Bedford Ward Local Issues Tooting Bec and Balham Wandsworth

July Newsletter

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.

The full committee paper is here (paras 28 – 31).

To support the current and future parents and the future of school, please sign these two petitions before the Council Meeting on July 11th where the final decision will be made:

Support Dr Rosena Allin-Khan’s petition to Save Siward Road

Save Siward Road petition by a former parent

A great summer in Balham and Tooting

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.

Iftar celebration

We’ve also enjoyed going to lots of community events. The Iftar during Ramadan at the Tooting Islamic Centre was a highlight, as so many people from the local community were warmly welcomed to the mosque and treated to a wonderful feast and understood more about the significance of the special month of Ramadan. The month of fasting is an amazing achievement – especially during the hot summer.

Mr Whirly Wines, Fleur, Rosena, Clare and Dee’s of Delight Bakery – celebrating Ritherdon Road

Ritherdon Road street party was bigger and better than ever, and we also enjoyed historic walks on Tooting Common, the open day at Holy Trinity church and a visit up the famous tower which is due to be extensively renovated soon. Ravenstock at Ravenstone School was  a lot of fun, and we’ve been to Safer Neighbourhood, and Tooting Bec and Balham Neighbourhood Forum meetings.

Hector, Rosena, Headteacher Joe Croft and Clare at Ravenstock
Tooting Common public meeting with added synchronised swimming


The Tooting MAC advisory group annual public meeting was in the new Lido pavilion with a wonderful backdrop of the synchronised swimmers doing a dry land rehearsal behind the speakers. There was news of crime on the common staying relatively low (mainly parking issues), and progress on the Heritage Lottery

We attended a great meeting with the Tooting History Group on the history of the common

project which is in its final third year. So watch out for some more community events, continuing renovation of the Woodfield Pavilion and the acid grassland areas, and some more information boards to go up and reveal aspects of the common to us – recently there has been scything and walks. There was no mention of plans to cut more trees down, but we remain vigilant.

Do let us know if you are having a meeting that we can come to and play an active role in building our community together.

Do follow us on twitter to see ore of what we are doing in the local community: @clare_f, @hectordenfield, @cllrfleur

Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees – some good news

We have had the great news that more families from Syria have been rescued from refugee camps and welcomed to Wandsworth recently, bring the total number of families to 6. Battersea Deanery of Churches have been able to support the offer of 2 flats for future families as well – and more landlords are always very welcomed. The Home Office pays all costs – not the council. This is a far lower number that our neighbouring councils, but it marks a significant speeding up for families coming and we hope there will be many more. It is the least we can do from our position of safety and as a relatively prosporous council for some of the people in the world who need our support most.

The group of individuals and organisations will be marking Donald Trumps visit to the U with a positive message for Wandsworth on the morning on July 13th – email if you can join us.

Tooting Lodge – some good news at last!

Here’s a picture of the day the Lodge had the hoardings taken down. Nice to see it with the sun going down behind it!

Avid readers of this newsletter will have followed urging the developer of the Lodge to make the building water tight and stop deteriorating, and then more recently to remove the ugly hoardings. The hoardings are down and a wire fence is up, but we hope that the developer will remove these in due course. We wait to see what use will be made of the building now that it has been restored and we can see this historic building. It is the gate house of a former very large local house.

Congratulations to Hector Denfield!

Congratulations to Hector who got married in June, and he and his wife have combined their formed names into one new name – so Cllr Hector Wakefield has become Cllr Hector Denfield. We wish both a lifetime of  happiness together.


Do contact us:

Next surgery on Wednesday 4th July at 10am at the scout hall on the High Road, opposite Du Cane Court.

We’re happy to meet at another time too.

Email us:

Bedford Ward Local Issues Tooting Bec and Balham

November Newsletter


Highlights of the last month have been defending Ravenstone Primary School against a development next to their playground, speaking to lots of local residents with my fellow ward team members, Clare Fraser and Hector Wakefield, a new refugee family from Syria being welcomed to Tooting, and the Tooting Common Pumpkin Parade which gets bigger every year!

Read on for more news about:

  • Ravenstone Primary School;
  • Tooting Bec Lodge;
  • changes in police services;
  • a public meeting about knife crime;
  • a proposed library development in Battersea;
  • where to get advice on your rights;
  • welcoming a Syrian refugee family to Wandsworth;
  • Speedwatch on Streathbourne, Culverdon and Franciscan Roads; and 
  • filming on Tooting Common.

Ravenstone Primary School – development rejected

The proposal was for 8 three story houses in the site of the garages.
The proposal was for 8 three story houses in the site of the garages.

People power won a victory at the planning committee last week – thanks to all the hard work by the parents, Headteacher, and co-chairs of governors. There were 175 objections to the three storey development of 8 houses on a very small piece of land cutting into the playground, with full length windows on each storey. Dr Allin-Khan MP strongly objected, and Cllr Fleur Anderson spoke at the committee. The development was refused and we wait to hear what the next steps will be. Overall, it would be far better if this could be a sports site or another facility which could be used by the school and local community.

Fleur celebrating with Rebecca and Sue the co-chairs of governors
Fleur celebrating after the Town Hall meeting with Rebecca and Sue, the co-chairs of governors
Clare and Hector letting parents know about the development. 175 people objected.
Clare and Hector letting parents know about the development last September. 175 people objected.



Tooting Bec Lodge repaired at last

We don’t have many very historic buildings in the area, and seeing the Tooting Bec Lodge disintegrating since it was bought in 2011 has distressing for everyone who passes it. It was first the gardener’s lodge for the big local house (long gone) and more recently a lovely garden centre. Local residents formed a group called the ‘custodians of Tooting Lodge’ and have kept lobbying the council for more action for several years. The council has threatened action but progress has been painfully slow as the owner has managed to just about comply with each order to make repairs. Most recently an inspection showed that the building is now restored and weather proof. I spoke at a recent committee meeting to insist that the hoarding is now removed as soon as possible, and as soon as it is safe for the security of the building to do so. Well done to the Custodians for many years of action for our local heritage.

Important Advice Services: Carers Rights and new EU residents information service and Universal Credit

Are you one of the thousands of carers in Wandsworth? Did you know that more than half of people looking after someone with cancer are missing out on support? Get in contact with the Carers Centre at 46 Balham High Road (02086750811) or the Citizens Advice Bureau on Lavender Hill (0300 330 1169 10am – 4pm Mon – Fri) if you want to know your rights, whoever you are caring for.

The Citizens Advice Bureau is also the home of a new advice service for EU residents. Kaia Zagrodniczek is running a telephone, email or drop-in service. Drop in at the library or email her:

Universal Credit will be rolling out in Wandsworth from December 6th despite huge concerns about impact on people in other parts of the country so far. There will be a gap in payments of six weeks and I’m concerned about the impact on housing benefits for residents on incomes that change from week to week. Despite calls to the government to learn from problems and halt the roll-out, it is going ahead. The Help Through Hardship team at the Citizens Advice Bureau are very friendly and supportive and can help with advice and contacting benefits staff and council officers for you. Call 0300 3301169 10am – 4pm Mon – Fri.

Wandsworth Community Services news

I am the Labour Spokesperson on the Community Services and issues coming up at the latest community were a further roll out of more electric car charging points which are very welcomed, reinvigorating a long-term plan for a pedestrian and cycle bridge from Battersea to Chelsea Wharf (next to the Cremone railway bridge) and concerns about rising charges at the Tooting Athletics track and funeral charges for children and which we have asked to be reviewed.

Police changes

Changes are coming to our local police services as a result of continuing cuts (£600 million previously and now a further £400 million across the Met). Police stations are used far less as people phone or email their local police more. So funding will be concentrated on keeping local police teams and enabling them to respond. They will moved to being based in local ‘hubs’ which they will use as their base, and having iPads so that they can do their paperwork on the move and stay on the streets more. Wandsworth Town police station will be closed and Lavender Hill moved from its current big building to a nearby smaller building and remain open 24 hours a day. I’ve been in touch with the local Borough Commander about these changes and we’ll continue to see how it works out in practice.

You can join the local Safer Neighbourhood Team

Everyone is very welcome to the local safer neighbourhood team meetings. We meet at the Polish Club on Balham High Road every 2 – 3 months, with our local police officers, and discuss local issues. Do get in touch to find out more.

Tackling Knife Crime in Wandsworth – public meeting

Once a year the Wandsworth Council Safer Neighbourhood Board throw their doors open to the public. This year’s meeting will be on the very topical issue of tackling knife crime and will be at the Town Hall at 6.30pm on Tuesday 5th December. Please let anyone know who is interested in finding out what is being done or doing more to keep our young people safe.

Battersea Park Library and Health centre

The most controversial item at the Community Services Committee meeting was a new library and health centre plan on Battersea Park Road. The proposal to treble the size of the clinic and have a much improved health centre with many services in one building, and to improve the library all in one place is very welcome. The council plans to work with a developer to build flats above the new services which will pay for the rebuilding below. All good so far. However the proposal given to the committee was to sell off the sites to a named developer who would then lease them back to the NHS and council on low rents – but without any details of how long the rents wold be. We should have considered the merits of different plans – such as community ownership, NHS or council ownership (and keeping the profit) OR selling off this community asset to a developer. For example using the community asset, community-led housing or community anchor model which mean that we would keep ownership of this public building for the long-term.

Rather than consider any other way of delivering an exciting new community scheme, a single named developer had already been identified and this plan to sell off the library was the only one proposed. This blinkered approach is very short-term and disappointing and we voted against it.

Syrian Refugees

WWR logoA second family has been welcomed to Wandsworth – at last! The Syrian war continues, and the refugee crisis remains one of epic proportions as millions of Syrian people have fled from their homes and are living mostly elsewhere in Syria or in neighbouring countries. Wandsworth Council’s glacial response continues. Hundreds of residents signed a petition in the summer of 2016 urging the council to welcome some of the most most vulnerable families to Wandsworth. The Home Office provides funding for housing and other costs for this scheme – not the council, and not using council housing. One family was welcomed last year and Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees recently received news that another family has now moved to the borough. If you are a landlord or know a landlord who could get involved in the scheme, do get in touch or contact:

Speedwatch on Streathbourne, Culverdon and Franciscan Roads

8ECE4113-58CA-4D2E-ACEF-02284FF36694Local residents have been able to turn into law enforcers recently and taken on the task of zapping speeding cars with the speed camera. I regularly visit local streets to find out concerns and when Streathbourne and Culverdon Road residents raised this, I asked for the speed watch team to visit. Its part of a network of speed visits which are building up  picture of where the hot spots are and more action needs to be taken. Keeping speeds low will decrease deaths and injuries on our roads and reduces air pollution too.

Filming on Tooting Common

The current flurry of extra activity around the Lido and elsewhere on Tooting Common is a ‘major’ film for national release which is being filmed in various locations on the Common until December 2nd. Rumour has it (thanks to the Dogs of Tooting Common Facebook page – a great source of information, and they have just reached 1,000 members!) that the film is called ‘The Kid who Would be King‘. I might be taking my dog for a few more walks to see if I can spot any famous actors in the next few days! If anyone finds out what the film is, please let me know. Explanations by some of the film crew that Wandsworth had sold the car park and were building flats rang all too true with a few people but was just a wind up. I hope.

Please come to Fleur and Rosena’s drop in surgeries on the first Wednesday of every month from 10am – 11am at the Scout Hall on Balham High Road, opposite Du Cane Court and on the corner of Elmfield Rd.

Bedford Ward Local Issues Tooting Bec and Balham

October Newsletter

Fleur and Rosena
Fleur and Rosena

This newsletter is packed with latest news on the Balham and Tooting local heroes event, Tooting Common trees and cycling, planning applications for Bedford Hill Old Church and Foxbourne Rd, #TidyUpTooting campaign, serious concerns about St Georges, new Caring kitchen lunch at St Anselms, local crime and TASER use, Balham High Road improvements, and the first Syrian refugee family welcomed to Wandsworth

Do contact Fleur and Rosena if you want to know more or have an issue we can help with: and

Do you know a local community hero?

Come along - all welcome!
Come along – all welcome!

Do you know someone who works for a community group, or helps people in their local area or community, or goes above and beyond in work locally? Now is your chance to celebrate them! Nominations for the Balham and Tooting Community Association (BACTA) community heroes awards are open until November 8th. Please use the online form at The awards go to those you nominate. There’ll be awards both for individual volunteers and teams. The nominations will be assessed by a panel of independent judges.

Awards will be presented on 24th November 2016 at a celebratory evening at Jasmin’s Club, 202 Upper Tooting Road, SW17 7TG, to which all are welcome. Its a really great night, with wonderful food and entertainment, and will make you very proud to live in Balham and Tooting. To book a place, please click here the evening is free and supported by the Wandsworth Community Fund – please bring a donation on the night. Do come and invite your friends – why not fill a table?

I’m on the BACTA organising group so if you have any comments about this, or suggestions that BACTA could do to make links and strengthen our community, please email me your ideas.

Tooting Common – Chestnut Avenue trees and Quietway cycle route

The consultation on the future of Chestnut Avenue closed last month and 695 local people had responded, with 74% in favour of replanting the avenue all at once, although 50% of these people also favoured the option of slowly replacing the trees as they continue to face disease. This beautiful avenue is much loved by us all in the area and deciding how to preserve it is very difficult. It is dreadful that so many trees are suffering from a disease that Chestnut Trees all over the country have and is spreading, and one symptom is that branches fall off. So safety is the top priority, and the opportunity for significant investment in replanting the whole avenue rather than let it slowly decline one tree after another. But we also want to save any of these trees that are healthy and do not need to be cut down. At the committee meeting I proposed that the healthy trees (currently 6 trees, but this needs to be assessed again) are not cut down and this was accepted by the committee. The recommendation to replant the Avenue was agreed to by the Community Services Committee and is likely to be carried out in the Winter of 2017/18. A campaign to save the trees is being led by Friends of Tooting Common.

A report about the leaf mining moth and bleeding canker disease affecting Horse Chestnut diseases across the country was recently on Sky News.

The next consultation on the common will be controversial as well. Cross London Quietways cycle routes are being set up, and the Waterloo – Croydon route goes through Tooting Common under current plans. Following responses from the first consultation, Chestnut Avenue is not the proposed route but instead the diagonal path from the cafe to the Lido car park. This would be widened to 3m and a gravel surface used which is good for buggies, wheelchairs and cyclists but discourages fast cycling as it is not as smooth as tarmac.

The consultation distribution plan has been shared with me and I’ve asked for it to be extended to all the road off the Common instead of just some and all of Heritage Park instead of only those closest to the Common. This consultation will be coming out soon so please watch for notices on the Common and have your say.

Old Church on Bedford Hill

We supported the many local objections to the large proposed development of the Old Church on Bedford Hill. The plan was to keep the front but redevelop the rest into 21 flats and a nursery. The planning officers agreed with our objections and the recommendation to refuse this application was agreed by the planning committee. We hope that the developers can return with a plan using the existing building and will be asking from them to involve the local community more in their future planning.

St Anthony’s Court, Foxbourne Rd

There was also a large number of objections to plans by St Anthony’s Court residential home to add another storey to their building. This backs onto the garden’s of six houses in Foxbourne Road and will block a lot of light to the gardens and homes. There will be considerable building traffic going down the narrow road and into the small entrance to the Court, and increased traffic of visitors once built. I represented these concerns at the planning committee, but the application was still accepted on the basis that similar schemes have been agreed to elsewhere in Wandsworth. This seems very unfair and is understandably very disappointing for residents.


blogFor too long we’ve been telling the council to sort out fly tipping and dirty streets, and it is one of the main reasons you get in contact with us as your local councillors. Rosena is gathered your reports for a month and took this to the council who have said they will do more. Click here for Rosena’s letter on #TidyUpTooting. If you see fly-tipping in your street, report it to the Wandsworth ‘report it’ app (if you have a smartphone. More info on the Report It app is here. 

Serious concerns about St Georges’ Hospital

At the October council meeting Labour proposed a debate on health outcomes and serious concerns about the financial situation of St Georges. In the motion we called on the Council to affirm its commitment to the NHS as a world-class healthcare system, but note that it is coming under increasing funding pressure, expresses its concern at the various failings in patient safety and care uncovered during the recent Care Quality Commission inspection at St George’s Hospital Trust and notes that the Trust is forecasting an end of year deficit of £55.5 million and that its own corporate risk report describes its overall level of exposure to operational risk as “extreme”, welcome the incredible work that staff at St George’s do but recognises that the Trust is struggling with high turnover and vacancy rates and that the staff survey reports unacceptable levels of bullying and harassment.

Rosena’s gave a strong speech about junior doctors during the debate. Labour councillors called on the Council to show leadership and work with the Trust to ensure that patient care is kept to a high standard.  The full motion text is here and we will continue to be extremely concerned about the situation and what it will mean for our healthcare provision.

Roadworks on Tooting High Rd and Balham Boulevard

I’ve been watching the changes to pavements on Tooting High Road and hope that this will result in a safer roads, especially for motorcyclists as we have had several accidents on the road and we lobbied TfL on road safety on this stretch of the High Road – lots of people signed petitions. It is disappointing to see the pavement widened, the cycle track narrowed and the opportunity for a separate cycle lane for cyclists not used.

The plans for a more attractive stretch of High Road up to Balham station have been talked about for years, and TfL will be revealing their plans in a meeting in early November. Lets hope this is better than the last meeting where they said that nothing could be done.

Caring Kitchen at St Anselms

St Anselms Church’s monthly Caring Kitchen is proving very popular and everyone is welcome for a free homemade lunch in a caring environment. the next ones are 29th November and 20th December in St Anselms Old Hall on Tooting High Road from 12.15 – 2pm. For enquires please contact

Crime and TASER

The safer neighbourhood team identified Ritherdon Rd as having higher burglary and the local police and safer neighbourhood team visited everyone in the street and provided free DNA marking kits for valuable items.

I went to the Wandsworth Safer Neighbourhood Board and had a update on Wandsworth crime figures, which show that although Wandsworth is doing well compared to other boroughs, violent crime is rising and theft of motorbikes and scooters is a particular problem. In this area its a problem in the streets around Tooting Bec station especially, but even the heaviest bike left on the street is a potential target.


We also had a presentation about TASER gun use in London. It has very strict regulation and is used to prevent violence either to themselves or others by firearms police. At any time, about 4 officers who are allowed to use TASER are on duty in Wandsworth and in the first 6 months of this year it was used 8 times. TASER guns are a sci-fi looking plastic yellow and shoot out electrode barbs which disable people through the electronic pulse rather than through pain and stand for ‘Thomas A Swift Electronic Rifle’.

This was the annual public Safer Neighbourhood Board meeting and a chance for the Borough Commander to be publicly accountable, but it was publicised, the public weren’t involved in setting the agenda and having issues which matter to us, and it was attended by about four members of the public! It was yet another proof of how little the Conservative Council want to work with us all as residents together in Wandsworth.

First Syrian Family welcomed in Wandsworth – more urgent response needed

As the war in Syria and dreadful destruction of Aleppo continues, there is an urgent need for desperate families to move to safety. This certainly makes me feel very fortunate indeed to live in such a safe place. We can provide safe haven for families, and the Home Office has made funding available to local boroughs. Wandsworth took a step forward and welcomed a family of three people from Syria this week. I hope that the response can match the urgency and we can see many more families welcomed before Christmas. Rosena has the council leader how many families will be welcomed by Christmas, but he did not answer this.

Meanwhile, if you can help to support refugees and have anytime on a Monday morning, please go to St Mary’s church near Balham station on the High Road where there is a drop in for refugees for a meal, meeting others and advice organised by the South London Refugee Association.

Bedford Ward Local Issues Tooting Bec and Balham

September Newsletter

This newsletter is packed with lots of local news from your Labour Councillors:

Tooting Common: tree consultation, ParkRun, Quietway cycle route, cafe improvements, cricket pitch and fitness equipment

Crossrail2 plans for Balham and Tooting, Bedford Hill Church redevelopment proposal, local Neighbourhood plan, new Headteachers at St Anselms and Ravenstone Schools, Transition Tooting local events, cycle hoops outside Trinity Pharmacy, safer Elmbourne and Hillbury Rds and Rosena’s trip to Calais to support refugees

Tribute to Cllr Sally-Ann Ephson

Cllr Sally Anne Ephson (centre)
Cllr Sally Anne Ephson (centre)

We are really sad that our friend and fellow Labour Councillor, Sally-Anne Epson, died recently as a result of Sickle Cell Disease.  It was inspirational that she didn’t let having the disease stop her a Queenstown councillor in Battersea. She spoke up strongly for residents in Queenstown and people with disabilities and she was warm and caring and really supportive and encouraging of other councillors. We will always miss her. Sadiq Khan has also paid tribute to her, and we are fundraising for the Sickle Cell Society in her memory.

Future of trees consultation now closed
Future of trees consultation now closed

1. Future of Chestnut Avenue The Tooting Common future of trees consultation closed on September 4th. Earlier in the week there had been over 600 replies. Early in the consultation I asked for leaflets to be sent to local homes, for drop in times for the public to hear from the council’s tree expert and I’m glad that these were agreed to. The options are for a replacement of the whole avenue with a different type of tree, replacement gradually with different trees as the existing diseased trees are removed, or removing all the trees and not replacing them. If the first option is closed by the Community Services Committee, this would be take 6 weeks during the coming Winter.

New ParkRun Director Tom Baker and Fleur after a run
New ParkRun Director Tom Baker and Fleur after a run

2. ParkRun is here to stay! There was a six month trial period of the timed weekly ParkRuns on Tooting Common every Saturday at 9am. These are very popular, with about 300 people running each week, and agreed to be well run by the cheery volunteers. The trial has been successful and ParkRun will now be a permanent event on the Common – do come down and give it a go!

3. Quietway cycle route Across London new Quietway cycle routes are being planned, aimed at encouraging more people to cycle through creating routes off main roads and for recreational cycling more than faster commuting. This includes a proposed route 5 from Croydon to Waterloo which it is proposed will include the path from the Triangle to Bedford Hill (a cycle route already) and then diagonally from the cafe to the Lido car park, and this could be a rough surface which would discourage fast cycling at the same time as opening up another cycle route across the Common which would be very welcome. There are also concerns about danger caused by cyclists to pedestrians so we’ll be underlining the need to tackle this in mind in our responses.

4. Tooting Common Cafe upgrade at last! The long-awaited extension to the cafe are due  to start later this month and to be finished by next March, including new wheelchair accessible public toilets with baby-changing facilities.

5. Cricket Pitch I am on the Tooting Common Management Advisory Committee of local volunteers who advise Enable and the council and take part in monthly meetings. At the September meeting we discussed the future of the artificial cricket pitch near the playground. Some people would like this to be re-instated as a grass cricket square, although I am keen to ensure that the pitch can continue to be used by the variety of cricketers who currently enjoy it.

6. Fitness Equipment I know that there is lot of interest I having a Fitness trail of wooden equipment on the common (like Wandsworth Common). The council has agreed to this but not to paying for it and I will continue to raise this at the MAC and with Wandsworth council.

7. Crossrail 2 – decisions ahead. We are firmly ‘Rooting for Tooting’ continuing to campaign for CrossRail to come to Tooting and Rosena and Rosena has met Michelle Dix, Head of Crossrail 2. We have been told that a recommendation for Tooting or Balham would be expected in the Autumn and then a further consultation on the new proposal.

8. Bedford Hill Church redevelopment opposed During the summer plans for a redevelopment of the former Church and Centre for the Deaf on Bedford Hill were published. This is for a redevelopment into 21 flats and a nursery, keeping the front of the church but not the remainder or the distinctive steeple. 70 objections were received, including from many local residents whose gardens have views of the rear of the church, Historic England and the Balham Society. The plans are too large in scale, do not take in account the local historic impact of the building, and lack of local parking would be a serious problem for nearby streets. We welcome more housing, and especially more affordable housing, but hope the developers will change their plans to a smaller number of flats and development within the existing structure.

9. Welcome to new Headteachers at Mrs Elwes at St Anselms School and Mr Croft at Ravenstone School – we’re looking forward to working with you both.

'Tour de Tooting' stewards
‘Tour de Tooting’ stewards

10. Transition Tooting local events – I enjoyed being a steward on the ‘Tour de Tooting’ cycle event in July and looking forward to the Soup disco tonight as part of the weekend of Tooting Foodival events. Congratulations to Transition Tooting on promoting sustainability and community in Tooting.


11. Cycle hoops outside Trinity Pharmacy When a local resident told me that his bike had been stolen from outside the pharmacy I started asking if cycle hoops could be installed outside so that bikes could be safely locked up. This pavement belongs to Transport for London and in April they said that they could put them in within 3-4 months. They are still not there, but we’re keeping up the pressure – watch this space!

12. Safer Elmbourne and Hillbury Reds Last summer we supported local residents and schools to raise their concerns about local road safety with the Council and several petitions were submitted. Traffic on Elmbourne Rd was monitored during the summer and a report due at the Committee on September 20th. I’ve asked about progress and am disappointed to be told that this won’t go to the September committee. We need more action on road safety by the Council and we’ll continue to make this a priority.

13. Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees and local support for refugees in Calais

Rosena recently went to Calais with a car full of things generously donated by Tooting business and local people and helped the volunteers teams in Calais and raised awareness of the continuing dreadful situation there. Here is her interview on Good Morning Britain. We’re also continuing to actively support Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees and ask Wandsworth Council to step up and provide foster carers for unaccompanied children refugees and homes for some families fleeing the terrifying war in Syria.

Its been great to see so many people at lots of events during the summer, including the Living Streets celebration of the borough-wide 20mph limit, South London refugees summer event, Cloudesdale Rd street party and many more.

Contact us – we’re here to help

We have monthly drop in surgeries at Balham library on the third Saturday of every month from 10am – 11am.

We’re on email:

Twitter: @DrRosena, @CllrFleur


Bedford Ward Local Issues Tooting Bec and Balham

February Newsletter 2016

Balham and Bec February 2016 Newsletter

Dr Johnson Avenue – proposal for closure latest update 

Dr Johnson Avenue
Dr Johnson Avenue

I really welcome consultation on the closure of Dr Johnson Avenue but I’m very concerned that the effects of traffic changes on nearby roads aren’t being considered and could be chaotic.

What was agreed last Thursday:

– wide consultation on-line and letters to 6,000 residents about the closure of Dr Johnson Avenue and no right turn from Tooting Bec Rd into Elmbourne Rd

– if this is supported, for the closure to be trialled for 6 months before being made permanent if successful.

What I proposed but was not agreed by the Conservative Councillors:

– to have options in the consultation and separate the no right turn from the closure of the Avenue

– to see if people do want the closure of Dr Johnson Avenue but not the ‘no right turn’

– to include consideration of traffic calming for the top of Elmbourne and Hillbury Roads at the same time

– to consider traffic calming for Avoca and Montana Rds at the same time, given the very likely increase in traffic this will cause I like the idea of having a larger Commons space through closing the Avenue but I’m very concerned by the knock-on effects of closing Elmbourne Rd to traffic from Furzedown, Streatham and further afield.

More traffic will come down Bedford Rd and into Hillbury and the top end of Elmbourne, and effects on Montana and Avoca Rd could mean more traffic there too. People will turn down these road to loop round back onto Tooting Bec Rd and turn left into Elmbourne Road.

I’ve been really supportive of the residents of Hillbury and Elmbourne Rds that got together last Autumn to sign a petition dangerous cars on their roads and asking for this to be looked into at the same time as the Dr Johnson Avenue closure. I am disappointed that Hillbury Rd has not been included in any of the traffic modelling research up to now, and I will still keep pressing the Council to address problems on these narrow roads.

I really welcome the consultation being in the proposal from the start and the six month trial as no amount of modelling can really foretell what will happen. However I proposed at Committee that further measures for traffic calming for Hillbury, all of the Elmbourne, Avoca and Montana Rds be adding to the planning and to the consultation, and will also keep pushing for this. We’ll update here and on Twitter (@CllrFleur @DrRosena).

Station Ticket Office Closures – have your say by March 14th

Last week posters went up to announce the future closure of the train ticket offices in Balham and Wandsworth Common train stations. I could understand this for tue stations, but trains have more complicated ticket requests than tubes and the ticket offices are there for a good reason. For example I buy half termly tickets for my children to school and the ticket staff couldn’t say how I could do this in the future if they are closed. Doing everything on-line isn’t possible and doesn’t work for everyone. Here is more information from the RMT.

Sadiq Khan MP has also written to the train operators to ask for more information about what these closures will mean for things like buying complex train tickets.

The emails to write to – with the station name – are and

Please email us too: and

What is the Future of Chestnut Avenue on Tooting Common – mixed messages over consultation

Chestnut Avenue in the Summer
Members of the Tooting Common volunteer advisory committee (MAC) assessing the Avenue last Summer

Have your say by April 3rd:

The news that the trees on Chestnut Avenue may need to be cut down will be a big concern to all of us who love Tooting Common. I have walked through the avenue countless times to the playground, tennis courts, to teach my kids to cycle, to walk the dog and now even go on ParkRuns under the beautiful trees (every Saturday at 9am – free!).

During research for a bid for the Heritage Lottery Fund it was found that 20 out of the 77 trees on the Avenue have a disease called ‘bleeding canker’ and will deteriorate.

So the decision that faces us is – do we:

a) have less of a uniform avenue of trees all the same species and height by replacing diseased trees with healthy young ones, or

b) create a new uniform avenue of all new trees which generations to come will benefit from by removing all of the trees (diseased and healthy) at once and replacing with saplings.

The question of who takes this decision has been in the spotlight as the Council said in a press release last December that the public would be consulted, but it wasn’t clear if this was just the Tooting Common local groups or wider public. Then a paper outlining plans for the Avenue came out without any mention of consultation but instead a preference for the above plan b (here is the paper). This caused understandable alarm as local people want to know more about the real condition of the trees and be consulted about something which will affect them and the Common they love so much.

There were quickly two petitions asking for consultation, and passionate please from three local groups to Committee in favour of consultation with local people before making plans. These were the Furzedown Network, the Friends of the Tooting Common and the Tooting Common Management Advisory Group which I’m also a member of. Thanks to everyone who signed the petitions as the public pressure worked and the Council have said that they would consult – but then rejected an amendment to the paper to include consultation. In the face of these really mixed messages I am sure that the Council will consult, but I have concerns about what the questions will be, how well publicised the consultation will be and how much it will count for.

Local Guardian article on Chestnut Avenue and mixed messages.

A couple of weeks ago one of the trees on the Avenue fell down and was found to have another disease – root decay – and so there will be another tree survey carried out. Of course the main issue here is safety and if any trees are unsafe the Council will take action as usual.

We’ll continue to work hard for local residents to have their say and for this is be listened to.

20mph cross-borough speed limits – consultation

After several years of campaigning for 20 mph zones with street by street requests and petitions, we are glad that the Council have listened to us and agree a cross-borough consultation on having a 20mph speed limit on all residential roads. this will mean that people don’t have to spend ages trying to get the required amount of signatures to ask for their road to be safer, and we don’t have a confusing patchwork of some streets 20mph and some still 30mph which doesn’t help changing driver behaviour.

Lower speed is good for safety and good for reducing air pollution. If you agree (or disagree) with this being rolled out across the Borough (we already have this in our ward) please take a couple of minutes to have your say in the consultation.

20mph consultation – the deadline will be in May but don’t wait till then!

Heritage Lottery Funding for lots of Tooting Common projects

It is good news that the Council have been successful in a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund which will mean the renovation of the Woodfield Pavillion, and fountain, improvements to the Lido and community conservation and history projects. More info here.

Traffic Danger on Balham High Road

Safety concerns about Balham High Road
Safety concerns about Balham High Road

Last Autumn there was yet another accident on Balham High Road and 221 quickly signed the petition promoted by our Sadiq Khan MP and asking for more action for safety. There seem to be accidents very frequent – and very often motorbikes. The main roads in the Borough are the responsibility of Transport of London, but the Council can lobby TfL to take more action and prioritise safety measures on some roads.

As a result of the petition, the Council wrote a paper but said that the action they were taking was enough. This action was improvements to Stapleton Road, to Bedford Hill, meetings with TfL, planned changes to the Ritherdon Rd junction and the new ‘Balham Boulevard’ plan. However none of these actions are either on the road in question or will address road safety.

I proposed that saying ‘no further action’ was not good enough for this very dangerous road. Instead urgent action should be taken to lobby TfL and to speed up the ‘Balham Boulevard’ proposals. These were agreed by all Councillors in a rare moment of cross-party action which I hope will result in TfL looking again at this accident blackspot before even more accidents happen.

Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees

Please come to the Launch Celebration of the new organisation ‘Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees’ on Saturday March 26th at Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill, from 4.30 – 5.30. Its really exciting that this is happening.

Lots of organisations and individuals are coming together to form this new umbrella organisation to support refugees and asylum seekers here, in Calais and in other countries. We want to be able to connect people wanting to support with organisations needed support, to be a voice for concerned Wandsworth refugees and all residents to the Council and to our MPs. We’re going to have a big picture of all the supporters together outside the Battersea Arts Centre, and then a ‘skill share’ where everyone can get some more info to ask the question ‘what can I do’? There will be something for everyone – I hope to see you there!

If you’d like more information or to become a supporter of Wandsworth Refugees please email

Wandsworth Children’s Services rated as failing 

We are really shocked about the serious flaws in the Council’s Childrens’ Services Department which led to the recent Ofsted report. We are also worried about care of the children and the lack of information given to members so that they could oversee the work of the department sufficiently. It echoes many serious concerns about whether the ‘Oversight and Scrutiny’ Committees which we both sit on can really serve their purpose when they meet so rarely and with such full agendas. The Council’s attention is very much on the merger with Richmond and working out how to make cuts and the report shows that this Department has seriously failed children. More information is in this Local Guardian news story.

St Anselms School Achievements

I’ve been a parent at St Anselms since 2002 and am now a Governor and always very proud of the school and its children and teachers. Today the school will be honoured for its excellent academic achievement and results at a Wandsworth event which I will be honoured to attend to represent the school.

I wish them all the best as they recruit a new Headteacher and say a sad farewell to Mrs MacCauley who attended St Anselms and has taught there for over 20 years.


Local Issues

Keep the track running campaign – open meeting on Wednesday

Great support for the flash protest at the Athletics Track

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wheatsheaf news

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

Flytipping and rubbish

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




Veronica Road – proposed development

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

Bedford Ward Local Issues Tooting Bec and Balham

Save The Lodge, Ravenstone School cycling and Barringer Square

Save The Lodge on Tooting Bec Road

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

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

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

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

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


Fleur cycling at Ravenstone

 Ravenstone School promotes cycling

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


Anti-social behaviour on Barringer Square

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

Local Issues Tooting Bec and Balham

Wandsworth’s Secret Army of Carers

Stay Well At Home Service, Evesham, BritainIn my role on the Health and Adult Care Committee, I have been learning all about Wandsworth’s secret army of carers, who work tirelessly around the clock to care for friends and family. Until now, I never realised the full impact of the health inequalities facing carers in Wandsworth and all over the UK.

Studies show a staggering 61% of carers suffer with depression, unable to maintain a life of their own, while on duty around the clock. Due to the demands and pressure of their role, they experience poor physical health including injury and clinical illness as a result of being so run down.

The Wandsworth Carers Strategy has highlighted that 21% of Carers, providing in excess of 50 hours of care per week believe themselves to be in poor health. This is significant when compared to 8% of non-Carers.

A UK-wide survey has Carers connecting with carersshown that 1 in 5 of emergency admissions to hospital could have been prevented in cases where a person was receiving care from a family member. Furthermore, the source of this prevention has been found to be increased support for carers.

Undoubtedly this use of emergency provision has a financial impact and places strain on NHS services that are already stretched beyond capacity, with significant knock on effects.

  • 1 in 8 people in the UK, equating to a total of 6.5 million, are unpaid carers. The cost to the British Economy is an astounding £1.3bn in lost taxes and benefits.
  • An estimated 2.3 million people have given up work to care for a loved one as services were not flexible enough to accomodate them working and taking on a caring role.
  • For those whom have tried desperately to maintain a job in order to fund their family, one third have been forced to give up work or reduce hours because the right services and support was not available for them.
  • Last year, 44% of carers have cut back on heating and 45% have cut back on food. They simply could not afford it.

In Tooting Bec and Balham, let us support them in any way we can. If you have a neighbour or a friend that is a carer, pop in for a chat, say hello and remember that the conversation we have with them that day, may be the only one they have.

CC images courtesy of British Red Cross and Social Innovation Camp on Flickr

Local Issues

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

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

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

More background on the campaign is here:

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

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

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

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