‘Wandsworth’s long-standing record of welcoming refugees from all over the world’

Statement from Rex Osborn, Wandsworth Labour leader:

Many of us are now moved daily by the tragedy of thousands in a desperate struggle to find safety as they flee catastrophe in their homelands. This is a time to remember Wandsworth’s long- standing record of welcoming refugees from all over the world.

Wandsworth Labour are pleased to see the Government announce this week its support for these desperate people and its plans to offer sanctuary to refugees. We await more detail on what is expected of Councils and what assistance Councils can anticipate while we understand the urgent need for action. Whatever the details of the Government response, Wandsworth Council will have a part to play.

Meanwhile we are touched by the groundswell of public support in Wandsworth for the plight of the refugees. Three are several agencies organising contributions from the public but if anybody is still looking for advice on what to do there are suggestions on the Wandsworth Labour website here.

The generosity of the people of Wandsworth shows the way forward for our Councillors and our Council.



Expanding Heathrow is a bad idea – it has to be Gatwick


Guest post: Speech by Labour councillor Peter Carpenter at Wandsworth Council, July 8, 2015. Following the debate, the council unanimously passed this motion on airport expansion

I will confess not to having read the whole of the Airport Commission’s report, but I have read the 17 page Executive Summary which reads more like a polemic in favour of Heathrow, than the balanced judgement of an independent commission.

This is not the first time that Sir Howard Davies’ judgement has been brought into question. You will recall that in 2011 he had to resign as Director of the LSE because he thought that taking money from Colonel Gadaffi was a good idea.

I think we all agree that a third runway at Heathrow is not politically deliverable. But I am surprised, as an economist, Howard Davies thinks it is financially deliverable.

I am a businessman. What would I do if I were given the choice of investing £7 billion for a second runway at Gatwick, or £17 billion plus another £5 billion for public infrastructure upgrades (although TfL thinks it’s £10 billion) for a third runway a Heathrow? Continue reading

‘Formula E is in danger of losing local support’

Battersea Park prepars for Formula E - image via @SaveBattPark

Battersea Park prepares for Formula E – image via @SaveBattPark

Some local people complain that the preparations for Formula E on June 27 & 28 are spoiling their enjoyment of Battersea Park.

Rex Osborn, leader of Wandsworth Labour group says: “We welcome a world class event here on our doorsteps, but Formula E need to make it easier for local people to cope. There needs to be more information and more helpful stewards, otherwise Formula E is in danger of losing local support.” Continue reading

Jiu Jitsu medallist Leoni says: Save Battersea Sports Centre

Leoni Munslow (second from the right on the podium) wins bronze at the Brazillian Ju Jitsu  World Championships

Leoni Munslow (second from the right on the podium) wins bronze at the Brazillian Ju Jitsu World Championships

Congratulations to Leoni Munslow, 28, who returned home from California yesterday with a Bronze medal from the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) World Championships.

Leoni represented New School BJJ, based at Battersea Sports Centre, in the brown belt division, competing against the top women from around the world to finish on the podium.

Leoni is a full-time firefighter and has trained at Battersea Sports Centre for the last six years. She is a three-time British Champion, current European Nogi champion and holds a world ranking of #2.

Wandsworth council recently announced it will demolish Battersea Sports Centre despite a petition from 750 local people calling for it to be saved. Battersea Sports Centre is great and the Tories are wrong to wrong to close it.

Leoni said: “It’s fantastic to bring a World Championship medal back to Battersea. The coaches and team at New School BJJ have supported me every step of the way to help me achieve my dreams. Continue reading

“We’ll pay you to move to Birmingham”: Wandsworth in ‘social cleansing’ row

Letter from Wandsworth Council

Last week a distressed woman knocked on Will Martindale’s door to show him a letter. Martindale, then Battersea’s Labour MP candidate, said: “She was really upset. The council is her landlord and she trusts them. How would you feel if you got a letter like this from your landlord?”

The letter from Wandsworth Council offered a cash payment if she gave up her secure council tenancy and moved to a private rented home more than 100 miles away in Birmingham. The council has since admitted the letter was sent to more than 1,000 tenants.

Martindale added: “This policy will just widen the divisions we see in our local community. Our borough is being hollowed out by inequality. Over the past two years, every income group has shrunk except for the extremes: those earning less than £15,000 a year and those earning more than £70,000 a year.”

Sadiq Khan, Tooting MP,  told the Evening Standard: “Wandsworth council have been caught bribing residents to move to Birmingham. These policies rip communities apart and amount to the social cleansing of London.” Continue reading

Battersea Sports Centre is great. The Tories are wrong to close it

Will Martindale and users of Battersea Sports Centre campaign to save it from closure

Speech by councillor Wendy Speck to Wandsworth Council, Wednesday March 4, 2015 

Battersea Sports Centre is a well-used and well-loved place. It is used by a whole variety of people of all ages and abilities.

The council’s own equalities impact assessment shows that those most affected by its closure will be the disabled, ethnic minority groups and those under 19.

It is in the ward with the most deprivation, the worst health statistics and the most obesity.

The Battersea Sports Centre also is used by several schools and one local primary uses it for all its KS2 PE. The logistics of asking a school to take its pupils elsewhere has implications on timetabling, missing of other lessons and cost. The Governors wrote to councillors with their concerns.

We are told now that the Sports Centre needs to close to provide a site for housing to decant residents from the Winstanley and York Road estates, as part of the regeneration there. Continue reading

Wandsworth’s Housing Offer: A homeless crisis, unfair rents & favours for developers

Speech to Wandsworth Council, 28 January 2015

This paper covers council rents, money to tackle the homelessness crisis and elements of councillor Govindia’s new housing strategy. There are positive and negative sides to each.

On council rents, the average increase this year will be 2.2%. This is fair – but in reality almost no one will actually pay it.

Sometimes you just have to look at a policy and apply a common sense check. 10,000 of our tenants will get less than £1 a week rent rise but 3,500 households on historically lower rents will get more than £8 a week rent rise, with almost nothing in between. Continue reading

2014: My year in 14 pictures

03March extra

Simon Hogg discussing childcare costs with Gloria de Piero MP, Tristram Hunt MP, Will Martindale and Sally-Ann Ephson at Queenstown’s Learning Ladders Nursery

Councillor Wendy Speck chats with Alcinda (and her son) at our Battersea Fields drop-in advice session

February: Latchmere Ward colleague Councillor Wendy Speck chats with Alcinda at our Battersea Fields drop-in advice session

Shadow Housing Minister Emma Reynolds MP visits Battersea to listen to local people about renting and trying to buy a home

March: Shadow Housing Minister Emma Reynolds MP visits Battersea to listen to local people about renting and trying to buy a home

April: My 3-year-old son does his bit during the local election campaign

April: 3-year-old son does his bit during the local election campaign

Continue reading

‘Like you, Battersea is well-educated, bursting with ideas – and massively in debt’

voters_reception[1]Short speech I gave to a group of young voters from Battersea who Will Martindale had invited to the House of Commons, Jan 2014

Welcome, thank you all for coming.

I’m a local Battersea councillor. That means if you want to know about the nuclear weapons ask one of these MPs – if your bins aren’t being emptied, come and see me later.

I know politics can seem pretty far from your lives. Someone like you could never end up in the House of Commons. This place is for insiders, rich people, people who can play the system. That’s certainly how I felt growing up in Birmingham.

I want to tell you about Battersea and our local heroes. A gang of misfits who helped to create the world we live in today. You’ll see that these outsiders started off every bit as far from this place as you are now.

In some ways, Battersea is like the average young person.

Battersea is well-educated, bursting with ideas – and massively in debt.

  • It’s Britain’s youngest constituency. I’m already past the average age of 34-and-a-half.
  • More than half of the population has a university degree.
  • The most indebted postcode in Britain is in Battersea.

Can you put your hands up if your postcode begins: “SW11 6”. That’s area between Clapham Common and Wandsworth Common. There is £649m of mortgage debt in that one postcode.

Battersea is bursting with ideas. We have a long tradition of awkward, radical characters. A century ago Battersea Labour Party gave Britain:

  • John Burns, the 16th son of a washerwoman rose from Battersea’s slums to become an MP and Britain’s first working class cabinet member.
  • Sharpurji Saklatvala, Britain’s first Asian Communist MP in the 1920s.
  • Charlotte Despard, an aristocratic Irish nationalist suffragette
  • John Archer, a Battersea photographer, who became London’s first black mayor in 1913.

A group of people like this had never been in power anywhere in the world before. Misfits. Outsiders.

It was great to see Alf Dubbs here this evening. He was a much-loved MP for Battersea in the 1980s. Alf’s journey is incredible – and important to remember as today is Holocaust Memorial Day.

Alf was just six when he was put on a train out of Prague, the city he was born in. It was the day the Nazis arrived in the city in 1939. Alf was one of 600 children saved by a British businessman who arranged their travel to London. Alf now sits in the House of Lords as Baron Dubs of Battersea.

Those are Battersea’s heroes, my heroes. They didn’t have success handed to them.

They knew the difference that politics can make.

Recently, the council wanted to close the library that serves the Winstanley Estate, and to charge children £2.50 to use a local playground.

Determined community campaigns stopped these plans. Young people who used the library and the playground were at the heart of these campaigns.

It was inspiring to work with local teenagers. Because, like Battersea, you’re well-educated, massively in debt, energetic and open to new ideas!

You told us you want the EMA back, you want lower tuition fees, you want votes at 16 and 17 and more jobs for younger people. But you feel like you’re on the outside.

Just remember Alf, aged six sitting alone on that train for an unknown new life, leaving his parents behind. John Burns leaving school at 10 for a life of manual work. John Archer being abused in Battersea Town Hall just for being black. Sharpurji Saklatvala put in jail for two months when he spoke up for working people in Battersea.

They came back from those dark moments to change the world. No one handed it to them. “Life isn’t about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

They were pulled forward by the future, not held back by the past.

It is easier than you think to change the world. I hope you give it a go.

I’m very grateful to you for coming out this evening, I hope you find it enjoyable. I’ll hand over to Jack before the next speaker – and if you have any problems getting your bins emptied, you can email me tomorrow.

* My planned remarks – as the excellent Dan Jarvis MP volunteered to speak, an shorter version was delivered