Meet your Tooting Bec and Balham Labour team

BedfordDr Rosena Allin-Khan, Tooting’s MP, introduces your Balham and Tooting Bec Labour team

In May, you’ll have the opportunity to elect new councillors to represent our community at the Town Hall.

Good local councillors can make a real difference to local people’s lives. So I am happy to introduce Fleur, Clare and Hector, your local Labour team, who I know will be real champions for Balham and Tooting Bec, and will to work with me to make a real difference in our community. Continue reading “Meet your Tooting Bec and Balham Labour team”


Celebrating 100 years of votes for women

100 years ago today the first British women were given the right to vote. Here are a few of those women and some of the stories about the first women to vote in our Labour family.

Gertrude Emily Luther, President of the Local Women’s Institute

Furzedown councillor, Candida Jones’ great grandmother, Gertrude Emily Luther, was 47 when she was able to vote for the first time in February 1918. Her brother, Herbert, was able to vote 17 years before his big sister could.

017 Nanna and her brother Herbert Luther CNV00049

By the time Gertrude was able to cast her first vote she had raised a family of 11 children, worked as a nanny for the local vicar and opened a village shop.

002 My Grandmother, Gertrude Emily Luther Taylor (Nanna) CNV00100

During her life, she was President of the Local Women’s Institute and Secretary of the Mothers’ Union. Continue reading “Celebrating 100 years of votes for women”

We must learn the lessons of Grenfell and listen to local people

Sudbury House: Re-cladding costs have increased from £5.5m to £9.9m

By councillor Paul White, Wandsworth Labour housing speaker


The fire at Grenfell Tower last summer was a tragedy. It took the lives of so many people and seemed to emphasise the lack of care being shown by some councils to their residents.

With such a tragedy, a response was needed to protect residents against this, or anything like it, from happening again.

Wandsworth council set aside £30m to fit sprinklers in council blocks over 10 storeys tall, along with replacing the cladding on two of its buildings.

The cladding on these buildings failed fire safety checks. Until the cladding is removed, fire marshals will be in these blocks 24 hours a day, making regular inspections of communal areas.

Wandsworth Labour backed these steps. We believe the costs of these measures should be met by the government as they are ultimately being imposed to protect citizens.

Frustratingly, the government has refused, even though Teresa May had stated “money would be no object” after the Grenfell disaster.

There’s another piece of unwelcome news: the cost of replacing the cladding has nearly doubled.

A council report says: “Recent and highly volatile market forces affecting the provision of materials and labour associated with such recladding works subsequent to the Grenfell House fire, have resulted in costs substantially increasing on site with estimated costs now in the region of £9.9m [up from £5.5m].”

It is disgraceful that some people are seeking to make excessive profits from the tragedy.

These rising costs create a further burden on the council and mean essential housing investment elsewhere will be impacted. This again highlights the unfairness that central Government is refusing to pay a penny towards this fire safety work.

If the government won’t pay, who will foot the bill? For tenants, the cost of sprinklers will come out of the rent account they all pay into. Leaseholders will be presented with a bill, likely to be £3,000 to £4,000. Some Putney and Battersea based leaseholders say sprinklers are not a priority for them – as their blocks have updated fire safety adaptations, dual staircases, good fire doors and no cladding.

They also point to statistics that suggest that in fact the possibility of fire in their home is low and they are quite prepared to live with such a low risk.

They also object to the council marching into their home that they have bought, to make alterations to their home, when they and haven’t consented. 

In last September’s Housing Committee Wandsworth Labour put down three amendments, which were agreed. They will form the core of our approach to the fire safety improvements if we take control of the council in May:

1. Any decision will be reviewed in light of the interim Grenfell report in the spring

2. Priority will be given to the most vulnerable blocks in the programme

3. There must be consultation with the residents

Where residents want sprinklers installed, we should accelerate the programme; where there is significant resistance, we should stop and listen.

This should mean proper, meaningful consultation with the residents. We believe that nothing should be decided in those blocks where there is unease, until real dialogue has taken place and been tested. Decisions on sprinklers should be made on a block by block basis.

There are legal hurdles to clear before any sprinklers can be installed. The council wants to clarify the legal position that would mean presenting the case for implementation to a “First Tier Tribunal”, the decision will not be known until late 2018.

This will have the advantage of being after the interim report of the Grenfell enquiry and so the council can take this into account before any action is taken. As our first amendment made clear, we are determined to learn the right lessons from the Grenfell disaster.

We want to start by listening to local people. We await the enquiry’s full report and will take its recommendations into account when designing the council’s fire safety strategy.

2,588 Wandsworth children will be homeless this Christmas

This Christmas there will be 2,588 homeless children in Wandsworth, an increase of almost 400 on last Christmas, according to figures released by Wandsworth Council.

According to Paul White, Labour’s Housing Speaker: “Many of these children will wake up on Christmas morning in B&Bs, often outside the borough, or in poor-quality temporary accommodation. Families can be moved several times before a home is found for them, which of course impacts their mental health, their ability to work and their children’s ability to attend school. It’s hard at the best of times but heart-breaking at Christmas”.

Paul White full council

Cllr Paul White

Currently, there are over 6,500 people waiting to be housed by Wandsworth Council.

Paul White said: “Eviction is the most common cause of homelessness. This is something Wandsworth Labour would tackle if we’re elected next May. We would intervene earlier to stop evictions, negotiate with landlords, provide resources for tenants to remain in their homes and we would end the practice of placing children in B&Bs.”

As well as homelessness, foodbank use in the borough is also increasing. Wandsworth Foodbank described it as “sad beyond words” that on December 15 more households visited their Battersea St Mark’s foodbank than on any other day since it opened in 2013. In one day emergency food and support was provided for 26 households in crisis; a total of 70 local people including 37 children. Another foodbank in the borough has reported that it has started to provide basic hygiene items such as sanitary products for women.

Earlier this month universal credit was rolled out in some areas of Wandsworth.

According to a recent report by New Policy Institute, changes to the benefits system, including the introduction of universal credit: “certainly partly explain why deep poverty has risen and unless the role out of Universal Credit is stopped or changes are made, the proportion of people in deep poverty in London will continue to rise”.

Paul White concluded: “increased homelessness and increased foodbank use; Wandsworth now has more homeless families with children in temporary accommodation than the whole of the Republic of Ireland and with the introduction of universal credit earlier this month, I am sorry to say the situation is bound to worsen. The public does not believe that Wandsworth Council has a grip on our local housing crisis and when you see the statistics, it’s clear why”.

Housing stats for Wandsworth and London:

  • In 2010 there were 400 homeless families in Wandsworth. In November 2017, this had risen to 1,735
  • Wandsworth Tories sold off 14,791 council homes in the past 25 years. Only 5,170 affordable homes (only 1,000 social homes built in last 16 years) were built to replace them.
  • 80% of housing built in Wandsworth is only affordable to 8% of local people.
  • Across London, evictions of renters on the most common contracts have increased from 1,000 in 2010 to 7,000 in 2017.
  • People in poverty in London increasingly live in the private rented sector (PRS)– 43% currently live in the PRS, compared with 31.5% six years ago. In the last decade there has been a corresponding increase in the number of children in poverty living in the private rented sector, with this number roughly tripling.
  • The New Policy Institute’s report on Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion is available here:

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.

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.

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.

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”