After a gap of two years we are excited to let you know that the Balham Food Festival is returning!
When; Sunday 27th September, 11am-6pm
Located in the recently transformed Hildreth Street and Bedford Hill Place.
There will be over 25 stalls featuring a diverse range of delicious, freshly cooked dishes from local restaurants, bars and cafés, plus gourmet cheeses, charcuterie, cakes and treats, this will be accompanied by jazz and other musical treats.
Come and enjoy the fun! There will be cooking demonstrations, music, dancing and a Kids Zone.
We’ve had a 20mph speed limit in our ward for nearly a year now, and have been campaigning for this to be across the Borough. Currently the numbers of cars and accidents is rising but the 20mph roads are just dotted about the Borough which is confusing for drivers and leaves roads less safe than with a slower speed limit. Residents were expected to petition people on their own road and achieve high amounts of signatures to ask the Council to make it 20mph.
After a long time and refusal by the Council to consider a Borough-wide limit, we saw success this week. In a U-turn and cross-party decision at the Community Services Committee, there will now be consultation on a fast track move to 20mph on all residential roads. It’ll take a few more months but could lead to a really positive change for making our roads safer as it can be better enforced and will change drivers’ behaviour.
Residents Association for Rydevale Estate and Cornford Grove
We asked the local Council to support starting a new residents association for this area (just off Bedford Hill). Local residents said they would be interested and the first meeting was held in early September and we hope it will build into an active group to take up concerns of the residents and have ideas for improvements which can be made in their area.
Local people are really concerned about road safety on Balham High Road and in August there was yet another accident involving a car and motorbike – this time outside Tescos. We’re working with parents at Rutherford House who are concerned about the entrance, and with St Anselms parents who have started a petition about safety on the High Road, longer lights for pedestrians at Tooting Bec and asking for a crossing at Elmbourne Road, and residents of Hillbury and Elmbourne Rd who also are signing a petition for traffic calming measures for their roads.
Tooting Bec Cafe
A new lease has been signed from now until 2030 and although there are lots of rumours, we don’t yet know who the lease holder is. Whoever it is they must now renovate the cafe and include a new male and female toilet, open to the public and with baby-changing facilities.
Refugees Crisis – what can we do?
We share the concern of many residents that we should be welcoming to refugees and do what we can to support refugees already living here and arriving. The Council have said that they are ready and willing to respond to request from the Government. However we think Wandsworth could be pledging to house families and pushing other Councils to be more ambitious and welcoming through their leadership – rather than just ‘waiting and seeing’.
We are really worried about the recent accident which happened on Balham High Road involving a motorbike, and have seen several other accidents on the same stretch of road in the last year. So with your MP Sadiq Khan we have launched a petition to ask the Council and Transport for London to urgently work together to make this road safer.
Lots of people have been signing – please sign too:
In the meantime we have written and been talking with the Council, Transport for London and the local Police Commander – as a result you might have seen extra police officers at the Ritherdon Rd junction assessing the traffic along the road.
Balham Boulevard latest news
A couple of years ago a plan to make Balham High Road between the Ritherdon Road and Balham a much nicer environment was brought to the Council and agreed. This ‘Balham Boulevard’ plan was to change the current four lane highway into a two lane highway with a nice side road and more greenery and a café style to the pavements – making it a nice place to come to and not just move through. This has multi-million pound backing, and agreement for happen in 2017. But no plans have come about.
Fleur went to progress meeting at the Town Hall and was very disappointed to find that there has been no progress and that Transport for London have found it too hard to make any plans for the road yet. We will both be working with local groups and other Councillors to revive the project, agree a clear vision and hope to get it back on track.
Closure of Triangle nursery
Many local parents have been very upset that the Tooting Locality Nursery at the Triangle was suddenly closed at the end of the Summer term, another sad loss of a much loved facility for under 5s in the area.
Park Run – still on its way!
Park Run have been working on a course around Tooting Common which doesn’t go over any roads, doesn’t impact too much on the busiest paths (we hope) and is the necessary 5km. The current plan is to start near the cricket pitch by Hillbury Road and go up or down the Chestnut Walk and use the bridleway. Using Chestnut Avenue may well be too busy and the grass on the other side of the lake too boggy in Winter so its still being worked on but is nearly there. All being well it should be going to committee for approval in September – so hopefully it won’t be too long until we can be getting our trainers on every Saturday morning for Tooting Commons very own ParkRun and join thousands of others all over the country.
Balham Lesuire Centre creche concerns – tell all young mums about the crèche!
Talking of facilities for under 5s, we love the refurbishment to Balham Lesuire Centre, but no need for a crèche has be buit into the contract between Enable and the Council. As a result there is no room especially designated for a crèche, no advertising of the crèche and as a result the morning facility currently in a squash court is in danger of being closed. Talks are on-going with Balham Lesuire Centre and we really hope that they continue to offer the crèche as it is vital to enabling young mums to get exercise at a time of life when too many young mums can be quite isolated.
Dr Johnson Ave closure consultation
Do you want Dr Johnson Avenue to be closed to traffic, grassed over and be a cycle track instead of a road? Whatever you think about this – do have your say.
Residents of Elmbourne Road and Hillbury Road have felt for quite some time that traffic is increasing and getting faster and more aggressive with cyclists , other cars and even pedestrians. These are quite narrow roads with heavy traffic flow. Changes to Dr Johnson Avenue could have an impact on them, but this is an opportunity into how to make these roads safer too. We have raised this with the Council and also support the residents’ petition to the Council assessment of these rooads and options such as making them no through roads be considered.
‘Who put that there?’
All too often it is easy to forget how the day-to-day lives of the partially sighted can be so different to ours.
That is why we are extremely grateful to one Bedford resident who helped give us insight into life for the blind and partially sighted.
Did you know?
95 per cent of blind and partially sighted people have collided with an obstacle in their local neighbourhood over a three-month period.
Nearly a third of those were injured, yet less than one percent claimed compensation for injuries.
The most common obstacles collided with are:
– cars parked on pavements (70% )
– bins of all kinds (64%)
– permanent and temporary street furniture (59%)
We will be taking some walks around the ward to identify potential hazards but if you can think of any, please do get in touch!
‘Lets Talk’ and Tooting Town Centre Manager meetings
Lets Talk meetings are held regularly around Wandsworth and come to our ward every few years. Its a chance to speak directly to the Council Leader, opposition leader and lots of officers. The Bedford Ward meeting was attended by about 30 people and the issues raised included: too many betting shops, Balham creche, Elmbourne Road safety, parking and speeding, investment in ‘Tooting Bec village’, litter and street cleaning around Tooting Bec station, hedges obstructing pavements, what will replace Barclays Bank, the ‘legal high’ shop on Garratt Lane, enforcement of the 20MPH zone and what is happening to Tooting Bec Lodge. Issues for Tooting Common were: concerns about the removal of the white line and poor signage on the pedestrian/cycle track, floodlights when the triangle football pitch is renovated, rats, litter by the pond and repairs to the tennis court. Wider Borough issues raised were concerns about the lack of affordable housing and despite lots of new developments there is nowhere affordable for first/second time buyers, and what the merger of some services with Richmond council will mean for us.
Rosena and Fleur are following up on these issues, and this week raised many of them with the Tooting Centre Manager in meeting held with Sadiq Kahn MP.
Bedford Hill side of the railway bridge – an eyesore
We’ve been to look at this neglected corner of Balham with a local resident and agree with him that this is an eyesore – lots of weeds, scrubland and graffiti. We’ve been in touch with Transport for London and the Balham Partnership to ask them to look into making something much nicer of this corner of land and of the railway bridge itself.
Stapleton Road improvements
There will be some upgrading of the Tooting Bec station end of Stapleton Road with a proposal for more trees, two way cycling, café tables, cycle hoops and clearer signs at each end of the one way. The consultation for this finishes on August 3rd.
Whilst we really welcome these improvements, we are disappointed that this is all that came of a much more ambitious scheme to look at all of the streets around Tooting Bec Station as ‘Tooting Bec Village’ and see what could be done to enhance the whole area. This is really needed but seems to have been dropped.
With the finances coming for the Tooting Broadway area roads, this maybe an opportunity to look again at the streets around Tooting Bec Station. I have talked about this with the Tooting Town Manager and will continue to work on this.
A new Wandsworth wide cycling strategy is being consulted on – whatever your views on cycling, or good ideas about how to increase cycling either on specific roads or generally – do add them to the consultation here:
Air pollution is a very big issue for Londoners and kills 1400 of us every year, as well as contributing to lung and heart diseases. There is a new air quality plan for Wandsworth also out for consultation at the moment – do take some time to see if you think it could be improved or any comments you would like to make on it. The deadline is August 5th:
In other local Labour party news, we’ve recently had big increase in members – welcome if this is you! We’ve also been debating nd nominating candidates for future elections in some packed and every engaging meetings. The Tooting Labour party has endorsed Sadiq Kahn as our mayoral candidate, Yvette Cooper for the Labour leadership and Stella Creasy for the Deputy Leadership and Leonie Cooper for the Greater London Assembly elections which are next year.
Some current local issues below are: changes on Tooting Common, ‘Lets Talk’ event coming up, Tooting Bec Lodge, Not the One O’Clock club, Crime levels and issues, air pollution, Council waste of money on a ‘Golden Ticket scheme, housing issues
Some events in June:
3rd June – monthly Neighbourhood Network’s rhyme time (9 – 10) and coffee morning 10 – 1pm at the Scout Hall on the High Road – just drop in, all welcome
6th June: Rutherford House summer fair 11a, – 2.30pm
7th June -Tooting Common Dog Show and Ritherdon Road Street Party
Saturday 20th June – monthly Bedford ward drop-in surgery run by Rosena and Fleur, upstairs in Balham library 10 – 11am
Sunday 21st June 2pm Tooting Bec Lido to discuss local Road safety. ALL users welcome.
Monday 22nd June – Lets Talk event with the leader of the Council, Council Officers and your three local Councillors – your change to bring up issues, get answers and see what your neighbour’s concerns are
29th June – Tooting Common MAC Annual Public Meeting: The MAC (Management Advisory Committee) is a group of local volunteers who advise the Council on how we would like our Common to be managed, the APM was very well attended last year and Council Officers are there to report on activities and hear your issues.
Thank you!! We have now been Councillors for a year and would like to say thank you again to everyone who has supported us along the way. Its been a lot of learning, great to be able to really help so many people and support so many great local groups and people. We’ve loved it so far, and look forward to doing even more in the next year.
Changes on Tooting Common
The white line in the cycle lane segregating cyclists from pedestrians has been scrapped away and new signs put up to explain that this IS still a cycle path but pedestrians have priority. The Cafe lease for the next 15 years is being tendered for, but no news on any outcomes yet.
‘Lets Talk’ meeting, 7.30pm 22nd June at the Scout Hall on Balham High Road
Please do come to the Lets Talk event on 22nd June whether you have an issue to bring up , or are interested in local issues. It would be great to see as many people as possible – and only happens in each ward every few years. Do take this opportunity to raise issues with us your Councillors, the Council leader and officers. We’d LOVE to see you there!
Tooting Bec Lodge
The latest on the historic Lodge on Tooting Bec Road is that cotinuing concern that despite the scaffolding going up, there is still a lack of progress being made on renovating the building. The Council report that the owners is currently sourcing windows and a historically correct rendering for the plasterwork and will be continuing, but we are continuing to share our concerns and hope that the owner will share a timetable with us so that we can see what the plans are and can check progress against these.
Not the One O’Clock club
I know that lots of people are concerned that the Childrens’ Centre on the Triangle (previously a One O’clock club as a drop on stay and play centre open to all under 5s and carers from 1 – 5pm) is now a very much restricted service. It is just open on some afternoons and with much shorter sessions for certain age groups (e.g. under 1s) so parents with children of different ages can’t go. This is really disappointing and we are in discussion with the Council about this. As shown by figures I have recently asked for, as a One O’Clock club there were an average 741 users per month but now as a more targeted provision there are 277 per month. I should stress that clearly these can’t be directly compared as services, and the new centre may be able to provide some areas of provision which the One O’Clock club didn’t. But equally the new provision is clearly helping far fewer carers and parents at a time of life when the stay and play centre was a tried, tested and very successful Council provision. This would be a good issue for discussion at the ‘Lets Talk’ event.
A list of opening times and sessions at the Triangle Centre is here: http://fis.wandsworth.gov.uk/kb5/wandsworth/fsd/organisation.page?id=CvJXZjSCBQQ
Crime levels and issues
We attended the recent Safer Neighbourhood meeting and were pleased to hear how crime is low in our ward, and that the police are always very keen to hear from the community about areas they can focus on. With the hot weather coming up, everyone is reminded to keep their windows shut when they aren’t in the room. Also remember to lock your car as the number of thefts from unlocked cars is always a factor, and do call 101 if you see anything suspicious or would like to report anything which is not an emergency.
Air pollution – what do you think of the action plan?
There are two real concerns in our air and Wandsworth has been given notice to sort these areas out: high levels of nitrogen dioxide and small particles. These cause lung and heart problems and we don’t even know the long-term damage these are causing to our children. We can’t see the small particles and they are half the width of a human hair, and our body cannot get rid of them easily. They cause heart and lung disease and problems especially for the young and elderly, and can cause cancer.
Wandsworth Council have just released a draft action plan on air pollution and are asking for your comments by 5th August. http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/info/200485/air_quality
Council waste of money on a ‘Golden Ticket scheme
Wandsworth council has just wasted thousands of pounds on nearly having a scheme to encourage recycling through being able to win £20,000 if your golden ticket is pulled out of a draw. This was going to be done jointly by Wandsworth and two local boroughs, but after going to print with leaflets for everyone, this scheme has been scrapped. Here is the story in the Evening Standard last week:
Fleur attended planning committee to speak on behalf of residents objections to converting a house in Foxborne Road into 3 flats, and agreeing with additional windows to a extension on Montana Rd which weren’t originally in the planning application. There were an unusually large number of complaints made to the Foxbourne Rd plans and Fleur emphasised these to the committee.
A lot of time in the last couple of months has been spent supporting several families who have housing difficulties, and we welcome anyone in this position to contact us as soon as possible in the process – don’t call us in as a last resort! We’ve been helping to work with the Council housing officers and even with housing offices in other Boroughs if it comes to that. We’ve had some recent good news about one family that was offered unsuitable accommodation in Birmingham but now has been offered housing locally and they are delighted.
New roles for us
Finally, this time of year is like the start of a new school year in the Council calendar and we both have new roles – Rosena is Deputy Leader of the Labour Group of Councillors and Fleur is the opposition spokesperson for Community Services.
My dog was barking like crazy in the middle of the night – but the reason was great! New 20 mph signs were being painted. It has been fantastic to see the 20MPH signs go up all over the streets in the ward. We spent a lot of time collecting the signatures for each street to reach the 25% threshold to ask the Council to consult about these plans. The response to the consultation was very much in favour, and now the residential roads in the ward are all 20MPH. These have shown in other areas in the country to encourage much safer driving, and I hope to see the same happening here.
Wheatsheaf wins again!
It is great that the Wheatsheaf pub in Tooting Bec was the place for the Government announcement of new national powers coming in next month for people to have a say in protecting their local pubs. All the thousands of local people who took part in the campaign to save the historic Wheatsheaf building should also be really proud of this. Despite huge local opposition to the threats of it becoming a supermarket, the Council dragged their feet and took over a year to agree protection measures. Sadiq Khan MP really supported the local campaign group and I’m glad to have joined so many other local people in being part of something which has made the Government take action. There is more info on this here: http://www.sadiqkhan.org.uk/wheatsheaf_campaign_makes_history
Balham Boulevard – slower progress on new plans for Balham High Road
I’ve always felt that the High Road between Tooting Bec station and Balham station is not the prettiest stretch of road and could do with some love and attention. Balham Boulevard and the creation of a more European town style stretch of road was put to the Council a while ago and it was agreed to look more into this. We really support consideration of a way of having quieter lanes at each side for cyclists, something which is both safer and nicer looking. In the last year I have seen three motorbike accidents in the stretch between Ritherdon Road and Tooting Bec station alone, and I’d love to see more trees and a more cafe style look to the pavements.
We’ve been talking with Council officers about progress and the latest update is not good, the latest news is this: ‘The Balham Boulevard Plans are being led by TfL as it sits on their network. We have now been informed that they have had difficulties in designing segregated cycle lanes in this location due to the potential conflicts with traffic turning in and out of the numerous side roads. As a result they have concluded that the cyclists can be more safely accommodated in wider bus lanes. In addition, following requests to look at traffic movements at the junction of Balham High Road and Balham Station Road, they have incorporated that work into the wider Balham Boulevard project. This has set back the design process while they are redrawing the brief for the project. TfL has not yet confirmed the revised timetable, but I suspect we will not see any designs until late Summer, with possible consultation in the Autumn 2015.’
We will keep working with the Council to involve as many local people as possible in these plans and create an area which is both useful for traffic and nicer for everyone.
Tooting Common Cafe – could a community group take on the new lease?
The lease for this cafe has come up for renewal, for 15 years. Some renovation and creation of public access toilets is part of the new terms (good news!). I’m part of a community group which has just been formed to see if we could put a bid together in quite a short time to take on the lease. For more information contact me or see the group on Twitter: @TootComCafCo – we’d love more people to join!
Transition Town Tooting hustings
It is election season and there are many hustings and other election meetings taking place. I went to one recently organised by Transition Town Tooting, a group promoting sustainable living and community in the area. Lots of people came and shared ideas for how our area could be improved, from really affordable housing, supporting small businesses, stopping littering, more community-minded planning decisions and more.
Traffic, litter, pavements, housing issues and more – get in touch!
We’ve regularly visit different streets to speak to as many people as possible, and many people have been raising issues about housing problems, littering and fly tipping and traffic issues in their streets which we’re working on to resolve with the Council. These are good examples of some of the issues that we as Councillors can represent your views and concerns to the Council – so do contact us about these and other issues.
We have monthly surgery at Balham Library on the this Saturday of each month from 10 – 11am – no appointment needed. Do email us too:
Exciting things are afoot in Balham town centre! Sitting on the Balham town centre board, I have been able to hear about all the great work that has been done thus far, as well as find out about the opening/ completion of some wonderful communal spaces due in the early summer.
There is a great town centre feeling in Balham and Valentines day last month was a huge success with a “feel good” factor off the scale as wonderful red balloons lined the streets.
Here is a picture of a sight inspection of the area outside Sainsbury on Bedford Hill. Hopefully this space will see some live music, food festivals and many other community activities.
Thursday 5th March saw a very exciting event held in Tooting, hosted by Sadiq Khan. The aim was to gather lots of local women of all ages and celebrate International Women’s Day. There were members of the local community, faith groups and sixth form students. What a lovely, friendly and interesting mix of ladies.
It was a fantastic turnout and after a few short speeches, where some of us councillors shared our stories, it was over to the group discussions. We covered topics such as how to improve political engagement and we celebrated how far we have come in hundred years.
With many new voters in our community, some of the younger attendees felt that eighteen year olds may not vote as they cannot identify with the politicians they see in the media. We discussed the importance of improving the number of women role models in politics and all agreed that without using our votes, we cannot see more women in power.
It was a throughly inspirational morning and topped off perfectly with a lovely cup of tea!
Its been a really busy month for us – but I would say that for every month!
There have been some been changes across the Borough and especially the move towards merging with Richmond Borough, and changes locally with lower crime figures announced, work on Tooting Common Heritage project and a make-over announced for Stapleton Road. News on the new 20 MPH zone, Tooting Athletics Track, Tooting Common Cafe, Balham Lesuire Centre Creche, Balham Boulevard and Tooting Lodge and Battersea Sport Centre is all below.
March Dates for your diary
The second Tooting International Women’s Day coffee morning hosted by Sadiq Khan MP will be on Thursday 5th March at 11am at Mushkil Aasaan, 220 Tooting High Road. There will be cake and chat with lots of local women. It was really inspiring last year and everyone – including babies and children – is very welcome.
This Wednesday (4th March) is the next Neighbourhood Network Coffee morning from 10am – 1pm in the Scout Hut on Balham High road and free toddler Rhyme Time from 9.30 – 10am.
Next Labour Councillors surgery: 21st March from 10am – 11am at Balham Library. No appointment needed – just drop in.
The general election is less than 10 weeks away. Are you registered to vote? If not, you can register online at www.gov.uk
The 20 MPH limit zone will come into force in March – but signs won’t be put up until later, which doesn’t entirely make sense so we’ll be pushing for some signs to show the new situation as soon as possible. We’re really proud of this campaign to bring the 20MPH zone to our area, and all the hours of asking local people and collecting signatures have been really worthwhile. What’s more, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)’s February briefing published further guidance showing how effective 20 MPH zones are in encouraging road safety and especially in protecting children and young people. We’ll keep working with the council to make sure that it does work in this way for us. Make-over for Stapleton Road – and could it be your road too?
In 2013 a consultation was held on the creation of a ‘Tooting Bec village’. A list of proposals have been put together and these include the introduction of a contra-flow cycle lane, cycle parking outside Tooting Bec tube station, improving the signage for the one-way system already in place to make sure it is followed, de-cluttering the street by removing some street furniture and widening and improving the footpaths along the whole length of the road. There will be some trees built along the road too!
The council will be in touch soon to consult residents’ views of these proposals, and we would encourage everyone to make sure you have your say. If the majority of residents support the plans, we will start seeing the work begin this summer.
However there is one concern that the council’s proposals does not address. We know there are concerns that residents in the area, within the same parking zone, are parking on Stapleton Road to access the station – which means there isn’t space for residents to park on their own road. This needs to be tackled and we have called on the council to review the matter. The council have asked for evidence that this is a concern to Stapleton Road residents, before they’ll conduct any investigations. If you agree that parking on your road is a problem, please visit www.sadiqkhan.org.uk_Stapleton_Road_Parking and add your support for a review.
Poisoning of dogs on Tooting Common? We have heard the rumours of the dog poisonings near the Triangle Area of the Common, and it was mentioned in an article in The Spectator, I had sought information from the local police and Council officers but they had not had reports about these, and we discussed this in the Management Advisory Committee of the Tooting Common meeting recently. Since then other local members of the committee have followed up with local vets and we are seeking to find out more about whether these happened and exactly where. If you have any information or have reason to be suspicious please do call 101, and everyone should be extra careful around that area but is a real concern to all users of the Common.
Tooting Common Heritage Project
I joined many other local representatives of groups at a consultation meeting last week. A 10 year management plan for the Common is being worked on, and there will be money to pay for new ideas from the Heritage Lottery Fund. There was an on-line and household survey, consultation meetings and they want to hear your views in any way they can! What would you like to see happening to improve the Common? They would really love to see any historical photos of the Common too.
To receive the newsletter, for more info on these events and to send in your old pictures or views on the Common, do get in touch by email with Andrew Harby, the project facilitator, at email@example.com
Our area IS a Safer Neighbourhood – but watch out for postal theft on Heritage Park At the Safer Neighbourhood meeting we were pleased to hear of lower crime rates in the ward and congratulations t the local police team. There are concerns about theft from post boxes on Heritage Park. Not only theft of items delivered, but information that can be used for identity theft. Please be extra aware of this and call 101 if you see anything suspicious.
Merger with Richmond Council? There are plans to merge administrative functions of the two Councils. There would still be two elected sets of Councillors making decisions separately, and separate frontline staff that we would see in our own Town Halls and areas, but other staff and services for the two may be merged to make cost reductions. This will be discussed at the Council meeting on Wednesday March 4th and much more about the impact of these plans must be made known. You can find out more and feed into the consultations on the consultation page of the Wandsworth Council website or with the link here: https://consult.wandsworth.gov.uk/KMS/dmart.aspx?strTab=PublicDMartCurrent&NoIP=1
Tooting Athletics Track latest news Public concern did change council policy. Following the large petition received by the Council will huge concern about keeping the track affordable, the Council are still opening the lease for tender but will be keeping control of the prices. Obviously no guarantee but a far better option.
Balham Lesuire centre creche
Thanks to some fast action by local mums, we’ve been able to raise the potential issue of the creche closing after the refurbishment with the council an lesuire centre. As a result it is promised that the creche will be moved and continue to be offered. However, user numbers are far lower that they should be given demand and need for this service. I used to use this creche so know how fantastic it is to have this and how popular it used to be in when it was in a more prominent position. So we will keep working with local mums and asking that: 1. It should be reopened after the refurbishment 2. It should be better publicised so that more parents can use this, especially when the newly refurbished lesuire centre is being publicised 3. The new room should be able to have a crèche which opens for more hours if demand increases.
The lovely little white gardeners lodge on Tooting High Road remains in a state of disrepair and building works by the owner seem to have ground to a halt. The deadline of the repairs notice from the Council is in March and we will be urging the Council to make an immediate assessment and be prepared to take the action needed to save the lodge.
Tooting Common Cafe – new lease is up for tender
The new lease is for 15 years and includes be able to improve the cafe site and add toilets (phew). There will be a rolling short-term lease to the current owner until the new leaseholder (or the current one) takes it on. In the meantime community bids and others are all very welcome. http://propertylink.estatesgazette.com/property-details/5947975-tooting-bec-common-cafe-tooting-bec-common-london-sw12-9hj
Plans to improve the road between Balham and Tooting Bec Stations have gone quiet, but are being prepared for consultation with residents soon – early in 2015 was the plan. It is a priority for us to get this to happen and to involve the whole community so we’ll be meeting the Council officers and watch this space for the new plans for a people friendly space.
Battersea Sports Centre
This is far away from our area of Balham and Tooting, but I’m on the Committee which had to decide about the future of this fantastic sports centre in an area of Battersea which really needs this sports and community centre and doesn’t have anything like it. I was so impressed to hear about how the centre has become a centre for excellence in Basketball and many other sports, offers sports for all ages, and is really popular with young people. Building a community is more extreely valuable and once taken away can’t be replaced. The reason given was is to provide homes for the people from the neighbouring Winstanly Estate whilst it is being redeveloped – but this could have been done in other ways as was orginally planned. The true value of the Sports Centre to the community centre was just not given priority. There were excellent representations to the Committee and a packed public gallery, but Conservative members of the committee decided to close the sports centre and it was hugely disappointing. However, the campaign continues and I hope will be sucessful in changing this decision.
The best news is that Rosena had a baby girl last month, Layla Maria, and they are both doing really well.
Do you use Tooting Common at all?
Have you got a few minutes to fill in this questionnaire? It would be great to get as many responses as possible to get feedback on how the Council can improve the Common. I’ve filled it and included a request for public toilets near the playground. The deadline is February 6th.
Lots of local residents were annoyed at the amount of time we were all dodging Christmas trees on the pavements this year, and that trees weren’t collected from front gardens even when they finally went from the streets. I’ve been passing on lots of emails and complaints and hope that next year we can have more information about when they will actually be taken to avoid this happening again. The Council do a great job of clearing 139,000 trees in a fortnight, but with better information this could be a better service.
More, closer surgeries and ways to be in touch with us
Up to now Councillors surgeries have been held in far-off Tooting Library, but we’ve wanted to have much more opportunities for anyone to contact us. We’re very active at responding to emails, meeting with residents and going and speaking with people on the doorsteps most weekends (last weekend we were speaking with residents of Carminia and Childebert Roads, during the week we will be visiting Larch Close). We’re also on twitter: @DrRosena and @CllrFleur
Now we’ve started monthly surgeries at Balham library – do just come along. Our first surgery was last Saturday, and future dates are from 11am – 12 noon on Saturday February 21st, Saturday March 21st and April 18th.
Its not closing! The leaseholders were Antic but they gave up their lease at the end of Janaury and the owenrs, Enterprize, have given assurances that another company will be taking on the lease (maybe Youngs?) and that it will continue to be our community pub.
More information is here: http://www.sadiqkhan.org.uk/future_of_much_loved_pub_is_safe_owners_reassure_sadiq
Tooting Bec Lesuire Centre refurbishment – what about the creche?
Tooting Bec Lesuire centre is due to be refurbished very soon and I’m really looking forward to the resulting improvements in the changing rooms and the addition of a sauna. However future plans for the creche are less clear as the current creche room will be used for something else in the current plans. At the request of local mums who are only able to use the Lesuire centre because of the creche I am following up on this.
No ParkRun Yet
Since the decision that ParkRun could start organising runs on the Common and wouldn’t need to pay, ParkRun haven’t progressed this with the Council yet so there is no sign of these starting soon – unfortunately.
Family offered accommodation in West Bromwich
As featured in the Wandsworth Guardian this week, some local families are indeed being offered accomodation in the West Midlands despite having no connection there at all. I’ve been supporting a family facing this traumatic ‘offer’ which will break up the family and take the mum away from studies and her job, childcare, support networks and chance to support her family.
Action to repair the Lodge on Tooting Bec Road
There has been a lot of concern about the lovely, old white building on Tooting Bec Road which used to be a garden centre, was bought by a developer some years ago and seems to be falling into disrepair. Following public pressure, the Council has now served a notice requiring the owner to carry out urgent repairs or face the prospect of legal action. Workmen have since been seen on the roof – watch this space, and do add any news of work if you see it in the comments below.
In the last couple of weeks there have been lots of decisions made about Tooting Common and other issues coming up, so here’s a round up. I’m on the Common most days and I’m also on the Council Committee where most of these are decided and which met last Thursday. So I’ll continue to be active in seeing our Common improved. As always, comments on any of these are very welcome here or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Rosena is due to have her baby in the coming week so best wishes to her and her family, and I’m looking forward to hearing the good news soon!
Tooting Common Athletics Track and Gym
The Council has decided to seek expressions of interest for the Tooting Common Athletics track to be under private management. This has serious implications for maintaining the current affordability and accessibility for all that makes the track so well used and loved. In the past two years the track has made impressed improvements in its income (partly the ‘Olympic effect’) and has is used by all local schools.
Under current plans this will be part of a big deal for lots of lesiure facilities to be part of a ‘staff mutual’ from next September – not Council run but not a private company either – from next September. This looks like a good option for keeping the Track affordable and accessible as it is now. The Council had looked at the two tracks it currently has (one in Battersea) and considered just keeping one and making the other redundant. It is likely the Tooting one would have been ‘redundant’. This has now been ruled out as the needs of Herne Hill Harriers and the clubs that use the Battersea track are too much for one track.
We have worked with the Furzedown Councillors to make the plans public and facilitate more feedback from local people and users of the track, and to get more information about the plans as they were being drawn up – rather than further down the line when papers go to Committee. We have a petition and called a public meeting organised by the Furzedown councillors. Do sign the petition here to show your concern and hear the latest news and ways you can be involved: http://www.sadiqkhan.org.uk/keep_tooting_bec_athletics_track_running
I am very disappointed that the private management of the track is being considered, and has been done so with so little consultation with local users up to this point, and given the existing plans for the staff mutual. There is too high a risk that prices will go up, access for as many people as possible will be secondary to profit, and a piece of our Common will be less accessible to local people.
The campaign to keep the track running will continue, and we hope to see a lot more openness from the Council about this process and others. It feels like this is the first of many cuts to come in the next couple of years, and whilst these are inevitable there should be done in conversation with the people who use the services and pay for them from our Council tax, not more secret plans and lack of information and consultation about ways in which we can reduce costs but still keep what matters most to us – not just a few people in Town Hall making choices based on finances alone.
This is a great national scheme of local, free volunteer-run, timed 5km runs on Saturday mornings, and would be a great use of the Common for more people and encourage more of us to exercise – there is junior ParkRun too. Over 800 people signed a petition to bring ParkRun to Wandsworth and it would most likely be on Tooting Common, and I’m very supportive of this. Of course there needs to be very good marshalling, other users must have priority over the runners, and no littering. But they operate hundreds of runs in other parks all over the country on this basis very successfully – and its just from 9am – 10.30am on Saturday mornings.
We discussed this for an hour at the Committee as the Council are proposing reducing the fee charged as they are volunteers, and paying this sum from the public health budget given the large demand and clear health benefits. However, they said that ParkRun do not have agreements with any other Council based on fees being paid and are worried that this might start a precedent and new way of working which they can’t sustain on their volunteer-led basis. The Committee voted in favour of ParkRun coming to Wandsworth at first on a six month trial. I hope that the contract can be worded in such a way that the Council supports ParkRun and ParkRun are happy that the funding is sorted out internally in the Council’s budgets and separately to their agreement.
Café – could it become a Community Café?
Is has been agreed that the café will be put out for a new tender for a 15 year lease which the current manger or another company could be successful in winning. The contract will need to include work on an extension to include a new toilet (or toilets?) which will be open to the public. I added a need for baby changing facilities in the café which I was pleased to count as a small victory!
I’ve already spoken with someone who is interested in thinking about bidding for this contract as a local community group – contact me if you would be interested and I can share any information I receive.
Policing of the Common to be reduced
Based on the need to make savings and crime figures as a Council, the policing of all the Parks and Commons will be moved from the Met to the Parks service and the number of staff to do this will be reduced. I do have continuing concerns that being based in Battersea reduces the amount of patrolling we have on Tooting Common, and that crime is falling elsewhere but rising on the Common. So I will be watching these changes with some nervousness. It did come to light that one of the police staff lives on the Common and patrols it as part of their accommodation contract.
Tooting History Project – could you be a local investigator?
I went to the kick-off meeting for this project which has money from the Heritage Lottery Fund and will be applying for a million pounds after this year’s work too. There is so much we don’t know about the very interesting history of the Common and in the next few months the project will bring together volunteers to delve into history and share what they find. This could be about historical myths such as trees planted when Queen Elizabeth visited, events such as what happened during the war, how the Common was saved as Common land, or the history of some of the things on the Common – and lots more. Volunteers are being offered training and can do as little as an hour, and all contributions will be written up by a historian and acknowledged. To find out more or volunteer, please contact the volunteer coordinator Andrew Harby: email@example.com
Litter on the Common
I don’t know about you, but I think the amount of litter on the Common has gone up, especially around the frog ponds but also in lots of the woods and bushes. The group of local people who take concerns to the Council are the Tooting Common Management Advisory Committee, which I’m a member of, and they are raising this with Council as I will continue to do.
The great White Line debate
The white line on the paths to separate cyclists from pedestrians must have seemed like a good idea at the time, and seems to be a very good way to enable both lots of people to use the path through the Common past the playground. However it has caused lots of problems and many arguments and not helped either pedestrians (and wandering dogs and children) or cyclists who feel they should be able to have more a free run on the path that then realistically can. Given that this is Common land, this needs to be settled by the Secretary of State who had a hearing and it was ruled that the white line will be removed, the path desegregated and cycling very much still allowed but the over-riding principle of all users giving way to each other made a priority. The line should go and more signs encouraging considerate cycling and use of the path should be coming to the Common.
Great support for the flash protest at the Athletics Track
The 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: http://www.sadiqkhan.org.uk/keep_tooting_bec_athletics_track_running?utm_campaign=enews_31_10_14&utm_medium=email&utm_source=sadiqkhan
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.
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
Rosena 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.