Renters don’t get a fair deal in Wandsworth

Speech to Wandsworth Council, December 9, 2015

Wandsworth council is not working hard enough to get a fair deal for renters.

It doesn’t seem to understand renters’ lives. And it is not willing to inspect, to investigate, to level the playing field for renters.

This was shown most recently in the Investing Solutions scandal.

This is the Wandsworth-based letting agency that took £5.5million in housing benefit from a charity which housed the homeless. £2.1m of that was paid by Wandsworth council. Crisis, the housing charity, described the arrangement as “a new low”.

Several of their properties – used to house vulnerable people – were unsuitable, due to lack of heating and hot water, rats and damp.  The BBC reports the company earned £11,568 profit per year from one property alone. Continue reading

2015: My political year in 15 photos

1. More than 100 volunteers join Steve Coogan at an election rally in Clapham Junction for Will Martindale, who ran an inspiring campaign in Battersea

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2. ‘Walking Tall’ by Bert Hardy is my favourite Battersea photo.

I only found out the moving true story behind it this year. Getty Images says the photo is from 1956 and shows: “Sean, a child who was given away by his natural mother because he had a hare lip, goes walking with his adoptive mother, Mrs Wiseman, in Battersea”

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3. Playing in the ‘Community Kick About’ organised by Battersea Labour Party as part of the campaign to save Battersea Sports Centre (February)

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4. Listening to voters with friends from Battersea, Putney and Tooting Labour parties (March)

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5. Interviewed as part of the campaign against Wandsworth’s plans to pay council tenants to move to Birmingham to rent privately (April)

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6. Volunteering on Jess Phillips’s Birmingham Yardley campaign. Jess was elected as an MP and has made quite a splash. This blog about how she first got involved in politics was one of the most popular on my website in 2015. (April)

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7. Labour councillors Fleur and Rosenna at Wandsworth’s annual Mayor-making ceremony. Last year they overturned a Tory majority of 1,000 to be elected in Bedford ward. (May)

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8. Tooting MP and next Mayor of London Sadiq Khan checks a young activist’s homework with the help of Wandsworth Labour leader Rex Osborn. (June)

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9. I wrote an article in support of Tessa Jowell’s campaign to end the ‘transfer tax’ on money sent home to family overseas. This featured the story of Joseph, a security guard who lives in Latchmere and sends money home to Ghana. It was a pleasure to later introduce Joseph to Tessa at a Battersea Labour Party fundraiser

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10. The sad end of an era for Balham as My Back Pages bookshop turns into Jackson’s estate agent. Wandsworth has 153 estate agent shops (July)

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11. Corridors of power: councillors Sally-Ann Ephson and Candida Jones prepare for a committee meeting in Wandsworth Town Hall

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12. A rare photo of Speke Road, Clapham Junction, shortly before it was demolished to make way for the Winstanley Estate. Posted as part of ‘Why was the Winstanley Estate built?‘ the most-read article on my blog in 2015.

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13. With fellow Latchmere ward councillors Tony Belton and Wendy Speck after a canvass session listening to local people. (September)

Simon Hogg, Wendy Speck and Tony Belton, Latchmere's Labour councillors

 

14. More than 1,000 homeless local families with children spent Christmas Day in Wandsworth council temporary accommodation

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15. In Wandsworth Town Hall’s council chamber as best man at at friend’s wedding. A bit surreal after so many council meetings in this room! (November)

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The new Right To Buy is a terrible deal for Wandsworth

Councillor Simon Hogg listens to local people in York Gardens Library

Councillor Simon Hogg listens to local people in York Gardens Library

Speech to Wandsworth Council, October 14, 2015

The new Right To Buy is a terrible deal for Wandsworth.

The housing policies the Tories seems so proud of will cost Wandsworth tens of millions of pounds – and do nothing to help renters, the homeless or most people on ordinary incomes hoping to buy.

And, when you add them up, the policies will mean the slow death of social housing.

Right To Buy is a good policy when it helps council tenants become home-owners and a new council house is built from profit. But that’s not happening. It never has.

Let’s judge Wandsworth Tories on their record. In the last 25 years, 14,791 local council homes have been sold off and only 5,170 affordable homes built in their place. We’re 10,000 short.

Continue reading

‘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

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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