Labour councillors voted against the Planning and Transport revenue budget for 2010-14 as it proposes £10m of cuts between now and the next council elections, reducing the budget for services from £12m each year to £9m. The main way of ‘saving’ the £3m a year is a £1.7m stealth tax, adding £25 to the cost of residents’ parking permits.
Councillor Ben Johnson questioned council officers on the 20 per cent cut in money for ‘Footway and Carriage Maintenance’. Funds available to fill in pot holes and other damage to the roads was reduced from £3.8m to £3m next year, with programmed maintenance cut by more than 30pc. The council confirmed there will be large cuts in capital spending on road junctions and town centres for at least the next two years – so residents can expect to see serious deterioration in their roads and pavements.
In the same meeting councillor Simon Hogg criticised the council’s plan to cut loans and grants intended to help businesses in some of the most deprived parts of Wandsworth invest during the recession. The Town Centre Improvement Scheme offered interest-free loans and grants from £1,000 to £15,000 to fund 75 per cent of new investment made by businesses in parts of Latchmere, Queenstown, St Mary’s Park, West Hill, Roehampton and Furzedown. This assistance has now been cut to 33 per cent, and several parades of shops will be told they will now receive no help at all.
The committee also approved the council’s strategy to increase the number of parking spaces in the borough available to car-sharing clubs from less than 100 to more than 1,000 in this decade by allowng other firms to compete with Streetcar in Wandsworth. The council eventually plans to charge these firms more than £1,000 per parking space.
Labour and Conservative councillors once more backed the council’s objections to Thames Water’s disruptive plans for several sites in the borough as part of their ‘super-sewer’ project – in particular Barn Elms playing fields and Tideway Walk, part of the Nine Elms regeneration area.
Furzedown councillors Leonie Cooper and Mark Thomas gave a presentation and convinced the committee to reconsider a Furzedown ward 20mph zone (depending on the results of a pilot scheme in Putney) and to place a vehicle-activated speed sign at a point of their choosing in the ward.