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.

 

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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

Wandsworth’s Conservative councillors oppose proposals to protect school budgets

Last week (September 21) Conservatives members on Wandsworth Council’s Education Committee rejected proposals aimed at protecting the real term value of school budgets for the next 2 years.

Cllr Jeremy Ambache, Labour’s Education spokesperson, who proposed the measures, said “Tory councillors dismissed our suggestion that the Council write to the Secretary of State for Education and the Chancellor of the Exchequer to ask them to ensure that the funding for Wandsworth schools maintains its spending value in real terms for the next two years. Given the perilous state of school budgets in the borough, this decision shows a remarkable lack of will to assist local schools struggling to make ends meet”.

He added: “Schools are facing real financial difficulties. One Secondary school in the borough has told me that they have already had to cut 10 teachers and 5 support staff to save £420,000 and that further cuts are anticipated next year.  Another head teacher at a local primary school has said that she cannot afford to replace 4 teachers who have left. The Council needs to do more to support the borough’s schools”.

Cllr Jeremy Ambache campaigning with parents

Cllr Jeremy Ambache with local parents

In recent years new financial obligations have been placed on schools without the necessary funding from Central Government to pay for them, including increases in the minimum wage, in National Insurance contributions, in pension contributions, a new apprenticeship levy and higher Business Rates.

As a result, Wandsworth schools have had to raid their cash reserves to cover these additional costs. Cash balances in local schools were down from £21m to £14m in 2016/17; and it is forecast that reserves will be down to £7m by the end of the current financial year.

According to Jeremy Ambache “Spending money from the reserves is a short term measure to stop schools having to make more drastic cuts, but these reserves won’t last forever”.

The funding squeeze is particularly acute for schools which provide support for children with special educational needs. The cost of special education provision in Wandsworth was more than a £1million over budget in 2016/7.

Jeremy Ambache concluded: “The new ‘National Funding Formulae’ for school budgets being proposed by the Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, will make matters even worse. This new proposed government funding allocation will be introduced from 2018/19 and will mean even more money is taken away from schools in Wandsworth. It is time the Council stood up for its schools and used the leverage it has with central government to ease the funding crisis”.

Could you be a Wandsworth Labour councillor?

Sadiq, Rosena and Marsha all began their political journeys as local authority councillors. Many councillors want nothing more than to represent, support and lead their community. But for others, it is also the start of an exciting journey that can lead all the way to City Hall and the Houses of Parliament.

election night GE 2017

Wandsworth Labour, which covers Tooting, Battersea and Putney, is looking for people who would like to stand for election in May next year, and that could well be you.

Being a councillor is hugely rewarding. It means you can play an important role in improving your community and the lives of local people. Next May it could also mean you will be part of the team that takes Wandsworth Council from the Tories for the first time in 40 years. Imagine how much better Wandsworth could be with Labour in charge.

We welcome applicants from all walks of life and are especially keen to hear from women, black and minority ethnic members, carers, people with disabilities, LGBT members and younger members.

There is a good description of a councillor’s role in this booklet.

To apply, you need to have been a member of the Labour Party since January 16th 2016 and live in the borough of Wandsworth.

If you’re interested, please get in touch by emailing wandsworth2018@yahoo.com and we will send you an application form and tell you more about the role. The deadline for submitting an application is September 28.

Labour shows leadership on funeral poverty

The boroughs of Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth have taken action to tackle funeral poverty by scrapping all cremation fees charged for children.

The boroughs also recently agreed to offer cremations at a reduced cost for those suffering from funeral poverty, following proposals put forward by Labour councillor, Candida Jones.

Simon Hogg, Leader of Wandsworth Labour, said: “It’s right that these fees have been removed. It’s terrible to think of a parent having to bury their child. They shouldn’t face the added anxiety of how to pay for the funeral.

“The average cost of a funeral in Wandsworth is now more than £3,000. This can be hard to bear for some families. It’s positive that this proposal will help them.”

From January next year all cremation fees charged by the 3 London Councils will be scrapped for children.

funeral povery

The new scheme builds on earlier efforts from Wandsworth Labour to bring in reduced crematorium fees. This year, for the first time, early-morning cremations have been available at a reduced cost of £267, rather than the full £555 previously charged.

Funeral poverty is on the rise. Last year, the amount owed by people who could not afford to pay for their funerals in the UK was £147m, rising this year to an estimated £160m. Of those unable to pay for their funerals, an average of £1,318 was owed in 2016, rising to £1,601 last year.

According to Simon Hogg “Councils get less and less money from the government to provide services. Some councils have had to increase charges to help make ends meet. I’m pleased that Labour has been able to steer Wandsworth, Merton and Sutton in a different, more compassionate direction.”

Public anger over plans to close Chestnut Avenue through Tooting Common for up to 6 months

Residents living close to Tooting Common have responded angrily to Wandsworth Council’s proposal to close Chestnut Avenue, which runs across Tooting Common, to all users for up to six months.

20170425_182102

While the avenue is closed, the Council intends to fell an avenue of Chestnut trees which line it and replace them with saplings. The project is to be paid for using a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Chestnut Avenue is a well-loved landmark used by commuting cyclists, families, visitors to the tennis courts, the playground, the local cafe and participants in the weekly Park Run event and an annual pumpkin parade.

Speaking about the Council’s decision to close Chestnut Avenue, Fleur Anderson, the local councillor and Labour’s Speaker on Community Services, said; “I strongly object to the very extended closure of the Avenue, and so will local residents. This long closure is very heavy handed. The Council, which originally said the work would take no more than 6 weeks, has not explained what will happen to the on-going users of the Avenue, including commuting cyclists and families who use it daily”.

Opposition to the felling of the trees has been vocal with over 5,000 people signing a petition to oppose the council’s plans. Continue reading “Public anger over plans to close Chestnut Avenue through Tooting Common for up to 6 months”