Archive by Author | Helen Godwin Teige

Save Our High Streets!

Wandsworth Labour Group will put forward a proposal to protect our high streets at next Wednesday’s Council meeting. Town centres

‘This Council notes the tremendous contribution made by our Town Centre Managers to the five Town Centres spread across the Borough – Tooting, Balham, Clapham Junction, Wandsworth Town and Putney. The challenges they have faced in addressing the need to maintain and improve our Town Centres are not to be under-estimated and they have worked hard to maximise vibrancy.

Maintaining a diverse and thriving range of shops giving the current level of applications for betting shops is proving difficult, and this Council is concerned that improvements seen to our Town Centres over recent years might be threatened.

This Council resolves:

1.) To retain and support the team of Town Centre Managers, who have developed close relationships with local businesses and are best placed to maintain and oversee further improvement in our Town Centres;

2.) To work closely with the Police, as an adequate police presence is required to deter pickpockets and street robbery, and to deal with anti-social behaviour;

3.) To instruct officers to investigate options for increasing staff able to issue Fixed Penalty Notices for littering, dog fouling, fly-tipping and parking offences;

4.) To closely scrutinise applications by gambling outlets and payday lenders – ensuring our High Streets are not over-run with betting offices and slot machines.’

Find out how you can help here:

http://www.sadiqkhan.org.uk/save_our_high_street

 

First victory for ‘Save our High Street’ campaign

Planning permission for two Coral betting shops near Tooting Broadway tube has been refused by Wandsworth Council’s Planning Application Committee. This follows a swell of opposition by local residents, local Labour Councillors and MP for Tooting Sadiq Khan. DSC_1703

Wandworth Councillors voted against granting planning permission for the betting shop at 64 Tooting High Street on design grounds, and at the site of the former H Samuels at 17A Mitcham Road, on grounds that it would not be in keeping with the character of the town centre. Approval of the applications would have brought the number of betting shops in Tooting up to 24.

Local MP Sadiq Khan had raised objections to both applications to Wandsworth Council on behalf of the local community, urging the council to listen to residents’ concerns and to take action to encourage diversity on Wandsworth’s high streets.

Following government changes to the rules on high street planning, last year, which has made it easier for betting shops to open in our town centres, Sadiq recently launched his ‘Save Our High Street’ campaign. The campaign calls on the government to give more power to residents to shape our high streets and local councils to be given power to control the number of betting shops that open – a power they don’t currently possess.

Sadiq Khan MP said:

“Like many local residents I am relieved that Wandsworth Council have refused planning permission for yet another two bookies in Tooting. We already have too many, and certainly don’t want any more, and that is why alongside the community I have been so vocal in my objections.

“The response to the ‘Save Our High Street’ campaign, with hundreds of people already adding their name to the petition in the last month, has demonstrated the strength of feeling against more betting shops.

“Coral can still appeal these decisions – and if they are successful this would mean local views are ignored. The lack of Council powers to control the number of betting shops that open in our community needs to change – and I would encourage people to sign the petition now – to send a clear message to the government; that we need to say no to more betting shops.”

Wandsworth is ‘easy’ place to build skyscrapers

Wandsworth Guardian: An image of the plans for the Ram Brewery

From Wandsworth Guardian By Alex Rucki

Soaring skyscrapers are being given the green light in direct opposition of council policy, leading to accusationsWandsworth Council is putting developers needs ahead of residents.

Following the granting of permission for a 20-storey tower in Wandsworth Town last month, four times taller than the guidance maximum height for the area, Councillors Tony Belton and Peter Carpenter put forward a motion in a council meeting calling on the council to curb accepting applications in contravention of planning policies.

Read More Here:

http://www.wandsworthguardian.co.uk/news/11005832.Wandsworth_is__easy__place_to_build_skyscrapers/?ref=var_0

Wandsworth Council Chief Exec Gets £20k Cash Boost Despite £120m Budget Cuts

Fury has erupted after figures released show the council’s chief executive received an extra £20,000 while the local authority was cutting millions of pounds from its budget and shedding scores of jobs.Town hall

Details emerged from the council annual accounts for 2012-13 showing council chief executive Paul Martin’s pay, including bonuses and pension payments, rocketed from £254,880 to £274,224.

The council has been accused of double standards as the 7.6 per cent rise appears to contradict a three-year pay freeze for workers, only lifted in 2013-14 to allow for a 1 per cent rise.

Read more here:

http://www.wandsworthguardian.co.uk/news/10992142.Council_chief_exec_get___20k_cash_boost_despite___120m_budget_cuts/?ref=mr

Tories Reject 20 Is Plenty for Wandsworth

Last night Wandsworth Conservatives voted against Labour’s proposals for limiting speeds on residential streets to 20mph. Here’s what they turned down:20mph_photo_1

‘This Council notes that already over 12 million people live in local authorities which are adopting or have adopted the policy of 20mph being the default speed limit on residential streets. Those communities have decided that “20′s Plenty Where People Live” – and it is those same communities who have then changed their behaviour to drive more slowly in residential streets where people live, walk and cycle.

Instead of considering one by one the numerous petitions submitted by people from all over the Borough, this Council agrees to instruct the Director of Environment and Community Services to submit a report to the relevant OSC and the Executive to introduce a 20mph default speed limit on our residential urban streets. This will be implemented on most streets without the need for any expensive physical calming measures, although it is noted that on some streets it may be appropriate to have a higher limit based on the road, vulnerable road users provision already installed, etc. But any limit above 20mph should be a considered decision based on local circumstances, with the new default Borough limit being 20mph.’

Sign our Petition:

http://www.sadiqkhan.org.uk/i_want_to_see_my_road_become_a_20mph

WANDSWORTH COUNCIL LOSES £500,000 GAMBLE OVER TAX FREEZE GRANT

Rex 10Nov13

Rex Osborn: Labour Group leader

Tory-run Wandsworth Council has been left with an unexpected half a million pound hole in its budgets, after Secretary of State Eric Pickles refused to pay a council tax freeze grant to the authority.

Wandsworth Tories raised the Borough’s Council Tax by more than 3% last April, but gambled on using a loophole to still qualify for the government’s council tax freeze grant – worth £492,000.

But it has now emerged that Eric Pickles’ Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) refused to pay the grant.

Cllr Rex Osborn, leader of the Wandsworth Labour Group, said: “It’s bad enough that the Tories chose to make Wandsworth one of the only Councils in the country to raise Council Tax last year – at a time when residents could least afford it. But it’s beyond belief that they would also try to pull the wool over the eyes of their own Secretary of State, claiming that a 3% rise in council tax should still leave them qualifying for the Council tax freeze grant. Wandsworth’s Tories have gambled with taxpayers’ money and lost almost half a million pounds.

“Labour voted to freeze the Council Tax last year, and is committed to keeping taxes low in Wandsworth. That’s why we’ve appointed an independent Commission of local authority finance experts to come up with some sensible ways to protect frontline services and keep Council Tax low – two key challenges that the Tories have failed to meet. In this climate, we need a steady hand overseeing the coffers in Wandsworth, not a party who takes gambles with taxpayers’ money.”

Wandsworth Labour councillors launched their independent Commission last month. The Commission is chaired by Michael Ward, former Chief Executive of the London Development Agency, who is a long-term Wandsworth resident with more than 30 years’ experience in local government, as an officer, an elected member, and a researcher.

Michael is joined on the Commission by Martin Pilgrim, former Chief Executive of London Councils; Gareth Daniel, former Chief Executive of Brent Council; Stephanie Elsy, former Leader of Southwark Council; and George Kessler, Joint Managing Director of a London manufacturing business and a member of London First, the influential business organisation representing London’s leading employers.

Read more here:

http://www.wandsworthguardian.co.uk/archive/2014/01/22/10953858.Council_left_with___500_000_budget_black_hole_after_tax__gamble__backfires/

 

WANDSWORTH LABOUR LAUNCHES LOW COUNCIL TAX COMMISSION

Labour councillors in Wandsworth have launched an independent commission of local government finance and business experts from across London, to uncover fresh ways to keep council tax low in the Borough while maintaining crucial frontline services.
Wandsworth labour
The commission will be chaired by Michael Ward, former Chief Executive of the London Development Agency, who is a long-term Wandsworth resident with more than 30 years’ experience in local government, as an officer, an elected member, and a researcher.
The commission’s report will be independent of the Wandsworth Labour Group and the Wandsworth Labour Parties.

Michael will be joined on the commission by Martin Pilgrim, former Chief Executive of London Councils; Gareth Daniel, former Chief Executive of Brent Council; Stephanie Elsy, former Leader of Southwark Council; and George Kessler, Joint Managing Director of a London manufacturing business and a member of London First, the influential business organisation representing London’s leading employers.

Heavy cuts from the Tory-led Government have put local authority budgets under severe pressure since 2010. But Labour Councillors suspect that Wandsworth’s Tory Council no longer has a convincing long term strategic vision for the Borough, preferring to pursue damaging and penny-pinching savings.

The commission will produce its report in Spring 2014.

Councillor Rex Osborn, Leader of the Wandsworth Labour Group, said: “The Tory-led Government has imposed the biggest squeeze in history on local authority budgets, leaving local councillors with difficult choices to make. However, unlike Wandsworth Tories, who have demonstrated the wrong priorities – cutting back frontline services and toying with charging children to pay to use the Borough’s playgrounds – Labour believes there are better ways to balance the books and keep council tax low without penalising residents.

“That’s why I’ve asked an independent commission of local government and business experts to identify fairer ways to make the necessary savings. When voters go to the polls next May for the council elections, we will offer them a clear choice –more of the same from the Wandsworth Tories, or a fresh, fair approach from Labour, which will keep the council tax low.”

Michael Ward, chair of the commission, said: “I’ve lived in Wandsworth for a total of 28 years, and am excited to be embarking on a project that could have a real impact on the lives of Wandsworth residents. I’ve warned Rex Osborn and his Labour team that there are no easy answers, but I hope that our report will provide some new thinking and some genuine alternatives for local residents to consider.”

The Commission’s Terms of Reference are:

“To examine Wandsworth’s revenue and capital budget.

This should include:

  • forecasting trends in the balance sheet
  • examining the Council’s treatment by central government in the allocation of grant
  • reviewing the Council’s policy on, and use of, reserves
  • reviewing the policy on user charging
  • reviewing the relationship between the budget and the Housing Revenue Account
  • making recommendations for an alternative budget, structured according to clear principles and priorities making recommendations on improving the management of the budget.”

Michael Ward is a researcher and consultant on economic and social policy. From 2000 to 2004 he was Chief Executive of the London Development Agency, the London Mayor’s agency for business and jobs. In the 1970s he was a Wandsworth Councillor, and in the 1980s Deputy Leader of the GLC. He and his family live in Furzedown, Wandsworth.

Martin Pilgrim has spent most of his 39-year career working for bodies representing local government. His last job before retirement was Chief Executive of London Councils, the body which brings together London’s local authorities. Martin is a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy and has a Master’s degree in management from the University of Kent.

Stephanie Elsy has 30 years’ experience working at a senior level across the public, private and charity sectors. She is a former Leader of Southwark Council, and spent nine years as director of external affairs at Serco, which holds a large number of contracts with local authorities across the country.

Gareth Daniel has worked in London local government for more than three decades and served as Brent Council’s longest-serving Chief Executive from 1998–2012. A resident of Ealing in West London, he is a qualified social worker by background. He has also served as a councillor on the GLC and was chair of Ealing Council’s Planning and Economic Development Committee for four years. He now runs his own management consultancy undertaking change management and partnership development projects across the country.

George Kessler is Joint Deputy Chairman of Kesslers International Limited, a London based manufacturing business employing an ethnically diverse multi-skilled workforce of 300. Kesslers are Europe’s leading designers and manufacturers of permanent Point of Purchase Display. George is also a member of London First, Made in London, London Economic Panel and EEF’s Economic Policy Committee as well as being Chair of EEF’s London region
.

Do we REALLY need another betting shop in Tooting?

DSC_1703

Sadiq with Rex, Andy and Alaina – Graveney’s team

News that another betting shop may open in central Tooting is being met with anger by the local community. The former HS Samuel jewelers at 17 Mitcham Road has been targeted for planning and licensing permission to become a bookies.

Tooting residents have expressed their dismay about a new betting shop being located in the town centre to Graveney Councillors and MP Sadiq Khan.

Sadiq said: ‘Many of my constituents are concerned that there is already a heavy concentration of betting shops in Tooting, especially along the High Street, including Tooting High Street, Garratt Lane and Mitcham Road.  Local residents, who live and shop in the area do not want another betting shop to open in Tooting Broadway and I share their concerns. It is important that Wandsworth Council encourages diversity on our High Street and does not allow so many betting shops to operate in one town centre.

In a recent article in the Evening Standard Tooting was described as ‘rooting’ and ‘the next Shoreditch’, following the recent surge in popular bars, restaurants and art clubs on the High Street. The popular franchise, Eggfree Cake Box has just opened in Tooting and the Soho House group are soon to open a Chicken Shop on Tooting High Street. It is fantastic to see Tooting attracting exciting new businesses and being seen to the outside world as a desirable place to live, eat and shop, but I am very concerned that allowing any more betting shops to open on our High Street will put people off from shopping here and other retailers from setting up in business here.

Another concern is that a betting shop in such a prominent location, across from Tooting Broadway Station, could attract more on-street drinking in the area and therefore lead to more anti-social behaviour and disruption. There is an alleyway adjacent to the property where groups can gather, and there is a real worry that this could ultimately lead to the site becoming a source of noise and disturbance in the local area, and one that residents avoid.’

Graveney ward Councillor Andy Gibbons said ‘It’s important that the local community objects to this application as residents’ opinion should count when it comes to deciding what kind of area we want to live in. A lot of school children travel through Tooting Broadway to get home, and they shouldn’t be walking past a parade of gambling arcades, bookies and pawn shops. The government should be looking at ways to keep a mixed economy in town centres, not making it easier to turn retailers in to betting shops.’

You can find the application and object online here: http://planning.wandsworth.gov.uk/WAM/showCaseFile.do?appType=planning&appNumber=2013/5390

Sign Sadiq’s petition to save Tooting high street: http://www.sadiqkhan.org.uk/save_our_high_street?recruiter_id=27509

Labour’s policy on betting shops: http://www.labour.org.uk/betting-shops-clustering-in-areas-of-deprivation

Evening Standard article on Tooting: http://www.standard.co.uk/goingout/attractions/tooting-is-officially-rooting-sw17s-best-bars-restaurants-and-culture-8929104.html

‘Cllr. Morritt should go – and Wandsworth Conservatives should come clean’

By Rex Osborn, Leader of the Labour Group

On October 31, Wandsworth councillor Robert Morritt, who represents East Putney 
Ward, was removed from the Wandsworth Conservative Group. For now he remains a 
councillor but the voters of East Putney did not elect an independent in 2010. 
The honourable course of action for Cllr. Morritt is to resign his Council seat.

To be removed from the Conservative Group, Cllr. Morritt must have done 
something wrong.  The voters of East Putney should be told what it was Cllr 
Morritt did.

Allegations have appeared in two national publications, and a website, 
concerning the conduct of Cllr. Morritt and his handling of funds during his 
time employed by Wandsworth Conservatives and his early days as a councillor. He 
has insisted he is innocent. The voters of Wandsworth deserve to be told which, 
if any, of these allegations are true.

Whatever it was that Cllr. Morritt did up to 2010, accusations first surfaced in 
public in July 2012. Since then the Wandsworth Conservative Leader has 
prevaricated and delayed taking any action.  No doubt the Conservatives fear 
this affair exposes their indecision and their lack of financial good sense but 
there are serious questions unanswered. 

Has Cllr. Morritt broken any law?

Who knew what Cllr. Morritt had done?

And when did they know it?

Cllr. Morritt should go - but Wandsworth Conservatives should come clean.

Meet Mrs Simpson, victim of the bedroom tax

29/09/2013

Guest post, by Mrs Simpson.I am disabled.I live in a three bedroom house on the Shaftesbury Estate with my husband and son. My house is owned by the Peabody Trust.

Mrs Simpson at her specially converted flat

Mrs Simpson at her specially adapted flat

I had serious back trouble after having children. As time went on it got worse. It got to the stage that I could not get in and out of my bath or get up my stairs.

In the end I had to sleep in my front room and wash in a sink because I couldn’t get in the bath.
I applied to my housing trust to move but they did not have any adapted properties available. I was told to move out the borough as it was the only chance that I would probably get of finding an adapted property.

I have lived in Battersea all my life. My husband works at a nursery and I have two daughters that live close by. They are always on hand to help me.

I was on my housing trust list for seven years trying to get an adapted property but they didn’t have any two bed. I was given a three bed adapted house which I moved to in December 2009.

In April 2013 the bedroom tax was brought in. We get a bit of housing benefit because of my husband’s low wage. Our housing benefit was cut from £65 a week to £48 a week and we have to find the short fall which works out at £82 a month.

I am on every home swapper site going to find a two bed property – including the council’s and through Facebook. I have been on to my housing trust and been put on their bidding system where you have to bid for available properties.

But there are no two bed adapted places on there. Like I keep saying they never had any adapted properties back in 2009. They still haven’t got any now.

All that is going to happen is we will end up getting in to rent arrears then if a place came up we wouldn’t be allowed to move. We will end up in court.

I have a degenerative condition which impairs my mobility. The bedroom tax is cruel.

Click here to sign the petition to end the bedroom tax:
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,421 other followers

%d bloggers like this: