues to prioritise neighbourhood policing. In Wandsworth one of highest crime priorities is theft of scooters and motorbikes and a new unit has been set up in Earlsfield to tackle this. If you have one of these make sure its locked up very securely.

Tooting Common Chestnut Avenue Trees

Wandsworth Labour has called on Wandsworth Council to halt its current plans to fell almost all of the 80-odd trees on Tooting Common’s Chestnut Avenue after a new independent report cast serious doubts on the Council’s claims that the trees cannot be saved due to disease and age.

According to the independent report by tree consultant and specialist in heritage tree assessments, Jeremy Barrell, the bulk of the trees which Wandsworth Council claim are terminally ill are in fact “recovering” and have “the potential to live for at least several decades, and many for much longer”.

Indeed, the report states that the avenue’s mature trees, some of which are 140 years old: “are at the peak of their potential to deliver multiple benefits [such as ecological enhancement, pollution filtering, carbon sequestration, UV light reduction, visual enhancement, and positive contributions to human health and wellbeing] because they are big, experienced by many people daily and have the potential to be retained into the long term”.

stop the chop meeting with Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP, cllr Candida Jones and #stopthechop supportersDr Rosena Allin-Khan, MP for Tooting, cllr Candida Jones and #stopthechop supporters

Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, Labour MP for Tooting said: “it’s clear now that the Council’s wish to cut down this beautiful avenue was motivated by money. Because a grant to fell and replace the avenue was available from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Council thought it could save a quick buck rather than use Council funds to properly maintain and preserve the existing, well-loved, avenue. The Council has been economical with the truth about the health of these trees and should not be prioritising saving money over maintaining its parks and open spaces”.

When the future of the trees was voted on in committee last year, Labour’s speaker on Community Services, Fleur Anderson, secured an assurance that any healthy trees would be saved.

At the time, the Council advised that only eight trees were in good enough condition to survive. However the new report shows that this was a serious under-estimation.

Fleur Anderson said: “No-one wants to see our much-loved and beautiful chestnut trees being cut down if they don’t need to be. It is very good news that there is new evidence that the trees are recovering from the disease which the council said was killing them. The council now needs to halt its current plans, take stock of this new report and provide a new, genuinely unbiased, independent report on the future of the trees that the Committee and residents can have faith in”.

She added:  “I have been in regular contact with the Council on this issue over many months and council officers have assured me and my colleagues that should any tree represent a danger, it would be immediately felled – an approach which we of course support. It shouldn’t, however, be used as an excuse for the wholesale removal of a well-loved local landmark”.

Almost 5,000 residents have signed a petition asking the Council not to fell the healthy trees and regular protests and events have been organised by the #StoptheChop campaign.

The petition is here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-the-trees-on-chestnut-avenue

Jeremy Barrell concluded: “My assessment of the trees is that none are dangerous, none are dead, and most have the potential to be retained with limited intervention for decades. Wandsworth Council are justifying the removals on the basis of responses from a public consultation and the advice of experts. From what I can see the public consultation approach is obviously flawed and none of the expert reports advocate felling and replacement as the best or only option”.

Schools funding

Our local schools are facing a funding crisis, and Headteachers and governors are already making hard choices about which staff or activities or resources they cannot afford to continue to have in schools. My son goes to the Oratory which is one of only four state schools in country to have a rowing club as their sports ground is a Barn Elms on the Thames. This is a wonderful resource for the boys and the whole school are very proud of their success and they are very committee to the sport, training several times a week. However last week the boys were told that despite monthly parental contributions, rowing will be stopped because of funding cuts.

Rosena recently spoke to a packed meeting about the cuts in Furzedown Primary school.

I know that parents are very worried about the coming cuts to all our local schools, and we have every reason to be worried. I have children at three local schools including Graveney which is threatened with over a million pounds of cuts, St Anselms with £111,000 – equivalent to 3 teachers. To get involved in the campaign, find out how much your child’s school will be affected here: https://www.schoolcuts.org.uk/#/

Do get in touch with us if you’d like to take more action about this.

Bothered by fly tipping? How to report it

One of the biggest issues that I hear complaints about is fly-tipping on our local streets. Do keep letting me know and I can pass this on, you can also report fly tipping very easy if you have a smart phone by using the Wandsworth ‘Report It’ app.  Click here for links for iPhone, Android and Windows phone links. Then you just have to take a photo of the flytip or graffiti and send it in on the app.

 

 

Refugee Stories – May 9th 2017

Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees presents an evening of film, stories and comedy:

‘Refugee Stories – surviving and celebrating’  

Tuesday May 9th, 7pm at the Sound Lounge, Tooting

Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees was formed a year ago to bring together people, organisations and faith groups in Wandsworth who want to support refugees here and abroad.

Refugee StoriesWe’re presenting our first Wandsworth Arts Fringe event at the wonderful Sound Lounge venue in Tooting. Its a new venue on Tooting High Street with a great atmosphere and bar.

Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees presents an evening of film, stories, comedy and music.

Film: Dena Arya & Kyla Simone Bruce will introduce their short documentary on what happened to refugees after the Calais ‘Jungle’ was demolished.

Stories: Shabibi Shah, who captured her flight from Afghanistan in a gripping memoir “Where do I belong?” & currently fosters refugee children, will be interviewed by Marion Molteno, a local writer who worked with refugees for 30 years and whose work includes the award-winning “A shield of coolest air” about Somali refugees in London.

Comedy: Edinburgh Fringe sensation Little Soldier Productions will present “Expect Fireworks” on the theme of: So you want to change the world?

The Sound Lounge210-212 Upper Tooting Road, SW17 7EW

To book a free ticket please click here:

http://www.wandsworthfringe.com/whats-on/refugee-stories-surviving-and-celebrating

To join the Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees supporter list and receive updates please email wandsworthwelcomesrefguees@gmail.com

Schools funding cuts – please sign the petition

Schools funding cuts – please sign the petition

Schools are potentially facing many different funding pressures, including raising salaries and National Insurance payments, on-going reduction in support from Wandsworth Council and and a proposed reduction in budgets for London schools under the ‘fairer funding’ changes. The government should be valuing education more and be funding the costs needed by schools to provide the educational outcomes expected, not cutting budgets.

Increasing costs already mean tough choices for Headteachers and are a threat for support for music and the arts, trips out of school and for children with additional needs such as for children with disabilities or needing English language support.

Local parents are understandably concerned and want to take action. We hope that enough pressure from people will change the proposals. Please take a couple of minutes to sign the open letter from Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP to the Education Secretary. Follow this link to sign up, and you can click on your local school to find out more about how much the proposed cuts will be: drrosena.co.uk/schools

Rosena says: ‘As a result of the Government’s National Funding Formula scheme, Wandsworth schools are facing £15 million in cuts. This is equivalent to over 300 teachers’ salaries.

We have a number of outstanding schools across Tooting and Wandsworth and if these cuts are allowed to go through, they risk moving backwards. 

I am calling on the Government’s Education Secretary to support our schools, instead of making these devastating cuts. 

Join me, add your name, share with your friends and family.

There is also a petition and more information on this parent-led campaign website: stop school funding cuts – all our children deserve a great education

 

 

February 2017 Newsletter

I can’t believe how fast this month has gone. I feel as though the kids have only just gone back to school and yet its nearly half term. The news is full of Brexit and Trump (don’t get me started) but lots has been going on in the little patch of London we call home too.

Your local Labour councillors - Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP and Fleur Anderson

Your local Labour councillors – Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP and Fleur Anderson

Here’s some news on the new Neighbourhood Plan and how you can make decision about our local streets, Newlands Estate issues, a peoples uprising on Carminia Road, a cycle parking win, the traffic lights on Ritherdon Road (grrrr), results of our local survey, the opening of a new arts venue on Tooting High Road, and a change to our councillor surgeries.

Trump 

Yesterday over 5,000 people in Tooting had signed the petition against inviting Donald Trump for a state visit. The same number of people (coincidently) living in Wandsworth were born in one of the 7 countries banned from visiting the US (in the 2011 census), and all of their families would also be affected raising the number to many more thousands of people. There are especially important links for people living in Wandsworth for example between the Somali communities here and in Minnesota. The American Embassy will soon be moving to Wandsworth and as a Council we should write to the Ambassador and ask him to oppose this ban. Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees supporters were out in force at the protest at 10 Downing St on Monday.

 

Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees banner at the Trump protest on Monday

Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees banner at the Trump protest on Monday

It is important that we oppose this, and use this opportunity to reaffirm how much we value diversity in Balham and Tooting, how we want to live together and not separately and how much being a global community enriches our lives. The Labour councillors will be raising this in the Council meeting tomorrow. Here is the petition on the state visit.

 

Tooting Bec Broadway Neighbourhood Plan launched

Local neighbourhoods are now allowed to develop a neighbourhood plan. This goes to a vote of all local residents in the area and informs future planning decisions by the Council. Our Tooting one is the first in Wandsworth and has kicked off with the creation of a local Forum who will put together the plan in conversation with as many people as possible. For more information and to say if you agree with this or not click here to see this current council consultation which closes on February 20th. Here is the news story about the launch.

All smiles as we start to create our local neighbourhood plan

All smiles as we start to create our local neighbourhood plan

I’m on the organising group which is keen for the whole process to be inclusive, creative and inspire us to think about how we can see a difference in our local area. Rosena and I are both on the Forum and do ask us if you have any questions or would like to get more involved – we’d love to have more people on the group.

 

 

Newlands Estate issues - Treherne Court and Baringer Square

Fleur with residents Charles and Patricia, and council officers

Fleur with residents Charles and Patricia, and council officers

Thanks to all the residents of Newlands Estate (off Franciscan Road and Tooting Bec Road) for raising various issues in meetings and emails. In response I organised a visit with the local Area Housing Manager and the cleaning services company. There are lots of anti social behaviour concerns, and issues with parking, trees, fly tipping, a whole strip of abandoned gardens, and crime. I hope that action will be taken on all of these and will working with council officers and our safer neighbourhood team to tackle all of these.

On a positive note we saw the planned area for a community garden and we’ll be supporting

Are for proposed community garden

Are for proposed community garden

residents to get funding for this. The plan is to have a picnic bench and some fruit trees – other ideas and sharing examples of good community gardens are very welcome.

 

 

 

Peoples power on Carminia Road

People living on Carminia Road were fed up with rubbish dumped in front of some garages on their road and I met with them and demanded action. As a result the council took action and the landlord cleared the rubbish within two weeks. Do get in touch with me if you have something that you want to get sorted out on your road and lets see what we can do.

Before

Before

After

After

 

 

 

 

 

A cycle parking win

More of these please

More of these please

Its not earth shattering but it is good news. Mike lives locally and came to me when his bike was stolen outside Trinity Pharmacy on Balham High Road. I supported him to write a petition for cycle parking hoops at the pharmacy which lots of customers signed. It took a few more months and follow up requests but finally Transport for London did agree and here they are. With continuing increases in cycling we need to see more and more parking for bikes whereever possible.

Traffic lights on Ritherdon Road

Thank you to everyone who has got in contact with me to complain about the new phasing of lights on Ritherdon Road and the knock on effect this is having on other local roads as driver try to avoid the longer queues and speed down side roads. I’ve been in contact with Transport for London and the council and hope that the phasing can be returned to the pre-road works times.

Sound Lounge Launch – A new arts venue on Tooting High Road

IMG_0413

Hannah and Keiron have followed their dream, got the crowd funding needed and have now opened a brand new arts and music venue, Sound Lounge. Its on the High Road past the Royal Oak and in the shop that used to be Dreamland and more recently had the big photo of Tooting Common. The launch night was great and they have a schedule of bands and day time activities (yoga, baby groups etc) up to at least October. Here is their website – with a great video by them explaining the whole vision (clue: its not just a new pub): http://www.thesoundlounge.org.uk

Results of our local survey

Thank you to everyone who filled in the local survey that we sent around with our Christmas cards. The top issues that concern people in the area are…… street cleaning and flytipping, and crime. We’ll be taking all your comments and continuing to raise these issues with the council and taking action on your behalf.

Change to our councillor surgeries

Rosena at our new drop in surgery venue - main issues raised were housing

Rosena at our new drop in surgery venue – main issues raised were housing

We’ve changed our local surgery times from being in Balham library to being on the first Wednesday of every month from 10.15 – 11.15 in the Scout hall opposite Du Can Court and on the corner of Balham High Road and Elmfield Rd (the leisure centre road). Its drop in so do just turn up. Thank you to Network Neighbourhood who have a coffee morning at that time for hosting us – so you can get a drink and meet other local people at the same time. You can email us anytime too:

fanderson@wandsworth.gov.uk

rallin-khan@wandsworth.gov.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December newsletter and survey

December newsletter

This month we’re asking for your views with a quick survey – and below we have news about a new cycle path on Tooting Common, local heroes awards, road safety and homelessness.

surveyPlease take a couple of minutes to tell us what issues are important to you, so that we can make sure that we take action on the issues that matter most to you: Click here to take the survey now – THANK YOU!!!

We’ll share the results of the survey next month.

New cycle path on Tooting Common – consultation 

The planned new path will have a gravel surface like this existing path on the Common.

The planned new path will have a gravel surface like this existing path on the Common.

There is a proposal to widen the existing path on Tooting Common that goes from the cafe to the Lido and make it a shared cycle and pedestrian path. Just over 150 responses have been received so far, which doesn’t seem many. Thanks to the council officers who braved the cold for the drop-in session last week. Thanks to everyone who stopped to talk too. Of those I spoke to there are mixed opinions, but with a majority in favour but with concerns about some cyclists going too fast. Better signs were asked for by several people. But what do you think?

Please take some time to fill in the consultation – and encourage other people to – by December 18th: click here for Quietway 5 consultation

Balham and Tooting Community Association Awards

Award winning Tooting Parker Rangers coaches

Award winning Tooting Parker Rangers coaches

Rosena and Fleur had a wonderful evening celebrating some of the amazing people who make Tooting such a great place to live. The Balham and Tooting Community Awards went to some local heroes such as the Tooting Park Rangers football team coaches who have turned a dads kick about on the common into a five league teams. Its still open to all players and a wonderful community group with a dedicated team of coaches who really deserve this award.

BACTA local heroes awards ceremony

BACTA local heroes awards ceremony

Another wonderful team honoured were the Little Village volunteers who have set up a growing charity which provides baby clothes and equipment to people who couldn’t otherwise afford them. Have a look at their Little Village HQ website.

 

Road safety

What, still no cycle parking?

What, still no cycle parking?

The Transport for London roadworks have finished at last on the High Road, but left me baffled about why they happened as there was a lot of work done to slightly widen the pavement. There were lots of concerns about safety on the road, with a spate of motorbike accidents, so I hope that these changes were in response to concerns about that. However we still don’t have the cycle parking outside Trinity Pharmacy that residents presented a petition to ask for following several thefts of bikes.

The new phasing of the Ritherdon Road lights has increased traffic jams backing up. We’ll be taking both up with Transport for London.

Homelessness rising in Wandsworth

A major concern is the ever increasing amount of homelessness in Tooting and we are working to support increasing numbers of families who have housing problems. When I became a councillor in 2014 there were 791 people in temporary accommodation, and now there are 1309 people. This costs the council over £3million last year – placing many people outside the borough often as far away as Wembley – in very small and unsuitable and yet costly hostels. The council has not got any solutions to this problem, and more families are left commuting for hours to schools and jobs and living for far too long in unsuitable hostels. Meanwhile big developments are continuing without enough social (council) housing at rents people can afford, and enough really affordable housing – instead of slightly less expensive housing which is labelled ‘affordable’ but isn’t.

Surgery move to Scout Centre on Wednesdays

Rosena and FleurWhen we elected in 2014 we immediately started up a monthly Bedford ward surgery in Balham library. We’ve reviewed this surgery and want to make it more accessible, so we’re moving to Southside Scout Centre on Wednesday mornings and hope that this will be easier to get to for more people. It will be on the first Wednesday of every month, no appointment is needed, and it is opposite Du Cane Court on the High Road at the junction with Elmfield Road. We’re happy to meet with you at another time by appointment too – just email us.  Thanks to the Neighbourhood Network group for hosting us – you can have a cup of tea with your neighbours as well as coming to see your councillors.