Wandsworth Labour will create a listening council, one that puts local people first

simon and balloons school gate

Speech to Wandsworth Council, Dec 6, 2017

We love Wandsworth and want to make it an even better place to live.

In May 2018 at the local elections, local people will have the chance to vote for change. To leave behind a tired Tory party that’s run out of ideas and run out of road.

To trust Labour to deliver homes you can truly afford, better care for older people and outstanding schools.

We’ll defend jobs threatened by Brexit – and protect Wandsworth citizens from its negative impact.

We’ll create a listening council. One that puts local people first.

Wandsworth Tories used to run an efficient council. But they have run out of tricks and lost their touch. Let’s look at their record.

HOUSING
Property developers and their lobbyists have an unhealthy level of influence in the Town Hall. They have an unhealthy level of influence over our skylines, and how fast our communities are changing around us.

Wandsworth Tories allowed the developers of Battersea Power Station to cut 250 affordable homes.

Their priorities are just wrong.

When I joined the council in 2010 there were 400 homeless local families in Wandsworth temporary accommodation. That figures is now more than 1,700. This is a disgrace. This homelessness crisis can be tackled, and under a Labour council will be tackled.

EDUCATION
Tory councillors insisted tonight there are no school budget cuts. Tell it to local parents at the school gates!

Wandsworth schools face Tory government cuts of £9m by 2020. This is equivalent to more than 150 teachers.

Local school reserves were run down by £7m last year and funding for Special Educational Needs fell £1m short.

We know of schools not replacing teachers and teaching assistants.

Science equipment has been cut and arts and music lessons reduced.

After-school and pre-school provision has been cut. Parents have been asked for extra financial contributions

We now know the complacency has spread. The council’s own satisfaction survey shows declines in satisfaction with refuse collection, recycling, street cleaning, road maintenance, libraries, planning decisions, and worst declines of all: services for children and teenagers.

We see tired leadership, limited vision.

After 40 years of the same rigid, right-wing doctrine. Time for a change.

So what would Labour do?

Labour will make better use of Wandsworth’s significant financial muscle, to invest for the long term benefit of local people.

We currently have cash balances of some £500m which are earning 1% per annum – below the rate of inflation. You’re managing half a billion pounds and losing money! We can do better.

More affordable housing, better care for older people, more facilities for children.

We’ll lay out detailed policy plans in the coming months so voters can make up their own minds.

They deserve an election about the issues that matter to them: council tax, Brexit, housing, schools and health.

I’ll briefly outline 5 of Wandsworth Labour’s key priorities

 

1 Keep the same low council tax 

Labour will keep council tax low – and extend support for those who struggle to pay

 

2 Fight the negative impact of Brexit 

Defend jobs and businesses threatened by Brexit. Protect the rights of Wandsworth citizens affected by Brexit

 

3 Build more genuinely affordable homes

End sweetheart deals with developers, tackle the homelessness crisis, get a fair deal for renters

 

4 Defend local schools from cuts

Make Wandsworth the best place to raise a family. More nursery places and outstanding schools with proper funding

 

5 Become London’s healthiest borough 

Better care for older people, free swimming for children and full support for our NHS

 

Labour will create the council that modern Wandsworth deserves.

A digitally switched on, family friendly council that pays every worker a fair wage.

Together we’ll make this wonderful, diverse borough the best environment to live, to work and to raise a family in London.

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Lifeline advice services in Wandsworth face £54,000 cuts

Wandsworth Labour are fighting against a 10% funding cut for vital advice services offered to the borough’s most vulnerable residents. 

 

Wandsworth’s ruling Conservative Group are proposing the cuts to the benefits advice services currently offered by Wandsworth Citizens’ Advice and the St Georges’ Mental Health Trust. 

 

The proposals could see both lifeline advice services lose £54,000. This comes at a time when demand for the Citizens Advice service has grown from 7,000 in 2015 to 9,800 in 2016, and is expected to reach 11,000 by 2017.

 

The cut backs could lead to a change in services in Roehampton with the Advice service seeking a new location. They could also mean less face-to-face contact with clients.

 

 Cllr. Andy Gibbons, Wandsworth Labour Finance speaker said:  ‘These cuts must be stopped. They come at exactly the wrong time, with the Government’s Universal Credit causing hardship for families on low incomes. These services are a lifeline when people get into financial difficulties and they provide good value for money for the council. I fear if the services are cut the council will still have to provide the service at  a much higher cost to the local council tax payer. It makes no sense.” 

 

andy gibbons

 cllr Andy Gibbons

 

‘We have heard the Conservative government talk about the importance of supporting people with mental health issues, but here their flagship council is cutting a much needed-benefits advice service.’

 

A Council report describes both services as ‘performing well’ – the CAW secured £2m for their clients in 2016. The Mental health Benefits advice service raised £1.16m for users and carers and secured £1.28 for every £1 invested by the Council.

 

£80,000 of public money spent on replacing 51 trees despite objections from 6,500 people

Wandsworth Council has admitted that the cost of felling and replacing a mature avenue of chestnut trees on Tooting Common was in excess of £80,000.

This figure included £21,377 which the Council spent on security measures, including £9,100 on the erection of a 10’ metal wall, £4,274 on the provision of private security staff and guard dogs and £8,003 on parks police.

The total £83,348 figure is almost double the £46,000 grant the Council received from the Heritage Lottery Fund to pay for the replacement of the trees. The purchase cost of the new trees was just £5,824 of the total.

Commenting on the figures, Fleur Anderson, Labour’s Speaker on Community Services, said: “I am shocked. The project cost almost twice what the Council received in funding, meaning that almost £40,000 of tax payers’ money has been spent replacing trees that the community wanted to keep, as witnessed by the 6,500 people who signed the petition asking the Council to rethink. The Committee which voted on the proposals to cut down the trees were told the project would be funded by a grant, not by the tax payer”. Continue reading “£80,000 of public money spent on replacing 51 trees despite objections from 6,500 people”

Wandsworth Labour promises to end to secret deals with developers who cut affordable housing

Property developers who fail to live up to their affordable housing commitments will be forced to explain why and publicly reveal their profits under new Wandsworth Labour proposals.

Financial viability assessments will be released, without redaction, for local people to see when developers are putting their own interests ahead of the public interest.

The tough new policy comes after Wandsworth Tory council allowed the developer of Battersea Power Station to cut 250 affordable homes.

Last week, Wandsworth Tory councillors agreed to a Labour Motion demanding that developers are made more accountable to the public by making their viability reports as transparent as possible to enable the public “to see for themselves that the developers are contributing their proper share of affordable housing”.

According to Wandsworth Labour Housing Speaker, Paul White: “This is an important step forward, but  if Wandsworth Labour take the Council, we would go further by insisting that  developers who don’t build the required affordable housing would be made to publish unredacted viability studies to explain why”.

Paul White full council

The Motion was brought by Battersea Cllr Aydin Dikerdem who recently presented the Council with a petition signed by over 21,000 people objecting to the Council’s decision to allow the developers at Battersea Power Station to reduce the amount of affordable housing on the site from 15% to just 9%.

Targets laid down by the Mayor of London require developers to deliver 35% affordability on private land and 50% on public land. However viability reports are often used by developers to justify reducing that amount.

According to the Battersea Power Station developer’s viability estimates, the redevelopment could have provided a profit of approximately £1bn if 35% of the housing delivered had been affordable.  However the developers argued that this amount of affordable housing – equivalent to 1,375 homes rather than the 386 that will now be built – would have made the regeneration non-viable.

Cllr White added: “The concession made by Tory cllrs last week to make viability reports more open and transparent is an important step that should enable residents to scrutinise the rationale given by developers as to why they can’t provide real affordable housing, making it easier for residents to hold them to account and hopefully harder for Wandsworth Council to capitulate to their demands. But we would go further”.

Cllr White concluded: “Only 8% of Londoners can afford 80% of its housing. By forcing developers to no longer hide behind secret viability reports, we would be able to reverse this trend and provide more genuinely affordable homes for the people of this borough”.

Charity-worker, disability campaigner and long-term Thamesfield resident selected to contest Thamesfield by-election for Labour

Sally Warren, a Thamesfield resident of over 25 years, has been selected by Putney Labour to contest next month’s by-election following the death of Cllr Jim Madden, Wandsworth’s former Mayor and Conservative Thamesfield Cllr.

cllr Peter Carpenter, Sally Warren, Cllr Sue Mckinney, Cllr Jeremy Ambache (l to r)

from left to right: Cllr Peter Carpenter, Sally Warren, Cllr Sue McKinney, Cllr Jeremy Ambache

In her day job, Sally is a disability campaigner who manages a national agency which supports and campaigns for the equal rights of people with learning disabilities. She also co-founded a local Wandsworth-based charity; Generate Opportunities, which offers support to people with learning disabilities.

Speaking about her selection as the Labour candidate for Thamesfield , Sally said: “Thamesfield is my home. I am standing here because I hate injustice and I want Thamesfield to be a fairer, more inclusive place for all local people to live and thrive. I have worked all my professional life tackling inequality and taking this fight to the Town Hall is the obvious next step for me. Only by winning seats for Labour on Wandsworth Council can we really make life better for the residents of Wandsworth”.

The issues that Sally will be campaigning on include:

  • Making Putney High Street a place where people want to be. Where all members of the community, including our many EU citizens, can shop and gather in a way that creates a welcoming Town Centre.  Not a place where large business rules!
  • Stopping the overdevelopment of Putney. We need to increase the amount of genuinely affordable housing and restrict the number of high rise towers.
  • Local community services including Health and Social Care services to ensure local support for the elderly, the disabled and the lonely. This includes protecting our local library and green spaces.
  • Pollution reduction – especially important on Putney High Street
  • Quality education places for all – we need to oppose the estimated £7m in real-term cuts that Putney schools are facing.

Speaking about Sally’s selection, Putney Labour Cllr Sue McKinney, said: “Sally is all about building communities. As an advocate for people with disabilities, I know she is committed to representing everyone, people of all abilities, cultures, backgrounds and politics.  She has a deep belief and commitment to truly inclusive working”.

More about Sally:

  • Sally worked for 15 years as a Youth Worker for the Council, advocating on behalf of young people.
  • Sally worked as a Senior Change Manager for Wandsworth Council supporting the development and implementation of an Adult Social Care Strategy for people with learning disabilities.
  • She has served as a Trustee for: The Wandsworth Carers Centre, KeyRing and the Wandsworth Care Alliance and the Commission for the Architecture of the Built Environment (CABE) team in Wandsworth.
  • Sally also volunteers at Physical Culture a local gym established in 1928.

 

Why Wandsworth Council should oppose Government police cuts

Speech to Wandsworth Council by councillor Fleur Anderson, October 2017

Wandsworth Council must oppose Government police cuts

We need a Council that will listen to local residents and their concerns about safety and crime, that will square up to the Tory Government and will vigorously oppose any further police cuts.

I’d like to start by thanking our Wandsworth police force who are so dedicated and effective – including the police offer who broke his foot whilst chasing and making an arrest in Bedford ward this week.

Fleur Anderson

Fleur Anderson

We are united in supporting the new community safety partnership plan and its new priority area. In particular I welcome the Mayor’s commitment to have dedicated ward officers in each ward, most are whom already in place in Wandsworth.

Now we need to also unite in opposing government police cuts. Tory councillors should stop playing politics with residents’ safety, should take responsibility for the effects of Tory austerity policies and should stop blaming the London Mayor for the government’s police budget cuts. Continue reading “Why Wandsworth Council should oppose Government police cuts”

Labour reveals the true impact of Tory education cuts in Wandsworth

Schools in Wandsworth schools are facing cuts of £7.7m by 2020/21, according to figures recently released by the National Education Union (NEU).

According to Cllr Jeremy Ambache, Labour’s Speaker on education, “action by parents to oppose schools cuts have forced the government to U-turn on their proposed funding cuts, but their revised proposals would still cost schools in Wandsworth the equivalent of over 150 teachers across the borough. We can credit parent power for forcing this change but would encourage parents to keep the pressure up and the Council to stand alongside them”.

Cllr Jeremy Ambache

Cllr Ambache points to several schools in the borough that are already having to lose teachers, combine subject areas, reduce the provision of arts subjects, cut afterschool provisions and ask parents for increased contributions, in order to save money. These include a secondary school which is not replacing 10 teachers and 5 teaching assistants, a primary school which is not replacing 4 teachers and another primary school which has cut the hours it pays its teaching assistants.

Cllr Ambache said: “schools in Wandsworth are facing a double whammy; they are being forced to meet unfunded extra costs to pay for pensions, national insurance, business rates, apprenticeship levy and the national minimum wage and from next year they are facing budget cuts as part of the Government’s so called fairer-funding formula”.  He added: “of course the impact of these cuts is greater for the least well off pupils whose parents are not able to pay for their children to participate in arts and sport outside school”.

Cllr Ambache concluded: “Given that the Secretary of State for Education is herself a Wandsworth MP, this Council is ideally-placed to lobby the government to rethink their funding cut proposals for schools, as other Conservative Councils have done. We are told that conversations are taking place behind closed doors but given the enormity of the funding cuts faced by Wandsworth Schools, it is time that this Council publically put the education of our children at the top of their political agenda and stood up for teachers, parents and children in this borough by demanding a Government rethink. Tonight in Full Council I will be asking Wandsworth Council to do just that.”

The Labour Group’s Motion for this evening’s debate on opposing education cuts to the borough’s schools is here: https://democracy.wandsworth.gov.uk/documents/s52762/Fair%20funding%20for%20schools.pdf

If you have personal experience of cuts to schools in your area of Wandsworth, please get in touch with Jeremy Ambache directly (and in confidence, if necessary). jambache@aol.com