Some people have asked about installing bike hangars in their street which is a great idea and one we support a lot. I think everyone can agree that cycling is a generally positive activity and in a city like London where too many cars lead to poor air quality and clogged roads, cycling should be encouraged.
When we looked into this issue it came as quite a shock how poor Wandsworth Tories have been on this issue and how little is done by the Tories to support cycling in Wandsworth.
We made the image above as a quick and easy comparison. In Wandsworth we only got our first bike hangar in 2017, and as of today we have a grand total of just 4. Compare this to Lambeth which has over 220, and Waltham Forest with 225!
In addition to being a good for the environment and the fitness and wellbeing of people in Wandsworth, bike hangars could also make excellent economic sense for the council. A bike hangar takes up roughly the same amount of space as a car parking bay. Renting a space in the bike hangar costs £72 a year, and a hangar can fit 6 bikes, so in total a hangar generates the council £432 a year. In contrast, a resident’s car parking permit costs only £166. The bike hanger produces 160% more profit using the same amount of space!
At the moment all the £72 rental fee goes to a third party company in exchange for admin, maintenance and cleaning of the hangars, so the hangars do not make any money for Wandsworth Council. We have spoken with them and they are looking at a self-management option. Alternatively, instead of seeking a profit, Wandsworth could follow in the footsteps of Waltham Forest who only charge £20 a year to rent a space and Lambeth who charge £42.
So if you would like a bike hangar on your street, please go to https://cyclehoop.force.com/RentalsCommunity/resultsmap?postalCode= and click the “suggest a location” link at the bottom of the page. We will continue to push the council to install more hangars in areas where they make sense, rather than having to wait for residents to request them. After all, if you build it, they will come!
You may remember a proposal by Wandsworth Council in early 2016 to do the following:
close Dr Johnson Avenue to traffic; and
ban vehicles from turning right from Tooting Bec Road into Elmbourne Road.
The response rate was high for a council consultation – over 3,200 people submitted their thoughts. In the end, 70% of respondents rejected the idea. The council’s write up of that process is here: http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/news/article/13315/dr_johnson_avenue_will_remain_open
In the very near future, Wandsworth Council will be running a new consultation with two new proposals for traffic calming on Dr Johnson Avenue:
Option 1 – installing, in the midpoint of Dr Johnson Avenue, a raised table flush with the pavement and green verge. This is designed to reduce the speed of vehicles and serve as a crossing point for pedestrians. This will include access to the south-west footpath via some steps and an Equality Act 2010-compliant facility for disabled access.
At either end of Dr Johnson Avenue the road layout would be redesigned and two more raised tables would be installed, provided Transport for London agree to this.
Option 2 – similar to option 1, but with two additional raised tables, taking the total to five overall.
There are additional nuances such as the type of materials used and the length of the raised tables. A “raised table” looks like this one outside Tooting Bec tube station at the entrance to Stapleton Road:
12 Reasons why Siward Road Specialist Nursery should not be closed
The council decision is on Wednesday 11th July, supporters, former parents and parents are invited to attend from 7pm at the Town Hall, marble hall entrance. If it goes through, the nursery will close on July 31st.
1 The nursery is the only specialist nursery in Wandsworth. It provides support for children with autism and with complex needs, and there is already a shortage of places for children with Special Educational Needs, especially in nurseries, and especially for children with complex needs and social and communications difficulties that are turned away from other nurseries and childminders.
2. Parental choice and increasing need: There is an increase in awareness of autism, and earlier diagnosis and so in parents seeking support earlier than when they reach school, but budget cuts means less support for children with autism in schools. Early support before schools is even more important. More parents want to choose Siward Road but are being denyed this choice. During the year referrals from St Georges have been stopped and the nursery isn’t mentioned in the ‘Choosing nursery education brochure for parents. So take up of places has gone down but this does not show that there is less need or demand from parents.
3. Other nurseries are larger, noisier spaces and very often over-whelming for children with autism. Siward Road provides a smaller pace where children can cope and learn to cope and then move onto larger spaces and settings. Lots of children start at a larger nursery but can’t cope or getting moved between nurseries.
4. The reason given for the closure is to save money – it was part of a paper about changes to funding provision – but the total cuts are more than need to be made (£345,000 cuts ‘needed’ but over £700,000 cuts being made, and Siward Road staff cost just over £200,000 per year). This is not good value for money, and cutting this service shifts the financial burden to other nurseries whose budgets are already being reduced, and to parents who will have to take their children to appointments in different places. It could cost more to break up all the provision into different services rather than have in once place. It has been called both ‘a false economy’ and ‘inclusion on the cheap’. We weren’t given comparative costings of the different provision to be able to judge it in the committee, but Siward Road seems very good value for money at the moment. I worry that the Council will realise it needs to have this service in a couple of years time, and it will cost a lot to bring it back – and at what cost to the children who have lost out too?
5. The nursery was rated as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted last year. All the staff are amazing and should be valued for their care for very vulnerable children, their experience and the unique set of support for children that has been developed aver time and provides very good value for money. This should be celebrated and valued by the Council. Siward Road is a crucial piece of the jigsaw puzzle of provision that makes up special educational needs provision in Wandsworth.
6. The nursery provides different therapists and professionals in one place, rather than parents needing to take their children to and from different appointments and places for the same level of care. This is hard for any parents, very hard for any working parent, and even harder for children who find travelling on public transport very hard.
7. Because it is a specialist nursery only for children with special needs, parents also receive a lot of support from staff and from each other. Instead of being a lone or minority voice, together the parents can be more supportive of each other and this results in better care for their children.
8. Parents were told about the closure only a few weeks before the end of term. They planned on being in the nursery for another year, with time to agree an EHC plan for additional support before going to another nursery where it would be needed. It is being done in such a rush, and for children with so many needs, that it will not be done well, and children will lose out.
9 The decision making process could not result in informed decision by the committee members – we had the paper on Friday for the Tuesday meeting. We didn’t have time to visit the school, find out enough information or being able to assess the arguments put in the paper. There was no Equality Impact and Needs Analysis available, and no information about where children currently there would go. We were told that three children are attending but it is 11. Referrals to the nursery were clearly stopped at some stage, and no new children taken for next year, but we still haven’t been told when referrals to the nursery were stopped. A letter from parents with their views was sent to the presenting officer the day before, but not made available to the committee, and the parents were not told that they could come and speak to the committee, so the committee did not hear parent’s views. If this is the way this decision is handled, it gives no confidence that the council will organise sufficiently good places for the current children and good support during their transition, or alternative SEN support for future children.
10. The council are about to launch a consultation on early years provision in Wandsworth – any major changes like this should be made after the consultation and not before it.
11. Last year the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism researched and published a report which showed that children on the autistic spectrum are being let down by the education system. The focus Siward Road focus on children with complex needs and with social and communications difficulties uniquely met their needs and equipped children better for coping better in an education system which is tough for them.
12. The other Wandsworth Nursery Schools and primary schools are suffering from budget cuts, and Nursery Schools have to pay for all one-to-one support for children before they have their EHC plan. They will not be able to afford to support many of the children who would have been going to Siward Road as they are too young to have had this plan yet. Other nurseries will be less and less able to support children with social and communication difficulties as the budget cuts increase. The 16 places at Siward Road are needed more than ever.
If you think the council should keep Siward Road open, please write to your councillor, and even better arrange to meet with them this week and explain the value of Siward Road.
In this month’s local news: please sign the petition about Siward Road nursery closure, some of our June highlights, Wandsworth Welcomes refugees news, latest on Tooting Lodge and the reason behind Hector’s name change (yes, you have to read to the end for this revelation).
Shock closure of Siward Road special needs nursery
The Conservative councillors are threatening to close the only nursery in Wandsworth for children with complex needs. It has was rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted last year, and provides a necessary service for very young children who can be assessed and then either supported to move into mainstream nurseries or to school providing eduction for children with special needs. It is in Earlsfield and has spaces for 16 children, many of whom would find a larger nursery over-whelming or would not be placed in other nurseries.
Budget cuts have been blamed for the need to reduce spending on early years, however the Council is planning to make over £400,000 more cuts than made necessary from a funding change, and Siward Road nursery costs £205,000 per year. The costs of supporting children with complex needs are substantial and this cut is a false economy.
The Council plan to close the nursery this month, but hadn’t told parents or staff. They were not consulted or involved, or able to make any preparations for next term and are very concerned about the future of their children. The list of alternative provisions made available to Labour councillors is not acceptable as most are not able to meet the needs of the children at Siward Road. This is why the nursery plays an important role in Wandsworth’s early years provision and should be valued rather than closed in a rush.
We’ve all been going to lots of training sessions as a new term has begun since our election, and we continue do all we can to be the best councillors and local representatives that we can be for the next four years.
We’ve also enjoyed going to lots of community events. The Iftar during Ramadan at the Tooting Islamic Centre was a highlight, as so many people from the local community were warmly welcomed to the mosque and treated to a wonderful feast and understood more about the significance of the special month of Ramadan. The month of fasting is an amazing achievement – especially during the hot summer.
Ritherdon Road street party was bigger and better than ever, and we also enjoyed historic walks on Tooting Common, the open day at Holy Trinity church and a visit up the famous tower which is due to be extensively renovated soon. Ravenstock at Ravenstone School was a lot of fun, and we’ve been to Safer Neighbourhood, and Tooting Bec and Balham Neighbourhood Forum meetings.
The Tooting MAC advisory group annual public meeting was in the new Lido pavilion with a wonderful backdrop of the synchronised swimmers doing a dry land rehearsal behind the speakers. There was news of crime on the common staying relatively low (mainly parking issues), and progress on the Heritage Lottery
project which is in its final third year. So watch out for some more community events, continuing renovation of the Woodfield Pavilion and the acid grassland areas, and some more information boards to go up and reveal aspects of the common to us – recently there has been scything and walks. There was no mention of plans to cut more trees down, but we remain vigilant.
Do let us know if you are having a meeting that we can come to and play an active role in building our community together.
Do follow us on twitter to see ore of what we are doing in the local community: @clare_f, @hectordenfield, @cllrfleur
Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees – some good news
We have had the great news that more families from Syria have been rescued from refugee camps and welcomed to Wandsworth recently, bring the total number of families to 6. Battersea Deanery of Churches have been able to support the offer of 2 flats for future families as well – and more landlords are always very welcomed. The Home Office pays all costs – not the council. This is a far lower number that our neighbouring councils, but it marks a significant speeding up for families coming and we hope there will be many more. It is the least we can do from our position of safety and as a relatively prosporous council for some of the people in the world who need our support most.
The group of individuals and organisations will be marking Donald Trumps visit to the U with a positive message for Wandsworth on the morning on July 13th – email firstname.lastname@example.org if you can join us.
Tooting Lodge – some good news at last!
Avid readers of this newsletter will have followed urging the developer of the Lodge to make the building water tight and stop deteriorating, and then more recently to remove the ugly hoardings. The hoardings are down and a wire fence is up, but we hope that the developer will remove these in due course. We wait to see what use will be made of the building now that it has been restored and we can see this historic building. It is the gate house of a former very large local house.
Congratulations to Hector Denfield!
Congratulations to Hector who got married in June, and he and his wife have combined their formed names into one new name – so Cllr Hector Wakefield has become Cllr Hector Denfield. We wish both a lifetime of happiness together.
Do contact us:
Next surgery on Wednesday 4th July at 10am at the scout hall on the High Road, opposite Du Cane Court.