Following the fantastic election of our MP Sadiq Khan to be Mayor of London on May 5th, Sadiq has resigned as MP and there will be a by-election on June 16th. Rosena has been selected as Labour’s candidate.
You can find out more information about her campaign here:
Crossrail 2 was due to go through Tooting Broadway and this was very welcome for the area. However it seems that the geological research has shown this may not be possible, and a different route with a station at Balham is now being proposed. There will be more information at public briefings in Battersea, Tooting Broadway and Balham. We will publish this here.
The building works will be between 2020 and 2030 and result in a new underground line between Wimbledon and Tottenham Hale which will receive the congestion on the Northern Line and British Rail line. The Tooting Broadway option has hit problems due to a sand fault line underground which would mean it would take two years longer than planned, be more expensive and entail lots of digging out of the sand and removal by lorries. However if Balham is chosen this will be a lost opportunity to provide more transport links for an area which needs it more, would mean that Waitrose would become a building site for six years right in the heart of Balham Town Centre and a shaft needs to be built on Wandsworth Common.
At a recent presentation on plans for the consultation about CrossRail2, Rosena and Fleur asked many questions about what the consultation will really mean and if it is a real consultation, and asked that more people than previously planned are consulted – including all businesses in Balham as they will be very affected. We do urge everyone to get involved in the consultation and to shape these proposals.
The Balham information drop in times are both outside 3 Balham Grove, SW12 8AY on 27th November from 12 noon – 8pm and on 28th November from 11am-4pm.
Wandsworth Conservatives vote against offering welcome to 10 refugee families
Rosena and Fleur both gave speeches in favour of the Labour motion to the Council to welcome at least 10 refugee families to Wandsworth, to become a Borough of Sanctuary and to sign up to the Government scheme to relocate refugees from Syria to this country. This government scheme is being paid for from government funds and would not displace anyone from housing lists in Wandsworth, but would continue a proud tradition we have in Wandsworth of welcoming refugees at a time of particular crisis for so many families. Our Council should be showing our welcome and pushing others to do the same by making this public pledge to welcome refugees.
We are very disappointed that the Conservative Councillors removed these from the motion and that there could not be cross-party support for very modest proposals in the motion. We welcome the announcement from Conservative Councillors during the debate are planning to welcome families, but are disappointed that they could not commit to welcoming at least 10 families (only 10?!) or to joining the governments own Syrian Relocation Scheme, or to becoming a Borough of Sanctuary (which costs nothing) which shows the intent of coordinating refugee support services better.
Rosena and I have both posted our speeches for the debate on this blog, and will continue to support the refugee groups in Wandsworth who are doing a great job and feeling increasingly overwhelmed by the demands, especially for advice in accessing support.
We handed in a petition of 706 people organising online by local resident Tom Baker to request that 10 families are welcomed as well. His petition was in the local Guardian:
Road Safety Demands
There have been several nasty accidents on Balham High Road recently and road safety is a big concern for people who use the road. So much so that several local people have been organising petitions to ask for action to be taken. Cllr Allin-Khan have been working with different groups and handed in four road safety petitions to the Council on Wednesday evening. These were;
1. St Anselms parents asking for crossings on Balham High Road and Elmbourne Rd, longer pedestrian lights at Tooting Bec station and improved road safety on Balham High Road – 155 signatures 3 days was amazing and shows the strength of
2. Rutherford House parents concerning about cars turning into Tescos and concerns about safety on Balham High Road 3. Residents of Hillbury and Elmbourne Rds with concerns about safety on their roads, asking for a crossing and for closing the Bedford Hill ends of the roads to be considered with the consideration of closing Dr Johnson Avenue.
4. A petition shared by people who live near to Balham High Road to ask for safety measures to be looked at for the road – especially from Tooting Park Road down to Tooting Bec Station where several accidents have happened, most involving motorbikes but most recently a cyclist.
We hope that Wandsworth Council and Transport for London will look into these urgently. Please do be in touch with us if you have road safety concerns about your road too.
Tooting Bec Lodge
For all of us who have been so worried about the deterioration of Tooting Bec Lodge – the lovely old white Grade 2 listed building on Tooting Bec Rd with the hoardings around it – the good news is that action will soon be taken. Wandsworth Council planning applications committee agreed last night to move ahead and serve Compulsory Purchase Order on the owners.
With many other local people it has been a case of constantly raising concerns with the Council and I’m really glad they will now take what is an unusual step for them. Congratulations to the many local people including the ‘Custodians of the Lodge’, Sadiq Khan MP, Cllr Allin-Khan, Cllr Rex Osborn, Cllr Antonia Dunn and others who keep up the campaign. It is one of the few historic buildings in Tooting Bec and we want to see it restored.
Since May 2010, as a result of the Government cuts, London has lost 3,170 dedicated neighbourhood Police Community Safety Officers (PCSOs) – this is a cut of over 70%. In Wandsworth the number of PCSOs on our streets have been reduced from 119 in May 2010 to 24 in August 2015.
As a result of the Government’s Spending Review in 2010 the Metropolitan Police have faced cuts of almost £600m. This 20% cut to its budget has devastated the police service in the capital, despite promises from the Mayor of London and Home Secretary that the cuts would not affect police numbers.
At the upcoming Government’s Spending Review this November it is widely expected that the Metropolitan Police will face a minimum of another £800m in cuts, with reports that the budget could be cut by as much as 43%.
The ‘Safer Neighbourhood Team’ (SNT) model introduced by the Labour Government was widely welcomed by communities and saw each ward allocated a dedicated team of six officers (1 Sergeant, 2 PCs and 3 PCSOs). However there is now just one PCSO per ward, and these are under threat. In Wandsworth PCSOs are not only an invaluable part of making our communities and neighbourhoods safe, but often recruitment of PCSOs is a first step to recruiting more BAME police officers.
In Wandsworth fear of crime is a real concern amongst residents; cutting neighbourhood policing teams and PCSOs will reduce the presence of police on our streets and only add to the fear of crime locally. The Metropolitan Police Management Board was going to consider a proposal to cut all PCSOs at its September meeting, but this has now been deferred to the December meeting and has faced a high level of criticism and concern. We hope that these cuts to our local police team will be rejected.
Tax Credit Cuts
We are very concerned about the affect that the cuts in working tax credits and child tax credits will have and if you are worried about what this drop in income will mean for your family do get in touch with us.
On 30th April 2015 David Cameron made a clear and specific promise that he would not cut child tax credits, but on 15th September 2015 the Government voted through changes to tax credits which will mean three million families nationally losing up to £1,000 per year. This action comes when child poverty nationally has increased by half a million between 2010 and 2015, and homelessness in Wandsworth has increased from 400 households in 2010 to 1,179 households this year. In Wandsworth there are 13,900 families with children relying on tax credit income top-ups to make ends meet. Of these, two thirds are working families who could now see a significant reduction in their income.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.